Monday, June 29, 2009

Virtua Tennis 2009 Minigame (iPhone & iPod Touch 2G)

SEGA has yet again stealthily dropped an iPhone game, but this time it's not a Genesis game! Virtua Tennis 2009 Minigame is a free download, and is very much NOT Virtua Tennis 2009 for the iPhone. The minigame within the app is titled "Launch Raquet", and requires the player to swing their iPhone when prompted to via light and/or vibration. Make a SMASH! and you get a point, miss and your opponant scores. Sounds like a very shallow Wii game, eh?

Regardless of the light gameplay, the fact that it's free is a big plus. Compare what a free app like Virtua Tennis 2009 Minigame to Prope's .99 cent offerings. I'll take a free so-so app to a $1 so-so app anyday. Now if only SEGA made Virtua Tennis 2009 for the iPhone. You can download the free app here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Happy 18th Birthday Sonic!

Today marks the 18th anniversary of our favorite speedy smart-alick, Sonic the Hedgehog! While Sonic the Hedgehog was released 18 years ago today for the Mega Drive/Genesis, in the mobile gaming world it wasn't until December 28th, 1991 that the Master System incarnation of Sonic 1 hit the Game Gear. You can count on The Nomad Junkyard to not only celebrate today, but also the upcoming mobile anniversary. Trust me, I have something planned.

In other anniversary news, Shadow the Hedgehog and Rouge the Bat share an 8th anniversary today with the release of Sonic Adventure 2. But few fail to remember that the President, his secretary, Gerald and Maria ALSO turn 8 today! Forgettable supporting characters, we salute you!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Lost in New York


This past weekend my girlfriend and I were visiting some old friends in New York City. Our first stop was a visit to VideoGamesNewYork, a small but jam-packed game shop that had everything from the Odyssey to the 360. On our way to the shop, things took a turn for the awesome when we spotted Kevin McCallister himself, Mister Macaulay Culkin!

I managed to snap the photo seen above just before Culkin spotted us and hailed a taxi. Seconds later, and I shit you not, Liev Schreiber (Sabertooth of Wolverine) was walking on the opposite side of the street with his son! The gaming gods must have planned all of this as upon entering VideoGamesNewYork I spotted Home Alone 2 for the Genesis and a poster advertising the next-gen Wolverine game.

So what did the store have to offer in terms of SEGA games and systems? In five words: a hell of a lot. You'd be hared pressed to even find a store back in the mid-90's that had this much Saturn stuff in one spot. There were literally hundreds of US and Japanese games available, as well as boxes full of controllers, multi-taps and 4meg carts. After the excitement receded, I asked myself "how could this much Saturn stuff go unsold?" I quickly had my answer: the prices were (for the most part) ludicrous! Games that would go for $5 on ebay were $25, shrink-wrapped stinkers like CROC went for $60 and used controllers were $25. More examples outside of the Saturn: A new Dreamcast was $140, used VMUs were $14.99 each (without caps), Sonic Adventure was $60 and a used Master System Converter was $90. Ouch.

Despite lots of overly priced items, there were some deals to be found. Many staple Saturn games like Daytona USA and Virtua Fighter 2 were between $5 and $9. The Bomberman Multi-tap was $60, new in box.

On the Dreamcast side, the often overpriced Illbleed was $9 and the rare official Dreamcast to Neo Geo Color link cable was $25 and was well stocked (I counted a dozen or so). Genesis and Sega CD games went for reasonable prices, though if you wanted a boxed cartridge you'd spend $25+ for games like Sonic 2 and Golden Axe.

A healthy supply of Game Gear carts were available, though systems were not to be found. The now defunct (in America) TV tuner was $90 used and a good portion of the games were on the expensive side. In my opinion Krusty's Funhouse should be free.

In the end I left with a small amount but excellent selection of items. I snagged Floigan Bros., Illbleed and a third-party ASCII controller for $30 total. Not too shabby! Unfortunately I didn't obtain any Saturn items, as I really had my eye on their rarer games but couldn't handle their prices.

