This series is dedicated to my friend ‘The Pieman’ who hosted ‘THE P.I.T.S’ BBS in New York City and sadly passed away in 2016. I know his son ‘Blake’ will be reading this sequence of stories with anticipation.
We will never forget you man, you were one of a kind.
Also I would like to say a big thank you to Fabulous Furlough, ex-leader of ‘The Humble Guys’ who helps me fill in the gaps of what happened almost 30 years ago, The Slavelord who has given me a plethora of memories from the early days and to Suicidal Tendencies (@trolleydave) who remembers more about the UK scene than me.
The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops (The THG Years) is a continuation of my previous series, The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops.
I was once known as 'Bryn Rogers', a member of THG (The Humble Guys).
Other articles in this series:
The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops (The THG Years) – Part One
The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops (The THG Years) – Part Two
The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops (The THG Years) – Part Three
The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops (The THG Years) – Part Four
The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops (The THG Years) – Part Five
The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops (The THG Years) – Part Six
The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops (The THG Years) – Part Seven
The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops (The THG Years) – Part Eight
The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops (The THG Years) – Part Nine
The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops (The THG Years) – Part Ten
In 1992 I was not really interested in consoles. After all, you had to buy games, which was something quite alien to me at that time.
That was until Hi.T.Moonweed bought himself a Super Nintendo and started rabbiting on about how great the games were, and not just that… there was a device that sat atop the console and allowed you to run ripped off games from floppy disk.
Now, this got my attention. I started doing some research on several BBS' and found quite a library of SNES warez out there just waiting to be downloaded.
The Super Magicom device was the hot item to have, and advertised as a ‘backup device’.
This is NOT a Super Magicom, but it looked quite similar to this device
This of course, was an essential item to the everyday SNES owner as their delicate cartridges may become damaged.
Solid hard ridged plastic is easily damaged, right? That was the box blurb!
Why not back them up to floppy disk and store your cartridges in a bank vault as to avoid damaging those valuable assets?
This made perfect sense to me, though the last part about the bank vault I didn’t go for due to lack of said assets.
The other important detail was that the SNES was region locked. This appeared to be the same for ripped off ‘backups’ so I needed an American SNES which I thought was more handsome in design than the UK model sporting a glamorous purple and grey colour schema.
Where I sourced an American SNES from that had been converted to work with a PAL Signal (UK TV standard) as opposed to NTSC (US TV standard) is anybody's guess.
There are limits to my 27-year-old memory segments but it could have been via Lonestar, the co-sysop of UK Pirate BBS, Ghost.
Within two or three weeks I received delivery of a US Model Super Nintendo and Super Magicom backup device (likely from the same source).
The Super Magicom contained a single cartridge slot and a separate FDD 1.44Mb drive that was attached via a cable.
As long as you had ANY cartridge fitted into the slot then you could run games through the menu that were loaded via the FDD.
I’m quite sure that Super Mario was supplied as the bundled game and so that was to be my one and only original cartridge.
By the time of delivery I had been leeching games from various BBS's in the US and Canada and had accumulated several.
Many of these BBS' contained PC, Amiga, and SNES sections and were happy to accept cross trading, in the shape of my PC warez for their SNES.
Files were in the form of a single file with a .SMC extension. All of them fitted on a single 1.44Mb floppy disk.
I took great joy in explaining to Hi.T.Moonweed that I had traded the latest ‘business shit’ for SIX or SEVEN hot SNES games.
He never ceased complaining and moaning about this ‘blatant abuse’ of my trading habits.
My guess was that Nintendo was none too happy about these devices that were kicking around the scene. Besides the Super Magicom, all sorts of other cloning devices were starting to appear.
Leeds my arse!, he lived in Norwich and then moved to Brighton
@trolleydave got himself a Super Wildcard, and may possibly still have it to this day. I think it had some advantages over the Magicom, but I’m damned if I can remember.
Illicit Trader soon got himself a Super Magicom and described it as a ‘lunch-box' sitting on your SNES. I think that description is quite apt.
There were a couple of games that would not work with the Super Magicom, namely Pilot Wings and Star Fox, this was because they contained custom chips that were not present on my ‘dummy' Super Mario cartridge that was sitting permanently in the cartridge slot.
One game, however, was played repeatedly because it was just incredible for the time; Street Fighter II.
A super cool game called "Super Star Wars" would come out for the SNES, and wouldn't run on the Magicom devices. As the way the Magicom worked, it loaded the game into RAM, and then toggled the reset line on the cart port to tell the SNES that a new game was ready.
This RAM was the cheapest shit that they could find in Taiwan/Hong Kong at the time, and Star Wars used "Fast ROM" mode, as it did ALL SORTS of shit, and assumed that it needed the faster access mode. Well, I had just gotten a SNES programming manual from a friend, and was digging through the register list when I found this "Fast ROM" register. ($4209 IIRC).
I loaded up Star Wars into the disassembler, and found that it was setting this register to "1". I changed that 1 to a 0, which was the same for every OTHER game, and it worked! I had just "cracked" a SNES game! A little later, I would get California Games, and it was a PAL version, or something similar, and I figured out how to "crack" that one as well. - Fabulous Furlough.
It’s no longer a genre I am particularly interested in, but it was the absolute dog’s bollocks in 1992 and got played to death wearing out more than one pad and giving me ‘Street Fighter’ thumb.
This is a condition that happens as you continually use your right-thumb on the joypad way harder than necessary. It can happen with any game but gained that name due to the many player-vs-player ‘Street Fighter' contests that we enjoyed.
It was not all leeching, sometimes we actually ‘played’ the games!
To be continued...
All images have been cited and are under the category 'Labelled for Reuse' or are in the public domain.
Small Pirate Icon Source
.NFO files courtesy of the .NFO libraries at https://defacto2.net
If you found this article so invigorating that you are now a positively googly-eyed, drooling lunatic with dripping saliva or even if you liked it just a bit, then please upvote, comment, resteem, engage me or all of these things.