Sunday, November 17, 2013

Animal Crossing: Revisiting Hell

Given a week in the City (Animal Crossing: City Folk), I decided to head back to my roots and see what was going on in my original Hell. The last time I played was shortly after I acquired an Action Replay to cheat in a ton of things I knew I could never get otherwise. Since the Nintendo Wii is backwards compatible it was just an easy disc swap, and away I went!

Instantly I saw the major difference in textures, although everything else seems to be pretty much the same. I do have to say I don't miss the Zelda-esque map grid they did with the towns, but it did help quite a bit when it comes to figuring out how to keep your town clean and happy. Needless to say my town was once more overgrown with weeds, everywhere! I'm going to have to find the spirit who will do me a favor the next time I'm on there and get that sorted out.

After a quick jaunt around the town, at 1am, I realized there wasn't much I could do. My inventory was nearly overloaded with gifts sent to me by the villagers from my birthday earlier in the year, which I obviously missed. With only a handful of slots I found the money rock and gained a bit of cash, after which I ran across the golden statue of myself, which reminded me that I had no loan to pay off!

I went around and visited some of my favorite neighbors and said hello, most of them were upset at me for being gone 19 months, which I think is impossible, but who am I to argue? After seeing some of my favorite villagers I wondered around the town and the layout came rushing back to me, all the bridges and hills, lakes and trees. Everything came back as if it had been just a few days, instead of 19 months.

So why do I doubt the all knowing and all powerful villagers of my town called Hell? Simple, I only acquired the Action Replay a few weeks before my birthday in March, to the best of my knowledge; even before that I did the Halloween event, but I do remember not saving that night and having to deal with Mr. Resetti the time I booted up to use the Action Replay. With that mystery set aside I do have to say that now my house is filled to the brim with the neat Nintendo items they packed into this game.

Is Animal Crossing on the Game Cube still my favorite of the series? Yes! Without a doubt! City Folk has come into its own; I've learned a lot about the game and there are a lot of redeeming qualities that took a few days of consistent playing to discover. One major feature from the original Animal Crossing that I miss is that the villager dialog options offered you the chance to do a task for them, and if they didn't have anything they would simply say no, in Wild World and City Folk you have to wait for them to come to you. I want to feel more helpful, not USED!

Despite everything feeling too similar, at least to me, between the original and City Folk, they're still both their own game, and more diverse than I originally thought. I've had a ton of fun with the original throughout the years and I plan to have even more fun with City Folk.

But perhaps Animal Crossing's downfall, if anything, is that it took never ending to a completely new level; the constant need to upkeep everything. Its ok for a game like GTA (namely San Andreas) to just never end and leave the ending up to the player, post story. Animal Crossing, however, feels like a chore, a never ending task of pulling weeds, tending to personalities to keep them pasified, and even if you want to take a break you know there is the dread of having those chores compounded by the length of time you've been away.

Regardless of the chore factor, I still like checking in on the personalities I grew to enjoy, and I can already feel myself growing attached to animals in City Folk. I just wish my DS would straighten up so maybe I could give Wild World another crack, there are a few personalities I miss on there already. Even so, I still prefer to play Animal Crossing on a console, instead of on the go.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tremendously tantalizing tales of timing!

When that feeling strikes, I sometimes lose my mind. I don't know when, all I know its for sure. But even for something that is assured, I am not a man of patience!

This story begins about 5 months ago when I saw a Game Boy Color (atomic purple) at a local Goodwill for $3.99. At the time I thought the price was too high, it wasn't in the best shape and it was missing the battery cover. Knowing at any time I could find one at the outlet store for mere change, I decided to pass it by and hope that when its 50% off week came around I would snatch it up for slightly cheaper, this never came to be.

I already own 2 Lime (one of them being the system I resurrected from the outlet store bins with no shell), 2 Teal and 1 in a cheap Chinese made yellow shell (that was originally lime), so I'm mainly only trying to collect the other colors, to complete the set of 6. The memory of passing up a magenta GBC about 3 years ago for $2 at the Salvation Army haunts me to this day, the only magenta GBCs I find now are $14.99 at Disc Replay (or were $14.99 last I checked). And now that feeling sunk in again as I found myself struggling to find an atomic purple GBC.

The main factor in me passing up both the magenta and atomic purple GBCs was the fact they were both missing the battery covers, yet I clearly forgot that I currently own a spare atomic purple battery cover! As I posted in another article, when I found the bare boards of the GBC in the bin I also found a teal battery cover, which took the place of the spare atomic purple cover that I had no system for.


With the one at Goodwill long since gone and none of them to be found at the outlet store, I began to wonder if I would have to purchase one on Craigslist for more than I wanted to, or perhaps ask Disc Replay if they had one missing the battery cover I could purchase for slightly cheaper. The outlet store has admittedly spoiled me and made me think twice about buying retail, in favor of just waiting it out. But it all came to a head last Sunday.

Previously in the day I had been playing around with my Game Boy Color project, seeing what switch I could use to get it back to working again. When I pulled the project from the box the purple battery cover came tumbling out and I had this feeling that soon I would find a console that needed that very battery cover, and within hours I found the answer on Craigslist.

