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Neo Neo Fuji

I've launched my new site/blog/thing today at - basically it's going to be Neo Fuji 2.0 and you should totally go and check it out!

This site is just going to serve as an archive from now on (I never used it since I started Handheld Underground anyway, and parts of it are getting a bit outdated/unwieldy) but hopefully I'll see you all over there!

posted by taizou at 19:42:06 on 08/02/2014 in uncategorised ~ comments (0)

let's hold hands

hey! just a quick (because it's, like, 3:30am) announcement here - my previously mentioned new site, Handheld Underground (the one that's already had a youtube channel for ages), is now up! there's no content yet though. but that's all coming!

posted by taizou at 03:31:29 on 19/07/2012 in uncategorised ~ comments (0)

back on the net

sorry about all the downtime lately, my (now former) host has been (and probably still is) having some pretty massive problems, not least of which being that they don't actually seem to have any human staff any more. but hey, i'm back with yet another shiny new host! which hopefully won't crap out on me or anything! yay!

anyway i'm pretty sure everything should be back to normal - and possibly faster - but since I had to restore all this manually I might have overlooked something, so if you notice anything broken or missing then leave a comment. Unless the comments are the thing that's broken, in which case email me instead. Thanks!

posted by taizou at 02:37:47 on 11/05/2012 in uncategorised ~ comments (0)

tubes underground

breaking internet news of, i'm sure, massive importance: i've started yet another youtube channel, for gameboy games. this is partially because i'm planning to more or less start a whole new site for handheld stuff, which will be here when it's ready.

i dunno if this will take off, maybe it'll all just get quietly folded back into neofuji when i can't be arsed with it anymore (it's a bit of a gamble because "handheld underground" has an obvious focus to it, whereas neofuji's nonspecifity has served it well over the years - i can basically cover anything or nothing on here. like how it used to be mostly about japanese budget games, and now it isn't. and did you know when i first started it i was planning to do something about movies as well? that never happened obviously) but for now this is definitely a thing i'm going to do. so, check out the youtube channel for now, there are two things up there already. and watch this space for more site info!

posted by taizou at 04:16:47 on 18/03/2012 in uncategorised ~ comments (0)

Shaoling Legend ~hero, the saver~

The last couple of Game Boy games I've featured here have been in Chinese, mostly because these things are usually made in either China or Taiwan and it's generally easier to find them in those places (plus there are agents who will forward stuff onto you, which are a rarity in most countries). But there was a huge market for Game Boy games elsewhere too, and it'd be a foolish semi-legitimate game developer that didn't take advantage of it. So it was that Sintax ended up producing English (and apparently sometimes German) versions of most of its earlier games, from knockoffs of popular franchises to obscure Chinese history-based titles that you would think had no chance of selling in the rest of the world. And here's one of them! Shaoling legend: hero, the saver (lack of capitalisation not mine, for once)

The presence of a small cut out piece of train ticket here is a mystery that will confound mankind for years to come. Also it's because my camera was refusing to focus on the fairly subtle embossed Sintax logo on the back and I wanted to give it something contrasty to pick up on. Which worked, so there.

You may also notice that there's a place for a battery on the PCB but no actual battery - when I got the cart, there was a battery in there, but given that the game doesn't actually save anything I used it for something else. So why was it even there in the first place - did they reuse a PCB from some other unsold game, or what?

The intro seems to mostly consist of digitised photos, I'm guessing stills from some Chinese movie or other. And, naturally, with this being the English version, some text I can actually understand for once! Sort of.

Year621 A.D., Sui dynasty, because of the tyranny, lost support of people, no enough power to control the whole country. Then, many excellent men emerged and attracted groups of fighters around them. come the time the wisest man, the emperor.

Lishiming, King of Qing, executed the command of Liyuan, the emperor of Tang, kidnapped the emperor of Sui to control othe warlords. but the warlord Wangshichong, coronated him the emperor, and build the Zhe kindom. He settled the army in the bank of Yellow river and wanted to destroy Tang. In Zheng kindom, Lishiming worked as a spy and knew the troops of Wangshichong has crossed the Yellow river unknowingly. However he couldn't get out from Zheng. luckily, He met the martial monks of Shaolin temple. These monks saved his life, finally with the help of monks, Lishiming returned back to the region of Tang and took his army defeated Wangshichong.

At last, Lishiming, king of Qing, became the first emperor of prosperous Tang Dynasty, and the Shaolin temple, the only place got access to practice martial arts.

"Fantasic ShaoLin Kungfu" it is, then. Consistency was never really their strong point.

Four characters. oh the excitement. Jue Yuan is the most shaolin-ish, Li Shi Ming manages to look totally stylish when he's fighting, Cheng Yao Jin is the requisite big dude with an axe, and Qing Qiong has a pretty awesome sword + arrows combo thing going on.

- 621A.D the endof the sui dynasty, the world was in discorder. Qing king of the Tang, LiShiMing in order to united the An Ancient Name for China, led the army fight the troops of the Zhen beside the Huang River. The high-ranking miltary officer of the Zhen Vulture mete -

So anyway, here's something you wouldn't expect based on the last Sintax game I covered here - this thing is actually good! Like, seriously. It's a beat 'em up, basically just a reskin of one of their Three Kingdoms games, which itself was probably a BBD production. But there's an experience system, and bosses and combos and special moves and stuff, and most importantly it's actually fun to play and everything. Not something you could say about Bynasty Warriors. The graphics are mostly quite nice, and the music is stolen (from where, I forget - KOF maybe?) but fitting, unlike, say, this.

- On Huang River decisive battle, the troops of Turk appeared from back while the Tang Gone to win, LiShiMing forced to retreat into the Tai Yuan city. The city was encircled layer upon later by the enemy. Qing King carried out a clever device, requested the thirteen stick Buddhist monks of Shao Lin monastery to sneak attack the army of Zhen in right, the Tang's troops out of the city, The city. The Turk demon was killed. -

Some of the stages are a bit overlong mind you. It can get a bit tedious given the amount of HP they give the enemies from stage 2 onwards - it'd be nice if there was a save function to break things up a bit, which their earlier games running on the same engine actually had, but this inexplicably doesn't. Also, enemies can sometimes have an irritating tendency to wander off the side of the area and take their damn time finding their way back again.

And Stage 2 is as far as I could be arsed covering here, because I got a game over right at the boss, which sends you back to the start of the level. Did I mention the levels are long?

posted by taizou at 19:47:12 on 04/02/2012 in game boy ~ comments (7)

"Dragon Quest 9" "Crystal Version"

That last random Chinese Game Boy game turned out to be an original, even if not a particularly good one... So I have a good feeling about this next one too! Presenting DRAGON QUEST 9:

That text in the blue there says "Crystal Version". Crystal Version? Hmmmmm. I have a strange feeling this will have some degree of significance, but I'm not exactly sure why...

Oh and here's what the PCB looks like, just because. I'm being fucking thorough here.

Incidentally, this game was published by a company called Xing Xing Technology, also known as Li Cheng, also known as Winsen, also known as Yongsheng, also known as Niutoude. A lot of names for an entirely legitimate business there. This is number CBA043 in a series of far too many - but other carts from this company have turned up various original games, stuff by Vast Fame and Sintax and who knows who else, so there's bound to be something interesting in here, right? so let's start it up!

well that's a scruffy looking title screen but okay

Oh for fuck's sake.

posted by taizou at 13:28:16 on 04/02/2012 in game boy ~ comments (5)

Bynasty Warriors 5!

Bringing you something a bit more interesting this time - a game by Sintax, the ridiculously prolific (Possibly 100+ games! Although probably only about ten different engines between them) Chinese developer/publisher of mostly Game Boy Color stuff. This is one of their later games, and there was a noticeable drop in quality towards the end - their earlier stuff seems to have been developed in conjunction with BBD, which I guess is where most of the talent was.

Don't be fooled by the GBA style case here - it's actually a GBC game, so it runs in GBC mode on a GBA and doesn't work at all on a GB Micro or DS.

So, Bynasty Warriors (Advance) 5, then! BYNASTY WARRIORS. Just saying like.

As is customary for Sintax, this is basically one of their previous games with different graphics, namely their port(?) of Dragonball: Advanced Adventure, "Dragonball Z3", which I've never played (but have seen the back of the box of, at least). They really didn't try too hard to disguise it, considering it says "Gokou" RIGHT FUCKING THERE ALL THE TIME. The music, on the other hand, is... from the Game Boy Color version of Lemmings. Sintax used that music for everything. It's not even any good! Strangely enough the one place that music isn't used is the intro, which is completely silent and consists of four static pictures, depicting some badly digitised fire, four people who probably aren't in the game, and a map of China. Totally not rushed or anything, oh no.

To their credit they have at least tried to capture the whole speedy attacking thing of the original game, but the mechanics are obviously hugely simplified to the point where all you get is a regular attack, a three-move combo type thing, and a jumping slash if you attack while airborne (although good luck hitting anyone with that). Its lack of any sound effects for your attacks also detracts from it quite a bit. The gauge on the right fills up as you kill enemies and when it's full you can do a sort of spinny move by pressing up and B or something, but I don't have a screenshot of that mainly because I can't be arsed.

The first two levels are similar, lots of brown, basically looking the part for a bad Dynasty Warriors knockoff. They're also fairly linear, with various generic enemies and the obligatory health-restoring meat scattered around, although there are some irritating leaps of faith over insta-death pits mixed in, and the second chucks in dogs and dragons for you to fight alongside the standard dudes.

The third is a lot more mazelike than the previous two, complete with lots of security cameras like there were everywhere in ancient China (I'd say Sintax was making some kind of point about the levels of surveillance in modern China, but I'd probably be giving them too much credit). But I couldn't find the exit, and then I fell down a pit (oh you know those games where you can't tell which pits lead to a lower part of the level and which lead to your death, i just love those games)

And that's that! Suffice to say it's not a very good game. I don't know how many levels there are beyond the three I encountered, but I didn't see any bosses or anything. Their(/BBD's?) first two Shin Sangoku Musou games were way more enjoyable, so you should probably just play those. Or try to track down Dragonball Z3 if you want to see what their original pre-bastardised bastardisation of Advanced Adventure looked like.

... no thanks.

posted by taizou at 02:49:12 on 02/02/2012 in game boy ~ comments (1)


okay, I'm going to kick all this off with something fairly simple, purely so I can knock one out before bed (hey stop giggling, this is serious) This is what you might refer to by the portmanteau-tastic term Famicom Multicart, a variety of thing of which there are many millions on this planet; ever since someone in Taiwan back in the 80s had the bright idea of bootlegging several games for the popular Famicom on a single cartridge, they've never stopped rolling off production lines across Asia and beyond (maybe).

This particular example I got brand new from Taiwan around 2003-4 or so, with thanks (and many apologies) to the non-English-speaking seller who I undoubtedly frustrated to no end trying to communicate with using Babelfish, and it has no less than 16 games crammed into its turquoise plasticness. It's a pretty good selection - nothing too common for these carts, a nice variety of international super-hits and weird Japanese obscurities. And it's no. 1681, in a series of... who knows?

Its menu calls it "HIT TV GAME TOP 16 IN SUMMER" and credits it to "NIPPON BACKUP STAR" which apparently has existed since 1994 - Google returns nothing though... until now! just to make sure: Nippon Backup Star, I said. Backup my Nippon Star. Someone must know something about these guys, surely.

As I mentioned it does have quite a nice collection of games, though you wouldn't quite know from the menu - it goes something like this:

  1. Village of Hell = Makai Mura (Ghosts & Goblins)
  2. Life Force
  3. Rush ('n) Attack
  4. Goonies 2
  5. Hector 1987
  6. Dirge of Fighter = Tatakai no Banka (Trojan)
  7. Kerra Rest = Terra Cresta
  8. Bomber King
  9. Castle Vania
  10. Fantastic Soldier (: Valis)
  11. Jardy Quest = Guardic Gaiden (Guardian Legend) (!!)
  12. Close Shave = Magnum Kiki Ippatsu
  13. Treasure Hunt = Elnark no Zaihou
  14. Animal Academy = Attack Animal Gakuen
  15. Ninja Arshoro = Ninja Kun: Ashura no Shou (the arcade version was released as both Ninja Kid 2 and "Rad Action". it is indeed pretty rad)
  16. Mr Carjefu = Kakefu kun no Jump Tengoku, Speed Jigoku (Kid Kool) (Which I like, damn it)

What kind of interests me about this cart, though, beyond its game selection, is that its presumably a Taiwanese production (you're fooling nobody with your "Nippon" business) from when Taiwan's once-mighty Famicom industry was on its way out, hamstrung by the declining popularity of an aging console, cheaper products from China and more restrictive copyright laws. Lots of later Taiwanese carts came in this kind of turquoise shell, from generic multis to original Hummer Team stuff like Shisen Mahjong 2 and their 15 in 1, and if a late Taiwanese cart didn't use one of these it was probably the long blue end-protected "TV Game Cartridge" type (which I'll probably show you at some point in the future).

Its PCB looks surprisingly well-made, fairly sizeable using several actual chips and everything, which is a rarity among carts made after the late 90s - I don't know whether this was Taiwanese companies trying to compete with China on quality (since they couldn't compete on price), or old PCB stock being stuck in a new shell, or them just doing it this way because it was easier (for a presumably smaller print run), or what. Either way, kind of interesting. Maybe.

Anyway, for the final word on this matter I'll turn you over to the cart's hidden plastic robot face:

posted by taizou at 01:40:04 on 31/01/2012 in famicom ~ comments (2)


Okay so I've decided I'm going on a bit of a different tack with this thing for a while - although I do still have a few big-ass projects and other various things planned, I've been pretty busy lately and I've become conscious of the fact that I'm accumulating all this interesting (well, to me) crap that I never mention anywhere aside from maybe a brief post on this forum, and I might as well post something about it somewhere.

It's mostly the kind of stuff that I'd previously stick up on one of my youtube channels and have done with it, but video capture/editing/conversion is the bane of my total entire existence and I really can't get satisfactory results from anything at the moment, so for now I'll be doing this through the medium of blog post. i can pretty much guarantee there'll be something in there you haven't seen before. And you can tell I'm totally serious because I hacked on an extra bit to the shit old script that runs this site and everything. happy end of the world everyone!

posted by taizou at 00:05:16 on 31/01/2012 in site updates ~ comments (1)

happy xmas, xmas people!

I was kinda hoping to have something to post for Christmas but that didn't happen. Sorry! I have like ten things in the works pending laziness as usual so, hey, you never know what might happen in 2012.

posted by taizou at 23:29:29 on 25/12/2011 in uncategorised ~ comments (4)