Saturday, July 31, 2010

Spun Around Saturn

I recently had my Sega Saturn modded. I’m surprised I didn’t do it back in 1998, when anyone with a Saturn was soldering a switch into the console so they could play Japanese games without some pesky region-changing cartridge. This was especially useful when it came to Capcom fighters, many of which needed the Saturn’s cartridge slot for a big ol’ hunk of RAM expansion. For some reason, I ignored this and just used a slightly unreliable all-in-one cartridge to enjoy my Cyberbots and Vampire Savior.



Well, my Saturn’s finally modified to run those games and more with the official RAM cart, as nature and Capcom intended. It’s a nice job, too. The switch is inconspicuous and fitted perfectly into the system’s battery door. What’s really interesting, though, is what my system-modding friend found inside the console.



Some spider built a little web inside my Saturn a long time ago. It's apparently more common than I ever before suspected to find bugs inside electronic equipment, and this discovery is especially amusing when I remember how fastidious I was with my Saturn back in the 1990s. I even draped a dust cover over it at night.

I only hope that the spider moved on before it starved to death or got fried during a particularly heated session of X-Men vs. Street Fighter. It also makes me wonder if any of my other game systems have bug residents. Come to think of it, my last apartment was in a basement frequented by house centipedes.



Uh-oh.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Vice: Project Slimeball

There’s a lot that I like about Vice: Project Doom, a late NES action-platformer from Aicom and American Sammy. I like that it mixes its side-scrolling gameplay with driving stages straight out of Spy Hunter and shooting galleries straight out of Operation Wolf. I like the tight controls, which let you laser-whip enemies behind you, grab ladders in mid-air, sprint while ducking, and do a lot of things that many other NES games still overlooked back in 1991. I like how the backgrounds are grimy and impressively varied. And I like how Sammy’s translators had enough presence of mind to play up the cheeseball action-hero tone of the game’s hero, Quinn Hart.



Yet the translation apparently proved a little too profane when it came to an early scene in which Hart, after barking out orders to his girlfriend/partner Christy, notices that a masked superhero is spying on him.



That screen comes from a review in the June 1991 issue of GamePro, and the dialogue differs slightly from the final version.



Yes, Hart’s line was rewritten to keep him from saying “slimeball.” Did Nintendo really object to an insult that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles could freely spout on TV? Or did the translators think that “slimeball” gave away the game’s later (and entirely predictable) plot twists about alien-manufactured green gel? Perhaps someone felt that Hart already came across as too hard-edged. After all, the game’s first level has his Spy Hunter car tearing down a city highway and destroying harmless blue sedans that, for all the player knows, are filled with innocent and terrified families.

A little research suggests that prototypes of Vice: Project Doom are out there. In fact, this guy found a cartridge at a game store in 2006. Nobody's shared one online yet, so we can't see if any other mild epithets were trimmed from Hart's vocabulary. Maybe he called someone a scuzzbucket.