Friday, September 23, 2011

Double Trouble Donkey Kong Jr. Style: Pulse Line versus Box Art

One of my recent Famicom purchases was another copy of Donkey Kong Jr. I`ve had the pulse line version of this game for quite a while, but I didn`t have the other version. on the right in the above photo.

The subject of today`s post is this duality exemplified in my Donkey Kong Jrs. Most of the Famicom Pulse line carts were released in two versions - the original pulse line version and the other version with the picture from the box art, which were released later.

As a point of nomenclature, I`m not actually sure how to refer to these versions. `Pulse line` is a convenient and descriptive term that is hard to mistake for something else. But what to call these other carts? `Picture carts`? That is short, but not very specific as most Famicom carts have pictures on them. `Box art carts`? Same problem.

Anyway, since I need to refer to them as something in this post, I`ll use the phrase `box art carts` to refer to the versions of the pulse line carts that have box art instead of the pulse line on the cover. Everybody clear on that? Good.

From a collector`s point of view, I`ve noticed some variations in the relative scarcity of the pulse line and box art versions of some of these carts. I think they can be divided into three categories.

1. Pulse Line Carts that have no Box Art version

To the best of my knowledge, the following pulse line carts never had a box art version released:

Donkey Kong 3
Donkey Kong Jr Math
Popeye English

I could be mistaken and if anyone knows of box art versions of these carts, please let me know. I have never seen one myself though.

2. Pulse Line Carts that have Box Art versions which were released in roughly equal numbers

For some games that had two versions released, each version seems to have been released in roughly the same quantity and neither is harder to find or more expensive than the other. I would include the following games in this category:

Devil World
Mario Bros.

There is a bit of variation. The box art version of Mario Bros. seems to be slightly harder to find than the pulse line version, for example, but not too much harder and most shops charge the same price for each if they have them.

3. Pulse line carts that are much easier to find than their box art versions

For some reason a number of carts have box art versions that are significantly harder to find than the pulse line versions and most stores will sell the box art version for a much higher price. These include:

Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong Jr

At Mandarake in town here, for example, they have both versions of Popeye available loose. The Pulse line version they are selling for 630 yen (about 9$), while the box art version they are selling for 2400 yen (about 30$). I`m guessing that the reason for this relative scarcity of the later box art versions is that the popularity of those games declined quickly between 1983 and 1985 and thus fewer of the newer versions were sold.

4. Gomokunarabe

This is the one cart which I can`t say for certain which category it belongs in. I have one copy of each version, so I can say that it belongs in either group 2 or 3, but I just haven`t seen enough copies of it in stores to know which is harder to find than the other. Anybody out there know?

Anyway, just thought I`d put this info I had rattling around in my head out there for reference if any of you are trying to collect both versions of these games!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Layman and a 6 Month Old Puppy Try to Make a Power Glove Work Without Thoroughly Reading the Manual

Well, the clear shelf space I created through my Famicom sale has lasted all of a week. They were having a 40 percent off sale over at Omocha Souko on all purchases over 2000 yen (about 25$) so I decided to splurge on a PAX Power Glove.

This was sort of me just bowing to the inevitable. I've had chances to buy the Power Glove before but had always resisted the temptation. They aren't generally remembered as one of the better Famicom controllers after all, and they are pretty bulky and take up a lot of space. But after some consideration I decided that no Famicom collection worthy of the name could ever possibly be complete without this weird thing and so I finally caved and bought one.

This is a pretty good one, complete in its box and in almost brand new condition:
When I got my NES at the age of 13 I remember looking in the Zellers catalog and seeing this thing. It was 89.95.

You know what that means, right? Yup, it means that I wanted it so bad that more than 20 years later I remember which department store's catalog it was in and how much they wanted for it.

Of course, in the catalog they only showed a picture of the glove itself, which looks pretty awesome:
Its like having the entire Darth Vader outfit reduced to a glove and put on your hand.

In actual fact though the Power Glove requires a ton of other stuff to make it work. There is this rack thing with sensors that you have to put on your TV:
I was fortunate that our TV coincidentally happens to be the right size for this thing. The manual suggest stacking books on top of your TV if it is too small.

