Sega Genesis Model 3 Virtua Racing and Game Genie Compatibility Fix

Disclaimer: I did not formulate this modification, I simply think that it should get more exposure than it seems to be getting. It works for me so I felt that I should spread the word to those who may not know about it yet.

Straight out of the box the Majesco Sega Genesis, aka the model 3, is lacking quite a few features that its big brothers have. Compatibility with a handful of games, including Virtua Racing, and peripherals like the 32x, Game Genie, Power Base converter and many other things were left out to make the model 3 cheaper to build.

Why would someone want to modify their Genesis 3 in favor of just using the model 1, 2 or handful of other Genesis clones out there? The trends of today are to make console clones smaller and smaller, giving you more room for other consoles on your small entertainment center. The footprint of the Sega Genesis 3 is very small, and if it can be easily modified to be almost as good as it’s bigger siblings then I think there is a market for this type of modification.

Bottom of the motherboard VA1

First thing to note is that the Majesco Genesis comes in, at least, two known revisions. My console is what is referred to as the VA1; there is also a VA2. The VA1 is reportedly the easiest to fix most compatibility issues on, and this modification is the absolutely easiest I’ve ever seen or done.

For this mod all you need is a short length of wire, solder, soldering iron and to have taken your Sega Genesis 3 apart, so you can reach the work area underneath the motherboard. Count the solder joints along the bottom row of the cartridge connector and count 14 to the right. From here you will solder your short length of wire to that solder joint and then down to another visible solder dot on the board. It’s that simple!

Sloppy, but I was too excited to try this mod out.

This is without a doubt one of the easiest console mods I’ve ever done. Simply solder the wire from A to B and your Genesis 3 is now compatible with Virtua Racing and reportedly the Game Genie, although I don’t currently have one to test this. There are still many more incompatibility issues, but you’re on the right track with just one wire and two soldering joints.

Virtua Racing works! I don’t have a Game Genie to test though.

Again, I didn’t formulate this mod, I’m just trying to spread the word so that more people who like the small footprint of their Sega Genesis 3 can have more use from their console. There are further mods that are quite a bit more involved for fixing quite a few other things on the Genesis 3, but by far this mod is the most accessible for the common person. Take your time, be patient (unlike me!) and make sure you solder the wire to the correct spots and you’ll be able to use your Sega Genesis 3 for slightly more things than you could before.

Posted June 30th, 2017

The era of Demo Discs.

Think back to the days when video game reviews online weren’t as big as they are today, and digital demos were strictly for PC games. We lived in a dark time where the only chance you had to test out a video game before you bought it included renting it, borrowing it from a friend, using one of the many video game kiosks strewn about almost every store that sold electronics, or demo discs. Where would my generation, or perhaps even the whole of video gaming, be without demo discs?

Demo discs became the gateway to seeing, testing and experiencing games, and came from darn near everywhere. They often came packed in with consoles, magazines, handed out as promotional items (who else remembers the Pizza Hut demo discs!?) and sometimes even came packed in with full games. Demo discs were heavily prevalent throughout the lifespan of the Playstation, Saturn, Dreamcast, PS2 and even the odd Gamecube demo disc popped up. Without them I wouldn’t have been exposed to half as many games as I was, nor would I have been able to enjoy the games I found on them and love.

Sometimes demo discs offered slightly more, like with Playstation Magazine’s save data you could download and put straight onto your memory card. Having a tough time beating that boss? Playstation Magazine had you covered, in some cases. Want to get that super rare yellow Dodge Copperhead concept in Gran Turismo? Again, Playstation Magazine had you covered!

Demo discs were the greatest thing as a kid, but alas they were just that, demos. Among the demos were also movies, which only made my adolescent mind wish it was a demo! Sometimes, even though it was merely a small portion of the game, the action lasted long enough that I could play it over and over again, and although I did want the full experience of the game I was demoing, the demo alone was plenty enough to keep me busy until I could save up enough lawn mowing money to purchase said game.

When I see demo discs I get that nostalgic feeling in the pit of my stomach. I fondly remember sitting alone in my room, playing the demo of Gran Turismo over and over again until I had mastered the one track it offered with the three cars I could choose from. Heck, I still use demo discs to find games I still may not know about! Sure we’re 17 years on from the Playstation being king of consoles, but demo discs are still play a part, at least in my life, in finding games I was never exposed to and may find enjoyable.

