Tuesday, 21 May 2019

A few small Easter Raids in Wales - Part 1

During the Easter holiday, we travelled down to South Wales.

Our base for the week was the picturesque seaside town of Tenby.

I didn’t expect to overtake a Space Invader on the motorway!  ‘Don’t be a Space Invader’ is a safety campaign launched to alert drivers to the risks of tailgating.  I think they’ve missed a trick by not using Nancy of Chase H.Q. fame!

I was looking forward to visiting Caldey Island, located less than a mile off Tenby coast.  The island is home to a group of Cistercian monks who farm the land and make cheese, chocolate and perfume.  Unfortunately the island is only accessible by boat, and the boat trips didn’t start until the day after our holiday ended.

The caravan park we stayed at had a modern arcade.  I always enjoy a few credits on Deadstorm Pirates and Jurassic Park Arcade with the kids, as well as Pac-Man Smash air hockey.

During our stay, this Gamestec playnation virtual reality machine was installed. 

VR has been getting a larger presence at EAG over the last couple of years, and I was curious to give this a try.  However I wasn’t very impressed.
1. It was three pounds per credit, so six pounds for me and my daughter to have a go, which lasted a few minutes.
2. I was expecting a game, but in fact it’s just a ride.  The player selects a theme and you just move your head and look round and that’s it! 
3. There is the hygiene issue.  I didn’t mind playing it as it was brand new, having just been installed, but there really should be provisions to give the headset a clean before use.
4. I don’t tend to get motion sickness from games, but I felt a little disorientated at the end of this.  Admittedly the numerous pints of Carling I’d had during the evening probably didn’t help!

I’d contacted a few Ops before the holiday and managed to get a couple of promising leads, but nothing was set in stone.  It was very much a case of ‘give us a ring when you get here.’  They didn’t all come through, but I did manage to squeeze in a few small Raids.

The first Op visit was in a small village near the town of Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, West Wales.

Nowadays the Op mostly deals with fruit machines and pool tables.

He also had jukeboxes and some very old one arm bandits.

Unfortunately he’d got rid of his PCB’s and most of his video game items a couple of years ago.  However he did have a nice bundle of MVS carts and motherboards, with just a single fighter and one I haven’t already got!

I’m a big Neo Geo and SNK fan and I love the reliability of these carts.  I’m by no means going for a full set, but I tend to hold on to carts I haven’t got and sell the rest on.

The boxed cart had a King Of The Monsters label under the brown tape, and there were several game titles hand written on the box, including Samurai Shodown, Super Sidekicks 2 and Top Player Golf.  The game turned out to be none of those and was in fact another Windjammers.  It looks like it had been sited at Llanishen Rugby Football Club.

He also had this generic cab with Hyper Sports inside, which I left behind. 

Apparently the cab had been sat in the corner of his unit for years, and he didn’t know if it worked.  The cab looked solid, nice and compact, and he didn’t want much for it.  I would have bought it if I lived closer. 

The Op was extremely friendly and pleasant to deal with.  He done me a cracking deal on the MVS carts, and when we were chatting outside he put his hand in his pocket, took out a bundle of notes and gave my children five pounds each to spend at the seaside.  We thanked him, said goodbye and headed for Cardiff.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Arcade Operator Retirement Raid - Part 2

“You’re welcome to come down,” the Op told me over the phone.  “I’ve found a couple more bits.”  That’s all the information I was given, and I had no idea what these bits were.  Given the success of my last visit, having finally tracked down my most wanted PCB, I was excited about making another trip.  I wasn’t disappointed!

As with most Raids, you never really know what there is until you get there. 

On arrival I saw a stack of PCB’s and spare monitors in the workshop. 

These boards and parts are from his old business partner and ones he had stored in the garage.

Another box of MVS, including one of my favourite games ever, the awesome Viewpoint!  There were more titles under these carts as well!

Here is a list of titles.

1. Ashura Blaster – Taito / Visco Corporation - 1990
2. Badlands – Atari Games - 1989
3. Final Fight – Capcom - 1989
4. Football Champ – Taito / Team Dogyan - 1990
5. Gals Panic – Taito / Kaneko – 1990
6. Golden Tee Golf – Strata Group, Inc. / Incredible Technologies - 1990
7. Golden Tee Golf II – Strata Group, Inc. / Incredible Technologies - 1991
8. Golfing Greats – Konami - 1990
9. Jackal – Konami - 1986
10. RoboCop – Data East - 1988
11. Section Z – Capcom - 1985
12. Spider-Man: The Video Game – Sega - 1991
13. Tetris – Atari Games - 1988
14. The Newzealand Story – Taito - 1988
15. The Simpsons – Konami - 1991
16. Ultimate Tennis – Art & Magic - 1993
17. Zing Zing Zip –  Tecmo / Allumer, Ltd. - 1992

Neo Geo MVS
1. Baseball Stars Professional x2
2. Breakers
3. Magician Lord
4. Mutation Nation
5. Riding Hero
6. The King of Fighters ‘94
7. The King of Fighters ‘98
8. Viewpoint
9. Voltage Fighter Gowcaizer

A nice, varied selection of games I thought.  Spider-man: The Video Game on the Sega System 32 was an especially awesome surprise!  I played this at Leisureland, Great Yarmouth many years ago on an Electrocoin Duet cab.  The game is great mix of scrolling beat-em-up and platform action game.  It features impressive scaling, with sprites and backgrounds zooming in and out to mark the shift in gameplay. 