I love the fact that the sensor array has little LED lights that blink on and off seemingly at random while it is on. It looks like some background prop from a Star Trek set or something:
As I tried to play around with it a bit my dog, Doogle, discovered it:
He loves it. It is made of material that is roughly of the same texture and feel as most of his dog chew toys. So from the moment I put it on all he wanted to do was bite my hand.

I hasten to add that he pretty much always wants to bite my hand so this isn't necessarily the Power Glove's fault.

It did complicate matters somewhat though as I'm sure this thing is difficult enough to use even without a 5.4 kilogram fluffball with teeth basically hanging off the thing with his mouth. With one it is damn near impossible. I tried figuring out how to play Galaxian with it. While the spaceship moved around on the screen a bit, I'm not sure if this was in response to my movements or just some random thing that it did.

In fairness though I didn't actually read the manual, which has several pages dedicated to programming this thing, which I assume is necessary in order to make it work properly. Doogle just wasn't having any of that though so I reluctantly put the thing away without having fully realized the awesome potential that the glove promises. Perhaps someday I'll sneak it off the shelf when he is out for a walk with just my wife or something:)

Monday, September 5, 2011

New World Famicom Galaxian Record!!!

As I mentioned in an earlier post a couple months ago, I've been trying for ages to crack the Famicom Galaxian record. Well, at least I've been trying to break the only Famicom Galaxian record that I've been able to find, which was set in 1985 by someone named Hitoki from Gunma prefecture and reported in my Hishousakusen Mecha Guide.

That record was 85,030 points. It pales in comparison to the arcade record listed at Twin Galaxies, which is somewhere over 1,000,000 points but its still a pretty good score. I've never gotten within 20,000 points of it. Until today. Today I finally did it: 97,720 points! Yes!
I had the game of my life. I didn't even loose my first life until just after hitting 70,000.

The best part of breaking the record is that I can finally stop playing Galaxian!! Galaga is way better.

Anyway, short post but I couldn't wait to tell everyone - no point in setting a new high score otherwise:)

Oh and to end this on a petty note: IN YOUR FACE, Hitoki from Gunma in 1985! Oh yeah!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Putting on a Video Game Sale Online

As I mentioned in my previous post last week, I decided to put on a little sale of some of my extra Famicom stuff.  Its gone quite well so far and I'd really like to thank everyone who purchased some stuff and the friendly folks at Famicom World for hosting my little sales thread!

The sale has led to some changes in my collection.  I've said goodbye to a few pieces that were the subjects of posts on here, including my very first square button Famicom and my turbo Twin Famicom (I gave up on the idea of owning one of every Twin Famicom ever made - I just don't have the space to keep all of them)!

I've also moved over 100 carts on to new homes, which is good as they were all doubles that I wasn't getting any use out of except perhaps as back-ups.  Now they are on their way to people who will, I hope, have some fun with them. 

Anyway, its been fun and a learning experience.  There is actually a surprisingly large amount of work that goes into something like this.  Sorting the games, testing them, photographing them, keeping track of who bought what, figuring out how to calculate postage correctly, buying bubble wrap, etc etc.  It is a labor of love. 

A few tips I would offer to anyone thinking of doing something similar based on rookie mistakes I've made:

1. Keep accurate records of everything and keep them updated.  At one point I accidentally promised the same cart to two people, both of whom went through with their purchase.  I resolved the situation by selling my original copy of the game to one of them, meaning I accidentally shrank my collection by 1 cart!

2. Be careful not to mislabel games.  I was a bit lazy in listing mine and made a couple of mistakes that confused everyone, including me.

3. Make friends at the post office.  They have a ton of options for shipping stuff.  The folks at mine have been great since I started showing up almost everyday with packages to send.  They informed me of a few things (ie packages sent via surface mail come with tracking and free insurance - who knew?)  I now know pretty much all the options they have and can almost quote the exact amount it will cost to ship a Famicom cart almost anywhere in the world!

4. Be friendly.  Since I've been getting paid via paypal I've been using some of the funds raised from this sale to make a few (non-Famicom) purchases on Ebay, which I've never done before.  I've been surprised by how much difference there is between sellers.  Some have been really great - answering questions quickly and being quite friendly.  Others have been much less so - ignoring questions and barely communicating at all.  I much prefer the former and have added those ones to my favorites.  The latter I am much less inclined to deal with again.

Anyway, just a few thoughts there.  Thanks again, everyone!