Elf Legend

The weather has been quite terrible in my local since last night; a super typhoon was headed my way, so I brought my cat into the game room, where we slept together. It felt much better to be on the inside, to get away from the howling winds and rain for just a few minutes. And the way that the glass doors to the balcony were shaking, it is only a matter of time before they break. So it was a wise decision for my furry buddy and I to move as far away from the outside as possible. We could have hung out in the bathroom all night too, I suppose, but that would have been one shitty experience, I am sure.

As always, it seems that typhoons always come on the weekend. I can’t have a hot date, and I can’t go shopping. I can’t even waste away my time in a brewpub, frantically stuffing french fries into my face. Nor do I get the benefit of having a day off from work. No, I am always stuck at home with a severe case of cabin fever, praying that things clear up by Sunday (which they won’t). And then I look around the house desperately for something to do. So I usually turn to my backlog of games, which is a good thing for you guys, since you get to enjoy a nice update 🙂

8 in 1 Multicart with Elf Legend

8 in 1 Multicart with Elf Legend

Over the past three and a half years, I ended up with a special 8 in 1 multicart in my possession. Unlike a lot of my collection, I don’t remember where I got this one from, though I suspect I either purchased it locally or grabbed it from a guy in Thailand. The multicart itself is numbered XB-F868, and was most likely made to go with the XB Famiclones that have been circulating around. Briefly playing through the cart when I first got it, I knew it was a keeper, but it was only a few months back where I finally had time to play through this cartridge properly. And that brings me to Elf Legend, the game I want to talk about.

Up until now, I have never seen anyone reference Elf Legend online. Google searches reveal pictures of cosplay folks dressed as Link. Perhaps the game is undumped, I’m not sure. So what is Elf Legend exactly? It is a hack of Chip n Dale Rescue Rangers 2, and quite frankly, it is the game Chip n Dale 2 should have been.

Elf Land Title Screen

Elf Land Title Screen

Our adventure starts out with two schmucks standing together on the title screen. Reminiscent of the Teletubbies, I actually thought that this was some sort of Teletubbies hack before doing more research and seeing that the names were all wrong. Either way, I am not the expert on said topic, and XB did publish an original Teletubbies game on one of their multicarts, so this could indeed be another Teletubbies game. Either way, it’s still just a hacked version of Chip n Dale 2.

Choose John or Pika

Choose John or Pika

The protagonist’s names are John and Pika, so I guess that lizardish character is supposed to be related to Pikachu somehow. After choosing your character, your receive a military-style briefing, which turns out to be quite humorous, but for the wrong reasons:

Cock say “You will perform a hard mission, that is you will to rescue Mario who was seized by enemy. Okay?”

What the Cock Say?

What the Cock Say?

Phew. Just from the text alone I thought this game was going to cross Rescue Rangers with some sort of fetish, but it appears that the one character’s name is “Cock”. Last time I played through the game I didn’t bother to read the introduction, and it added some confusion towards the end of the game. The Engrish in this game is pretty funny, and the ending sequence is even funnier, due to the poor name choice of Cock. But we’ll examine that later. Furthermore, why should I rescue Mario? Maybe he ended up kidnapped in Super Mario Bros. 17, which is a hack of the original Rescue Rangers. Who knows. Either way, sorry Mario, I love you, but I’d rather rescue the beautiful princess to your pudgy ass.

Stage One

Stage One

Elf Legend itself is essentially Chip n Dale: Rescue Rangers 2, although it has been heavily hacked. Although the stage layouts remain the same, some of the enemy sprites have been changed, along with those of the hero. Other background graphics have also been changed here and there, where needed. The pirates also messed around with the pallet of the game, and thus (imo) the game seems much more vibrant, much more alive. I prefer the brighter colors to the boring ones of the original game.

In addition, some of the music has been changed. The first stage’s tune, for example, has been sped up and tweaked so that it doesn’t sound anything like the original. While I wish that more of the music had been changed (level two, I’m looking at you…), these minor changes all add up and help to separate the game from its original incarnation.

Stage Two

Stage Two

To be honest, I used to hate the second installment of the Rescue Rangers series; growing up, Chip n Dale: Rescue Rangers was the very first game that my brother and I owned, alongside Rescue: The Embassy Mission (technically Dad’s game) and Super Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt. My brother and I played Chip n Dale for hours growing up, and we also played with my brother’s childhood best friend. With a game steeped in nostalgia, we were excited to learn of the sequel, many years later. Then when we finally did manage to obtain a copy of part 2 from Funcoland, we were highly disappointed. The stages were generic, the music felt lackluster, and the game was ultimately just a shadow of what the original was. This led to my brother and I bashing the sequel quite often, saying things such as “Rescue Rangers 2 sucks”, yet about a year ago we met back up and decided to give the game a fair shake, ultimately concluding that the game isn’t a bad game at all – it just isn’t fair to compare this game to its nostalgia-fueled prequel.

Welcome to the Harbor

Welcome to the Harbor

And that is part of the reason why I like Elf Legend so much. The game tries to distance itself from the Rescue Rangers franchise, yet the enjoyable play mechanics from the original Rescue Rangers game are still intact. So those of us who grew up with the original Rescue Rangers game, yet missed the sequel (and I suspect the vast majority of us did, seeing that the sequel got a late release) will be able to enjoy the game for what it is, without directly comparing it to the original gem. Thus nostalgia doesn’t stop us from being biased towards the game, doesn’t stop us from enjoying it.

