Category Archives: NEC

NEC PC-9821 BIOS Translation

Changing settings in the BIOS of a japanese computer can be dangerous if you don’t have any knowledge of the japanese language or don’t what you’re doing. I don’t have that much knowledge of the language either and tried to translate the BIOS.

This is how I did it: I connected my PC-9821Xe10 with a sync combiner to the Framemeister and grabbed a video of the selection of each and every BIOS menu item. Then I converted the frames of the video to image files. The images were then cropped and converted into grayscale negatives to be processed by an OCR engine. Most of the output was gibberish and every single line of text needed manual processing. The japanese text was then fed into the Bing and Google translators and some common sense added to the output.
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NEC PC-9821 and the Framemeister

The NEC PC-9821 computers output a very unusual resolution that most western monitors struggle with: 640 x 400 @ 24 kHz. I tried at least half a dozen monitors of all types and ages and none of them was able to display a picture at all (except an “out of range” message). Video scalers like the DVDO iScan VP50 Pro don’t recognize the signal either. Some sources claim that the cheap GBS-8220 converter is able to convert the signal – that is only partially true. You can see a stuttering picture that eventually becomes clear when you start the Windows 98 Desktop, but that doesn’t work in DOS.

Of course you can buy a special converter like the Micomsoft XPC-4, that will cost you 300-400€ though. There are other solutions:
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NEC PC-FX Laser Pickup HOP-E1

I’ve been struggling with a weak PC-FX laser for quite some time. What kept me from changing the laser or pickup unit was that having to take apart (and put it together later) the PC-FX is something you wouldn’t wish your worst enemy. However, getting close to the drive unit is surprisingly easy, just follow this guide.

First you need a replacement laser. I chose the complete pickup unit (Hitachi HOP-E1), it’s available for about 15€.
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Akazukin Cha-Cha and PC Engine Fan Special CD-ROM Vol.2 for PC-FX

Two more items for my PC-FX collection:

Akazukin Cha-Cha: Osawagase! Panic Race! and PC Engine Fan Special CD-ROM Vol.2
Akazukin Cha-Cha: Osawagase! Panic Race! and PC Engine Fan Special CD-ROM Vol.2

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Pyramid Plunder and ReVival Chase Super CD-ROM²

This was in the mail today: two brand new Super CD-ROM² games for NEC PC Engine.

Pyramid Plunder by Aetherbyte:

Pyramid Plunder

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The PC-FX Memory Manager

PX-FX front expansion port with FX-BMP

Because the internal storage space (32 kB) is limited sooner or later every PC-FX owner needs a FX-BMP memory backup module (128 kB).

PC-FX FX-BMP

The module is backed by two AAA batteries and has it’s own place behind an access door in the PC-FX front expansion port.

When the internal memory is full some games (e.g. Dragon Knight IV, about 12 kB free space required) refuse to start. Then it’s time to move things around until enough space is available for the game to create an initial save state.

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How to Play Super Real Mahjong P.V FX

Have you ever wondered how to play (and win!) one of those numerous Mahjong games that exist on almost every game console? I’m not talking about the in the west well known matching game but about the real Chinese or Japanese Mahjong, usually played by four players. If you are not familiar with the Japanese language or characters this is almost impossible because not many translated games exist.
I’ve found two games so far that taught me how to play (and win) in a couple of weeks:

  1. The Japanese Mahjong browser/flash game by GameDesign
  2. And FunTown Mahjong on XBLA by Microsoft Game Studios

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