Nintendo Virtual Boy

Nintendo Virtual Boy

5th Generation Competitors
3DO Jaguar Nintendo 64 Playstation CD32 FM Towns Marty PC-FX Pippin Playdia Loopy
Region Release Date Discontinued Lifetime Sales
Japan 21st July 1995  22nd Dec 1995  770,000 (total)
North America 16th Aug 1995 2nd March 1996  –
Europe  –

 

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Car Marty Floppy Drive Pinout

Car Marty Pinout

Here’s the Pinout for the Floppy port on the Fujitsu Car Marty.  This will allow you to connect an external Floppy Disk Drive (Japanese 3 mode, 3.5″)

Port as seen from the back of the machine.

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

IMPORTANT: Some of the ports marked NC (No Connection) are actually attached to the +7V line, make sure these are unconnected.

1 +7V 14 Step
2 Index 15 GND
3 +7V 16 Write Data
4 Drive Select 17 GND
5 +7V 18 Write Gate
6 Disk Change 19 GND
7 NC 20 Track 00
8 Ready 21 GND
9 HD Out 22 Write Protect
10 Motor On 23 GND
11 NC 24 Read Data
12 Direction Select 25 GND
13 GND 26 Select Side One

This is still a WIP

Transferring Game Boy PocketCamera Photos to a PC

The Nintendo Game Boy PocketCamera was designed to take photos that only really look good on the original Game Boy’s greyscale screen.  But still you want to view these masterpieces on your PC, how do you do it?

Using an Arduino based project created by Brian Khuu (here) we make our PC pretend it’s a Game Boy Printer and then convert the data to a useable picture.

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We take a look at Outrun Ports

Outrun is probably one of the best loved Arcade racers out there.  Designed by Yu Suzuki in 1986 it utilised the hardware created for the earlier Hang On and Space Harrier titles.

Because it was an incredibly popular Arcade machine it was ported to many consoles, we take a look at it on:

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Vectrex

Western Technologies / Smith Engineering Vectrex

2nd Generation Competitors
Mattel Intellivision Atari 2600
Region Release Date Discontinued Lifetime Sales
Japan Jun 1983 1984
North America Nov 1982 1984
Europe May 1983 1984

The Vectrex is an interesting beast.  It was created with the idea of portability in mind, the idea that the owner could pack it up and carry it wherever they wanted then plug it in and play.

To this end it had a lovely Vector based display.  Unlike the raster based displays that televisions employed, the vector display was designed to draw lines.  The result is an image that, whilst only black and white, pops off the screen and has a fair 3D effect.

Western Technologies shopped this idea around to manufacturers and eventually signed a license agreement with General Consumer ElectronicsGCE would build and distribute it and pay WT royalties.

GCE showed it off at the Consumer Electronics Show in 1982 and released it in November of the same year, just in time for Christmas.  The initial sales were promising, so much so that Milton Bradley, who had been looking to break into the games market, decided to purchase GCE.

With the extra muscle that the large toy company bought, the Vectrex was marketed in Europe and, in a partnership with Bandai, Japan.

However, the promising start ended when the video game crash, which affected North America and parts of Europe, hit.  The Vectrex sales disappeared and MB lost millions of dollars, causing them to merge with Hasbro.

Because the Vectrex was a black and white device, and the built-in screen meant it always would be, games came with a colour overlay.  This overlay marked off certain parts of the screen and highlighted score areas.

The downside of this technique is that over time the display becomes misaligned, so the overlays no longer line up properly.

The Vectrex produces a loud buzzing during operation, due to a noise issues with the high voltage line.  There is a mod that can be made to reduce this.

The Vectrex was the first home console to offer a 3D peripheral, the 3D Imager, which used a spinning disc to alternate eye covers.  The Vectrex also had a light pen which could be used by a couple of titles.

The Vectrex was a phenomenal achievement for it’s time and still has a devoted fan following.  The screen is hard to describe and can’t be adequately reproduced in pictures and video.

All Vectrex units come with Mine Storm, an asteroids clone, built-in.  It loads when a game cartridge is not detected.

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Nintendo Super Famicom

Nintendo Super Famicom / Super Nintendo Entertainment System

4th Generation Competitors
Neo Geo CD Megadrive PC Engine Neo Geo AES CDTV Philips CDI NEC SuperGrafx
Region Release Date Discontinued Lifetime Sales
Japan 21st Nov 1990 2003  17.17M
North America 23rd Aug 1991 1999  23.35M
Europe 11th April 1992 1999  8.58M

Nintendo didn’t rush their second console, despite their main competitor, Sega, releasing the first of the 16 bit consoles, they continued development for another two years.

The result was a sleek and powerful console with a great set of launch games.  Nintendo didn’t have the luxury of exclusivity this time around but it didn’t matter.  Publishers wanted to release games on the undisputed winner of the previous generations new machine.

The Super Famicom was a console that had been designed by games developers and players.  Nintendo had talked to it’s in-house teams and specially chosen external companies, like Rare, to find out what they expected in the next generation platform.

The Super Famicom released in Japan to pretty much instant success.  The console sold so well that Nintendo were forced to ship them at night to stop organised groups from stealing them.  Whilst they quickly caught up with Sega in their home territory they didn’t have the same lead they’d had before.

The battle was even closer in North America and Europe when the console was released as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (shortened to Super Nintendo or Snes).   However, although it was popular in South America, most of it remained a Sega stronghold, especially Brazil.

