College Slam

In 1996, Acclaim decided to go back to school and released College Slam for all major home and handheld systems. College Slam seems to be a more polished, albeit college themed, version of Acclaim’s smash hit NBA Jam. With NBA Jam you will probably remember shooting three pointers from just about anywhere and slam dunking from half court, all of which is still here in College Slam, as well as a few added features to increase the longevity of the game. Sadly, it seems since this game didn’t have the big names that it’s predecessor did, it didn’t translate with the audience as well as Acclaim may have hoped.

College Slam’s game play is identical to NBA Jam. You still have turbo to boost your player around the court for a short period of time before needing to recharge it, you can still shoot the ball from anywhere, steal the ball, push the other players over, elbow them and even catch fire. But unlike NBA Jam, you can call a time out at any point you possess the ball and substitute for 1 or 2 fresh players. College Slam also borrows from NBA Jam Tournament Edition with it’s more fluid movement and of course the tournament mode, as well as offering a more upbeat announcer who has more dialog than he did in NBA Jam. As you would expect, College Slam follows the college rule of 2 halves instead of four quarters.

To get started, you pick your team from a list of over 40 colleges, then select any 2 of 5 positions, as opposed to NBA Jam’s strictly 2 players per team. With College Slam there are no names, simply different stats for each position, which I like to think of as an advantage for re-playability. No matter when you play this game, you can just imagine you’re controlling your favorite college player (even if they weren’t even born when this game was released!) instead of being stuck with outdated rosters. From there you go to the Tonight’s Match-Up screen, where you can enter codes as the announcer tells you which 2 teams are playing and you prepare for the opening tip off.

Some people may prefer NBA to college, but in my opinion this game shined it’s whole career, but never made it to the draft. I own a complete in box set of this game as well as another cartridge strictly used for playing the game. Certainly this game will never become rare or highly valuable, but its a secret treasure for me to own a complete set of the game because I enjoy it that much! Still to this day I enjoy (win or lose) firing three pointers from the other team’s goal just to see whether I can get them to fall or not. NBA Jam has all the big names, but College Slam has the perpetual starry-eyed heart and determination it takes to make it to the big time.

Posted June 27th, 2011

Sam’s Scores: GTA Collector’s Edition

I’m a HUGE fan of Grand Theft Auto, and have been since it’s initial release on the Playstation. To me, GTA is more of an RPG than a game of bloody horrors, as the media tried to portray it. Roaming freely through the expansive, open city, running from mission to mission, it all just seemed like an RPG with a modern day crime theme to it. I personally own almost every GTA released across many different platforms, and to be totally honest I only wanted my PS2 so I could play Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories (though it is good for other games too!).

Back when Sony released the PSOne, Rockstar released the GTA Collector’s Edition, a boxed 3 disc collection including the first Grand Theft Auto, London 1969 expansion pack and Grand Theft Auto 2. I’ve never owned this collection because I already own both GTA and GTA 2 for the Playstation and never felt the need to buy the whole thing just for London 1969. I think fate had another reason for why I would never buy the collection, as I’ve had many chances to buy London on it’s own before this purchase. You may be wondering by now why I’m devoted an entire Sam’s Scores to just one thing that possibly everyone owns and had probably forgotten about…

In the store the box was taped shut so that the cases couldn’t be removed or fall out, so when I got home I had to make sure I didn’t just buy a box of empty cases. To my surprise all 3 games were inside, albeit in the wrong cases, but everything was there. What I happen to find in one case got my collector’s juices flowing!

This collection had a different label on the top of the CDs than the normal GTA games, so that you could never just stick the normal GTA games in these cases and pass them off as the collection. Only 2 of mine were the collector’s label, the other…BLANK! Yes, my copy of the first Grand Theft Auto had absolutely no label on top of the CD what so ever.

My mind quickly thought to test the CD to make sure it was real and sure enough GTA played without any problems at all. I thought to myself this had to be rare, perhaps some kind of promotional ticket from Rockstar much like Wonka’s golden ticket? I wasn’t sure what to make of it so I fired off an email to Rockstar to find out.