Fat Cat's Replacement

Fat Cat’s Replacement

I also find the dialogues to be extremely amusing. For anyone that has studied Chinese, or has many Chinese friends, these translations should be quite familiar. They warm my heart, as I have many friends that say things of a similar vein, just due to not being proficient in the English tongue. One of the dialogues, for instance, says something about “use run”, which really cracked me up. Many of my friends say “use walk”, “use run”, etc, such as “We can catch that bus if we use run.” I guess it is not so funny for many, but if you know people that actually speak in this manner, it becomes somewhat endearing. With that said, I am sure there are many grammar constructions that English speakers use when translating directly into Chinese, which come across in the exact same way. 😉

I Dream about Our Cock

I Dream about Our Cock

The end of the game has possibly the “best” dialogue of all, thanks to the one character having the name of Cock. When you beat the game, the ending rolls, and a few sentences in, we are presented with the following beauty:

Pika: “As if I dream about our cock praise me now…”

Then another character (Jone maybe, I forget) has the following to add:

“You are so romantic.”

The initial time I played through this game, I had skipped the introduction screen, so I had no idea that the one character was named Cock. Can you imagine playing through the game and being presented with this sort of text at the end, out of context? Suddenly Elf Legend went from G to X-rated, in a matter of minutes. Maybe this is just coincidence, or maybe these are sexual innuendos, which the hackers had intended. We’ll never know for sure, but we can use our own judgments here 😛

The Konami Computer

Konami Computer

Konami Computer

Back in June I had been browsing through some pictures and I stumbled upon one of what appeared to be a Famicom or Famiclone. It looked similar to the traditional red and white machine that we all know and love, but displayed on the front was the Konami logo, along with the words “Konami Computer”. Otherwise, I didn’t receive any information about the machine itself. All I know is that the pic have shown above was taken by donnyf88, and the machine belongs in his collection. I may try to reach out to the owner at a later point to see if I can get more information about the machine, but I think it is likely that there is little evidence of a concrete nature to exist for such an exotic item as this.

I asked some others if anyone knew anything about this particular machine, but aside from seemingly being a Famiclone, there was nothing else known about the device. My initial thought was that the console was made by the same folks that made the “Konami” series of bootleg NES games, such as the one show below (picture once again stolen, and this time I don’t remember where I got it from, sorry). Games like this were quite often sold in countries such as Indonesia, and IMO the same folks that produced these games were probably also related to Spica and Supervision, other bootleg brands that were commonly found in Indonesia.

"Konami" Brand Nintendo Game

“Konami” Brand Nintendo Game

The question still remained though, as to why the game cartridges (72 pin versions) would not match up with the machine (60 pin machine). I just chalked it up as another one of those questions that would never be answered, as is the case with a vast majority of these obscure items. But I accidentally ended up with a potential answer (and even more questions) to my question, last weekend, after purchasing a lot of Famicom boots.

When I first received my bag of goodies, I was quite excited, as there were a lot of interesting items in the set. My excitement soon turned to horror though, as I started testing the games and discovered that a quarter of them were duds. At that point I decided to start opening the games one-by-one to clean them, and fortunately after removing layers of grime and dirt, I was able to revive a lot of the games. During this tedious process was when I made a startling discovery.

Bootleg Tetsuwan Atom Cart

Bootleg Tetsuwan Atom Cart

I busted open a Tetsuwan Atom game cart for cleaning. The shell itself was generic one with the nonsensical word “Tpita” on the front, and “Toito Corporation” on the rear. Even more shocking was the contents held within. The pcb itself was stamped with Konami’s logo, and so were the rom chips. To my untrained eye, the board itself appears to be 1:1 identical with the official Konami board, and although the chips have some variation to the ones pictured on Bootgod’s site (check it out here), the chips on my cartridge also have Konami logos stamped, as well as ID numbers similar to the official chips. Sadly my scanner is broken and my digital camera is also kaput, so all I can display at the moment are some crappy phone camera shots. But this discovery provides few answers and even more questions.

The items that are worth discussing (imo) are as follows: (a) whether the board / chips themselves are real, (b) whether this cartridge was designed for use on the above Famiclone, etc.

A Closer Look at the PCB

A Closer Look at the PCB

To address the first question, it seems plausible that the circuit board is a legit Konami board. Maybe Konami outsourced their cartridge production to a Taiwanese manufacturer, and the same company produced extra pirate versions after hours, to increase their profits. For all we know, Konami themselves might have produced these carts, sort of like generic brands of cereals being produced along side their well-known kin. Konami had some sort of dealings in Taiwan during the 1980s and 1990s, up through the modern times, so it is within the realm of possibility.

As mentioned above though, the codes on the ROM chips do not match up perfectly with the ones shown in Bootgod’s database, despite the fact that the chips in my cart are also stamped with Konami’s logo. So maybe these chips are real chips, maybe not. Maybe Konami ordered the production of this product under the table, or perhaps the guys at the company just decided to produce bootleg games using the (official) parts they had sitting around. We’ll probably never know for sure, but either way, the shell is not legit.

That leads us up to the second question, whether this cartridge has any relation to the Konami Famiclone. Sadly, once again there is no concrete information, and only pure speculation. Initially I would have guessed that there may have been a relationship between the two products, but after seeing that the Famiclone game I have seems to be a duplicate of the official item, it makes the issue become a bit odder in my eyes. If Konami were producing a second, illicit run of games, I think it seems unlikely that they would be so bold as to also display their logo on a Famiclone. So I really don’t know what the true story is, but I am sure it must be a pretty interesting one.

