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  • When living alone…

    Posted on May 22nd, 2009 keving 1 comment

    What is 2ch?

    Sometimes I’ll take humorous 2ch threads and translate them for laffs. This is the first in the series.

    Subject: Things you notice for the first time when living alone

    1 :774号室の住人さん :2008/07/30(水) 15:35:54 ID:nIOaO9tu
    You can’t do anything when you’re out of money
    You can’t stomach anything besides lowfat milk
    Cornflakes become your main sustenance

    4 :774号室の住人さん :2008/07/30(水) 19:33:52 ID:vp9ob/xf
    The amount of pubic hair you have

    16 :774号室の住人さん :2008/08/02(土) 06:10:31 ID:L2Ck6Ac3
    Sausage is a lot more expensive than you thought

    26 :774号室の住人さん :2008/09/09(火) 10:29:53 ID:q+fyD5+U
    Sit around like you do at home and the place gets filthy in the blink of an eye.

    Not cluttered, but filthy.
    It’s horrible in here besides where I sit

    8 :774号室の住人さん :2008/07/30(水) 22:29:53 ID:lUQE5MM6
    The toilet in your bathroom gets gross instantly

    with hair, and dust, and hair and things

    10 :774号室の住人さん :2008/07/30(水) 22:55:32 ID:zHdLU90B
    The Internet is God.

    13 :774号室の住人さん :2008/07/31(木) 11:25:13 ID:CMoI70I1
    >>10
    The two weeks it took to get the net connected in here were torture. Seriously

    11 :774号室の住人さん :2008/07/30(水) 23:01:01 ID:D844wCRY
    You have to buy your own toilet paper

    17 :774号室の住人さん :2008/08/02(土) 07:30:46 ID:9sh96Bul
    You can jerk off as much as you want

    19 :774号室の住人さん :2008/08/02(土) 09:08:14 ID:k+QKKEPl
    The fact that I have no money management skills whatsoever.

    Not that I spend much anyway, so I don’t need them that much.

    Also, I am going to kill the neighbors next time they start screaming on their balcony.

    32 :774号室の住人さん :2008/09/12(金) 20:33:09 ID:/KxclMAf
    You can’t put a cold pack on your back

    36 :774号室の住人さん :2008/09/15(月) 00:56:12 ID:RpCbT+uA
    I come home at night and drinks have not magically appeared in my refrigerator

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • [I ♥ The PC Engine] Victory Run

    Posted on May 22nd, 2009 keving 7 comments

    3850Victory Run
    (ビクトリーラン)

    Maker: Hudson
    Release Date: 12/28/87
    Price:
    4500 yen
    Media:
    HuCard (2 Mbit)
    Genre: Sports
    PC Engine FAN Score: 15.49 / 30.00
    Kōgien: “A nostalgic game, but the controls and feeling of speed are still excellent. The hills you go up and down during the race are extremely smoothly simulated. The four gears and endurance ratings on parts also give the game a realistic feel.”

    The final release of 1987, and also the first racer to hit the PC Engine. I may be overlooking some other obscure release, but I don’t think Hudson made another console racing game after this until the PS2’s Bomberman Kart in 2001.

    victory-run-j-004

    victory-run-j-001

    This is also the first serious attempt to simulate Dakar Rally-style racing on consoles, and maybe in the entirety of video games. Not that things are that much different from OutRun and other sprite-and-raster racers of the era, but there is a pretty decent level of depth here for a 1987 game — stage-based rallying, day/night racing, on/off-road racing, car damage, car parts that wear out over time and require replacement, the rally-ish emphasis of hitting the target time over simply being the fastest dude on the track, and so forth. (The graphics also aren’t bad — the uphill/downhill effect is pretty remarkable for a 2D racer.)

    This is a game that doesn’t reward insanely quick driving. Instead, remaining steady is the key here, choosing your car parts wisely (ie. preparing a lot of replacement brakes, because you go through them like I go through bottles of Shiner Black) and taking a seasoned, patient approach to the road as you try to pass by the lorries, police cars and motorcycles driven by enormous people that share the rally path with you. You can’t even afford to floor it completely on straightaways, or else you may grab GNARLY AIR on a hill and torch your suspension.