Through 3 different support members at Rockstar I’ve gathered this game shouldn’t be like this and it may be a real 1 in a million error disc that missed the printing process, somehow. After talking to co-writer Will, he informed me that there were companies that made black CD-Rs that looked much like the Playstation discs. Could this game be a hoax cooked up by someone? I’m not sure anyone has broken the original PS booting scheme to create a disc that boots flawlessly like this one, but I may be wrong.

Whether this is an extremely rare error or just a practical joke created by someone, I don’t care because either way it plays Grand Theft Auto without any problems. If nothing else I own 2 parts of the collection, and I will probably keep an eye out for a single copy of the collector’s edition GTA. Even though the box is a little beat up I’m still excited to have it, because the whole collection came at an extremely cheap price.

Grand Theft Auto Collection Complete in Box – $3

Posted June 21st, 2011

Vintage Enough?

Nintendo DS
Since the beginning of TVG, we’ve had 1 rule. Cover systems that are 3 systems behind the current system. With Wii U coming soon, we will cover Gamecube games when it’s out.

Our forum community leader Dillon had a good point: With the 3DS out, the original DS/DS Lite is now 3 systems behind. You have the DS/DS Lite, DSi/DSi XL and the 3DS.

The question is, does it classify as vintage or classic enough to be on the site? It only came out in 2004.

Instead, should we change the rules to 3 generations back or 10 years, whichever is older?

Post your ideas in the comments below.

Posted June 14th, 2011

Famicom to NES Converters

The Japanese Famicom had a much larger gaming library than the NES did (approximately 20% bigger), but sadly a lot of good titles never made it to the NES library for one reason or another. If you don’t own a Famicom and want to play these games in your NES, you’ll need to hunt down a commercially available 60 to 72 pin converter and they can be expensive! I did some research online and I’ve found a more interesting solution to this issue, and I’m here to help you out through my experience!

A fact most people may not know is that some of the early NES games were no more than Famicom ROM boards with a converter, stuffed into an NES cartridge. I’m not sure why they did this, so I won’t bother to speculate. Among the list of potential converter carrying games is Gyromite, an extremely easy to find cartridge, but it doesn’t always yield a converter. I happen to own 3 copies of Gyromite, all of which showed supposed signs of having the converter inside, only 1 of which did. Here I will be explaining which games possibly have the converter, how to detect without a doubt whether or not your game will have one as well as what you need to do once you’ve found one.

Now, which one of these holds the converter?

Not all NES games have the converter inside. Most of the games that do are the early black labelled games released by Nintendo. These games were only released in this form for a short period of time, so these games can be pretty hard to find, but you may already have one in your collection. Here is a list I found online of games that potentially hold the converter:

Clu Clu Land
Donkey Kong Jr.
Duck Hunt
Elevator Action
Hogan’s Alley
Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
Raid on Bungeling Bay
Stack Up
Urban Champion
Wizards and Warriors
Wrecking Crew

Now, I’ve read many different methods on how to detect whether your game has a converter or not, but the truth is only 3 simple factors matter: A) It should be a game from the list above. B) The cartridge MUST have 5 screws. and C) The connection tabs on the board are off to the side instead of centered like most NES games. If your cartridge fits the required criteria, its a safe bet you can open it and find a shiny converter inside. There are normal NES games that don’t have the converter inside but do have the offset connection tabs, so if you’re looking through your collection to see if you may already have one, stick with the listed games above.

Left: Off center tabs = Converter
Right: Centered tabs = Standard NES board

There can be only one!

Once you’ve opened the game (which should only require a small flat head screw driver) and found the converter, you can’t use it just yet. First you have to take the ROM board out and flip the black part over so that the longest side is now facing upwards. Also you are going to need to shave down the sides to allow the Famicom games to fit on top of it, don’t shave too much just enough for the cartridge to be seated solidly into the converter.

So close!

Next you will need to make a case so that everything stays together and you can easily remove it from your NES, you can use it naked but removing it from an old box NES will be a problem, especially if you have a new 72 pin connector installed. Most people just cut the (now empty) cartridge straight across leaving just enough room at the top to exposed the connector. Case design is all up to your personal tastes, but remember the Famicom cartridge must have enough room to be seated securely and you will need something attached to remove the unit, such as a string or fabric strip.

All it needs now is a home!

Before putting everything together you may want to clean the contacts so that you don’t end up with glitchy graphics. Once you’re ready to put everything together, you will need something to hold the black connector in place as you will find it moves quite a bit in both inserting and removing the Famicom cartridges. I’ve seen people use hot glue and others use double sided tape, I had to use a combination of both as the gap between the converter and the side of the casing was bigger than I originally thought. Finally, take the two remaining screws and put the case together, now you can play Famicom games on your NES!

Not the best, but it was my first try.

Famicom cartridges must be installed with the front label facing down. If you look at the converter and the Famicom cartridge, the bevels will be on the same side, so you know you’ve installed it correctly. The great part about this converter project is that (pending you can find one) they’re fairly inexpensive as well as having an official NES10 chip to avoid your system trying to lockout the Famicom game. I’ve tested mine and everything works great, its a fun little project and the converter is a great piece of hardware for NES fans wanting to expand their game library to games that weren’t available for the NES, until now!

Game installed correctly!

Posted June 13th, 2011

TVG Interview: Pat Contri (the NES Punk)

When I first saw our newest interviewee, it was in an interview done by one of our former interviewees, Gamester81. To be totally honest I was unaware of Pat the NES Punk at the time he did the interview with John, but I’ve since managed to watch and enjoy all of Pat’s video reviews. Pat’s reviews are a mix of vintage gaming knowledge, humor, and some very interesting adventures, creating a fun, NES loving character known as Pat the NES Punk.

Q: Do you mind telling us what you do for your day job?
A: It’s too mundane to even discuss. Let’s just pretend and say I’m a Nintendo game counselor.

Q: What are some other hobbies you enjoy, outside of video gaming?
A: There are other hobbies? :p I enjoy writing, reading, creating web content (obviously), exercising, good food, good movies, good times, and using the word “good” as often as I can.

Q: Do you remember the first gaming system you ever owned/played?
A: The first game console that I ever played was probably the Telstar Ranger or the Atari 2600 at my cousin’s.

Q: Being the NES punk, is it safe to say the NES is your favorite gaming system?
A: No, it would be the Odyssey 2.

Q: Do you remember the first video game you ever played?
A: If it was the Telstar Ranger, we’re talking fast and furious pong-type action. If it was an Atari 2600 game, who knows?

Q: What is your favorite game/series and why?
A: It’s very hard to choose favorites. There’s just too many games to pick from! I’ll just choose Civilization, Actraiser, or Baseball Stars and move on.

Q: What is your favorite gaming genre and why?
A: I’m usually a fan of games that mash genres, like action & strategy or sports & rpg, for example. Games that are more difficult to define are generally the ones I gravitate towards since they’re the ones that usually take a unique approach.

Q: Do you have a standout favorite video game character and why?
A: Hmmm, this is a toughie. Bonk? Ninja Gaiden? Rygar?

Q: Does being the NES punk make you feel limited to NES reviews and do you plan to branch out to other systems?
A: I’ve branched out here and there already, and plan on continuing to do so as I feel it’s appropriate.

Q: If you could bring back any classic game for a sequel, what would it be and why?
A: Actraiser. Actraiser. Actraiser. Oh, and definitely Golgo 13. He deserves a modern sequel.

Q: Is there one particular NES game that is your favorite for it’s nostalgia/rarity?
A: I cannot choose a favorite child! However, Spy Hunter usually gives me a strange tingling feeling when I play it.

Q: Are there any Classic games that really frustrate you to no end?
A: Spy Hunter! It has no ending!

Q: What got you started in making video reviews?
A: I have a pretty good knowledge of the NES and mediocre video skills, so I decided to combine them to create pretty mediocre game reviews!

