Wednesday, 19 November 2014


Howdy Pardnurs!

This week has been a week where I've been playing some games in between doing some graphics work as a little treat for getting stuff finished and sent off. But somehow I still end up managing to fix / work around a problem with one of my consoles.

The start of last week I traded in a few old un-played xbox 360 games at CEX and picked up Dead Space 3 for the 360. I really really loved the first game and the second game was great too but it took me ages playing it in sections as I tend to play now. The xbox 360 is in the living room and seen's its the shared room I can't really hog it by playing games when my wife wants to watch a tv show or something. Its a bit anti-social especially as she hates scary stuff and Dead Space's are horror games haha. So I've started that anyway as I want to finish the series. I've heard its not as good as the other two games and the Co-op element put me off when it originally came out but for £6 I think its worth a punt to round the games series off as I really liked the story.

Also at the end of the week I got back into listening to the Retro Beats podcast on youtube by Derek Alexander, also known as The Happy Video Game Nerd. I really like his web shows and I've always loved the NES game episodes.

The Nintendo NES has always been a console I only ever played in snatches when I went to Comet in my home town. Comet was a national home appliance chain store and the one in my area, back when I was a little kid they had NES's and when they came out SNES's that you could play on until the store workers came around and moved you on. It was a try before you buy type of thing except I could never buy as I was too young haha. So I played the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles game on there as well as Mario and I think Castlevania. But in tiny tiny goes so I never ever got very far. I always loved it though.

When I was growing up I basically went through the Sega consoles so I missed the Nintendo side of things until my mate gave me his childhood NES as he was moving away at the start of this year. I couldn't believe it!! :D

Unfortunetly a few years of inactivity had some how bought upon the dreaded flashing red LED of Doom! So back then I bought a new 72 pin edge connector and replaced the old one and it worked. While I was at it I disabled the lock-out chip to hopefully stop the non-loading problem in the future.

Well that was a while ago now and listening to the Retro Beats podcast re-ignited my want to play some of the games I never got to as a kid. So onto ebay I went and managed to get Duck Tales, cartridge only, for £5 + postage which is a steal I think! :D

Here it is on top of my tiny NES collection which was all given to me by my mate.

It arrived a day early and I excitedly plugged it into my NES and turned it on....and Grey Screen!!! I blew on the cart and in the NES (Old skool fix haha) and re-seated the cart a few times but no joy. Darn it! It was knackered again.

So last night I set about taking the console apart again to clean the connectors, again, and re-seat everything.

While I was at it I decided to give everything a good clean so with my contact cleaning spray. So the motherboard is all nice and clean now and not sticky anymore from flux residue etc. I put it all back together and excitedly tried the console again but still grey screen! :,-(

Out of curiosity I un-pressed / clicked the cartridge from its locked in position and tried the power again and low and behold the game loaded up!! I turned the console off and clicked the game in place again and it Grey Screened! Weird! I tried it with my Mario 3 cartridge and again it worked in the pre-load position but Grey screened in the clicked position. I must have a dodgy new ebay connector. Doesn't matter though as it works in the pre-load position and I've managed to play through 2 levels on Duck Tales so far and its awesome!! And incredibly hard (compared to new games) but it's a really nice challenge. And Im into that kind of difficulty at the mo with trying to beat R-Type on the PC Engine, which is still elluding me haha.

So yeah, Im into this NES malarky at the minute and really loving it! I can't wait to see the other bosses on the levels I've not beaten yet on Duck Tales. And man is that music good!!!! The moon level is amazing but really all the music I've heard so far kicks ass!!

So there you go. If your NES is Grey Screening and not loading any games give the pre-load position as I call it a go. It might be the thing that works as we are always programmed to click the game down in the NES to then play. It certainly works for me :D

Have fun!!

Duck Tales Do Do Do!


Monday, 10 November 2014


Howdy Y’all,

I’ve not had much time this past 2 weeks to play with making my Neptune hook-up wires unfortunately and I’ve been getting myself down with doing ebay searches for Sega 32x’s on there and seeing how expensive they are now. The prices of them have really shot through the roof and they seem to be becoming more and more unattainable which sucks. I’m still searching though as I need to get a working one to finish the Neptune off.

Anyway, that’s not what this post is about. Its about a little mid-week recycling project that I’ve been thinking about. I like most megadrive owners / collectors have a couple of spare Sonic the Hedgehog 1’s knocking about that no-one wants and I’ve been feeling that its such a shame that such a great game is just gathering dust getting absolutely no love as there are so many of them about.

Well I had the idea that the cartridges are around the same kind of size as some usb portable HDD’s so I thought I could use the casing to house a HDD and make a geeky drive to carry around. Getting one of my spares out and looking over it I saw that they are a bit too small so I did some research on the internet to see if people have made retro game USB drives and saw that some people sacrifice some awesome looking Nintendo games to use the cases to house the drives. And when I saw this I actually thought its such a shame that the actual game, the physical chips and board are just getting binned so that the cases are empty enough to make room for the HDD’s to fit in. So I opened up my Sonic cartridge to see if there was anyway I could keep the game in there and hopefully make it playable still while also being a USB drive.

Once opened you can see that the actual game board doesn’t take up all the room inside the cartridge and the space available is just a bit bigger than a USB pen drive with some room to spare around the sides. This is a pretty good result as I have a spare USB pen drive knocking about that I don’t use as I always end up losing them seen’s they are so small. And it was also free as I got it in a promo goody bag gift.

I found some sticky back velco strips as I thought that I might get a larger capacity pen drive in the future and if I glue gun the pen drive in place it will be stuck there forever. A rare bit of forward thinking from me haha. I also quickly ordered up a usb extension wire from the interwebs to give me a wire that can connect the cart / usb to my computer. I don’t really like the look of just the USB connector sticking out of the sides so wanted to go the dangly wire way.

Here you can see how the insides of the cartridge will look with the USB pen drive in place and the extension cable hanging out the side. Looking pretty neat.

And here you see how it looks with the little security screws put back into place and the cartridge all closed up.

When I was brainstorming how to have the USB extension cable and have the game playable I thought that if I have the cable coming out of the top of the back alignment groove the cartridge should still fit into the Megadrive 1 and 2 and not crimp or squash the cable. And it was a bit of a relief when I tried it after screwing it back together and it still fit into the cart slot and switched it on! :D

WOOP! Now I have a retro styled backup USB drive which has given a dusty unused cartridge some new life AND the game is still in there and working. So if there is an emergency situation where I see a Megadrive and heaven forbid there isn’t a game available to play then POW! USB Retro pen drive saves the day!

Hopefully this little post will inspire some other people to give their spare cartridges a new lease of life without sacrificing the actual game itself as that seems a big shame to me too.

I’m going to be making some time to make the hook-up wires for the Neptune next so hopefully there will be a post on those soon.

Catch you later