There is was, an atomic purple Game Boy Color with 4 games: Little Mermaid, Deer Hunter, Pokemon Blue and Dragon Warrior III, missing the battery cover and they only wanted $25 for the lot. I quickly shot them an email asking of they would take $20 and the seller agreed. I rationalized the price, even though it was already cheap enough, by telling myself I could sell Pokemon blue for $15 and only have paid $5 for the lot and got to keep Dragon Warrior III! But sadly couldn't, because I have the manual for Pokemon Blue, and its one of the few Pokemon games I actively sought out.


Overall everything is in ok condition; the games have the common grubby paw marks at the top of the labels from removing them from the system, the GBC itself has some scratches on the screen, but everything is in working order. For $20 I couldn't argue, the GBC alone was $15 at Disc Replay last time I saw one in stock, and I know Pokemon games are worth close to $20 no matter what condition they are on ebay. Dragon Warrior III had a $7.99 price tag from Disc Replay on it when I got it as well. A great buy, no doubt!


And what became of the lonely little battery cover that had to cling to the butt of a teal GBC for months until it was tossed aside for one that was the same color as the teal GBC? Well, as you can see above and below it was united with its color matched system and they're doing quite well together.


If I get the urge to change the screen protector I may, but its not an issue. What really concerns me more is the lack of the Game Boy Color sticker on the back of the actual system, but even that doesn't really matter all that much. What really matters is that I now have an atomic purple Game Boy Color, the atomic purple battery cover has a good home and I got some games to add to my collection, if even 2 of them aren't exactly something I would buy or ever play.

Animal Crossing City Folk: The trinity of DOOM!

Since I first saw the game played, at a friend's house I believe, I knew I had to try Animal Crossing on the Gamecube. The problem, at the time, was that I didn't own a Gamecube, and I didn't want to pay the price for the system, nor did I want to pay the price for the game. I'm primarily a vintage gamer, so I bide my time with the good, old classic and wait for today's craze to fade away and turn up for pennies in thrift stores, flea markets, etc. before I give it a go.

When I finally got my hands on Animal Crossing I was blown away by the amount of things you could do; all the animals to talk to, tasks you could do, fishing, collect, etc. But over time the game eventually ground itself into a giant repetitive hole and just became something I never wanted to play again. Years later, as I previous posted here, I did come back to my old Animal Crossing city of Hell and the residents were all to happy to let me know exactly how long it had been since they saw me last, and to be honest I missed them!

But as had happened before, with the help from Mr. Resetti due to a series of unforeseen power failures, I decided this game was too demanding and it was time to pack it away yet again. This only lasted until I found a copy of Animal Crossing Wild World at the outlet store. At first Wild World seemed much the same with a few added bonuses here and there, but it too quickly got on my nerves as it just felt like deja vu!

Throughout the past 6 months I've visited my Wild World town a handful of times, saw that its overrun with weeds and promptly turned off my DS, as the top screen no longer works anyway. But recently I was given a copy of Animal Crossing City Folk for the Nintendo Wii, and my views on the series haven't changed at all. I love the initial feeling of starting anew and exploring something new, but in reality its all the same.


Every game starts out with you moving to a new town, buying a home from Tom Nook and being his lacky for a few measly coins to help pay off his initial fee for housing. Although there is a mayor, Tortimer, Tom Nook seemingly owns everything else in the town! But there is a small feeling of justice knowing Tom Nook buys everything from you, thus paying himself back for the home you eventually own.

The main draw to Animal Crossing has been the interactions such as Halloween, and other holidays that not many other games have the ability or care to include. Apparently many holidays were left out in Wild World, so that coupled with the broke DS screen have really made me not even want to play it anymore. I did however use it to move my character to City Folk.

One fear that I had for Wild World has come up in City Folk, gimmicking! Nintendo and their stupid need to toss in the gimmick of the console and mess up the whole game. In Wild World I'm not forced to use the touch screen, it just aids heavily in the speed of doing a few tasks. In City Folk there are bits of game you can't do without having to use the motion controls.

Most people won't even notice because they have a normal Wii sensor bar, but since I have the makeshift sensor from another game, which chews through batteries, I have to constantly turn it off and on when I need to use the motion controls. Where in Wild World you can use the D-pad and buttons to move things throughout your inventory and select them to be sold, City Folk forces you to use the motion controls to click and/or drag. Even though there is absolutely no need for this, it seems everything else in the game can easily be done without the need for motion controls, except anything that requires selecting something (items, typing out letters, etc.)

So far City Folk seems to be much the same as the two previous games, but even with the frustration of the motion controls it still keeps me busy, for now. Hopefully after a little while this game will start to shine bright and I'll take more interest in it than I already do, which is blunted by Wild World. But as of right now I have to say the first is still my favorite for its simplicity, yet complexity all at the same time.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Truly spooky tale!

All statements made within this post are factual, with no embellishment. Personal facts will not be in great detail, most other facts can easily be checked through a simple Google search.