Super Mario Bros. (256 Worlds Version)

Super Mario Bros. 256 Worlds Version

Super Mario Bros. 256 Worlds Version

I remember semi-recently being informed of a secret in the original Super Mario Bros. Game, which had eluded me for years. Most Western gamers are sure to remember the infamous “Minus World”, and I also knew about the Famicom Disk version of Super Mario Bros. having a different minus world of sorts, which was still accessible by the warp zone trick that everyone is familiar with. What I wasn’t aware of was that in the cartridge version of the Japanese Super Mario Bros., 256 different worlds existed, literally hundreds of new levels.

Mysterious World 9

Mysterious World 9

According to this article, rumors initially began circulating in Japan about a world 9. After a lot of investigation, it would be discovered that by swapping out Mario for Tennis, and then for Mario again while the Famicom was powered on, the game would load up to one of the secret glitch worlds. Later, a safer method of accessing the stages (by using Family BASIC) would be discovered. Still, these two methods for exploring the hidden Mario stages can be a bit inconvenient, and that is where the Super Mario Bros. 256 Worlds cart comes into play.

The State Select

The State Select

The Super Mario Bros. 256 worlds cartridge is sort of like the “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” debate. It is hard to say if the bootleg game companies edited their game carts after knowledge of the original glitch spread, or if these carts were manufactured and hacked independently by the Chinese pirates, in a similar manner to how the stage started on or the number of lives might be edited in some pirate games. Either way, the so-called Super Mario Bros. 256 worlds cartridge is just a regular (bootleg) Super Mario Bros. cart, with a level-select directly built into the title screen. Pressing the B Button allows the player to cycle through and choose what world he or she wants to start on, including the hidden stages!

World A-1

World A-1

The hidden stages themselves are fun to play through and experiment with once or twice, but since they are glitch worlds, many are unable to be completed, and thus the allure quickly fades away. Likewise, I also have no idea just how common / rare this particular bootleg of Mario is. In outward appearance, the game cartridge just seems to be a standard Whirlwind Manu product, though checking a few of my other Super Mario pirates revealed them to be just normal versions of the game, i.e. sans the stage code. Either way, this game is a fun one to play around with if you have an afternoon to spare.

Mario’s Grand Adventure: Super Mario Land 7 (GB)

Super Mario Land 7 Cartridge

Super Mario Land 7 Cartridge

About a month ago I had stumbled upon the odd cartridge pictured above, namely Super Mario Land 7. I initially thought this would just be Nintendo’s original Game and Watch Gallery Game Boy cartridge, but curiosity got the best of me and I decided to chance it. Perhaps there was something interesting on the cartridge, and if not, then I could just unload it at a later time. But then I would get busy and forget about the game, having it lying in the bottom of my backpack for about a week.

When I finally remembered Super Mario Land 7, I tossed it into the Game Boy and fired it up. I was greeted with a semi-familiar site, basically the Super Mario World title screen, albeit slightly tweaked and presented in Game Boy glory. Maybe this cart would turn out to be a Yong Yong port of Super Mario World, which would go nicely with their horrible Super Mario Bros. 3 remake. Also, following standard pirate protocol, the name of the label fails to match the title presented on the start-up screen, Super Mario World 7.

Presenting Super Mario World 7

Presenting Super Mario World 7

Pressing start brings you to a different screen, this time one that displays three options: Start, Continue, and Password. Mario can be seen to the left. Although I wasn’t aware at this time, this particular screen reveals a bit more about the true nature of Super Mario World 7. Since I am not too familiar with the Game Boy’s vast catalog of games, though, nothing seemed out of the ordinary to me.

Hmm, This Is Starting to Look Familiar

Hmm, This Is Starting to Look Familiar

And then I was placed on the map screen! I wonder what secrets are contained within 1-1, Coastal Clash. Furthermore, for the uninitiated, this screen certainly could be passable as a Mario game. The music gives it away though, and I realize that this is a hack of one of the Adventure Island games. Since I never played any of the handheld installments from this series, I had to do more research to determine that this is a hack of part II, Aliens in Paradise.

Is this Adventure Island II?

Is this Adventure Island II?

Compared to some (lazy) hacks, this one is slightly more in-depth. For example, the fruit that Higgins normally collects is replaced by fire flowers, mushrooms, and other Mario symbols. Likewise, the snails were replaced by Goombas, and of course Higgins was swapped out for Mario.

Mario Battles a Goomba

Mario Battles a Goomba

Two things stand out to me regarding this hack. For starters, if compared to Famicom, the Game Boy platform has relatively few game hacks, despite the fact that unlicensed originals are plentiful. So to see this hack in the first place, and then as a stand-alone release, is quite a rarity. Furthermore, I think it is a nice touch that the designers behind this product followed suit with the Famicom hackers, by turning an Adventure Island game into a Mario game.

Super Mario World 7 wouldn’t be the only Mario hack to appear on Game Boy, though. Super Mario 4 is out there, floating around on single carts as well. It is a hack of Shin Chan. So if Mario 4 and 7 exist, it seems reasonable to believe that parts 5 and 6 could easily be out there too, waiting to be discovered. There is a large, extended (i.e. hacked) Mario series on Famicom, with seventeen or eighteen different games, so maybe more Game Boy Mario hacks are also available.

