Monográfico Universal Cabinets (XXXIII): SEGA NET CITY

naomi

Nombre: Net City (ネットシティ)

Fabricante: SEGA

Año de Lanzamiento: 1998/ 1999

Monitor: 29”- 15/ 24/ 31 KHz (Nanao MS2931)

Altura: 1750 mm. (Upright: 2030 mm.)

Anchura: 760 mm.

Profundidad: 980 mm. (Upright: 968 mm.)

En esta trigésimo tercera y última entrega, vamos a analizar el último diseño de cabina universal con monitor tipo CRT.

Proyectada y fabricada por la división Mecathro de SEGA, estaba íntimamente unida en su concepto al nuevo hardware NAOMI, en el que el gigante japonés había depositado todo tipo de esperanzas en pos de convertirse en un nuevo estándar del videojuego recreativo, y que a su vez era una derivación de la consola Dreamcast, la nueva -y última-propuesta doméstica de la casa.

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Folleto editado por la sucursal británica de SEGA donde se presenta el concepto Naomi, así como un prototipo preliminar de la cabina

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Monográfico SUPER SCALER (XX): SUPER MONACO GP

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Título: スーパーモナコGP (Super Monaco GP)

Producción/Desarrollo: SEGA

Lanzamiento en Japón: mayo 1989 

Hardware: X-Board

Tamaño de ROM: 29 Megabits

Esta vigésima entrega de nuestro estudio marca un cambio de ciclo de los videojuegos de SEGA dotados de la técnica Super Scaler. Tras cuatro años y diez lanzamientos se daba carpetazo a la serie Taikan Game y se iniciaba una nueva bajo el nombre Hi-Entertainment Game y el rimbombante slogan: Hi-Simulation, Hi-Graphics, Hi-Response. Super Monaco GP, ambientado en la Fórmula 1 de la época, fue el título que inauguró esta nueva etapa.

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SUPER SCALER Monograph (I): HANG-ON

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Title: ハングオン (Hang-On)

Production/ Development: SEGA

Japan Release Date: julio 1985

Hardware: Space Harrier Board

ROM Size: 6,75 Megabits

Enlace a la versión en español.

Before going on, let’s take a trip in time and space to understand the full extent of the importance of Hang-On. Japan, July 1985: the nation is in the middle of a motorcycle fever, a vehicle for leisure and recreation. Improving its road network, with magnificent roads, the commercial war of the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers for providing better products and, of course, an improved purchasing power are the main causes of this boom from an analytical point of view.

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SUPER SCALER Monograph (Introduction)

The search for representing three-dimensional universes has been an obsession of designers and programmers from almost the beginning of video game history. The need to provide spatial depth to simulate, for example, driving or riding any kind of artifact, predated for many years the availability of the necessary technical tools.

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Monográfico Universal Cabinets (XXVII): SEGA BLAST CITY

Sega_Blast_City_cabinet_flyer

Nombre: Blast City (ブラストシティ)

Fabricante: SEGA

Año de Lanzamiento: 1996

Monitor: 29”- 15/ 24/ 31 KHz (Nanao MS2930/ MS2931)

Altura: 1643 mm.

Anchura: 760 mm.

Profundidad: 939 mm.

En 1996, la batalla entre los gigantes del videojuego por lograr el mas potente y realista entorno tridimensional estaba en su momento álgido.

vf3SEGA, que junto a Namco se encontraba en la cima del desarrollo de estas técnicas, dio un paso mas en esa continua evolución con la esperadísima presentación de Virtua Fighter 3. La nueva entrega de la saga de lucha de tipo realista presentaba, entre otras novedades, la posibilidad de visualizarse en una resolución de 640 x 480 píxeles (VGA/ 31 KHz). Una característica propia del hardware que se estrenaba en este juego (SEGA Model 3) y que requería un monitor que soportase esa frecuencia de 31 KHz. La nueva cabina universal de SEGA montaba en primicia un monitor con soporte para este modo de vídeo.

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Arcade Test PCBs (English version)

The Japanese Ministry of Industry is the competent institution regarding everything related to the electricity supply and the various products that require electric energy completely or partially.

In the early days of the arcade industry, cabinets and coin operated video games had escaped the law, always behind the new developments, but at some time (perhaps the first months of 1990) the Ministry of Industry of Japan included this kind of machines in the Denki Yoohin Anzenhou (電気用品安全法), known by the acronym P.S.E. within a specifically created category: “Electrical Device Safety Law.” In this section, they considered video game machines as a set consisting of a printed circuit board (the game), the cabinet that protected it, the monitor and any other components needed for operation.

City5The recent universal cabinet concept, designed to run any application created under the JAMMA standard, was very affected by the publication of this change in legislation, because early universal cabinets like Sega City or Namco Consolette were sold without an integrated video game. They were designed to allow for the free choice of any PCB, as well as the ability to change and install it. But the new law did not contemplate that possibility: a cab sold without a game entered directly into the category of “Unfinished Electronic Product”, which is forbidden by law.