Overall, visiting VideoGamesNewYork was a great experience, if only for the opportunity to stand before hundreds of classic SEGA games. There ARE deals to be found, but I'd advise making up a list of games you're on the lookout for beforehand and comparing the online price to what VideoGamesNewYork offers. You can check out their website here and view more photos of the shop here.

Note: You can also find this article at The Saturn Junkyard.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Golden Axe hacks and slashes the iPhone!

At absolutely no fanfare or warning, SEGA's Golden Axe has hit the iPhone and iPod Touch app store! Rather than writing a full article (you'll notice I already did one earlier today) I'll lazily direct you to the article at touch arcade.

But a few brief comments from me: SEGA has thankfully used the full Genesis control pad layout, but it looks rather cramped and oddly placed. Those who have bought the game seem to enjoy it much more than the iPhone's Sonic the Hedgehog port, probably due to the fact that Golden Axe doesn't rely on high speeds. Also, the accelerometer is an optional control with a tilt left or right for onscreen movement. Cool stuff. You want it? Buy it here for $4.99.

SEGA Nomad Model 2 - An Evaluation

Back at E3 a hardware developer named INNEX Inc. previewed a collection of Genesis/Mega Drive machines. One device was very close to (if not the same) as the Blaze or Tectoy pre-loaded portable Genesis, containing 20 games and requiring AAA batteries. Nothing too exciting, as we've seen this many times already.

Their second offering was touted as the Genesis Model 4 and is offically licensed by SEGA. The Model 4 features little in terms of aesthetic, resembling a black doorstop and quite frankly I think you'd be better off with a Model 3 if you're looking for a small inexpensive Genesis system. In an interview with Joey Ngoy, VP of INNEX, the Model 4 is supposed to support a cartridge that they had developed to hold an SD card that could play downloaded games. While an impressive idea, Joey seemed a bit out of touch with his product as he also claimed that the Genesis was 32-bit, that the Model 4 would play 64-bit games, said he loved the Mario Bros. while Sonic zipped around behind him (blasphemy) and thought E3 was: *shrugs shoulders* "alright."

Innex's third offering what was what caught my attention; Joey introduced the RetroGen, a portable Genesis/Mega Drive with the ability to play cartidges! Say it ain't so Joey! The RetroGen was shown to have a built-in rechargable battery, a TV out port and the ability to play Innex's SD card cartridge. Unfortunatly, there is no second controller port (score one for the Nomad) and the controls look like crap. Hopefully this is just an early model.

Our boy the Nomad even got a mention! The N'Sync-reject interviewer stated that the RetroGen is for "all those guys out there out there who missed out on the Nomad, because the Nomad is expensive still and very hard to find." While I'd disagree, as the Nomad is still quite easy to find on ebay and is often combined with a load of accessories and games for nominal prices, it's nice to know that gamers are still aware of the Nomad.

The RetroGen retails for $59.99 and is due for release July 25th, 2009. Currently it is only available for pre-order on the VideoGamesCentral website (who also held the advertisement- I mean interview).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Nomad joins the cult of Segata

Father Krishna of the Saturn Junkyard has cordially invited me to join his team, so how did I reply? I put him into a head lock and threw him into a mountainside!

Don't worry, in the land of the Saturn that's a resounding yes. You can read Father Krishna's kind introduction here. I'm looking forward to bringing an American flavor (think hamburgers and curly fries) to the Saturn Junkyard and am enjoying the changes that come over one who writes for the SJY already!


Sega of America CEO Simon Jeffrey Joins Ngmoco

I'm not the first to report this, but I'm reporting it nonetheless!
As reported by TouchArcade, Sega of America President and CEO Simon Jeffrey is leaving the company to join iPhone game studio ng:moco and head their new publishing arm. Jeffrey had this to say: "People have stopped talking about the $25 million games, and we're talking about the $25,000 games. That shift in gaming has happened remarkably quickly, and I really want to be part of that."
iPhone fans are happy to get a high profile member of the gaming industry, SEGA fans are happy to have Jeffrey gone. Win-win!