For those interested in owning this game, last weekend I stumbled upon a second copy of the game, and it is being auctioned off at the link below (auction #7), along with some other unlicensed obscurities:

Super Mario World 7 GB Auction

The Game King Has Become a God

If you haven’t read my previous article, I suggest you do so now before reading this follow-up. Part 1 of this story can be found at the link below:

7-in-1 TV 16 Bit

As everyone may remember in my last post, I blew $5 on a 16-bit 7-in-1 gaming device that I thought was going to be a dud at best, or non-functioning at worst. When I powered the thing on, however, I had discovered something quite interesting, which made me decided to keep the unit for myself. You can check the title screen below, maybe you can spot the item of interest to me.

Super Game 7 in 1 Title Screen

Super Game 7 in 1 Title Screen

To be direct, the Super Game 7 in 1 was developed and published by Time Top. While this company might not ring a bell for some of the readers here, others might remember the company for its more infamous product, namely the Game King. The Game King was a portable gaming device of low resolution, which made its way around parts of Europe and Asia during the early part of the 21st century. There were many varieties of Game King machines produced, but the originals mimicked the Game Boy Advance in design, though the cartridges resembled those belonging to a Game Boy or Game Boy Color. The last “true” Game King in the series would be the Game King III, which offered higher resolution games, in color, and of course the original games were also backwards compatible with this latest version. Although the rarest of the three machines, the GKIII would also be the best of the three, clearing up the major issue that the original Game King had: blurriness.

I’ve never written about the Game King on my blog, despite the fact that I collect the games and have a soft spot for the system itself. The game machine has that unauthorized feeling to it that makes it interesting, yet the games themselves are basically low-resolution clones of popular NES games, such as Super Mario Bros. And Adventure Island. I’ll probably write about the Game King itself in a future blog, but for those who are unfamiliar with it, THIS is a good site to provide you with a nice introduction on what the Game King is about. Anyways, time to get back to the 7-in-1 machine.

Game Select Menu

Game Select Menu

A generic menu screen appears, from which you can select one of seven games: Risker, Crazy Speed, Firebolt, Stoneage, Gun Force, Adventure, and Bomb Boy. I’ll take the games in order, starting with Risker.

RISKER:

Risker Title Screen

Risker Title Screen

As you might be able to deduce from the title screen, Risker is basically an Adventure Island clone. Why this game was given the name Risker, I’ll never know. Interestingly enough, Time Top also produced a Spy Hunter clone for their hand held Game King series titled Risker. Same name, totally different game. Hmm.

The Main Character Is Floating

The Main Character Is Floating

Unlike some of the other games that I will showcase later, Risker is not an arcade-style game. I am curious what the game has in store for the gamer, but I’ve been able to make little progress so far. Sometimes the character will end up floating / standing above the enemies’ heads, and instead of moving when I press the directional pad, he will just turn his body left or right. I am not sure if this is a glitch or just human error on my part.

F1 CRAZY SPEED:

Crazy Speed Title Screen

Crazy Speed Title Screen

Up next we have F1 Crazy Speed. The title screen has some catchy music, but in similar style to the Game King, the music loops after five or ten seconds. A lot (if not all) of the games on this device share this same “flaw”, which Game King enthusiasts know all too well.

Choose a Character

Choose a Character

In this game, you can choose from four different character choices and three different racetracks. Although I selected the tiger, the last character reminds me of the Koopa Troopa from the original Mario Kart game.

Stage 3

Stage 3

Overall, this is not a bad game, although it is generic. As you can see from the photo above, the game counts each track as a different stage, thus why I am starting out on stage three (I selected the last track).

FIREBOLT:

Firebolt Title Screen

Firebolt Title Screen

Firebolt is reminiscent of arcade games such as 1942. Actually, the quality of this game reminds me of a game I had made back in high school. I used a free game engine to make a PC game called Dawg Fight 316, IIRC. The game had four levels, and at one point the planes were even flying in outer space. Like any good programmer, I cranked up the difficulty and my Latin teacher never made it out of the first stage.

Just Like 1942

Just Like 1942

My experience with Firebolt has been quite similar. I fly for a few screens worth, dodge some bullets, and then ultimately see my plane crash below, into the drink. * Sighs * I guess that is how I know I am starting to show my age, when my gaming skills start to go.

STONEAGE:

Stoneage Title Screen

Stoneage Title Screen

Stoneage is basically a clone of Flintstones. The character looks like a feminized Fred Flintstone, and although I haven’t had time to dive into the game thoroughly (yet), this one seems like another game that will be worth checking out.

Cross-dressing Fred

Cross-dressing Fred

GUN FORCE:

Gun Force Title Screen

Gun Force Title Screen

Hands down, Gun Force is my favorite game on the device. The game is a well-designed Contra clone. Although the backgrounds are bland, the controls are smooth, and I had no difficulty advancing through the first stage.

Hmm...Contra?

Hmm…Contra?

When I approached the boss, I was rather amused. Where did I see this before? Yup, Time Top was shameless when it came to copying Contra.

Yup, It's Contra

Yup, It’s Contra

ADVENTURE:

Adventure Title Screen

Adventure Title Screen

What do we have here, Tiny Toons? The game itself seems to be a puzzle / arcade game of sorts, though I haven’t played around with it much.

A Puzzle Game of Sorts

A Puzzle Game of Sorts

BOMB BOY:

Bomb Boy Title Screen

Bomb Boy Title Screen

As you have probably guessed by now, Bomb Boy is a clone of Bomber Man. I never really played the original Bomber Man that much, but decided to give this one a go. I wasn’t even able to make it out of the first level, finding myself trapped without being able to find any sort of solution. I’ll have to come back to this one later as well, and see if I can improve my performance.

