Friday, January 22, 2016

A guide to printing custom video game covers at Staples.com

** This article was originally posted on my other blog, Random Toy Reviews

Having limited space for a video game collection shouldn't come as a surprise. Any type of collector will at one point or another face that issue of simply running out of space. One way I've found to save some space, and give me something fun to work on is making custom cases for certain game platforms. Many of you may be familiar with the big, clunky, fragile jewel cases Sega used for their Sega CD and Sega Saturn games. While I like the look, I don't like how much space they take up on my shelves. I had heard of this site called The Cover Project, but had never really looked into it much until some point last year. I had more games than I had space for, or some games missing cases all together. Enter this awesome website.

Thanks to a lot of great users in the gaming community, many cover images have been uploaded to The Cover Project site. Many of these images have been altered into custom covers. When I noticed many of the Sega CD and Saturn covers had been redone as DVD covers I started to take notice. It wasn't long before I was trying my hand at printing my own covers to re-case my entire Sega CD and Saturn collections.

   

While trying my own hand, I kept running into problems. 1) I didn't have a good enough printer at home, 2) trimming them down was a hassle. I saw a thread on the forums at The Cover Project where a user mentioned using his local Staples store to print his Nintendo DS custom covers. Instead of going down to the actual store, I tried uploading a few images at Staples.com and printing my covers that way. My first attempt was pretty successful, but the perfectionist in me meant I had to keep trying until I found what I thought was the best combination.


While I may have not figure it all out just yet, I think I've got a pretty good combination down that yields good, and best yet affordable results. Here is a step by step tutorial if you will if you want to try it out.
  • First thing you need to do is go to The Cover Project site and download the images you want to use. The site is categorized by gaming platform. Save your images to your computers hard drive or an external device like a thumb drive or SD card.
  • When downloading your cover images, make sure you are selecting DVD as some covers have multiple formats.
  • One you have your images, go to Staples.com, or more specifically here.
  • Add your image file by clicking on 'Add Files'. You can also name your job if you wish.
  • Change your quantity if you desire more than 1 print.
  • Under the Print Options column, we are going to make a few changes.
  • For Media, click the arrow to bring up the options window and select 8.5 x 11 80lb Elite Gloss DS
  • Change the Orientation from Portrait to Landscape
  • When done, click the yellow Add to Cart button.

Each print is only $.62 each! Now you may be wondering about the paper. While it's called Elite Gloss, it's not a thick, glossy piece of paper. If you want a thinner, glossier print then select 8lb Surpeme Gloss. Those cost $.76 each. While I liked the look, it was a little too shiny for my tastes. I think the Elite Gloss DS looks great, even once you've inserted it into your DVD case.

I've sent several print jobs to my local Staples store and they've always done a great job. Most of the time the prints are ready long before the estimated time the website lists. The last time I sent in an order the guy working the Copy & Print department gave me his business cards and just told me to attach the images with the paper/orientation/etc. He said he was easier for him, but if you're sending in a lot of prints you are best to just stick with the website.

I haven't had these orders shipped to me, but that is an option. I've simply gone down to the store to pick them up myself. Now my local store has let me use their rotary cutting tool free of charge the last few times I've been there. This is simply a large cutting board with a blade in a handle that slides down the side of the board. It makes trimming the covers a breeze and best of all, it's free. They told me it would be $.50 per page to trim, or I could do it myself.

I'm guessing you could also just take your memory card or thumb drive down to the store and tell them what paper and instructions to use as well.

   

   

Overall I've been really happy with my results. The paper holds the colors really well. I like using the standard black DVD cases for Sega CD, and white for Saturn. I also plan on re-casing my Dreamcast collection very soon and I'll too use white DVD cases for them. Personally I just love the uniform look of the DVD cases, plus the larger, brightly colored game logos on the spine look nice, especially on the Dreamcast games.

I know some collectors shy away from this sort of thing, but I personally love doing this. Most of the time I stick with using the original art, but I did go for some custom art / layout like on the Final Fight CD case. I've got to have all my Sega CD spines the same color!


I also use the same steps above to print custom covers for Sega Genesis and Nintendo 64 games. Those covers are made for the Universal Game Cases, but I re-use Genesis cases for my Genesis games.


Here is an example of a Genesis cover I recently printed. I found the game, Exile, for only $4.99 at my local game store. However the cover art was faded and had an ugly former rental label on the spine. I tried to remove the label, but it would have torn the cover or left too much nasty residue. Enter The Cover Project!


Thankfully the original art had already been uploaded into their database so I saved it to my hard drive and submitted it with my latest batch to Staples to be printed.


The original insert is on top. Notice how faded it is compared to the new printed copy? Looks great, doesn't it?


Here is another side by side comparison. Not only does it have brighter colors, but the spine looks 10 times better!


Simply slide the new print down into the original Genesis case it will form bend itself to fit perfectly. Now that I know how easy it is to print Genesis covers, I'm always on the lookout for cheap sports titles I can raid for their cases! I often don't even bother to look at loose Genesis carts because I prefer them to at least have their case, if not complete. However now I've got an affordable option to make my own cases in the event I find a good deal on a loose game!

I hope you find this "tutorial" helpful and entertaining. Once I finish re-casing all my disc based Sega games I'll post and update with plenty of pictures.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Nemesis (Game Boy)


Nemesis
Konami / Ultra Games (1990)

I can still remember that Christmas in 1989 when I first got my Nintendo Game Boy. I was in heaven. Tetris and Baseball were the games that kept me busy at first. Then I found myself walking down the aisle of my local Toys R Us store and I came across the game called Nemesis.


The box art alone really captivated me. It looked oh so familiar, but why? It wasn't until after I bought the game and got home to play it that I realized this was somehow related to a game I had on my NES, Gradius. I think that Gradius/Lifeforce/Nemesis were my first introduction to the shmup genre. I never would have guessed back then that this game would hold up so well or that I'd become a huge fan of that genre.


If you can't tell, I'm playing this game on my Nintendo GameCube Game Boy Player. Nemesis is a fairly good version of the Gradius game. Some changes were made to the level design, but it features the same game play. 


I haven't played this game in a long time and this was probably the first time I've played the game using a GameCube controller. I found that it was easier to use the D pad over the analog stick which surprised me. Perhaps it was just muscle memory from all those years playing the game on the actual Game Boy hardware.

I prefer vertical scrolling shooters, but I've always enjoyed the Gradius series of  games. Perhaps the power up system of collecting orbs and choosing what upgrade I want to activate and when I want to activate it. Of course this system can be a double edged sword. What I mean by that is you can level yourself to be quite powerful, only to lose it all when your ship takes that one lone stray bullet.


On my play through the other day, I hate to admit but I got my butt handed to me! Maybe it was because I was still trying to use the analog stick to control the game or maybe it's just because I was rusty. Either way the game still holds up well. The ship's graphics are small, but look at the detail on this boss! Not too bad for a game released in 1990. Nemesis may not be the best shooter, but its a worthy addition to anyone's collection.