Today’s generations will never understand the feeling of popping in a disc and playing through a handful of game snippets and having the time of their lives. With wifi being integrated into consoles, digital demos downloaded straight to the hard drive have crushed the poor demo disc. Forever in my heart will demo discs reign supreme!

Posted June 17th, 2017

Faxanadu for the NES

Faxanadu LogoMy first true RPG experience was Final Fantasy on the NES, which lead me to believe that all RPGs should be like Final Fantasy. Later in life I found that belief quickly losing ground to the new belief that an RPG can take many forms, and as long as it’s enjoyable I don’t really care what game it may borrow it’s style from. Enter Faxanadu, an Adventure/RPG for the NES, developed by Hudson, that felt more like Metroid and Castlevania than it did Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest.

For many American RPG fans Faxanadu seemingly came out of nowhere, yet Faxanadu is reportedly a spinoff of a much larger series called Dragon Slayer. I don’t know much about the Dragon Slayer series other than both Faxanadu and Legacy of the Wizard are supposedly the only parts of the series that made their way on to the NES. I do own Legacy of the Wizard, I just haven’t delved too deeply into it, so for now I will continue with Faxanadu.

The game starts with the hero returning to his home village, only to find out many things have gone wrong in his absence. And as with any good RPG you are requested by the king to adventure out and set things right again, restoring peace and harmony to the lands once more. I feel that sums up every RPG in the 8-bit era, but you know what? It worked, and all of them put their own spin on that plot as well as made that single, overused plot enjoyable!

Faxanadu 13

So in a more Metroid than Dragon Warrior Adventure/RPG way you set off going screen by screen collecting items, battling monsters and even visiting villages that offer new equipment and even spells. Along the journey you will collect exp and money from Monsters, which is vital for gaining levels and obtaining new armor, weapons, spells, keys, etc. Sometimes there are little tricks thrown in that will have you hopping back and forth between screens to obtain a special potion or other items.

Instead of a battery save Faxanadu uses a mantra system, which is nothing more than a password given to the player by visiting a priest in any given town. This password system leaves a bit to be desired as once the mantra is reentered the player will start from that church with the items, spells, etc. they left off with, but not all their exp or gold. Each mantra reverts the player back to a predetermined amount of exp and gold for the last level they obtained after acquiring a new mantra.

Faxanadu 10

Fighting in Faxanadu is fairly straight forward, you simply press the button and attack what is in front of you. Sometimes, although rarely, you may need to use some clever tactics to defeat a foe, but nothing ever felt like it was impossible to slay; difficult, but never impossible.

Which leads me to the leveling (aka Rank) system, which is quite straight forward and standard, yet a bit frustrating. Even though the Rank system is capped at 16 it does require some periodical grinding. After you’ve obtained the next level it is highly advised, by myself, that you return to a priest in any given town to acquire a new mantra, thus saving your new rank and game progress. If you happen to die before obtaining a new mantra you will lose all extra progress toward your next level. But also, as stated above, mantras will only retain a base level and base amount of gold, any exp or gold gained above that, without acquiring a new level, will be lost.

Although not robust Faxanadu does offer the standard RPG fair, an increasingly difficult set of challenges/monsters, an increasingly better set of armor, weapons and spells, as well as a handful of back and forth missions. But one thing Faxandu has that is unique is the key system used to unlock new areas. Keys can be acquired from shops within the towns, but beware as you can only hold so many items. Plus the fact there are multiple types of keys; most of the time you have no way of knowing how many of each keys you’ll need to progress, and all used keys are gone forever.

Once you’ve defeated the final boss and restored peace to your village everything is perfect once more. At least I assume so, I mean we did just go through the whole game and took care of the reason everything was a mess in the first place. Faxanadu doesn’t quite fill up the same time as Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest would, but it’s definitely a great game to play and very enjoyable. Replay-ability may not seem likely, but give it some times and you’ll find yourself going back into the world of Faxanadu just to relive the adventure you had the first time around. Trust me!

Posted June 1st, 2017