Thursday, December 29, 2016

Finding the Right Disc for the Right Case!

The summer of 1999 was spent almost entirely in my small bedroom with Warrant's Dog Eat Dog album blaring, while playing Resident Evil Director's Cut on my Playstation. I can't remember exactly where, but I had been playing a demo copy of Resident Evil and I really wanted to play the full version, so that desire spurred on the need to liquidate my Sega Genesis and NES collections, which is a horror story in and of itself. I traded in roughly $40 worth of stuff (1999 value) to the local FunCo Land for $7 and change and still needed to pay another $8 (plus tax) to buy Resident Evil, but at that time it felt all too worth it.

The only copy the store had in was a Greatest Hits copy, but that didn't bother me at all, at least I got the game I was after. As soon as I got home I knew the disc wasn't the right one, yet this was a decade before I learned that the manual, case and disc should all have the same SLUS code. Regardless of it not being in the right case I still played the hell out of the game. Through all the zombie slaughter, puzzle solving and jump scare goodness, I loved every minute of it.

Years went by and the same game is still in my collection; I learned not to give a video game store $40 worth of stuff for $7 in-store credit ever again. It always kind of nagged at my subconscious that the disc wasn't in the right case. Along came the Goodwill outlet store, where I could find loose PS1 games almost on the daily. Without much thought I would pick them up and throw them into a pile of I want or I already have. The I wants were packed away and logged in my video game collection spreadsheet, while the I already haves were placed in a bag, hoping to use as trade fodder for something I wanted.

Recently I happened to be checking through my collection of video games I could trade off, when I noticed one of them was a black and silver Resident Evil Director's Cut, much like I would expect to find in the Greatest Hits case I bought all those years ago. And you know what? I was right! After checking the disc's SLUS code it matched the case perfectly.

It's taken nearly 20 years to get the right disc, but at least I have it. Now I'll need to track down the original case and manual for the game FunCo Land put inside the case. Either way, I'm keep them both now!

Left: Correct Disc, Right: Disc FunCo gave me

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Skullcandy Ink'd 2 Earbud Review.

Ever since I can remember I've heavily preferred to use over-ear headphones for my music listening pleasure. With the exception of my absolute favorite TSC (The Speaker Company) NC3, noise cancelling over-ears, it's been hard for me to find a decent set of headphones that fill my ears with the right frequencies while not sounding washed out by background noise.

I've owned many different styles of over-ear headphones and always loved their delivery, the frequency response and the comfort factor. What always ends up happening is that I use them too much and over time they break at the headband. The last few pairs of over-ears I've had I tried to repair, in vain. The fewer parts, the less can go wrong, right?

I've never been a fan of earbuds, they never deliver the music quite the same as over-ears, they make my ears itch inside and are just overall a menace to use. When mowing I need something that will block out the sound of the mower, this is why I heavily prefer over-ears with noise-cancellation, and all the earbuds I've used up to this point were just not going to cut it, but that was about to change.

For home use I went with a simple pair of Roku earbuds, because they're purple and they aren't broken like my over-ears. The music didn't sound as great, but at least I was still getting music pumped into both ears, plus they didn't need to cancel any noise because it's just home use. They're not the best, but for moderate home use they'll do the job.

My eyes started to scour the outlet store for earbuds. Maybe there was a new set that someone hadn't used yet, besides you can always clean them, can't you? Yeah, I'm sure it would be fine to wash a pair of earbuds thoroughly and be safe. After seeing a massive amount of even lower quality earbuds than the Roku ones pass through, it finally happened. A pair of earbuds I was willing to buy used and risk getting some stranger's inner-ear, fungal infection. Skullcandy!

I've heard of the brand, but never tried their products. I'm not one who will jump on a brand as soon as they come out, pay a high price for a product and then sing their praises. I'll wait for everyone else to have their fun with said products and pick them up used, at drastically reduced prices. In the case of the Ink'd 2 earbuds, I would say they're well worth what I paid for them. Three cents at the outlet store.

After a thorough cleansing in alcohol and soaking the rubber parts in soap and water, I finally gave these suckers a test. Everything sounded amazing. I'd never heard earbuds this good before, not to say I've tried too many to begin with, but I've never heard earbuds that sounds slightly less dynamic than over-ears. Almost everything I wanted from over-ear headphones are offered in these earbuds, again, almost.

I can't verify whether or not they'll drown out any background noise, but once they're in place they stay, which is also new to me, and they do seem to block out more noise than any other earbuds I've ever used.

I'm not an earbud expert, nor am I a headphones expert, but I know what I expect from them and the Skullcandy Ink'd 2 earbuds offer almost (I can't stress that enough) exactly what I'm looking for from over-ear headphones. They are still a little lacking, obviously due to size limitations, but they are amazing for what they are. Would I pay retail for them? Considering they're only about $13-15 retail, I would possibly consider it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Games the need a Sequel: Apex

In the heydays of the original Xbox the console seemed flooded with racing games, or games that included racing in some form or another. As a fan of racing games I tried my best to acquire as many of them as possible, as even then they were cheap and abundant. One game, however, stood out from the crowd, yet it's name was only spoken in almost unintelligible murmurs. That game's name is Apex.

What set Apex apart was that you took the reigns of a car company and built it from the ground up. What's not to love about finally being able to get your hands in on building the race cars you were going to be racing anyway? To answer that question simply, much of this game. Apex, in theory, is an amazing idea, but what was given to us really fell short of anything spectacular or mind-blowing, which I'm sure many racing game fans had hoped.

From the corner cutting tactics of car sales being strictly based on the results of your finishing position in races to the exceedingly limited and drab choices you have in car designs, Apex really missed the mark by quite a few miles. What fans really wanted to see was more inspired car designs, have more options on how to customize them and I'm sure have more control over the power plants placed within said cars. I'm also pretty certain fans wished the sales were based on some kind of constantly flowing sales system, like a stock market, rather than only when you race and only where you place style system.

The idea was an amazing one, although Apex wasn't the first to do this. Sega GT for the Dreamcast allowed the player to earn different ways to build their own race car, which offered far more options in customization as well as far better car designs and engine choices. Perhaps if Apex was the first game to have offered this style of gameplay it may have had a sequel already, so that we could see just how much better it could be.

Apex may have been a victim of being stuck between a rock and a better game, but I think Apex still deserves a sequel. Given the current generation of consoles, and the fact that racing game continue to be strong sellers, if done correctly Apex 2 could be a smashing success. Imagine having the option to mash together similarly styled cars of from the real world, such as cars we already see in GTA or the likes. Then you're allowed to decide whether it's front, mid or rear engine, front, rear or all wheel drive, and finish that off with a few miscellaneous details about the power of the engine and presto, a recipe for success!

Apex isn't overly horrible, but it's not as great as it truly could have been. Watching your business grow appeals to people, as is apparent by the popularity of business sims these days. In my honest opinion I think it just makes sense to make an Apex 2, the current gaming climate just feels right. I just hope if they do decide to, they take their time to make the game as good as it could have been, then polish the shit out of that thing and make it the masterpiece it should have been in the first place.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Nyko Redemption?

Could it be true? Could it have finally happened? Did Nyko create a product that I could happily enjoy? Well, maybe.

A few weeks ago I was at, where else, the outlet store, when I found an Xbox 360 controller. I quickly chucked it into my bag and kept on hunting through the bins. Upon later inspection the thumb sticks were absolutely fucked, someone had carved their name into the side and the controller was no longer white, but a deep nicotine yellow. Needless to say I decided against buying it.

