Friday, 18 September 2020

Asteroids (Arcade Original) on the Sony PlayStation / PSOne / PS1 / PSX

I have always been worried about how I would cope if I ever found myself stranded on a small starship trapped in an asteroid field teeming with the alien lifeforms that lived there.

Thankfully, Atari gave me a tool that would ensure that I was well prepared for this eventuality.. ASTEROIDS!

Question - Can I play Atari's arcade original Asteroids on the Sony PSOne (and hence PSP, PS2 and ps3) ?

Answer - A worthy question my retro loving compadre, To which the answer is YES!

A brief review of your options here which include original releases and unlockables.

Arcade Greatest Hits - The Atari Collection 1

A collection of 6 classic Atari arcade "action" games including Battlezone, Centipede, Missile Command, Super Breakout, Tempest and .... ASTEROIDS!

Also included is an FMV Documentary on "The Golden Age of Atari" featuring video interviews with the programmers behind the six games in the compilation.

Atari Anniversary Edition Redux

A collection of 12 classic Atari arcade games including Battlezone, Centipede, Crystal Castles, Gravitar, Millipede, Missile Command, Pong, Super Breakout, Tempest and Warlords and .... ASTEROIDS! AND...ASTEROIDS DELUXE!!

Also included are interviews with the original programers, press releases, flyres and other memorabillia.


Wait just a large rock in space blasting minute... Isn't this a remake / re-imagining of asteroids and not the arcade original ?!

It certainly is, but at the Title screen, hold Select and press Circle, Circle, Circle, Triangle, Square, Square, Circle to unlock arcade classic ..... ASTEROIDS!

What's the easiest way to play all of this?

I'm not going to go into masses of detail on all of this but a very simple way to play PS1 ISO's from a USB stick needs the following:

  • PlayStation 2 or PSTwo

  • PS2 Memory Card

  • A USB 2.0 memory stick of 32 GB capacity or less (Formatted to FAT32)

  • Free Memory Card Boot - A program that installs to the PS2 memory card and adds functionality to the PS2 OS to run Homebrew Apps.

  • POPStarter - A set of PS2 files that allow PS1 ISOs to be run from USB stick.

  • Cue2POPS - A PC program that converts .cue/.bin CD images to POPStarter Images.

  • LaunchElf - A PS2 app that runs converted PS1 games using PopStarter.

  • OPL (Open PS2 Launcher) - Another PS2 app that runs converted PS1 games using PopStarter.

There is already a huge amount of information on how to use the tools listed above so I don't need to repeat it. Try googling "running ps1 games from USB".

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Superman 3 - The Extended Cut

Download the full Superman III Extended TV Version / Cut here.

Dang! The amount of times that I've seen comments on line about the version of Superman 3 that someone has watched on TV / DVD / Blu Ray being either "shorter than the version they saw at the cinema" or "shorter than the version they used to own on VHS video".

For a while I had the same opinion but after some digging about, I found out that it was the TV version that I had watched as a kid back in the 80s that was the extended version.

IMDB lists the run time of Superman III as 2 Hours and 5 minutes. This is the run time of the theatrical release, Commercial VHS video release, Commercial DVD release and Commercial Blu Ray release.

The TV extended version has a run time of around 2 Hours and 25 minutes and features a whole load of extras including the addition of a traditional Superman opening credits in space accompanied by orchestral fanfare, something that was in the previous two movies but was lacking from the Superman III theatrical release.

The TV version was longer because at the time, the Salkinds (Executive producers of Superman III) charged TV channels per minute when broadcasting their movies. In order to maximise the income, the Salkinds created a longer TV edit made from the original movie plus a lot of stuff from the cutting room floor. The longer the movie, the more they could charge.

Just to further confuse things, before TV stations started broadcasting the DVD version, there were several TV versions all being based on the extended version, but with different audio overdubbing to make the film more family friendly. Example: Take the scene where Lorelei is trying to attract the dark Superman's attention by pretending to be a suicidal jumper on the crown of the Statue of liberty; The first TV version I watched had someone trying to talk her down saying "Don't Jump. You have everything to live for. I know, I've just seen you." whereas a later TV version I watched had the person shouting "Please don't jump" repeatedly.

Unfortunately, the Salkind TV edit was done specifically for TV in 4:3 screen ratio and probably only existed on video master tape, and therefore this is probably why it has never been released as a DVD or Blu Ray, although it would have made a neat extra / special feature.

The DVD and Blu Ray releases do contain a "Deleted Scenes" section and these are SOME of the footage contained in the extended edition, but by no means all of it.

