Dragon's Lair Fans - Arcade Lifestyle

General Chat => Galaxian Theater => Topic started by: uncletom on April 12, 2012, 12:34:04 PM



Title: Uncletom's Starblade
Post by: uncletom on April 12, 2012, 12:34:04 PM
I should maybe tell a little about my Starblade here, as this seems to be the only place in the world where people can discuss this awesome game.

I bought mine back in 97-98 when it still was available, I think I payed about a $1000 from JNC. It was one of the Blackpool Starblades, US manufactured / imported (?), and it was a bit worn down. However very playable and 100% functional.

I remember the Electrocoin verison which I had seen a few years earlier in Funland in London. Built by japanese standards it had more lamps and nicer plastic details than mine that had mostly just decals and this yellow molded lit marquee-holder. Mine was exactly like in your "picture #3" in this thread.

I have since then disassembled my cabinet, I kept the concave mirror for years after, and the laser-gun. But a couple of year ago I gave the laser-gun to a friend to put it on  his wall, and I gave the mirror to another friend to use as a solar weapon. The cabinet parts I mostly recycled and scrapped. It is too large to keep intact in my home. However the PCBs and wiring I still have intact, to play with a Star Wars yoke or an analog joystick. It is a wonderful game which I will keep my whole life. Some of the best 'digital art' ever made.


Title: Uncletom's Starblade
Post by: uncletom on April 12, 2012, 08:51:07 PM
.. ehhmm.. I've read the complete "Galaxian Theatre" forum now, and I see that I've been posting here before. My memory is very weak, sorry, still I'm happy that it's it is active. And that you guys are still around.


Title: Re: Uncletom's Starblade
Post by: DarthNuno on April 12, 2012, 10:31:29 PM
I love to know the history of such games  :)

I should maybe tell a little about my Starblade here, as this seems to be the only place in the world where people can discuss this awesome game.

Hell yeah, and as you can see, I create a dedicated topic for your Starblade  8)

...It was one of the Blackpool Starblades ...

Blackpool, you mean the UK game room? If so there was also a Galaxian Theater over there! :P
Starblades? More than one Starblade in the same game room? Wooow!

However the PCBs and wiring I still have intact, to play with a Star Wars yoke or an analog joystick. It is a wonderful game which I will keep my whole life. Some of the best 'digital art' ever made.

I agree, this game is one of the best games here made in its category (rail shooter)! It's the one I play the most in my game room (with Galaxian & Xevious)  :P

By the way, there is an other guy who play Starblade 'outside' of the cabinet, see this topic (http://www.dragonslairfans.com/smfor/index.php?topic=57.0).

(http://www.dragonslairfans.com/outsidethelair/starblade/starbladenaked.jpg)


Title: Re: Uncletom's Starblade
Post by: uncletom on April 13, 2012, 09:58:18 AM
Aha! You made an exclusive thread about this. Good. Very organized. I apologise I am not as proper myself. I will try to be though.

Well, my Starblade was taken from one of the Blackpool arcades, I am almost sure about this. Blackpool is a small town close to Liverpool where the complete coast line seems to be some kind of giant amusement park. I've been there once, long ago, only breifly with some friends. But this was some time before I even knew there was a Starblade game at all. Basically I think I was drunk most of that time so my memory of Blackpool isn't very vivid.

The first time I actually saw Starblade was in 1992, or 93. At the time I was working for a company in London so we went to Trocadero Funland a few times where they had two Starblades next to each other, the electrocoin built ones.

However, because I was getting regular stock-lists faxed from JNC, and other traders thanks to my frequent visits to the game shows, I was notified about Starblade. I think JNC had like 3 or more Starblades in stock then. Well, I bought one and when it arrived here I was a bit surprised that it wasn't like those Starblades I saw at Funland some time ago. So I asked them from what place mine was, and I think I got the reply it was out of Blackpool.

I also remember contacting namco about the plastic gun cover. Mine was a bit scratched, but a new mold would cost like SEK 7000, at that time about 500-600. Rediculous, I remember.

Anyway, I rented my Starblade to a swedish game operator over the summer season, to gain back what I've spent on it. Fortunately it survived and I got it back home for the fall to play, just like that guy in the clip playing outside his cabinet (the yoke leads must be flipped to invert the picture). I had the monitor on a bar stool in front of me, and I sat in the original seat 'shooting' at the monitor. This way Starblade is better viewed I think. The mirror keeps distorting the image slighty, which makes it appear like in a lens. I was never very comfortable with that mirror, not even at Funland. I thought: "... if I can just use a large monitor for it. The 'lens view' darkens the display". Also, by then I bought a Cyber Sled and Air Combat boards, to play on my 'System 21'. Namco had the boards as spares on their shelves. Try playing Air Combat with the Starblade gun, it's really super.