It was a cold and rainy October 31st at around 7pm; since I live in quite a rural area I knew all my neighbors were already gorging themselves with the candy intended for the extremely rare change they would have any trick or treaters. I was about 13 or 14 and I remember sitting at the kitchen table, possibly fiddling with one of my many model car kits, when my sisters boyfriend, at the time, walked in. He asked me if I wanted to go up to Center Grove and see if we could get away with trick or treating. Center Grove is a wealthy little town just south of Indianapolis, and not very from where I live, so he and I assumed wealth meant they would have better candy, so I agreed to go.

He and myself loaded up in his truck and headed into the night. We soon reached the top of the hill just off 37 on Stone's Crossing Road and drove into a small, secluded and heavily wooded subdivision with a variety of expensive looking homes. As we drove down the street and parked in the cul de sac I distinctly remember this chill coming over me and a deep sense of fear and anguish consuming me, but as it was Halloween I never gave it more than a second of attention. We then put on some half-assed costumes just to get by and went over our plan of action.

Since he was 18, and taller than anyone who should ever be trick or treating, the plan was to disguise our voices and keep from being detected. To avoid them discovering his hairy arms I had to grab the candy for him and was instructed to toss his candy in his bag before putting it in my own, a fact I forgot the entire time, yet it never caused any issues. After we got a satisfactory amount of candy we headed back to his truck in the cul de sac, I stared out into the woods and that feeling returned as if something from within the woods was trying to tell me something, again I dismissed it as the general spookiness that Halloween brings and quickly refocused on the candy I had.

Fast forward to about 2002 when I became obsessed with Indiana ghost stories and mysterious history. One of the most common stories was about the still unsolved 1978 Burger Chef Murders. The story is that right about closing time on November 17 two men went into the Burger Chef in Speedway Indiana, robbed and murdered the four employees (ranging in age from 20 to 16). The next day their bodies were discovered in a rural area, which just so happened to be located off Stone's Crossing road, some sources even claiming that very spot is now occupied by the subdivision we were trick or treating all them years ago.

Only a few years ago did these two events register in my head when I was told a ghost story by someone who lived in the trailer park that is right across 37 from the land where the bodies were found. One night they had awoke to see who they assumed to be their girlfriend preparing for bed. When she didn't respond to his questions he sat up and started to ask again, the apparition turned to him and disappeared. He himself didn't add the events together until 2008 when the news carried an anniversary update on the events, which was to simply remind us that it remains unsolved to this day. He recognized the ghost as being the eldest female from one of the photos.

With all the weird history tied to this particular story, and the fact that their remains were found mere miles from where I grew up and live, I'm vastly intrigued by it. There have been endless leads, I'm sure, yet nothing ever came to light as to who exactly did this, or why they drove 20 miles to dump the bodies when Indiana was and still remains quite heavily wooded everywhere! As time goes on it becomes harder and harder to solve the true crime, but the weird feeling I got that night makes more sense. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Lyon AMP3, the plot thickens.

So I took my AMP3 apart to see how difficult it would be to tolex it and the spare speaker when I noticed a url printed on the circuit board for the amp. It says artecsound.com, so I promptly headed over to see what they were about. It seems they are a small South Korean company that makes amps and effects, as well as a mini amp by the name of "MA3T Mini Amp".

The MA3T looks exactly the same as the Lyon AMP3, same controls, same tuner and even the exact same design of the shell. But they offer their's in wood and tolex! ORANGE TOLEX! Oh, how I wish I could have found one of these instead of the AMP3. Don't get me wrong, I like the AMP3, but when its cranked for high gain it gets farty and the speaker is pretty weak, tonally.

I still wonder if there is a simple modification or speaker swap to get a little bit sweeter high gain tone out of this thing. I know small amps aren't meant to be tone beasts, because I've owned all kinds including a Marshall MS2, but there has to be a way to make it sound a little better than it does. I don't know how good the Orange Crush Mini sounds, nor do I know how good the MA3T sounds, they may sound the exact same or better, or worse!

So if you have an AMP3 and wonder what it could look like, or want to give the ArtecSound version a try here is the url to their page: http://artecsound.com/amps/ma3t.htm. I would love to get my hands on one simply because my favorite color is orange and I think they look significantly better than the AMP3. Regardless of their tonal difference, if any, at least I would have a cool little amp to sit down with and enjoy, if nothing more than for its cool orange tolex.

Friday, September 27, 2013

How I got stuck with a game I may never play.

With all the negativity in this world I've always tried to bring a little positive where ever I could. I can't always be this way, however, but when I have the chance I try my best to make a new connection and bond it instantly by helping someone out. I've helped a few people and formed connections here and there, but one fell sour and I'm still scratching my head as to how and why.

I won't mention the name of the blog or the blogger, but I was a fairly avid fan for a while, as we shared a great amount in common when it came to video games. Their blog kind of helps me shape my own storage methods for my video game collection. But this blogger was in need of one thing they couldn't seem to find, and honestly I don't know whether they still need it or not.

This blogger was a fan of an RPG series call Suikoden, proudly displaying their collecting and updating when they acquired new games of the series, etc. But it seemed they could never get their hands on the third part of the series, so unbeknownst to them I kept my eye out for it. If they were to have found it before I did, I would stop looking, but until then my Eagle eyes were tuned in to every PS2 game case I saw strewn about thrift stores and even Disc Replay.

