Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry NES-mas!

Two of my favorite members from the YouTube gaming community, Johnny Millenium and Rob Man of the Happy Console Gamer show, just posted their annual Christmas episode, upholding their yearly tradition of exchanging cool and unusual game-related gifts.

It seems that every year they manage to up the ante, and this edition doesn't disappoint. Check it out!

Robert Man's reaction is absolutely priceless. And to Johnny's credit, he couldn't have picked a better gift for Canada's #1 fan of the Blue Bomber. No spoilers if you haven't watched the video yet, but I'd be too nervous to actually play with what's in that box. That thing would go straight on the shelf. Under UV-resistant glass.

This scenario reminded me of a particularly memorable gaming Christmas of my own.

In the winter of 1990, there was precisely one item on my list to Santa:  the Power Glove. The idea of controlling my NES games via cybernetic arm was the dream of every eight year old boy in America. And having long since replaced any sense of responsible consumerism with Saturday morning cartoons, I was sold. And who could blame me? Do you remember the commercial?

Or its brief appearance on feature-length marketing triumph, The Wizard?

How could I resist? I was powerless! You heard Lucas, the Power Glove is BAD.

After a shameful amount of begging, I got my wish. I remember several outright refusals from my parents, but the fat man in red (my dad in sweatpants) came through in the end. And for what it's worth, that's all I got that year.

After 10 minutes of celebration, 20 minutes of setup and instruction manual comprehension, and one near-return when my parents realized Power Glove ownership also required mounting that gigantic sensor bar to your television, it was clear that I'd been duped. As a controller replacement, The Power Glove complete garbage. It was a rubber and plastic badge of shame that weighed heavy on my eight-year-old arm.

The idea of making Mario run, jump, swim, and climb by waving your hand around in from the TV sounds ridiculous because it is. And why would you even want to? More than 20 years later, we're just now getting to the point where those types of controls are possible, and it still isn't that convincing...or fun.

But don't get me wrong. I played the hell out of my Power Glove, just not in the way it was intended. Typically, I'd forgo the motion control and use the D-pad mounted to the top. And sometimes I'd just wear it around the house for the bad assitude.

What are your favorite game-related Christmas memories? What's on your list for Santa this year?

Let me know!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Back with Obligatory Vacation Photos

What up, guys?

Here's the thing: when you take a couple weeks in November to sail around the South Caribbean, and then come home to a game like Battlefield 3, it's pretty easy to forget about your previous commitments. For example, I used to be a pretty avid runner, but I haven't put on my running shoes in the past month (in my defense, Cleveland winter makes that increasingly easy to do), and I also used to post on this blog (discovering that you're half-way decent at Battlefield makes that increasingly easy to do). Anyway, I'm back and I have some game-related vacation photos to share!

Here's a Galaga/Ms. Pacman machine I stumbled upon while wandering the beach in Aruba:

I didn't have an opportunity to play it because the guy running the cigar shop was an intimidating, intimidating man, and I was afraid of him. And there's nowhere to put change in a speedo. I'm not even sure if it took quarters, or local currency (fun fact: that's the Aruban Florin). That night ended with me getting drunk on a catamaran, and then going souvenir shopping. Still quite drunk.

Next, here's the shop window of a game store on teh Dutch island of Curacao:

I don't know about you, but when I think "video games," I think Boolchand's. Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3, Uncharted 3, Arkham City, Gears 3. Damn! That's one good looking window.

And finally, this is the arcade on the cruise ship:

Big Buck Hunter, Cruisin' Exotica, The Fast and the Furious (original recipe and Super Bikes), plus the House of the Dead 2 and a air hockey table--honestly not a bad selection for a seven-year-old boat, but where's the DDR machine? I would have been all over that (and then all off of that) on one of the particularly rough days at sea.

And just for the hell of it, here are a few of my favorite non-game-related shots from the trip. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What the Wednesday: Chill

The bags are packed, the dog's at the sitter, but What the Wednesday lives on!

To commemorate my upcoming vacation (by the way, I'll be away for the next two weeks), here's a picture I snapped from the time I wandered into Tijuana:

If you've never been (and by all means, you should never, ever find out for yourself), Tijuana is famous for three things: painted donkeys, funny smells, and cheap drugs. And if you're there for the drugs, I can't recommend Dr. House Pharmacy enough.

There's no better place to be if you're stricken with a nasty case of red, yellow, or *gasp!* blue.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Contest Compatible: Results Episode!

