Ibara movestrip added to the artwork section

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I got me some SPARK!

Today I received a the latest offering from modern time alchemist, Toodles. Behold THE SPARK. This little piece of high-tech will turn your SANWA JLF into the equivalent of SANWA’s long gone epic FLASH 1 optical joystick.

Toodles SPARK

It looks so dark and evil - it really isn't

I really wanted to test this properly (with some game I really know, like Ketsui) today, but due to some other hardware giving me a hard time (no TATE screens, PS360 start button not working), I only had the chance to test it with the XBLA port of SEGA’s classic, Shinobi.

Toodles SPARK 2

The protective layer is supposed to keep light out I guess

The stick felt very nice, but I’m sure I’ll be needing a much harder spring to really enjoy it. Also, my only JLF (I’ve never liked ’em that much) was rebuilt from a bunch of scrapped ones I had laying around the house, so not a prime candidate for a good test.

Toodles SPARK 3

Godlike indeed

The SPARK PCB however performed wonderfully, and the installation took about 10 minutes, most of that time went into removing an LS-32 from one of my EGRET II’s and installing the SANWA. The small one-wire power harness (for the +5V the SPARK needs to operate) had a wire that would reach my PS360 down by the JAMMA harness easily.

Toodles SPARK 4

That mounting plate fits my EGRET II if you're wondering

Toodles SPARK 5

One last shot - I later noticed that I had the PCB connector facing the wrong way

To buy one: click. Currently priced at $55 + shipping.

Thanks for the awesome jdm714 for facts-checking!

I bought a Flip video recorder

So now I can upload videos with ease in better quality than just using my small digicam. First up is my no-miss run of ESPGALUDA II Omake! that is now part of my write-up of the 360 release you can find here: https://emphatic.se/?p=665

Battle Garegga movestrip added to the artwork section

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Guwange move strip added to the artwork section.

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More SUZO 500 modding

Fans of the SUZO 500 stick might have noticed that the shaft doesn’t center properly due to the pivot being a couple of mm’s short of filling the hole in the base. Monouchi (a Swedish guy who did the incredible Do-Donpachi Daifukkatsu stick that you might have seen online) solved this by adding some heat shrink tubing to the pivot. Polish joystick guru Kowal made his own pivot part from steel. I found my own solution for this – just pop an O-ring on the pivot and it fits perfectly, doesn’t wiggle around anymore and the friction from the O-ring against the base is negligible. A 5 minute job if you have the O-ring at hand.

SUZO 500 - "O-ring mod"

SUZO 500 - "O-ring mod" (custom shaft with chrome shaft cover of course)

One other mod I’ve been wanting to try is using a softer spring than the very stiff original one. Sure, it feels nice with a tight stick, but for longer sessions your hand can get tired.

The best way (I’ve been told) is to heat up the original spring, then compress it, but it seems a bit drastic to me as reversing such a mod might be cumbersome. So, I took a JLF spring I had laying around, an LS-32 dust washer and after cutting some of the washer away with a regular pair of scissors, it works pretty well as a washer for the SUZO 500’s security clip.

In my picture below it looks like the clip is barely stuck in the groove, but it actually sits there. I might try a regular e-clip when I find a metal washer with a 10 mm hole that I can put there instead of the cut up dust washer.

SUZO 500 - "Light spring mod" (custom shaft, JLF spring + new washer)

SUZO 500 - "Light spring mod" (custom shaft, JLF spring + new washer)

I haven’t mounted the stick in my panel yet to try it properly, but it feels very nice with this spring. The downside though is that it allows you to pull the shaft upwards for about 10 mm’s, which might put more tension on the O-ring mod than I’m comfortable with.

Update: Found a nice washer in the hardware store:

SUZO 500 with Sanwa JFL spring + metal washer

SUZO 500 with Sanwa JFL spring + metal washer

Some guys at a Swedish forum and I are discussing the build a new arcade stick case in metal, so I might put this in there for some proper testing once that one is ready to assemble. The SUZO 500 was my premium shmups stick of choice, but now the FrancoB modded LS-32 and my Virtstick are hard to beat so I *need* somewhere else to put the SUZO. I’m gonna keep looking for a better washer as well as a more fitting spring, but the JLF one is a good start.