To illustrate this, I have compiled a list of differences in the first hour of the movie between the theatatrical release and the extended TV edition:

Superman III - A list of differences (additions and removals) between the Theatrical release and the extended TV cut in the first 60 mins of the theatrical release.

All timings mentioned are play time from the theatrical release.

General 1 The extended TV cut had an all new opening credits scene. This was in the style of the openings from the previous two movies with the camera travelling through space and the credits appearing on screen with an arrangement of the original Superman theme.

General 2 In the theatrical version, the opening credits appeared over the bottom half of the screen as the second scene in the movie (a slapstick montage leading to Superman saving a man from drowning in a car) plays out. As the TV extended version has new opening credits before the movie starts, the credits in the slapstick scene have been renmoved meaning that the whole picture can now be seen throughout this scene, something that was criticised in the original theatrical release.

00:00:32 Gus is queueing in the Employment Benefit Office. Some additional exposition footage showing a woman eating fast food under a "No Food or Eating" sign. A man reading the daily planet which has the front cover boasting of a big prize raffle. A man with a dog looking at a "Dog Walkers Wanted" sign.

00:05:18 Longer scene of bank robber. The bank robber is hiding behind a car, and his bag of stolen money gets caught on a ladder then drops onto a cherry picker and is hoisted in the air. The bank robber is somewhat exasperated and shouts "Hey Stop Thief" before the police catch up to him and chase him down the road. Also additional shot of car filling with water.

00:06:30 Extra Scene - A Woman is putting her small son on one end of a see-saw. The stolen bag of money falls off of the cherry picker and lands on the other end of the see-saw catapulting the boy into a tree. The mothers wails attract supermans attention and he flies over and rescues the boy from the tree.

00:09:01 Removal of photo close up. The editor of The Daily Planet is reviewing Jimmy's photos from the Humanitarian of the Year awards. Most of them are of Loreli. One of the photos showing only her cleavage has been removed from the extended TV cut.

00:12:10 Some additional footage of people working in a data processing area before we see Gus working there. Lots of people scooting between terminals on wheeled office chairs. Two of them back into each other.

00:14:50 A few seconds of additional footage of Clarke and Jimmy in the coach before we cut to the burning chemical plant.

00:16:30 Additional footage of people stuck on the roof of the burning chemical plant.

00:16:42 Some additional discussion between Superman and the fire chief.

00:16:50 Some more footage of people stranded on the chemical plant roof, including someone jumping off of the roof into flames.

00:16:54 Additional distance scene of Superman heading to rescue the people on the roof cut from extended version.

00:17:30 Extra footage of rescued people at bottom of Chimney slide.

00:30:03 Additional conversation, Ross Webster makes Loreli and Vera shake hands and make up.

00:33:45 Before Gus meets Ross Webster, he has an extra conversation with Ross's personal assistant.

00:37:55 Several minutes of additional conversation between Gus, Ross, Loreli and Vera.

00:45:07 The discussion between Gus and Brad as Gus tries to gain entry to Websco at Smallville with a portable cocktail cabinet has several additional bits of the conversation.

00:46:21 Longer conversation between Gus and Brad as they get drunk.

00:46:37 Longer talk from Gus to the now drunk and passed out Brad as he lies on the floor.

00:46:54 Gus spends slightly more time drunkenly trying to get both keys into the computer at the same time.

00:46:54 Some additional footage of computers coming on line as Gus tries to hack into the Vulcan satellite.

00:49:59 Scene where the ATM keeps giving the guy extra money goes on for longer with a lot more money being given out.

00:50:14 Another longer scene of computers coming on line.

00:50:30 Very slightly longer scene of traffic crossing with maybe two extra quick shots, one of red and green walk now men on at same time and extra shot of confused crowd in road.

00:53:26 News reader has extra lines when reporting on the tornado in columbia.

00:55:01 Some small bits of extra conversation between Ross, Loreli and Vera on the ski slope rooftop.

00:56:30 Gus goes into much more detail about how Superman saved the Columbia coffee plantation on the ski slope rooftop.

00:57:02 Small additional news reader snippet on the ski slope rooftop.

00:57:20 Several Small additional bits of Gus ranting to himself about how its not his fault and testing the skis he's just put on on the ski slope rooftop.

00:57:50 Several Small additional bits of discussion between Ross, Loreli and Vera, on the ski slope rooftop, one is longer scene discussing Kryptonite.

00:59:10 Longer scene when Gus lands on the road after skiing off the top of the skyscraper.

As you can see, there is a huge amount of extra footage in the TV extended version.

Superman III Random fact.