What Color Are You?

What Color Are You?

Despite my initial impressions, the Super Game 7 in 1 turned out to be a really neat product to play around with. The machine itself basically reminds me of the beloved Game King in so many ways. The games themselves are inspired by the classics, yet they have the quirkiness attached to them comparable to the charm of unlicensed Chinese software on major gaming platforms. For $5 this was definitely worth it, and I am excited to play these games further. If the Game King were a king, then I would say these games would be the Game God.

7-in-1 TV 16 BIT (Introduction)

It is often necessary to take risks, if one wants to become successful in life. Sometimes the risk pays off, and other times, well you end up in a situation that is worse than riding through Hell on a dead penguin’s battered carcass. Three weeks ago someone offered to sell me one of those dime-a-dozen plug-n-play game machines for around $7. This machine was somewhat reminiscent of what a Halloween-themed Xbox controller would like like: solid black with a giant “pumpkin” in the middle, and traces of silver bordering the logo. To make things even worse, no cables were included in the package, making me immediately suspicious that the machine wouldn’t function. The final nail in the coffin: the machine was 16 bit and I am not really a large fan of the 16-bit gaming era. I thanked the guy for his time, and was on my way.

A week later I ran into the same guy somewhere else, and he once again mentioned this plug-n-play device. I still wasn’t overly impressed, but I had a few extra shekels on me so I decided to make an offer. I offered the guy $3 and he countered with $5, we shook hands and the deal was done. I through the item in my sack and there it would remain, for another week and a half before I decided to clean house and list some items for sale. Then it was time to briefly check out the 7-in-1 gaming machine, before listing it on my sales thread. Things didn’t work out quite as nicely as I had planned though 😉

7-in-1 Plug-n-Play

7-in-1 Plug-n-Play

Before even delving into the games contained in this product, I found there to be some large problems initially when testing the 7-in-1. I’ve personally always hated those “games built into controllers” machines, which flooded the market in the early 2000s. Compared to real gaming consoles, I’ve always found the devices to be poorly designed. The controllers either feel awkward or cheap, and somehow I’d always end up jerking the controller too quickly while playing a game and oops, the damn thing glitches. Unlike some of these plug-n-plays, which I have owned in the past (I recently gave two extremely low quality N64 controller-shaped Famiclones to a woman that exchanges stale bread for other peoples’ garbage), the plastic used for this machine is of a higher quality. Also, instead of using a power adapter, the unit is powered via four AA batteries. Although this feature suits me best, since I already have a surge strip loaded to the gills with ac adapters, my biggest complaint here is that it is difficult to get the batteries to fit into the machine. I press them down, and they immediately pop back out, before I have time to slap the battery cover into position. This issue doesn’t make or break the system, but it is just one minus of several before I even got started properly.

The next problem I stumbled upon occurred once I did finally manage to power on the device. The start button as well as a few of the others were extremely unresponsive to the touch. I didn’t know what the story might have been, so I decided to open the thing up and see if the pads were worn out or misaligned, if the buttons were just dirty and needed cleaned, etc.

Now if you recall, I was initially planning on selling this machine. My initial thoughts changed though, after the device had loaded up. Due to something I saw on the title screen, I realized that this one was a keeper, at least in my book. Otherwise I would have just sold it for a cheap price, disclosed the button problem, and let the new owner see how it could be fixed. But alas, fate had a different plan for me this time.

When I opened the unit, I immediately ran into trouble. All of the buttons came tumbling out of their respective places, like dice scattered from a Parcheesi shaker. I then start matching buttons to holes, and have things seemingly ready to go. I put the rubber button mats in place, carefully try to lodge the circuit board back into its rightful place and…sonofabitch! The wires connecting to the battery holder broke off. Now it was time to grow a pair of cojones and be the man that girl desires. Truth be told, even if I were Brad Pitt, probably even a small glimpse of the 7-in-1 would make any potential female friend run out of my arms and into that of the pimply stringbean down the street. The fact still stood though, I had to learn to solder, and it was finally time to bust out that unused soldering iron I got for Christmas two years ago.

What happened next is something that I don’t recommend people doing, so although what I write is true, please do not try this yourself as it is dangerous, and as such, I take no responsibility for any copycats out there that follow in my steps and get injured in the process. Earlier this week, the 7-11 shops had started selling Sam Adam’s Boston Lager beer in cans. Usually, I only have easy access to beer of the light-swill variety, so I was tickled to see this welcome addition to 7-11’s beer case. Alas this is a summer-only promotion, so I decided to take advantage early and scooped up several tall cans of Sam Adams. After working all day, I felt that it would be nice to spend the last few hours of the night fooling around with the 7-in-1, while also sipping on some Boston beer, but then the wire disaster occurred, putting the ultimately stupid idea in my head of drunken soldering. 3 A.M. was never so exciting. Time to lose my soldering virginity.

The cat went in the cage, the windows were thrust open, and the iron was plugged in. The solder was removed from the case, the directions were thrown in the garbage without a single glance, and it was showtime. Due to the dim light combined with drunkenness and tiredness, squinting became my best friend, as I tried to see exactly what I was doing. Some solder dripped onto the wire, it felt snug, and a moment of calmness came over my body. I had no injuries, the house didn’t burn down, and the operation seemed to have been a success. I put away my tools, cleaned up the mess, and it was finally time to examine the mysterious contents of the 7-in-1 in more detail.