One day I came across a handful of Suikoden games at a Salvation Army for $2 each, none of them were the one they wanted, in fact I opened up their blog on my friend's cellphone to see if they needed any of the ones Salvation Army had, which they didn't. Since I know absolutely nothing about this game, other than that some of them are highly sought after -- none of the ones at Salvation Army were at the time, I kept on looking. Eventually a single copy popped up at Disc Replay and since I had no way to contact them and ask if they still needed it I plunked down $10 for it and took the chance, worst case scenario I take it back and get $10 in-store credit for the attempt of a good deed.

When I got home I sent off the email and at first the blogger seemed very excited and interested that I had a copy for them. I checked into shipping and told them the price for the game and shipping and the trail went cold, no more responses at all. I tried to follow up a week later and again 2 weeks later but still the blogger never replied and seemed to just have given up on wanting to own the game.

I kept checking their blog to see if they had acquired one so I could return the one I have, and they never said a word, they just updated as if nothing had ever happened. Holding out hope this person would eventually write me back and say something had happened before but they were now ready, I held on to it and eventually became stuck with it after Disc Replay's return period. To this day there has been no reply.

I still check their blog infrequently, but it seems they haven't acquired their own copy. I tried to do something good and make a connection with a fellow video game fan and blogger, but instead I'm stuck with a video game I know nothing about, refuse to play (because I haven't played 1 or 2) and don't want to sell because it may one day be a collector's item like the first two.




Saturday, August 31, 2013

Oulet Wii Update! Doors have arrived!

All my life I've lacked patience, I haven't a single solitary drop within any fiber of my being. So after a tense 5 days, which honestly is less than I expected, the OEM Nintendo Wii doors that I ordered have arrived! With a knock on my door, the box slid into my hands and away I went to document the arrival!

Pretty much the only thing in the box were these nifty Nintendo bags (which I'm keeping!), holding the doors and the packing slip. I carefully opened the box and bags so I didn't destroy them. Once all was opened I packed the bags back into the packing slip and put them back in the box. OCD anyone?
And so we see that the poor beat up Nintendo Wii that I salvaged from the Goodwill outlet store bins is now almost whole again! The face is still a bit loose, but it stays in place and I never have reason to grab it by the face, so I won't worry about that. All I need now is an official controller and IR bar and everything will be perfect!

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Man and His Gamecube!

A few months ago I was fortunate enough to get myself a handful of loose Gamecube games, as my outlet store nemesis can't be bothered to look inside something which I don't care to give away on my blog. BWAHAHA! Anyway.. For mere pocket change I've picked up Mario Kart Double Dash with the bonus disc, Mario Superstar Baseball and Need for Speed Carbon, the last of which will be the main focus for this entry. Again, they're all loose but I've learned to use my small Gamecube disc carrying case.

For years I've had a non-working copy of Mario Kart Double Dash, sans the instructions, since the working copy came with the bonus disc what was I suppose to do with the original, single disc case? This is a job for one of the numerous random empty Gamecube cases I've found from the outlet store! I took a dual disc case and simply used the Mario Kart Double Dash cover from the original and now have a cased Double Dash with bonus disc.. still sans the instructions. (sad face)

But when it comes to racing games I've always had a place in my heart for the Need for Speed franchise, a franchise that has spanned many years. My introduction to next gen NFS was on the Gamecube when I had Need for Speed Underground, but this was years ago and that copy was sold off to help fund my Xbox habit back in the 2007-2009. I have Underground 2 for the Xbox and had a copy of Most Wanted for the PS2, so I'm familiar with the style of gameplay and the extremely terrible acting scenes they add to make it seem more than it is.

Regardless of my views on the direction they (EA) have decided to take the franchise I've enjoyed every installment, to a point. The cheestastic cut scenes are more like high school drama recitals than anything that could ever be confused for entertainment, let alone acting. But I greatly enjoy being able to freely roam a large, sprawling, open city with lots of different things to discover and explore.

The seeming leap between Underground 2 and Most Wanted was enjoyable in my opinion, everything felt well thought out and well executed. When I first played NFS Carbon I honestly thought it fit somewhere between Underground 2 and Most Wanted, but in fact it came after Most Wanted. The issue there is that it feels more like Underground 2 with sprinkles of half-assed elements from Most Wanted seemingly left in on accident because the programmer just couldn't be bothered to remove them.

The police chases in Most Wanted, while annoying as all hell, were pretty exciting and you could eventually outrun the cops and find a place to hide. Although fewer in Carbon, the chases seem to last forever and no matter what you do the cop is on your tail, without any sign of freedom no matter where you go. Another thing is that Carbon brings us back to a city where everything leads to the exact same place, where Most Wanted had the illusion of being a few different cities strung along by countless back roads and many ways to get anywhere you needed to be, which all aided in the ability to lose the heat.

To me NFS Carbon feels like one giant leap backwards, when they really should have just expanded upon Most Wanted. Another issue is collecting turf and having to defend it after every single race you do, this can easily be avoided by hitting reset but this shouldn't even be a feature at all! This isn't GTA San Andreas where people actually battle for territory, this is more like rich College kids racing around in daddy's car and trying to stir up weak, contrived bullshit, which is exactly what it is.

