AsumSaus on Smash Melee

I’d been wondering why I hadn’t seen AsumSaus, that Smash Bros. person, post anything lately. So I search his account and it turns out yeah, he’s been posting, Youtube just didn’t deign to show them to me. He just put something up that’s 27 minutes on on Smash Melee.

I’m still compiling notes on the Digital Eclipse Wizardry remake! It’s a whole log! I beat Werdna! Maybe the fruit of that will start being editable tomorrow, it’s still a little underripe now, to extent an already strained metaphor. See you tomorrow!

Noneuclidian Doom

Found by cortex over on Metafilter was this 2022 talk where someone noticed that the value of the constant pi in the source code of Doom was slightly incorrect. It’s a very tiny difference, and the results aren’t really visible in the game. So Luke Gotszling got the idea to compile the game with different values, and to see what the results are. They gave a talk about it! It’s 19 minutes long, and may be interesting if you’re of that frame of mind.

Non-Euclidian Doom: what happens to a game when pi is not 3.14159…. (Youtube, 19 minutes)

Blade & Bastard, the (recent) Wizardry Manga

One recent thing I learned is that Wizardry, the CRPG series began in 1981, that hasn’t seen a new version from its creators since 2001, not only has seen Japanese sequels that faithfully follow the original style, but starting in 2022 and continuing today is a manga faithfully set in Wizardry’s world, called Blade & Bastard. It’s so faithful that it bears the Wizardry logo on its cover, looking similar to how it did on the 1981 Apple II box. Some logos get updated over the years, but classic computer CRPGs tend to keep theirs for the long haul.

Reading it legally at the moment, in English, isn’t possible. There is a version that can be found on Amazon, but don’t be fooled: despite its relatively large filesize, it turns out that’s just text, and each volume is pretty short, like, around 30 pages short. There are websites where you can find fan-made scanlations of the manga. I won’t link to them, but they’re not hard to find. My suggestion, if you’re interested in reading it, is to use them for now, and get the official translations of the manga when they arrive. Signs seem to indicate they may be coming in October.

I’ve not read enough to know where the story is heading, but currently it’s seemed to mostly cover the basics of dungeon exploration life. Iarumas was a corpse found sealed in a part of the dungeon that shouldn’t have had human visitors. Revived at the Temple of Cant, he (as seems common for fantasy anime and manga protagonists and JRPG heroes alike) has no memory of his past life. He makes a living bringing dead adventurers back to the temple and getting a portion of their revival fee, which is a nice nod to one of the unique aspects of classic Wizardry.

He soon picks up a couple of other party members. Most descriptions I’ve seen fixate on “Garbage,” a girl found being used as bait by dungeon monsters, who is a fierce and strong Fighter-type but talks and acts like a dog, but she mostly seems to be in it for comedy. The actual protagonist seems to be Raraja, a kid thief who had been paid to try to use a magic item to attack Iarumas in the dungeon, but the item in fact teleported both of them. The kid joins the party because, as a thief, he’s the only one who can meaningfully interact with treasure chests in the dungeon.

Garbage-chan enjoys meat

They also meet the “All-Stars,” the most popular adventuring group in town, a group of high-level characters who originally found Iarumas’ mummified body.

The connections to classic Wizardry are many:

  • It faithfully uses the spell names from the games and their purposes, to the extent that it adds a bit extra to a couple of scenes if you know what the spells are.
  • The Temple of Cant is in operation and just as money-grubbing as they are in the games.
  • The MURMUR CHANT PRAY INVOKE messages are alluded to when a character is revived in the early pages.
  • Dead bodies who aren’t revived turn into ash. The priest character says this means God has decided they’ve lived a good-enough life, but they take their fee all the same. In the manga story, being ashed is the end, but in the games recovery from ash is possible, but at double the cost, and if it fails too the character is gone entirely.
  • Iarumas maps out the dungeon on graph paper!
He also uses the Jeweled Amulet here, which in the games can be used to cast DUMAPIC at will
  • The characters mostly keep to their class abilities, but some are obviously multi-classed; Iarumas, for instance, seems to currently be a ninja, but he must have picked up some spells in a previous class.
  • A bishop character identifies items, because if they have them identified at the trading post there’d be no profit, because the identification fee is the same as the sale price.
  • The trading post is run by an elf named Catrob, which is a reversal of Boltac the dwarf, who owns the trading posts throughout the early Wizardry games.
  • The Ninja is named “Hawkwind,” a reference to a character in Wizardry IV. (They may also be one of the pre-mades in Wizardry I, but I haven’t managed to get it running to check.)
  • Being teleported into solid rock is mentioned at one point.
  • Characters seem to be aware of alignment, and experience levels.
  • Iarumas seems to be a character who’s a holdover from the Apple II era of Wizardry, because he sees the dungeon in wireframe!
This is a great visual joke for anyone who’s seen the originals

I hope an official translation of the manga comes out before long, because I’m rather looking forward to reading it!

It was brought up by ChurchHatesTucker on Mastodon that this isn’t even the first Wizardry manga, there was one in 2009 called, in the way of manga, Wizardry Zeo. It was considered a “shounen” manga, for a target audience of young teen boys. How many teenagers in Japan were playing Wizardry in 2009, I wonder?

