Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas magazine scans

Actually, these scans have nothing to do with Christmas. But I thought it best to get these out now while everyone is taking a break and I'm waiting for the lamb to finish roasting in my oven. These are scans from the few issues of Manga Mania which I own, and have a games related theme. Manga Mania used to be a monthly magazine covering manga, anime, and a tiny bit about games and "The Internet". They also serialised the whole of Akira I seem to recall. It was a great magazine, and I wished I'd bought more copies. Their games coverage was actually really poor, and reveals more by what it omits than what it covers. If you wanted Japanese gaming coverage you were probably better off buying Super Play... Still, one of the games they covered might feature in an HG101 article, so I thought it worth scanning everything. Oh, and the Cyber Drome page may rekindle some memories of the internet back when it first started. How times change! One of the articles here has nothing to do with games, but is an interview with the BBFC, and goes in depth regarding UK censorship laws, and is quite interesting! The BBFC rates, or used to rate, quite a lot of games, and I've always thought was an excellent system, since it covers America's AO rating under our "18" age rating (Restricted 18 is really only for hardcore pornography). The pages that follow the covers belong to that issue. If you're enjoying the scans that sometimes go up on the blog, we do it regularly over on he HG101 forum. Corsair has practically scanned an entire library of awesome things.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Inside the THQ archive (more Akira!)

During the drafting of HG101's previous Akira feature, I was able to contact Ryan Arnold, an administrator at THQ who deals with the company's data archives - he is quite genuinely, the vault keeper. Quite a few of those contacted during my investigation, not all of whom were quoted there, recommended contacting THQ in case they still had the old builds, which developers such as Black Pearl and Hand Made Software would have sent to THQ. What Ryan revealed was interesting, and also helped draw a line under the THQ investigation. I discussed his statement with him, but after several emails we agreed not to publish it - although it doesn't detail anything scandalous, some people may have been uncomfortable with the openness of it. Recently though, and after some consideration, Ryan has decided that he would be comfortable with publishing this information. As Ryan says: "It is rare that anyone cares about what a mastering lab tech has to say about the development process, and I would like to see my words become part of the public record."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

NEO•GEO X Buyer's Guide

Here's what everyone needs to know about the Neo-Geo X, based on my own experience and/or the consensus of Neo-Geo superfans:

(1) The emulation is fantastic, to the extent that Metal Slug slows down exactly the way it would on the original hardware. This is, perhaps, more important to me than it should be. 

(2) The handheld device is very good. Build quality, so far, feels solid enough -- about as solid as an original GBA, but lighter. Most importantly, the buttons and thumb-stick are responsive and comfortable. The stick, itself, has the same distinct click of an AES joystick. That, and the accuracy of the emulation, are two advantages over a PSP.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Powerpak and an American NES

I recently shelled out £116 for an American NES plus Powerpak. It was actually £100, but I paid extra for postage to France from the UK. I've had several Famicoms and Famicom clones, plus a UK and French NES, but I've always wanted an American toaster NES, for 60Hz goodness. The Powerpak acts as a flash cartridge and allows (almost) any NES, Famicom or Famicom Disk System game to be played, with full Famicom audio if you do a small mod. Read on for my thoughts.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Amazon Canada, and the HG101 Sega Book

So it's been brought to my attention by some Canadian readers that the HG101 Sega book doesn't show up on Amazon.ca. This is something I hadn't quite realized, though I now know why.

When selling books through my printer/publisher, Createspace, there are different tiers of profits based on the point of sale. I get the most profit if the purchase is made straight through the Createspace store. I get less if it's purchased through Amazon, since they take a fairly huge chunk in exchange for their exposure. And finally, I get even less than that if it's sold through a third party.

Here's the tricky part - all of the Amazons, despite having the same logos, are actually different companies that work under the same umbrella. Createspace only prints books through Amazon US, Amazon UK, and the assorted Amazon EU sites. All other Amazon sites are considered third party, including the Canadian one.

The issue I've run into is that the profit margin is so small on the color version of the book that it's impossible to sell via a third party. Literally, the profit is in the negative numbers. (Incidentally, the adventure game book was able to be sold to third parties, but the profit margin is pithy, something like sixty cents per volume sold.)

The only way to fix this would be to jack up the price another $5 or so, but this would affect the book sold in all territories, which wouldn't help much of anyone. I believe it's possible to enable sales of the B&W volume to third party sellers, since the profit margin is slightly higher, but I'm not sure if it'd be worth it, considering the color version is outselling it by a huge, huge margin. (It's also not appearing at all in any Amazon searches for me, for some reason?)

The good news is, I'm pretty sure Amazon US (or UK or EU) will ship to pretty much anywhere. The bad news is, of course, that the shipping will probably be high. But, at least you all know why things are the way they are.

This is sort of annoying for me too, of course, because I'd love to be able to sell this on Amazon JP, where I think some readers might be interested in it. But it doesn't look to be in the cards, at least for now. It's actually much better than it used to be, when Createspace only worked with the US site. That meant I got screwed over with the adventure game book on European sales, since I was getting practically nothing for every volume sold over there, at least when it was first published. It's fixed now, at least.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sega Arcade Classics Vol 1 - Update

Just a quick note that the color and black & white copies of the Sega Arcade Classics Vol. 1 book are now both back in stock at Amazon after being unavailable for a bit. The PDF copy is still available too, of course. It's all so rad that forum mascot Cptn. Murphy has traded in his SNK love for some Sega adoration. Anyway, someone in the previous entry's comments requested a video to see what the book looks like, so herein you can awkwardly hear me give it a flip through and explain the background behind it:

I've also created a preview PDF, which shows off a handful of full pages from the full product. Take note that this preview is SLIGHTLY different from the one for sale on the site, since it was generated from the book's file and has to take into account gutter margins. Since the book is designed as spreads, the PDF is meant to be set as "Facing", with the first page viewed alone on the right side.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Update 12/3 - Sega Arcade Classics Vol. 1 now available! Also, Bad Dudes, Ninja Princess, Little Big Adventure and Final Fight

HG101 Presents: Sega Arcade Classics Vol. 1 is now available for purchase! You can purchase color and black & white copies from Amazon, for $9.99 and $25 respectively, or download a PDF copy for $4.99. More details can be found at the link, but we've spent the past several months hard at work on this, and I think it turned out quite excellent! It covers a good chunk of long time Sega favorites like Shinobi, Alex Kidd, Space Harrier and After Burner, and the design is patterned after 90s-era video game magazines, at least inasmuch as it's filled with as many images as possible. I think you all will enjoy it!

We've still got a regular update to go along with the book announcement. Ninja Princess is an early Sega title that technically would quality as a "run-and-gun" in the spirit of Commando, except it takes place in feudal Japan, so there's more shurikens and magic than anything. Most gamers probably know it through its sorta sequel The Ninja for the SMS, which regretfully replaced the female protagonist with a generic dude. This article is not featured in the current volume, but we're planning a second volume that focuses on some of the lesser known Sega games, so please support the first volume so this can come to fruition!

In a more typically manly fashion, we also have a review of Bad Dudes and its pseudo-sequel Two Crude Dudes, the famously super American beat-em-up where you beat up ninjas, rescue President Ronnie, and then go out for cheeseburgers. And on the computer side is a look at Little Big Adventure, also known as Relentless to American gamers, a duo of French developed action-adventure games with quite a bit of imaginative charm.

The spotlight article is an overhaul of the Final Fight article, which was initially one of the first articles for the site back in 2004 and was long in need of an overhaul. And Your Weekly Kusoge is the frightening Pogo Bunny, featuring the most unintentionally tragic heroes in video gaming.