With this new handicap in mind, the industry giants put all their creative capacity in place to tackle the problem. The result of that effort certainly deserves its little place in the history of arcade games: video games from the early 90s with technology of the 70s.

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Aero City was the first universal cabinet with a “test PCB”

Popularly known as “Test PCBs”, they were products with the lowest possible use of resources, in order to address the setback of the new legislation. Video games without sound, without commercial interest and in some cases, without color or playability that did not even serve to test the hardware. We will briefly talk about the best known titles in this category. Mini JAMMA PCBs created by SEGA, Taito, Namco and Konami, totally unknown even in Japan itself.


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Title: ド ッ ト リ 君 (Dottori-kun)

Production / Development: SEGA

Japanese release: 1990

Hardware: Z-80 (4 MHz)

ROM size: 128 Kilobits

The first and best known of these programs. Included as a “gift” on the SEGA Universal Cabinets (Aero City first, Astro City and Blast City later), it’s a tiny 10 cm x 10 cm PCB which was created to be removed and immediately replaced by a “real” video game.

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Dottori-kun is a version of the classic from 1979 Head-On but without sound or color and with a 256 x 192 pixel resolution, in which our goal is to drive our car through the labyrinth, touching all the points scattered along the way and avoiding contact with the enemy. The car direction is chosen with the stick and we can choose a high gear by pressing the action button. If we hit the “X”, it’s game over.

 

 

There are several levels which gradually increase the speed, number of enemies and difficulty level, becoming especially difficult from the third stage. In any case, the lack of a scoring system and no additional incentive to advance levels did not invite the user to take more than a few minutes with this soft. The game is perfectly emulated in MAME, with two versions: OLD (white background, black sprites) and NEW (black background, white sprites).

 

 

It is noteworthy that Chris Covell, known programmer and administrator of the website http://www.chrismcovell.com/ has managed to hack Dottori-kun NEW version, getting it to display eight colors on screen and significantly modifying the program code. Dottori-man Jr. (Chris Covell, 2016), is a big improvement from the original game. The player can roam more complex mazes and has three lives per game, making it far more interesting to play.

 

 

To run it, you need to save the patch in an EPROM and plug it into the original PCB, or patching the MAME rom, although in this case certain differences are known to exist, since the video frequency is not correctly emulated. You can find more information about this excellent work by Chris on his website.


0003

Title: ミ ニ ベ ー ダ – (Mini Vaders)

Production / Development: Taito

Japanese release: 1990

Hardware: Z-80 (4 MHz)

ROM size: 64 Kilobits

As in Dottori-kun’s case, this program lacks music, color, markers and title screen. The name is the one under it was presumably submitted to the Ministry of Industry of Japan.

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Mini Vaders is a peculiar variation on the legendary Space Invaders. Various alien formations moving in unison and much more quickly than in the original. Reaching the fourth stage is a utopia except for the most experienced in the saga. As can be guessed, the game requires only a two-way stick and an action button, confirming our statement at the beginning of the article: these boards do not serve to test the condition of the cabinet.

 

 


mogura

Title: モ グ ラ デ ッ セ (Mogura Desse)

Production / Development: Konami

Japanese release: 1991

Hardware: Z-80 (3 MHz)

ROM size: 256 Kilobits

This test board created by Konami for its new range of universal cabinets Domy was a true advance over the SEGA and Taito test PCBs. In the same line of simplicity of the aforementioned programs, Mogura Desse is a “whack-a-mole” style game in which the traditional hammer and giant buttons are replaced by a crosshair moved by the stick, and a button to shoot. The game allows you to use three different buttons for the same shot, which makes sense from the point of view of testing the cab.  The action field consists of eight holes with emerging sunglasses-wearing moles. Of course, the objective is limited to hitting as many as possible, with a marker of success ratio.

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Although the PCB includes a 3 MHz Z-80 CPU instead of 4 MHz, the game is less crude than the previous one: 4 simultaneous colors from a palette of 32 and simple animations for the moles. Simple but sufficient. The board also includes an audio DAC that can play sound effects, although we will not get to hear more than two different ones. A peculiar video game that deserves a look.

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Title: バ タ リ ア ン (Battalion)

Production / Development: Namco

Japanese release: 1993

Hardware: Unknown

ROM size: Unknown

Clearly, this is the best in this genre of video games. Developed in 1993 (possibly with the launch of the Exceleena cabinet), Battalion is a high-end product compared with the other games.

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DSC_8674It’s like a primitive ZX Spectrum or Fujitsu FM-7 game, in that there are several colors, sounds, and even a rudimentary scroll and meritorious zoom effects. In addition, the game has several maps and a scoring system. A mini PCB that looks more like a program developed by Namco rookies. As anecdotal, there was a second version with JVS connection, which suggests that it was offered in Namco machines until at least 1998.


