Let’s Play: House of the Dead 2 on the Sega Dreamcast

House of the Dead 2

Published by Sega

Sega Dreamcast version released 1999

We take a look at the Sega Dreamcast version of House of the Dead 2.  This is a light gun shooter.

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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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Lets Play: Venture on the Atari 7800

Venture was released by Coleco in 1982 as a launch title for the ColecoVision.  It was a conversion of the 1981 Exigy arcade machine.  For it’s time it was considered to be both technically and artistically superb, winning an award for it’s graphics on release.

Coleco eventually released it on the Atari 2600 and Mattel Intellivision home systems.  We’re taking a look on the Atari 7800.

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Sony MPF520-1/04 PC FDD to Amiga conversion

The external floppy drive that I was using with my CDTV died and replacements were a little expensive (ok, they weren’t that bad but I was impatient).  So I figured, how different could an Amiga FDD be from a PC one?

Turns out there are a couple of differences, the signals on pin 2 and pin 34 are reversed (Density Select, Ready Change) and the drive needs to identify as DS0 if it’s the internal drive on a normal Amiga or the external drive on the CDTV (PC drives don’t because they’re generally picked up using cable select).

How this works will vary depending on your drive, but for my Sony model it was very simple.  It requires two wires, two track cuts and a jumper change.

Basically we need to cut the connection that pins 2 and 34 are on, and then put a wire from 2 to a solder point that was pin 34‘s original destination and between 34 and a solder point that was pin 2‘s original destination.

You should be able to work out where they are from the pictures, be careful when cutting to only cut the one track and don’t cut yourself.

If you want to revert the drive you can just run a wire between the pins and their original solder points.

The jumper is at the back of the drive, next to the motor.  If it’s on 0 and 1 (nearest the motor) then it’s set to be DS0, if it’s on 1 and 2 then it’s DS1.  If you want it to be internal on an Amiga or external on a CDTV then it needs to be DS0, if you want it external on an Amiga then set it to DS1.

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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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