Welcome back!

After a week of spamming your Facebook and Twitter feeds with my "CONTEST: blah blah blah I'm really important blah blah blah video games!" posts, I'm very excited to say that we have a winner of the very first Backward Compatible giveaway!

Before I announce the winner, let's go over the rules one more time:

Those of you who "liked" or retweeted my contest post would be assigned a randomly generated three-digit number. Then after a week, I'd race on Mario Circuit 3. The person with the assigned number closest to the last three digits of my total race time would win the prize.

This was a nail-biter, kids. Seriously. The winner was decided by two hundredths of a second. That's bananas (and a Mario Kart joke). It was also a really great race. As Toad, I was crushing it the first two laps, then the computer reeled me back in with a laser-guided poison mushroom toss. Once I grew back regular size, I spent the rest of the race running off the course and smashing into walls trying to catch up. I squeeked out a 4th place finish just ahead of Yoshi.

And here's the result:

With a time of 2:01:67 Derek Manke from Facebook wins Quasimodo, my janky (albeit fully functional) SNES! His assigned number was 196. Two hundredths of a second separated his number from the next closest. Sorry, Adam.

Congratulations, Derek!

Thanks to everyone for participating! I hope that you had as much fun as I did with this stupid contest. Let's do it again soon!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Community Spotlight:

Please allow me to jump to a conclusion. You're here for one of two reasons:

1) You like video games old and new
2) You've been linked here as part an elaborate pyramid scheme

Either way, I really appreciate you stopping by, especially if you're here as part of my pyramid scheme. (that's another cool $0.13.) However, if you're here because you appreciate video games, you should also know that this isn't the only place on the web for news, reviews, culture, fart jokes, and the like.

One of my favorite gaming websites,, is a place I discovered a couple years ago as the result of an uber-generic search for "retro gaming" on the Google. Go ahead and try it now. I'll wait. It'll be the third link down.

Racketboy is the sort of website that my little Duckhunt dog-and-pony show aspires to be. Way more than the obligatory discussion forum (which is great, but more on that later), it's also full of incredibly entertaining and informative articles, including game and console buyers' guides, store and arcade reviews, news features, and whatever else is going on in the world of retro gaming.

For a collector like myself, my favorites are from the Best Games Under $10 and Hidden Gems series. I'm not ashamed to admit that I've been known to run off to the local game store whenever a new one of these are published. (Note to self: find a copy of Panzer Dragoon Orta.)

If you're like me and so behind on games that really old ones are still new, don't fret! Racketboy's Together Retro feature has you covered. Every month, they pick a new (old) game and you get the chance to play through it with your friends like it's 1989 all over again.
Before you start, they'll give you some nice background information on the game of the month, plus several options on where to find it. After that, it's up to you to give it a shot, posting your thoughts on the game as you progress.Think of it like the Oprah's Book Club of retro gaming.

YOU get a copy of Shining Force! And YOU get a copy of Shining Force!

Finally, I can't get enough of the Racketboy discussion forums. I'm usually guilty of just lurking in the shadows, without much desire to share (weird for a guy with a blog, right?), but it's easy to find something to talk about here. Whatever game platform or genre you're into, there's someone talking about it on Racketboy, and best of all: no trolls!

Naturally, one of my favorite areas is the Marketplace. I've gotten some great deals on some incredible games over the years. My copies of Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, Secret of Mana, and several Neo Geo games all came from the Racketboy marketplace. Beats the heck out of ebay!

And if that wasn't enough, Racketboy also has a podcast! The in-depth, informative interviews with game developers and industry insiders make for a great listen!

So what are you waiting for? Go sign up over at Racketboy! And while you're there, say hello--I'm Diesel_Dan on the forums.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Contest Compatible Update!

Hey guys!

I don't know about you, but I've been having a blast with the SNES giveaway contest. We're about half way there (all entries must be in by 11/8), but there's still plenty of time to enter!

Out of curiosity, I took a spin around Mario Circuit 3 and finished with a time of 1:58:50. Granted, I went off the track a few times, so there's plenty of room for improvement. Also, I plan on doing the actual run with other racers on the track, so there's no telling what the winning time will be.

Check out the picture of little Quasimodo in action! He could be yours, if the time is right.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Recent Pickups Episode 3

It's a shocking crisis of vertical proportions! The ultimate clash of MAGestic dragons and two armies, settled on the battlefield. All will be vanquished! (I think that's all of them.)

