Migrating Ghost from Community Image to Docker Engine Installer on Reclaim Cloud

When sending out the April installment of Reclaim Roundup we ran into a glitch wherein the instance was faltering sending an email to all subscribers once that number topped 500. I assumed it was an issue with our third party email tool Mailgun at first, but after investigating it was apparent Ghost was not communicating with Mailgun at all. Turns out this was a database issue with the official community Docker image for Ghost that others have reported over a year ago. Seems SQLite balks at sending out emails once the number tops 500+, and without seeing a fix in the Github repo on the horizon Taylor Jadin took matters into his own hands 🙂

I’ll let Taylor share all the details on the new Ghost installer he built for Reclaim Cloud’s marketplace—how awesome is that?—but being excited I figured I would spend part of this week trying to install Taylor’s new flavor of a Docker image running Ghost with MariaDB to help battle those pesky email issues. So, a couple of things to frame the differences between the existing Docker image we were using and the new image might help set a bit of the context. Since January I was playing with installing the community image of Ghost directly from Docker Hub and putting an Nginx load balancer in front of it to deal with mapping a domain, SSL certificates, etc. You can see that process documented on this here mighty bava. This worked pretty well, to be fair, and the first real issue we have had was this SQLite email bug, but given we are using this as a newsletter, that is kind of a big bug.

That’s when Taylor took the initiative and flexed some of his Docker muscles to look for a viable alternative for the broader Reclaim Cloud community. I can’t speak to all the details here, but from what I have heard and experienced he abstracted Docker out from a single container into several that are running within a Docker Engine instance. So, four containers  within a containerized, stripped down Alpine operating system. So kinda like a container barge carrying other container ships 🙂

Barge ship carrying other ships

So, in Taylors recipe he has Docker Engine that is then scripted to spin up four containers that communicate with each other as an enclosed stack. One manages the application, that is an Alpine container running the ghost files, one is a MariaDB database (or maybe MySQL), a third container deals with the reverse proxy web server through Nginx, and finally a Let’s Encrypt container to manage the SSL certificate. I like this because it highlights the fact that containers can represent all these things in on single image or, as demonstrated here, they can be independent containers that communicate within an abstract enclosure of a containerized Linux server a la Docker Engine. As you can see I am trying to explain this in an attempt to understand it, but I am sure there are limits—so tread carefully.

Anyway, this represents some interesting challenges for my own Docker understanding because when everything is within a single container I know I can SSH into the container and access various .env or docker-compose files, but with this setup you SSH into Docker Engine, and then have to independently login to each container separately, should you need to. This helped me understand the utility of two Docker commands, the first is docker ps which lists all active containers:

Image of Screen shot of docker ps command

After that, you can use container IDs listed in the above command to access each individual container with the following command:

docker exec -it <container ID> bash

This will allow you to login to each individual container, which made me feel awesome because I thought I needed this to edit the environment file for the Ghost instance I was setting up for migration, but turns out I didn’t—so Taylor made it even easier for newbs like me. Turns out I could access the .env file directly from the ghost directory in the root of Docker Engine, and add the Mailgun variables as well as the URL for the instance. It’s worth noting that adding the variables for the single community Docker image for Ghost we are moving away from did not require SSH access at all. You could change those variables within the Reclaim Cloud Variables section, making that access easier.

Variables editing in Reclaim Cloud settings

Variables editing in Reclaim Cloud settings

Taylor has been thinking through making his installer instance even easier, and has already figured out a way in his environment to allow folks to assign a mapped URL that automatically assigns a SSL certificate, removing the need for using the Nginx load balancer in our previous setup, which is very slick.

It even provides some contextual support telling folks to point their domain A record to the appropriate IP:

He also believes that he can do something similar for Mailgun’s variables to integrate that mail service with Ghost for sending newsletters, which would be amazeballs!

Anyway, I am getting far afield, but documenting this stuff for future reference has never disappointed, so I’ll go on. The point here is that I installed Taylor’s Ghost instance, did an import/export of all posts and pages using Ghost’s built-in import/export tool. After that, I figured out how he was running various container of Docker Engine, and figured out the .env file and docker-compose were in the ~/ghost/ folder and I could edit the .env file to plugin in the Mailgun settings that we were using for Reclaim Roundup, as well as the URL while I was there, but Taylor’s Addons for the URL, SSL cert, and maybe even Mailgun settings  directly from within the Reclaim Cloud GUI settings area would remove that need for anyone to access the .env file via SSH at all.

