bomba's House Of Flancakes

Posted on May 20th 2018 at 08:00:00 AM by (bombatomba)
Posted under Budget, Street Fighter 2010, Joycard Sansui SSS, SF, earbuds, NES, Nintendo, endcap

During the last episode, I once again suffered a humiliating defeat at the endcap of my enemy, the Budget Game Wall.  You know that thing, right?  No?  Well, this endcap (who is a complete jerk, mind you) used to sit on the end of the video game isle at my local toy store, displaying the unloved and unlovable from the NES, both old and new, at an attractive $20 price point.  But I wasnít there on that fated day for game shopping, no.  My task was much simpler: get a functioning NES controller, one I ideally wouldn't have to share with my siblings.  And since I still had another six months (at least) before my SNES came out of layaway, I needed something help me play Final Fantasy and the string of rentals and loans that would follow.  But I had no idea how much a controller would cost, having misplaced my most current Toys 'R Us circular, so I brought all $40 of my lawn-mowing money. My mom gave me a knowing look at this act, but said nothing to stop my action.  It was fine, though: This was a utility trip, not an excuse to look at games, okay mom?.  There was no reason I was going to need all that cash, right?

While I donít have an exact date for this trip, I would venture to say it was sometime in 1992, perhaps spring or early summer.  It was already warm outside, I remember that.  At this point in my life I did a lot less gaming at home, since my best friend had all the systems already and we spent pretty much every waking moment together.  I was already playing SNES and Genesis a lot at his house, but at home my own NES still saw a lot of action, mostly because of my slavish devotion to Final Fantasy (and my friend's disdain for it) and my three younger siblings.  And truth be told, I wanted to see if the local store had a copy of Final Fantasy II for sale yet.  I had cancelled my Nintendo Power subscription (at my parents suggestion) to save money for the SNES, so I had no idea what the game even looked like outside of the single pic on the poster of Nintendo Power Volume 26.  Man, I had almost forgotten how frustrating that whole ordeal was for me.

Anyway, I am clearly heading up to Toys 'R Us to (hopefully) drool over a "new" pics of Final Fantasy II, and maybe get a little retail therapy as well.  Perhaps I was even fantasizing about convincing my mom to let me buy Final Fantasy II before I even had the system, but I don't remember.  That is something I do now (so says my copy of Rare Replay). 

Were any of your parents/guardians/whatever very impatient with you at the game store?  Mine were, so I knew I couldn't linger and do "my rounds" (games, glass case, game kiosks, and back to games).  As I walked over and past the Budget Wall (glancing quickly at it) Itried to take in all the available controllers at once.  I had always been drawn to the "fancy" gamepads, so my eyes were drawn to those first.  The Mega NES pad said it was programmable (whatever that meant) which looked cool, and the NES Max looked really cool, though I wasn't completely sold on the "slider" instead of a d-pad.  There was no Advantage in sight, which I had kind of fantasized about a few years back in '89, but couldn't afford it at the time.  But there was one that I didn't remember seeing in a magazine before, one that had a few interesting looking features (and one eye-grabbing inclusion), that being the Joycard Sansui SSS.

The Joycard was huge in Japan and has many different variations, from colors to hardware.  Shown is the Hector '87 variant

I didn't remember the box at all until I was researching this, and after I can see what drew my eye to it: The earbuds.  Like most families that had a single television, it was often a battle just do anything with/on it, but if you had a especially vindictive siblings or tired parent, any sort of sound (annoying or "annoying") could make the situation worse, possible causing everyone to loose television privileges.  This often meant turning the sound down as far as possible, which back then was pretty terrible.  I wanted to hear the music in Final Fantasy, and with this new controller I could apparently listen regardless of current family attitudes.  The included earbuds were also a bonus and were what helped me make my decision quickly.  Most cheap headphones back then were rigid and easily breakable Sanyo (I think) over the ears headphones that did not look cool, and the pair I owned was shared with my sister(s).  Suddenly I could just pop in a pair of earbuds (that I didn't have to share) and spend my allotted one hour of game time enjoying music, instead of taunting or warnings about how much time I had left on the NES?  I could see the scene stretched before me:  It would be glorious.

