Pac-Man

This is my copy of Pac-Man for the Sharp MZ-700. It is a Japanese release, but I got it on eBay, not Yahoo Auctions, from a US seller. Probably a bit cheaper than it would have been locally. The box was in pretty dirty condition when I got it, and am pleased with how nicely it turned out after a cleaning.

As I mentioned on my MZ-700 page, the computer does not have a graphics mode by default. So how do the games look? Blocky! But the system still got major releases like Pac-Man and Galaxian. And serious effort was put into the playability of the games. They are a lot of fun. From the high-score data that won’t get saved to the unique “coffee break” scene that mimics the cut-scenes in the arcade, this port is a fantastically unique port of Pac-Man.

One thing, and to me this is so ridiculous it’s awesome, is the chomping sound. It is so deep and bass-y. To really drive it home, the computer has an internal speaker, and the controls are on the keyboard, so you can feel the vibrations of the sound through your hands. What an experience!

I took the time to record the gameplay, so why don’t you watch it?

By the way, I said there was no graphics mode by default. There was a (rare and expensive, of course) peripheral that provided a PCG (programmable character generator) which allows a replacement 256 character set with per-pixel color to be loaded. This is the same feature that drove the Sharp X1’s arcade game ports to be so realistic. Pac-Man is one of the games programmed to take advantage of it, it is on the reverse side of the tape.

Shanghai

Growing up in America, I thought Mahjong was a game of picking up matching tiles. I had OS/2 and it included a game called Mahjong which was exactly that. But in Japan, Mahjong is very different, a complicated game of strategy often centered around covert gambling that I don’t even remotely understand. In Japan, what we call Mahjong, they call Shanghai, and is often played with Mahjong tiles.

This game is simple and the only sound effect it produces is a beep, hardly fitting of the machine’s multimedia capabilities. But actually, it is designed for the Turbo series. It probably works on older machines, too, but it uses two features that the Turbo series has to offer: high-res graphics mode and the mouse.

High-res graphics are not unusual for the Turbo series. But this is a shining example of how different it is. On a tile, there are a variety of objects and pictures: numbers 1 to 9 in various formats, directions (North, South, East, West), trees (orchid, bamboo, plum, chrysanthemum), etc. The high-res graphics mode offers such a crisper image that makes them much easier on the eyes.

Mouse support, on the other hand, that’s rare! The graphics tool and music composer that were included with the X1 Turbo Z both use it, but as for games, this is the only one I’ve run across so far that has mouse support. It can also be played with the joystick or keyboard, but the mouse is o much more natural for this kind of game.

Shanghai appears to be a game of mere chance and persistence, but actually there is a bit of strategy involved, too. For example, usually you have to pick up identical tiles, but the four trees and the four seasons can be matched amongst themselves, so it pays to leave those until you need to play them, so you know which ones will be most beneficial. Or if there are three of a tile free, making sure you pick the tile that will allow access to a new tile, or get you closer to a tile that you want to access. Still, there are definitely unwinnable rounds, because two matching tiles can be stacked upon one another at the end.

Here is a progression of the board as I go down from 100% to 75% to 50% to 25% to 12.5%.

And finally the winning screen. I didn’t actually win tonight’s game, I got stuck at 12.5%, but I’d won and taken a picture of it before, so there it is, the reward for my persistence.

Don’t think of it as a spoiler, it looks much nicer in person! Give it a (few) tries!

Sharp X1 Series Software

These are the disks included with my system, the Sharp X1 Turbo Z, and the Sharp X1 Turbo, which I don’t have but picked up anyway. It’s all compatible with the X1 Turbo Z, anyway.

I just love the aesthetics of the disks and the cover they came in. They are their own works of art.

In the X1 Turbo lot, there are five disks , all double density. Applications included are:
– Disk BASIC CZ-8FB02 (programming language)
– Word Power (2 disks, allows for Japanese commands in BASIC)
– Lexicon (I think this allows you to customize Word Power)
– Demonstration Disk (non-interactive demo highlighting system features and software)

In the X1 Turbo Z lot, there are three disks, all high density. Applications included are:
– BASIC CZ-8FB02 (programming language)
– Graphics Tool (image creation/manipulation package, fairly feature-rich for the time)
– FM Music Synthesizer (allows people with the talent [not me] to create music)

Sharp CZ-600DB

I saw an auction for a (nother) Sharp X1 Turbo Z and this monitor – a Sharp CZ-600DB. Usually this stuff goes on Yahoo Auctions with the standard auction format, and it gets bid way expensive and finishes arbitrarily high. But I happened to catch this one with a fixed price – first to buy it gets it. The price was very reasonable for these items. The catch? It was untested. It was a toss of the dice that I couldn’t pass up.

As you can see, it was designed with the same aesthetics as the Sharp X1 Turbo Z. They look very handsome together, although I believe officially this is supposed to be a monitor for the X68000.

So I bought it and it was delivered to me and having these things shipped just makes me so gosh-darned nervous because even when they’re tested working, there’s a chance it will suddenly die from being used again after so long, or there was some internal damage during shipping, or the seller’s testing didn’t uncover some problems. Not even knowing if it’s *supposed* to work makes me all the more anxious! I opened it up and after removing some sticker residue, it looks quite nice.

But when I turned it on it looked pretty bad. Through composite, it had a very faded image and slanted horizontal lines running the whole screen. I switched to digital RGB and it got worse. I could barely discern that the monitor was receiving the signal at all, nearly nothing but those horizontal lines.

And then I left it alone. I let it sit for about an hour. When I came back to it, the picture had cleared up 100%. It was beautiful!

Turning off and right back on had no negative effect. But when I left it off for about an hour, it took about 10 seconds to reach the correct black level. When I finished for the night, I left it unplugged for about 18 hours. Upon plugging it back in, the horizontal lines were back. Nowhere near as strong as the day before, and it cleared up in about one minute. I guess it’s a capacitor problem.

Like my NEC PC-TV455, the CZ-600DB is a tri-sync monitor (15kHz, 24kHz, and 31kHz) and it incorporates a TV tuner. The CZ-600DB lacks a couple of connections that the PC-TV455 has, but it still has some pretty good hookups. It’s also a 15″ screen instead of 14″.

And plenty of controls to get just the right picture.

It came with the original factory stickers in place. I’ll be the first to admit, if it were me and I received this new at the time, I’d probably rip them right off and throw them in the trash. But they’ve been attached for 30 years now, so I think I’m just going to keep it that way!

I don’t know if it will surpass my PC-TV455 as my primary monitor in the long run, but right now I am enjoying looking at this lovely item perched above my own X1 Turbo Z.

Here it is displaying text and DoorDoor over analog RGB, and Haja no Fuuin on my PC-8801mk2 over digital RGB.

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.