Do you believe in fate? Destiny? Serendipity? Well, I do… sometimes. I had just decided to add a new thrift store to my weekly rounds, because on my first trip through they had a few video games. They didn’t have anything I wanted to buy then, but that doesn’t mean that will always be the case. After a few more trips their video game stock was growing, anything from Sega Genesis to a lone PS3 game. They had the games but didn’t have any systems or controllers lying around, at least not that I saw. But one day, on what I thought to be just another browsing trip, I found it sitting there and I knew that I had to buy it!
Just a week prior, a friend and I were discussing a Craigslist ad for an Atari Jaguar, which included 10 games. The ad sounded a lot like my old Atari Jaguar that I lost in an unfairly slanted trade, but I never contacted the seller because they wanted over $200 for the lot. During the next week, for some odd reason, I heard a lot about Atari Jaguars, so I took it upon myself to do some research on them, as well as their prices online. By the end of the week all the Atari Jaguar talk had me missing my old system pretty badly, so I was even more amazed when I walked into that store and found it.
It took me a few seconds to calm down and focus on anything other than the price tag, but eventually I went into hurry up and grab it mode. The system came with one controller, both of which were caked in dirt. Sitting on the shelf beside them were five games, which I nearly missed entirely in my euphoria. After collecting the system and games, I looked pretty hard but sadly there were no hookups anywhere to be found.
Given how dirty the system was and the fact the Atari Jaguar has an open game connector, I still felt that it was worth a chance to buy it anyway. After I collected my thoughts, I took everything to the register and watched as the tiny amounts rang up to a very decent total. I asked if they had a return policy, luckily they did, but even so I wouldn’t want to return anything unless I absolutely had to (like the system being dead — gulp!).
Throughout the rest of the day, while I continued to game hunt, the system sat in the bag but my mind couldn’t stop thinking about the score, and wondering if the system even worked. This also brought on the hope I would run across more games, controllers or even the official hookups for this thing. With no such luck, I knew I had to do some research to see what power supply I could use, so that I didn’t create the reason why I would need to return it to the store, and I found that I already had one!
The very first thing I did was break out the cleaning wipes and gave the system a much deserved bath. The dirt came off with ease as the wipe turned from white to a sickly, dark brown color. At first I only cleaned half of the system so I could take a comparative pic (seen below), but once it was done, the system looked brand new! I assume everything went together, but I’m not sure why the games were so clean and the system and controller were so dirty.
After I was confident that I had the right power supply, I hooked everything up and pushed the power button… nothing! My heart sank and I immediately started thinking about how I would return the system, but I wanted to keep the controller and knew I would keep the games. I sat there for a moment, wiggling the power supply in hopes that it may spring to life and all I would need to do was solder something back together, no life what so ever.
I sat there for a moment and the knowledge of my old Atari Jaguar returned to me. IT NEEDS A GAME!, I thought to myself, so I picked up a game and firmly planted it into the system. I wasn’t prepared to see another lack of life in this thing, so I pushed the button and hoped for the best. Success! The system lit up and the Jaguar logo came roaring on to the screen (literally, it roars at you), needless to say I was extremely happy.
The Atari Jaguar is a relatively rare system, which I will be discussing in my forthcoming Jaguar review. Before I found this one, the last Atari Jaguar I had seen was my own. Throughout my many thrift store finds, I’ve never come across anything related to the Jaguar, not even in Disc Replay, which may not even carry them. The 5 games I got were: Tempest 2000 (complete in box), Iron Soldier (complete in box), Bubsy in Fractured Furry Tales (complete in box), Raiden and Doom. Inside Bubsy’s box I found an interesting receipt, which I will also be discussing in the review. So far everything works great, and I hope it continues that way because I’ve quickly grown attached to this system and it’s games.
Games -$2 each
I will admit that I’m pretty fond of my Super Joy 3, but lately it has been giving me problems. I think the batteries are going dead, but with anything made in China, it may also just be dying for good. Recently I found a functional Power Joy that may take it’s place, so I figured what better to do than to give the Power Joy it’s own review!