Mario Clash
Console: Virtual Boy
Release Date: October 1995
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Acquired From: Stoner kid that lives behind a steel yard 
Condition: Torn label (seems like a common problem, as the Virtual Boy completely envelops its games
Notes: It's just like the original Mario Brothers, in 3D...and red...and not very good. Comprises 7% of the Virtual boy library, so there's that.

Vertical Force
Console: Virtual Boy
Release Date:  December 1995
Developer: Hudson
Publisher: Nintendo
Acquired From: Stoner kid that lives behind a steel yard 
Condition: Good! Probably not played much...for several reason
Notes: Are those ships in the foreground or background? Oh shit, I'm dead.

Dragon Quest VIII
Console: PS2
Release Date: November 15, 2005
Developer: Level-5
Publisher: Square Enix
Acquired From: Gamestop (I know, I know.)
Condition: Great!
Notes: Impulse buy while I was at Gamestop for something else. Last DQ game I played was Dragon Warrior for the NES. (Nintendo Power giveaway, son!)

Flipnic: Ultimate Pinball
Console: PS2
Release Date:  July 13, 2005
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Sony
Acquired From: The Exchange
Condition: Excellent, until I forgot to remove the insert while cleaning the case. Now the insert is sporting a nice Goo Gone smudge.
Notes: Both All Gen Gamers and Retronauts have been talking about this Pinball game. I had to give it a whirl.

Army of Two
Console: PS3
Release Date: March 4, 2008
Developer: EA Montreal
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Acquired From: Bieber clone desperate for cash to buy Battlefield 3
Condition: !Bueno!
Notes: Planning on getting repeatedly shot in the face? Don't forget your spooky metal hockey mask!

Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Console: PS3
Release Date: March 2, 2010
Developer: Electronic Arts
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Acquired From: Bieber clone desperate for cash to buy Battlefield 3
Condition: Passes inspection
Notes: In typical fashion, I got this just in time for the sequel!

Crysis 2
Console: PS3
Release Date: March 22, 2011
Developer: Crytek
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Acquired From: Bieber clone desperate for cash to buy Battlefield 3
Condition: It's grrrrrrreat!
Notes: The console version of the game that crushed your super computer's video card. Let's hope it doesn't set alight my aging PS3.

Console: PS3
Release Date: January 26, 2010
Developer: Zipper Interactive
Publisher: SCEA
Acquired From: Bieber clone desperate for cash to buy Battlefield 3
Condition: 256 problems, but condition ain't one.
Notes: With 256 players on the same same battlefield, I'm taking my FPS deficiency to a whole new level.

Console: PS3
Release Date: October 19, 2010
Developer: Platinum Games
Publisher: Sega
Acquired From: The Exchange
Condition: Super duper!
Notes: Cover-based shooter set against rocket-powered douchbaggery. Plus, this game has a scoreboard--remember when games had scores? That's everything I could ever want in a game.

Bioshock 2
Console: PS3
Release Date: February 9, 2010
Developer: 2K
Publisher: 2K
Acquired From: Gamestop (Again, I know.) 
Condition: New! (Sort of.)
Notes: Gamestop was selling this NEW for $10 a couple weeks ago. You'd already know that if you followed me on Twitter. Inevitably, it was the "gutted" copy.


While you're here, don't forget to sign up for the Backward Compatible SNES giveaway contest

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Contest Compatible: SNES Giveaway!


(edit: If you're using Facebook, you must "Like" the CONTEST post, not share--I can't track shares.)

For the past six weeks, I've had an awesome time sharing my adventures in video gaming with you. As a way to say thanks to those reading along (and a shameless way to plug my blog), I've cooked up a little contest.

Up for grabs is Quasimodo, my freshly rehabbed and ever-so-janky spare Super Nintendo, complete with a set of A/V cables, AC adapter, and a controller, shipped to your house (anywhere in the continental US)!

"Are you my new daddy?"
Not familiar with the story of Quasimodo? Check out his inspiring story of redemption right here: Console Cleanup!

So here's how the contest works:

Step 1) Visit my Facebook or Twitter page (or both if you're nasty).

Step 2) Like/Follow Backward Compatible Video Game Blog (@BCVideoGameBlog on Twittter) and like/retweet the contest post. You'll know it when you see it--it'll be the one that starts with "CONTEST." I'll make a fresh contest post every day this week, so you won't have to go hunting for it. 

