Saturday, August 26, 2017

Gaming Ads: Data East USA

Data East was founded in 1976 and based in Japan. To service the North American market Data East USA was opened in the early '80s. It is best known for its numerous arcade game releases, such as BurgerTime, Karate Champ, Bump 'N' Jump, Karnov, Heavy Barrel, and Bad Dudes. The publisher also brought many of its own arcade games, as well as those developed or published by other companies, to home computers and game consoles, and licensed its properties to other publishers as well. The aforementioned BurgerTime and Bump 'N' Jump are two of my favorite Intellivision games which were licensed to and ported by Mattel Electronics.

The company also got involved with pinball machines in 1987. It had a number of firsts in the pinball industry, including the first games to use stereo sound and a dot matrix display. I've played many pinball games over the years and somewhat surprisingly, my most vivid memory is of playing Data East's Monday Night Football machine at Funspot (1989). Arcade owners could set which teams would be playing one another in the pinball game and that machine was set on the Patriots vs. Bears which made sense since Funspot is based in New Hampshire, and the Patriots played the Bears in Super Bowl XX. Of course, the Patriots got destroyed but it was still a big deal for New England and living in Connecticut at the time it's the first NFL game I remember watching on TV. Anyways, it's not considered among the best pinball games but it is certainly a good machine and especially fun for football fans.

Unfortunately, Data East ran into financial troubles during the '90s leading to the closure of Data East USA. In Japan Data East declared bankruptcy in 2003 and its numerous properties are now divided among a variety of other companies.

Flickr album: Data East USA

Monday, August 21, 2017

[YouTube] Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap Collector's Edition Unboxing


Originally developed by Westone and published by Sega, Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap first released in 1989 for the Sega Master System. This new remaster is developed by Lizardcube and was first published by DotEmu April 18, 2017 for the Xbox One (Xbox store actually says 4/17 as they like to release the night before everyone else), PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch, and then June 8th for home computers. It features new hand drawn art, a new playable female character (the original only had Wonder Boy), and the ability to switch between the remaster and 8-bit version at any time. The PlayStation 4 collector's edition from Limited Run Games released on August 4, 2017 for $64.99. They released a standard edition the same day for $29.99.

Collector's Edition Box Back
Collector's Edition Box Cover

Inside the cardboard collector's edition box is a two-disc soundtrack, 10 trading cards, a 18 x 24 inch poster, an instruction manual very much like the Sega Master System original, the game on a Blu-ray disc, and a PlayStation 4 game case with reversible cover art. I took scans of the reversible cover art and photos of the other items though the lighting is a little on the dark side, sorry.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

[YouTube] Sega Genesis


Sega Genesis - Retro Camera Setting
The Sega Genesis released on August 14, 1989 in North America (1988 in Japan and 1990 in Europe), three years after the Sega Master System and two years before the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It cost $199.99 and included the game Altered Beast as the pack-in which was replaced in 1991 with Sonic the Hedgehog. Although Nintendo continued to outperform Sega in Japan, Sega's strong marketing campaigns helped the Genesis match or perform better than Nintendo in North America and Europe.

I consider the Genesis to be my favorite console because of a great game library -- though I spent too much time on sports games -- and in part the time period in which it released. I was 14 at the time and played the console throughout my high school years and a bit into college before I cut back on gaming and started getting into computers. Aside from the sports titles, some of my favorite games include Golden Axe, Phantasy Star II, and Warsong. I bought a lot of first-party games and a lot of EA Sports titles. In the early '90s video stores had large game rental sections and I took advantage of that as I rented dozens of games.