Read the full story

Saturday, June 13, 2009

My Dreamcast Collection - Photo Edition

While I'm holding off on showing my entire SEGA collection until the completion of the Fortress of SEGAtude aka our computer/video game/guest room (finishing this October), now is a good time as ever to show the Dreamcast portion.
The Dreamcast makes up a bulk of my SEGA collection, with a third of the Dreamcast finds made this year. I'd like to thank the Dreamcast Junkyard and especially the Gagaman in highlighting many obscure games and accessories. Enough chatter, this article is about the goods!

The smoke-colored system seen below was what my first Dreamcast looked like, before it "blew up" in a power surge during a late night Phantasy Star Online session. I found this photo online as my dead system is "buried" in my parent's storage room. Someday I hope to stick some working innards in the smoke shell again.

Moving on the Japanese games, you can see many- OLIVE, MOVE!!!!

Sorry about the cat.
I also have a small amount of games, accessories, Official Dreamcast Magazines (issues 3-12) and demo discs in storage back at my parents house, as shown below.

The last piece is the newest addition to the collection, the Dreamcast EP from our friends at! $5 gets you the full EP, complete with exclusive tracks, plus an album from one of the many bands who contributed. It's $5 well spent, so get over to their site now and show your love.

edit: I had to mention, in a moment of boredom I calculated the average review scores of my entire collection. It equaled 8.3/10! Just goes to show how much of a quality library the Dreamcast has.

Friday, June 12, 2009

"Talking Classics" Talks the Nomad

It seems that EVERY video game video commentator has the need to talk about the Nomad, maybe more know about the upcoming 15th anniversary than I was led to believe. The latest is from Stuttering Craig aka Keith Apicary of ScrewAttack, which is much less a review than a knock on older single men who do nothing but play video games. As I'm none of the above, I found it pretty funny. The best bit is Keith's attempt at carrying a Nomad in his pocket. We've all tried it and it just doesn't work.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Game Gear TV Tuner - In Memorium

This Friday, June 12th, marks the end of an era. With the United States shutting off analog television signals, the SEGA Game Gear TV Tuner will be rendered obsolete. I was reminded of this revolutionary piece of hardware while browsing the local used games store last night. A TV Tuner was selling for $47, a rather high price when compared to the average $25 price on ebay. I was unable to talk down the price, even when noting that in four days it will create nothing but screen snow. Had I bought the tuner, I'd still be unable to use it as my Game Gear is one of the later Majesco models which were incompatible with the TV Tuner as they lacked a video pass through.

So in the Game Gear TV Tuner's final days, smoke 'em if you got 'em! Enjoy the morning news, watch that baseball game or catch that tear jerking episode of Days of Our Lives.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

PROPE iPhone Games Appear

Two PROPE developed iPhone and iPod Touch games quietly appeared earlier last week. The games, titled 10 Count Boxer and Fluffy Bear, sell for 99 cents each. 10 Count Boxer features a rather oddly written description, touting Johnny the gusty boxer whom refuses to lose. From what the description loosely implies, players are asked to pummel an opponent who refuses to fight back and will stand up after each blow. The object of the game, it seems, is to see how many times you can hit your opponent to the point where he falls down. The more times Johnny gets up before the final K.O., the higher your score. So you're supposed to torture the guy rather than finish him off immediately? The odd rules haven't helped the game, which at the moment has zero reviews and possibly zero downloads.

Fluffy Bear is a similarly confusing game. At first glance, it looks like a virtual pet. But it is actually much less than that. The object of the game is to lift the limp bear with your finger until he stands. The sooner he stands, the higher your score. Again, zero reviews and probably zero downloads.