Once I updated the URL and Mailgun settings I needed to spin down all the containers and then spin them back up so the new environment settings would be implemented, that is done with these two commands:

docker-compose down

docker-compose up -d

Another command that might be useful that Taylor turned me onto was the following to track error logs across all running containers, which would have helped when I was troubleshooting one of my docker-compose typos.

docker-compose logs -f

And with that the final piece was syncing all the files and settings in ghost/content from the original Reclaim Roundup to the new and improved Ghost running Roundup. I should have done this using rsync, but that is harder than it should be in Reclaim Cloud, so I resorted to zipping up the original /content directory, downloading it, and uploading it to the new environment (renaming it ghostdata to match Taylor’s conventions). I did need to fix permissions on that directory after the fact, and I needed Taylor’s help to figure out what he called ghostdata was essentially the same thing as content. Additionally, he informed me that uploaded objects such as images, media, themes, etc. live outside of any of the existing containers running the stack. The Docker Engine is essentially acting as a volume for storing any uploads, themes, media, settings, etc. and they  live outside the four  running containers listed above. Which means if containers are destroyed you can simply re-create them and all content would still be there, and that is also  the case with the database.

So, as of yesterday morning we had Reclaim Roundup migrated to a new Docker image and my learning around Docker— thanks to playing with Ghost—continues. I am ever so thrilled to remain somewhat focused on the bigger prize of Reclaim getting comfortable with Docker and containers so that we can continue to support this quite cool stuff for our broader hosting community.

Posted in Ghost, Reclaim Cloud | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Form of Awesome: Wonder Twins Conundrum

In this installment of “Form of Awesome” Wonder Twins are cornered by evil Crypto Bros in a dark alley. The Crypto Bros are trying to sell them NFTs and will not take no for an answer. Zan and Jayna need to transform to battle these evil doers! What forms should they take and how will those forms help them defeat these crypto creeps?

Intrigued? Click on this link to take the Form of Awesome and battle the Tech Bros.

Wonder Twins Conundrum

Looking for some inspiration? After you submit your entry you’ll be able to see a list of solutions other super friends have submitted. Turns out the more fun the solution, the more damage is done to the Tech Bros.

 File this under more things you can learn to do with Gravity Forms at next month’s Form of Awesome Flex Course created by Tom Woodward. If you’re interested, sign-up here to activate your Wonder Twins power!

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Helping to Save a Donkey Kong Junior

I’m on a bit of a bavacade blog roll to document some of the work done on a few cabinets, namely Condor, Bagman, and finally—for now—Donkey Kong Junior.

Donkey Kong Jr Before Rebuild

Funny enough I thought Donkey Kong Junior was the least beat up of the three initially, it had some gouges at the corners, a broken lip where the T-molding fits, and the bottom pedestal was crumbling a bit—but overall the cabinet looked solid.

Donkey Kong Jr

Donkey Kong Jr

But in the following image you get a sense of not only some issues with the rounded corner but also the black pedestal crumbling:

Donkey Kong Jr

Turns out the entire base was extensively water damaged and needed to be replaced. The sides are made of 5/8″ particle board rather than plywood, which made me think it might have been replaced, but according to this forum thread on KLOV that was the building material for cabinets made in the US*, as opposed to the plywood cabinets being from Japan. The things you learn on the internet.

Donkey Kong Jr Teardown

Anyway, I went to work dismantling Donkey Kong Junior, and given this is the fourth game I have stripped down to its bones, I’m getting quicker and more efficient. But, as always, I took ALL the photos just to be sure, as the album on Flickr above confirms.

After taking it apart Alberto picked it up and got to work on replacing the pedestal and fixing any gouges. I also asked him to add wheels like he had for Bagman given I loved how they functioned. After a couple of weeks he finished up and reported it was a bit of a beast to restore, but he is awesome and it looked pretty awesome.

Donkey Kong Jr Cab Repairs

In the image below you can see part of the front panel beneath the coin door was cut out and replaced. It is noticeable from the bottom corners of the front panel that angle to the bottom corners of the space where the coin door goes. A sign of the beast Alberto was struggling with.

