Before and after – PC Engine Controller cleaning

A friend of mine in Japan fired across a box of goodies a while back which included some fun PCE gear:

The two controllers at the top are the original model PC Engine controllers, and they are filthy! It’s all good though, because they were extremely cheap.

Underneath them is a PC Engine multitap and a very shiny black PC Engine controller. Those aren’t the topic of this post though, it’s those dirty PC Engine controllers that are in need of some TLC!

Functionally, the PCBs and rubber pads were in great order, so it was only the controller’s plastic shell that needed some work. Isopropyl alcohol is extremely effective in cleaning off this kind of grime, but a less toxic alternative (and one that is probably more likely to be in your cleaning product cupboard) is to use window cleaner (like Windex). Because I couldn’t be bothered disassembling them I ended up spraying some window cleaner on a dish cloth and attacked the controllers with enthusiasm. Here’s the before:

And the after:

Not bad, huh? πŸ™‚

I’ve used the same technique on other consoles and accessories – I had an old Amiga 500 that had been sitting in a shed in storage before bringing I gave it a new home, so I disassembled the casing and gave it a generous spray of window cleaner. I left the cleaner on there for a couple of minutes to start dissolving all the grime and dust, then scrubbed it down – turned out great. I’ve heard of other people using the dishwasher to clean their consoles (well, the plastic outer casing, not the whole console with all the electronic insides still intact), but our dishwasher’s getting on a bit and I’m not sure how it would go with old consoles. Don’t want to accidentally warp anything πŸ˜‰

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Mac serial cables make great extension cables for PC Engine controllers

So, PC Engine – great machine, nice controllers, shame about the length of the controller cables. They obviously took that cue from Sega – the Mega Drive and Master System controller cables were always a bit on the short side too. On most of my other consoles I’ve grabbed cheap third-party extension cables for the controllers and they all work a charm. The PC Engine though, that’s a different story. But the answer’s simpler and cheaper than you’d expect!

Tim over at The Retro Review Project wrote a post a couple of years back where he found that Mac serial cables had the same 8-pin mini-DIN connector as the PC Engine controllers’, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. After a false start (I bought a male-male Mac serial cable instead of a female-male cable), I’m happy to confirm that 8-pin mini-DIN Mac serial cables work perfectly, and as a bonus, they’re also really inexpensive. I can now game on my Duo-R in comfort on the couch and no longer worry if I’m going to accidentally unplug the controller or pull the whole console off the shelf. Bonus.

Just be sure you buy a female-male cable. Otherwise you’ll end up like me and have a useless male-male Mac serial cable lying around the study πŸ˜›

Oh, and for the record, this trick won’t work with TurboGrafx-16 controllers, as they use a larger DIN socket compared to PCE hardware. On the upside, it should work fine with any of the PCE hardware revisions (PCE, Core Grafx, Core Grafx 2, Duo, Duo-R)

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Sega Ages 2500 Phantasy Star: Generation 1 FAQ

psg1-cover

There’s no such thing as too much love for Phantasy Star. For this FAQ, I’ll list all the resources I used to finish Phantasy Star: Generation 1, the Sega Ages 2500 remake of Phantasy Star, as well as some hints that the existing guides and FAQs have missed.

First up, your essential resources:

  • Omar PΓ©rez’s Mini-FAQ (GameFAQs): This is your base for the game, as it contains the information to get most of the core items, the sequence to play through the game and all sorts of other goodies. The content up until you go to Dezoris can be a bit light at times (more on filling those gaps is noted below), but once you jet off to the ice planet, it is 110% rock solid. I would not have been able to finish this game without his guide, especially with his constant plugs to use the Collaboration system πŸ™‚
  • Bokokun’s Lists FAQ (GameFAQs): It’s in shift-JIS, so make sure you have Japanese fonts installed. I can read hiragana, katakana and a bit of kanji, so Bokokun’s guide was a godsend in filling in the gaps when my brain wouldn’t articulate everything correctly πŸ™‚ Especially noteworthy is his guide to the Collaboration system, which saved my bacon on the final boss fights.
  • Wolfgang Landgraf’s Phantasy Star: Generation 1 guide. I used his Phantasy Star: Generation 2 guide extensively when I played through that a few years back, and once again he comes to the rescue with detailed maps on every dungeon in the game, translations of items in the store, general hints and full overland maps – his maps of Dezoris were amazingly helpful as I kept getting lost πŸ˜‰
  • Dark Vortex’s (Quan Jin’s) Phantasy Star FAQ (Sega Master System; GameFAQs). For the areas where Omar’s guide skimmed over pretty quickly, all the necessary info was neatly tucked away in Dark Vortex’s FAQ for the original Phantasy Star on the Master System. To be honest, any of the FAQs for PS1 would suffice, I just happened to prefer Dark Vortex’s.

