Happy new 2015!

Hoping you’ve had a great 2014 and wishing you a prosperous 2015! 😀

I’m ending this year with a few doujin shmups and other shmup related items.

New arrivals 08/01/14

Puzzle! Mushihimetama「虫姫たま」

The only non-shooter game by Cave released on the CAVE CV1000 hardware. It is also the only Cave release to have a song playing during attract mode.

Mushihimetama PCBMushihimetama marquee

Dig Dug

This is the Namco version of Dig Dug, released in 1982. It uses the same pin-out as Galaga. Still waiting for a JAMMA converter so I can take the game for a spin.

Dig Dug PCB 1 Dig Dug PCB 2Dig Dug marquee

Arcana Heart / Arcana Heart FULL! 「アルカナハート」

Arcana Heart was first released in 2006 by Yuki Enterprise. Later in 2007 after Examu had acquired Yuki a patch called Arcana Heart FULL! was released adding more characters to the roster.

Arcana Heart FULL! PCB

Arcana Heart equipped with the FULL! upgrade and the original version to the left. The pin-out on the PCB is JAMMA but video out is only by VGA. As far as I know this is the only PCB based game with this combo.

Arcana Heart marquee

Cosmic Smash

Released in 2001 by Sega for the Naomi system, Cosmic Smash is a combination of squash and break-out.

Cosmic Smash cartridge

Taito F3 motherboard

Taito F3 motherboard

JAEPO 2014 (Namco Bandai)

Less than an hour left until JAEPO 2014 opens the doors and I’m going through some of the line ups already released. Today the turn has come to Namco Bandai.

Namco Bandai has a rather short line up but nonetheless a couple of notable news. First one up is a theater style shooter / rhythm action (!?) game featuring AKB48.

Sailor Zombie ~AKB48 Arcade Edition~ (セーラーゾンビ ~ AKB48 アーケード・エディション ~)

zonbi AKB48 is turning zombie in this odd mash up of shooting and rhythm action. The theater style cab looks interesting. I for one hope we get to see a few clips of this one in action!

Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme vs. Maxi Boost (機動戦士ガンダム EXTREME VS. MAXI BOOST)

gundam01The 11th release in the Gundam franchise brings us the MS110 aircraft and supposedly a mode where you can battle other players toons on-line. When playing your character/aircraft can be stored on-line and battled out by other players. The new opening song will be released at the venue.

Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune (湾岸ミッドナイトマキシマムチューン5)

wangan5Also Wangan Midnight gets an update with new elements added to the competition racing. And like ID8 Infinity’s D coins, Wangan has its Maxi G that can be used in game to pimp out your ride even further.

Super Alpine Racer (スーパーアルペンレーサ)

alpenArcade skiing is back in this new version of Alpine Racer. The cabinet boasts vertical 55″ monitors and promises a whole new experience of the trill racing down the slopes. The games are networked and up to 8 players can go head to head in the same race.

Other games

Namco Bandai has a few more titles in the line up. Prize games, photo booth and medal games, for instance Super Sea Story in Okinawa 3 (海物語 IN 沖縄 ウキウキバケーション); a medal game for all ages. An updated Dead Storm Pirates SP can be spotted in the line up but details remains unknown. A few more already released games will be available on the venue.

Related links

Soul Calibur III Arcade Edition DVD cover inlay

Showing off your games is so much more fun than just storing them, right?

But how fun is it when they look like this?


Not at all. Really.

Luckily the dongles for Namco’s System 246 & 256 games uses the same cases as memory cards for PlayStation 2 games. Scavenging your nearest flea market for cheap PS2 games will provide you with cases for your games. Flea markets are usually better than second hand game stores if you want to find them cheap. I managed to pick up four (more or less) clean cases at $1 each on my last hunt.

Now, a PS2 case alone doesn’t go bling. You’ll of course need a nice inlay as well. I’ve created a template in Photoshop that I use as a base for all my inlays.

System 246 template

There’s a few sites that offer hi-res scans of inlays for a wide variety of games but if you wanna make it zing you’ll create your own.

An arcade game is not a console game.