And there were even one or two earlier that that, called Wizardry and/or Wizardry Gaiden. There were Wizardry Gaiden games in Japan, which were alternate scenarios using the same rules but with different mazes and story, and this/these may have been a spinoff of that/those.

Sundry Sunday: Cooking With Vibri

Sundry Sunday is our weekly feature of fun gaming culture finds and videos, from across the years and even decades.

Vib Ribbon is a semi-obscure rhythm game made for the Playstaion by NanaOn-Sha, who also produced Parappa the Rapper.

Vibri is the vector-graphics rabbit protagonist.

Cooking with Vibri (not to be confused with Cooking with Louie) is (currently) a couple of whimsical fast-moving shorts starring that rabbit, made by P. Carredo, in which various things explode, or fail to, depending on the circumstances. They move fast: together, they’re less than two minutes long! They get to the point, such as it is, and get it over with, and so won’t clog up your day with intros or sponsorships or ads or subscription prompts or long narrations or intruding, gesticulating hands, or sanity for that matter.

Episode 1:

Nothing exploded?

Episode 2:

A couple of things do explode this time.
Features vector-graphic mafia (with photo-realistic cat) and IRS agent

Yesterday there appeared a third episode, which is three minutes long. It’s basically just an extended homage to a scene from Yakuza 0. I don’t like it as much (there’s no cooking!), but you may disagree? Here it is:

The MAD Magazine Type-In Program

One of the essences of comedy and humor is a shared context between participants. When a joke is made both the teller and the hearer must know what’s being spoken of, and how the elements fit together in relation to each other, if the funny ha-ha is to occur.

Which is why I find the creation of The MAD Computer Program interesting. Published on issue 258 in BASIC for four of the microcomputer platforms of the time, Atari 8-bit, Apple II, Commodore 64 and IBM PC, it was obviously MAD’s bid to maintain technically relevant to that brief moment in computing history. Setting aside whether it’s actually funny or not (it’s not), it means that MAD’s editors must have decided that home computers were common enough that they could waste some of their precious print pages on catering to their owners. Anyone without one of those computers would find them to be four pages of wasted content.

The four programs have a lead-in that reads in a set of data (using READ commands to get vector coordinates from DATA statements, of course). The lead-in part is different for each platform, but the lines with the DATA statements are the same, and so are only printed once in the magazine. That’s also the least interesting part of the ordeal of entering type-in programs: tables of raw data, numbers without context, sequences of values that will put your monkey brain to sleep, yet will surely cause your code to fail catastrophically if entered incorrectly. There’s 140 lines of them to enter here, plus some more if you’re using a C64. As my eyes brush over them, childhood trauma from entering type-ins from computer magazines cause them to water involuntarily. I miss the age of magazine-supplied type-in programs, but not that part of it.

What do you get when you spend a grueling half-hour typing in two pages of numbers written by a group who describes themselves as a gang of idiots? Something genuine useful like Compute’s Speedscript word processor? A unique and interesting two-player game like Basketball Sam & Ed or Laser Chess? The author of the text of the piece is coy about what the result will be, but encourages readers to send a printout to the MAD offices. I wonder how many did? Probably not too many; a thread on the AtariAge forums implies that there’s an error in the listing that causes the program to crash about two-thirds the way into its run. One participant remembers that MAD published a correction a few issues later, but if they actually did I can’t say.

If someone does get it to work, what then? If you’re familiar with MAD you might can already guess what the result, a picture drawn in hi-res on your screen, will be, but to save you the effort of setting up an emulator and entering over a thousand numbers one at a time, here’s a Youtube video of the program in action:

The preview gives it away. WHAT, ME WORRY? It’s a pretty good representation!

The video links to the blog post on Meatfigher.net that I learned about the program from. Meatfighter’s a pretty cool little blog and it’s worth rummaging through their archives! atariprojects.org offers an emulator disk image with the program already entered for you. dougx.net offers a version of the program written in Javascript that renders its output in your browser window. Without the (relatively) low resolution of the ancient computers that ran the original programs I feel the result loses something, but at least you don’t have to type it in yourself.

The MAD Computer Program (meatfighter.net)
Video of output from the MAD Computer Program (Youtube, 1 1/2 minutes)

Snafaru’s Wizardry Fanpage

The World Wide Web is now over thirty years old. In that time, more content has vanished from it than remains now, but some of it can still be dredged up from the shadowy archives of the Wayback Machine. This is the latest chapter in our never-ending search to find the cool gaming stuff that time forgot….

Snafaru’s Wizardry Fanpage is a lot newer than most of the sites that get featured here under the Oldweb heading (see left/above), the earliest viewable version of the site on the Wayback Machine is from 2011, practically a baby at 13 years old. Yet it has some renown: I mentioned that I was playing Digital Eclipse’s wonderful remake, and someone on Mastodon pointed the site out to me. I then forgot about it, but then found it again through web search. Lucky! And it’s still being updated! If you keep your website up and updated for 13 years you deserve a PRIZE.