When I play a racing game I want just that, racing, and none of this vomit inducing high school drama rejects on large sound stages with 6th grade CGI backgrounds thrown in. We live in the 2000s which means this is a Fast and Furious world, where everyone has a "crew", whether its a bunch of rich college kids on daddy's dime, some rednecks in their Ford "Git-r-Done! trying to be a tuner" Focuses or whatever else it may be, everyone has to have a crew, but not in a fucking video game! Give me a list of cars, a list of upgrades and make me race my car over and over to earn enough money to get those upgrades, thats all I want.

Project Outlet Wii: Update!

Although I often leave my Wii in a state of neglect, that doesn't mean it shouldn't look its best. For the past few months I've debated whether or not I should buy the missing doors for my system, or if they would just get in the way and become nothing more than a waste of money. This sent me on a grand internet goose chase!

The most popular answer seemed to be DX.com or PriceAngels, which I'm sure we're all familiar with the products they sell. I've bought quite a few things from them and were quite pleased with the quality and prices, but the reviews for their replacement Wii door sets left me unsure I even needed them at all. Most of the reviews said the doors fit but were either too stiff or too loose,and aren't as good as OEM doors but do the trick, which made me think I should just forego buying them and leave it be.

A few months passed by when I got the bright idea to check how much a new OEM set from Nintendo would be, so I went to their online store. After navigating to the Wii parts I saw a list of items they had for sale and how much each product cost, yet the doors I needed had no price on them. After clicking the link they gave me the price and option of color (forgetting they've made a red and black Wii as well as white), each part was only $1 each!

DX and PA only wanted $3.70 for their sets, with free shipping. Nintendo wants $1 per part, plus sales tax and a minimum of $2 shipping, so for $5.35 I could get an OEM set that I have greater faith in, or I could save some change and buy the parts that would problem end up broken or removed from the system anyway. Usually I'm an unashamed cheap bastard, but when it comes to OEM vs after market, I'll spring a little bit of spare change toward the OEM parts.

Hopefully they arrive in a timely manner, work as well as OEM parts should and make my Nintendo Wii look more presentable. I try my best to take care of every video game system I own, clean it thoroughly and keep it safe from harm, and my Nintendo Wii is not going to be excluded from that luxury. When I found it the face had been ripped off, and its still loose, but hopefully the replacement doors will restore a little more self worth into a system that really needed it when I found it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How far is a tech-nerd, gamer willing to go?

Well I am willing to go pretty damn far, to be honest. The story starts with me at the outlet store today, digging through a random bin when I happen upon a broken Game Boy Color back. Shortly after I found the main board, with everything attached, and the front of the shell, which was in absolutely shit condition.

I spent a good 15 minutes, or more, hunting down the tiny little buttons, silicone pads and anything else I thought I would need to rebuild the system. I managed to find everything except the IR cover, which really isn't that big of a deal. Short of the IR cover, and the broken shell that I decided to leave behind, I found everything I would need to make a whole other GBC.
Lucky for my teal GBC, which I happened to purchase from the same outlet store a year ago, this one was the same color and still had the battery cover. The original battery cover for my teal GBC snapped at the clip part that goes into the system, for some unknown reason. I had been keeping an eye out for a battery door for it, sadly I only managed to find a atomic purple one, which was a place holder until today.
After getting everything home, I test fitted it in a spare lime shell that I have and found out there were two issues I had to overcome before having a fully functional GBC. Short of needing a brand new shell and all the screws that come with it, I need to replace the speaker, because this one just doesn't make much noise. Secondly, the power switch had snapped off, which seems to be a major issue, but I'm sure I'll figure out how to fix that.
I already own a handful of Nintendo Game Boy Colors, so when I pick a shell it will be the first one of that color I'll own. I'm hoping for something cool, custom and non OEM. I'll just have to see what I can find, and hopefully keep it updated here.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Guitar Micro Amp and Comparative Overview.

It was Friday, I was in the outlet store when I saw the knobs peaking out from under a large white mass. I moved over quickly to see what it was when I noticed it was a miniature guitar amp. Excited by my find I tossed it in the bag and kept on about my hunting.

After the first round I made the purchase and went outside to do some research. With very little information about these amps I went to Google Images and saw that this little amp had a twin speaker cabinet that it should sit atop. Normally if there is a part to a set of something or any given item is missing a piece, at the outlet store, its more than likely nowhere to be found, but luck was on my side!

Mere minutes before the bin I found the amp in was about to be pushed back to make way for fresh new "junk", I walk up and quickly found the speaker cabinet. The day carried on in a good way, as I found quite a few more things, but the excitement of finding this micro stack never left my mind. Sadly it would have to wait until I got it back home to give it a good and thorough testing.


Once I got it home I plugged it in and wasn't too surprised about the sound, shitty. Its a neat little discussion piece, but its not really all that fuctional, due in LARGE part to the cheap, flabby speakers they tossed into this thing. Original MSRP was $129.99 and probably sold at around $75 to $100 (?), if that were the case whoever bought one of these were seriously ripped off.

