Sunday, December 21, 2014

L'histoire d'un Petit Robot et un Virtual Boy.

Il y avait un très petit robot dont le nom était Phil.



 Un jour, Phil voulait jouer avec son Virtual Boy.


Mais Phil était trop petite.
 Phil a demandé de l'aide. Puis il pourrait jouer avec son Virtual Boy.
  Puis Phil a été désorienté. Et il est tombé et ne pouvait pas se relever. Oh, pourquoi était Phil si petit? Pourquoi était-Phil si petit?

Fin.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Five Years of Famicomblogging: A Retrospective



Five years ago today I found myself in my living rom in our old apartment in Fukuoka with a bit of free time to kill. I sat down on a tiny sofa with a ton of recently photographed Famicom carts scattered on the floor and I wrote this post about the different designs that Famicom carts came in. Thus Famicomblog was born.

Five years later and, much to my surprise and delight, Famicomblog is still a going concern even though the recent addition to our family has severely dented my blog output.  Normally when a blog becomes too self referential it is a sure sign it has jumped the shark, but screw everything I am going to do the ultimate in self referential blogging just this one time to mark the occasion.   In self-congratulatory honor of having reached the 5 year milestone I am going to take you on my ego trip through what I like about my own blog.  Read on at your own peril
So, what are my favorite posts?  I ask myself.  

My Tour D`Excitebike post that I made during the first year remains the one I enjoyed making the most. I just took 5 copies of Excitebike with me on a bike ride around Fukuoka, taking pictures of them at random places - castle walls, a port with fishing vessels tied up, the red light district, etc etc. I got a few odd looks from people as I did so but that was a really nice day and so totally worth it.
I did a few similar posts like that, including this one with my Nintendo Lefty RX about a year ago which was also a lot of fun (I was pleased with how the photos for that one turned out, if you use forced perspective you can make a tiny toy car look almost real)

One kind of post which I did a lot in the early days of this blog but gave up after about the first year or so were ones in which I photographed my entire collection.  The carts look so awesome stacked up, I kind of miss doing those posts.  When you have a collection of under 500 carts like I did back then it was still feasible to do those, once I got above that number I had to stop doing it mainly for lack of space to set them up and take the photos.
And of course the first 3 years of the blog would often feature posts from my main retro gaming source, the amazing Omocha Souko.  The day I found out it was going out of business was by far the darkest day in my gaming life, it had been such a fun place to go for deals.  I still enjoy looking back and reading old posts about the deals I got, especially the day they put these crates out.
Another type of post which I wish I had time to do more of these days were the ones I did of retro game shops in Fukuoka that I visited. I think this blog has more information about the Fukuoka gaming world than any other, at least of those in English. Sadly, even though it has only been five years since I started this blog most of that information is already out of date, probably half the shops I visited have either closed or moved.

Probably my favorite post, in terms of substance, is the one in which I compared the power consumption of retro consoles to the PS3 and found that my entire retro gaming collection used less energy than the average one of those.  I'm not sure what the PS4 uses, I'd like to do a similar comparison but I sold most of the duplicate consoles I used in that post so I might not have enough to make a comparison.

Another thing I have to do is get Phil in some more posts.  I packed him away when we moved 2 years ago and I think its about time I fished him out of whatever box he is in.


Anyway, those are some of my sentimental reflections as the father of a 5 year old blog.  I should like to give a big thanks to everyone for reading all these years, it has been awesome getting to know you all through the blog (and through your blogs for those who have them, I'd list you by name but refrain out of fear of forgetting someone).  Hopefully five years from now I'll do another one of these on Famicomblog's 10th anniversary.



Saturday, November 1, 2014

Been a Busy Month

I haven`t been posting in a while.  Been kind of busy with the above bundle of joy who just arrived.  Going to be a while before he is able to play the Famicom and by the time he does, it will be a 35 year old console.  Wow.  Hope he likes it, but I suspect I will have to buy him some more contemporary forms of entertainment when he gets old enough to actually use those opposable thumbs.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Awesome List: Japanese Gamers 18 Fond Memories of the Famicom

The Japanese website CuRazy recently published a little piece reporting the top 18 things Japanese people remember about playing the Famicom as children.  Rocketnews did a good piece in English mentioning the highlights, but after reading the original I thought it would worth doing a pure, stripped down English translation of the list, which is totally awesome.  Here they are, in the same order they appeared in CuRazy:

1. To begin, blowing on the cassette.

2. At school, classes were generally divided into a Draqon Quest faction and a Final Fantasy Faction.  But there would always be that one guy on his own who was into Wizardry.

