Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Tales of Console Collecting – Super Nintendo Street Fighter II Console Pack

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior was released in the arcades in 1991 and changed the arcade landscape forever.  I still remember the buzz surrounding the game, and the crowds gathered round the machines.  It was also a popular topic in the playground.  I remember the discussions about new versions appearing in the arcades down the seafront, with Ryu and Ken being able to do multiple Hadoukens and in mid-air.  There was also one particular machine with a weird glitch, whereby Ryu would turn into Blanka!  Back then I wasn’t really aware of the concept of bootleg boards.  There was also talk of cheats allowing the player to select the bosses.  It wasn’t long after that rumours of a Super Nintendo conversion began to circulate.  The thought of being able to play a near arcade perfect conversion in the home was incredible at the time.

Street Fighter II was released for the Japanese Super Famicom in June 1992, and European gamers had to wait until December 1992 for its release.  It was the first game released for the system on a 16-Megabit cartridge.  It wasn’t quite arcade perfect, but was an incredible conversion all the same and well worth the wait. 

On Christmas Day 1992 I received my first ever console and arguably the best present ever from Father Christmas, the awesome Super Nintendo Street Fighter II Console Pack.  I admit it didn’t come as a massive surprise as I had been on about the console for months, but I was ecstatic all the same.  I also received Super Mario World and Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts that year.  My Dad had chosen the latter based on magazine reviews.

Fast forward to 1997, and I was working on a ship, getting regular shore leave in Japan.  My first pick ups for the Super Famicom were Axelay and Hagane.  I bought them from a little games shop in Sodegaura.  The games were used, but in superb condition and extremely cheap.  I still have these games twenty three years on.  Japanese games were largely superior to their PAL counterparts, running full screen and at 60Hz, and the fantastic artwork won me over.  I eventually decided to part with all my PAL consoles and games, and my collection became exclusively Japanese. 

Now my collection has come full circle, and I recently picked up the Super Nintendo Street Fighter II Console Pack again.  

I probably won’t play it much as there are much better versions available, plus I have the original arcade board.  However this pack brings back so many memories, and I’m really pleased to add it to my collection once again.  I was fortunate to receive a few computers and consoles on Christmas Days over the years, including an Amstrad CPC 464, Amiga 500 Plus Cartoon Classics Pack and a Sega Saturn bundled with Virtua Fighter.  The Super Nintendo Street Fighter II Console Pack remains my favourite and most memorable, closely followed by the Saturn, but that’s another story!

It’s in excellent condition overall, with just some light wear to the box.  Unfortunately the Street Fighter II instruction manual is missing, but I should be able to pick one up fairly easily. 

Now I just have to dig out my old Super Play magazines to find out the cheats for playing as the bosses and accessing Sheng Long.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Arcade Club - Leeds

We recently checked out Arcade Club Leeds.  I had seen pics and videos, but they still didn’t prepare me for the sheer awesomeness of this new arcade.  I was absolutely blown away, and we had a fantastic day playing old favourites and discovering new ones.  Also it’s cool that it’s not just a carbon copy of the Bury venue.  Both arcades have their unique features and games, making trips to both venues essential.

The venue has three floors.  The ground floor, dubbed the main arcade, features mostly modern arcade cabs, including rhythm games and quirky Japanese machines.  There is also the awesome Sega Zone, Versus City cabs and pinball.

The mezzanine is the classic arcade, with games from the seventies to the nineties. 

The second floor has e-sports, virtual reality, Minecraft and Fortnite, as well as a nice row of Astro City cabs.

Here are some of my gaming highlights.

Enduro Racer DLX – Sega - 1986

Back in April whilst on holiday in Wales, I was at the back of an Ops warehouse, standing next to a very tired looking Enduro Racer DLX.

Fast forward a few months, and I’m standing next to the same machine in Arcade Club Leeds, and what a transformation!  The cabinet looks incredible and plays great.  It’s fantastic to see the machine restored to its former glory and end up here for everyone to enjoy.

They had this at The Majestic in Great Yarmouth back in the day.  My wife remembers playing it.  She recalls her dad giving her a helping hand to tilt the seat back as she was too little to do it herself.  It was quite funny to see my daughter play and have the same issue, history repeating itself right there!

Gun Bullet X – Namco – 2016

This fourth instalment has been given an HD makeover, and fans of the series will find it instantly familiar.  Great fun, although I still can’t get that pesky leaf!

Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Junior and Mario Bros – Namco / Nintendo – 2005 Upright/Standard, 2008 Cabaret/Mini (Pictured)

Now this is a cool cabinet I hadn’t seen before.  I had to do a double take when I saw that the cab is licensed by Nintendo and produced by Namco.  The games run on a custom Jamma PCB.  Mario Bros has been modified to display in a vertical orientation.  Being able to play the three games in one cab is a great bonus.  I really like the look of the cab, although I was slightly disappointed to find the coin door is not a coin door at all, but is actually part of the artwork.

