It’s a mod, mod, mod, mod world

Though it’s terribly late at this point, I still plan on finishing the Pac-Attack. I believe I still have three games to review (though I may bump that up now, since I am not constrained by counting down to the anniversary anymore), and I have to put together the special, OMG-this-is-so-frickin’-awesome PDF with all of the reviews and other bonus stuff 🙂

Part of the reason I don’t have this done is that I’ve been going a little mod crazy. I got all of my old consoles out of storage, and I decided that I hate the RF switches. They provide a poor picture, and using the old Atari-style TV switches create an unsightly mess. Therefore, I am going to mod all of my old consoles to output either composite, S-video, or VGA.

Some of this stuff is way more complicated than anything I’ve done previously, but I’ve had some success with simpler circuits, and there are some very detailed and easy-to-follow tutorials online for doing some of these mods, so I’m going to give it a shot.

When I get time, I’ll post some of my results. I’m still waiting for components I need for many of the mods (just placed a huge order with MCM Electronics), so in the interim, I’ll only be able to complete mods with what I have onhand (i.e., there probably won’t be many mod updates for a while).

Pac Attack . . . to be continued

Today marks the 31st anniversary of Pac-Man, and the idea was to do the big finale today, with the final review and the PDF full of reviews and games and other stuff; however, due to other responsibilities and technical difficulties, the finale will have to be delayed.

This should be finished this week. Sorry for the delay.

Pac Attack

Pac-Man’s 31st anniversary is coming up, and here at YAGRS, we’re going to celebrate it. Sure, we could have made a big deal out of anniversary 30, but ol’ Pac had enough going on then, dealing with the loss of his 20s and his squandered youth . . .

So, to make a big deal out of #31, we’re going to review several console ports of Pac-Man and the whole Pac-Man family. You won’t see every console port covered here (as I’m sure many would be missed), but you should see a variety, from the much maligned Atari 2600 port up to the Xbox Live Arcade.

To top it off, the reviews will be compiled in a downloadable PDF, for you to print and share and frame and whatever.

The first review should be up later tonight or tomorrow. Be on the lookout, Pac-Maniacs!

It’s October

Yep, the summer is gone, leaves are beginning to change, and we’ve arrived at the month whose conclusion is my favorite holiday (well, at least since I’ve gotten older and no one buys me anything for Christmas anymore). Though I hit a few scary games in celebration of Halloween back in 2008, I missed last year. This year, I hope to be able to review several games from various platforms. I may even play through Silent Hill again, considered by many to be the scariest game ever made.

Be back soon.

Odyssey 2 A/V mod

Seems like modding is starting to become an obsession with me. I believe I stated that my next mod would be adding composite outputs to my Sega Genesis, but I’m considering adding S-Video to my Genesis as well, which makes the mod more complicated (I would have to build a board for the S-Video signal). While I contemplate that, I decided to do something a bit easier.

Thanks to this thread at the Videopac/Odyssey2 forum, I was able to successfully add composite outputs to my Odyssey 2. The outputs work; however, there are issues. When plugged into my LCD television, the image is too dark. It appears that others had this problem, and there are recommendations on how to fix it in that thread. I am not sure if my problem results from using the wrong transistor (I am using what I believe to be the Radio Shack version of the NTSC transistor mentioned in that thread), or if I need to add a resistor as recommended later in that thread. As I’ve mentioned before, my knowledge of electronics is almost nonexistent, so I’m lost as how to get this to work on my LCD screen.

Luckily, when I hook up the Odyssey 2 to my DVD/VCR combo, it displays correctly onscreen. I read that VCRs have a built-in signal booster, so I am assuming this is the reason for the difference. Regardless, I can finally play my Odyssey 2 without having to rely on the RF switch and have a much better picture than before.

More mods

Yesterday, I received the modchips for my Xbox and my PS1, and I spent much of my day installing both.

The Xbox modchip was definitely the more complicated to install of the two, though I did have my issues with the PS1 chip (which I will explain later). I was worried throughout installing the chip in the Xbox, because I didn’t think I was doing a good job of soldering everything. When I finally had the chip in and booted up the Xbox, I fully expected it not to work. It was a nice surprise when it booted up without issue.

Following the installation of the chip, I installed a new dashboard on my Xbox as well as a new hard drive. I used a 500 GB SATA drive I had in my desktop (which I recently replaced with a 2 TB drive). I used a $5-$6 SATA-to-PATA adapter, and the drive is working flawlessly. I copied all of my Xbox games to the hard drive, and I still have tons of space left.

The installation of the PS1 chip would have been easy, had the chip come with the wires attached, as it was supposed to. The site from where I ordered the chip showed which color wires were to be soldered to which points on the board, but since my chip had no wires attached, I had no idea how to solder it all together. Luckily, I found an image of my chip online that showed how everything was supposed to be wired.

Strangely, my PS1 is not working perfectly since installing the chip. When I first start the system, I arrive at the screen telling me to put a PS game in the drive, regardless of whether I am using my original game or the backup. However, if I shut the system off and turn it on again, the game will load. I probably should research this a little more to see what I might have done incorrectly.

Next, I plan to do the A/V mod on my Genesis, though I’m not sure when exactly I’ll get to it (I’m also trying to finish an RPG I’ve been playing so that I can review it). I also have plans to add A/V outputs to my Atari 7800, though that requires a bit more work, and I will probably have to buy a kit to complete it.