Sir Alec Guiness did not play a small role as a dignified gent who can't decide if its raining or not and ends up with a paint bucket on his head in the opening slapstick scene, as a lot of people believe. The actor is actually called Bob Todd and he just happens to look a bit like Sir Alec.

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Sony PS2 Mod Hack 2020

The PlayStation 2 has been around for 20 years now.

Over the years, there have been numerous ways of hacking the PlayStation 2 to enable it to run unofficial software and backups of original games. There have also been a number of ways of enhancing the hardware to make it more compatible with modern technology and keeping it closer to the latest consoles.

So for the ultimate PlayStation 2 in 2020, here are some software and hardware hacks and mods that will keep your PlayStation 2 going for another 20 years.


1. Wireless Controller.


Whilst there have been a number of third party wireless control solutions for the PS2 over its lifespan (MadCatz and Logitech to name a few), the best solution that I have found for PS2 wireless control is to use a Brook USB Super Adapter.

This allows you to use an official Sony PS3 or PS4 controller wirelessly or wired through the adapters USB port, with your PS2.


2. HDMI Output.


PS2 HDMI adapters are plentiful and enable progressive scan output to modern HDTVs. Interlaced output to modern TVs can look pretty blurred so using progressive scan output gives a sharper clearer image. Looks excellent on my Sony 65" 4k TV, and far clearer than a Composite lead.

There can be an issue with very few PS1 games being outputted in progressive scan by default, however this is resolvable with a later hack. Read on for PS1 Force 480p.


3. Internal SATA Hard drive (and modified PS2 Network adapter).


The PS2 has always been capable of supporting an internal IDE Hard drive using the official PS2 Network adapter.

With IDE Hard Drives now obsolete and difficult to find, you can now buy either a conversion kit to modify your PS2 network adapter to support SATA or a third party PS2 network adapter with the SATA interface already fitted.


4. Internal Mod Chip.


Yes it seems a somewhat outdated concept, however to run PS2 games from an internal hard drive, the easiest way is still to have a mod chip fitted.

There are other methods of running PS2 games / ISOs using the ESR method (making the PS2 think you are playing a DVD video disc) however the modchip is still by far the easiest way.


So.. now we have all of the hardware fitted, we can now look at software / firmware hacks to finish off the total hack up.


5. FMCB (Free Memory Card Boot).


FMBC is an app that you install onto either your PS2 memory card or your internal Hard Drive. This can be installed using a burned DVD-R, or if you have a modchip that supports running .elf files from a USB stick.

Once installed, this allows you to install other apps on your PS2 Memory card which you can then configure and run from the PS2s main menu.

You only need to install this once, and then you are FMCB'd up.


6. LaunchElf


Launchelf is kind of like Windows explorer for your PS2. It allows you to browse through memory cards, HDDs and USB sticks and copy / move / delete and rename files. It also allows you to execute PS2 .elf files directly, and until recently was the best way to run PS1 games from either a USB stick or internal HDD.

The latest version is wLaunchElf. This is an essential app and is usually installed along with FMBC as part of the "Noob" package.


7. Open PS2 Loader (PS2 OPL)


The essential app to install to your PS2 memory card. OPL allows you to run PS2 ISOs and PS1 ISOs using PopStarter (VCDs) from your USB stick, internal HDD or over an ethernet connection.

OPL provides an In Game Reset, Virtual Memory Card game saves and a number of game configuration options that can be set before an ISO is run.

It also allows you to skin the menu and add artwork / screen shots of the games installed using OPLManager.


8. PopStarter.


Popstarter is an app/plug-in that runs PS1 games in .vcd format from HDD and USB. OPL uses PopStarter to run PS1 vcd's. You can also launch PS1 .VCDs using PopStarter in LaunchElf.

Near the end of the PS2's life, it was possible to purchase a few PS1 games over the PlayStation network in Japan for installation on the PS2 HDD. This technology was ripped and exploited to allow almost any PS1 game to run from either a HDD, USB stick or ethernet connection when used with PopStarter, Launchelf or OPL, and a few Sony official files.

PopStarter adds a number of "In Game Key" combinations to allow various functions of the PS2 playing PS1 games to be enabled / disabled during play.

In addition to this, simple text files can be attached to each game to configure the PS2 before it runs the PS1 game including Force 480p, Smoother Textures and Force Pal.

As if this wasn't enough, there is a key combo for In Game Reset and also all game saves go to a virtual memory card.


Once all of this is in place, you will have a PlayStation 2 with built in PS1 and PS2 official and homebrew games, HDMI output and a wireless controller.. All fit for another 20 years of gaming heaven.