The Power Joy also has the N64 controller resemblance, but takes it a few steps further from the Super Joy, for the integrated light gun. The first thing you’ll notice is the toy jet design on the front, as well as the toy gun like handle, with trigger, underneath. The toy jet design may have been added to throw off the N64 controller shape, but the handle and trigger are essential and feel quite comfortable when you’re playing one of the many shooting games packed into this unit. Also, the light gun’s accuracy is surprisingly good!
At the bottom of the handle is the second controller port, as well as the hardwired AV cables, with optional power input. The cables are decent in length and don’t get in the way, despite their placement. Underneath the unit you’ll also find a 60 pin connector and the battery storage, which has an extremely weak feeling cover. The Power Joy does play Famicom cartridges, but the unit isn’t quite big enough to play them comfortably, so your fingers might be cramped until you find a comfortable playing position.
On top of the Power Joy are the controls, which are setup much like the Super Joy’s, but with a few exceptions. Here the D pad is still inaccurate, the reset button is much smaller but still too easy to hit in a hurry, the power switch is right above the reset button and start and select are the same. One feature the Super Joy lacks, but I enjoy on the Power Joy, is a fully functional joystick, which is more accurate (just slightly) than the D pad. A minor drawback is that the A and B buttons (including their turbo counterparts) are backwards, which takes a little time to adjust to.
My new Power Joy came with the cartridge, so I had a chance to see what it could offer. I honestly think the cartridge alone was worth the $3 I paid for the whole unit! The PJ-008 is packed with playable games, and it even works on the NES, with a Famicom to NES converter. Out of the 84 games on the cartridge, there are only a handful of failures. That isn’t to say they’re not functional, they’re just not games I enjoyed. It is noteworthy to say that most of the games packed on the PJ-008 are simply pirated, very few are hacks.
Overall, again, I am impressed with this cheap, Chinese toy. I enjoy sitting in front of my TV and having many choices right at my finger tips, which the Super Joy and Power Joy units provide in abundance. The controls are whacky, the games are mostly pirates or hacks of games we already know and love, but this system is a pretty cool little device. Thanks to my new Power Joy, I now know that my other Power Joy works as well, it just needed the battery cover to power up properly. I don’t expect them to live long, but for what they are, I will enjoy them as long as I can.
Here is the list of games that the Power Joy offers, as well as the PJ-008 cartridge. I know they released a few different versions, so I would imagine the games differ from cartridge to cartridge, so this is a list of what I’ve got on my system.
Games in the Power Joy
|Power Joy Title||Extra Info|
|Shoot Copter||Hacked Duck Hunt|
|Falling Bricks||Fairly decent Tengen Tetris Hack|
|Shoot Copters||Hacked Duck Hunt|
|Panzer Fly Car||Road Fighter Hack|
|Debar Bomb 1||Hogan’s Alley Hack|
|Shooting||Hacked Hogan’s Alley – Can shoot|
|Debar Bomb 2||Hogan’s Alley Hack|
|Future Tank||Battle City Hack|
|Space War||Exerion Hack|
|Shoot Glass||Hacked Duck Hunt – Clay Shooting|
Games in the Cartridge
|Power Joy Title||Extra Info|
|80 Days||Puss ‘n Boots: Around the World in 80 Days|
|Aladdin III||Magic Carpet 1001 (Infamous Pirate)|
|Adisland||Famicom Adventure Island|
|ASCII||Famicom Penguin-Kun Wars|
|Arabian||Famicom Super Arabian|
|Badminton||Famicom Super Dynamix Badminton|
|B-Wings||Battle Wings/Famicom B-Wings|
|Bird Week||Famicom Bird Week|
|Boat Race||Seizure inducing F1 Race Hack|
|Boom Man||Bomber Man|
|Brush Roller||Hack of a Pirate called Bookyman|
|Clay Shoot||Hacked Duck Hunt|
|Chack and Pop||Famicom Chack’n Pop|
|Circus Chablie||Circus Charlie – Menu is spelled wrong|
|City Connection||City Connection|
|Dig Dug||Dig Dug|