Donkey Kong Jr Cab Repairs

Alberto even made me a custom coin barrel given the original was missing, which is freaking awesome:

Donkey Kong Jr Cab Repairs

In the image below you can see the bottom sides have been repaired, and that it was, again, more extensive than either of us imagined:

Donkey Kong Jr Cab Repairs

Donkey Kong Jr Cab Repairs

You can get a sense of the clean up on the back, upper corners as well as the reinforcement of the T-molding groove from the following images:

Donkey Kong Jr Cab Repairs

Donkey Kong Jr Cab Repairs

Donkey Kong Jr Cab Repairs

And once I got the cabinet on its back in preparation for being painted, you have a good look at the new pedestal built with 2″ x 4″s as well as those awesome hidden wheels that Alberto installed:

Donkey Kong Junior  Paint Job

I documented the paint job pretty well on twitter, because that is always fun:

It ultimately took four coats to get rid of any signs of the work. What’s more, after finishing coat number four I realized I got matte rather than glossy paint, which is what I technically should have used to be truly faithful. So being OCD, I tried a transparent gloss spray paint but that looked uneven, so I just added a fifth coat of the matte and called it a day.

Previous to adding to the brown paper covering on the side art shown above, I applied masking tape and cut around the side art with an Exacto knife:

Masking Tape on Sideart of Donkey Kong Jr

After the orange on both sides were done, I turned to the black trim and that came out pretty well. But it did bleed through the masking tape barrier in a few areas so I needed to do some clean-up. If I were to do it over, I would have started with the black trim and then done the orange, given black hides more than orange.

The end result was pretty awesome!

The trick now was to put it back together, and that took a couple of hours and I did consult my teardown album quite a few times.  But despite my nerves, it turned on without an issue. Look mom, no smoke!

The happy ending here is that a local store owner had expressed interest in having Donkey Kong Junior on display in his store. I told him I was working on a restoration, and Saturday morning Miles and I delivered the goods, and this gorgeous Donkey Kong Junior is now on site and can be played at the hip clothing store  5 Tasche here in Trento.

I have to note that along with the Scramble restoration, this was a really rewarding project given how beautiful this cabinet turned out. Perhaps not as next-level as Scramble given that required stenciling the side art, but the orange and black combination of Donkey Kong Junior is really magical. Also, this wraps up all the cabinet work to be done with the existing collection in Italy at the moment, which clears the deck for the incoming 15 14 games that will need a fair amount of TLC.

___________________________________

*These cabinets were made specifically in Redmond, Washington.

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Bagging the Bagman

Bagman Rebuild

Moving on from “Saving the Condor,” the next restoration project was for the 1982 arcade cabinet Bagman. This golden-age game was created by the French arcade company Valadon Automation, and licensed to Stern in the US and Taito in Japan. Valadon followed-up with Super Bagman (1984) that I have yet to see or play in the wild, but I must say the original Bagman is difficult enough!

I bought this cabinet here in Italy, and I choose it because it was in good shape and almost entirely original—not to mention a bit off the beaten arcade path. The glass bezel is the only original piece missing, and I must say the comic margins add a nice touch:

I’m considering getting the original image embedded above printed to the glass bezel fitted to the cabinet, but first I have to find someone who does that work. Not essential, but that would truly be the finishing touch.

Bagman Teardown

Bagman Teardown

Anyway, the cabinet did have some water damage towards the bottom, similar to my  Scramble project but far less extensive. I stripped the cabinet of all its internal parts, control panel, coin door, marquee, etc. so that all was left was the bones so that Alberto could take it and do his woodworking magic. I documented all the parts removed and various connections so I would remember how to put it back together, although for this one I really didn’t need the photos because the game board and power supply are all housed together in a drawer at the bottom of the cabinet.

Bagman Teardown- draw with PSU and game board

The Flickr album with all the photos I took of each of the various Bagman parts removed and the various connectors might be useful should someone out there find themselves trying to so something similar.

Bagman Teardown

The teardown went surprisingly smooth thanks to all Duke’s hard work 🙂

Bagman Teardown

And after removing the marquee light and monitor the game was out the door. I got it back a couple of weeks later and had previously matched the yellow at a local paint store.

Bagman Cabinet Paint Prep

Bagman Cabinet Paint Prep

Alberto not only cut out the water damage and replaced the base, he also added some really elegant hidden wheels to the bottom of Bagman that lift the game about a quarter inch off the floor. You would never know the game is on wheels, but castors like this definitely make moving the game around the basement a lot easier. The wheels are not lockable, but I find the game remains stable when leaned against and only moves when pushed with some force. That said, I do think keeping a game with these wheels flush against a wall would avoid any possible issues. I liked them so much I had the same wheels added to the Donkey Kong Jr cabinet, but more on that in the next post.