Immediately after I tossed the controller back into a bin I noticed that it had a rechargeable battery pack on the back. On closer inspection it turned out to be a Nyko battery pack, which sent chills down my spine. Even so, this time I was quite confident because I had a secret weapon on my side, the official Microsoft battery pack charging base!


A few months prior I had bought an official battery pack charger because it was at the outlet store and I already owned an official Microsoft Xbox 360 rechargeable controller pack. The controller pack had been nothing but fussy when trying to recharge it through the cable that connects to the console, so I decided maybe this would help the battery pack.

Much to my surprise the battery pack seemed to take a long charge, lasted much longer than it ever had before, and seemed to hold a charge for weeks without even being used, where it would previously discharge rather quickly without being used. Could this charger help me revive a Nyko brand Xbox 360 battery pack? Well, maybe.

At first the battery pack didn't seem to have any life left it in; all signs of life were gone. I plugged it into the charging base and got nothing. I plugged it into the console with the recharging cable and also got nothing. It soon dawned on me that Nyko put their own special charging ports on the back of the battery pack, which was the key to a successful revival.

After working out the polarity I simply put some electricity through the positive and negative terminals on the back of the battery pack and once it was outputting roughly 1 volt I slapped it back into the Microsoft charging base. Would this work? Well, yes! Yes it did.

The official charging base turned red, meaning it was charging, and charged the battery for quite some time before turning green. I quickly put the Nyko battery back into my controller to test for life, and there it was... the green lights lit up, the controller synced and everything was right with the world.

So far the Nyko battery pack seems to work quite well with the official 360 charging base. The battery also seems to have quite a good life span. It's odd that Nyko made a product I'm actually half way proud to own, even if I had to bring it back to life by myself.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sometimes risk equals reward.

Every time I walk through the doors of a thrift store I never know what I'm going to find, or if I'll find anything at all. This is a calculated risk that I take; to spend time waltzing through the aisles, searching high and low for things that pique my interest. Sometimes I find absolutely nothing, while other times the risk, although very minor, pays off in huge scores.

Same goes for the outlet store, which is more of an impulse driven risk. Digging through the bins gives me a euphoric feeling of treasure hunting, as well as finding treasure from under other people's noses. The risks taken at the outlet store are more "Should I buy this seemingly broken item?". Sometimes I buy things that seemingly don't work and once I get them home, clean them up and fix anything that may be wrong with them, they work just fine. In other cases I've wasted a few cents on complete and utter junk that I instantly regret, but such is the system of risk being a reward.

Over the years I've learned to draw the line of how far I am willing to go to pick up an item at the outlet store. It's a fine line, knowing to what degree of disrepair of said item will I accept or just toss back into the bin and pass up. Just a few weeks ago I passed up an iPod touch with a shattered screen. Sure, I could have bought it for less than ten cents, paid a small fortune to get the screen repaired and had myself an iPod Touch, but that wasn't a risk I was willing to take.

A few months back I purchased the face panel of a Nintendo Wii, with no Nintendo Wii anywhere in sight. Hunting high and low produced no console whatsoever, but the face panel had to belong to some poor Wii, now without it's face. The reward in this is picking up a completely odd item that I may someday need. I may never find another Wii without it's face, but if a Nintendo Wii without it's face shows up at the outlet store, no one will buy it because they will perceive it as broken, at which time I will swoop in, because I have the parts to make it whole again.

It all may sound silly, perhaps even stupid, but calculated risks in the hobby of thrift hunting are an everyday occurrence. Knowing how far you're willing to go to own an item, or part of an item, is something you need to figure out for yourself. My views on picking up items, parts and even completely useless junk are fairly liberal, but I do have my limits. Eventually you'll see that sometimes risk equals reward.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Way to Go Nyko!

Along with aftermarket controllers Nyko is also famous, perhaps infamous, for making rechargeable battery packs. From both online reviews and personal experience these rechargeable battery sets don't seem to be the best quality. To be fair they are used when I buy them, and as for the online reviews I could use the old saying "The squeaky wheel gets the grease" could be applied here. Most reviews are negative, but if a person is happy with a product, do they necessarily have time or the desire to give said product a review? I doubt it.

A few months ago I picked up a Nyko Charge Station (87000-A50) for the Nintendo Wii. I had become ever increasingly irritated with the fact that my rechargeable Energizer AAs were slowly but surely losing their longevity, so I needed an alternative. The outlet store, once again, came through and saved the day when I found both the charger and two rechargeable batteries for the Wii motes.


With hopeful wishes and childlike wonder I put the batteries into my Wii motes and quickly realized a few things. Firstly you need a special Nyko battery cover for these battery packs, the original Nintendo battery cover will not work. Secondly, and probably most expected, the batteries were dead, but lucky for me I had the charging base. As soon as I put them into the charging base the blue light lit up and within seconds it turned green. After a short bit of internet Columbo sleuthing I found out blue means charging and green means full.


Obviously the batteries weren't full already, the Wii mote didn't even flicker with them installed. I continued my Columbo sleuthing and found a tutorial online where someone replaced the batteries with regular rechargeable batteries, which greatly appealed to me, because it meant I had a project on my hands, and I love projects!

A few months after buying the Nyko Charging Base, the outlet store also gifted me a pair of Rayovac hybrid rechargeable AAAs. After recharging them in my wall charger I noticed the Rayovac batteries seem to have held a charge for a long time. It only seemed natural that these two should go together, and so they shall!


I carefully pried the top open and removed the cells from one (the pack that seemed the worst off anyway) of the battery packs. With a small piece of aluminum foil folded and placed in the bottom, the AAAs batteries fit quite snug, yet quite well within the battery pack. After everything was all put together it seems to work just fine; the Wii mote lit up and worked as to be expected, without going dead within a few minutes.

Hopefully I'll find a way to recharge the original cells and get them back to a semi normal charging cycle, but otherwise the Rayovac hybrid rechargeable AAAs really seem to have saved the day. One thing I will say about this new pack is that there is no way I'll be using the Nyko charging base to recharge this particular pack. I feel it would be much safer to just pull them out and charge them in the normal wall charger, as I would have done anyway. Better safe than dead!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

My Adventures in Guitar Cable Repairs.

Let me say it right now, I am a cheap ass. That's right, I said it, I admit it and I'm fairly ok with that. I am a cheap ass. This means if I can find something useful at the outlet store I'll buy it, even if it needs repairs. Odds are I'll find the parts to repair it at the outlet store also, as you'll soon see.

Many many moons ago I bought a First Act guitar cable from the outlet store. It felt sturdy and I liked the ends on it, so I knew I was going to purchase it. What does a guitar cable weigh? Not much, and that was the last deciding factor I needed to make the purchase a done deal.


As things go, sometimes cables aren't quite up to scratch, especially First Act brand. What ended up happening to that cable was that one end became bent and dislodged the wires. The ends aren't the high quality, unscrew and solder style, these are molded hard rubber, so fixing this cable would be more of a problem than it would be a solution. I figured maybe in the future I would find a cable with a nice unscrew and solder style plug that I could just buy and replace it with that one.

That day came, a few months ago, when I stumbled upon a really nice, unbranded, tweed wrapped cable that was missing one of its ends. The problem became apparent immediately; I couldn't tear this cable apart to repair a cheap First Act cable. There was no way in hell I was going to ruin a better quality cable, even by an unknown brand, to repair that cable. I, instead, decided to painstakingly repair the First Act cable to its former glory, sort of.