Title: Re: Uncletom's Starblade
Post by: uncletom on April 13, 2012, 10:20:12 AM
Anyway, I haven't played Starblade for a long time now. The boards are all packed with the wiring, and my cabinet is since long now dismantled and scrapped.

I think that the cabinet concept is good in its principle, but loses it's full potential in relation to the game program, mostly due to the fact that the mirror is made of plexi plastic, not a real mirror like the military simulators use. The dark plexi makes the picture lose some of the darker color tones and often gives it a dimm look, also because the operators usually clean it with a cloth used for glass, which creates micro scratches in the plastic and thus the picture gets blurry.

There are polishes to fix the small scratches ofcourse, but if you compare the game picture of even a new mirror with a direct picture on a CRT, you will notice a great difference.

I would like to play Starblade like Star Wars (Atari 1983) with a flight yoke, or, to be able to get the best scores maybe an analog joystick. Together with extra fire buttons I could reach some great scores. I used to play holding the laser gun by its left handle, tapping the left thumb button with my right hand fingers just like I would any shootemup. The Starblade lasers can fire very rapidly if you are able to trigger them that fast. I was. No auto-fire needed. Just alternating fire-finger with middle-finger, and the enemies die like flies.


Title: Re: Uncletom's Starblade
Post by: uncletom on April 13, 2012, 10:30:26 AM
Something that I have observed over the many times I've played Starblade:

Because Starblade is a "rail shooter" it should travel the same path every round. But it does not. The path changes from time to time. If this is due to how well I play, or what enemies I shoot, I am not sure. Yet if I play causally, not minding every little thing I shoot, I notice that on the first levels, in space, the pilot takes an alternative path.

This is very good I think, because it is, unlike many shooters from SEGA, adding an element of natural behavior. Elevating the overall game experience to a much more exciting level.


Title: Alternative starblade controller
Post by: uncletom on August 18, 2012, 12:04:56 PM
I don't know what to call it, "gun controller", "starblade gun", "laser-gun controller" or simply "cannon". Such a controller has many names. But you know what I mean.

I've recently bought an Ocean Hunter kit, included the "controller". It is a kind of a harpoon/missile gun. Have a look:


(http://neo.dyndns.tv/technical/ocean_hunter_cannon/side.jpg)


Title: Re: Uncletom's Starblade
Post by: uncletom on August 18, 2012, 12:09:03 PM
.. it has a better grip than the original for Starblade because it uses standard joystick grips from Happ's Cyber Sled joysticks.

As you can see, SEGA has omitted the thumb-buttons plugging them with simple 'blind buttons'. However they can be removed and regular thumb-buttons with switches can be installed. The wires are already three-lead integrated, but they cut off the third lead so that there are only two visible ones.

(http://neo.dyndns.tv/technical/ocean_hunter_cannon/behind.jpg)


Title: Re: Uncletom's Starblade
Post by: uncletom on August 18, 2012, 12:17:13 PM
On the inside the Ocean Hunter gun shows some really durable design. Contra the Starblade-gun's loose handle weakness this here is one solid object.

(http://neo.dyndns.tv/technical/ocean_hunter_cannon/top_mech01.jpg)


Title: Re: Uncletom's Starblade
Post by: uncletom on August 18, 2012, 12:18:51 PM
The y-gear is SEGA standard stuff.

(http://neo.dyndns.tv/technical/ocean_hunter_cannon/y-gear01.jpg)


Title: Re: Uncletom's Starblade
Post by: uncletom on August 18, 2012, 12:19:42 PM
... as is the x-gear at the bottom.

(http://neo.dyndns.tv/technical/ocean_hunter_cannon/under_01.jpg)


Title: Re: Uncletom's Starblade
Post by: uncletom on August 18, 2012, 12:26:01 PM
The ranges (x and y travel distance) are sufficient I think, but there is the option to increase them if necessary. The stopper-dampers (see pictures above) are pretty thick and could be replaced with thinner rubber hose cuts or in extreme case completely removed, taping the stoppers with duct-tape or similar. However, this I think will never become necessary as the screen usually is quite a distance away from the controlpanel in these cannon-blaster games such as Ocean Hunter and Starblade.


Title: Re: Uncletom's Starblade
Post by: uncletom on August 18, 2012, 12:33:34 PM
Anyway, my point here is not to spoil my beautiful Starblade-thread, as I'm usually pretty good at spoiling threads, so please forgive me. But to inform about the option of other controllers for Starblade.

