King’s Quest V

This is one of the more modern titles that I will be likely to include on my site. It was made in 1990, comes on a CD, and is even (poorly) voice-acted. There is also a non-voiced version, but this is for the FM Towns so of course they’re going to go as multimedia as possible. I played this on DOS back in the mid-90s when I got my first PC-compatible. But the FM Towns version is different in that it is fully voiced in Japanese.

You play King Graham of Daventry, who loses his castle to an evil wizard. You wander around the land, trying to reverse the spell to return your castle and your family. You are joined by Cedric the Owl, a character that I really wanted to like because I thought it was cute, but is annoying throughout the game. Very little in this game is done by directly pursuing a goal, but instead finding items, using those items in the correct way, and unlocking different interactions that help to progress your game.

Foul fowl aside, the game is really as I remember it. It is such eye-candy. The 2-D artwork and music work together to make a beautiful and rich fantasy environment. It is the first game that I can recall that showed me how the PC was going to be superior in terms of graphics to the Commodore 64 (although of course I would eventually come to prefer the C64 again later in life, anyway). But just look at these shots from the introduction:

There was a period in time where computers had incredible introductions but just couldn’t deliver the same level of graphics in the actual gameplay, but this game does not fall in that category; it is beautiful throughout. Here is a bit from the early scenes of the game, as he makes his way into town:

There are a variety of ways Graham can get himself into trouble, even by doing innocuous-seeming things like walking into an inn. Nothing to do but load your last save game and try something different.

The landscapes created for each page are so varied and detailed that just wandering around the land itself is satisfying:

I never actually finished this game in DOS, I got stuck somewhere probably near the end. I seem to remember my score was nearly 300/300, but I fell short. I hope to finish it this time!

Towns OS

I received a large bundle of CD images for use with my FM Towns from my friend while I was visiting the US. I burned an image of Towns OS 2.1 L51, which may be the most recent version compatible with my system. This gave me the opportunity to try out Towns OS more in-depth than I’d been able to before. Not having a hard drive is kind of limiting, but there is still much to do with it.

Unfortunately, my images are kind of blurry. Something about the way my phone and this screen jive together makes getting good shots difficult. I can either take blurry photos or photos with a lot of wavy lines. My other monitors tend to come out better.

Each screen has a brief explanation of what’s going on.

Fujitsu FM Towns 2F

I’ve had my eyes on FM Towns ever since I started paying attention to the Japanese vintage computing market. It had always been in the back of my mind to get one, but they can be pretty expensive and it was something I decided I would just put off until later. I was certainly not expecting to buy one right now, because my room is hitting a tipping point in storage, and I’d just picked up a second X1 a few days before.

But it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I saw this full system on Yahoo Auctions and it would appear in my recommended items list from time to time.

I expected it to end expensively, but as time went on, there continued to be no bidders. I checked at the last four hours, the last hour, and even the last five minutes, but there were no bids. So I bid on it and watched the clock down to the end of the auction. No competition! I got it for the paltry sum of 10,000 yen plus about 2000 yen shipping.

It was untested, but even if nothing else worked, the keyboard often goes for that price, and non-functioning keyboards are pretty rare, so I thought it was a good gamble. But when I got it home and started plugging things in and testing it, it all just worked. Amazing!

At least, to the minimal extent I could test it. I couldn’t figure out how to get to the BIOS, and I didn’t have any bootable media, so I could only really test the monitor and that the system could pass the memory check. But it was a promising start!

One potential reason for the low price was that the auction only had one photo attached, which showed the small amount of damage visible to the corner of the CD ROM drive, but what wasn’t apparent was that the rest of the machine was so clean.

The main system:

The monitor:

The keyboard:

The next day, on my lunch break, I went to BEEP in Akihabara and bought a game called Mega Spectre for 980 yen. Bonus, I found a mouse there, too! But compared to the rest of the system, the mouse now seems expensive.

It was just to test the system, but it’s a kind of weird game with unusual imagery, so I was kind of intrigued. It’s fairly straightforward to play, you drive a vehicle and capture flags, shooting other vehicles you encounter. The best news, though, was that I could confirm that the system works! The only thing I haven’t been able to test yet is the floppy drive.

My model is FM Towns 2F. At its core is a 386-16MHz with 2MB of main memory and 640KB of video memory. It has a CD-ROM drive and two floppy drives, and while there is no hard drive, one can be added by the external SCSI connector on the rear panel.