The price?  $20, which for a reasonably good looking controller with a headphone jack, turbo buttons, and included earbuds was pretty darn good.  Basically, there was no way I couldn't walk out of that store with the thing, and I snapped it up and held it tight.  At this point (maybe five minutes into my shopping trip) I was pretty far ahead of the game.  I would only be down $20 and up one revolutionary (in my mind) addition to my NES gaming, and I was already imagining how I would use it and what exactly the "Shifting Sound Effect" blurb on the box meant.  I had even totally forgot to look for Final Fantasy II.  As those that have had the pleasure of owning this controller, my future with it would indeed be glorious.  The "Shifting Sound Effect" thing is kind of goofy (basically pressing left or right on the controller will only play music out of the corresponding attached headphone), but the controller worked great and was extremely durable, and would be my go-to NES controller (at my house and my friend's) until I lost it when I left my parent's house in 1999.

Kind of surprising, eh? A Budget Wall Chronicles that ended well for me seems unlikely, but then again this article is called, Budget Wall Chronicles - Double Play not No Regret with Awesome $20 NES Controller, right?.  Shall we continue?  Ahem.

As I exited the controller section of the Nintendo aisle, there was one thing I wanted to snap up; it had caught my eye as I passed the Budget Wall, and the title had worked its magic in my franchise soaked brain, so as I walked around the corner to the Budget Wall, I snapped up the last ticket for a little game called, Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight (SF2010), which was marked at the affordable price of $20.  There was very little thought to this action, as I took only the briefest of looks at the back of the game flap (which housed a cutout of the back of the games box) to make sure it didn't have any of my "no no" phrases, such as "Action fantasy role-playing" (thanks Hydlide) or had art clearly indicating it was a character shooter (which I would have noticed had I looked at the back of King's Knight).  My eyes instantly locked on the first three paragraphs on the back of the game flap:

Certainly seems to suggest a link to other Capcom franchises, yes?

There was no way I was going to leave without this game, and seeing it was also the last copy I knew would feel really stupid if I found out the game had been awesome, right?  Right?

I guess the dumb thing about this whole venture was some part of me was convinced the game would be stupid, that there could be no way this was a Street Fighter or franchised action/adventure title (that nobody I knew had ever talked about), but I had such positive feelings about the controller that maybe my pride got ahold of me for a moment, and I was convinced my "luck" was unstoppable.  You know, this whole paragraph is making me feel even dumber than I could have ever felt when getting the game, so let's just move on.

I think even as I was driven home by my mom I knew the game was a mistake.  She definitely knew it, as this was not her first rodeo.  This was no doubt my punishment for dropping Nintendo Power and disdaining video game magazines.  Common sense dictated this game would have zero connection with either Street Fighter or Final Fight game franchises, but some stubborn part of me wanted to trust it anyway.  After all, the box stated it was from Capcom (I wasn't sure about the "USA" part), and they hadn't steered me wrong yet.  Still, I guess I deserved the digital whoopin' I knew was coming.  I'm pretty sure I even ignored the game on the drive home in favor of the controller.  Ug, I can almost feel the failure, even twenty-six years removed from the incident..

Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight is a very strange game, pretty much the kind of game that only surfaces when a console is not only the top of the pile, but also reaching critical mass.  It is a weirdo, but not that bad of a game.  Certainly not like the other games I featured in the other Budget Wall Chronicles articles, which were pretty crappy.  SF2010 is just a little bit unrefined, much like the Mad Max NES game; it's just a little sloppy is all.  It is, however, very hard, and requires a mastery of Ken's (the protagonist) acrobatic move-set, as well as the different ways you shot depending on what you press on the d-pad.  The levels are very uneven, and you will be required to do anything from simply moving through a level, clear out a level of enemies, or fight a boss.  It gets so challenging that I was never able to finish even half of the games nineteen levels.  A few years ago I saw the ending on an AVGN episode, and that is good enough for me, so that I actively stopped pursuing a copy of the game, and instead just narrowed and focused my collecting efforts.  There are just too many games out there, and I'm really only interesting in owning the really good ones, the really crap ones, and the most nostalgic, and SF2010 falls into none of those categories.  But to those looking for a very stylish action title with unique gameplay and very tight controls look no further, just make sure you are ready for a challenge.