There was a guy the other day here, I think, asking about the functions of the Starblade gun controller.

So, since I don't have my Starblade cabinet any longer, nor its gun, which I by the way saved for a number of years before finally deciding to get rid of, I've disected the OC-gun for you all to take a look at. It's as good, or better for rough play than the original cannon. Two thumb-buttons *can be installed* if one wishes. And it's appearance is OK enough even though I personally think the Starblade original gun looks nicer. (This one kind of reminds me of a big banana.)

(http://neo.dyndns.tv/technical/ocean_hunter_cannon/3d.jpg)


Title: Re: Uncletom's Starblade
Post by: uncletom on August 18, 2012, 12:39:29 PM
To descibe my instant 'feel' of this gun, contra the Starblade original, I can say that the OC-gun has a bit narrower grip, the triggers feel like .. well you know from Cyber Sled, like a *GUN* with the microswitch "klick" as it activates. It is quiet, soft moving, although I've never tried it in actual game play yet I am very happy with it now after some cleaning.

... I *don't* know if it is heavier or lighter than the Starblade-gun.

And also I want to add that there is really good space 'under the hood' to install a light, or extra illuminated buttons, or whatever. Starblade had this LED-array to flash as you hit an enemy (I think).


Title: Re: Uncletom's Starblade
Post by: uncletom on August 18, 2012, 12:42:38 PM
Also, can I ask..., if anyone has a few photos, in good light, of your Starblade cannon, can I please see them?

Dammit. I was so stupid to give my Starblade gun away, for free at that!?.. even though it was to a good friend. I know that he will never use it! GNGGGHH!!


Title: Re: Uncletom's Starblade
Post by: uncletom on August 18, 2012, 07:52:23 PM
As I am looking at pictures of the various laser-guns out there I noticed one interesting difference between the Ocean Hunter controller and Galaxian3 controller.

The ocean hunter gun has its x-axis rotaion center in the middle under its body.

(http://neo.dyndns.tv/technical/ocean_hunter_cannon/gun_oc.jpg)


The Galaxian3 gun, which I also noticed is very much like the Starblade gun, has its x-rotation center placed further to its front.

(http://neo.dyndns.tv/technical/ocean_hunter_cannon/gun_g3.jpg)


This is very interesting, the OC-gun reqiures less movement than the G3/starblade-gun, but it also takes more force to quickly move the OC-gun because its radius from center to handles is shorter. The G3-gun would have more accuracy in this case than the OC-gun. How they differ in practice I sadly don't know. It would be very interesting to play starblade trying both the OC-gun and the G3, or Starblade-gun.

The shapes of the guns, I would say, suggests that the OC-gun is really a gun with which you aim and shoot. Where with the Galaxian/starblade gun, even though you do aim, you infact relay the movement to the laser-guns outside the ship.


Title: Re: Uncletom's Starblade
Post by: uncletom on August 23, 2012, 08:53:18 AM
I thought I'd share this with you guys, incase you're having problems with rusty screws in handles or anything like that.

The stainless screws I recently bought on ebay did a really good job. Now I will never ever need to worry about handsweat again!

(http://neo.dyndns.tv/technical/ocean_hunter_cannon/screws_stainless.jpg)

Forgot the measurements, sorry: M5x10 thats 5mm diameter threads, 10mm long. A 'no security hex-tool' type.


Title: Re: Uncletom's Starblade
Post by: uncletom on August 23, 2012, 09:02:56 AM
Also, as I sat last night toying with my gun infront of my 29'' TV, I don't ever watch TV, only use it as reference when measuring stuff, I thought it would be a good idea to increase the travel-range of the gun-axis as the original configuration is far too narrow. Naturally the screen is quite a bit further away on SEGA's cabinet than I'd like at home.

So I removed the stoppers, thick rollers abou the the size of small skateboardwheels, if you remember these, and replaced them with a layer of duct tape for damping.

And it worked out great! The degree of rotation, and pitch, are now much wider. (However not too wide to damage the pots. )

(http://neo.dyndns.tv/technical/ocean_hunter_cannon/increased_range.jpg)


Title: Re: Uncletom's Starblade
Post by: uncletom on August 30, 2012, 02:44:43 PM
I feel that I ought to share this with you, the M5x8(mm) flat-head screws from ebay are superior looking installed on the handles. Just make an ebay search for "Pan Head Screw M5x8mm Hex Socket" and you can get these.

(http://neo.dyndns.tv/technical/ocean_hunter_cannon/new_screws_again.jpg)