VGT – Playing Atari On My Colecovision

I mentioned in my previous post about the Colecovision, that when I purchased it, I received a bonus.  That bonus was an expansion module that allows me to play Atari 2600 games on my Colecovision.  Why would I want to do it?  That is a good question.  I already have an Atari 2600 that was given to me by a friend.  But now I don’t have to unplug my Colecovision from the TV and then set up my Atari!  Instead, I plug in the large awkward expansion module and then start playing River Raid with less fuss!

Expansion Power!

Expansion Power!

Why did Colecovision build such an expansion?  For one, it gave them the ability to truthfully claim that they had the largest game library of all the systems at the time.  It is amazing to me that they were able to build the expansion module (and later the Gemini) using “off the shelf” parts which prevented Atari from any legal recourse.  It is perhaps even more incredible that it still works today, almost thirty years later.

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Swordquest – Fireworld on the Expansion Module

The third party Atari joystick that came with my purchase does not work well, but I have several authentic Atari joysticks – and there is always the Genesis joypad.  I can’t say whether the Expansion Module worked better than an original Atari 2600 but it certainly worked the same.  I wonder what the cost was like back then?  Did a person actually save money by purchasing the Expansion Module?  I would guess that if was cheaper it was only marginally less.  But there is such a cool nerd factor in having one system’s games play on another.  That is just not supposed to happen right?  But I love that stuff.  I remember back in the mid 90’s when I connected a Gameboy expansion to my Super Nintendo – and then plugged my Super Nintendo into the TV card installed on my Pentium computer – and it worked.  I thought I was the coolest guy around – playing Gameboy games on my computer monitor.  It’s amazing that I’ve ever had a girlfriend, or even convinced a woman to marry me.

But wait, there's more!

But wait, there’s more!

The final bonus of my Colecovision purchase was that I actually received not one but TWO of them.  The second one seems to be fully functional except for the power adapter.  The controllers don’t seem to work perfectly but I hope to repair them with a good cleaning.  It just means more fun playing around with my childhood dream, the Colecovision!  Thanks for letting me share it with you.

VGT – Colecovision Discovery

I remember the first time I ever saw a Colecovision.  I was in junior high and was invited over to a friend’s house in my neighborhood.  We were friends but not necessarily best friends – that all changed when I saw his Colecovision.  I wanted to be his best friend for life!  When I was young, I did not have any of the newer gaming systems at my house.  Sure, we had a Pong clone but it just wasn’t as much fun as those newer cartridge based systems.  So what did I do?  I made sure that I had friends with game systems!  I don’t want it to sound like  video games were the ONLY reason I chose my friends,  because that is not true.  But most of my friends had similar interests – sports, computers, and video games.

When I saw the Colecovision, I could not help but to compare it to the Atari 2600.  The Colecovision was easily superior in both graphics and sound.  Donkey Kong looked, sounded, and played like the real arcade version (or at least closer to anything I had experienced up to that point).  The controller was a tad bit difficult to use, but it only added to the challenge.

The other day I was listing an item for sale on Craigslist.  Just on a whim, I decided to search using the term “Colecovision” and I was surprised to get a hit from a seller who lived just down the road from me.  He was selling a Colecovision and a “Super Intendo” for $70.  I was surprised that it was still available – but after reflection, it may be that it was because of the word “Intendo” rather than “Nintendo.”  Perhaps it wasn’t coming up in searches?  I don’t know.  We made arrangements for the sale.  He was a nice person who had played with the game systems when he was a boy.  He was cleaning out his attic and decided to sell his “Super Intendo”.  I decided not to correct his incorrect pronunciation of one of the most popular video game systems in history.  Both systems were in excellent condition, with several games.  Plus, there was a huge bonus item which I will discuss in a future blog entry.

Colecovision and Games

Colecovision and Games

The Colecovision needed some cleaning (the Intendo was in excellent condition) but I really enjoyed cleaning it up with cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol.  I had to clean the contacts on all of the games but they all worked.  Of course the controllers were just as cumbersome as I remembered.  The side buttons did not work very well but I disassembled the controllers and cleaned them up – they worked good as new.  I had heard that you can play some Colecovision games with a Sega Genesis controller so I gave it a try.  You sure can!  The three best games I played were Donkey Kong, Galaxian, and Q-bert.   WarGames is based on the hit movie from the 80’s but it looked pretty complex.  I’m probably going have to search on the internet and figure out how to play it.  It looks like some kind of super complicated Missile Command.  I didn’t try to play Pit Stop but I assume it has something to do with racing and not going to the bathroom on a long trip.