An inlay measures 285 mm x 190 mm (approx. 11.2″ x 7.5″). Use scans, screen shots and game info from the web to assemble a unique inlay for your games.

SCIII inlay


Here’s a link to my template file and a couple of resources you can use for your covers. There’s tons more on the Intertubes. Good luck 😀

“Custom” Game Boxes, part 2

Back in September I began looking for a better solution than bubble wrap for storing game PCB’s.

I found some cardboard boxes that could handle most of the PCB’s I had and did spine labels for them. Never got as far as printing them though. Game board boxes Even if the boxes came out fine and looks way more decent than bubble wrap they aren’t optimal. About 1 cm (½”) too deep for my IKEA Billy book shelves but they’ll have to do for the moment.

Last week I finally did a couple of test prints of the spine labels and while they do look good I still think I can do better. DIY Spine Labels Meanwhile I’ve been pondering on how to store System 246/256 games. The answer was obvious: PS2 boxes with memory card holders. Perfect for holding both DVD and Magic Gate dongle (since they’re housed in PS2 memory card cases). System 246 Cases Still needs some tweaking but as a first draft they look promising 🙂 System 246 Cases My daughter seemed to find the eraser more intriguing than the cases though. Should I take it as they need a bit more work? 😛 System 246 Cases

Namco System 246 Disassembly

Namco System 246 B with JAMMA Adapter Board
Namco System 246 B with JAMMA Adapter Board

System 246 from Namco was introduced in 2001 along with its first game; Ridge Racer V. It is based on Sony PlayStation 2 hardware modified for arcade purposes.

Much like Sega did with the Naomi, the System 246 was widely licensed by Namco. Therefore there’s no exact specification for the System 246 as it was slightly modified for many of the games. Both Capcom and Taito released their own versions of the System 246. There’s four different revisions of System 246; A, B, C and a driving variant. Some games are very tightly coupled with a certain revision whereas other games work on two or all three and even the newer System 256. The 246 is capable of outputting both 31 kHz (VGA) and 15 kHz (CGA). Resolution, output level, sync frequency and sync signal are controlled via the DIP switches on the front of the unit.

Namco System 246 B Case
Namco System 246 B Case

The case fully disassembled. The motherboard slides in under the DVD shelf.

Namco System 246 B Motherboard (top)
Namco System 246 B Motherboard (top)
Namco System 246 B Motherboard (bottom)
Namco System 246 B Motherboard (bottom)

Top and bottom views of the 246 B motherboards (including the mounting plate). Didn’t take it apart further this time since the boards apparently had been recently cleaned. The battery needs a change from time to time.

Installing the motherboard in the case
Mounting the motherboard

The motherboard fits snugly under the DVD rig. Sliding it in place gave me a bit of headache. Took me a while to figure out that the guides got stuck on the case (the red circle). I needed to press the guides from below for it to slide all the way in.

Open Namco System 246 B Case
Everything in place

The inside of the case with everything in place, except for the DVD cover. As you can see the DVD player isn’t screwed to the case. It’s only kept in place by the rubber feet on all sides. Not sure if the case fan is original but sounds horrible and needs to go. It’s a standard 60 mm fan so there shouldn’t be any problems finding a quiet(er) replacement.

Connecting the 246 to your JAMMA cabinet

System 246 B JAMMA Adapter
System 246 B JAMMA Adapter

In order to connect the System 246 to a JAMMA cabinet you’ll need an adapter board. The most common being the one on the left.

The JAMMA connector serves buttons one through three. All other buttons can be found on the 10 pin AMP EI connector to the right. For fighting games you’d normally find the punch buttons on the JAMMA and the kick buttons on the AMP EI. Hence its commonly used name “kick harness”. Exactly which buttons are served on each connector differs between games. For instance, in Tekken 4 only two buttons (punch) are connected through the JAMMA and the other two through the kick harness (kick). But in Soul Calibur 2 all three buttons on the JAMMA are used (punch/kick) and only one button on the kick harness (guard).

