augusti 27, 2014

Mega CD (Sega CD), repair, impressions and gameplay

I got a Mega CD recently.

It didn't work so I took it apart and replaced some components on the power board that looked like they corroded the board. After that it powered up, but there was problems with the tray. It didn't move in and move out smoothly and the CD didn't read.

So I took a look at
Sega CD systems repair thread. It listed a whole bunch of things that could be wrong. But it didn't say what was most common. This is typical of people with less experience who start to replace every possible component.

Suppose your car doesn't start. If you ask some random guy on a forum he might give you 25 reasons that could be wrong, in all kindness. But even I who don't have a car knows that first you should check the battery, then maybe oil, etc, before you start replacing every single component.

People also give long threads about how to move the wheels around and so on. But i know from my experience of calibrating FDS that in 90% of cases, the calibration depends on 2-3 things, and that people who don't know will give you around 20 things they suggest you  should do when in reality the problem is usually careful adjustment of those 2-3 things.

Luckily, I found a thread at digitpress and at the bottom a guy with some experience said he always suggested replacing the drive belt. . Thank you "oldskool". I went back to the sega-16 thread and saw some suggestions for replacement belts (with some suspicious suggestions in between), of which I chose to buy a "DVD Drive Tray Motor Rubber Belt for XBox 360 Slim" from eBay for 2.5$ and it arrived in about a week.

Worked perfectly, and the the tray moves smooth and with a strong movement. So that was excellent, and it reads perfectly too.

The one little problem is a studdering in the sound, a dudududu sound that is noticeable in some games such as Night Trap. It might actually be that the console makes this sound by default because it seems to be an early model without grounding. I tried replacing a bunch of capacitors ("caps"), and I tried to ground some things in very rudimentary way with wires, but NO CHANGE what so ever... I decided against spending 20 hours more on this, if it might even be the default behavior. Anyways, it is fully playable and I thought it was good enough to sell.

Now, I am going to make the opposite of the AVGN... Here is his "review". He took some games, said they sucked (although he briefly said Sonic CD is the best Sonic game, and Sol-Feace and Terminator were good game) , and then scream that "the Sega CD FUCKING SUCKS!"


First of all, I made a review of Night Trap in my last post, so I won't mention that game here again. But I enjoyed it, the way I enjoy many "crappy" games (it might not be for everyone...). In that blog post I also wrote why I like the Mega CD, so do check it out, because I won't write the same here again.

First of all, I want to say that these gameplay videos were recorded with RCA cables and have MUCH worse quality than an RGB cable would have.  

Sol-Feace is a rather generic shooter game. The soundtrack improves the game, I think. A cheap game, around 10$.


Bari-Arm is a Mega-CD exclusive. I am not a shoot'em up fan in general, so I'll just link to hardcore gaming to explain why this is a must-own game:


Sold for 159 SEK (24$, incl 25% VAT). The usual list price is twice that, but this game had the nasties manual I have ever seen. It literally has mold on the pages.

Earnest Evans. It is an Indiana Jones type of game. Not a great game and I wish they would have done a better CD-quality soundtrack, but I think a platforming fan would enjoy it after they learn the controls. (this game is also sold already, for around 15$)
Prince of Persia. First it required me to free some save game space on the console so I had to try to do that for the first time, but I did it without much difficulty. You see, the console has save game space built in, just like a Sega Saturn.


No special addition to the original here, it is simply Prince of Persia, if you enjoy that.

Sonic CD - I spent a couple of hours with.

The higher speed compared to previous Sonic games, more colors, and CD sound shows how to make the most of a 2D sonic game. If you are a Nintendo fan, imagine if someone would have done the same with the Mega Man series. (we didn't need any lame 3D versions of those games, thank you!)

I also played a little of the excellent port of Final Fight. Better than the SNES version in my opinion.

I tried some other FMV (Full motion video) games, and they were boring, as is well known. However, I think a console should be evaluated by its good games and not by its unplayable stuff.

Well, my Sega CD is already sold (999 SEK, or 150$ incl 25% VAT) but I liked it so I'm going to be buying more of it. The Mega CD 2 is more reliable so I might try that next, although I suspect most Mega CD 1 can be fixed by simple methods.

augusti 21, 2014

Night Trap, Mega CD (Sega CD)

I recently got a Mega CD, and after a lot of work with it, I got it to play games. I will write about the the Mega CD some other time. It doesn't work perfectly, as you can hear from the audio below there is some drumming noise. It should have been a wind sound... I am still working on fixing that, if possible.

For this blogpost, I will only be talking about one game I played -- Night Trap (or Nighttrap).