Sega Genesis - Launch System
Sega Genesis - Back of Box

For this video I didn't talk too much about the Sega CD or 32X as I plan on doing a separate video for those. I will mention that the Sega CD released in 1992 and the 32X in 1994 which increased the Genesis' capabilities and increased the game library but likely did more harm than good, at least the 32X did. In the video I did show a lot of accessories but one that I never purchased is the Sega Menacer which is its light gun peripheral. Light gun games didn't appeal to me too much past the Master System as the only other light gun that I own is for the Saturn which I bought because my Saturn included Virtua Cop 2 (and I don't think I actually even used the gun once I got it). The Menacer released in 1992 with a cartridge containing six (small) games for $59.99. There really aren't too many light gun games available for the Genesis and Konami's Lethal Enforcers doesn't support the Menacer, instead requiring players to use Konami's own Justifier light gun.

Sega Power Strip - Great for when you need to plug in
multiple massive AC adapters.

Some of the photos do make the items look dirty but that's largely due to the lighting and condition of the items. I did wipe off the dust as best I could and the dry sweat (gross!) and yet it still looks like that stuff is there. The retro camera setting in particular makes things look yellow. There are also scratches and random marks on the hardware, and some of the boxes aren't in the best condition. I scanned two pages of the Genesis manual, one showing the items included in the box and one discussing the stereo sound.

Sega Genesis Manual - Page 3
Sega Genesis Manual - Page 13

Power Base Converter
Power Base Converter Manual - Pages 3-4

Sega Genesis Cleaning System
Xband Modem - EA Sports 4 Way Play - Game Genie

Sega Genesis Arcade Power Stick
Sega Genesis Arcade Power Stick Instructions

Sega 6 Button Arcade Pad

Sega 6 Button Arcade Pad Instructions

Sega Genesis 6 Button Arcade Stick

Who needs wireless controllers?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Gaming Ads: Cwest, Cyberdreams, and Cybersoft

Cwest, short for Computer West, is the distributor of Pinball Fantasies for the Atari Jaguar. The publisher for the Jaguar release is 21st Century Entertainment but I believe Cwest is responsible for this advertisement. 21st Century Entertainment was a U.K.-based publisher that was founded in 1991 and closed around 2000. Pinball Fantasies for Jaguar is a port of a computer game developed by Digital Illusions CE (DICE).

Founded in 1990 and based in California, Cyberdreams released five games during the '90s before closing in 1997. Four of its games have science fiction themes and fall into the adventure genre though CybeRace is also a racing game. The fifth game is a black and white full-motion computer game titled Noir.

Cybersoft was a subsidiary of I.J.E. that published six games between 1994 and '95. I.J.E. also owned the publisher GameTek and two of the ads do feature both publishers. One game is Brutal: Paws of Fury which was published on some platforms by Cybersoft and on Sega CD by GameTek. In this case I'm going to most likely repeat this ad later when I post GameTek's album. The other game, Adventures of Yogi Bear, was distributed by GameTek in Europe but it appears to be a Cybersoft-only game in the U.S. so I'll only post that one under Cybersoft.

Flickr album: Cwest
Flickr album: Cyberdreams
Flickr album: Cybersoft

Friday, August 18, 2017

Six Days of Sonic: Day 6

On the final day of Six Days of Sonic I've chosen to highlight some of Sonic's non-game ads. If you hit the Flickr album button on the blog you can see the game ads I've been uploading every Saturday morning this year. However, since the ads are sorted by publisher and I'm going in alphabetical order it will be a while before I post all of the Sega and the Sonic ads I've got scanned. I'll also be adding non-game ads that are related to gaming like these after all of the publishers have been posted, along with a few other surprises. The Vault 1541 Facebook page does have a few of the following Sonic ads as well as a number of ads unrelated to games, mostly from the '90s.

As I mentioned in the Day 1 post, Sonic's popularity in games led to the character appearing in a number of other places from the early to mid '90s, most notably in the promotion of food products and here are some of the ads for those products:

The Cherry Coke/Sega Sonic Shuttle toured the United States in 1993.

Sonic helped Keebler promote its products with the incentive that Sega
hardware could be won.