To Be Continued…

The Ultimate Famicom Software Guide

Today I feel that it is time to finally release The Ultimate Famicom Software Guide.  This has been a labor of love, a project I have been working on for several months.  Although I am not 100% satisfied with the format, by now I feel it is as good as it will get, hence why I have decided to share this project on FC Game Land.

The Ultimate Famicom Software Guide is my attempt at making a comprehensive Famicom software guide.  I have divided the software into categories, and even include game hacks and items like that in my guide.  At the moment I can think of a few minor corrections I need to make regarding the content, but it is about 98% correct, imo.

Regarding the format itself, it can be a little wonky at times, thanks in part to the fact that I don’t have Microsoft Word on my new computer.  The freeware word processor I am using, while intuitive, sometimes does odd things that I just can’t seem to work around, particularly in regards to the insertion of pictures.  Alas, it is what it is, and for the little amount of time I actually use a word processor, it really isn’t worth the price of admission for me to purchase Word.

Either way, I think the guide turned out fairly nice, and I hope it is of some interest to everyone.  In a month or so, I’ll probaby release version 2.0, so stay tuned.

I’ve Been through a Whirlwind: Beggars Can’t Be Choosers

Awhile back I had “scored” a catalog containing information about the various game cartridges that the infamous pirate outfit (Whirlwind Manu) had produced. Manu had distributed copied Famicom games across the globe, with their territories spanning from Taiwan all the way to places such as Argentina and Chile in South America. As luck had it, I saw an informational booklet or pamphlet go up for sale with info about this company, and although the asking price was rather steep, I took the chance and immediately bought the booklet. I wasn’t even sure what the booklet was, exactly, since there were no pictures of the inside to be had. Since I’m a sucker for this sort of stuff, though, I plunked the money down and eagerly awaited for my package to arrive in the mail.

After receiving the brochure in the mail, I had received requests from a lot of people, who had all wanted to see the contents of the book. While I am not against sharing information like that, and preserving it for all, a busy scheduled coupled with laziness hindered my progress of fulfilling the request. I then had promised to set aside some time to scan the item, hoping that I could have it completed before December of 2014 rolled around, but fate had other plans for me. As luck would have it, my new kitten would play on my scanner, and something got bollixed up. My computer stopped acknowledging the scanner’s presence, and there was nothing more that I could do. So I was unable to fulfill my promise, no one got to see the contents of the magazine, and my evil cat succeeded at breaking one of my items. Don’t worry, I took it out of his monthly allowance, and he is still trying to catch cockroaches and mosquitoes to pay off the debt.

Tonight I decided that it was about time to share the contents of the Manu flier with everyone. Although my scanner is still broken, I took pictures of the entire catalog. As one can see, the flier shows the artwork and gives a brief description about many of the games that Whirlwind Manu had bootlegged. Some of the descriptions are pretty funny to read, and although a nice reference source, the catalog is incomplete. Still, it would be an invaluable resource for those that are trying to collect all of the Whirlwind Manu games. At one point I was actually work towards that goal myself, but I then just became fed up with purchasing an official version of the game, as well as a Whirlwind Manu version, and thus I stopped. As I said earlier, beggars can’t be choosers, and I hope you guys enjoy this rare glimpse into one bootleg company’s knavery.

Catalog Front Cover

Catalog Front Cover

Catalog Pages 1 - 2

Catalog Pages 1 – 2

Catalog Pages 3 - 4

Catalog Pages 3 – 4

Catalog Pages 5 - 6

Catalog Pages 5 – 6

Catalog Pages 7 - 8

Catalog Pages 7 – 8

Catalog Pages 9 - 10

Catalog Pages 9 – 10

Catalog Pages 11 - 12

Catalog Pages 11 – 12

Catalog Pages 13 - 14

Catalog Pages 13 – 14

Catalog Pages 15 - 16

Catalog Pages 15 – 16

Catalog Pages 17 - 18

Catalog Pages 17 – 18

Catalog Pages 19 - 20

Catalog Pages 19 – 20

Catalog Pages 21 - 22

Catalog Pages 21 – 22

Catalog Pages 23 - 24

Catalog Pages 23 – 24

Catalog Pages 25 - 26

Catalog Pages 25 – 26

Catalog Pages 27 - 28

Catalog Pages 27 – 28

Catalog Pages 29 - 30

Catalog Pages 29 – 30

Catalog Pages 31 - 32

Catalog Pages 31 – 32

Catalog Pages 33 - 34

Catalog Pages 33 – 34

Catalog Pages 37 - 38

Catalog Pages 35 – 36

Catalog Pages 39 - 40

Catalog Pages 37 – 38

Catalog Pages 41 - 42

Catalog Pages 39 – 40

Catalog Pages 43 - 44

Catalog Pages 41 – 42

Catalog Pages 45 - 46

Catalog Pages 43 – 44

Catalog Pages 47 - 48

Catalog Pages 45 – 46

Catalog Pages 49 - 50

Catalog Pages 47 – 48

Catalog Pages 51 - 52

Catalog Pages 49 – 50

Catalog Pages 55 - 56

Catalog Pages 51 – 52

Catalog Pages 57 - 58

Catalog Pages 53 – 54

Catalog Pages 59 - 60

Catalog Pages 55 – 56

Catalog Pages 61 - 62

Catalog Pages 57 – 58

Catalog Pages 63 - 64

Catalog Pages 59 – 60

Catalog Pages 65 - 66

Catalog Pages 61 – 62

Catalog Pages 67 - 68

Catalog Pages 63 – 64

Back Cover

Back Cover

Interesting Famicom Disk Hacks

Those that are closest to me already know that the bane of my existence in the vast sea of Famicom goodies is that infamous little add-on, HVC-022, the Family Computer Disk System. Although this extension of our beloved red white machine might have also received attention and praise during its initial launch, the Famicom Disk System (FDS) can be compared to the stereotypical sunbathing, chain smoking, tattooed beauty of our youth; when we run into them unexpectedly at the supermarket, twenty years later, they fail to impress with their yellowed teeth, alligator skin, and the unintelligible remnants of what used to be a dragon tattoo. That, my friend, is what our Famicom Disk System has become.