It seems SEGA exercised their right of first refusal, as both games have no SEGA affiliation. If you're feeling adventurous, you can buy Fluffy Bear or 10 Count Boxer at the app store. C'mon PROPE, give us Let's Tap Touch!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sonic Unleashed Mobile Screens Released has released images of Gameloft's upcoming Sonic Unleashed for the mobile platform. Sega's partnership with Gameloft had been posted here less than a month ago, and already we're getting screens! Talk about fast programming. Refreshingly, Sonic Unleashed resembles the 2D scrolling Sonic we all know and love, in an art style reminiscent of the Advance series. So far the Chun-nan day and Apotos day and night levels have been revealed, with both Hedgehog and Werehog sprites fighting Eggman and an obscured Eggman robot. IGN reports that there will be 11 stages, with day and night levels as Act 1 and Act 2. That gives us 22 levels, pretty robust for a mobile release! The boost feature looks to be present as well.

While the game looks to be for mid-range cell phones, an iPhone version is not out of the question yet. Previous Gameloft games, including Terminator Salvation and Real Football 2009, have appeared in both low-end and high-end versions for cellular phones and the iPhone/iPod Touch platforms. My guess is that we will see iPhone screens soon, in a 2.5D look not unlike the Sonic Rush series. For now enjoy the screenshots!

UPDATE: Check out the game in action in the video below! Love that 16-bit rendition of the World Adventure theme. The video info states that this is an iPhone release.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My SEGA Mall Adventure!


Oh Plymouth Meeting Mall, where have you been all my life? Apparently a twenty minute drive from where I lived for the past two and a half years.
My SEGA mall adventure began when I ventured to a nearby mall to get a watch battery replaced. The Plymouth Meeting Mall had been branded "shitty" by my girlfriend as it really isn't much of a mall. Most of the stores are empty and up for lease (browse the mall map for the many "leasing opportunities"), while most of the available stores include the obscure City Blue and Mandee. Whats worse, popular stores like FYE are virtually empty. But within this recession-pit of a mall are a few gems.

The mall includes a two story Dave & Buster's, an arcade sports bar, which features a decent amount of SEGA arcade units. Entering D&B's you pass a twelve unit long Daytona USA. Surprisingly, at 5pm on a Tuesday there were five people playing it. It brought a tear to my eye. Other cabinets included a shiny new Sega Rally 3, a game I've never seen before called Let's Go Jungle, SEGA Airline Pilots, Derby Owners Club and a few more that I forgot as I was distracted by the horseys. While there were no Virtua Fighter cabinets, obscure horse racing and safari games more than made up for it. Pricing was pretty fair as well; Wednesdays were half-price and weekday nights offered an hour of play for $10. Oh, and they have beer. Consider me a D&B's regular!

My next find was a small game store called Play N' Trade. Usually I pass by game stores as the only offerings are for current-gen systems, but something about this place drew me in. Browsing the used DVD rack, an employee asked if I was looking for anything. I told him no and continued to browse, but he kept up. "What systems do you have?" I told him PS2, XBOX and Dreamcast. "Oh, we have Dreamcast games." Now he had my attention!

I followed him to a book of what they had in the back and had a look at their stock. The Dreamcast page was only ten games long, with some already crossed off, but a few games caught my attention. I asked to have a look, and while the cases were cracked and stickered the discs and inserts were great. I made off with Expendable, BANG! Gunship Elite and The Last Blade 2; all three for $15 total! Other SEGA offerings included some used Dreamcast controllers (including the ugly wide and bulky third party ones), a Saturn controller extender, four Sega CD games (all obscure or shitty, including Bram Stoker's Dracula) and a few Genesis, Master System and Game Gear boxed carts. While Play N' Trade wasn't the treasure chest I was hoping for, the fact that they buy and sell older goods at fair prices means that in the future I could very well score something great. The possibilities are endless! Interested in checking out their website? It's a myspace page. That's what I call a small business.

And so ended my SEGA mall adventure. While not an epic adventure, it's comforting to know that a slice of SEGA is just a drive away and that there are more adventures to come!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Review - SEGA Columns Deluxe (iPhone/iPod Touch)

Before beginning my review, I wanted to notify readers of the loss of a classic Dreamcast website: PlanetDreamcast is no more. An affiliate of IGN, PlanetDreamcast was my go-to website for reviews, news and recommendations (viewed via the Dreamcast browser, of course). Even in the final months, the site served me in helping to decide which games were worth bidding on. A recent visit redirected me to Panicked, I hopped into's wayback machine and was relieved to find that the site still exists... albeit in an archived form. Thankfully, all pages are intact and all images still appear. Relive a slice of the Dreamcast era and pay a visit.