Although most of the world had a console that looked like the Japanese Famicom, the North American model was more boxy and had a curious bulge around the cartridge.  The rumoured reason is that a lot of the failed NES consoles were damaged by things being spilt inside when they were balanced on top, so the console was given less space at the top for this to happen.

The resultant polarity amongst owners saw the first Fanboy wars of the console world.  In the previous generation Nintendo had been so dominant that they were largely the only console anyone talked about, but now the playgrounds were split between Nintendo and Sega.

The Super Nintendo was, on paper, a far more sophisticated machine than the Megadrive.  The Megadrive managed to compete because the Motorola 68000 was still a very powerful chip, and generally faster at most tasks.

The Super Famicom did win the generation, but it was a hard battle.  Sega had shown that Nintendo were vulnerable and they were still two years ahead in console development.  But Nintendo had proven that they did not get intimidated by competition and had produced a genuinely classic console.

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Sony Playstation 2

Sony Playstation 2

6th Generation Competitors
Gamecube Dreamcast XBox
Region Release Date Discontinued Lifetime Sales
Japan 4th Mar 2000 2012  155M (total)
North America 26th Oct 2000 2013
Europe 24th Nov 2000 2013

 

 

Sony took over the console world with their first console, the Playstation.  They had no experience in the market but still managed to outgun Nintendo and Sega.

Needless to say, the industry was looking forward to seeing how they coped with their second foray into the gaming world.  They did not disappoint.

The Playstation 2 was a behemoth in terms of technology, it shipped with a, then, expensive DVD drive.  It had a processor that was designed from the ground up to play games.  It was capable (at launch) of installing Linux, so it could be used as a powerful workstation.

The PS2 was an instant success, true the software attach rate wasn’t great.  Whilst it wasn’t cheap the PS2 was still far cheaper than any DVD player, so many people bought it for that purpose.  This may not have sold games but it put a PS2 in a lot of living rooms.

The rumour is that this fact was the final push the execs at Microsoft needed to fully support the XBox project.  The idea that a company as large as Sony, who seemed to be supporting an alternate operating system to their Windows platform, would control the living room was too much of a risk.

The Playstation 2 was definitely responsible for the very fast acceptance of DVD, it quickly became the single most used DVD player in Japan and probably the world.

The Playstation 2 saw the first 3D version of the Grand Theft Auto franchise.  The franchise is now one of the highest grossing entertainment products of all time.

Sony released a price cut slimline version of the Playstation 2, called the Slim.

 

The Playstation 2 is considered to be one of the greatest consoles ever made and is the longest lived and highest selling.  It was a genuine display of the art of technology creation and cemented Sony’s role in the gaming world.

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Sony Playstation

Sony Playstation

5th Generation Competitors
3DO Jaguar Nintendo 64 Sega Saturn CD32 FM Towns Marty PC-FX Pippin Playdia Loopy
Region Release Date Discontinued Lifetime Sales
Japan 3rd Dec 1994 2006 102.49M (total)
North America 9th Sep 1995 2006
Europe 29th Sep 1995 2006

 

 

Nintendo had released a floppy drive for their previous console, the Famicom.  After they released it’s follow up, the Super Famicom, they decided they wanted to do the same thing.

Rather than approach Sharp as they had with the Famicom, Nintendo decided to talk to Sony through Ken Kutaragi, the man who had convinced them to use the Sony SPC-700 sound chip instead of the near standard Yamaha family.

Sony returned with a prototype, a unit that was slightly bigger than the base machine but packed a CD Rom.  This was a working prototype and the Nintendo execs agreed to work together.

Nintendo agreed to announce the partnership at the May 1991 Consumer Electronics Show.  However, behind the scenes then president Hiroshi Yamauchi had re-read the contract and realised it handed Sony far too much power.

When Nintendo of America chairman, Howard Lincoln, stepped up on the stage instead of announcing the partnership with Sony, he announced one with PhilipsPhilips were Sony’s main rival in the CD world and this was a  gut punch too far.

Sony approached Sega, Nintendo’s chief rival, and offered them the technology.  Sega of America were interested but the idea was vetoed by Sega of Japan who stated, Sony don’t know how to make hardware or software, why would we do this?

Sony considered canning the whole project but instead decided to do it themselves after all.  They started planning a whole new machine based on their work and, after seeing Virtua Fighter, making it primarily 3D Focused.

The launch was nearly perfect.  Because they didn’t have the luxury of an existing games unit, they purchased companies and signed exclusivity contracts with others.  Sega managed to help them by flubbing the Saturn launch badly and Nintendo were far behind with their 3D console.

The Playstation shot into the lead in every market, far outselling the Saturn.  It was still being outsold by the previous generation but price cuts in the following years solved that too.

Whilst Nintendo are considered to have saved the games industry with the Famicom, they didn’t really grow the market in any meaningful way.  The Playstation, on the other hand, increased the target market to an older generation, thus hitting a more mature and wealthier demographic.

Because of this the games market started on the path to beating the film industry in revenue and moved the hobby out of the niche that it had been stuck in since inception.  They made it cool to play games.

The Japanese market took longer for Sony to dominate, whilst they took the lead early, the Saturn didn’t fall as far behind.  Much of this was due to brand loyalty, something that the North American and European markets weren’t really affected by.

Sony released a cut price, smaller version called the Ps One in 2000.

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