The process was filled with blood, sweat and frustration, literally. I removed the plug from the cable, hollowed out the hardened rubber to allow for the wire to come through, better than it was when it was molded, soldered everything back together and finished by sitting the plug back into the socket. These are not quality parts, the repair is not a quality repair, but the results are exactly what I wanted. The cable now works, and sounds as good as can be expected from a cheap cable, and everything is right with the world again, plus I have a spare guitar cable to use.

So what was I to do with the tweed cable? Repair it too, of course! At first I was going to buy a Switch Craft brand cable end from Amazon. I wanted to do it right since this is such a nice looking cable. Amazon being the Mega-Douches they can sometimes be won't sell you a $2 (at the time writing this) part without you buying an additional $48 worth of stuff. I would gladly pay the $2 it would cost to ship the damn thing, but nooooooooooooo! So what's a crafty nerd to do? Outlet store, baby!


That's right! While at the outlet store I found a weird cable hobbled together with the 6.3mm end I needed connected to two RCA jacks on the other end. I could tell it was homemade because 90% of the project was electrical tape and it took quite some time to tear apart. Once the part I needed was free I put it in my bag and kept shopping. Once I got the item home the project started to come together.


The tweed cable needed to be stripped, wires tinned and the jack needed to be cleaned and prepped for surgery too. The thick, lead solder was a bit rough, but the wires still attached to the jack came free just fine. I'm not sure what brand this jack is but while moving solder around I saw Japan stamped into the metal, so I'm feeling pretty good about the whim on which I decided to pick this jack up.

The original tan shrink wrap had been ripped off with the original jack, and since this jack didn't come with the metal sleeve that screws on and protects everything within, I just decided to solder everything up and wiggle what was left up and over the exposed wires. This is nowhere near ideal, but I'm fine with it, plus I can always repair it later, if the need arises.


Cheap outlet guitar cable plus cheap outlet parts equals a fun time repairing stuff. Yes, it works just fine, and again I know it's not a perfect repair, but it is a repair. I always feel it's worth the time and effort to repair things I find from the outlet store, especially items I want to have that just need a little extra time and care. I'm hoping to find a proper end sometime in the near future, but then again the tan shrink wrap would still be missing. Either way I'm glad to have two spare guitar cables.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Goodwill Disappointment.

Let me preface this with the fact that I have a Love/Hate relationship with Goodwill. Sometimes I'll find a good deal, sometimes I walk away in disgust at their lazy ebay researching when they slap an extremely insane price on an item and expect it to sell. This is just one shining example of what is wrong with the Goodwill pricing system.

Every so often my local Goodwill stores have a sale day, and the outlet stores drop their prices a little bit as well. The day started out quite interesting as the very first bin I found was a bin filled with media. CDs, DVDs (that were actually in their cases), video games and much more! Needless to say it was crowded, but I managed to nose my way in and I picked up a few PS3 games, a pair of PS1 games and some PC software I thought sounded interesting. It wasn't until the final round that I found something that blew my mind, not only for the fact that everyone else passed it up, but because it had a Goodwill store sticker on it.

Finding items at the outlet store with store stickers isn't an uncommon occurrence, in fact years ago I found a whole roll of store price tags; had I been a less honest person I would have paid the per weight price for the tags and went shopping at the store and got everything for that price. Needless to say, I'm not a prick, well at least not that much of a prick. The outlet store is comprised mostly of items that sat on shelves for months on end and just weren't sold, thus many items do have price tags on them, and most of those prices are also quite laughable.

The item in question is a rather roughed up Nintendo DS Lite. Again, not only was I quite shocked that everyone passed it up, I was also shocked at the $34.99 price tag that adorns the top screen when I opened it up. $34.99 isn't a bad price for a used DS Lite in good shape, perhaps if it came with a few games, the charger, the stylus, and maybe even a case. However, that price is bad for a roughed up DS Lite with the bottom screen being smashed!



Clearly Goodwill didn't bother to check if the item worked and just checked ebay, found one for sale and priced it as such. If the item was broken by a customer they would most likely be forced to buy it, as you would at any retail establishment, or it would have been thrown in the trash, which I've seen them do with countless other broken items. The only thing I can conclude is that the item came in broken, was never tested, was priced lazily off ebay and was put in a glass case for many people to pass by and either not buy it because they don't want one, or because the bottom screen is smashed.

At the outlet store price I knew I was taking this home, in fact I didn't even know the bottom screen was broken until I got out to the car when I was leaving. It doesn't matter to me if the bottom screen is broken, as I'll use it to fix up my broken DS Lite. I have some spare parts from a broken DS Lite I found from the outlet store years ago, so I'm sure I could possibly have two working DS Lites.

The only problem I have with it is that $34.99 price tag that some store employee lazily slapped on their. Goodwill received this item for free and was hoping for glory. It's sadly not the first, nor the last case of Goodwill taking in items for free and wanting a premium price for them. If you're going to charge a premium price for something, Goodwill, make sure the item is worth what you're asking.

Friday, October 14, 2016

I Guess it's the Small Victories.

After watching some videos online of how to make NES homebrews using donor cartridges and PCBs, I decided to try my hand at taking apart an old Gyromite PCB I had laying around. A while back I bought quite a few games with NES to Famicom converters inside to make into actual converters, which left me with quite a few Famicom and NES game PCBs with nothing better to do with. So I figured I would start by trying to remove the chips.

After painstakingly removing the solder from each leg of each chip, I decided to try and pry the chip out. As I was applying moderate force I heard a crack and quickly panicked. Did I just fuck this up? Even though I have a few more I still didn't want to ruin one, because I would still like to use them all, if possible.

After I heard the crack I decided it would probably be best to test my skills at soldering the chip back into place. After a few more minutes of making sure each chip leg was bathed in solder and comfortably seated to the contacts on the PCB I popped the board into a Famiclone and fired it up.

Oh boy! It's glitchy! I'm pretty sure I just fucked this thing up. Again, this isn't a huge deal, but I would like to have used them all and been able to make a few NES homebrew games I could be proud of. If nothing more than just a confidence booster, I needed to check over my work and make sure everything was done right. I had to make this work!

It was only then that I realized I hadn't resoldered the alignment pad. On some NES games there is a vertical and horizontal alignment pad that needs to be soldered. After putting a nice glassy blob of solder on the correct pad I popped the PCB back into the Famiclone and fired it back up. Would it work this time?

Yep. It worked this time, but quickly the realization that I had just set out to remove the chip, panicked and completely resoldered the chip made me feel confused. After the feeling of confusion wore off I decided to chalk this little experiment up as a confidence boosting skill. Hey, I had desoldered most of the legs and once I panicked I proved to myself that I could resolder a chip right back into place. All I need now is a proper solder remover, a chip programmer, chips to program and games to put on the chips.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

100 Action Arcade Games Volume 4: Burned Again?

100 Action Arcade Games Volume 4 is yet another one of those many promises left unfulfilled CDs that I decided to buy at the outlet store. The main thing that caught my attention were the words Grand, Theft, Auto and the number 2. I know the first two GTA games are now freeware from the Rockstar website, but you have to go through some sort of lottery situation, from which I've never been able to obtain the download links. Regardless I figured with all the games packed on to this disc I couldn't go wrong, especially with a full dose of good old GTA 2.