OutRun2SP Special Tours – Sega – 2004

It doesn’t matter where I am, it’s always great to see this game.  I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it, it’s such a joy to play.  The blue skies and that Sega magic, the awesome selection of Ferraris and the drift mechanic, stunning locations and those timeless tunes – there’s just so much I love about it.  Plus it’s one of the few games I can beat the wife at!  And if anyone asks about my favourite track, it has to be Passing Breeze.  Also I was sceptical at first, but the new tunes have really grown on me over the year, with Night Flight being a firm favourite.

Alien vs. Predator – Capcom – 1994

I’ve actually got this at home in the Neo 29 cab.  So why did I play it here?  Well I turned round and to my surprise my daughter was playing it on a Blast City cab.  I joined her for some two player action, and we played through to the end.  My daughter’s verdict? “It’s just a fun game, and I like that you can shoot, but it’s not as good as Pac-Land or Splatterhouse.”

House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn – Sega R&D1 - 2018

Everyone’s favourite zombie shooter returns to the arcades and what a return!  The game is absolutely awesome and everything I hoped for.  I first played it at EAG back in January and since then it’s been popping up in arcades round the country.  It really comes into its own at Arcade Club with the game being on freeplay, and we had an awesome session on it.

Elevator Action Returns: Death Parade – Taito – 2010

There are a few arcade games I only ever saw in one arcade, and this was one of them until now! 

I loved Elevator Action Returns, and was intrigued when I heard Taito were going to continue the series in the arcades with a first-person light gun shooter.  I played it for the first time at the London Trocadero and wasn’t disappointed.  The first thing that strikes you is the awesome cabinet design, featuring elevator doors and a vertically orientated monitor.  The elevator doors are integral to the gameplay.  In certain sections, the player must shoot the enemies whilst pressing the elevator close button rapidly in order to close the doors for cover.  Also between stages, the doors close and the story plays out on the monitor above the doors.  In true Elevator Action tradition, the game involves secret agents infiltrating a skyscraper in order to retrieve the classified documents.  The agents must then make their way to the rooftop to rendezvous with the escape chopper.  In addition to the human adversaries, there are genetically engineered beasts to contend with.

Here is a video of the game.

I really enjoyed giving this another blast.  The game is great fun, and the unique cabinet design really sets it apart. 

MonHun Nikki: Pri Pri Pig Race / Poogie Race – Capcom – 2013

Capcom returns to the arcades with…pig racing!? 

This bizarre pig racing game was a bit of an odd surprise!  I’d never heard of this one before.  Apparently the game is a spin-off of the Monster Hunter series and is based on a minigame.  Players guide their ‘poogie’ using the unique pig shaped controller.  It’s certainly one of the more interesting controllers out there!   It reminded me of Namco’s Armadillo Racing. 

R-Type – Nintendo / Irem – 1987

An all time classic and a stunning looking cabinet.  Check out that artwork!

Space Harrier DLX – Sega – 1985

Another definite highlight, absolutely incredible.  Playing this was worth the trip alone!

A video of the game in action.

Sega Zone

As a massive Sega fan, this is a dream come true for me.  It was absolutely incredible seeing the row of Sega Taikan cabs.  I thought seeing something like this was lost in time, an era gone forever.  If someone had said to me ten years ago that we’d have venues like this here in the UK I wouldn’t have believed them.

There was so much After Burner awesomeness in the building.  I love seeing the old and the new side by side, especially when the hardware is decades apart.  I think they complement each other really well.

In fact let’s have some more After Burner pics, you can never have too many!

Daytona Championship USA has been updated to the New Season Edition.  This includes improved car handling, new dynamic in-game camera, new graphics and improved lighting, new car models and damage modelling, new top three race highlights, new car liveries and updated live player camera. 

The Mortal Kombat row was pretty awesome.  I’ve never seen anything like this in the UK.  Back in the day, when a sequel was released, it generally replaced the previous instalment.  I don’t recall ever seeing Mortal Kombat 4 over here.

For a relatively modern game, Namco’s Mach Storm has become pretty uncommon, rarely seen in the arcades now.  It was great to see it here and was proving very popular.  The game is a spiritual successor to After Burner.  It features stunning graphics, dome technology and is about as close as you can get to being in Top Gun!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time is another game I only ever saw in one arcade.  I think it was in Magic City, Great Yarmouth, and it was one of the games in the Electrocoin row.  It’s an awesome sequel, but didn’t prove anywhere near as popular as the original.  The game was released in 1991, and I think the popularity of both the Turtles and scrolling beat-em-ups was starting to wane.  Also a little known game by the name of Street Fighter II was released the same year.

Some more pics of Arcade Club Leeds.

We had an amazing time at Arcade Club Leeds.  The selection of machines is nothing short of epic, and there really is something for everyone, whatever your gaming tastes.  The highlight for me has to be the Sega Zone, seeing the row of Taikan cabs was a sight to behold.   I also loved racing my wife on OutRun2 SP (all the races were so close!) and having The House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn on freeplay was a real treat.  On my next visit, I aim to spend more time with titles I’m not so familiar with and try out more of the quirky Japanese games.  

Arcade Club Leeds is a fantastic experience, and I can’t wait to go back.