Fast forward to today, while doing research on other mini amps, when I came across the Orange Crush Micro. Orange is world renown for making high end (expensive as fuck) amps. Although I've never played one, let alone owned one, I do have to say I at least love all the orange!

But wait a second, that Orange Crush Micro looks suspiciously like the Lyon Amp3. Although they're not an exact copy I have to say the backs look very similar, the built-in tuner is the exact same and the battery door placement is quite similar as well; could these have came from the same factory? The Orange Crush Micro says "Made in PRC", obviously People's Republic of China, and the Lyon Amp3 simply says Made in China, this is getting interesting!



This gives me hope that the internal components are the exact same and with a few tweaks, and possibly a speaker upgrade, I could have a really sweet micro amp stack. Then again maybe I'm just jumping the gun here, the Orange Crush Micro and Lyon could be completely different inside, other than the obviously different face layout. Regardless they sure as hell don't hold the same prestige, or even sound close to one another.

The Lyon Amp3 isn't terrible, but I absolutely can not stand the synthesized farting that this speaker produces under mid-gain settings. This little amp may be able to produce pretty good tones, but until I can find a better alternative for the speakers its all farts from here. I did manage to get a pretty chimey clean out of it, but that was all guitar volume control.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Moving into the Wild World!

Back in March 2012 I found out I had been gone from my game of Animal Crossing for over 77 months. Sadly since then not much has changed, I've often found myself shutting the game off and forgetting about Mr. Resetti, oops! But I haven't really made much progress in the game and I've watched villagers come and villagers go.

With my, somewhat, recent acquisition of a working Nintendo DS Lite I wondered if they had any sequels for this system, in fact they do! Animal Crossing Wild World its called, but as with everything I want to own it was overpriced almost everywhere I went, so I sat the desire to buy this game on the sidelines and just kept on about my way. Until one day I was digging through a media bin at the outlet store, when lo and behold there it was, sitting under an NES game (Kung Fu).

I can see how the cartridge alone could easily be discarded with CDs and the lone NES game. Needless to say I snatched it up and got to stepping toward the registers to make my purchase. However much a Nintendo DS cartridge weighs, times .79 cents, so I got it super cheap.

A few weeks later I happened across the case, empty short of the outside insert but it was more than I had before, so I picked it up. Now all I'll need is to find the stupid warning stuffers they put in every DS game and a copy of the manual and I'll have a complete copy for around $1-2. But now that I've spent so much time explaining how it came into my collection, let me tell you how I feel about the game and how it differs from the Gamecube version.

With all sequels there will obviously be changes, some for the better and some for the worse, all depending on your selective point of view. What I originally thought were bad moves in Wild World, after time, turned into things I could live with. But there were still a few things I just simply couldn't grasp.

Firstly, and most frustratingly to myself, is the almost completely impossible to find digging spots. Now given there is a massive difference in screen size between the Gamecube and the DS, I still believe they could have done something to make digging spots a tad more easy to spot. After a while I can find them easier, yet I still find them unnecessarily hard to find.

Secondly is the weird way the world is as if it were a tiny Earth, an orb in space, as you freely walk from one end to the next as the horizon ever changes. Its a minor complaint, but its not as bad as fishing seems to be in this version, these fish have ADHD and couldn't care less than to starve to death, apparently. Again, over time I've learned where to cast and wait for the fish to, painfully, eventually turn around and chase down my baited hook.

But my biggest, and I would dare say almost game ruining, complaint comes with the main mechanic of the game, socialization. In the Gamecube version of Animal Crossing I felt as if I were building relationships with fellow villagers moving in and out of my town (named Hell). But in this version I simply can't make those connections feel genuine; I've had villagers move away and I had totally forgotten they even lived in my Wild World town (also named Hell).

In the Gamecube version I often went on tasks to return something borrowed or borrow something, etc. As where in Wild World, no matter how much I bore another villager with my constant desire to talk, the best I can get is a few lines of dialog before scuttling off because they seem irritated by me being around them. Isn't the whole idea to be social and help other villagers?

Regardless of my personal opinions I'm glad to have it, although I rarely play it just the same as the Gamecube version. I got it so damn cheap that it really isn't a bad piece to just add to the collection, but sadly it isn't nearly half as fun as I thought it would be. One thing that may save this game for me is the Wi-fi connectivity and visiting people throughout the (real) World, so here is my friend code: (3998-7521-3061)!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Weekend Outlet Pick ups!

Today I give you a quick overview of the things I've found at the outlet store this week. I went 3 days and this was an average visit where I didn't find anything mind blowing, yet I didn't walk away empty handed. Let us begin!

First up is a 1988 Nintendo Power backpack featuring both LINK and Mario depicted in a very cartoony way. Even as poorly it may look in this photo, it is much worse in the real world. Sure its in rough shape, but I'm glad I own it and that it even exists!

Next up is a 3rd party Sega Dreamcast controller. Nothing special, but since I was paying by the pound I couldn't let this thing get recycled. It is what it is.