I was wrong, yet again. What the case fails to fully disclose is that most of these games are merely demos. Only once you take the time to unfold the instructions does it tell you that this disc is comprised of demos and trial software. On the back of the case it explains what demoware and trialware are, but doesn't really state as fact that this disc has any on it, just a simple explanation that seems out of place.


Despite my displeasure with their ruse I gave a few of the demos a good old fashion trying. Some of the demos are actually pretty good. Most of the games are junk thrown in to pad the 100 number, but some of the actual games were surprisingly good, in the sense that I'm not sure why I've never heard of them before.

Some of these games, pending their retail version quality, probably should have been bigger names than they are. The disc has its mix of good games, freeware junk and games that are as good or as bad as I would expect them to be. Was this worth picking up from the outlet store? Sure! It's opened my collecting eyes to a handful of games I've never heard of before, and now if I find them at the outlet store I'll know to pick them up too.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Oh, so close! Try again!

There always seem to be video games that are highly sought after that I've never heard of before. After missing the boat on many generations before, I started paying particular attention to, and collecting, Xbox games during the end of its generation. I was trying to do my best to keep myself aware of what was rare, hard to find or highly sought after before they became high dollar items. Even so, quite a few games managed to sneak under my radar that I never heard even a peep about and are now considered collector's gold.

It wasn't until a few years ago that I actually started trying to pickup PS2 games, in much the same way I did with the Xbox games. This only proved that I hit the Xbox games at the right time and completely missed the boat on PS2 games. I've seen some PS2 games that are worth quite a bit now, but, at the time, I wasn't really looking for them. Many .hack games for a few dollars at flea markets slipped through my hands, a chance I may never have again.

More recently I've been trying harder to keep tabs on what games for the Xbox and PS2 era are worth something. Some of the games that were rare or highly sought after years ago have stabilized and just sit idle in their value, while many newcomers have surpassed games that were worth far more than they were only a handful of years ago. All in all I can say that I've managed to pickup some good deals on hard to find games for both the Xbox and PS2, but nothing all that life altering.

So as my outlet store hunting goes, I will say that I picked up Nascar Racing 2003 Season, which is a fairly desired PC game. I found a Nintendo Game & Watch Octopus in really good shape, yet another item that many collectors would love to have. I also came across a copy of  Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis for the PS2, but this is where things get weird.


What looks like a normal, genericly bland Gamestop case for a fairly desirable PS2 game is actually hiding a secret within it's clutches. Oh no, it's not another game, it is in fact a 100% real copy of what it claims to be. I finally own a copy of Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis! Yet, it's PAL.


What makes me wonder is how this came across the pond in the first place. I mean, it's not unheard of for people to buy imports online these days, with the internet and collection interactions being so easy to do nowadays, but it is odd to get a PAL region version of a game that was released here locally anyway. Secondly I would like to know why it was in a, assumably, US Gamestop. We all know now that Gamestop isn't too keen on making sure the merchandise they take in is really what they're taking in, so I'm pretty sure that this isn't just a bait and switch by somebody trying to play a trick, if so it failed because I paid a nickle for it at the outlet store and I consider myself the winner in that deal.


It's a little bit of an oddity, for sure, but it's also a bit of a sad case, because I don't have a PS2 that will play PAL region games. It's not a huge deal for me, I mean I do love oddities and odd stories, so this is just another one of them that I can write a blog about. I'm not sure whether the PAL version is more or less desirable than the NTSC version, but either way I can say I officially own it.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Wii Zapper the Outlet Store Built.

Since the majority of my Nintendo Wii was pieced together from the Goodwill Outlet store I firmly held on to the hope that one day it would also give me the Nintendo Wii Zapper. After holding on to that hope for a few years it finally happened! I think patience and persistence had more to do with it than fate, although I could be wrong, but at last I finally have one.


The reason I wanted a Wii Zapper was because I had found a copy of Link's Crossbow Training at the outlet store many, many years ago. I actually found it floating in the bins before I even had a Wii to test the darn thing with, so I was completely unsure of whether or not it even worked. Once I had the Wii, and tried to test the game, I found that the game had a scratch that prevented it from being read, even though the scratch was nearly invisible to the naked eye. After a short round of buffing the disc with my special method I was able to get the game to load properly.


After playing the game for a little while I realized I was getting tired of holding the controllers the way I had to, just to play the game. A quick Google search brought to my attention that there even was such a thing as the Wii Zapper, and most of the time the Link's Crossbow Training was packed in with the Zapper. Well that could only mean one thing, time to find the Wii Zapper at the outlet store!

All these years later I'm fairly elated to finally have one, but what's even more fantastic is the controllers the outlet store provided for me to put into the Zapper, which is just a shell waiting for the Wii controller and nunchuk. A Nyko Wand (yes, that one) and a rather beat up nunchuk were found at the outlet store before I even found the Zapper, but once I found the Zapper I knew this would become their destiny.


After putting them all together (the Nyko Wand will not fit without removing it's battery cover) the Zapper felt like a well oiled machine. This time I popped in Link's Crossbow Training and after playing with the Wii Zapper the game actually brought nostalgic waves of playing Duck Hunt on the NES. I used to have so much fun, even though Duck Hunt is such a simple game, but back then my little mind was blown away with how it all worked.

The poor, beaten nunchuk I saved from the outlet store. At least it works!

The Wii Zapper is by no means expensive, but I chose to piece mine together from the outlet store. What I didn't expect was to find the Nyko Wand and OEM nunchuk to place inside of it. So far this Nyko Wand is doing well, it still isn't as good as the OEM controllers, but it's been doing well. I already did a review on this one, but I'm not confident on just how long it will last.

I'm not sure how many games Nintendo intended the Zapper to be used with, but it actually made Link's Crossbow Training more fun. Imagine if Nintendo would have done more marketing around the Zapper and brought out games that weren't just an FPS or hunting game, but was actually fun! So many ideas that could have been, but never were. It's just a shell of white plastic that holds the controller and nunchuk in a more comfortable way, but it truly made me feel as if the game I used it with was really more fun than I had felt before.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

55,000 Games? Lies!

As a fan of those Chinese multi-carts and hardware clones that boast trillions of games in one, I figured I would give this disc a try. I found it at the outlet store, otherwise I wouldn't have bought it, and reassured myself that among the supposed 55,000 games there had to be at least one worth playing. Not only was there not a single game worth playing, there aren't even 55,000 games on this disc, which is no shock to me.

If I buy a Chinese console clone that has 55,000 games built in, I know there will be at least a handful of classics on the console to help boost the sales. In the case of this disc, it seems, everything is a cheap Facebook app like game that really has no purpose even being on a disc, especially considering this disc was published in 2008.


One of the main issues I have with this game is that on the disc itself there is a racing car. I figured at least one of the games would be a racing game that I could at least try to stomach for a few good laughed. No, not a single racing game to be found, only stupid puzzle and card games. The only good thing about this game is it doesn't require any DRM or codes, although it does have an install that helps you install other games, which seems a bit much.

This is just one of those situations I figured I would try something for a laugh and ended up wasting a few cents. Was it worth it in the end? No. I can safely say I wasted money that I truly wished I hadn't. It's not worth a laugh, it's not worth the plastic it's burned into. It's simply and totally junk. Another lesson learned!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

It Came From the Outlet!

It's no secret that I find some weird shit at the outlet store. Most of the time I buy them, while in some cases I decide that it's not really worth the novelty factor and I just leave it there. Strangely enough this time I found something so strange that I picked it up and carried it around for a while, before finally deciding I would rather just take photos of it and write a blog entry. Shortly after putting the item down, one of the infamous flea market vendors picked it up and ran off with it, as if they had found a pot of gold.