In other news, I just finished the last down-payment for another shmup PCB for my collection. Hint: it’s the Japanese B version.  😀

Prototype time!

This Monday I received a couple of really cool pieces of plastic from a good friend in the UK (FrancoB @ Arcade Otaku).

Custom plastic

Custom plastic

Why are these so cool you say? Well, they are enhanced replacement parts for a very popular joystick model among us shmup fans.

Clue #2

Clue #2

For some of you, the cat is now out of the bag, but here’s a couple of more pics:

Clue #3

Clue #3 - Don't they look thick and nice?

Clue #4

Clue #4 - They're so fresh they still have plastic dust. 🙂

Clue #4

Clue #5 - They really make a great difference

Yes, those pieces of Original plastic (the dyed ones) are indeed from the Seimitsu LS-32. Now, what happens when you use the custom replacements? Well, let’s say that the LS-32 has never felt tighter.

These parts won’t magically fix the issues the LS-32 has by design, like that wiggle room you have with the stick in it’s neutral position before any switch is triggered. I’ve heard about some sort of shaft malfunction where the shaft “jumps” if you hit the gate too hard (never had it happen myself) that may not be covered by this improvement either, but the stick will get WAY tighter. None of my LS- sticks are brand new, but with these added, it feels like when you have a brand new stick and pull the spring out to twice it’s original height.

Sadly, I haven’t had much time to really test ’em yet. Played some games of Sky Shark two nights ago in MAME and I loved the feel of the stick. Next test game up is Ketsui (also in MAME) as that’s what I’ve been playing the most for a couple of years now. The only LS-32 I had mounted in anything (before receiving word I’ll by testing these out) is inside this funky CD Case stick:

Test stick for the prototype

Test stick for the prototype - Custom 38 mm balltop from SugarKane.

I have also put an LS-36-01 (LS-32-01 with LS-4O shaft) in one of my EGRET II’s as there are some minimal differences in how these parts fit the LS-32 and the LS-32-01 individually. Hopefully I’ll be trying it out this week. Other stuff is taking too much time. :/

Added native iPhone support for this site

Now when you browse this site in your iPhone, you see that the layout is drastically changed. If you don’t like it, just scroll down until you reach the bottom and untick the Phone Mode in your iPhone’s browser.

Akai Katana Shin / updated video settings

Today I received CAVE’s latest Japan only 360 offering, Akai Katana Shin from Videogameimports. It looks totally awesome in the cabinet. I’ll make a longer post about it as I’ve had time to play it.

Akai Katana cover

Akai Katana cover

Akai Katana (Arcade mode) closeup

Akai Katana (Arcade mode) closeup

Akai Katana (Arcade mode) closeup 2

Akai Katana (Arcade mode) closeup 2

I also updated my Article about 360 game screen settings for your cabinet to include this game.

Got Bullet Soul today… AVOID IT!

I’m sad to say that I’m very disappointed with this release. I read EOJ’s review here: http://www.cave-stg.com/?p=1291 but as he and I have quite different opinions when it comes to CAVE’s efforts even (we both share the feeling that content is key though), I thought that my feelings about this title would be a little bit more positive than his. Alas, no.

The music and sound effects are terrible (the quality), the bullet patterns are kinda bland, and what’s up with the pointless bullet cancelling? It’s after all, the “soul” of the game, right? I had a quick look at the game after installing it to the XBox’ hard drive, and later when I had time to do a proper play test, decided to play the game with the music of my own choice instead. So, pumping techno playing in the background, sound FX turned way down, I began searcing for a reason to like the game. On my first credit, I reached the last boss! I’m not some super play guy, honest, so that’s just wrong. It’s not a Novice mode, right?

I think that the developers thought that making the boss fights very long, they would feel “epic”, but it’s just boring. If the patterns would be fun to dodge, they still take forever, taking any fun out of that. Here’s a tip, just stand in the bottom middle of screen and you won’t have to dodge much at all. :/ Just watch out for the last pattern from each boss, as those seem to contain aimed bullets at least once or twice.

So, is this game worth your money/time? I say, get the demo first, apparently available from the Live! Marketplace right now (for Gold members) and the 18th for Silver/Free members. But don’t do what I did, get fooled by the eye candy and the videos and order this without trying it first.

You only get one game mode, there’s no difficulty setting etc. This should’ve been an XBLA title @ 400 Live! points.