Q: Although you’re not “Angry” nor “Irate” are you inspired by those types of reviewers?
A: Not really. I tend to do my own thing (whether or not it works).

Q: Which do you prefer: Rectangle, Dog bone, Advantage or Max?
A: Max for sports games, and the normal controller for platformers.

Pat the NES Punk’s reviews are all worth watching, but I am very partial to his Flea Market Madness series. I think we share the common thrill of the hunt, getting on your feet and finding the hidden treasures among the modern made “antiques”. Although he isn’t angry, nor irate, his video reviews are always fun to watch! He also does this… whatever this is…

Posted June 6th, 2011

Attack of the Clones: Updates and testing!

Since the last Famiclone article, I’ve spent more time testing my handheld units and sadly I can confirm my Power Joy isn’t working, but its possibly an easy fix. I’ve also painstakingly compiled a list of what games are in my Super Joy III (I say my Super Joy because it seems the games vary from unit to unit), although it says 12000 it only has 120 difference choices and only 45 of those are unique games. Below is the list I have compiled, please note that I have been as careful as possible to spell everything according to the Super Joy, if anything is misspelled that is how it appears within the unit.

Super Joy Title Original Title Extra Info
Super Mario Super Mario Bros. Sped up a little bit, but essentially normal.
Paper Boy Paper Boy Normal
Defender Defender II Normal
Space Invaders Space Invaders Normal
Donkey Kong 3 Donkey Kong 3 Normal
Gradius Gradius Normal
Galaga Galaga Normal
Arkanoid Arkanoid Normal
1942 1942 Normal
Super Contra Super C Famicom version
Duck Hunt Duck Hunt Game A offers 1 “DWCK”
Sky Destroyer Sky Destroyer Normal
Pacman Pacman Normal NES port
Bomberman Bomberman Normal
Hyper Olympics Track and Field Normal
Tetris Tetris Famicom version
Millipede Millipede Normal
Pinball Pinball Normal
Kung Fu Kung Fu Normal
Dig Dug Dig Dug Normal
Wild Gun Man Wild Gunman Normal
Warpman Warpman Only released for the Famicom
Lunar Ball Lunar Ball Famicom version of Lunar Pool
Golf Golf Normal
Excitebike Excitebike Normal
Road Fighter Road Fighter Glitchy version of the Famicom verion
F1 Race F1 Race Slightly altered Famicom version
Lode Runner Lode Runner Normal
Tank Battle City Only released for the Famicom
Raid on Bay Raid on Bungeling Bay Normal
Mappy Mappy Only released for the Famicom
Pooyan Pooyan Only released for the Famicom
Tennis Tennis Normal
Base Ball Base Ball Graphically broken, otherwise working
Clu Clu Land Clu Clu Land Normal
Balloon Fighter Balloon Fighter Normal
Ice Climber Ice Climber Normal
Macross Macross Only released for the Famicom
Mario Bros Afro Mario Yes, this is Afro Mario instead of Mario Bros.
Chess Gomoku Narabe Renju Only released for the Famicom
Hogan Alley Hogan’s Alley Normal
Ball and Steel Arkanoid Round 7
Burger Time Burger Time Normal
Popeye Popeye Normal
Star Force Star Force Normal
Circus Charlie Circus Charlie Normal
Fight Abysm Super C Area 2
Light of Devildom Super Mario 8-1
Disloyalty Money Paper Boy Tuesday
Engle Forest Super C Area 3
Magic Power Super Mario 7-1
Thieft of Justice Paper Boy Wednesday
Time Tube Super C Area 4
Sky Dever Super Mario 6-1
Road Fatter Paper Boy Thursday
Water Dragon Super C Area 5
Road by Magic Super Mario 5-1
Perpetrate a Trand Paper Boy Monday
Danger Zone Super C Area 6
Sun Fun Super Mario 4-1
Thief Golden Paper Boy Friday
Top Perilous Peak Super C Area 7
Darks Sprite Super Mario 3-1
Policeman and Thief Paper Boy Saturday
Kill Pioneer Super C Area 8
Devildom in Water Super Mario 2-1
Paper Boy Sunday Paper Boy Sunday
Long Jump Track and Field Long Jump
Hrdles Meee Track and Field Hurdles
Javelin Throw Track and Field Javelin Throw
Skeet Shooting Track and Field Skeet Shooting
Triple Jump Track and Field Triple Jump
Archery Track and Field Archery
High Jump Track and Field High Jump
100M Dash Track and Field 100M Dash
Jump Fire Circus Charlie Stage 1
Popendancer Circus Charlie Stage 2
Roll Ball Circus Charlie Stage 3
Filer Circus Charlie Stage 4
Jump Bed Circus Charlie Stage 5
Driver Side by Side Balloon Fight Phase 5
Forword Power Balloon Fight Phase 9
Super Man Bomb1 Super C Area 1, A0 Lives — which is actually 100
Super Man Bomb2 Super C Area 1, 6 Lives
Super Man Bomb3 Super C Area 1, 6 Lives
Super Man Bomb4 Super C Area 5, 6 Lives
Fight in Battle Battle City Stage 36
Fe Protect Battle City Stage 43
Kill in Battle Battle City Stage 50
King of the Fe Battle City Stage 57
In No Time Battle City Stage 64
Battle Start Battle City Stage 71
Break The Earth Battle City Stage 78
Protect Home Battle City Stage 85
Die Tomorrow Battle City Stage 92
Race No Enger F1 Race Circuit 2
Hold Time F1 Race Circuit 3
No Time and Enger F1 Race Circuit 4
Brick Figheter Balloon Fight Phase 13
Super Brick Balloon Fight Phase 15
Impregnable Forest Arkanoid Round 5
Steel Door Arkanoid Round 9
Crush Cage Arkanoid Round D
Steel Ball Arkanoid Round H
Brick Wall Arkanoid Round L
Iron Blast Arkanoid Round O
Greatwall Brick Arkanoid Round R
Metal Pail Arkanoid Round U
Super Shell Arkanoid Round W
Steel Stick Arkanoid Round Z
Mario Fly Super Mario 1-1
Paper Boy New Paper Boy Monday
Defender UK Defender II ?
Space Invaders KI Space Invaders ?
Donkey Kong Go Donkey Kong 3 ?
Gradius Bee Gradius ?
Galaga Tea Galaga ?
Arkanoid Run Arkanoid ?
1942 Gold 1942 ?
Contra Sun Super C ?