    All the extras tacked on to the classic OutRun formula make this a surprisingly hard game, the reason why it was ranked so low by contemporary gamers. Night driving is painful, for example. The road’s hard to see (especially in desert stages), none of the other cars believe in using their headlights after dark, and it’s terrifying rough on your joints. That’s why making it through the night to the end of the checkpoint, on time no less, is so exhilarating when you pull it off. Doubly so, in fact, because you get to hear the boppy car-maintenance music as your reward. Seriously boppy. In fact, this may be my favorite PCE tune out of the 1987 games. You just can’t get enough of that harsh computer-y lead that kicks this tune off. I had to change a tire today (true story) and couldn’t get this out of my head throughout the entire hot, sweaty ordeal. Bliss.

    The above video, a championship victory that takes about 23 minutes from start to finish, shows you everything you need to know as a budding Victory Runner. Note how the player destroys his brakes early but deals with it by having his foot halfway on the pedal whenever the road is curving more than half a degree at a time.

  • [I ♥ The PC Engine] X1 Twin

    Posted on May 22nd, 2009 keving 2 comments

    X1 Twin

    Maker: Sharp
    Release Date: December 1987 sometime
    Price: 99,800 yen

    A PC with Built-in PC

    x1t0NEC was, in the end, a personal computer company. As a result, the PC Engine scene is packed to the gills with hardware and accessories, to the point where that “PC” in the title wasn’t just bravado but likely reflected an effort on NEC’s part to make the console a cheap home computer in the Japanese marketplace.

    I’ve already discussed the “Core Concept” that drove the PCE in the beginning. It largely ended in failure, but also resulted in a few pieces of hardware that are rarer then hen’s teeth — which, I suppose, is part of the collector attraction for the system in the first place. This is one of those pieces.

    If you thought NEC was the only PC Engine hardware manufacturer, you’re in for a shock — apparently, as long as you got the license from NEC-HE, then any company could insert the PCE’s hardware into their own stuff and manufacture whatever the hell they wanted. Such compatible devices were called “HE-System Machines,” and there were only two third-party machines released in this line — Pioneer’s LaserActive in 1993, and this bugger, the X1 Twin from Sharp. (NEC themselves also released a PC monitor with a built-in PC Engine, and it says something about NEC’s marketing strategy that this arguably isn’t even the silliest PCE thing they released.)

    I, myself, have never seen an X1 Twin in person. Most people haven’t. I’m just cribbing the photo and description printed in the hardware-catalog section of one of the 1997 Super PC Engine FAN magazine-books.

    The Sharp X1 was a series of 8-bit Z80-CPU computers released in Japan starting in 1983, one marketed as a home computer. Sharp called it a “PC Television” in advertising, reflecting the fact that the X1’s monitor included a built-in TV tuner, and plainly it was targeted for gamers and other hardcore users…assuming they could afford the 150,000 yen the thing cost in its original configuration. The series got an upgrade with the X1 Turbo in 1984 and eventually evolved into the X68000 line, one that achieved almost-legendary status among Japanese gamers until Windows machines finally won the market for good.

    x1twinThis machine, the X1 Twin, was marketed as “the response to the X1’s fifth birthday.” It was released just after (almost simultaneously, really) with the PC Engine console, as you can tell by this flyer (left) that shows no software besides launch titles Shanghai and Bikkuriman World.

    Exactly why Sharp thought that licensing technology from NEC, its chief competitor in the home computer business at the time, would be a great idea for its new PC is a mystery to me. The only connection here is that Hudson developed the BASIC interpreter that shipped with the X1, sort of like how Microsoft did the BASIC for most Western 8-bit computers. Maybe Sharp, like a lot of other third-party hardware makers in Japan at the time, thought the PCE had a chance to take over the Famicom’s enormous market overnight and just wanted to get in on the ground floor any way possible.

    As for the hardware itself? Like I said before, I’m really not sure what Sharp was thinking with this thing. If this is their “response,” then it’s the wrong one. Similar to the Tera Drive and Amstrad Mega PC that came later, this is a computer that just happens to also let you play console games on it. If you think you can control the PCE with the computer, or have RGB output from the PCE, then forget it. The X1 and PCE hardware run completely separately from each other, including different video outputs; the only thing they really share is a power supply. Another side effect of this structure is that you cannot expand the PCE inside at all; you can only play HuCards, and since there’s no backup RAM, there’s also no saving any of your games (not that this became an option for PCE games until backup memory became standard in ’88 or so).

