The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops (The THG Years) – Part Eleven

in story •  5 months ago  (edited)

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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


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Circa April 1992

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’.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Spyrit's Crypt was a SNES BBS, I'm sure that's where and how I formed a friendship with Black Spyrit, the Sysop.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.NFO files courtesy of the .NFO libraries at https://defacto2.net


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Street Fighter was so awesome. I never owned a Super Nintendo, but I had a friend that did and I would often go over to his house and play it. Now I have been playing a lot of the games I missed via emulator.

Two player was what made it good. You could so the single player but it was kinda boring.

Indeed. I was never that great at it, but it was always fun to try and take down my friend. I have been to some arcades that still have the stand alone machine. I still remember some of the special moves too!

Yeah I never got on with the consoles. I mean I was in school and writing papers so a PC was more what I needed. I still cannot believe how many people go that route. Cheaper up front to be sure, but still seems so limiting.

I only play games now on a console (PS4), but it wasn't like that once.

Ahhh memories! I had one that worked on the SNES and Genesis. I spent way too much renting games after that and never playing them.

Renting games to copy? I guess you were not part of the ‘scene’? I can’t remember ever using the backup facility.

Posted using Partiko iOS

LOL....the scene I was really into was the Atari 8 bit and 16 bit one.

Got some extra info from Fabulous Furlough on cracking SNES games and appended it to this article. He was into everything back then.

Truly my golden era!

Haha, that Streetfighter thumb! I know it well!

I wasn't even aware of those devices, but then I never had a SNES and probably wasn't reading about them around then. Back then you had to buy magazines for tech news unless you were hanging around on a BBS. I did use some for a while, but I'm hazy about the details now. May have to try and drag up some memories for a post.

It was all scene talk, a quite exclusive club I was fortunate to be in. Having access to the modem at work started it all.

If the boss had done something different and fired me, what to come would have been very different.

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