Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Arcade Virtual Boy

The interface of the Virtual Boy Arcade machine by Tighe Lory.

Arcade Virtual BoyI ran across this project a few weeks ago and even though it doesn’t have much to do with system linking I thought I’d share it, just because it’s so awesome! Note: As far as I can tell, the Virtual Boy did have a link cable in development but it never saw the light of day.

You can read more about it on Tighe Lory’s Blog, but to boil it all down into one short, clichéd analogy: basically Tighe took life’s lemons (namely, a Virtual Boy with no stand, controller, or power supply) and made sweet, sweet lemonade! Not only does the cabinet look amazing, it also uses a custom, adjustable headset unit to replace one of the major drawbacks of the original, the headset stand. It was just recently put up for sale and sold for somewhere in the neighborhood of $2500, and even though I’d never be able to put down the money for something like that, I’m still a little disappointed that I can’t have a go on it myself. Check out the blog I linked to above for more pictures and info – it’s definitely worth a read through. Tighe also posted a detailed build log on the KLOV forums. Finally, he also uploaded a YouTube video of the cabinet in all its glory which is also embedded below:

Truly lateral thinking of withered technology if I’ve ever seen it. Gunpei Yokoi would be proud!

Reading Katakana (Japanese Writing)

The Japanese language is prevalent throughout the video game industry, especially with retro gaming. The surprising thing is, many of these words can be “read” by someone who doesn’t know any Japanese at all. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not expert at Japanese – I’m really not much more than a beginner, but I thought I’d share some of what I do know.

There are three different character sets in the Japanese writing system: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Kanji comes from Chinese characters and are what people typically think of when they think of Japanese – thousands of symbols which each represent different words, phrases, and ideas and which can be combined to represent even more. This article will NOT be talking about Kanji. The other two character sets, Hiragana and Katakana, are both a syllabary – more akin to our own romanized alphabet. There are only five vowel sounds in Japanese (compared to English where there are five characters representing vowels but more than twice that number of actual vowel sounds). Each character of Hiragana/Katakana represents a consonant paired with one of these vowels. The only difference between Hiragana and Katakana is that Hiragana is used to write native Japanese while Katakana is used to write “foreign” words. Thus Katakana could technically be used to write words from any language but, of the words I’ve run into at least, more than 90% of the time, they’re English words.

Now, ordinarily, this wouldn’t be all that useful – you may be able to pick out a word here or there if it’s written in Katakana and you can work out what it means, but the vast majority of Japanese is, in fact, Japanese. However, from what I’ve seen of Japanese writing in the video game industry, a great deal of the titles and names and whatnot are derived from English, written in Katakana, and can thus be fairly easily read even by someone who doesn’t know Japanese. Below is a chart showing all of the Katakana characters and their romanized pronunciation (Romaji).

  Romaji Katakana
A I U E O A I U E O
a i u e o
K ka ki ku ke ko
G ga gi gu ge go
S sa shi su se so
Z za ji zu ze zo
T ta chi tsu te to
D da ji zu de do
N na ni nu ne no
H ha hi fu he ho
B ba bi bu be bo
P pa pi pu pe po
M ma mi mu me mo
Y ya yu yo
R ra ri ru re ro
W wa wo
n/m

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