Salamander

I’m not much of a shmup (shoot ’em up, a term I wouldn’t have known if not for my friend Chris, the shmup master) kind of guy, but starting with this game, the X68000 is starting to change my mind. When the title screen loaded, it was already a bit breathtaking, with its crisp display and vibrant colors.

And the game itself continued with that. It’s a very colorful and aesthetically pleasing game. But it’s also very engaging. The obstacles in your path are widely varied, forcing you to interact with the environment, not just the enemies and their shots. And the first boss fight was a nice challenge, nothing too aggressive and gives you a chance to get into the game and feel accomplished.

The second level suddenly tilts everything 90 degrees and you’re flying up instead of to the right. The third picture in the gallery below definitely crosses my comfort zone in terms of game intensity, but it was a fun challenge! This is about as far as I’ve got so far, dying at the boss of level 2. But I’ll be back for more!

This machine was made in 1987 and this game in 1988, but honestly, it seems a bit like cheating to call some of these vintage games. The X68000 is so sophisticated compared to most other consumer hardware of the time.

Eggy

I’d previously posted about this game for my Sharp X1. This is the PC-6001 version. Gameplay is the same, so it was mostly about seeing how the two ports compare. Considering how much more limited the PC-6001 is, I feel they did a great job in creating this version!

Replacement FM Towns 2F

I’ve been spending more time on alternatives to Yahoo Auctions these days. Right now, there is a small window of opportunity for buyers using the PayPay Flea Market application. Because this is a new channel for selling off your old stuff, they are running a free-shipping promotion to improve brand recognition and increase the number of items for sale.

It’s not easy-pickings, but the combination of allure for sellers and the relatively unpopulated state of PayPay Flea Market means that you can sometimes find some interesting stuff for low prices. Persistence is the key, I search multiple times per day to try to be among the first to find the real treasures.

For example, I found this FM Towns. It is a 2F, so I already have this exact machine, but the one I found was in amazing shape. It came with the original box, the first time I’ve ever seen one.

And the machine itself is as if it had never been touched. Look at this thing!

It was untested, but it has been working perfectly, making it a total bargain. I can’t imagine what it would fetch with a standard auction format, but I was able to talk the seller down from 15000 yen to 12000 yen (with free shipping) and bought it on the spot.

Unfortunately, as unique as it is, it is not practical for my to keep the box. I’d like to, but I know it would just end up in the closet, never being looked at. So I have put my old FM Towns 2F into this box and have it ready to be listed on Yahoo Auctions tomorrow. The new machine itself I will keep!

X1 Widget

I saw this thing on Yahoo Auctions a few months ago. I was interested, but it was kinda expensive, it ended up going for 7500 yen. I passed. But it suddenly showed up on PayPay Flea Market for 500 yen, including shipping! So it was a no-brainer.

But what on Earth IS this, you demand to know? Well, it’s made out of a really nice glass and crystal hybrid by Koshida Glass, a company with some international recognition. It has a nice weighty feel to it. Looks sharp (pun actually not intended, but recognized and not removed)! And it’s in the shape of the X1 logo.

Yeah, but what on Earth IS this, you still demand to know? Well, I’m not sure. I thought it was a business card holder at first, but when I put a business card in it, it fell right out of the little wedge. Maybe it’s a business card repeller? But someone suggested it might be a pen holder.

It seems to work as such. I am used to pen holders being vertical and holding multiple pens, not this horizontal, single-pen holder. It’s probably for someone who has nice pens. My favorite pen (not the one pictured, but this is my most aesthetically pleasing pen) costs like 500 yen. But it looks pretty nifty, anyway!

Ice Warriors

A tale of two MZ-700s. The game Ice Warriors was developed for the MZ-700 in Europe, but I have an MZ-700 for the Japanese market. The systems are compatible, having the same hardware configuration. The only differences are on the keyboard and in the character ROM. But sometimes that’s critical!

I picked this up on the cheap from eBay, even shipping to Japan was not very expensive. However, when I tried to load it from the monitor, it didn’t find any data. Is the format of the tape somehow inherently incompatible? Is the tape bad? I tried both sides, but nothing.

Then one day, I stumbled upon some information: programs written in BASIC are saved with a different identifier and not picked up by the monitor’s loader. Now that I think about it, it makes sense, since the MZ-700 has no built-in BASIC. So I tried loading BASIC, switched the tape, then loaded Ice Warriors. And it found the program! And then READ ERROR!

But I’m not going to be deterred at this point. I tried a few more times with no success, so I tried the back side. It also produced a load error, but the second time it worked! I can play Ice Warriors!

Well, the title screen looks pretty good, if you assume the text is actual Japanese. The problem is, it’s not. The difference between the character ROMs is affecting the ability to play the game. What that is actually trying to say is:

ICE WARRIORS
of VALTEC
Copyright Solo Software
Please wait whilst game is set up.

Or at least, I would bet money that is what it’s supposed to say. It’s what I expect it is saying based on the length of each word, repeated characters, commonly used verbiage with old games, and process of elimination.

But I still refused to give up after I got this far. I slowly worked through the cryptogram to create a character and get into the game, even going so far as to have one battle, which was also messed up due to the character ROM differences, but that’s okay. I felt very satisfied getting this far! And those beautiful graphics were worth my several hours of effort over the past year or so.