|Dough Boy||Famicom Dough Boy|
|Druaga||Famicom Tower of Druaga|
|Devil World||Famicom Devil World|
|Ding Dong||Famicom Binary Land|
|Door Door||Famicom Door Door|
|Dynamite Bowl||Famicom Dynamite Bowl|
|Elevator Action||Elevator Action|
|Formation Z||Famicom Formation Z|
|Front Line||Famicom Front Line|
|Fire Dragon||Interesting clone of the Atari game Surround|
|Filed Combat||Field Combat – Menu is spelled wrong|
|Galg||Famicom Zunou Senkan Galg|
|Gotcha||LJN’s Gotcha! I like this one, since the Power Joy is also the light zapper!|
|Hyper Olympic||Track and Field|
|Kage||The Legend of Kage|
|Lode Runner 1||Lode Runner|
|Lode Runner 2||Championship Lode Runner|
|Lunar Ball||Lunar Pool|
|Macross||Choujikuu Yousai Macross|
|Magic Jewellery||Pirate of Magic Jewelry|
|Othello||Pirate of HES’s Othello|
|Pac Land||Famicom Pac-Land|
|Pandamar||Hacked Super Mario with a Panda|
|Penguin||Famicom Obake no Q Tarou: Wan Wan Panic/ NES Chubby Cherub (w/ drastic changes!)|
|Route 16||Famicom Route 16 Turbo|
|Raid on Bay||Raid on Bungeling Bay|
|Road Fighter||Famicom Road Fighter|
|Sky Destroyer||Sky Destroyer|
|Space ET||Space Invaders|
|Star Gate||Famicom Stargate/Defender II|
|Star Force||Star Force|
|Son Son||Famicom Son Son|
|Spartan||Famicom Spartan X/NES Kung Fu|
|Spy vs Spy||Spy vs Spy|
|Star Luster||Famicom Star Luster|
|Tag Team||Tag Team [Pro] Wrestling|
|Twin Bee||Famicom Twin Bee|
|Wisdom||Wisdom Boy – Puzzle game of unknown Origins|
|Warp Man||Famicom Warpman|
|World Cup||World Cup 2002 Chinese hack of Soccer|
|Zippy Race||MotoRace USA/Zippy Race|
While I am as staunch an old-school fanboy as you’ll likely find of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and various other vintage console games, I am a computer gamer at heart. I love playing games with a keyboard and mouse, and the PC platform allows for more complex and versatile games and controls. I even prefer playing console games on emulator! I really like the style of games that can be done on computer though, and have been playing them for over 20 years, nearly as long as I’ve played console games. There also seems to be a clear line between console games being dominated by Japanese influence, and PC games being dominated by American influence.
One cannot talk about vintage PC games however without talking about the original PC platform: DOS. There was an entire generation of games stretching all the way into the mid 90’s that ran from a command prompt. These include many classics I enjoy like the SSI Dungeons & Dragons games, X-Wing, King’s Quest, and Doom, among many, MANY others. There were also PC games into the mid 90’s that were released for both Windows and DOS like Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries and Quake. Windows operating systems supported DOS applications and games natively throughout the 90’s, but we all entered into the new millennium accompanied by Windows XP, and alas, problems began to arise.
Many of the more elaborate DOS programs rely on access to old style systems and libraries that had just become so old and deprecated, that Microsoft stopped providing full backward compatibility to them with XP. There was also a certain amount of compatibility breaking between XP and earlier versions of Windows as well. Problems with software needing earlier versions of Windows could (usually) be resolved by running the program in a “Compatibility Mode”, but these fixes were largely useless when it came to DOS programs. With the introduction of Windows Vista and Windows 7, things became even worse, and with the transition to 64-bit operating systems, things have fallen off the cliff.
The primary reason that 64-bit OS’s provide an extra challenge is because many DOS applications, and quite a few early Windows applications, use 16-bit libraries that a 64-bit operating system just doesn’t know how to handle. 64-bit operating systems can work out 32-bit operations, and 32-bit operating systems can work out 16-bit operations, however, going from 64-bit to 16-bit is just a bridge too far. This requires an intermediate step.
