Is Sega on the right track with Sonic Generations?

Over on the Madboards, gaming discussion has turned to the upcoming and recently announced Sonic Generations, Sonic Team’s latest Sonic game for Xbox 360 and PS3.

The initial trailer certainly had my interest piqued, but after checking out an update at Eurogamer, and a subsequent hands-on and new trailer at IGN, my interest is a little bit more than piqued – I might actually be getting excited ๐Ÿ™‚

The premise seems to be you have the ability to fire through each and every level as “classic” Sonic and “modern” Sonic. It’s all very post-modern really. The catch is that playing as classic Sonic sets the game to play as a 2.5D platformer with a physics engine theoretically similar in feel to 16-bit Sonic titles, whereas playing through the level as modern Sonic looks like its bringing back a hybrid 3D/2.5D playing field, not unlike the good bits out of Sonic Unleashed or (apparently, because I haven’t played it yet) Sonic Colours.

It’s still early days, with the game slated for a late-2011 release. Sonic Unleashed showed promise (though the werehog disaster will haunt us for years to come), Sonic 4 was fun, Sonic Colours apparently isn’t terrible – could we be seeing a return to form for the series? Mind, considering that Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic 2006 were incredibly rubbish, the only way is up, right?

If this turns out well, I think Sega should give Rieko Kodama a team of genius programmers and talented artists and bring back Phantasy Star for another whirl. Then they can give us a fun Streets of Rage brawler and a proper strategy RPG in the Shining Force series using the same engine they developed for the sublime Valkryia Chronicles.

A fanboy can dream, right?

Thanks to CG from the Madboards for posting the original link!

New CPS2 boards arrived :)

Just a quick update – I recently took hold of two Phoenixed CPS2 boards: Street Fighter Zero 2 Alpha and Marvel Super Heroes ๐Ÿ™‚

And because it’s fun to share, here’s a shot of Marvel Super Heroes in the cab:

Sega Astro City playing MSH

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And yes, if you’ve been following the blog for a while, that’s a shot of the game running on my recently-completed Astro City overhaul cabinet. I just haven’t gotten around to finish blogging about the whole process yet, but that’ll start happening again in a few weeks I promise!

There should be more love for Explodemon out there

I haven’t checked if the internet is a buzz since Explodemon came out, but Curve Studio’s brilliant little platformer deserves accolades and then some.

The game borrows inspiration from Megaman X as its primary influence, but you can see all sorts of tips of the hat to other Japanese platformers (including the hilarious Engrish dialogue from Explodemon), and is imbued with the kind of creative feeling we got from EU devs on the Amiga and Atari ST during the 80s and 90s. This makes perfect sense of course given Curve are based in the UK, and that passion from an era past is omnipresent throughout the production. The visuals look amazing running in 1080p, the soundtrack shines with its chip-tune inspired synth and it controls super-tight, which is essential for a platformer running on a 3D engine, even though it’s only operating on a 2D plane.

If you haven’t given Exlodemon a whirl, go for it – there’s a demo up on PSN and the price for the full version is very reasonable. It’s a great, original title with plenty of charm worthy of your time and moolah.

UK:Resistance finishes up, internet weeps

One of my beloved video game websites of satirical English awesomeness has closed up – UK:Resistance announced on March 29 that they were done. Thankfully the website will remain in archive form.

UK:R are of course known for their satirical take on gaming and their posthumous accounts of Sega following the company’s move into 3rd party development. They also struck a brilliant chord amongst fellow nerdy gamers who have become disenfranchised with the sector’s obsession with grey + poo-brown landscapes and the unnecessary amount of testosterone amongst all the copycat companies following Rockstar’s success with the GTA series, and gave us the Blue Skies in Gaming campaign in protest.

I didn’t realise the site had been going for 15 years though, that’s an amazing effort! Be sure to take some time and read through the site, particularly if you “get” English humour ๐Ÿ˜€

Adding a switch to the 60hz colour mod

Last year I wrote a guide to get colour video out of your Mega Drive via s-video, composite and RF cables, but I’ve noticed that since using the RGB to component transcoder, the colour was flickering on my CRT I play my Mega Drive on. I tested it on our flat panel TV, and sure enough there’s some extra noise in the picture when running the SMD with the external oscillator. So, I figured I’d make a switch to go between the original feed from the Mega Drive and the oscillator, which gives the best flexibility if ever I use the SMD via s-video or composite if I’m not hooking it up via RGB/component.

The theory is simple – grab a SPDT (single pole, double-throw) switch, wire the middle (output) pin to where we used to put the oscillator’s output, wire the oscillator to one of the remaining sides and grab the existing feed off the mainboard and wire that to the other. To help out, here’s what I did:

Equipment needed:

  • Remember to read this one in conjunction with the previous mod and have the oscillator ready to go!
  • Two wires of a length suitable for mounting the switch (remember you’ll only need two as the existing output wire off your oscillator will be fine for adding to the switch, unless you need to lengthen it, then you should replace it)
  • SPDT (single pole, double throw) switch
  • Solder, soldering iron, screw driver and drill/drill bits for mounting the switch

Disclaimer

You mod your machine at your own risk. Myself nor anyone else is responsible for YOU modding YOUR Mega Drive/Genesis. If your machine doesnโ€™t work as a result of this, donโ€™t blame me โ€“ you do this mod at your own risk.

Step one:

Obviously, discharge and disassemble your Mega Drive and remove the mainboard and have it facing up. Be careful you don’t damage the wires hooking the oscillator you fitted from the previous tutorial.

Step two:

As per the previous mod, here’s the input signal being fed from the external oscillator into the CXA1145 IC. We’ll need to remove this to replace it with the switch’s output so we can select between the original and oscillated frequencies.

Step three:

Here we have a SPDT (single pole, double throw) switch wired up and ready to go. The middle (yellow) wire goes to the CXA1145 IC’s input, which is where we used to send the oscillator if you followed the previous mod; the green wire is from the external oscillator, and; the brown wire will take the original feed from the Mega Drive’s mainboard for RGB compatibility.

Step four:

This shows the middle (yellow) wire from the switch wired to where we used to put the oscillator. It functions as the output from the switch’s two sources.

Step five:

I’ve highlighted a point on the underside of the mainboard where you can easily solder a wire to connect to carry the Mega Drive’s original frequency to give RGB compatibility.

Step six:

To ensure I only wire the correct signal, I use some electrical tape to isolate the solder point.

Step seven:

Tin the tip, heat some solder and attach one of the wires from your switch’s input poles to the point. I’ve used the brown wire.

Step eight:

If you haven’t done so already, grab the output from the oscillator and wire it to the other side of the switch. If the wire isn’t long enough to reach to where the switch will be mounted, remove it and use another wire – it’s best to avoid joining wires together part-way along the oscillator’s input to ensure the signal remains strong and steady.

Step nine:

And that’s all there is to it – use the output from the oscillator (green) and attach that to the other side of the switch, secure your connections with electrical tape, and get ready to assemble. For those interested, the black wire at the top of the mainboard in this pic is a hardwired composite socket I built so that I could use standard AV cables with my Mega Drive.

Step ten:

I wanted to keep everything on the back of the unit, but placed in a way that would allow for the Power Base Converter to still be hooked up, so I installed the switch next to the 60/60hz and JP/Eng language switches which are next to the AV socket, where the Ext. socket would be if I had an earlier-model Mega Drive 1.

All in – would be great if I’d lined up those holes a little nicer though! Once I had the switch installed, I found I was no longer getting any issues with my Mega Drive when running it in RGB via the transcoder, so if you intend to run the machine in RGB at some stage, fit the switch!