I will just briefly give my impressions of Mega CD (or Sega CD). I have previously written about how I find Mega Drive games to lack in story and sort of feel empty in that way. I also find that the graphics and sound doesn't impress me... So what about the Mega CD? I am impressed! The graphics feels slightly improved (even if it may not technically be), the CD quality music is a big improvement, and the games have nice video intros and cut scenes. This is how the Mega Drive should have been!

The video quality of the Mega CD is of course not up to standard with modern video, but it was released one year after the SNES and one could compare those two. The SNES didn't even have video intros, only sprites moving against a fixed background. Too bad the Mega CD didn't have a better fate. Today it is known as another one of Segas failed consoles... Mostly because Sega quickly released another add-on, the 32X, and after that it became known that they were developing the Saturn interest for the Mega CD died down.

So, now let's review Night Trap.
The story surrounding Night Trap is part of popular culture, at least in the US (for more information, see Wikipedia or the link below). Also public opinion is that the game is really crappy... As so often, I think this is likely an indicator of an interesting game, and I hope that you will agree with me. I am at least not alone in thinking that the game is actually a fun "camp" game.
Some argue of its terribleness, and it frequently appears on "Worst Games of All Time" lists. Unfortunately these lists are drawn up by people who have totally missed the charm of the game - the same charm you'll find in Troma flicks like The Toxic Avenger. Night Trap is camp, it's silly, it's low budget, and it's pretty dire at times, but it seems to know it and turns itself into a strange send up the slasher genre. It's all a bit of good fun. --

I agree. And the more I can copy and paste from other sources, the less I have to write myself.

The game has a nice intro that isn't shown in my videos. One reason is because if you watch the video, the time goes so you won't be able to trap the bad guys.Here is some one else's video, English version. (the Japanese version speaks Japanese and that's another reason why there isn't any point to show it)


It is quite enjoyable to play the game, and the game has several interesting concepts that I haven't found in other games. One is that you are playing a movie, but if you decide to watch the plot you won't be able to catch the "bad guys".  Let me quote again:

The basic concept is you watch footage of a low budget horror film and are required to press a button at certain times to save the characters as they are being attacked. If you do this correctly, footage of them escaping will be shown and the film will continue, giving the impression that you have had some control of the movie. What makes Night Trap more clever than today's DVD games or the FMV titles that followed it, is that you also have to tear yourself away from the movie, which isn't too hard, to check over locations in the film where the main action currently isn't. At certain times, these locations show footage of invading monsters, and require you to press a button at the right time to capture these too. Failure to do so will result in a Game Over. --

The main problem may be that to get the best ending you need to catch all the bad guys... As well as avoiding the many pitfalls that results in an immediate game over! This is almost impossible without following a guide.

Also a bummer is that the best ending is Sheila telling you that no one has ever been perfect and walks away. The less good ending is Sheila telling you that you could do better and walks away... Come on! A game deserves a decent ending, even more if it is supposed to be a movie-game.

I played the game in Japanese of course and I couldn't understand any of the plot. From what I've read, the acting is so bad, it might not be a loss to play it in Japanese!
But I wanted to see if it was playable in Japanese and I think there is no great difficulty because you have to follow the guide anyways. I had a few problems that I will describe how to fix:

Problem 1. How to play
When you see an intruder, wait for the meter to reach red. Then press B to spring the trap.

The C button changes color code. This brings us to problem 2.

Problem 2. Color codes
The color code always starts with Blue. After a while it will change to another randomly chosen color. I recommend following the gamefaq guides if you want a chance of getting the time for change. In the Japanese version, they will speak the codes in Japanese. Please see video part 1 below at around 08:12, where she says "Aka", and at 12:50 where he literally says "Code change" and "Orange".

Orange is called "Orange" ( オレンジ ), blue is called Aoi ( アオイ ), green is Midori ( ミドリ ). Red is Aka ( アカ ). And so on... There aren't that many colors, so one can guess and if the code gives error then try another. Or pay attention to what they say...

At the end of part 1 the code changed again and i didn't hear to what. I think they said the color after I stopped watching, after 14:16 in-game time (20:35 in the video). I tried and failed two colors, and had I not got it when I did a main character would have died and I would have gotten game over. But luckily I got it right with Green. 

Problem 3. Trapping the right people and not trapping the wrong people.
This is trial and error even in the English version, if you don't have a guide. So, follow the guide is my recommendation.

Problem 4. The game ends around 13:00
That seems to be if one doesn't catch enough bad guys. I didn't see this described in the gamefaqs, but it happened to me.

Here are two videos of me playing through the game. As mentioned, there is some sound problem but other than that it played fine.


I got to the ending alright as you can see below, it is one of the "good" endings. Then climax scene starts around 11:40 in the video. After the ending credits, I used a trick to see an easter egg (Press Up, then A five times).


 They have some different stuff in them, so look at both, and print them out so you can follow them as you are playing.