Step 3) Do me a solid and leave a comment at the bottom of this post to help me keep track of who's entered. Post something fun--tell me your favorite video game sidekick.

Step 4) Keep being awesome

I liked/retweeted your stupid post--now what?

Once you've liked/retweeted, I'll assign you a random number between 000-999. You'll know your entry has been received when I get back to you with your number. Please only like/retweet once per account. If you have multiple accounts or use both Facebook and Twitter, feel free to participate once on each account.

On November 8th, I'll fire up Quasimodo, pop in a copy of Super Mario Kart, and make five laps around Mario Circuit 3. The last three numerals of my time will decide the winner.

For example, if my total time is 2:09:53, then 953 is the lucky number. The person with the assigned number closest to those three numerals (above or below--this isn't The Price is Right) wins the prize. Simple, right? Right.

So go ahead and visit me on Facebook or Twitter, then like or retweet the "CONTEST " post.

If you enjoy what you're reading, follow along with me on Twitter (@BCVideoGameBlog) or give Backward Compatible Video Game Blog a like on Facebook. It'll give my Internet ego a healty boost, plus you'll be among the first to know next time I decided to give something away.

Thanks and good luck!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Transform and Nerd Out!

Call it a hunch, but I  think
this is the place.

It's no secret that the game of pinball has seen better seen better days. Facing a steady decline in popularity over the past two decades, new machine releases are few and far between, and as such, a cause for celebration. So when I heard about a local pinball tournament featuring Stern's new Transfomers machine, I couldn't stay away.

Now, I don't want you to get the wrong idea. Like multiplayer FPS games and math, I absolutely suck at pinball. However, giant robots, games, and the promise of fabulous cash and prizes are four of my favorite things.

The event was held at Kidforce Collectibles, a comic book and game shop right down the road in Berea, Ohio. If my imagination hadn't been destroyed by 25 years video gaming, this would be my go-to place for tabletop and card games. As an added bonus, the owner is an avid pinball collector, and keeps four tables in the back of the store.
Inside Kidforce Collectibles. What a cool place!
After asking Eric--the unofficial tournament official--for a few quick pointers (basically "where do I aim for multiball?"), I gladly paid my $5 entry fee and gave it a whirl. 

...Dude, this table is fast! 

Launching the ball sends it to the bumpers at the top/left of the playfield, which in turn have about an 80% chance of dropping it into Megatron, directly underneath. Megatron's a dick. He holds onto your ball for a second and then hurls it at your flippers at about 1,000 mph, slightly off center. It's a dirty trick that'll drain you at least once, guaranteed.

It's a migraine headache disguised as a pinball machine.
Coincidentally, shooting Megatron four times is the easiest way to get multiball, so assuming this is your goal, you're constantly trying to deflect those off-center cheap shots. Great.

Preoccupied with nailinng Megatron's shiny multi-balls, my first game was pretty short, and got me nowhere close to the leaderboard.

 Undeterred, I handed over another $5 and took a approach this time around, which turned out to be a much more effective way to score points on this table. With all of the targets, ramps, missions, and special geegaws, it's almost impossible not to hit something good with every shot up the playfield. At one point, I manged to raise a ramp and hit Optimus Prime square in his Matrix of Leadership. Poor guy.
More pinball machines line the back of the store.

Finally, I activated multiball, which was a great way for a nub like me to score some points. With four or five balls whizzing around the table, activating ridiculous strobe lights and explosions, screaming robots, and whatever else the masochists over at Stern crammed into this pinball machine, the game gets pretty overwhelming and pretty awesome.

After I'd recovered from the seizures onset by the flashing lights, I picked myself up from the floor and was delighted to find that I'd scored over 7,000,000 points, which put me in second place on the bottom bracket. The top bracket was reserved for people that actually knew what they were doing.

Unfortunately, a previous engagement later in the day prevented me from competing in the playoffs, but I was happy with my performance all the same. My wife, with whom I was celebrating my third anniversary assures me that I made the right decision.

All told, I had a great time at Kidforce Collectibles, and I'll be back with another fistful of quarters--I have a score to settle with that jerk, Megatron.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Before they were classics

Welcome back!

I thought I'd wrap up "Who am I?" week with a look at a few of my favorite NES games from my childhood. What better way to get to know a gamer than through the games he plays, right?

In all honesty, the idea for this post started as a look at all of my favorite games from my collection, but there were just way too many. I'm sure you can relate! 

