Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Blue Blaster?

Today I'd like to address a gross misnomer in video gaming: Referring to Megaman as the "Blue Bomber." Yes, I know the nickname's roots are in Rock'em Sock'em Robots, but that lends zero credence to its pairing with Megaman. Megaman isn't a boxer, and the Rock'em robots don't shoot things.

There are at least 2 core reasons why the nickname "Blue Bomber" is inappropriate for Megaman. Firstly, he does not have the inherent ability to bomb. He can obtain the ability to bomb from a few Robot Masters, but that is no more definitive than his ability to obtain fire based weapons from Robot Masters. Shall we call him the "Blue... Burner?"

Secondly, bombing things is not his defining characteristic. Besides running and jumping, Megaman's definitive characteristic is that he blasts things with his Mega-Buster. If he were nicknamed appropriately, he would be called the "Blue Buster," or maybe the "Blue Blaster."

Calling Megman the "Blue Bomber" is no less offensive than the bastardization of cover art and/or character names. "We butchered the localization, why not give him an inappropriate nickname, too?"

Capcom themselves had officially adopted the nickname by the release of Megaman 8, 1997.

But don't try and blame this on Capcom. Oh, no. Blame yourselves, fans. Blame yourselves for propagating this perversity for the past 20 years. Shame on you.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Stuff From Japan: YouTube Series!

Just thought I'd give a heads up about a YouTube series I'm starting. Nothing mind blowing, but certainly fun. I'll just be presenting cool Japan exclusive gaming related items and hopefully sharing more information that can be found with a quick google search. Here are the first 2 episodes, for your sampling enjoyment:

Episode 1:

Episode 2:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rockman Collector Panic!

With the wonders of game console emulation and near limitless accessibility to files via the interwebs, almost any old generation game is playable by the masses. However, when it comes to Rockman, there is at least one game in this franchise that no amount of emulation or digital piracy will allow you to experience.


It was around '05, after discovering the wonders of surfing Yahoo Auctions Japan (YAJ), that I first laid eyes on a Panic Shot! Rockman cabinet. At the time, my Rockman collection was not quite as mature as it is at present, but I knew I could truly enjoy one such machine adorning my home.
I contacted the proxy bidding service I was using at the time, and my heart broke a little when they notified me that they were not set up to ship such large items. It was a shame, being as I would have gladly paid many times the asking price of the machine just in shipping costs alone. In the 7 or so years I've been using YAJ, I've only seen Panic Shot! Rockman for sale twice. Oddly, the listings were within about 6 months of each other (different sellers) and as I recall, the machines were listed for only 20,000JPY and 15,000JPY. Neither one sold.
As I continued in my Rockman/arcade collecting, I came across a promotional flyer for the game. I figured, if I couldn't get the machine, it would at least be nice to have the sales flyer. I saw the flyer pop up multiple times in my auction surfing, but one day I noticed one that looked a little different. I picked that one up, too. After some studying, it appeared there were two different machines, one of which was ready for production (stock photo), the other a concept sketch.
In '09 I donated scans of my flyers to The Arcade Flyer Archive (TAFA) in lieu of writing this article. While my writing was still in draft form, I came across yet another flyer for this machine.

I put the article on hold until I could get the latest flyer in hand, scanned, and donated to TAFA. Well, you know how laziness/business works (got married, finally settled into a house, etc., etc.). Two years later, the flyer has been scanned, and here's your article.


Comparing the 3 flyers shows that there are still only two designs (the 3rd flyer merely replaces the concept sketch flyer). The playfields have totally different artwork, as do the main scoreboard areas.
Also, the hit cards behind Dr. Wily have changed from robot masters to Metalls.
One discrepancy I did notice between the flyers and one of the units I came across on YAJ, is that there is no redemption card dispenser on the auction unit. So, either Capcom made this feature optional, or the YAJ seller decided to remove it from their machine (if you look closely at the photo at the top of the article, there is a line with red print in the instruction box on the header of the machine. This is not stock).


The ultimate goal of the game is simple enough: get as many points as possible in order to win a prize. Points are made by hitting either the target hanging below Dr. Wily's UFO or the cards behind him. The rear cards are worth 100 points each, while Wily's UFO target is worth 1000 points. The UFO moves back and forth across the play field, so you can't just keep hitting the same angled shot over and over to rack up those 1000 pointers.
The flyers mention that when the Wily target is hit, the figure features "comical action" and the UFO and back panel lights flash brightly. I imagine some of that "comical action" involves Wily's voice, as the flyers claim that both Wily and Rockman's voices are featured in the game.

After the game is over, the computer calculates the player's total score and, if the "win" light flashes, a prize card is dispensed. I suppose the game center could put in whatever sort of cards they desire, but what is advertised on the machine itself is cards from the Super Barcode Wars Rockman Series. The image above the dispenser shows Blues and Rockman (cards #2 and #1 in the series).

(Top: "Card is gonna come out!", Bottom: "Card Exit")


To my knowledge, pinball tables are a rarity in Japan, let alone Japanese manufactured ones. That leads me to believe that inspiration for Capcom's mini pinball table came from abroad, namely the US. Certainly one of the most memorable mini pinball machines ever created was Bally's Baby Pac-Man. Bally tried to combine both the video game and pinball table experiences into one machine. Panic Shot! Rockman's similarities to the mini pinball aspect of Baby Pacman are fairly blatant. The play fields are similarly sized, the Ghost cards have been replaced by robots, and some of the other scoring gimmicks are consolidated into Wily's UFO.


Greg Bower - for his superb JP translation help!
Dan @ The Arcade Flyer Archive - for the wonderful service he provides the arcade community!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

NES 2 AV Toploader Mod + LED Mod

Recently a friend of mine asked me about NES clone systems. He basically wanted a reliable system with composite video output. After some discussion about the shortcomings of clones (cheaply made controllers, lacking sound/color pallet, etc.), we concluded that an official NES toploader with an AV modification was the optimal solution. During our conversation I warned him that if he wanted me to do the modification, I might make some other aesthetic "improvements." "Cat hair mod" was mentioned.

I scored a reasonably priced ($62, shipped) unit off an eBay seller and began planning what to do with the thing. I'd never done an AV modification on an NES toploader before, but I figured it couldn't be too hard. After a bit of looking around the interwebs I came across some helpful info which basically consisted of a small video circuit and where to grab the mono audio signal. I didn't follow any particular guide, but this guy's work is pretty close to what I did (major differences being that I opted to solder the video circuit directly to the NES's circuit board and I used RCA jacks instead of a headphone jack).

Some guides tell you to steal parts from the original video circuit. My advice is to preserve the original video circuit and just buy the extra parts required for the new one. You can retain your ability to use the RF output and it should cost less than $1.00 in parts to do so.

I contemplated using some cool Megaman art or a random cat face or something like that but, while digging through some pictures I had saved on my computer, I came across the perfect art candidate: Brandon Kusma.

Before settling upon my art selection, I had also considered adding a power indicator LED to the system. I had thought of putting an LED underneath the system, for a nice under-glow, or maybe just a simple red LED somewhere visible, ... but such things do not become us.

So, there you have it: an NES Toploader AV Mod, complete with light up N64 Kid graphics.

Watch the video on Youtube.