It still runs great!

It still runs great!

As a collector, I have a mental list of certain game systems I would love to own.  The Colecovision was on my list.  I always wanted to have one to call my own.  Adding it to my collection is the fulfillment of a childhood dream.  Maybe now I will have friends who want to hang out at my house just to play it too!  Of course they would probably be complete nerds – but that’s OK with me!

Senegal 2014 – Post #5

We finally said goodbye to our friends in Ndjemane.  It took a while to get everyone on the bus, but everything takes a while in Senegal.  For example, we went to B’s compound at 1:30pm to have lunch before we left.  We sat and lay on mats until 3:00 and we finally ate lunch at 3:30 (Fish, rice, and cabbage).  We sat and lay on mats until 4:15.  At last, we met in the middle of the compound and various people spoke about our love for each other, safe journeys, and other blessings.  Finally, we climbed into the bus and waved goodbye.

The church thrives in Ndjemane

The church thrives in Ndjemane

Some of pastor B’s comments before we left expressed great appreciation to Christ and his church.   Back in 2008, the chief of the village had said that the village was dying.  However, since the Christian church has taken an interest in Ndjemane:

  • They have a well that provides clean water
  • They have better health (he mentioned that cholera has all but disappeared)
  • They even have better harvests
  • They have a church building

We drove for a while on the sandy roads before eventually driving on asphalt.  We soon arrived at a city called Diourbell (sounds almost like “gerbil”). The hotel was not what we in the States would ever consider using, but for this grimy bunch it was paradise. It didn’t matter that the toilet was missing a seat. It had a TOILET. It didn’t matter that the “shower” was a hand spray that you might find in your kitchen – attached to the same water feed as the toilet. It was a shower and it was refreshing.  I slept comfortably on a springy bed.

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The next morning we were off to visit a different village.  This was a new experience for me.  There was already a history of church involvement with the village, but for many reasons it had not worked out.  My group was meeting with village leaders  in order to establish a sense of relationship.  When we arrived, I could immediately feel a different attitude from the villagers toward our group.  There was a certain coolness.  The women of our group immediately started to spend time with the children and women of the compound.  They seemed to like each other almost immediately.  Meanwhile. the men of our group went to another area, sat on some mats, and waited.  The experience that followed can only be described as a town meeting.  Each participant was given time to speak.  Some of the key points discussed were:

  • The well has bad, salty water
  • Because of the water, there are health issues
  • The village is dying.  The young adults have to leave the village during the dry season in order to survive – some don’t return
  • Where did the church go?

What a contrast to the previous village!  One village was growing and thriving, the other was struggling to survive.  It seemed to me that the main difference was Christ.  I do want to focus on the final bullet point.  For me, it was the most challenging part of the meeting.  You see, when they asked us why we had not been in contact, we could not explain every reason (some reasons involved politics on several levels).  But they remembered the last time the church was visited years ago.  They even had photographs of various villagers with their namesakes.  Some of the Americans in the photos we knew, but some we did not.  But there had essentially been little to no contact.  From their perspective, the Americans came, took some photos, and soon forgot about the visit – but I assure you that the villagers had not.  For them, it was a significant event.  For us, it may have been little more than a photo opportunity.  Never forget that your smallest actions can have a huge impact on others.

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By the time we left, there had been some restoration of relationship.  But the work is far from finished.  I need to be sure to print and send the photographs I took to both of the villages I visited!  It is a big deal.  Perhaps you and your church may want to become involved and partner with this different village.  You could be a part of what God is doing in Senegal.

 

Senegal 2014 – Post #4 (Pictures)

We made it back safe and sound!  I have a few more posts that I wrote offline on my tablet – but in the meantime, here are a few photos and a short video.

The Village Church

The Village Church

Luxury Accomodations

Luxury Accomodations

How cool to have a pic of TWO missionaries that I sponsor side by side IN SENEGAL!

How cool to have a pic of TWO missionaries that I sponsor side by side IN SENEGAL!

View of Dakar from Goree Island

View of Dakar from Goree Island

A Special Friend of Mine

A Special Friend of Mine

Me Walking Around

Me Walking Around

Senegal 2014 – Post #3

Wednesday morning was the start of a day I spent six months preparing for.  My group had been preparing for storytelling sessions in the village.  I was having problems.  My stomach was killing me and I could barely move.  I went to breakfast and only ate half a slice of bread.  Then I went back to the tent to sleep.  As the temperature climbed the tent became unbearable.

I got out of the tent and joined the others in the church.  They all seemed glad to see me and I tried to physically and mentally pull myself together.  I lasted about an hour, but then needed to lie down again.  They prepared a cot for me in the corner of the church.  It was a better location than the tent.

The rest of the day I was in and out of consciousness and feeling so hot.  I was hot because it was over 100 degrees outside – not fever.  I just felt terrible and as evening came, the leaders of my team had to debate what to do with me.  It was decided to wait and see how I was doing in the morning.  Many people prayed for me – including pastor B from the village.  Someone reported to me later that he just stayed in the church and prayed for me.

During the night, I got up to go to the bathroom.  My dear translator friend, S, followed me because he was concerned for me.  It’s a good thing he did!  I apparently walked past the outhouse and would have been lost if he had not called out to me, “Ted! The bathroom is right here!”.  He waited for me and then escorted me back to the building.  Were it not for S, I could still be wandering the African desert!

I will probably never know what the cause of the problem was.  It may have been the food or some 24 hour bug.  But the next morning I awoke and felt much better.  I’m still eating just bread and cheese mostly but my appetite has returned.  I missed out on a day that I had been looking forward to but perhaps there can be a different way of looking at it.  Maybe someone else in the group needed an opportunity to serve.  Maybe it was important for me to experience what sickness might feel like for people in the village.

I do know that I never felt so awful and alone in all my life.  It is a blessing to have good health in your life.

So I was still able to spend some time afterward with my friend TK.  His youth group put together a sketch based on the lessons from the day before.  He played the part of Abraham and did a great job.  We never had much of a chance to talk (through a translator) but we would touch fists when we passed by one another.  He is such a shy young man.  As we waved goodbye he had such a smile on his face.  I could see once again, that my visit from across the world meant everything to him.  I helped make him feel special – and that in turn made me feel special.

Sorry for no photos but my awesome system of video transfer does not work.  Note to self – test complicated systems before foreign travel.

Senegal 2014 – Post #2

The markets in Theis seemed remarkably calm. Often, the vendors can be very aggressive as they try to sell their carvings, drums, and other trinkets. Later when we went to the food market to buy some tea and sugar, it was much like you might expect a bazaar from the original Indiana Jones. Crowded, people barging in front of you, and a lot of shouting. I have a translator friend who was very helpful to me in securing some African fabric for me to bring home to my wife.

I have been instructed not to use names of my Senegalese friends. Although the country officially recognizes religious choice, Christians are often persecuted. My harmless posts about someone who is Christian could result in maltreatment.

After a visit to Bartimee hospital, we had lunch at MIS (Mission to Inner Senegal) headquarters, and then piled into the bus for the trip to the village. So we left for the village Tuesday afternoon rather than Wednesday morning.

It was about a two hour drive. The first half is on paved road and the second half changes over to dirt. The people were happy to see us and we exchanged many happy greetings. Of course there were plenty of children around to help break the ice for any newcomer. They love it when someone shakes his or her hand or if we thumb-wrestle.

It wasn’t too long before I saw my namesake who I will now call TK. TK looked genuinely glad to see me and we exchanged the traditional handshakes and greetings. I always mess these up so it can be a source of genuine amusement.

I asked him if the church had received the guitar I sent as a gift with a previous group and he said yes. About this guitar, I has trying to keep my expectations low. I was sure it could have easily been stolen, broken, or neglected. However, after returning to the compound from setting up our tents – I entered the compound to the sound of children singing. There, right in the middle of it all, was the guitar – intact and slightly out of tune. Yet it was perfect for the way that they were using it. That was what I wanted – not for them to play a Western instrument in a Western way, but in their own way.

This feeling was almost euphoric for me, and together with the guitar, the makeshift drums made from buckets – we sang and danced for hours.

All in all – a long, tiring, yet very fulfilling day.