My first (real) mod

Okay, technically, this isn’t the first mod I’ve completed, as I previously soft-modded my PS2, plus I installed a modchip into my Sega Saturn. However, this is the first modification I have completed that required altering the system’s case and soldering several wires. Anyway, after reading online about the possibility of installing composite A/V outputs on a Sega Master System, I decided to give it a try, considering that the RF switch for my Master System hasn’t been working well (plus, the picture coming from it often is plagued by wavy lines).

If you look closely, you will notice that, unfortunately, I did not get the jacks aligned perfectly. Of course, no one is likely to ever look at the jacks I installed on my Master System and point out the imperfection, but it does bother me. I plan on modifying my Sega Genesis with composite outputs (and possibly, an S-Video output) in the near future, and I am going to try to do a better job with the outputs on it. I think if I create a template on the computer, print it, and then put that on the Genesis prior to any drilling, I have a better chance of everything coming out better than it did with the Master System.

Anyway, I am happy that I managed to complete this mod without destroying my Master System (which I considered a definite possibility). At one point, I thought I may have accidentally let some wires touch while the system was on, and I feared that I shorted something out and ruined my system, but I later realized that I had accidentally shut off the VCR I had the system plugged into, and that’s why I wasn’t getting a picture (yep, I’m not smart sometimes). As you can see by the pic, the system is displaying games via the composite outputs. The only issue I’ve noticed so far is that the colors are not as bright as they are coming through the RF unit. I’m not sure why, and I don’t know if there is a way to fix this (other than changing my brightness and contrast settings on my TV). If the choice is a clearer picture or a more colorful one, though, I’m going with the clearer picture.

By the way, as I type this, I am in the middle of modding my PS1 and my original Xbox. I’ll report back on how that goes.

I like to tear up stuff

OK, the title may not be 100% accurate, but it’s more interesting than saying, “I like to disassemble electronics and then put them back together.” Plus, it’s much more concise.

Now, I don’t mean to imply that I have a knack for electronics. I really have very little knowledge of how they work. However, I’ve recently become very interested in fixing some old systems, as well as performing some modifications.

So far, I haven’t done much. I disassembled a few controllers that weren’t working correctly. For most of them, I just cleaned all the connections and put them back together. I did have to do a little work on a wired Xbox 360 controller that never worked correctly (the D-pad wasn’t very responsive when pushed to the left and the left shoulder button didn’t work), even though I bought it new. Luckily, disassembling then reassembling the D-pad made it work, and I had to do a little modification to the left shoulder button so that it would actually press far enough down on the switch/sensor/whatever so that it would register.

I also did a soft mod on my PS2 recently using Free McBoot. Now, I am able to run PS2 games directly from my hard drive instead of using discs, which helps a lot on load times (for example, moving to a new area in Grand Theft Auto now takes just a few seconds).

Some mods I’m looking at now are adding A/V outputs on my Sega Master System and Genesis. I am also going to mod my PS1 to play backups and my Xbox (the original, not the 360) so that I can install and run games from the hard drive, like I did with the PS2.

I’ll probably post some pics and maybe some videos here of the mods when they’re completed. I just hope that I don’t do any irrevocable damage to my old systems in the process.

Everdrive-MD flash cartridge

Many of you may already know about this, but a developer in the Urkraine has created a flash cartridge that can be used with the Sega Genesis and Mega Drive. Called the Everdrive-MD, the cart allows the user to save game ROMs to an SD card and play them on the original hardware. The cart even works with 32X, Sega CD, and Master System games!

This is a great invention for those of us with a lot of Genesis/Mega Drive and Master System games. Now we can pack away the games if we choose and play our collections directly from the Everdrive cart.

Details can be found at the developer’s site, The cart can be bought directly from the developer (only via Western Union or MoneyGram), or it can be bought from resellers Kitsch-Bent and Stone Age Gamer. If you want the cart now, your best option may be to order directly from the developer, as the cart is sold out at both Kitsch-Bent and Stone Age Gamer. The cart is really hot right now, so I’m not sure what kind of stock the developer has on hand. I’ve been checking the developer’s site daily for the last week or so, and this morning I noticed that he added Stone Age Gamer as a reseller. I decided to go ahead and order my cartridge this morning from Stone Age Gamer, and I’m glad I did, as the cart is now sold out.

When I get my cart, I’ll report back on my experience with it.

Homebrew games

I added a new category to my links (located in the right column) for homebrew games. For some reason, I had an urge to look into homebrews this weekend, and I found some cool stuff (like new releases for the Sega Genesis).

One of the most promising homebrew games I found is Pier Solar and the Great Architects, an RPG that is in development for the Sega Genesis. Apparently, this game has been delayed for a year or two, but they are in beta testing now, so it may be released in the near future. Unfortunately, even though the game is not yet available, they have enough preorders to cover the entire first run of the game. They may release the game again later, but from what I’ve read, it seems that they may do so as a downloadable game, which detracts from the experience for me (I want to be able to pop a brand new Genesis game in my console).

If you want to try the game out, there is a downloadable demo on the Pier Solar Web site under the Media tab. I have yet to try it, but I have downloaded it and will give it a playthrough later.

Also, they have posted some gameplay video to YouTube, including the video below.

Hopefully, I’ll find a way to get my hands on a copy whenever it is released.