    The X1 Twin was the final computer released as part of Sharp’s X1 series. While Sharp has a history of mashing hardware together and calling it “Twin” (cf. the Twin Famicom), I still can’t see any reason why this bit of hardware exists at all.

    Speaking of consoles installed within PCs but running on different video outputs and sharing nothing with the computer portion apart from the AC supply, the PC-FX board NEC released in 1995 for their PC-9821 computer is the exact same deal. What was the point? The 3DO Blaster was a lot kinder to end users in this regard, no doubt, and has the added benefit of being marginally more useful as a game platform than the PC-FX.

  • [I ♥ The PC Engine] Kato-chan Ken-chan

    Posted on May 22nd, 2009 keving 3 comments

    Kato-chan Ken-chanKato-chan Ken-chan
    (カトちゃんケンちゃん)

    (J.J. & Jeff)

    Maker: Hudson
    Release Date: 11/30/87
    Price:
    4500 yen
    Media:
    HuCard (2 Mbit)
    Genre: Action
    PC Engine FAN Score: 19.96 / 30.00
    Kōgien: “A side-scrolling action game starring the Kato-chan Ken-chan comedy team. The characters are drawn oddly realistically, giving them a unique look. Performing some sort of action on the obstacles in the game leads too all sorts of results.”

    Kato-chan Ken-chan and the TG16’s J.J. & Jeff are largely the same, with just a few graphical differences to eliminate the toilet humor. Instead of farting, the US version features a spray can as an auxiliary weapon, which inadvertently makes the game just a smidge easier since you don’t need to be facing backwards to fire the spray can at enemies.

    The heroes of this game are real people, Cha Kato and Ken Shimura of Japanese comedy group The Drifters. At the time, the pair were heading up Kato-chan Ken-chan no Gokigen TV, a variety program running Saturdays at 8pm on the TBS network. This was the follow-up show from 8-ji da yo! Zen’in shugo, another variety show that ran from 1969 to 1985 and largely helped to define the zany lowbrow humor that most people tend to think of when they hear the words “Japanese television”. Gokigen TV is semi well-known in the US for being the first show to feature humorous home videos sent in by viewers, which led to Vin Di Bona licensing the concept for America’s Funniest Home Videos, a show I found breathlessly entertaining as a kid but wonder how I managed to take for so long nowadays.

    Around the time this game came out, Gokigen TV was the number-one comedy on the tube, recording a 36.0% share with its 11/21/87 episode — the 4th best rating achieved by a variety show in Japanese history. The show lasted until 1992, by which time other variety series were kicking its arse in the 8pm Sunday time slot. Kato/Ken followed up immediately with another show, but that fizzled out in half a year, ending The Drifters’ 23-year stint at TBS. (The station dropped the Saturday variety timeslot entirely in 2008.)

    18121814

    Moving on to the game, the object is to control madcap detectives Kato/Ken (they did a detective spoof sketch pretty much once per episode of Gokigen TV) as they solve a kidnap caper, which for some reason involves going through 24 stages of platform Armageddon. It’s simple “athletic action” in the Wonder Boy tradition, and it’s pretty well made — nice-looking, incredibly difficult, and featuring a lot of the trademark gags seen on the show. (Those enormous faces are cute, too.)

    Unlike Hudson’s Adventure Island (which came out on the Famicom less than a year before this), Kato-chan Ken-chan has a wealth of complexity to its stage design. You can jump on, kick, or fart/spray-can enemies, and stages can take place across multiple fields and even connect back and forth with each other. There are official Mario-style warp zones, tons of secret doors and such, keys to find, and so on and so forth. This takes a game that’s built to be hard from the start and makes it positively fiendish at the end. That, and the characters control just a wee bit differently from each other — Ken (aka “Jeff”) is a bit faster but skids around a lot more than Kato (aka “J.J.”).

    The music rocks, of course. Hudson was firing on all pistons for these first few titles, I don’t know. Tell me this song doesn’t make you feel a little sad. Go ahead. I dare you to lie to me.

    Here’s the latest TAS for the game. Prepare to see Ken Shimura do things that would probably send him to the hospital if he tried them out nowadays.