Whether they added all individual ROMs or they just used coding to achieve this many choices I’m not sure, but I would assume it would be easier to just use code. After the first 120 the list starts all over and continues to do so until you have the illusion of 12000 choices. While making the list I broke up the time by playing Super Man Bomb1 (aka Super C w/100 Lives), the game was still challenging but with 100 lives beating the game was extremely easy!

Since I don’t own a Famicom (yet!) I didn’t have any games to test in my Super Joy, but I was still pretty certain it would work if a real Famicom game were attached, being the unit is blank until you insert the ROM board into the slot. This lead me to checking around online for a Famicom game that wouldn’t require me to translate dialog and was something I knew I already enjoyed. So I ended up buying a Soccer Famicom cartridge, its a game I know I already like and there isn’t anything in Japanese, oddly enough.

After almost a whole agonizing day waiting for the game to arrive it finally did, but I was upset to find the Famicom cartridge was too big to fit within the unit, so I took my Super Joy apart. After attaching the Famicom game and powering up the unit, SOCCER flashed on the screen and the game music began! I played the game for a little bit to see if it would glitch out and everything seemed to work perfectly.

Knowing that my Super Joy can play Famicom cartridges gives me pretty good idea of what to do if I happen to find another one. Since I want to keep my current Super Joy complete, I need to find another Super Joy 3 or I might be able to use the Power Joy and transform it from a handheld into something more like a console with real NES controller ports. I’m thinking this might make a decent and cheap Famiclone system given the right parts and attention.

Posted June 1st, 2011