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Retro Kikaku - The Beginning
 
  

12/22/08 @ 09:06:09 pm, Categories: Project Baka'cade, Retro Kikaku, 1063 words, 5919 views  



We all know about my recent arcade kick. Well, I focused my attention on SNK’s NEO-GEO hardware. I’ve been collecting and collecting, and I have quite a bit of gear now. And great things are going to start happening soon.

There’s quite a bit of stuff, so I’m going to split this. More after the jump!

[More:]

So, what is Retro Kikaku? It comes from the name of the company responsible for the NEO-GEO, SNK. The company was founded in 1978 under the original un-abbreviated ‘Shin Nihon Kikaku Corp.’. For the uninitiated, the name means ‘New Japan Project’.

Given my focus on NEO-GEO, I decided to dub this endeavor ‘Retro Kikaku‘.

I never imagined it’d be affordable (for me) to have my own real arcade hardware, but no sooner had I seriously checked eBay than I found out how cheaply it could be done. Here it is, about two or three months later, and I have nearly fifteen arcade motherboards, and a dozen or so games. As well as several essential components for building my own cabinet.

What really makes the NEO-GEO MVS (Multi Video System) unique, is that it was a modular system. You had a motherboard which was part of the cabinet. And then you had game cartridges. And because these were to be loaded into an otherwise generic ‘NEO-GEO’ cabinet, there’s the ‘mini-marquee’. In normal arcade jargon, the marquee is the backlit sign above the monitor with the name of the game and whatnot. The mini-marquee is a small transparent plastic card that gets slotted into a window in the generic marquee, and typically has gameplay instructions in addition to the logo. In multi-slot cabinets, there are spots in the marquee for a corresponding number of mini-marquees, and only the one for the game currently being played/demoed would be lit. Here’s my Samurai Spirits: Zankurou Musouken mini-marquee.

It’s worth noting that the majority of arcade hardware these days is fully modular.

First, I acquired a couple of working single-slot motherboards… An MVH-MV1B and an MVH-MV1C.

Then I got some games

I’m collecting the Samurai Spirits (Samurai Shodown in the US) series. So far, I have the first three. (Of 5 for the NEO-GEO)

And then, a working 2-slot board. MVH-MV2F (Without Cover)

Then I got some more games, too bad that copy of PUZZLE BOBBLE (Bust-A-Move) is a goddamn bootleg. (Pictures coming later!)

I found a lot of 8 ‘non-working’ boards on eBay for like $50. They had correctable issues, so I jumped on it. I was starting to wonder what had happened to it when I got an email apologizing for the delay. When it arrived, I found a note saying he kicked in another board, and a game, for the delay. Good guy.

I also scored a control panel. It’s from a ‘goldy’ cabinet. A wood-grain cabinet with a gold CP overlay. It was sort of crusty with rust, and was rather nasty under the CPO from spilled drinks and stuff, but I stripped it down and gave it to my sister to get it sandblasted. Haven’t re-painted it yet, more pictures after that happens!

Finally got the parts I need to hook these suckers up… And god is it awesome. I’ve got a fast quad-core machine with dual gaming cards in SLI and 8gb of RAM, and these silly little boards still play the games smoother than emulation on my monster.

After getting things working, I cleaned up the game I got in the lot of boards, The King of Fighters ‘97. Immediately I noticed a problem, all the overlay graphics (Specifically the 8x8 tile layer which handles things like text) was messed up… I re-created the problem with the help of Kawaks and Photoshop. It turned out to be an easy fix once I figured out which ROM chip had those graphics. Closer inspection showed damage to some traces. Which I simply jumpered. (The black wires.) Once I get a new cart to put those boards in, I’m going to redo the jumpers with wirewrap wire.

I went through all the ‘non-working’ boards, and found two to be working almost perfectly; one had some audio noise (It has gunk all over the place, might get better when I clean it.) and the volume control didn’t work. The other had no sound, but considering the audio amplifier shows signs of rust from the screw holding its heatsink on, that’s pretty obvious too.

A lot of the rest had problems that could be rectified most probably by just swapping a couple off-the-shelf SRAM chips. Two had more serious or less obvious problems.

So, I was underway! I had decided when I started grabbing up these boards that I was going to fix them up, put them in professionally-manufactured enclosures with video and audio conversion circuitry, and sell them as ‘consolized’ boards…which typically sell for HUNDREDS of dollars. That led to a side-adventure which will be covered in the next ‘magical blue smoke‘ post.

I was still finding unbeatable deals on eBay… My funds were thin, but dammit, I couldn’t NOT do it!

I got another non-working board, simple problem. I didn’t have one of these MVH-MV1FZ boards yet. Came with another copy of Fatal Fury 2.

Scored a fixable non-working 2-slot MVH-MV2F board for $3. NOT A TYPO. Of course, shipping was $12… But damn. (Pictures coming later!)

Scored the control panel off a 4-slot cabinet, which means it has a memory card reader. (Pictures coming later!) As well as the accompanying EL backlight board for mini-marquees. (Pictures coming later!) Both from the same guy. He also had the 4-slot marquee, and motherboard from the same cabinet up for auction…but was asking too much for the marquee, and I couldn’t afford the board.

I have grown to love the Metal Slug games, just because they’re quirky and awesome and have great graphics…though I suck at them terribly. I managed to score a copy of Metal Slug X, complete with mini-marquee, instruction sheets, bezel sticker, and dipswitch sheet. (Pictures coming later!)

I got another copy of PUZZLE BOBBLE, and it turned out to be ANOTHER GODDAMN BOOTLEG. It’s not even the one the fucker had pictured in the auction. I have yet to hear back from him regarding my complaint… I’ll wait until after Christmas, then he’s going to get a NEW ASSHOLE for the holidays, courtesy of ME!

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