Now, when most of us think of emulators, we think of programs to run console games on a computer, but that is just one form of emulation. A program called “DOSBox” (which you can find at: www.dosbox.com) is a program that emulates DOS on a variety of operating systems and allows you to run DOS games and applications. It is a hybrid between an emulator and a “Virtual Machine” (VM). VMs are totally awesome and I’ll go into more detail about them in a later article. It gets more technical than we need to get into at the moment. For now, we’ll just think of it as a DOS emulator, just like a SNES or Genesis emulator.
When you run DOSBox, you select a folder on your computer to act as it’s “C:” drive. You are presented with… (Dun dun DUH!) a Command Prompt! From there you can run any programs in your virtual hard drive just as if it was DOS. There are a variety of options and commands that allow you to use your CD/DVD drive to install/run a game, mount a CD image, speed up and slow down the emulated system speed, etc. There are also ways to create Windows shortcuts that will automatically run DOSBox and run your DOS game within it automatically, all from a normal double-click! It really takes a modern computer that would never run a DOS game again, and lets it run the game better than it originally ran on a real system.
I have (finally) just begun the transition from WinXP to Win7 (64-bit nonetheless!), so I’m going to have to figure out how to run my old games on this new system. DOSBox is going to be one of the first steps. I had already installed it on my current XP system, but that was a long time ago and I’m going to have to get it set up all over again. This will inadvertently require a bit of re-learning and beating my head against the wall, so I plan to document this endeavor for the benefit of my fellow vintage PC gamers in an upcoming article or two. After that, I will get into more advanced projects like virtual machines, so stay tuned!
PS – Everything I’ve talked about so far has all centered around running Microsoft on Microsoft, but another awesome feature of DOSBox and Virtual Machines in general is that you can emulate the desired operating system on a variety of different computers! You can run DOSBox on Linux, Mac, and several other operating systems! When we get into Virtual Machines, you can do much more elaborate things like run Windows XP inside of a Mac, or run Linux inside of your Window 7!
Many people know that some DVDs had hidden goodies called Easter Eggs that the studios put in just for fun. Did you know games have some too? Some are easy to find, some took more than two decades to find.
Game: Earthworm Jim
Console: SNES, Genesis, Game Boy
If you Pause the game and enter the code “YABBAYABBA” it will show you various pictures of one of the programmers of the game along with some amusing messages.
Game: Donkey Kong
Console: Atari 800
Long rumored to be true, Programmer Landon Dyer hid his initials in the game. It took until 2009 for someone to find them. It’s a long process to find. You can read how to do it, or just watch the video below instead.
Game: Mortal Kombat
In the bridge stage, get a flawless victory against the computer in both rounds and perform a fatality at the end. You get to fight Reptile in the bottom of the spike pit.
Game: Duke Nukem 3D Atomic
In the second to last level, run into walls and click the mouse button to reveal a hidden room. It’s Homer Simpsons Office from the Simpsons. In the show he works in a nuclear power plant in Sector 7-G.
Game: Day of the Tentacle
Along with lots of Star Wars and other pop culture references, LucasArts decided to include the whole Maniac Mansion game with this one. All you have to do is use Weird Ed Edison’s computer to play it.
4) – Playstick for the Playstation
Although you may guess otherwise, I’m not a joystick fan by any means. I do however like to own odd controllers for various video game systems. Apart from the huge Advantage style joystick and the Steel Battalion layout, I had never seen a joystick for the Playstation, but here it is! This was sitting on a Goodwill shelf right next to another score I’ll be posting about another time.
3) – Interact’s Barracuda
This is yet another strange controller, but not entirely the strangest of all my controllers. This thing has switches and buttons all over the place, in an oddly comfortable layout. This thing jumped out at me from a wall of controllers, so I had to have it.
2) – Sony PSOne controllers
I bought both of these at different times, but they’re the same thing so I figured I would cover them together. Obviously one is in better shape, which cost slightly more than the other one. They’re both fully functional and since I own a PSOne, I figured I would need the controllers to go along with it. The one missing the analog grip has become my favorite PS controller, for some reason I think the missing grip has a better feel to it.
1) – Sony PSOne
Although I already own a PSOne, it doesn’t work. Being me, I decided to keep my eyes open and if I found another one cheap enough, I would buy it too. The price tag says $9.99, but that isn’t what I paid for it because it was on sale. So far everything works just fine with this one.