I had been looking for a Nintendo E-Reader for years! I even asked friends in different states to check their local Gamestops to see if they could get one when they were still .99 cent, prior to them discontinuing carrying anything GBA. Nothing ever materialized, until this week!

About 2 weeks ago I picked up a pair of Sega Saturn games that were in a junk PS game case. Turns out I picked up a good copy of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and a scratched copy of Daytona USA that wouldn't play at all. Fast forward to this week, I now have a copy that works perfectly as well as 2 more games, to give my Sega Saturn a good old fashion workout!

Now we reach the items that aren't exactly great, but earn themselves an honorable mention. First are 3 hard cases; 2 of these cases are NES hard cases and the middle one is a multipurpose rental case, without the clear cover. Lastly there is a Famiclone gun that looks entirely too much like the real thing.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bunch of Savages: a sequel to the first article of the same name.

I love vintage game themed plug n play systems, I really do! Even if I know they're homebrews, such as the DreamGear 50 in 1 I picked up the other day. But this one needed new AV cables installed, much like the Activision plug n play, but unlike that one the cables were complete, it was the tips that had been damaged!

Since I was already at the outlet store, where AV cables are plentiful, I decided to grab a few sets and check over them to see which would be the best to use for this repair. After sorting through a handful of them I decided on this digital camera AV set, they looked the most robust and therefore I figured they would be the best option. I pondered over doing an AV out mod, because there was a small Jazz DV camera in one of the bins, but I quickly decided that keeping this project to a minimum was going to be key.

Running merely on the assumption that this board would already be diagrammed and labeled for me, I pulled out everything and set to taking the system apart. Once apart I found out that it wasn't going to be as easy as I first though, although when I turned the board over I found it wasn't as complicated as I thought either. My soldering skills are nowhere near A1, but I can easily pass for a C average.

A simple desolder of the old wires, a quick setup for the new wires, some wire spinning and setting and resolder everything right back the way it is suppose to be. Again, I'm not a professional so it did take a little while to get everything to fit back together. After I get everything soldered in place and put back together I plugged it into my TV.

It works, and its packed with 50 homebrews, some of them are fun while others aren't, obviously. Anytime I have the chance to quickly fix something I'll gladly pay the 25-50 cents for it at the outlet store. Its building my soldering skills, my critical planning skills and I just find it fun to repair shit!

Monday, May 6, 2013

It bears repeating..

Today I will start off by saying I am not a genius, no matter how much I truly wish I were. But when it comes to the Goodwill outlet store and finding the things I want to find, I seem to rank highest. Anything that has to do with video games or guitar, it seems, I know far more than anyone else there.

I repeat myself on this blog in what may seem to be a boasting, overconfident tone, which couldn't be further from reality. I simply enjoy writing here and showcasing the finds that somehow slip the grasps of the casual and hardcore outlet shoppers alike and make their way into my bedroom. I've honestly never expected to ever see half the things I've found at the outlet store, but somehow I always end up finding something that blows my mind and causes me to dig deeper, stay longer and go more often, such as what I am about to show you.

Again, my ability to identify things much quicker than others is restricted solely to items I'm interested in, I couldn't tell you what a good Hi-Fi system or stuffed animal was if it slapped me in the face. But when it comes to obscure video game items, while everyone is scrambling about for anything with a brand on it, I can almost certainly tell what an item is by its shape or whether I've seen it before online or not. Same with the very rare occasions when a guitar or amp shows up in the bins, which happened just the other day, the outcome was greatly in my favor.

What I saw appeared to be a small practice combo from the 70's, but someone had already pulled it from the bin and placed it in their cart. Carrying on about my hunting I circled back to check some other bins and noticed it sitting alone in a clothes bin, so I gave it a little closer inspection. Right on the face I saw Kalamazoo and Model 1, the name Kalamazoo made me think of Gibson as I knew they were affiliated with Gibson at one point, but my knowledge on the name brand and this amp in particular is extremely weak.

I flipped the amp over and checked the speaker paper, if the speaker was damaged it really wouldn't even be worth buying, but not only did the speaker look to be in great shape, the little Kalamazoo Model 1 is a TUBE amp! Being a solid state person I've never had the chance to try out a tube amp, let alone own one. Given the fact that this was being sold by weight there was a good chance I would be taking it home.

What limited resources there are online about this amp indicate it was built in either 1965, 66 or 67, exciting! Its a fairly simple amp with a decent tube amp tone, really exciting! But the decades of technological changes have really made this amp kind of dangerous to play and costly to repair, bummer!

With a little bit of elbow grease this amp could look great in no time, as I assume from the looks it came straight from someone's attic to the outlet store. I only paid a little over $8 for the amp and a handful of other stuff from the outlet store, so it was super cheap. Sadly for now this thing has to sit beside its big brother -Line 6 Flextone HD and Mesa 4x12- and await the day I can safely test it to see what all repairs it needs.

About 75% of the images I've found of the Kalamazoo Model 1 amps are blackface models, and only a handful of them are the wood grain. I'm really wondering if I've stumbled on to a nice pile of gold, or a stinky pile of shit. If this thing works well as-is, or with minimal upgrades, and sounds as good as the demos I've watched on youtube, this thing is surely a slice of fried gold!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Be diligent and know what you're looking at!