Other PCB highlights include Final Fight, The Newzealand Story and two obscure vertical shooters which I haven’t played before, Ashura Blaster and Zing Zing Zip.

Regarding the MVS, I’ve picked up a lot of the usual suspects from Ops over the last few months, such as Puzzle Bobble and Super Sidekicks, and it was great to see some more uncommon titles.  I sell my duplicates and was pleased to see quite a few titles I don’t already own.  Also quite often the labels are worn and the serials cut, but these carts look in great condition.

I also picked up another Mirage cab, my fifth one!  The Op told me he had two hundred machines on site back in the day, mostly in pubs.

There were also some MVS motherboards and Continental Circus parts.

No Fear and Who Dunnit.  The Op mentioned that he will be selling these when he retires this year.

The “couple more bits” loaded up in the boot!

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Arcade Operator PCB Rescue Raid

A long running Op in North Wales recently sent me some pictures of approximately twenty boards.  “Let me know if they’re of interest,” he said.  “Or they’re off to the tip.”  Needless to say a date was promptly made for a visit!

The Op is located in a small town close to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, the longest aqueduct in Great Britain and the highest aqueduct in the world. 

Anyone for Bara Brith?  I had to Google it and apparently it’s a tea-flavoured fruit bread.

The Op is a family run business, and the operation has changed over the years, more towards fruit machines and pool tables.

I remember playing these down the local pub not so long ago.

Back in the day, the Op had a lot of arcade machines in pubs.  He mentioned that as large dedicated machines became more common, it was increasingly difficult to move them through pub doorways, resulting in video games becoming a smaller part of the business.

The only machine the Op had left in the workshop was a modern cocktail cab, due to go back out on site.  I often hear stories of Ops smashing up machines.  I can see why they would have done this once machines stopped taking coin or required expensive repairs, especially with limited space and resale value.  I think I have become desensitised to it, instead focusing on the positives of what’s being saved, but it did hurt a little when he mentioned OutRun as one of the cabs which got the hammer.

Here is the list of titles in the haul.

1. 1942 – Capcom – 1984
2. Arkanoid – Taito - 1986
3. Cabal – TAD Corporation - 1988
4. Choplifter – Sega - 1985
5. Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone – Technōs Japan – 1990
6. Dynamite Düx – Sega AM2 - 1988

7. Football Champ –Taito / Team Dogyan - 1990
8. Ghosts ‘n Goblins – Capcom – 1985
9. Golfing Greats – Konami - 1991
10. King of Boxer – Wood Place Inc. – 1985
11. Pit Fighter – Konami / Atari Games - 1990
12. Punk Shot – Konami - 1990
13. Rastan Saga – Taito – 1987
14. Splatterhouse – Namco – 1988
15. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – Atari, Inc. – 1984

16. Tecmo World Cup ’90 – Tecmo – 1989
17. X-Multiply – Irem – 1989
Interestingly the board has a Legend of Hero Tonma original license seal and X-Multiply ROMs. This is most likely a factory conversion.

18. Unknown – Possible Capcom bootleg?
19. Unknown, possibly Pollux? – Dooyong

Splatterhouse is the highlight for me, absolutely awesome game and one you don’t see very often.  I used to play it in a local Chinese takeaway of all places.  I’ve been playing this a lot in MAME recently and plan on making a Splatterhouse themed cab.

I’m also really excited to play Dynamite Düx, a pretty obscure cute side scrolling beat-em-up, developed by Sega AM2.  The main protagonists are pet ducks named Bin and Pin, who are trying to save their owner Lucy from the evil Sorcerer Achacha.  This is the first time I’ve come across this board and was a real surprise as I thought it was Shinobi!

I also picked up these Konami guns.  Hopefully they will be useful to someone.

The PCB stash loaded up.  Mission complete!

After the Raid we went for a walk along the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and enjoyed the views.  Just don’t look down if you’re not a fan of heights!

The surrounding scenery was outstanding

I have started going through the boards and testing them.  To my surprise, Dynamite Düx, Ghosts ‘n Goblins, Splatterhouse and X-Multiply are fully working.  The boards must have been well looked after.  The Ghosts ‘n Goblins board is immaculate.  It even has the original cellophane on the dip switches!

The Return of the Jedi was working, minus the speech.  A new TMS5220 speech chip has been fitted, rectifying the fault.

Further testing revealed that the up / down control wasn’t working.  This was due to a bad capacitor.

The board cleaned up well and is in very good cosmetic condition, although it has slight signs of burns on the edge connector.  Apparently Atari power boards measure voltage and jack up the power if it’s too low, so if there is a poor contact edge connector arcing can result.  However the game plays perfectly and was left running for a couple of hours without issue. 

Here is a short video of the game up and running.