REVIEW - Sega's Columns Deluxe for the iPhone and iPod touch

Released in 2008 at the price of $5, Columns Deluxe was one of two Sega Mobile games released that year (the other being Super Monkey Ball). Columns Deluxe was touted as a bargain combo package, including both Puyo Pop and Columns. I assume that as Columns is much more popular in the West, Puyo Pop was not given mention in the title. Still, I'd prefer Sega Puzzles Deluxe or Columns Puyo Deluxe as it more accuratly tells the buyer that they're getting more than one game.

As you start the app, you're treated to the classic blue SEGA logo, always a treat to see. What follows is the Columns Deluxe intro screen (seen above) followed by main menu. A flick to the right or left of the screen cycles through Puyo Pop and Columns and three other options: Settings, Help or About. If you're aggrivated by the Jigglypuff-like melody that accompanys the menu, you should quickly select settings > sound:off. Sound quality is not this game's strong suit. Don't expect even Genesis quality riffs, no awesome Mean Bean/Puyo Puyo tunes here. Thankfully, when you turn off the sound, you can listen to anything in your iTunes library. I personally enjoy Chu Chu Rocket or NiGHTS tunes.

Columns plays much like Tetris, with all pieces being three unit high stacks that feature a variety of colored gems. Matching three or more gems of the same kind clears the gems and earns you points. Columns features two modes: Endless (aka freeplay) and Vs CPU. You'll notice there is no 2 player mode. This is understandable as the iPhone is too small for two players to share a screen, though an upgrade with wi-fi play would have been welcomed. Vs CPU provides a 2 player challange against the computer and seems to be on par with the AI of previous Columns incarnations. A nice feature of Vs CPU is that if you quit mid-game, your place will be saved for the next time you play. Endless, my preferred mode, is exactly what it's called. A nearly endless session of Columns with three difficulty settings, perfect for passing time.

Like Columns, Puyo Pop plays similarly to Tetris. Pieces of two puyos (or beans, as I sometimes call them) fall in one or two color pairs. The amount of puyo colors depends on the difficulty setting. Match three or more colors and those puyos clear and earn you points. Puyo Pop features two modes: Endless and Single. Both modes play similarly to the Endless and Vs CPU of Columns.

Control is presented in two forms: touch or accelerometer. Both have their benefits and problems. Touch allows the player to drag falling pieces left, right and down. Tapping the screen shuffles the gems in the falling stack. This is my preferred method, but it takes a careful finger to make accurate moves. The pieces move robotically, asking the player to use quick finger motions for small left/right movements. Too quick of a sweep will sometimes register as a tap, inadvertantly causing the gems to shuffle. While not perfect, with practice a player can work past the problems and play a solid game. The accelerometer mode requires the player to tilt their iPhone left, right or down to move the falling pieces. Unfortunatly, there is no accelerometer adjustment screen, so it takes time figuring out how slight of a tilt will move a piece one unit to the left. Tapping remains as the method in shuffling gems.

Graphics are a mixed bag. While the pixel resolution is better than the Genesis, and on par with the Saturn, it could've been much better on the iPhone. Clearly Sega didn't use the hardware to it's full potential. Gem and puyo animation is decent, though not as fluid as Columns and Puyo's Genesis incarnations.

Overall, Columns Deluxe could have MUCH better. But for what it is, it's a great combo package of two Sega classics. At the price of $5 I could only reccomend it to Sega fans, as there are much better puzzle games on the iPhone (Aurora Feint comes to mind). But as of this review, Columns Deluxe has been reduced to $1.99 [buy now], leading me to reccomend this game to both Sega fans and puzzle game fans. It's not perfect, but for the price you get a lot.

The Nomad rates
Columns Deluxe: