Ask RedWolf: On Famicom, Winds, and Pyramids

July 18th, 2007 by Benj Edwards

Ask RedWolf Logo[ “Ask RedWolf” is a regular column where Benj Edwards (aka RedWolf) answers readers’ questions about computers and video games. ]

Late last year, I started fielding questions for a new series called “Ask RedWolf”(“RedWolf” being my long-time online alias that I used to go by on this blog). Many months later, I’m finally getting around to releasing the first one.

This time around, I discuss a technical question on the Sharp Twin Famicom and give my best educated guesses on two requests for game identification, which our readers might be able to help with. And of course, you can always ask me questions yourself for the next column. On with the show.

Sharp Twin Famicom: Polarity is Everything

Hey. I just bought a Sharp Twin Famicom and some games. I’m hesitant to plug it in because of the power supply differences, and want an expert to tell me what to use or what to get at Radio Shack if I need anything. I have every US Nintendo system ever made, if that helps. I’ve heard that other power supplies may work in this situation. Anything else I need to worry about? AV cords? I got a white and yellow cord. Is that gonna work? Thanks.

Brett Martin

Sharp Twin FamicomAh, the fabled Twin Famicom. I bought one some years ago (for way too much — don’t ask) and have still never managed to find a suitable replacement for the internal rubber band in the disk drive, although I stopped looking about four years ago. For those of you who don’t know, Sharp produced a licensed Famicom (Japanese NES) clone with a built-in Famicom disk drive unit in 1986 and called it the “Twin Famicom.” Its all-in-one design was handy to eliminate cable clutter, and it makes Famicom freaks happy to this day.

The Twin Famicom calls for 7.6V DC input with center-positive polarity, which means the positive contact is in the center (the “tip”) and the negative contact is on the outside (the “ring”) of the connector. Observing polarity in DC power supplies is extremely important; if you get it wrong, you’ll probably ruin the console’s voltage regulator, which would require non-trivial Sharp Twin Famicom Power Connectorrepair to for someone with no electronics experience. For the Twin, a common 9V DC, ~1 amp adapter will do the job just fine.

Why 9V DC when it says 7.6V DC? Well, the console has a component I mentioned previously called a voltage regulator which tolerates a small range of voltages around the target, something like + or – 5V deviation from 7.6V. If you measure an AC adapter with a voltmeter, you’ll find that its output is almost always higher than it says on the label. And good luck finding a 7.6V DC adapter at Radio Shack — 9V adapters are common, and they do the trick.

I personally modified a Genesis AC Adapter (Model 1602), switching the polarity by rewiring the connector. For those of you who don’t want to do any snipping, just buy the proper AC adapter at Radio Shack. You’ll have to get the connector right, too: the Twin needs a cylindrical (or “barrel”) connector about 5mm in diameter, with an ~3mm dia. hole for the center pin. You can cannibalize another adapter for the connector if you want; just make sure it’s a snug and proper fit.

As for the 2nd question, a standard A/V cable with male photo jacks on both ends will work fine for the Twin. The yellow jack on the Twin is for video, and the white is for mono audio output. Luckily for us North Americans, Japan uses the NTSC standard, so you’ll have no trouble hooking those AV jacks up to your regular ‘ole TV — assuming it has a composite video input, of course.

Have fun playing the original Super Mario Bros. 2!

Castle of the Winds

Hello. i need help finding out the title and maybe if its still possible to buy shareware game that was released by Titanium seal…i cant really remember the title too well its an rpg game where you can be either a guy or girl and you start off in a village, you have to make your way up to a castle and battle through the random floors against many a different foe. When you get near the top you find a medal and it tells you what happened but after that the games finished unless u go online to buy the rest or what ever? It was 2-d graphics pretty simple really but i want it again only bit of the title i can remember is something like kings of castles..along them lines anyways if you do help well…thanks a lot. if you don’t cheers anyway for taking the time to read my email

James Wright

Castle of the WindsThanks for writing, James. My best guess of what you’re talking about is an old Windows 3.1 rouguelike called Castle of the Winds. Epic Megagames published the title in 1989, brining forth what might have been the first graphical RPG for Microsoft Windows. It was a great game for its time; it was one of the few shareware games I actually registered in the early 1990s. Rick Saada, Castle’s author, released the entire game for free in 1998, and you can download it here (hosted on VC&G).

A Bit of a Mystery

I have been looking for a game of which I can’t recall the name…but the game starts out with you being at the bottom of a pyramid and through various trials you face you work your way up to the top of the pyramid. Once you manage to beat the various trials set before you in the dark pyramid..
At the top is a space ship for which you needed fuel…you fuel up and fly off in your spaceship…Do you know the name or have you ever hard of it?

Celia

Apogee's Monuments of MarsSince I don’t know the platform, genre, or era of the game you’re talking about, it’s hard to narrow it down. I’ll assume the game is relatively old, since this site is called Vintage Computing and Gaming. The first games that come to mind are Monuments of Mars and Pharaoh’s Tomb, both shareware titles published by Apogee in the early 1990s (If you’d like to download them, check here). But Pharaoh’s Tomb doesn’t involve spaceships, as far as I know, and while Monuments of Mars has a space theme, it doesn’t match your description 100%. If anybody out there has any ideas as to what the game is, feel free to leave a comment.

Have a Question for RedWolf? Click Here to Ask.



11 Responses to “Ask RedWolf: On Famicom, Winds, and Pyramids”

  1. Celia Says:

    Hello Red Wolf,
    Thank you for answering my question to the best of you knowledge. This game I am referring to was during the close of the Atari era and the beginning of the Nintendo era. It was back when you could order cable TV with a gaming channel. In Ohio where I was living at the time it was called,”Omni-Vision”. It was suppose to have come out of England initially. A man walked into a pyramid through a dark tunnel. As he unlocked the secrets of the rooms throughout the pyramid he climbed to the top of the pyramid. He encountered poison urns, scorpions etc. you were asked to make a decision if you chose the wrong one you died, if you chose right you went to the next area. Does any of this ring a bell? As he nears the top he finds a gas can full of fuel. Puzzled as to why you need it you take it to the top of the pyramid where you find a Space ship, you fuel up the ship and take off the game ends. I’m not sure but I think it might even have the word Pyramid in it…Sure hope you can find it for me.
    Thanks for your time…Celia

  2. Benj Edwards Says:

    Celia, thanks for the comment. Your new details make it a much more interesting challenge! Was Omni-Vision a Videotex / Teletext service, where you had a set-top box that hooked to the phone line (and a TV) and possibly got its downstream data from the cable? Was the game text only, or did it have primitive still pictures too that loaded as you went along? If not, what computer/game system did you play it on?

    If it was an online, teletext-only game, then it will be hard to track down, but I have a bigger collection of books on teletext than anyone I know, so I’ll take a look. 🙂

  3. james wright Says:

    OH MY GOD!!!!
    YOU ARE AMAZING
    i cant believe you found it so easily and quickly
    yeah thats the precise game cheersi think you’ve actually my my year!
    And you have the page to get it from
    even better
    thanks alot

  4. Jake of 8bitjoystick.com Says:

    I gets my Origional Japanese SMB 2 on on my copy of Famicom Mini Series Vol. 21 Super Mario Bros. 2 for Gameboy Advance

    Check it out
    http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/digitaljoystick/archives/117481.asp
    http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/digitaljoystick/archives/117548.asp

  5. Benj Edwards Says:

    Hey Jake, that looks cool. I need to pick up a copy of that. Congrats on the column at the Seattle PI, by the way!

  6. James Says:

    thats cool that you found castle of the winds but ive been looking for a few days and i havent found the sequal

  7. Kitsunexus Says:

    BECAUSE YOU ARE SAD PANDA.

  8. joshua kauffman Says:

    i have been looking for a type of space game that was on the old compilation cd by expert games 250 best arcade games
    this game was played using files on your computer, it was shareware
    any help is appreciated
    if you can find some pictures i can verify if it is what i am thinking about

  9. Benj Edwards Says:

    Joshua,

    The game you’re talking about is called Operation: Inner Space. You can find it here. It’s actually one of my favorite PC games.

  10. Paul Says:

    Hi, i am looking for a game i played about 10 years ago and i cant remember the title of. It is an rpg/adventure game out of “250 Best Arcade Games” in 1998. It’s a top-down game where all monsters/npcs/items are represented by tile icons. It’s a d&d’esque game allowing the player to build a party of characters at the beginning and then level them up in their chosen class. Race is chosen also and one of the races is ‘nephilim’. It was a very expansive game world even in just the trial version. Sorry but i can’t remember any more details. I am looking for a place to download this game, if it exists anywhere. Thanks 🙂

  11. freddie Says:

    Hi ..I tried googling to find out about a game I played as a kid and Cecilia’s description is an exact match of what I’m looking for. It was either late 80’s or early 90’s and it was available through cable tv in London, UK. It didn’t look like the image you’ve posted of Monuments of Mars, from what I can recollect the images were more cartoon/picture like. Did you ever manage to find out what game it was? Thank you..

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