0000

Title: タ ー ゲ ッ ト パ ニ ッ ク (Target Panic)

Production / Development: Konami

Japanese release: 1996

Hardware: Z-80 (4 MHz)

ROM size: 256 Kilobits

This test PCB is the most modern of all, but this program presented by Konami for their Windy universal cabinets is the most forgettable among this kind of games.

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The game shows a crude field with eight targets which we have to shoot at by moving a crosshair with the stick and a single action button. There is no color, music or score system. The goal is to shoot down 50 targets; if we clear this objective, the word “extend” appears and we get ten more targets…anyway, the worst thing about Target Panic is that it takes about six minutes to load after starting the board, just as if a cassette tape was involved, and the rate at which we have to shoot at the targets is about three shots per minute…

 

 


More than one reader will wonder what the other companies that manufactured and marketed universal cabinets did (Capcom, Jaleco, SNK…). Like everything related to this stuff, the existing information is dispersed or directly nonexistent, but it is likely that the cabinets were sold with very old PCB video games. For example, we know that Konami mounted the game Mr. Goemon (1986) for quite some time. It’s possible that other game companies decided to make their own test PCBs, but today there is no information about this possibility.


This was one of the most demanding articles to write so far, in regards to the hours of documentation needed, and it would not have been possible without the existence of these sites:

  • Lunatic Obscurity, whose excellent article on Dottori-kun and Minivaders gave us the idea for this work.
  • G-Front, the blog of the legendary PCB store has excellent photos on testing these boards, which has served to illustrate part of the article.
  • And above all, Wizforest. His amazing research on these boards has made our job writing the article much easier.

Monográfico SUPER SCALER (XVIII): TURBO OUT RUN

turboor

Título: ターボアウトラン (Turbo Out Run)

Producción/Desarrollo: SEGA

Lanzamiento en Japón: febrero 1989 

Hardware: Out Run Board

Tamaño de ROM: 18,50 Megabits

Por regla general, en la época que estamos tratando en estos monográficos, Sega no solía contemplar la creación de secuelas o segundas partes de sus recreativas. Sólo en determinados casos en los que se creía en la posibilidad de mejorar de forma significativa un producto de éxito, se llegaba a seguir una práctica de la que hoy en día se abusa sin ningún tipo de reparo. Sirva como ejemplo de ello el caso de Super Hang-On, evolución en todos y cada uno de los aspectos del pionero en el uso intensivo de la técnica denominada scaling: Hang-On.

Turbo Out Run nació con el claro objetivo de evolucionar un concepto que, dos años y medio antes, había provocado un hondo impacto entre entendidos y profanos, convirténdose en la recreativa más popular de aquel 1986 y en un reconocido fenómeno cultural. A continuación, comprobaremos si el equipo encargado de la difícil misión de  superar al entonces ya mítico Out Run cumplió con su objetivo.

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Monográfico SUPER SCALER (XVII): LAST SURVIVOR

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Título: ラストサバイバー (Last Survivor)

Producción/Desarrollo: SEGA

Lanzamiento en Japón: enero 1989 

Hardware: X-Board

Tamaño de ROM: 29 Megabits

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Con dos unidades como esta podían participar hasta ocho jugadores.

La obra que hoy nos ocupa se encuentra entre los títulos mas oscuros y desconocidos de toda esta serie de artículos. Un nuevo exponente de la ya larga saga Super Scaler de SEGA que, entre muchas otras particularidades, destaca por ser el primer juego dotado de dicha técnica que no se acompañaba de una cabina especial.

Las famosas cabinas Taikan Game o de “Juego Físico” dotadas de movimiento y que hicieron de Out Run o After Burner II grandes éxitos, se sustituían en esta ocasión por varias unidades de la cabina universal estándar de SEGAAero City– interconectadas entre si para permitir el juego en red local.

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Las placas de testeo de SEGA, TAITO, NAMCO y KONAMI

English Version

El equivalente japonés a nuestro Ministerio de Industria, Energía y Turismo, tiene entre sus competencias todo lo relacionado con el suministro eléctrico y los distintas productos que requieren de forma total y parcial de dicha energía.

En los inicios de la industria del sector recreativo, las cabinas y placas de videojuegos operados a monedas habían escapado a la legislación, siempre por detrás de los distintos adelantos y tendencias.

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Monográfico Universal Cabinets (XX): SEGA ASTRO CITY

astro

Nombre: Astro City (アストロシティ)

Fabricante: SEGA

Año de Lanzamiento: 1993

Monitor: 29” (Nanao MS8-29/ MS9-29)

Altura: 1445 mm.

Anchura: 750 mm. 

Profundidad: 950 mm. 

Tras 18 capítulos describiendo y analizando por riguroso orden cronológico todo tipo de cabinas universales japonesas -muchas de ellas desconocidas-, ha llegado el momento de hablar del que sin duda es el modelo mas popular de la corta historia de estas máquinas: Astro City, de SEGA.

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