I don’t intend to make it a habit to post two Sundry posts in a day, but it’s Easter after all, so the subject of this one has an expiration date. This video is from a couple of years ago, when the meme that Isabelle somehow knew Doomguy was still fresh, and Nintendo was still balancing how often eggs would generate in the week before Bunny Day. There is some slight language in text, but we’re all adults here, right?
You may have already seen this, depending on who and what you are. The video has over two million views after all, but it’s important to remember the classics.
It’s Sunday! You made it through another week. Your reward is this wonderful bit of ephemera from San Francisco Rush. With the death of Midway and Atari Games, arcade aesthetics have largely been ceded to Japanese studios which, nothing against them, but sometimes it feels like we’ve lost something fundamental.
What’s Your Name, the high-score name entry music from San Francisco Rush, is a favorite example of this. In the twenty-six years since the game was released to arcades, I find it shocking that this catchy little ditty isn’t remembered by more people. It makes me happy just to hear it. “Starts with a C… starts with a G… starts with a Z… nothing nasty now!”
Sundry Sunday is a little feature I’m doing to post something silly and fun, related to the world of gaming, once a week. I hope you’re ready for some weird….
Polygon’s Nicole Carpenter: 22 Games To Look Forward To In 2022. They are: The Garden Path, Venba, Citizen Sleeper, Call Me Cera, Dordogne, Serial Cleaners, Frank And Drake, Chinatown Detective Agency, Spirit Swap: Lowfi Beats To Match-3 To, Mothmen 1966, A Shiba Story, Validate: Struggling Singles In Your Area, Super Space Club, She Dreams Elsewhere, Hindsight, Norco, Terra Nil, Card Shark, Bear And Breakfast, Afterlove EP, Silt, and Thirsty Suitors. Descriptions and videos are in the article!
Besides writing and talking about game design, I also do a lot of interviews with developers and people all across the industry. For this interview, I spoke with Michael Brown who is the CEO of Vicarious PR about what indie marketing means today. If you’re an indie dev who is working on a game and would like to talk to me about it, you can reach me on social media or send me an email at email@example.com
Owner of Game Wisdom with more than a decade of experience writing and talking about game design and the industry. I’m also the author of the “Game Design Deep Dive” series and “20 Essential Games to Study”
Link. Information in the article includes screenshots, the team, and the news that they’ve been working remotely. Hype is running high for a new 2D Monkey Island game. The last trip to this well was Telltale’s episodic 3D take Tales of Monkey Island, which was appreciated but some thought was lacking.
Fez was eagerly anticipated in development for several years, and Fish was one of the subjects of the movie Indie Game. It was the subject of tremendous applause when released, winning the both the Seumas McNally Grand Prize and Eurogamer’s Game of the Year in 2012, as well as Indiecade Best in Show in 2011, . For some idea of how long ago that was, the 2011 winner of the Seumas McNally Grand Prize was freaking Minecraft.
But then, at the height of its popularity, Phil Fish got into an argument on the center of all internet strife, that place where sanity goes to die: Twitter. He would cancel Fez’s sequel and swear off game development. He returned briefly in 2014 at what would turn out to be exactly the wrong time, the shameful era of GamerGate, before going underground again.
It was something of a coup that Robert Purchese got an interview with him. If I had known it was something one could just do I might have considered it myself.
Phil Fish’s Fez remains one of the outstanding achievements of the early days of indie game culture, and his being basically hounded out of it during GamerGate remains an egregious travesty.
From Cat Graffam on Twitter, the Game Boy Camera Art Gallery is a Game Boy rom image, in the form of an RPG-style walkaround, showing off photos taken with Nintendo’s crazy and awesome little heavily-dithered, 4-color foray into 90s digital photography. It can be viewed in-browser or as a downloadable rom, or you can purchase a cartridge with it for use on your own Game Boy or Game Boy-compatible hardware! Here are a few works from the compilation:
The always-wonderful retro gaming and hardware info site Nicole Express has a great post about the chips that Tengen (a subsidiary of Atari) used in their cartridges! Tengen is a special case among NES developers, in that while a Nintendo licensee they got to use their own mapper, from Namco, but went and manufactured their own ASICs when they split off from Nintendo’s licensing program. The deets are all in the article!
One of their discoveries is of a hidden structure to the overworld of that game. Their discussion of this is fascinating, and should be referred to if you have an interest in such things. I will give a broad summary here.
The Game Boy was not given much VRAM for storing graphics. To avoid bus conflicts, the CPU that runs the system only has access to VRAM, to store new background tile information, either during VBLANK, a specific time each frame when the PPU circuitry isn’t accessing memory, or by blanking the screen entirely, which is only really feasible during major transitions, like through a door or into a hole. So, the system is limited in how quickly it can store new tiles during play.
Link’s Awakening stores two kinds of tiles in its VRAM. Most of them are from a set that’s used throughout the overworld, but a small number are overwritten, used for different purposes as Link explores the landscape. The overworld is separated into 2×2 blocks, and each can have its own set of these customized tiles.
There is a problem with this setup, however. When Link changes screens, like in the original Legend of Zelda and A Link to the Past, the screen transition scrolls smoothly between the areas. During the scroll, briefly, it’s possible for elements from two different screens to be displayed at once. How does the program handle situations where the custom tiles have two different definitions between screens?
The answer is that the overworld is cleverly designed so that there aren’t adjacent screens with walkable passages between them that use different sets of custom tiles. There are screens in the game that only use tiles from the main overworld set, and all of the places with passages between the screens with custom tiles have one of them, as a kind of memory airlock, to prevent glitches during transitions. It’s pretty clever.
If this is interesting to you, I encourage you to read the whole article, especially for the exceptional cases where the system breaks down and they had to find other ways to keep the screen from glitching.
The Internet Archive offers in-browser versions of MAME these days for running lots of games. Mihai’s blog post on the sites mentions many of the giants on whose shoulders he stands, including an in-browser version of the Classic Mac emulator Basilisk II. What these sites add is built-in software, including games and productivity software, to use on your virtual Macs, and ways to get files into and out of the emulation easily.