The other thing I did to make life easier was to hack my levels to save on grinding – in the first instance, I bumped Alis to level 60-ish; later on when I amassed the rest of the party, I was pleased to see they all leveled up with Alis even when they weren’t in your party. Later into the game, I noticed in a few battles things were getting a little dicey, so I hacked my characters again to level 95 (or 9,000,000 EXP!) to finish off the game. You’re welcome to grind to your heart’s content, but I’m time poor and as much as I adore the early Phantasy Star games, PS1 and PS2 are too grind-heavy these days. I’ve already done the hard yards back in the day, so I was lazy with the remakes πŸ˜› I’ll be posting an updated guide on hacking the experience levels of the other characters in the future, and will look at uploading a guide to GameFAQs as well at some stage.

So, using all those documents above, you’ll be relatively set. I’d use Omar’s guide as the base, use Bokokun’s guide to help with identifying items and spells, Wolfgang’s guide for dungeon maps and fill in the gaps with Dark Vortex’s FAQ. There are still a few tricks that may step you up, so apart from the obvious (talk to everyone two or three times to exhaust the conversation chains, consult often, keep track of locations being mentioned in green [a working knowledge or katakana and hiragana helps, otherwise use Bokokun’s guide], etc), here are some situation specific details I noted during my playthrough:

Naula Key (Naura no kagi)

Talk to the man at Eppi (village leader), get Hashim’s Key (Hashim no kagi), talk to the village leader again, consult (L1), goto Parolit, talk to Mary (Meari-), and you should get the Naula Key (Naura no kagi) to enter Naula Cave.

Toriada Key (Toriada no kagi)

The Toriada Key (Toriada no kagi) is in the brown house in Gothic. Use it to enter Toriada Prison.

Bortevo Key (Bartevo no kagi)

To obtain the Bortevo Key (Bartevo no kagi), in Bortevo go to the top-right house, talk to Garingu and you should get the Bortevo Key (Bartevo no kagi). Consult a few times prior to getting it as I remember Myau mentions Garingu.

Hapsby

After obtaining the polymetal, you’ll find Haspy by searching the bottom-right house in Bortevo.

Casba Dragon

This one drove me nuts, so here’s how I got the dragon to appear in the dungeon. Goto Casba, talk to the people in there, especially the girl Natalia (Nataria), consult, then goto Uzo and talk to Vivian (Bibian), consult, talk to the rest of the townspeople in Uzo, head back to Casba, talk to everyone and by now you should be getting plenty of people talking about the Blue Dragon in the dungeon. Consult, save then head back into the dungeon, and he should be there. Remember to head to Bortevo afterwards to grab the hovercraft.

Hovercraft

Head to the building next to the save game panel and search it – Hapsby will nerd it up and you can jump into it by pressing R1 when you’re next to the water (saves going into your inventory to active it every time).

Abion/Forgotten Tower and Medusa’s Tower

I found that I did these the opposite order that Omar’s FAQ suggests you do them in owing to what my characters were talking about when using the consult command. I did Abion/Forgotten Tower first and tackled Medusa’s Tower second. I never got around to doing Jara Cave πŸ˜›

Aukuba

Omar notes Aukaba as Twintown; doesn’t really matter, but when all my characters started talking about Aukbara no machi, it confused the buggery out of me. Having only played through Phantasy Star on the SMS once, I had a d’uh moment when I arrived and realised they were one and the same. Go me!

Gaining entrance to the Guaron Morgue

I can’t take credit for this one – Busterbeam over on the GameFAQs board pointed this out ( the original thread is here). To gain entrance to the Guaron Morgue, here’s the full list of what I did: I talked to the two Head Dezorians in Aukuba (they’re in red outfits, each in their own house either side of the town entrance), consulted, went to Guaron, got denied twice, consulted, returned to Aukuba, talked to the Head Dezorian on the left, consulted, returned to Guaron Morgue, and was permitted entry. Thanks Busterbeam!

Getting past the pit in Guaron Morgue

Use Myau’s Report techniqe (also referred to as his trap disarm spell) just prior to the pit in Guaron Morgue that leads yo the Laconian armour. You’ll go straight on top of it and won’t swear at the TV like I did three times before I realiased you had to use his technique πŸ˜›

Ice Dungeon gibberish

This one’s an anomally – using consult after finishing the Guaron Morgue and before heading into the Ice Dungeon, at the end of a conversation Alis exclaims “Ha-a-a [X] [Triangle] [Square] [O] [Triangle] [Square] [O] [X] [X]”. I’ve no idea if this is a fancy cheat or code, but thought I’d note it down regardless.

I think that covers it – again, huge props to the authors of those FAQs, I wouldn’t have even hoped to have made it through Phantasy Star: Generation 1 without your help!

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