The item in question is a sealed Cabela's Big Game Hunter II for the PC. Immediately your minds are flooded with questions, so let me get right to the reason why this item is an oddity. Firstly the game seems sealed with a receipt stuck to the box, inside the clear plastic. Secondly the receipt says it came from an Electronics Boutique in Hamilton, ON, Canada; that's a long way from home. Finally, it wasn't a receipt at all, it's a defective slip stating that inside the box was, in fact, two disc 2s, but no disc 1, which makes it pretty difficult to play a game if you don't have the proper discs to install it with.


The person who ended up picking the item up is a local flea market vendor. They're usually rude and dig through the bins like I imagine a child would, if thrown into a bin of M&Ms. In their haste to buy something they thought was sealed, and therefore worth a whole heap of cash in their market booth, they clearly didn't read the defective slip and realize this is completely worthless. Not to mention the fact that I'm pretty sure the game itself is worthless, even if it was a brand new and sealed copy.


For a very short while I told myself that I should bring to their attention that the item was defective and wasn't even worth buying at the outlet store's by the pound pricing structure, but I decided that it would be best if I kept my mouth shut and not seem as if I was trying to nuzzle between someone and their treasure. I didn't want to start any trouble while trying to be a good Samaritan, so I just let them learn on their own. Yes, I do feel bad, but I have to imagine it didn't cost more than 50 cents, so it's not a huge loss.

Perhaps I'll continue chronicling the odd stuff I find at the outlet stores. Throughout the years I've seen some REALLY weird stuff and it may be interesting to do a quick write up on anything yet to come. Regardless, this time was a pretty good tail of something weird and proof of just how greed can make flea market vendors oblivious to how worthless an item truly is.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Gateway LE1936 Repair.

In early 2012 my friend gave me his old PC, along with a pretty darn snazzy monitor. Up to that point I was using a laptop and before that I was using an ever dying Dell PC with an HP Pavilion vf17 monitor. The HP monitor was the very first plat screen monitor I had ever seen and used, but when I got the Gateway LE1936, which is significantly wider and looks better, I put the old vf17 away.

After only a year and a half in service the Gateway eventually started acting up. When I would start the computer and start up the monitor the power indicator LED would flash on and quickly off, as would the display. After a few minutes the monitor would heat up and work perfectly fine the rest of the day. As time went on the time it took for the monitor to start working increased and eventually the monitor quit working completely.

I couldn't afford a new monitor, I didn't want a new monitor! What was I to do? I couldn't go back to the vf17, it wasn't as good as the Gateway. At this point I had no choice but the pull out the HP vf17 once again and use it as my monitor. To be fair, the vf17 has worked like a complete and utter trooper throughout this whole thing, an amazing feat once you realize this monitor is the better part of 15 years old. Sure it's not as wide and the colors aren't as vibrant, but the monitor did exactly what it was asked every single time it was asked, without fuss.

After taking a while to adjust back to the HP monitor I decided it was time to figure out what I could do about fixing the Gateway. It turns out Gateway has quite an array of monitors that are now infamous for having bad capacitors. Ah ha! Well then, it's only a matter of taking the thing apart and seeing what I could find inside.


After a quick and careful tear down I finally reached the power board, where I immediately found the root of the problem. If you have keen eyes you can clearly see the two big capacitors up front are bulged and have been spewing brown gunk. You may also notice the two rotund capacitors in the back are also quite bulged.

After changing only two of the four bulging caps I put the board back into the monitor and hoped for the best. Much to my surprise the monitor came to life and worked for quite some time. I wouldn't say it's going to last very long without taking care of the other two capacitors, but the ones causing the main power failure seem to have been cured, for now.

If you run across this blog entry because you too are having issues with a Gateway monitor let me assure you that as long as you can find the capacitors and have a soldering iron, you can easily replace them and fix your monitor. Soldering isn't difficult, just prepare yourself and test your skills on some smaller things if you need to boost your confidence. Also taking this monitor apart was far harder than any of the tutorials I watched would lead you to believe. Most of the other Gateway monitors are simply screwed together, as where the LE1936 is snapped together. All I did was take a guitar pick and careful pried the snaps open.

For now it seems to be fixed but I know someday I will need to get back in there and replace the other caps. Hopefully using it, sparingly, won't do any further damage that I can't repair, but I'm satisfied with the results I'm currently getting. This monitor is a pretty good monitor, all it needed was some caps repaired, a job I'm all too willing to do.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Nyko Wand, Round 2.

Needless to say my first go-round with a Nyko Wand didn't go so smoothly. I chalked that up to having found it at the Goodwill outlet, assuming it was just used and worn out. After acquiring my second Nyko Wand from the outlet store (I'm a glutton for punishment I guess) I've decided that the first Nyko Wand I owned was either a terrible controller from the start, or it saw heavy abuse in it's day, before I mercifully put it out of its misery.


I'm not saying this other Nyko Wand is working wondrously, but at least it works, kind of. The thing looks like it's been sitting in the middle of a highway for a few summers, all ugly and pitiful, but as a Nintendo Wii remote it's a passable option. It works with the games I've tested it with but for some reason it absolutely refuses to work with Netflix. Whether this has something to do with the Netflix app or something within the controller's programming that shuts it off when things load to save on battery power I still don't fully know.



This Nyko Wand is hideous, it's dirty, it seemingly chews through batteries like hot dogs at a July 4th hot dog eating competition, but this one does work. The main feature that I adored about the purple one was that I could turn the controller off at-will by simply clicking the power button really quick, so I didn't need to wait the 3 minutes the official Wii remotes do to shut down. That feature seems to have been removed from this Nyko Wand, although maybe it only works with Netflix, and since this controller doesn't work with Netflix at all I can't see that feature in action, who knows.



This Nyko Wand isn't perfect but it works, coupled with the worn out looking Wii nunchuk I know exactly what I'll be using these things for that won't show off all of their battle scars. But that's for another article, at another time. Something I've been wanting for a while now that I finally found, and I have the perfect controllers to use with it!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

My DIY LED Tester.

It never ceases to amaze me, the stuff I run across at the outlet store. Perhaps it's not so much the things I run across but maybe the ideas that deluge my mind when I find these items. Ideas of what they could be used for, outside of their already apparent purpose.

My spare parts box is overflowing with LEDs, something that I often find and even more often wonder why I continue to pick them up, considering I have no immediate use for them. I guess LEDs are always a useful thing to have around, just in case. With so many LEDs I needed a way to test them. It's cumbersome having to hold something to a AA or AAA battery, and 9 volts will almost certainly burn the LED out within seconds, so what is a man to do to make sure he preserves the LEDs but also makes sure they work?


The answer to that came in the form of some weird little contraption I found at the outlet store. I'm completely unsure of what this thing originally was but I found it almost as you see it, only needing some slight modifications. The LED was originally soldered to the resistor and straight to the battery post, which I changed out for a terminal for easy LED placement and removal.


It uses three small, watch style batteries, it already has an on/off switch and a resistor, so it was only a matter of adding the connecting terminal. After an extremely easy swap out the LED tester was ready to test LEDs of all shapes, sizes and colors.