10 pin AMP EI pinout
2 NC
3 P1 Button 4
4 P1 Button 5
5 P1 Button 6
6 NC
7 P1 Button 4
8 P1 Button 5
9 P1 Button 6
10 GND

The 4 pin AMP EI connector is used for connecting the right speaker in stereo mode. The left speaker (or mono) is on the JAMMA.

4 pin AMP EI pinout
1 Not used
2 Not used
3 Right speaker (+)
4 Right speaker (-)

On the front of the case you find four DIP switches. They control game mode, output level of the video signal, sync frequency and sync signal.

DIP Switch Settings
1: Mode Test mode Game mode
2: Video signal output level
 – 31 kHz 0.7 V p-p 0.7 V p-p
 – 15 kHz 3.0 V p-p 0.7 V P-P
3: Monitor sync frequency 31 kHz 15 kHz
4: Video sync signal Composite sync Separate sync


The hardware is based on Sony PlayStation 2 and as noted before the specs for the System 246 differs some due to modifications for specific games.

CPU – 128 bit “Emotion Engine”
System Clock 300 MHz
System Memory 32 MB
Memory Bus Bandwidth 3.2 GB per second
Co-CPU 1 (FPU)
Floating Point Performance 6.2 GFLOPS
Vector units 2 (VU0, VU1)
3D CG Geometric Transformation 66 million polygons per second
Image Decoder MPEG
GPU – “Graphics Synthesizer”
Clock Frequency 150 MHz
Memory Bus Bandwidth 48 GB per second
Memory Bus Width 256 bits
Maximum Polygon Rate 75 million polygons per second
Sound – SPU2 + CPU
Voices 48 channels on SPU2 (definable by software)
Sampling Frequency 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz
CPU Core Current PlayStation CPU
Clock Frequency 33.8 MHz or 37.5 MHz
Sub Bus Width 32 bits


Namco Tekken 4 (2001)

Tekken 4 (鉄拳4) was released for arcade on August 2001 on the Namco System 246 platform.

Tekken 4 splash image

I got hold of a Tekken 4/System 246 setup in the U.S. earlier this week and was of course eager to fire it up as soon as I got home. The setup was, according to Bryan at I Need A Game, serviced about a year ago and was taken from the cabinet after the monitor flatlined.

Tekken 4 booting

Still in need of some cleaning it did work nicely and booted without any hiccups in my New Astro City. Only needed some brightness and color adjustments which were easily accomplished from the test/setup menu.

A bit of warning when booting up a System 246 in a JAMMA cabinet. The System 246 is capable of outputting both 15 kHz (CGA) and 31 kHz (VGA). Make sure your cabinet can handle the chosen frequency. Output level, sync frequency and sync signal are controlled via the DIP switches on the front of the System 246 unit. All set to off worked fine in my cabinet set to 15 kHz.

Tekken 4 DVD and security dongle

Not 100% sure which version of the game I got my hands on as you can see from the picture the original Ver. A has been changed for Ver. D.

EDIT: According to defor at neogeo.com this is the normal procedure when upgrading the games so what I have is Ver. D.

Namco System 246 testrigMy temporary rig for testing my new System 246 worked out nicely. Though I still have to sort out the kick harness and get hold of a four or six button panel.


Pac Man – Bargain or Trash?

Midway Pac Man PCBI managed to win a Pac Man / Ms. Pac Man game board for less than $40 including shipping over at eBay a week or so back. Looked legit and in good shape. So the question is: was it a bargain or have I ended up with a pile of trash?

Since I was passing Chicago earlier this week I had the board together with some other games delivered there for saving on the shipping. So on Wednesday I finally got the chance to examine my possible bargain and except for the desperate need of cleaning and perhaps a cap change it looks fine. It’s missing the cable for connecting the Ms. Pac Man daughter board but that one’s quite easy to find so I’m optimistic. But I won’t know for sure until I get back home again in a couple of weeks. Oh, and I’ll need a JAMMA adapter too since the board comes with the old Midway interface.

Gundam DX vs Zeon GD-ROM with manual and artworkThe other two packages waiting for me was Gundam DX vs. Zeon GD-ROM for the Naomi and Soul Calibur II Ver. A and D for System 246.