That said, here are a handful of my top NES games!

Mega Man 2 (NES)
This copy of Mega Man 2 is the same copy that was given to me for my eighth birthday, 21 years ago. Honestly, I don't know how my parents knew to get me what is, inarguably, one of the best NES games of all time. Also, I didn't know that it was more of the more difficult games to be released for the system, either. I just played it and was happy. 

The music, the bosses, excellent control, and straightforward gameplay--it was enough to keep me hooked until I'd finished it, which--looking back-- is a pretty high accomplishment for an eight year old. With all of the repetition required getting to that point, it's one of the few NES games that I can pick up and still be any good at.

Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES)
Along with California Games, Super Mario 2 was one of the games my brothers and I got with our Nintendo back in the Christmas of 1988. And while a lot of people dismiss the game for being so different from the rest in the series, that's precisely the reason I love it (well, that and the healthy dose of nostalgia I hold for it).

At this point, it's no secret that SMB2 is just a reskinned version of the Super Famicom game Doki Doki Panic, but in spite of that, some elements of the game, like carrying and throwing enemies are now mainstays of the series. Heck, the amazing ragtime music of the character select screen and overworld are reason enough to own a copy this game. Plus, it's a great challenge. I finished it a couple of times back in my youth, but I doubt I'd have much luck if I tried now.

Jackal (NES)
This battle will make your blood boil! Good luck!

I first played this game at Eric Stanton's house (I wonder what he's up to these days?) and have loved it ever since. But it wasn't unil probably a decade later that I owned my own copy.

Jackal is the most obscure game on my list, but it's also one of the most fun. A port of the 1986 arcade game, Jackal adds some unique twists to the standard shoot-em-up formula that almost put it in a genre of its own. And while I could go on about the nifty front-only firing machine gun, upgradable weaponry, clever "choose your own adventure" level design, and incredible Konami Drum Machine soundtrack, the real attraction here is being able to run over the tiny enemy soldiers as you tear through the enemy base. They make the most satisfying little "squish" sound. It's a lot for an eight year old to handle.

Ducktales (NES)
Ducktales ah-oooo-oo!

I distinctly remember saving up all of my allowance and birthday money, and buying this game from Toys 'R' Us. In 1989, I don't think I was quite old enough to understand how money really worked, but I was proud all the same. And yup, that's the same copy I bought way back then.

Funny thing about it is I didn't buy Ducktales because it was a good game (actually, it's a great game); I bought it because I liked Ducktales. That was a really lucky break on my part because licensed games have a pretty reliable track record of being absolutely terrible.

As a "wee lad," as Scrooge would say, I got endless enjoyment  out of bouncing him around on his cane like a pogo stick, and collecting every last hidden ruby in hopes of earning the best ending. And as an added plus, the game's a cake walk--and what kid doesn't like winning?


I showed you mine--what are yours? I'd love to hear what some of your favorite game are, old or new. Leave your list in the comments below, and thanks for playing along!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What the Wednesday: It's-a Lunch Time!

It's day two of Mr. Nintendo's "who are you?" week! (I swear I'm going to get "Mr. Nintendo" to stick.) And as such, today's What the Wednesday treasure is something very near and dear to me. I present to you my Super Mario Brothers lunch box:

My friends, it really doesn't get any more legit than this.

My faithful peanut butter and jelly sandwich-toting companion through first and second grade, this 23-year-old relic from my childhood managed to escape every garage sale and Goodwill donation pile. Thank goodness.

When I took it down from the window sill where it's proudly displayed, I was reminded of the time that Aaron Husted tried to convince me that he'd found a secret "ninja suit" in Super Mario 3, and he refused to tell me how to get it. What a bastard!

What piece of gaming gear has been in your collection the longest? Share in the comments below!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

1988 Was a Very Good Year

Heeding a suggestion made by the CFO here at Backward Compatible (better known as my wife), I'm using this week to introduce myself to all of you nice enough to read my blog. For others, this series of posts will serve as a great way to put a face on that hate mail you've been sending me.

Me eating another Odyssey II. I can't help it; those things are delicious
I grew up as a child of the '80s in the suburbs of picturesque Cleveland, Ohio with my two older brothers. Naturally, this means that I wasted formative years in front of the TV watching Saturday morning cartoons and playing Nintendo. Remember when Saturday morning cartoons were awesome?