Yep, this LED works.
Whatever it's original intended purpose was it's now my LED tester. It's not great, but it does the job. The only oversight I may have had was replacing the batteries, because those small batteries are often expensive. It works for now and maybe sometime in the future I'll find a better alternative.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Apple Mighty Mouse: The Wireless Connection

After finding the wired Mighty Mouse at the outlet store I ended up finding a wireless version too. Yes, that's right, I paid twenty cents for the first and slightly less for the wireless version, after taking out the dead batteries. I am as shocked as most that I found the wired version, let alone the wireless one.

However, there is a little bit of a funny story that goes along with this purchase. I've been conditioned to assume that all wireless mice need some sort of USB dongle to get them to work. I spent quite a while searching for some form of wireless dongle, to no avail. It was only once I came home and poured my goodies out onto my bed that I realized I had forgotten that I had the mouse in my bag when I paid for my items. I quickly went to work trying to find out just how much a wireless dongle would be to get this thing to work. Turns out all it needs is Bluetooth to connect to a computer.

After hooking up the only computer I have that has a built-in Bluetooth connection, I gave the mouse a test. The first thing I notices was just how heavy and unwieldy this thing is with two AA batteries. Couldn't Apple have sprung for a single AA or perhaps AAA batteries? Secondly the wireless Mighty Mouse takes forever to connect, which seems to be a common complaint about this mouse.

Another common complaint about the Might Mouse, both wired and wireless, is the mouse wheel, or in this case ball, didn't work at all, as where the wired version works quite well. I could occasionally get the wireless one to scroll upwards, but never could I get the mouse ball to scroll down, so I went to work on trying to find a way to fix that. After haphazardly skimming through some tutorials on how to clean the Might Mouse, I cracked the thing open and cleaned out the mechanisms that made the thing work, which were quite grimy indeed.

After throwing it back together the roller ball didn't work at all, even the occasional upward was no longer working. Upon opening the mouse again I found that the ribbon cable wasn't attached properly, and once it was the roller ball worked like new. This time the roller ball tracked very well with very good precision! I also found that the little plastic trim ring around the bottom was essentially broken off and would not snap back in place, as I had hoped. Welp, that's what I get for skimming through the tutorial.

After using the mouse for a while I find that it's just more trouble than it's worth to be a daily mouse, at least for me. The connection takes nearly 2 minutes after the computer has been booted (yes I boot tested the mouse), and it's heavy and harder to control because of the batteries, but otherwise it's a very nice mouse, albeit with fatal flaws.

Where I've grown slightly affectionate toward the wired version, I wholeheartedly can not use the wireless Might Mouse. I've read there may be a single AA version out there, and if I do find it I will pick it up, but I just can't see myself trading in the ability to easily glide across any surface with the lighter, wired version for stumbling across it with a heavy, battery loaded mouse simply for the convenience of it being wireless.

Twins!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Pursuing an Oddity.

In the video game world it is a semi-well known fact that early versions of Tiger Woods 99 PGA Golf for the original Playstation hold a little bit of a secret. How the secret ended up on the game disc is still a bit of a mystery, yet once it was found by EA they quickly recalled the game and released a patched version. Now, Tiger Woods 99 is a sports title, the bane of many video game collector's existences, which means it's not rare by any means, but the copy with the hidden secret may be a little harder to find than the patched version.

The hidden secret is a file named ZZDUMMY.DAT, which can be watched if the game disc is placed inside a PC. Once the file is opened in a media player, the user will be greeted with the 1995 short film Jesus vs. Santa by the creators of South Park. This short was supposedly requested by FOX executives to pass around as a video Christmas card, in 1995. Again, how and why this file ended up on the game disc are still a bit of a mystery.

We wish you a Merry Christmas!

So now you may be asking yourself how can you tell the difference between the original Tiger Woods 99 with the secret, and the patched version. A few things to keep in mind are that the SLUS (00785) will never change, at least not between the two versions that I have. What does change is the ISBN and the UPC codes.

If you already own a copy, or run across one in the wild, you'll want to look for the ISBN:0-7845-1503-4 and UPC: 14633-07911. Another issue may be that, due to the used game market, the game may find its way into the wrong case, or it may have no case at all, so always be sure to check the disc as well. Just below the Tiger Woods 99 logo on the disc you will find copyright information followed by the code 791107, which slightly resembles the UPC code.

If for some extremely unfortunate turn of events your disc doesn't have a case, or any front art on the disc, you can pop it into a PC and look at the ZZDUMMY.DAT file to see whether or not your copy is patched. What you'll want to check is the date of the file; if you see Dec 20 1996 you've got the correct Tiger Woods 99.



I spent roughly $4 for both of my copies and to be honest I feel as though I spent $4 too much! It's not a rare game, it's probably not even a good game, but the video game oddity collector within myself wanted to own both the original and the patched version. This is nothing more than just one of those extremely weird oddities in the video game industry that made me want to own a game for no other reason than it's silly little history.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Lesson Learned: DRM Failure.

After almost a year of searching for a PC copy of Skyrim I thought I had finally found it. I already own it for Xbox 360, but, as I've made abundantly clear, my 360 is a bit of a dead horse, so I needed to find another way to enjoy the world of Skyrim. I picked up a copy of Oblivion for PC years ago from the outlet store, so I figured "What could go wrong if I find a copy of Skyrim too?". Turns out the answer to that question is an unequivocal everything.

I should have learned my lesson four years ago when I bought a copy of Grand Theft Auto IV for PC from a flea market. I really wanted to try out LCPDFR, so I decided to spend $5 on what I could only assume to be a complete copy, as it was sealed in a bag for flea market booth security. Only after the whole installation process was I ever prompted to enter codes that I didn't receive with the game discs, which lead me to assume, at first, that I didn't need codes. Not only did it need a code, it also needed a unique and single use DRM code, meaning I couldn't play the game even if I had the codes. After finding out just how crazy the new DRM measures and codes are, I honestly looked into cracks, hacks and many other ways to allow me to play a game that I rightfully bought, and should rightfully be able to use. Not wanting to deal with all that stuff I've just let it sit in it's case, useless and abandoned for no good reason.

It's exceedingly rare that I find myself unable to play a used PC game that I've picked up from a thrift store, but then again it could be the fact that I'm not really interested in many newer games, which come with the stupid DRM setbacks. I come from a different era where you either bought the game because you wanted to, or you knew someone who had a cracked version and they shared it around the neighborhood. I completely understand that DRM, to an extent, is a necessary evil, but the fact remains that people who want to buy a game brand new will and others won't, no amount of DRM will stop those who won't buy it from cracking, hacking and stealing.

I love owning physical copies of games and I prefer to get them at my own pace, which is often times after they're well out of print and new copies are coveted like treasure. This is where thrift stores supply me with previously played copies of games that I want to own. I am paying for a physical copy of a game, I'm not cracking or hacking or stealing anything, these are previously used, physical copies of games I wish to play and own. What many people are finding out, and very few are saying, is that current DRM measures are a very fatal flaw in the whole PC game market.

Luckily for me I picked it up Skyrim from the Goodwill Outlet store so it's cheap enough that I can throw it away and not lose any sleep, but it's a physical copy of a game that I want to play. Clearly someone had already gotten their use out of the game and no longer wanted it, and it's just not fair that I own a game (two games now) that I can't use. All my life I've been told that as long as I bought an item through fair means I'm entitled to use it however, and whenever I want, which has been utterly destroyed by DRM.

From now on no more Games for Windows labeled games will be coming home with me. It seems that is a common sign of games that just won't work when I get them home. I haven't changed my mind on buying games brand new either, there are plenty of old video games I can still buy used and enjoy without having to deal with the insanity that is current DRM, so I'm not bothered by not having brand new games at all. I'll just stick with physical copies of old games that will allow me to play them without hassling me about stupid codes I don't have.

