Some 20 years ago I first saw incredible screen shots, in a magazine, of SEGA’s much loved game “After Burner II”. I had After Burner II on the PC Engine and it was a decent conversion of the impressive arcade original. The trouble was, at the time, none of the home consoles possessed what we called “hardware scaling” – the ability to enlarge or decrease hand-drawn sprites without a tremendous drain on the main CPU. This hardware scaling (and its cousin “hardware rotation” – the ability to rotate sprites without said drain) were key elements in the hardware of SEGA’s arcade machines. These great devices were able to throw sprites effortlessly and smoothly around the screen while leaving the main CPU to cope with all the other demands of gameplay. Home consoles at the time had no such capability and had to swap sprites of varying sizes, and rotations, at carefully timed intervals to attempt the same effect.
For this reason, after seeing a screenshot of After Burner II, with apparently hardware-scaled sprites, we were astounded, excited, envious, and troubled. How could we get one of the FM Towns computers? How much would it cost to get it shipped? This fantasy slowly faded from the foreground of our minds as we tried to cope with the knowledge that, because our favoured import stores didn’t stock such exotic beauties, we would never be able to own such a device.
As the years past, the FM Towns dream was never quite forgotten, there were more stories of “arcade perfect conversions” and vague whispers about other versions of the FM Towns; all in one super machines, and even a cut-down console-like contraption called a Marty. The concept became something between a dream and a myth. Off on a tangent, two other items that I didn’t believe were real once upon a time are Phantasy Star 1 on the Megadrive, and the rubbery wonder that is a Commodore 116.
Sorry for all that drivel, but if you’re still alive, awake, or interested, my hope is that it may suffice as a background to what occurred next.
A year ago, a facebook gentleman (HCK) living in Japan (possibly the best country I’ve never visited) was selling some of his wares (ie, super fantastic wonderful consoles) to gain coin to help a family member. Among the items has was shifting was … you may have sagely guessed … an FM Towns (the Marty version). As my birthday was approaching I decided that I would attempt to gather my funds and buy the device at long last (the price was extremely reasonable). Time passed. Slowly. Nothing showed up. Months went by. Nothing. THEN AT LAST … NEWS!! … it had been sent to the Americas in error! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaagh. No. No NOOOOOO.
It made a second journey. But again, time was the only entity to move. Nothing reached me, or indeed anyone else. That Marty is, extremely sadly, MIA. So, about a month ago, the splendid gent agreed to send a 2nd Marty. We agreed to go via tracked EMS this time, and go halves on shipping. I was very pleased, for he knew not if I had ever received the first Marty, and I knew not if he had ever sent it. This time it would be tracked. This time we’d both know!
The bastards at customs did their absolute best to make a total mockery of EMS’s 3-5 day delivery. That poor, helpless, and defenceless FM Towns Marty was in Coventry, of all places, for longer than I have ever been and FAR longer than is fair to any electrical device. Those pricks also charged a £13.50 “clearance fee” and £27.74 import tax. Anyhow, sod it. I had, in my sweaty paws, a bloody FM Towns!!! And, after all these years, here she is *sniff*
I love my wife for tolerating my fetish.
Love your spouse too, for we are weird!
And I love my FM Towns 😉
ADDED 1 YEAR LATER:
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