Bagman Cabinet Paint Prep

You can see the original wheels for tilting the game back to move it are still there, but having castors for moving the games around is really the way to go with a home arcade:

Bagman Cabinet Paint Prep

Bagman Cabinet Paint Prep

After covering the Bagman side art and the existing T-molding with masking tape, I gave the cabinet a clean coat of yellow paint on the sides and back, and touched up the black on the front panel. This is my favorite part because it’s really the only thing I can do 🙂

Bagman Cabinet Paint Prep

Bagman Cabinet Paint Prep

Bagman Cabinet Paint Prep

And once I did a few coats and made everything beautiful it was time to rebuild:

Bagman Rebuild

Bagman Rebuild

Again, it went quite quickly and I was left with a gorgeous specimen! I love the monitor on this machine, it is running a spiffy G07.

Bagman Rebuild

And with that I have bagged the Bagman cabinet, and it is looking brand spanking new!

Posted in bavacade, video games | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Save the Condor

Sometimes the blog post titles just write themselves…but on with the show.

Over the past month or so I’ve been fixing up several cabinets in the bavacade that have cosmetic issues. I’ve been pushing hard on this because I want to ensure the current games in the collection are in tip-top shape before the next wave of games invades in June 🙂 So, I’ll start a series of posts talking about some of the work that’s been happening to make sure it’s all documented. First up is Condor, an interesting bootleg of the venerable Phoenix arcade cabinet by the Italian game company Sidam. Condor is basically identical save the music and fuel gauge that makes it infinitely more difficult than Phoenix. I picked this up in March and it is all original but there where a couple of gouges in the back of the cabinet.

Gouge in Condor Cabinet

Gouge in Condor Cabinet

The other thing is the edge connector which connects the game board to various other parts of the cabinet like the control panel, monitor and power supply was a total mess, so that needed an overhaul.

Condor Edge Connector

I did some repair soldering on the edge connector, but I know it needed a total overhaul, so that was on the list. The marquee light was also not working, so I went ahead and added an LED marquee light that worked well, and I took a quick video describing that process.

The fun thing about these refurbishing projects is you really have to strip the cabinet down to nothing, which often means documenting every piece so that you know how to put it back together again. This might make the camera on the standard smart phone the greatest thing for how-to DIY projects ever—not to mention the flashlight.

Condor Teardown

I have started making albums in Flickr with all the photos for each project that requires dismantling a cabinet so that I have an easy reference for re-assembly, and here is the Condor prepped for surgery:

Stripped Condor

And here is the cabinet after Alberto, the woodworking magician, cleaned up the gouges:

Condor patched up

Condor patched up

Condor patched up

Condor patched up

It is perfect, I do paint the cabinets when needed, but Condor needed some black touch up paint, so Alberto did that and it basically came back to me ready to be rebuilt immediately.

Condor patched up

I was also able to get the edge-connector cleaned up with some help of another local electronics miracle worker, Roberto, you’ll notice a theme emerging here wherein I am doing next to no work. Forbo, as they say in Italian.

The final pieces on this game’s revitalization project was getting some wing nuts to secure the control panel, which was loose. The other was getting the spare board fixed given it was throwing garbage when I tested it—despite the fact the seller noting “it works fine!” Gotta keep your spare boards in good shape, you never know when one is gonna blow. Mine extra Condor board is still be looked at back in the US, but hoping to retrieve it when I am back in the Midwest two weeks from now.

Condor amongst its Sidam brethren

Nonetheless, this project is finished and it sits comfortably between two of its similarly minted out brethren to make for a gorgeous trinity of Sidam bootlegs in the bavacade.

Posted in bavacade, video games | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Form of an Awesome Superfriends Trivia Quiz

In preparation of Reclaim Edtech‘s first Flex Course on Gravity Forms next month, the great Tom Woodward has created a fun Superfriends Triva Quiz using, you guessed it, Gravity Forms 🙂 You can take the quiz by clicking the image below, which is both entertaining and difficult all at once. But even better, you can learn how to build this and more as part of this 4-week, intensive Gravity Forms Flex Course!

Click on image below to take the Superfriends Trivia Quiz

Posted in Reclaim Edtech, Uncategorized, WordPress | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Adding Ghost Config Variables in Reclaim Cloud

Tim Clarke is helping a faculty member get Ghost up and running on Reclaim Cloud, and has used Reclaim’s EdTech Discord channel to ask for clarification around Mailgun settings and environmental variables. Both of which I did not document fully in my Ghost series earlier this year. Tsk, tsk, Jimmy! What’s more, Taylor Jadin has showed me an easier way to add environment variables to Ghost since then, so I figured I would quickly document it. This below method allows you to add the Ghost site’s URL and/or Mailgun settings to the container without editing the config file on the server, this makes any updates easier to do.

His questions also helped me realize we do have all the necessary stats around open rates for our newsletter in Mailgun, but that data is not being recognized/shared with Roundup’s Ghost install, so will have to dig in a bit deeper. I am also quite glad Tim asked this question cause I was really happy to learn almost 60% of folks subscribed to the Roundup have at the very least opened it. Yeah!

N.B. – The variables option illustrated here works for a Ghost instance installed directly from Docker Hub on Reclaim Cloud. If you install Ghost within Docker Engine you no longer have the ability to add variables directly to the container’s Variables setting in Reclaim Cloud, you will need to edit them within Ghost at on the container at /var/lib/ghost/config.production.json and then reload the container being sure to give it some time to come back up.

Posted in Ghost, Reclaim Edtech | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

An Explorer in “The Bishop of Battle”

Image of Bishop of Battle title screen

Chapter Two of Nightmares: “The Bishop of Battle”

I recently welcomed a new game into bavacade, namely Pleiades. The acquisition of which reminded me of a scene from a childhood favorite b-movie horror omnibus called Nightmares (1983). I just posted about this film and its relationship—at least in my mind—to another 80s cult classic Repo Man. As I mentioned in that post, there is a scene where JJ Cooney (Emilio Estevez) is hustling a kid out of money at Pleiades while listening to Fear’s “Let’s Have a War.” You can see that scene in the clip below:

And for those with a discerning arcade ear, you might realize the sound effects that they link with Pleiades are actually for Moon Cresta, but that may be outside your golden age of video games arcade trivia pay-grade.

Anyway, all that led me back to Nightmares to play one of my favorite movie games, identify the video game cabinet. I should do a whole series of posts on video games that show up in 80s movies—it speaks volumes to their ubiquity and also tells an interesting tale of just how popular arcade games were during the early 1980s. In terms of business revenue, I love this bit from the “golden age of arcade video games” Wikipedia page:

In 1982, the arcade video game industry’s revenue in quarters was estimated at $8 billion[22] surpassing the annual gross revenue of both pop music ($4 billion) and Hollywood films ($3 billion) combined that year.[22][23] It also exceeded the revenues of all major sports combined at the time,[23] earning three times the combined ticket and television revenues of Major League Baseball, basketball, and American football, as well as earning twice as much as all the casinos in Nevada combined.[24]

The idea that arcade games had more revenue than all major sports combined is mind-blowing, not to mention Hollywood and pop music. It’s easy to forget just how big a phenomenon they were in the early 80s, and while they never really lost steam in terms of growing popularity (in fact, they are once again bigger than Hollywood and professional sports combined in the US thanks to the pandemic) they can be easily overlooked given how ingrained into the culture they’ve become. So, it’s always interesting to see early 80s takes on arcades, video game addictions, delinquent youth, and punk rock—and “Bishop of Battle” has it all and more. But that’s not what this post is about, it’s actually about what I discovered when re-watching Nightmares, and this is where things get a bit geeky.

Sidam's Holy Trinity in bavacade

Over the last several years I’ve worked with Tim to create Reclaim Arcade, which has been a total blast and has pushed me into all kinds of cool corners of not only buying these old games but also repairing and restoring them. When it became clear during the pandemic I was not going back to the US anytime soon to enjoy Reclaim Arcade, I started collecting games here in Italy, hence the bavacade. One of the coolest things I discovered was a whole bootleg market in Italy wherein companies would “borrow” games from the US market (such as Asteroids, Scramble, Phoenix, Dig Dug, Galaga, Missile Command, etc.) and then reverse engineer them, re-name them, and create new cabinet designs to hop on the wave that was invading Europe as well. The premier Italian company doing this was Sidam, and I have three of their games: Asterock (Asteroids bootleg), Condor (Phoenix bootleg), and Explorer (Scramble bootleg). The Explorer cabinet’s side art is particularly beautiful, it is like panels from a comic book of an astronaut in space.

Sidam Explorer side art at an angle

Sidam Explorer side art

So, it struck me when I was searching for screenshots of the “Bishop of Battle” episode to come across side art from an Explorer:

The Explorer side art in Bishop of battle

The Explorer side art in Bishop of battle

I recognized that red astronaut behind Emilio, that’s Explorer! I was pretty excited, and it prompted me to go through the scene in the arcade when JJ Cooney gets to the 13th level of the game, at which point it is no longer a game. The collapse of the virtual and real worlds is realized on level 13—kinda like the 13th floor—and the space shooter is now taking place within a mall arcade in the Valley. The animation for this sequence is pretty amazing, and according to the IMDB trivia page it almost killed the production given how much it ran over budget.

Image of a red ord super imposed on a video game arcade

Don’t shoot the Explorer JJ! You can just make out the Explorer cabinet to the right of the red glowing orb

But back to Sidam’s Explorer, it actually plays a key role in this scene as the arcade cabinet that is routinely blown up by JJ Cooney as he tries to shoot the adversaries that have come out of the game into the arcade. Below you can get a good shot of the Explorer cabinet falling like a chopped tree:

Image of a video game falling after being shot with a laser gun

A falling Explorer

And sadly, below, you see the cabinet lying lifeless on the arcade floor. It breaks my heart.

A destroyed video game arcade cabinet

A downed Explorer

In the following shot you can just about glimpse the Explorer marquee as it is being shot for a second time in this sequence, turns out Explorer was one of the games they deemed unworthy enough to sacrifice multiple times. I mean it’s just an Italian-made knock-off of Scramble, which they already have in this arcade. And you don’t see them destroying an Asteroids, it’s way too valuable!

Image of a video game being shot with a laser gun

You can just make out the Explorer marquee in this shot

The morning after JJ’s late night exploits the Explorer can be seen, once again, lying dead on the floor.

Image of a destroyed Explorer the morning after

And when the arcade proprietor, Willy, picks up a piece of the wreckage to bemoan the vandals, he grabs a broken part of the Explorer cabinet which can be identified by the side art.

Image of Willy, the arcade proprietor, removing a broken piece of the Explorer cabinet

Willy, the arcade proprietor, removing a broken piece of the Explorer cabinet

It’s an Explorer bloodbath! I would really love to know how many of these Sidam cabinets made it to the US, and even more interesting—why? Seems like selling to US distributors/arcades would be against Sidam’s interests given they were clearly ripping the intellectual property off from US and Japanese companies, so it would behoove them to keep it in Europe. Anyway, not sure on those details, but following the fate of this Explorer was quite fun. It was a sacrificial lamb, and I can’t help but think its status as foreign fake, hence lesser, was part of that decision.

Posted in bavacade, movies, video games | Leave a comment

From “The Bishop of Battle” to Repo Man: the Bus Journey of an 1980s Film Punk

I recently picked up Scream Factory’s 2015 blu-ray release of Nightmares (1983), a low-budget urban legends/horror omnibus in the vein of Creepshow (1982) and Cat’s Eye (1985)—the latter of which my brother loved. I’ve been watching and re-watching “The Bishop of Battle” episode of Nightmares because it is not only the best of the four chapters by a long shot, but also because it has some vintage footage of early 80s arcades—not to mention a prolonged sequence highlighting the gameplay of Pleiades to the soundtrack of Fear’s “Let’s have a War.”

It’s a lot of fun to watch this 25 minute episode and try to identify the various games of the era in the arcades. In fact, there was a pretty big surprise for me in my recent close watchings, but I’ll save that revelation for my next post. Like and subscribe!

Bishop of Battle Bus Scene

Here I want to highlight something I stumbled upon that provides an interesting link, at least for me, between the “The Bishop of Battle” episode another childhood favorite: Repo Man (1984). To set the stage, in “Bishop of Battle” young punk JJ Cooney (Emilio Estevez) hustles some kids in a downtown LA arcade to raise money for his video game addiction. He and his accomplice just barely escape on the bus after being found out and pursued. In the above scene, immediately following their getaway, you see them exiting the bus and heading to their local arcade in the Valley which is like totally in a mall.