Broken belts, misaligned magnetic heads, corrupted disks…these are all ailments that the FDS constantly suffers. Last week I spent several minutes realigning the magnetic head on my disk machine, and although the results were excellent in the beginning, by the time I moved away from plain vanilla disks and started throwing bootlegs and unlicensed crap its way, the machine choked and started sending me constant error messages in return. With cartridges, I never have these problems, and I am never left in the awkward position of trying to guess whether a game disk is just acting finicky, or whether it has actually gone bad. Ick, these failings easily make the little Famicom disks my least favorite part of the whole Famicom game library, despite all of the hidden gems tucked away so nicely on those little floppies from yesteryear.

Approximately two years ago I obtained around 40 or 50 different copied disks from a guy located in Indonesia. The games were all labeled with numbers on the top of their plastic cases, as well as on the disks themselves. Artwork was also printed out with care, and stuffed in with the unlawful games. Were these being used for rental? Private consumption? It was hard to say, all I knew was that I wanted to add these to my collection.

Copied Famicom Disks

Copied Famicom Disks

A few weeks later, a package arrived from my contact and I eagerly perused the stash that I bought. Mario 3, Tetris, Crackout…it was all here. I grabbed my first disk, stuffed it in my twin Famicom and voila! I just whipped myself into an error message! Rinse and repeat. I must have tried to get half of the disks to run; my anger grew as the disk system starting spewing out exotic error messages, each being stranger than the one previous. At this point it dawned on me that I would need some sort of disk copying device to run these game. Sadly, finding such an item for Famicom-era is easier said than done. A few months later this dog did have his day though, and for about $30 I wound up with a boxed Turbo Game Doctor 4+ on my doorstep. To run that beast though, I also needed a standalone Famicom Disk System, since it wouldn’t work properly on a Twin Famicom. I dropped another $60, and once the final piece in this crazy setup arrived, I would once again plop down in front of the TV, eager to unlock the mysteries of the Indonesian disks.

My Disk System Station

My Disk System Station

The first game I would pop in would inevitably be one titled Mario Castlevania, according to the handwriting on the disk. The artwork for this game is quite amusing in itself. Mario, apparently stolen from the cover of Mario Golf Japan Course, has raised his hands again to swing something. Instead of a club, he decides to take on a new profession – that of a vampire hunter! It is time for our favorite hero to enter the world of the undead, the world of Dracula and the Belmonts.

Mario Castlevania Disk

Mario Castlevania Disk

As the game loads up, I am left unfazed, as I see the familiar Castlevania title screen. Judging from the cover art of Mario Castlevania, this comes as no surprise. I then choose a file and it is time to get going!

Mario Castlevania for FDS

Mario Castlevania for FDS

As the name suggests, Mario Castlevania is…well…err, it is the original Castlevania game with Mario hacked in. On another page, Nathan White has the following to say about Mario Castlevania:

The is just the first three levels of Akumajou Dracula (Castlevania) with the Simon Belmont sprite switched out with a Mario sprite. It is a pretty neat little experiment, but unfortunately it is little more than just a sprite swap- you retain none of Mario’s abilities or game mechanics. The game also ends after just the third level, but it is an interesting curiosity regardless.”

Although his description of Mario Castlevania is pretty much spot on (the only difference between this game and the original Castlevania is the Mario sprite, nothing else has been changed), the game does not terminate after level three.

Mario Castlevania, Level 5

Mario Castlevania, Level 5

The fun continues up through the final battle with our favorite vampire, Dracula (sorry Edward, move over).

Mario vs Dracula

Mario vs Dracula

Despite the minimal changes to the game, this is easily one of my favorite Famicom disks, as it basically encapsulates everything I love about the Famicom in one game, namely a fun game, bootleggers with a great imagination that are also lacking in ability, weirdness, and obscurity. Nice!

Mario Zelda for FDS

Mario Zelda for FDS

Scanning through the large pile of games, the next disk that caught my eye would be number 59, Mario Zelda. Unlike Mario Castlevania, which I had read about before (and was ironically enough the sole reason that I purchased this particular lot of games), I had never seen anything of this Mario Zelda game. The artwork showed Link photoshopped in Mario’s world, but alas the disk gave me an error when loading it. And it had given me an error message the next time I tried to play the game, and the next time. For two years I tried to load the disk and for two years I lost sleep over the contents of disk. I am being completely honest here, without any embellishments. Before writing this article, I decided to pop the game in for another try, just in case, and low and behold, the game loaded this time!

As to be expected, I was greeted with a familiar sight, the title screen for Super Mario Bros. It seems that when Mario went to Transylvania to save the humans from Dracula, King Koopa slipped in to the Mushroom Kingdom and made off with the princess. Since Luigi is such a coward, Toad and the other mushroom retainers had no choice but to ask Link to be their substitute hero, and he answered their call.