3. Declaring that you would play Famicom all through the night on New Year`s Eve, then giving up halfway through.

4. Pushing the reset button again and again and again because the game wouldn`t start.

5. Getting into a fight while playing a simultaneous 2 player game.

6 Having it hidden by your parents.

7. When playing a two player game and the 1P player was about to lose, pushing the pause button in rapid succession (to mess up 2P`s timing, 2P not being able to retaliate as the 2P controller doesn`t have the pause button).

8. Playing a racing game and moving your whole body with the game.  Then doing it a bit too much, pulling out the cord and causing the game to blink off.

9. When you finish the game, waiting for a bit to watch the end screen.

10. Your parents, while carrying the laundry, tripping over the Famicom and causing the game to freeze.

11.  Loving it when you played by yourself!  Hating it when your friend came over!

12. When your friend was playing, amusing yourself by playing with the microphone in the 2P controller.

13. 20 years later, finally actually reading the instruction manual for the first time and realizing what the game`s story was all about.

14. Buttons getting stuck in.

15. When inserting the cart, having to carefully push both sides in equally.

16. Being incredibly anxious the first time you played Dragon Quest 3.

17. Not being able to save a game, just leaving the Famicom on when you went to school.  Then coming home and discovering your mom had turned it off.

18. Writing your name on the back of the cart.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Interior Decor: Famicom Carts as Parquet Flooring? Wallpaper? Coffee Tabletop?

 Some carts I have more copies of than others.  Super Mario Bros, Spartan X, Excitebike and Donkey Kong Jr for some reason I have quite a few of.  They were pretty popular games back in the day and are pretty good games to play now.  Still though, I don`t relaly need 12 copies of each even though I have that many.

When you have 12 of the same Famicom cart you can organize them into 3 by 4 squares which, when put together with other carts you have 12 of, can open up some interesting interior decorating ideas.


 Parquet type flooring is one.  You would have to put them under some sort of sturdy, extremely thick plexiglass to prevent them from being broken though, which would be expensive to install.  Maybe not the best idea.
 They would make for a great coffee-table top too, just put a piece of glass over them and you are golden.  Definitely a cool conversation starter.
They would also work pretty good as wallpaper if you had some way of attaching them to the wall wtihout damaging them.  Probably there is some way of doing this.  A wall covered with Famicom carts in 3 by 4 squares would look  pretty awesome.  If I ever open up a Famicom cafe, that is how I am going to decorate it.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Cool World of Chirashi (Famicom and Movie Mini Posters)



One of the types of Famicom ephemera which I enjoy collecting the most are chirashi (mini posters/ flyers) that were handed out back in the day to advertise upcoming game releases. 

I like them mainly because they look cool and are the sort of thing that look good when framed and hanging on your wall.  Like my Gyrodine and Sky Destroyer ones, which have awesome artwork on them:

 I picked up a small lot of them off of Yahoo Auctions the other day that just arrived in the mail.  I`m pretty happy with them.  Most of them were actually Famicom Disk System games, like Metroid here which is probably my favorite of the lot:


And Super Mario Bros 2:

 Zelda no Densetsu:

 And a few others.