Repo Man Edge City Bus scene

In this companion scene from Repo Man you also have a young 80s punk, Otto, played again by Emilio Estevez just a year later who also listens to the same LA punk bands he did in “Bishop of Battle.” And it’s almost an identical shot of Otto returning from LA, but this time not to an arcade but his parents house to get some promised college money. Otto is ultimately frustrated when he hears his hippie parents have given his college money to a TV evangelist who is supplying bibles to El Salvador.

What’s wild about these scenes is almost as if JJ and Otto are the same character walking out of one film into another at different, yet chronologically aligned, moments in their young adult life. In “Bishop of Battle” JJ admits stealing quarters to his concerned parents but promises it’s all about to end once he beats the Bishop.

In Repo Man, you find Otto a year later having graduated high school in a dead-end job at a super market looking for a way out.

After Otto loses his job and his parents can’t help him he resigns to becoming a repo man. And after working with Bud (the great Harry Dean Stanton!) for a while you find him wearing the shirt and tie rejecting his punk past as he jokes about ever liking the Circle Jerks. So good!

I don’t know why it hit me so hard—like a diamond through the forehead— but after seeing the bus scene in “Bishop of Battle” and an almost identical Emilio Estevez, if only a bit younger, it got me wondering if Alex Cox had scene Nightmares and said, “That’s my Otto!” And, on top of that, used his Edge City bus scenes as a subtle homage to Joseph Sargent’s episode in Nightmares, which is really the template from which Otto seems to be built. Probably not, but I like to think the lattice of coincidence is alive and well in these films 🙂

Posted in film, films, movies, video games | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gyruss Multigame Mod-Kit with Time Pilot and Pooyan

Trying to play a bit of catch-up on my bavacade given I have made some significant strides towards getting fully operational. One of the recent highlights was finally getting the Gyruss multigame mod-kit installed so that it can also allow you to play Time Pilot and Pooyan. This mod-kit was by far the most complex yet with the need to desolder 5 chips and install as many daughter boards, and that was just on the main board. There is an additional daughter board for the auxiliary/sound board as well, bringing the gran total to 6 additional boards on the boards.

Here is a look at the Gyruss boards before the mod-kit was installed:

Gyruss board before the mod-kit

And here is an image after the installation:

Main Gyruss Board with All Mod Chips

Gyruss Multi-game Board (top-connecting board)

The A6/A7 daughter board in the image above (you can identify it by the white stick with writing) has a socket for connecting to the main board, which gives you a sense of the Frankenstein creation of the whole thing 🙂 If you want more details images of the game board chips there is a Flickr album here.

Screen for selecting Pooyan, Time Pilot or Gyruss

I love having Pooyan and Time Pilot easily accessible on Gyruss by simply pressing down the player 1 button for 5 seconds and being brought to the selector screen to choose my game of choice.  I particularly love Pooyan, so that is a total treat for me—it’s the three little pigs fairy tale come to video games:

Pooyan (close-up)

Although one thing you might notice here, and also on the Time Pilot screen below is that there is a bit of bleeding in the graphics under Free Play, Round One, and the momma pig’s elevator.

Time Pilot on Gyruss

You can see the bleeding pretty starkly against the black background of Time Pilot’s opening screen, particularly underneath the red “LICENSED FROM KONAMI.” Not a deal breaker per se, but I would like to know if that is an issue with the mod-kit, or something else. The strange bit is Gyruss shows no signs of that bleeding, so I am thinking—perhaps mistakenly—it’s the mod kit.

Time Pilot on Gyruss

That said, the actual game play of Time Pilot shows no bleeding at all, so it is bizarre.

Pooyan

One of the things I learned after trying to desolder and socket chips on the Stargate board which resulted in breaking a trace was that using a desoldering gun on these boards may not be the best approach for a newbie like me. I gave this board to Roberto, a local game repair guru, and he desoldered the five chips and added sockets for me. He recommended as much after seeing my early attempts on the A2 chip on this board, but luckily I knew I was heading into troubled waters and swam back to shore immediately. I guess desoldering a pristine board like this Gyruss with hot air rather than a gun that touches the board is both a cleaner and safer way to go.

Pooyan on Gyruss

This was the last of the multigame mod-kits I had to install in the cabinets I have here in Italy. And it feels good to have gotten that done because as of today I officially have 14 more games on the way to the bavacade, and I have a few mod-kits on-hand to install on those games when they arrive, most excitedly Pac-man and Elevator Action! What’s more, I have to figure out where I’m going to put the 30+ games I have amassed!

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