Monday, July 18, 2016

iFind the Darnedest Things!

Suffice it to say I've never personally seen the appeal that comes with Apple iFandom, nor have I ever really been a fan of their products. The very first Apple products I ever used were two keyboards I picked up from a Goodwill store for $1 each. One could say the results I've received from those keyboards could be because they were used, either way my feelings toward Apple and their products wasn't swayed in a more positive light by these insipid keyboards.

Recently I was surprised to find an Apple Mighty Mouse at the Goodwill outlet store. After weighing it and realizing I would only be paying twenty cents for the thing I figured I may as well, just to take a chance and see. As you may have seen my current mouse is an old Logitech, so I'm not really looking for expensive gaming mice anyway, just something that works. I know someday my Logitech is going to give up the ghost so another reason why I picked up the Mighty Mouse was as a backup for my current one.

After a quick cleaning I tested it and... well, it's a mouse. It works, feels and performs pretty much exactly like every other optical mouse I've ever had. The only gripe I may have is that the wheel, or perhaps roller ball (middle mouse/wheel), isn't exactly precise. I have read that many people don't like the roller ball either as that is usually the first thing to stop working on these mice. Mine seems to work just fine, it's just not very precise.

To be honest I'm not overly impressed with the Apple products I own, but I wouldn't say they're junk. Sure the keyboards have acted up since the day I bought them, but with a little work they function. Sure the mouse's roller ball isn't as precise as the wheel on my Logitech, but otherwise it works just as well as my Logitech. I don't feel as if Apple products are as bad as I wrote them off as being, nor are they superior, they just work as can be expected. I'm not converted, but I can say that I surely won't pass up a deal to have an Apple product as a backup, just in case it's needed.




"I may be able to get an iPhone without giving any money to Apple! I'll be living the dream." - Morris Moss the IT Crowd.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Syphon Filter 2: In Pieces

As a video game nerd I am willing to go through great lengths to find and obtain the video game goodness that I so desire. This includes, and lately has become almost exclusively limited to, the Goodwill outlet, which means such cases of finding and obtaining video game related items can range from fairly simple to fairly odd. A case that transcends from fairly odd to the completely bizarre is the case of myself piecing together Syphon Filter 2 for the Playstation.

What makes this case so weird is the ofttimes occurrence of the bin being caked in a substance that nobody is willing to deal with. I, however, will take a bargain at almost any cost; this includes the bin, and everything within, being covered in baby powder. Yes, that's right, someone had opened a bottle of baby powder and by the time I arrived at the bin it was completely covered, throughout.

The first thing I saw was a black bottom disc, usually indicating a Playstation game, peering out from under the white powder. It just so happened to be disc 2 of Syphon Filter 2, which is a dual disc game meaning it came in one of those weird, thick multi-disc cases. After that I located just the black, middle, part of the dual case, as well as disc 1. After that I found both the front and back inserts of the case (the cover art), which are more than a little sun baked, but still something I wasn't willing to pass up and allow them to stay in a baby powder grave. After sifting through for far too long I sadly couldn't find the manual, but otherwise I was only missing the clear parts where the discs go.



I find it extremely odd that the inserts weren't inside any actual parts of the case, they were just floating around the bin freely, hidden beneath a thin layer of perfume infused talcum powder. Once nearly the whole thing was secured within my purchase bag, I walked over to a bin filled with CDs, where I proceeded to evict said CDs and all their inserts from the cases and snap them securely to the black, dual case part. Everything was looking up, but I still really wished I had found the manual.

Once I got home I cleaned everything as much as possible and tossed it all together. Other than the sun faded front and back covers it looks quite good. There is still some baby powder in the crevasses of the games, but I'll take and clean that all up some other time. For now I'll just have to keep my eyes peeled for a Syphon Filter 2 manual, which may take a while but after seeing the things I've seen I know it's not an impossible feat.


Friday, July 1, 2016

Spicing up an Old Mouse.

I'm not the type of person who needs an expensive mouse or keyboard for PC gaming. Sure, I dabble with PC games ranging from Elder Scrolls Online to the more relaxed things like Minecraft, but even when I play ESO I don't feel like I'm being outdone by someone with a $200 keyboard and a $150 mouse. I'll just stick with my $1 Apple keyboard and my ancient Logitech M-BT96a.

Although I'm perfectly fine with a 10 year old mouse, (at least it's optical) I had been wanting to spice it up, somehow. After a bit of thought I decided to fiddle around with the bland, overused red LED, and decided to replace it with a green LED, for no other reason than just to do so.

After some trial and error, I finally found the right size LED. I did make a slight error in lifting one of the traces that sourced power to the LED, but I quickly bridged it without any further damage. The results are pretty much as I expected; an ancient Logitech mouse that now shines green instead of red.

Was it worth the time and effort? Absolutely! Other than tracking down the right sized LED, the whole project took less than five minutes. It's super simple, besides me being hasty and messing up the trace, but it really is super simple. All I really wanted to do was change the LED color, because almost every stock optical mouse has a boring red light, but mine is different, which makes me feel slightly cooler than I used to. Only slightly though.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Not this again, Salvation Army Thrift Stores!

It's time I give up on Salvation Army thrift stores. A place that once gave me such joy to peruse the shelves of bric-a-brac and yielded me some truly great finds. After going to the Goodwill Outlet blowout sale I decided to stop by and see what Salvation Army could offer. Immediately I am greeted by the sight of a Retro Port Adapter, which allows the user to play NES games on their SNES, through this adapter.

Retailing for $20, sometimes less or only slightly more, I wasn't really interested in it, as I have no need for such a gimmicky device, but if Salvation Army is going to give it to me for a few bucks I may as well buy it just to have. Well this was not to be as Salvation Army slapped a $39.99 price tag on it. First of all it was given to Salvation Army, so any price is pure profit. Secondly this is twice the price of retail, which a thrift store is NOT a retail store.

I used to love Salvation Army as they really didn't care what items sold for, and we both reaped the benefits. Salvation Army's organization got my money and I walked away with a bag of geeky goodness that I took home, cleaned, used and remembered where I got it, with pride. Now I walk into Salvation Army thrift stores and I walk out defeated, humiliated for even walking in, and most of the times laughing at the insane prices they will tag on almost quite literally junk.

We've had some good times together Salvation Army thrift stores, but at this point it's time we part ways. I could give you the cheesy breakup line, but the truth is, in this case, it is you and not me. Good luck selling things at twice the price of retails, and even if you do have fun knowing you fucked over some unknowing customers for your charitable organization.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Patience is key!

If there is one thing I never managed to learn in life it would be patience. I consider myself among the least patient people in the world, to the point where immediately after I make a purchase off Amazon I check incessantly for a tracking number to check incessantly. It does seem, however, that the Goodwill outlet store is slowly teaching me how to be patient, or perhaps it's just my waning memory.

Years ago I would pick up any empty case I could, simply because I hoped I would someday find the game that went along with that case and then have a complete copy. In many cases this has happened, yet in many cases it hasn't. Also I would pick up things such as loose game manuals in the hopes of finding the game in the case without the manual, again, giving me a complete copy of said game.

Many years ago I picked a manual for Super Smash Bros. Melee, which at the time the manual alone was averaging $15 sold on ebay. I figured, if nothing else, I would sell the manual and just simply buy something else that I wanted, or put those funds back into the Goodwill outlet store and possible find another somewhere down the road.