Buying Life Savers in 1994 offered a chance
to win Sega prizes and get a $10 rebate with
the purchase of any Sega product.
Guests at a Howard Johnson hotel in 1993
could rent a Game Gear that also included
Sonic comics and toys.
Sargento's MooTown Snacks had a Sonic
giveaway with prizes that ranged from
the Genesis to the Saturn in 1996.
Fruit Roll-Ups with Sonic 3 designs.

Last up are a couple of Sonic Mall ads with a variety of spectacular Sonic products:

What kid didn't want Sonic underwear?
That's one of at least three Sonic slot car sets.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Six Days of Sonic: Day 5

VG&CE - October 1992
I'm sticking with the first couple of Sonic games this week because they tie into Sonic Mania best and of course the blog is primarily for items released before 2000. Plus, after the 16-bit era was the Saturn and the Sonic games on that platform are not as good. Therefore, today the scans are almost exclusively for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Sonic 2). Unfortunately, I could only find one review for the Genesis release so I decided to add a Sonic CD review at the end of this post. A big difference between the first two Sonic games is the addition of Miles "Tails" Prower in the sequel. Tails is a fox with two tails that he can use to hover though players cannot activate that ability in Sonic 2. In this game he either follows Sonic automatically or is directly controlled in a one-player game, or a second player can control him partially as he follows the first player controlling Sonic.

The October 1992 issue of Video Games & Computer Entertainment (VG&CE) features a Sonic 2 hologram on the cover which you see above. As I mentioned in the Day 1 post, Sonic dominated the 16-bit era in North America and this cover is another example of the attention the character received. Below is the three-page preview that appears in that issue.

Sonic 2 did receive a lot of preview coverage and I probably am including more than is necessary so pick and choose your preferred publications if you don't have time or want to read them all. One I will suggest is this interview with Yuji Naka from Sega Visions.He mentions that only nine people worked on Sonic the Hedgehog and for the sequel the team increased to a whole 12 people! This was one of the biggest releases in 1992 and now, 25 years later, hundreds of people work on some of the highest profile games being developed today. It's amazing how much things have changed in a seemingly short amount of time. That being said, there are many great games being published today that are made by small teams, due in large part to the rise of digital publishing which is how Sonic Mania was released (there is a physical collector's edition as well but the game itself is still just a digital code inside the box).

Sega Visions - August/September 1992

Here is a four-page preview from Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) that includes the Sega CD version. However, this is actually not the same game as Sonic CD. Sonic 2 was originally planned to be released for the Sega CD which is the game they are previewing here but that version was eventually scrapped and Sonic CD became its own game that released a year after the Genesis game.

Electronic Gaming Monthly #37

Electronic Gaming Monthly #37

Next up is a preview from Game Informer and one from EGM for the Game Gear version.

Game Informer - December 1992
Electronic Gaming Monthly #38

Last up is a review of Sonic 2 from VG&CE and a review of Sonic CD from EGM. I included EGM's review of Gunstar Heroes so that you can see one of the reasons why Sonic CD didn't get game of the month (by score average it was also beaten by two SNES games: Actraiser 2 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters -- not the same types of games but I'd guess game of the month goes to highest score). This was a huge month for games; EGM #52 (November 1993) has 16 reviews by the main review crew (Ed Semrad, Danyon Carpenter, Martin Alessi, and Sushi-X), and then Mike Weigand (Major Mike) reviewed 25 more games, though all five did offer scores -- how in the world did they have time to play so many games! I should point out EGM reviews are short; they do not write a lot at all. The review crew of four handed out one platinum and seven gold awards, and three games that didn't even get awards still scored all sevens and eights. Major Mike awarded five more golds so gamers sure had an awful lot of good games to put on their Christmas wish lists, especially on the Genesis. Along with Sonic 2 Sega Genesis gold award winners that month included Aladdin, Street Fighter II' Champion Edition, Gauntlet IV, FIFA Soccer, Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Rocket Knight Adventures, and Splatterhouse 3.

VG&CE - December 1993
EGM #52