It's best if I end it here. While I was writing this I realized that it isn't really about stupid games I wasted money on, but the disappointment of wasting money on a game I didn't need.  Could Final Fantasy II have been at Toys 'R Us that day?  Could I have just either saved the extra $20 or put it on my SNES in layaway (at that very store, no less)?  Yes to both.  But I had (and still do to an extent) a habit of pushing the envelope of foolishness when getting games.  These days I rarely buy anything, but when I do I will always set a budget, then do my best to break said budget by as few dollars as possible (but still breaking it).  And when I do, I always think back to that day in 1992, when I bought an awesome $20 NES controller and pretty much flushed my remaining $20 down the proverbial toilet.

Thanks for reading!

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I had forgetton that controller until you reminded me of it!!  As for Street Figther 2010, it's a fantastic game and I would definitely reccommend it.  It takes time and it hard but a geat game nonetheless.
Great article, bombatomba! I don't remember making too many "budget wall" purchases, as I couldn't afford many games as a kid, and mostly I bought newish releases, because those were the ones that jumped off the shelf at me. However, I'm quite interested in that controller! I'd never seen, nor heard of the Joycard Sansui, prior to your article. That Hector 87 pad is very attractive, even as someone who thinks Hector 87 isn't a particularly strong game on the NES. I will have to look into that further!
@shaggy: I am glad to remind you, it is a fantastic controller (I should probably spring for one again).  SF2010 is a very hard game, pretty much something I would expect to see Crabby annihilate on his Youtube channel.  Thanks for commenting!

@MetalFRO: Thank you, sir.  I'd say you probably did better off just getting the newer games (though there were a lot of stinkers back then).  I don't think I bought a lot of Budget Walls games (maybe four or five during a three year period), but all of them affected me negatively (though they did give me something to write about).  As for the controller, Hudson made a lot of very nice controllers for different machines, with the NES seeing the prettiest (in my opinion).  Finding some of them can be difficult (due to the language barrier), but not impossible.  I want to say I found three or four "Joycards" no the NES, with my breadcrumb trail starting on the Wikipedia page for "List of Nintendo Entertainment System accessories" and ended with typing "hudson controller famicom" into Google.  Have fun and thanks for commenting!

Personally speaking (er, writing), I would love to see someone with a nice collection of them to do a write up on the weird and wonderful Famicom and NES controllers that were released.  I think I only had two when I was a kid, that being the Joycard SSS and those horrible "Super Controller" holders.  This one had to be a parental purchase, as not even I could have spent money on these (I remember them being terribly uncomfortable).
Great article, but I'd like to know more about how the controller played. Good? Also, how was the sound through the ear buds coming from the controller?
@singlebanana:  I remember the d-pads on the controller feeling rigid, but not so much as the basic NES d-pad, though not featuring the "mush" that I loved with the SNES.  It was kind of half-way in between, I think.  I couldn't say so much about the buttons as I used the half-grip style of playing back then (cradle d-pad with first hand using the thumb to move, while the rest of the controller is laid on a flat surface and remaining buttons are operated with two or three fingers of second hand), which is more for speed than comfort.  I never had to change out the buttons, though.  They worked until it disappeared with no issues.

The sound is a little bit more difficult to remember.  I remember loving it, but that could have been novelty talking.  I think it is safe to say the earbuds were terrible, but who knows.  It was loud, though, enough to drown out a small house filled with six people along with assorted friends and pets.  The sound came through an RCA jack you plugged into the NES, and even though it was mono it played through both left and right earbuds.  It never bothered me or anything.

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So I'm an odd ball. So I am usually the last to post on a blog/forum. So I only post about weird games on weird platforms. So I have a strange relationship with commas and parenthesis. So what? Hey, at least you don't have to car pool with me to work, right? So have a heart, eat a blueberry, and don't forget to drop the empties in the box on the way out. I get deposit on those.
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