Mario Zelda Title Screen

Mario Zelda Title Screen

Mario Zelda is quite similar to Mario Castlevania. It is just a generic hack of Super Mario Bros., where Link is stuffed into the game instead of Mario. Unlike the Castlevania game though, there are some interesting points about this game. To begin, Link’s sprite looks normal when he is walking, but if he stops to take a rest, he suddenly turns into this two-headed demon.

Normal Link

Normal Link

Two-Headed Link

Two-Headed Link

Instead of going to warp zones, Link prefers to go to the Gold Lion. Is this sort of like a Purple Ganon?

The Gold Lion

The Gold Lion

And at the end, when Link rescues the princess, she refers to him as Mario. Did Link drug Princess Peach just to score her, while Mario was away on his other adventures? I guess it is hard to say, since people rarely discuss this chapter in Link’s life.

Sorry Mario, Link is Peach's New Squeeze

Princess Peach’s Main Squeeze, Link

The last game of particular interest was Aladin Ekivalen. In Bahasa Indonesian, the words just translate into “Equivalent Aladdin”. The artwork itself depicts Subcon, and I can see Wart and Mario duking it out, with the Konami Man and other Konami characters joining the fray.

Aladin Ekivalen for FDS

Aladin Ekivalen for FDS

To my disappointment, thus far when loading up the game, I only get error 27 messages, so until the disk cooperates with us, I guess we don’t get to know what sort of greatness this disk holds.

To sum things up, I feel the disk hacks such as Mario Castlevania and Mario Zelda are pretty neat. In this day and age, this sort of hack is nothing special – everyone has made some sort of rom hack where just one or two sprites have been tweaked or swapped. But this sort of hacking wasn’t really so common among the layman during the era that these disks were made. So while I might feel underwhelmed by today’s standards, these games are quite amusing to see and play, when framed in the right context. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to get back to adjusting my disk system’s head again, as it seems to be misaligned…

Zhongshan Subor Educational Electronics Company (Subor) has made a name for themselves in many circles, thanks to the large variety of interesting Famiclones they managed to produce over the years. In addition to several generic Famiclones that are not worth mentioning, Subor made whole computer packages comprised of disk drives, keyboards and the works. One of Subor’s machines was emulator-based and contained a built-in SD Drive, which allowed gamers to load roms from their memory cards directly into the machine. Few are aware, however, that Subor also had exclusive software designed for use with its large array of pseudo-computer Famiclones. That is what I want to discuss today.

One of the most popular themes in educational software has to do with the learning of foreign languages. Just as Americans can purchase dozens of budget PC titles promising to teach the buyers how to speak French or Spanish, English software was the rage during the 80s and 90s. In Japan, Nintendo released a Popeye English game, and Sachen’s Middle School English was another English-based game. Subor would also follow suit, and one of their products was English Word Blaster.

Below you can view the front and back sides of an advert for Subor’s Word Blaster game. The product naturally makes use of Subor’s keyboard, and the game itself is housed inside an oversize Famicom cartridge.

Subor's English Word Blaster

Subor’s English Word Blaster

Screenshots for English Word Blaster

Screenshots for English Word Blaster

An interesting point in Subor’s history is the fact that they had teamed up with Jacky Chan to promote some of their products. As can be seen below, one such item that Chan had promoted was the aforementioned English software. I wonder how many children actually used this product to learn English, and I am even more curious as to how many people learned English to an adequate level with this thing. Maybe it inspired people to go on and continue with their studies independently, who knows?

Jacky Chan Supports Subor's Products

Jacky Chan Supports Subor’s Products

Next we have another advert, this one is for another educational Subor game. This time the cartridge is a two in one program.

2 in 1 Educational Software

2 in 1 Educational Software

Finally, let’s examine a few fliers that showcase the actual clones that run these games. Our next leaflet lists the words “English Word Blaster” at the top in rainbow colors, though the picture itself just shows the Subor486B clone running an educational program. The accompanying text discusses the features of their Chinese / English computer (Famiclone).

Subor's SB-486B Clone

Subor’s SB-486B Clone

And finally we have another old advertisement from Subor, this one is dated December 1993. It shows the Subor 586 clone, as well as the Chinese / English SB 486B model. The backside of the flier discusses some of the features of the bundled software programs, and also lists the prices of the clones. The SB 486B model was being listed at 486 yuan, whereas the SB 586 is only half the price at 250 yuan. The latter model seems to plug directly into the controller port in a Famiclone, though unfortunately I don’t have one of these to play with.

Subor Models SB-486B and SB-586

Subor Models SB-486B and SB-586

Information about the Software

Information about the Software

Finally, I just want to say a few final thoughts on the material presented above. To begin, I find it a bit regretful that the quality of these pictures is not the best; however, my cat Richard, had been living up to his name (“Dick”) and my scanner has been in need of maintenance since last December. So for now we have to enjoy these interesting adverts from the quality of an unsteady hand and a ten-year old digital camera.

In addition, I just want to thank my good buddy Pai cui ke, who hooked me up with this stuff. Pai cui ke is a serious collector located in the heart of Europe. A former mechanic gone rogue, this guy went to the deepest parts of China and Hong Kong, joining gangs, sharing drinks, and smoking cigs with members of the triads, all in the name of underground video game greatness. I better shut up for now though, before Pai cui ke or his henchmen aid me in swimming with the fishes. Thanks bro for everything, I hope to send your next shipment sometime soon 🙂