A tale overheard at Stompin' Wombat's Intergalactic Trading Post

The Old Crow Survives Having His Brain Eaten

Historical note: read my original notes. They're relatively accurate, but they don't tell the whole story.

June 1996 was a bad month for the Old Crow. The problem was this: a friend in Japan, knowing my penchant for role-playing games and the fact I had a decent command of the Japanese language, sent me this dating simulation game. Tokimeki Memorial -- Forever With You, hereafter described as 'TokiMemo', was of a kind of RPG I had previously ignored. Most sim games of the day were these PC-Engine and/or Super Famicom titles that pretty much boiled down to pornographic doujinshi (amateur comic books often based on commerical characters and situations, one-third of doujinshi titles at any given moment are guaranteed to be pornographic). Now, I do not mean to decry the doujinshi subculture of Japan's artistic youth, but I for one am not interested in a particular one-third of it. I have many great examples of *good* doujinshi, such as the circle Santa Claus's stories about life as a waitress at (the restaurant chain) Anna Miller's. In this case, the waitresses were often the target of leering 'otaku' types and the exasperations of the girls were brought into rigid focus by illustration in the doujin issues.

Thus I had this TokiMemo game, wherein the player guides the actions of a boy who attends Kirameki High School (www.kirameki.edu is owned by the person who sent me the game), meeting a variety of girls and endeavoring to establish a long-term relationship with them. It was an amazingly good game for its time, and ushered in a new genre of the sim game. (For those who are/were hardcore TokiMemo players, I wrote a survivial guide some years back). This game, swap-booted in the old style on a 1st-genation US PSX console (the SCPH-1001) ran continuously for just over 5 weeks as I played out every scenario there was, even down to winning Ijuin Rei, not to mention the 'total loser' ending wherein you get to listen to the sad singing of a man denied all love. Yes, TokiMemo ate my brain for those 5 weeks.

Well, eventually said eaten brain re-formed and pondered on what to do next. It ended up being something to do with my first passion/hobby: electronic music synthesizers, which is well detailed elsewhere on this site. Work on this, not to mention day-job travails in my designing of industrial process controls, took the Old Crow into late summer before he started pondering the PSX boot chip again. By this time, the usenet newgroups were beginning to tell stories of these '10-wire PSX boot chips'. What exactly were these chips? They were ostensibly 14-pin parts, but anyone remotely versed in chip packaging could tell that while this chip had 14 pins, one end appeared cut or broken off, suggesting the original part had more pins. Some used 11 wires.

It was about this time that I inconspicuously posted in comp.video.games.playstation about the part matching up to the pinout of a Microchip, Inc. PIC16C54, save that four pins were chopped off the bottom so as to make it harder to reverse-engineer. At the time I did not know it, by my use of the virgin phrase "mod chip" as applied to booting PSX games was to become a worldwide household term within the year. With such innocuous beginnings are revolutions born.

Zen^H^Hilog and the Art of Disc Booting

The Old Crow