I haven't showcased it here, I did at TVG, but one of the most important skills for shopping at the Goodwill Outlet store is knowing what you're looking for/at and being extremely diligent, yet doing it all quickly. I have yet to become masterful at all these, but I do however know what I'm looking for and if it is video game related, more often than not I know what I'm looking at. And trust me, this comes in handy quite often.

One such case happened to me just the other day, while I was standing shoulder to shoulder with one of my nemeses. We were digging through the exact same bin when I saw his arm shoot through a pile of wires and miscellaneous toys and pulled out a Nintendo 64 expansion pak, as if he had X-ray vision or something. He looked at it, read the front and passed it from one hand to the other, quizzically, before continuing to dig through the pile.

I was kind of confused as to why he looked at it and wondered what exactly it was, after all this group consistently pick up video game items and turn around and sell them for what I can only imagine are insane prices in a flea market. Soon he went back to his cart with a handful of Playstation AV cables, the N64 expansion pak and a few other things, but my mind was still pondering why he seemed so confused about the N64 expansion pak. After a short while of watching him like a hawk he walked back up to a bin he had rummaged through before and tossed the N64 expansion pak right back into the bin.

I could feel my legs dart out from under me, as if they were more excited to get the expansion pak than I was! I had to dig a little before I found it, luckily nobody but myself saw him toss it back in, or maybe nobody but me knew exactly what it was. After snagging the N64 expansion pak I quickly ran to the checkout, since this was all I had to purchase it cost me a total of 4 cents.

I have no intentions of selling this, although I could easily make a damn fine profit from it, I don't need to sell it nor do I want to. I do admit that I will pick up the random electronic Yahtzee or something I already have but know will sell to keep myself from going broke, but I don't purposely act like a dick to get these items the way most people do at the outlet store. But its most rewarding knowing that my knowledge of video gaming items far exceeds their's and I can outsmart them to keep the items I actually want to own from being overpriced and slapped on a shelf, to sit until someone overpays for it.

Bunch of SAVAGES!

It is fair to say I enjoy collecting and playing retro game themed plug n play systems, and with the outlet store I've found tons of them. But given the conditions some of the items I find in the outlet store, some of them need a bit of work before they actually work. And today's example needed me to transplant a vital component that I've never had to do before.

This is an Activision TV Games system. Packed inside are 10 classic Activision games from the good old days of video gaming. But you may notice something missing already.

Yes for whatever reason, someone decided it would be a great idea to not only abandon this thing, but snip off the AV cables as well! A pretty vital item for anything that is a "plug n play" system. Being the ever nerdy, adventurous type of guy who never says no to a repair job, I undertook the project.

As you can see above all there was standing between me and repairing this were 6 simple philips head screws. Once inside I desoldered the remnants of wire hanging from the -lucky for me- labeled board. Another lucky thing was that the solder came right off the wires and stuck in the places the new wires needed to go.

After painstakingly removing the leftover wires from the wire guide, I prepared the cheap AV cable set that I happened to find at the outlet store. After all, if I make a mistake I'd much rather screw up a pair of super cheap cables rather than buy a good pair and fucking them all up. But with the wires all prepped and ready to be soldered into place, all I had to do was twist the wires, melt the solder, put the wires in the right place and wait for the solder to dry, how hard could it be?

Well I did make a bit of a mistake on my first attempt, but after a quick rethink and resolder of a couple wires I had everything in correct order. Sure the solder joints are dull, but it matches the rest of the cold solder joints some Chinese kid got paid 100th of a penny per hour to make. So after all my work and toil does it work?

Yes.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Project Outlet Wii: Complete!

Well I still need (want) an official Wii sensor bar to flesh out the whole rig, but I found something that will work pretty damn well in its place. Before I borrowed the sensor bar from a friend, to make sure my system even worked, I had toyed with the idea of buying a wireless sensor bar, but the idea of constantly changing out batteries quickly detoured me to searching for an official one. But what could I say when I found an extremely cheap and -possibly- reliable alternative at the Goodwill Outlet?

I've seen these games all over the place, Goodwill stores and TONS of them have made it to the outlet bins, so its obvious they're not a very fun game, at least its not something I would have paid retail for. So when I saw the sensor bar sitting in the bin, it quickly dawned on me that this could be a great alternative for the Wii sensor bar. It has 3 infrared LEDs on each side, its wireless -only requiring 3 AAA batteries- and when I got it home it actually seems to work flawlessly as a wireless Wii sensor bar!

It is a wireless sensor for a plug n play game called "Big Buck Hunter Pro", again these things have flooded the Goodwill store shelves and around here are in absolutely no short supply! It looks pretty Redneck, but it works flawlessly and function is way more important to me than the form in which it works. I'm pretty glad it has an LED to tell me its on, so I don't need to change out the batteries as often as the real wireless sensor bars.

I still really want to get the official one, but for anyone looking for a wireless Wii Sensor bar I would highly suggest you check your local Goodwill and snag one of these, with or without the gun. As far as I saw it works just the same as the official, but its wireless. And how could I go wrong at the Goodwill outlet store price?