My first experience with video games stems back to when I was just a wee nerdling, when I famously chewed through the power cord of my family's Magnavox Odyssey II like some sort of rodent. And by the fact that I'm alive to type this, we can only assume it wasn't plugged in. Or maybe it was--that could explain my terrible memory.

Years later, (say 1988?) I got my first taste of Nintendo at a friend's house. His name was Dino Mayo and his parents hated each other. And while that's a pretty crappy situation to grow up in, you can't deny the positive effect marital turbulence can have on an only child's toy chest: not only did Dino have a complete Laser Tag set (helmets and all), but he also had an NES in his room.  

I distinctly remember spending hours locked away in his poorly lit bedroom playing Super Mario Brothers, Adventures of Bayou Billy, and T&C Surf Designs on a 13" television. This was incredible for a first grader back in 1988. Today, that'd be pretty sad.

Soon after, it occurred to me that every kid in the neighborhood had a Nintendo except for me. Aaron Husted had one, Arnold and Jimmy had one, Nick Cortis across the street played his on a ridiculous movie projector, and hell, the kid down the street with the awesome tree house had three Nintendos. Three!

My original copy of California Games.
You're talking to the footbag champ of 1990.
At some point, I think my parents noticed that I'd unabashedly ride my bike from one house to the next playing whenever and wherever I could. Tetris, Classic Concentration, Mario 2, TMNT--for a kid without a Nintendo, I was playing a heck of a lot of it!

Most likely afraid of an impending abduction, an NES Action Set of my own found its way under the tree that Christmas, complete with Mario 2 and California Games (which I still have). And in a Nintendo 64 kid moment of triumph, I pulled the console from the box, raised it above my head, and proclaimed "Say hello to Mr. Nintendo!" It's unclear whether I was talking about the console or myself, but hey, I was seven--it sounded good at the time.

Now that I think about it, I wish people would call me "Mr. Nintendo."

So that's my story. What's yours? I'd love to hear your about your earliest gaming memories. Leave a comment below!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

8-Bit Bottle Blonde

My NES has been getting a lot of much needed attention lately. I swapped out the old girl's 72-pin connector, cleaned up dozens of cartridges with chrome polish, and now I'm finishing up the extensive rehabilitation program with an easy exterior makeover. Somebody get Tyra on the phone.

Taking advantage of this weekend's unexpectedly sunny weather, I once again donned the peroxide cream and plastic wrap, just like in the great SNES experiment, to reverse the disgusting yellow tinge set on by 25 years of sun exposure.

I was very interested to see how the peroxide treatment would work on a less tragic case of yellowing. Unlike the SNES, which suffered from one of the worst cases of yellowing I'd ever seen, its older sister wasn't in nearly as bad shape, showing just a light yellow tint on the upper case.

After just a few hours in the sun, the results speak for themselves:

Notice the slightly yellow tint on the "before" side? It's completely
gone after a slathering of peroxide cream and a little sun bathing.

However, the peroxide cream appears to have ever so slightly discolored the red lettering on the front of the system:

Unlike on the SNES, it looks like the lettering has reacted adversely
to the peroxide treatment. Not enough to get upset about.

The issue with the lettering doesn't bother me nearly as much as the yellowing did, so I'm happy. However, in the future, I'll consider taping over any that I don't want changing color...then I won't, because I'm lazy.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What the Wednesday: Energize the Nova Suit!

Remember when I packed my TurboGrafx back into the box, and then promptly unpacked it in front of a camera?

Aside from the console, controller, and cords,  NEC was nice enough to throw a game into the mix. (Of course, in 1989 that was the norm.) However, the pack-in was Keith Courage in Alpha it really wasn't anything to brag about. And it definitely wasn't a system seller.

Check it out, bro! Keith Courage in Alpha Zones!

Keith who in what now?

For this week's What the Wednesday (don't be confused; I know it's Thursday), I'm giving you a closer look at the best reason to own Keith Courage: the cheesy comic book that came along with the game.

Click to enlarge, and prepare finally understand the dark origins of Keith Courage! who else feels painfully wounded?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

We're swabbin' some slots!

If you're cleaning your NES cartridges, you can go
ahead and ignore all of these warnings.
Last weekend, I replaced the 72-pin connector in my NES. And as I noted at the end of the post, the blinking screen/power light issue was improved, but not completely gone.