When I found the disc for Super Smash Bros. Melee at the Goodwill outlet store I swore I had the case, but not the manual. When I got home and checked my empty Gamecube case collection I found I was incorrect, in fact I had the manual and not the case. This leads me to believe that I'm not learning patience, rather, I'm simply forgetting what all I have and therefore things come at their own pace and I simply accept them when they arrive.


Now I just need to forget that I own both the game and the manual until I can find an empty case for them to reside in. Sadly, after playing a little bit of Super Smash Bros. Melee for the first time (yes the first time) I don't see it likely that I'll forget I own either. Let's just hope I run into an empty case for the game sooner than later, but no matter when it comes I'll finally be glad that I pieced together a complete copy.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Scraps of Gold!

I love the Goodwill outlet store, but it seems as though I'm picking up the scraps left in the wake of the madness from the more seasoned veterans. Even though it feels like I'm picking up the scraps, I seem to be picking up scraps of gold! This is partly down to knowing what you're looking for, and a little bit of people just overlooking things that I'm willing to look deeper into.

PC games are often overlooked, I think because nobody really wants to take the time and fiddle around with PC games, no matter how complete it may be. This allows me to swoop in and pick up PC games on the extreme cheap and figure out if they're worth playing later. Besides the Nascar Racing 2003 Season that I picked up last month, another example is Axis and Allies, two completely different games made by both Hasbro and Atari using the same name. It seems both versions are fairly sought after, of which I'll only be keeping the Atari version because it looks like a mix between Age of Empires and WWII.

Opening cases and checking inside has paid off too! What I originally thought was just an empty sleeve for Wii Sports actually still had the disc inside, and where the manual should have been was a roughed up copy of Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Nintendo Gamecube, which still kind of works. I am concerned about the damage on Super Smash Bros. Melee, but it hopefully isn't too damaged.

Saturday was the Goodwill Outlet Blowout sale and I'm pretty excited about what I got. I also checked a Goodwill store and found two Sega Saturn pack-in games. If you know what you're looking for, even scraps can eventually amount to quite a good haul, sometimes it's the smaller scraps of gold that turn out to be worth more than the large scraps of copper people are hunting.

Goodwill sale day highlights
Sadly Sonic Adventures doesn't work, which can be common with Dreamcast games, but for now Super Smash does work. For the price I paid I'm not concerned with the looks of Super Smash or that Sonic Adventures, even though it looks almost brand new, doesn't. The real thrill was finding these things out from under people's noses and adding them to my collection.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Radica Sega Genesis Plug n Play Sound Fix

DISCLAIMER: I am not the originator of this modification. These are not my instructions, I am merely showing that I did the mod and expressing my opinions on the results. Your results may vary, please don't drink and drive, please solder while in a well ventilated room and eat your vegetables an hour before going swimming,etc.

The Radica Plug n Play Sega Genesis was a quick cash grab at the ever growing popularity in the market for retro video games. It was also a buzzing earache to those who bought it and were anything familiar with how the original Sega Genesis sounded. I didn't mind so much, as I only bought them for the sake of having them, not necessarily for the purpose of constant use.


As it goes with the internet age there are many people out there who are willing to quickly aid in solving problems. Such is the mod that fixes the sound for this thing.


The mod is fairly simple, if you know what you're doing, but the parts are extremely small. I was reluctant to give this mod a try, but once I had pushed L3 off the board with my soldering iron I suppose it was too late to back out now. Lucky for me everything went smoothly and the results are AMAZING.

I'm telling you, these components are tiny!
I found information on this mod through The 8-bit Guy's tutorial. Keep in mind there is a real chance to damage the system, but if you're patient and persistent this mod is fairly easy and, again, the results are well worth the time and effort. Before the mod the sound was far too loud, and the biggest detail was you simply couldn't hear Sonic's jumping sound. After the mod the volume seems much lower, although you can turn up the TV and be just fine because now everything sounds much more like the original Sega Genesis hardware.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

COP The Recruit: The GTA the Nintendo DS Needed.

Since I received my 2DS for Christmas I have been on an absolute frenzy to find games for both the DS and 3DS side of the hardware, so I can take full advantage of the system. Besides filling the many empty DS cases I've picked up from the outlet store, one of my immediate searches was for a GTA game on the DS, or at least a decent clone. The clear answer was GTA: Chinatown Wars, which harkens back to the old top down, Playstation style of gameplay, rather than the new 3D style.

Unsatisfied with both the current price of GTA Chinatown Wars and the fact that it was top down, I kept looking. Unsurprisingly the DS didn't get very many GTA clones, although the 3DS did get a handful including Driver: Renegade, which I do plan to get sometime in the future. As for the DS side of things the only thing I found that could remotely fill the GTA need was COP: The Recruit, an Ubisoft game that essentially took Driver: Parallel Lines and crammed it into a DS sized adventure. But how does it stack up to one of my most beloved console games ever?

I've made it abundantly clear that I am a rabid fan of the Xbox version of Driver: Parallel Lines. The Wii version looks slightly better, but falls on it's face with the forced injection of the stupid Wii waggle remote gimmick. So how does COP: The Recruit feel? Well it feels like a truncated version of Parallel Lines. The map has most of the same landmarks, feel and look, but many things are adjusted or just plain not there.

COP: The Recruit feels thrown together with dialog seemingly being written by a twelve year old trying to write a police drama, or a fifty year old trying to write a hip police drama, either way is accurate. Not that I fully understand the story, the dialog scrolls fairly smoothly into the box, but doesn't always stay long enough for me to fully digest what has been said. The dialog just flows, regardless of me pressing a button or not. This doesn't affect missions as they are kept within a log on your police issue handheld device.

What would a driving based video game be without vehicles? Well, COP: The Recruit offers a few different vehicles, most of them sharing the same slippy and sliding controls, with only a few being of any real interest. As an officer of the law you'll find it odd how this game forces you to hijack vehicles, as you'll never be given one after loading up your save. Which isn't that big of an issue really as you can just mash the run button and run almost as fast as vehicles in the game. Yes, you read that correctly, you can run almost as fast as vehicles in the game.

This game also falls a bit into the Nintendo gimmick of using the touchscreen for something that it simply shouldn't; the shooting mechanics. Firstly, using the stylus to aim precisely is an exercise in futility, and even once you're aiming at the perpetrator you still need to unload a full clip or two to get them to go down. While the amount of bullets is Ubisoft's problem, the gimmick of using the touch screen for gun battles is, I'm guessing, Nintendo's fault. It gets the job done, but I'm just not a big fan.

To be fair COP: The Recruit only has a few flaws, and it does fill a gap in the market and really shows what could have been an amazing game, given a few more months of polish. I'm not sure if it's just my copy of the game or not, but the screen does jump around a bit at times, but it's nothing game breaking. The game does offer a handful of things to collect, such as taking photographs of famous landmarks around New York City, and breaking down green flashing barricades hidden throughout alleys in the city.

My only real dislike for this game is that it feels like it wasn't polished, even though it reportedly won "multiple awards at E3". The game had so much promise that it even fell into the evil clutches of offering pre-order exclusive missions from Gamestop, the code for which hasn't surfaced online for some odd reason. COP: The Recruit shows us what the DS could handle and perhaps what GTA Chinatown Wars should have been. Regardless it's a fun little portable version, albeit chopped up, of the Driver game that I adore, and I'm glad that I could have some facsimile on the DS to play with.