The only thing that I dislike about collecting Famicom chirashi is the price - they are pretty hard to find so the prices likewise tend to be on the high side and bargains are few and far between.  Still though its kind of worth it for the cool artwork.  They also have cool stuff on the back, like this one which explains how you can re-write games on disks:


 Collecting chirashi is actually one of my main non-Famicom collecting pursuits too.  In addition to advertising video games they are also used for a lot of other things, including movies.  Japanese movie chirashi are actually in some ways even cooler than  the Famicom chirashi.  Japanese movies almost always have unique paintings commissioned for them which are reproduced on the chirashi.  The artwork, which often combines familiar scenes with bold looking kanji, make them look pretty awesome.  Like this poster from You Only Live Twice, with the 007 in big type, with the title in kanji below.  Totally epic:

 Same with this old school Battle Star Galactica from the 70s:


 Mega Force!!!  If you haven`t seen this film, you don`t understand early 80s culture at all:
 Ditto with Mr. T in DC Cab.  Having him yell at you in Japanese is pretty priceless:
  I keep some of my favorite movie ones on the wall in the same room with the Famicom chrashi.  They are actually a bit smaller than the Famicom ones (B5 vs A4 size).  Bonus points to anyone who can identify the 5 films in this photo:
 The other cool thing about movie chirashi is that they are generally a lot cheaper than Famicom chirashi. I`m not sure why that is, but I guess there are more of them out there than the Famicom ones.  I think people have been collecting movie chirashi since the late 60s/early 70s so there are a lot of them that have been preserved, which probably helps to keep the prices reasonable.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Interesting Famicom Stuff: The Kid who Designed Brightman and his Gold Rockman 4 Cart



The man in the centre of the above picture is Yoshitaka Enomoto.  He is standing next to the host of a TV show called Nandemo Kanteidan, which is kind of a Japanese version of Antiques Roadshow.  It is a lot more flamboyant than the English version, but I watch it a lot.  Mostly people bring stuff like old samurai swords, paintings, bits of pottery, etc in to get told it is either worth a fortune or completely worthless.  The host, who is a comedian, cracks jokes throughout the show.

 Anyway, the particular episode that Mr. Enomoto appeared on was broadcast on Tuesday this week.  He brought an interesting bit of Famicom history and an interesting story with him.  The antique that he brought with him to have appraised was this (pardon the photo quality, I was just aiming my camera at the TV while the show was on):


A gold copy of Rockman 4!

If you aren`t familiar with hyper Famicom rarities, the gold Rockman 4 is probably the rarest Famicom cart out there, only 8 copies of it were ever made.  I have seen one in the wild once and posted about it here, at Super Potato in Osaka last year.

The carts were made as prizes for a competition that Capcom ran to have fans design the boss characters in the new Rockman game.  They received over 70,000 entries from fans across Japan, most of them little kids.  Only 8 were chosen and each of those 8 kids got a special gold copy of the game when it was released.

Its rarity means that it is super valuable and, as with a lot of these gold/silver special carts, it is pretty easy to fake (all you have to do is paint a regular Rockman 4 cart gold, though an expert would immediately recognize it since the underlying plastic is a different color from regular carts).

There was no danger that this one was a forgery, however, since Mr. Enomoto as a junior high school student back in 1991 was one of the lucky 8 winners of Capcom`s contest.  His design?  Brightman:


It was pretty neat to see that at least one copy of the gold Rockman 4s remains in the hands of the actual kid who won it back in the day.

The show did a little segment about the history of the Famicom, which was interesting but if you are reading this blog you probably already know the details so I won`t recap what they said.

 The segment ended with the show`s antique experts examining the game to make sure it was the real deal and see what condition it was in:
 And then they gave their opinion on its value.  In keeping with the greater flamboyance levels of the Japanese version of the show, they reveal this on a set that looks like it was borrowed from the Price is Right circa 1992.  They told him it was worth 400,000 yen (about $4,000 US).
 That sounds like a lot, but I was actually expecting them to say it was worth more.  The copy that I saw in Super Potato last year had a price of 628,000 yen (about $6300 US) on it, and this one looked like it was in every bit as good condition.  Maybe Super Potato is a bit overpriced?  Or the experts on Nandemo Kanteidan don`t quite know as much as they let on?  I guess it is hard to put a price on something so rare, they must hardly ever pop up for sale.

Its also interesting to wonder how many of the other 8 are still in the hands of their original owners?  Obviously the one in Super Potato isn`t, but what of the other 6?

As an interesting point to end the post on, the experience of designing Brightman as a kid seems to have had a major influence on Enomoto.  He went on to become a professional illustrator and has worked on a lot of animated TV shows and Manga!