In addition to information on the original games, Snafaru maintains a scenario editor for Wizardry, and hosts a number of fanmade scenarios on their site. Wizardry is much older than even the blog, it was first published in 1981, 43 years ago. A game that maintains a fandom that long is amazing, even more so when its publisher went under so long ago.

The 30th Anniversary Edition of the Game of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

I’m trying to include these timelines whenever I make a post about something that’s gone on for a bit

Okay, this is mostly from memory, so here goes. And it’s impossible to talk

about this subject without launching into a discursive and random mode of writing that may be funny but often comes off as annoying if one doesn’t have the writing skill of a Footlights alum who was friends with the Pythons (Monty) and once script-edited for classic Doctor Who. I apologize for that, but understand that reading the book version in large part warped my writing style for decades. I think I’ve gotten better since then, but I doubt it.

So in the beginning Douglas Adams created a hilarious sci-fi comedy radio show called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Then there was an album, then a TV show, then most improbably, a text adventure game from Infocom back at their height. One might think, surely a movie is next, right? And you’d be correct (2005), but because Hollywood is a twisty maze of executives all alike, only after 13 years after the last book had passed (1992), along with the life of Douglas Adams (2001), and somehow from the Disney company (still around).

Brushed aluminum styling!

The history of the whole thing is involved, and I already covered much of it in a previous post. This post is just to point out the updated, 30th Anniversary edition of the web version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on the BBC’s website. It replaced the 20th Anniversary edition. If they keep to the pattern, there should soon be a 40th Anniversary edition, but there’s been no sight of one yet.

Web version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide text adventure game on the BBC’s website (bbc.co.uk)

Previously on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: The fan-made sequel, Milliways

Phred’s Cool Punch-Out!!

The World Wide Web is now over thirty years old. In that time, more content has vanished from it than remains now, but some of it can still be dredged up from the shadowy archives of the Wayback Machine. This is the latest chapter in our never-ending search to find the cool gaming stuff that time forgot….

It’s a little risky to post this, because it’s a joke video game page on Tripod from 2001 that still somehow persists on the internet in 2024. I have to imagine that Phred is in his mid-to-late 40s by now. There’s several long pages here from that site, and there’s always the chance that a racist or neo-nazi joke, from an age when kids thought lightly of such things, could be lurking somewhere in there. Please understand it as a product of its time. It’s an amateurish site, but it has a lot of energy behind it.

I think it’s still worth looking at as a reminder of that age of the internet, which had many bad things about it, but also a lot of good things. I don’t know which this is. It contains a number of pretty dumb graphics hacks for Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out and/or its successor released after Nintendo’s licensing deal with Tyson ran out. Those hacks can be found here, although the background (the words “Master Phred” in fancy letters) makes the descriptions and download links really hard to read. (Try highlighting the text.) If you follow a few links, you can find actual NES Punch-Out rom downloads, which it’s even more amazing to find on a website in 2024.

Among the hacked characters are a robot, Doc Louis and Zelda, sure

The characters page includes, among other hacked characters like Rick and Nick Bruiser from the SNES Punch-Out, a character named after the Wii Punch-Out opponent Disco Kid, which indicates this page has to have been updated since 2009. There’s a links page where every outgoing link, other than GameFAQs, is broken, and a secrets page where most of the secrets are fake.

Well there it is, Phred’s Cool Punch-Out. You’ve survived 23 years. May you live a hundred more.

Phred’s Cool Punch-Out!! (tripod.com)

The Marquee and Instruction Card For Vs. Super Mario Bros.

Vs. Super Mario Bros. was the arcade version of Super Mario Bros., which made it to US arcades a few months after the NES release. It’s a much harder game than the home version, with levels brought in from the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2, and operator adjustments that can make it even more difficult.

A little remarked-upon aspect of the game is that it came about before the drawn character design of Mario and his enemies had been solidified, at least in the US, so the official arcade release of SMB had a weird marquee, with an image design that was never drawn upon by later releases:

Image scavenged from gameongrafix.com

It’s somewhat reminiscent of the flyer they distributed to promote the game when it was going to be titled Mario’s Adventure:

And even more interesting, it had this title card. Behold, an official Mario looking meaner than he ever had before or has since!

Can’t sleep. Mario will kill me.

Sundry Sunday: Ending Animation for The Mystery of the Druids

Sundry Sunday is our weekly feature of fun gaming culture finds and videos, from across the years and even decades.

I forget exactly where I saw it, but I observed, in pieces, a playthrough of the 2001 adventure game The Mystery of the Druids. It may have been during Awful Block at an earlier GDQ, or on some other stream. it was something. Actually, a thing. One thing. Just one.

(Amazingly, you can buy the game on Steam, and as I write this it’s like a dollar. One dollar. Just one. But the reviews indicate it has really serious bugs, so even that is probably too much.)

Besides constantly pronouncing the word druid as drood, the game’s notable for starring a police detective, Halligan, who frequently does things one might think unworthy of law enforcement. Not a great pillar of virtue, that Halligan.

The game itself doesn’t have a great ending, so someone on Youtube made their own version. It’s two minutes long, and it follows below. It is much more enjoyable than the actual game.