To make matters worse, the wretched Cleveland winter is nearly upon us, and my coinciding plans of getting progressively fatter and lazier are in peril. If I have to sit up and wheeze into these NES games several times per day over the course of the next six months, I'm at serious risk remaining just doughy and mostly lazy.

Something must be done. And soon.

Since I know that the NES isn't at fault, I can make the logical conclusion (I went to college, after all) that my cartridges are to blame. And why not? With two decades of gunk and corrosion built up on those delicate copper connectors, it's a wonder they work at all.

Luckily, the Internet is full of techniques for cleaning game cartridges. So in the name of science, and as an investment in future laziness, I decided to take three of the most popular methods--rubbing alcohol, pencil erasers, and metal polish--and put them to the test against three of the dirtiest, nastiest games from my collection. Here are the results:

3rd Place: Pencil Eraser
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game

Super jank

Blinking gray screen

Initially, I was pretty skeptical when I read that people were using pencil erasers to clean their cartridges, but I guess it makes sense. After all, a rubber eraser should be gentle enough to wipe away gunk and corrosion without taking the delicate copper connectors with it.

This cart already had plenty of problems, then I added
hundeds of tiny bits of pencil eraser.
There's a slight problem, though. To do a really thorough job, I needed to take the cartridge apart to really get in there with the eraser. Normally, I wouldn't have a problem with this, but unlike the NES console, Nintendo decided to screw the cartridges together using some wacky security bits, and I don't own the correct driver.

I can buy the tool here (but I'm too cheap and impatient), or just jam the eraser into the slot in the cartridge and hope for the best. Neither seems like a great option.

In the end, I succeeded only in adding a load of pink eraser shrapnel to the myriad problems this cartridge has. No apparent change in corrosion.

While I managed to get the game fired up after three attempts, I'm going to go ahead and call this test "inconclusive" until I'm able to take apart the cartridge and do a better job.

This is the cleanin' kind, not the drinkin' kind.
Runner-Up: Rubbing Alcohol + Cotton Swab
Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt

Moderate amounts of jank

Blinking title screen

I can't even begin to count the number of times I've been told to never, ever clean a game cartridge with rubbing alcohol. In fact, "Don't clean with alcohol, stupid" is printed inside of every NES game manual. However, when the owner of a local game store told me that this is how he maintains his Neo Geo collection (!), I decided it was good enough for my NES carts. After all, alcohol evaporates almost instantly, which is certainly better than most other cleaning solutions (especially anything water based).

This cart looks okay in the picture, but think someone
(unsuccessfully) tried to take it apart.
The technique here is simple: dip a cotton swab into the rubbing alcohol and then scrub the heck out of the connectors, changing swabs frequently. You can stop once the swabs no longer come out black.

And swabbed I did. As a precautionary measure, I wiped the connectors down with a paper towel to ensure everything was dry before testing.

Initially, the rubbing alcohol removed a slight amount of corrosion from the connectors, but continued effort yielded little improvement. The game operated normally after two attempts

Add some bling to Jimmy and Bimmy.
(Tweet me if you get that reference. )
Winner: Metal Polish + Cotton Swab
Double Dragon III

Considerable jank

Blinking gray screen

Whether you're talking about paint, metal, plastic, or whatever, polishing works the same way: you're using a mild abrasive to clear away tiny scratches and imperfections on the surface, leaving behind a smooth and shiny finish. I read reports that brass polish and cooktop cleaner work well on NES cartridges, however, I had a bottle of Mothers chrome polish in the garage, so that's what I used.
Again, I was skeptical at the idea of polishing clean the connectors on an NES cart. After all, with just a cotton swab, how will I get the leverage necessary to help the abrasive in the polish do its job?

Ugh. Now that's a result.
I dabbed a small amount of polish onto the cotton swab (not directly into the cartridge slot), and much like the rubbing alcohol, scrubbed and scrubbed until the swabs came out clean, then followed it up with a paper towel for good measure.

It was almost hard to believe the amount of crap that the polish cleaned out of the cartridge. In fact, it was pretty disgusting.

Also, I'm not ashamed to admit that I grunted with great satisfaction--in much the way I imagine a cave man grunts at fire--when Double Dragon III started up on the very first try.

My very unscientific experiment yielded some surprising results. I was fully expecting the rubbing alcohol to work best, but polish proved to be the victor. What's more, I went back and hit Mario Bros. and TMNT with the polish, and cleaned out gobs of nastiness that was the other methods left behind. That's all the proof I need.

So go forth and polish those slots!