Archives for January 2014

Super Castlevania IV (SNES)

Posted January 25, 2014

From the ubiquitous Konami intro to the polished Super Castlevania IV title sliding down, I absolutely felt transported back to high school. Released on Halloween, 1991, Super Castlevania IV for the SNES was the first Castlevania for the 16-bit system. Once I had old consoles looking good again, I knew this was one of the first games I had to find: box, manual, and that little cardboard insert not excluded.

It’s a leap from the original NES release in every way, with better control of Simon and his whips — even allowing you to dangle it about like a sausage — as well as refining the jump mechanics, which really loosens up the game from its roots. The levels and bosses are, for the most part, unique and well balanced, and the Mode 7 effects are memorable. But for me, standing atop all its merits is the incredible score composed by Masanori Adachi and Taro Kudo. When Simon’s Theme starts in Stage 1 the tingly goosebumps strike every time, and while the entire game has stunning music, it’s that first track that’s proven timeless.

I inched my way to finishing it a few days ago, let the credits roll, and started it again. But there’s too many other games waiting their turn, so I’ll let Simon live in his little plastic-encased PCB until next time.

Atari Theatre Kiosk

Posted January 18, 2014

An Atari kiosk at Powell Station circa 1977.  Today it’s Prilosec ads.  The six Atari games unit allowed for “90 seconds of play, and a special 35mm slide projection system along with BART advertising panels.”  What a country! 

Photo courtesy The Pong goodbye: Arcade photos from the 1970s and 1980s and quote from the excellent All in Color for a Quarter.

Santa Cruz Boardwalk Arcade

Posted January 9, 2014

Santa Cruz man, I want to go back.  I took this set at the boardwalk arcade last Sunday.  The games were hidden in the back by the bathrooms and weren’t in the best shape, but goddamn if it wasn’t an arcade.

Second-Party Conteroller

Posted January 8, 2014

In keeping with a spate of tech snags over the past few weeks, I bought what they said was a “second-party” Sony PS3 controller this weekend at a used game store in Santa Cruz.  This was to replace an older PS3 controller I’d been using on my iMac.  It was sold and packaged as new, and looked and felt pretty much exactly like the controllers the PS3 came with, only here I chose white.  When I got it home I plugged it in and waited for Bluetooth to pick it up, which it did as “PLAYSTATION(R)3Conteroller-ghic”.  A typo in a hardware identification probably isn’t a good sign.  It worked fine with the PS3 itself, but after spending an hour trying to get the damn thing to connect to the iMac I gave up and bought another one from Amazon.  Tonight that one arrived and I’m back in action with some sweet Robotron‘in.

The cute guys at that store did manage to sell me three perfectly working carts: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on SNES, and Gunstar Super Heroes and R-Type III for the GBA.

100 Yen: The Japanese Arcade Experience

Posted January 2, 2014

This succinct documentary does a good job of highlighting the vital reasons Japanese arcades have remained, and their profound differences from North America’s.  I want to go back to Tokyo strictly as an arcade expedition!