Hirokazu Tanaka, a.k.a. Chip Tanaka, who used to go by Hip Tanaka, has had quite the career. He composed music for many Famicom games, including Kid Icarus, Tetris, Mother, and Mother 2/Earthbound. Especially he composed the music of Metroid, which did a lot to establish the feel of that entire game. He currently serves as President of Creatures Inc., the company that produces Pokémon. He has a personal website.
And he’s still making music! His second album came out in 2020. The above video is a song from it, which has a music video made by Undertale creator Toby Fox, and sprites by Temmie Chang. Give it a listen, why not?
The above abbreviation stands for “the Game Eating She Monster,” but that’s a lot to put in a post title! Kimimi has a great blog, with a great post from 2021, about the construction and requirements of a game FAQ, of the type that were (and sometimes still are) posted on GameFAQs, unless/until recent buyer Fandom.com kills it. It covers the basics you need to know if you wish to help keep this ancient and revered art alive, including this:
Roguelike Celebration 2022, the yearly conference about this peculiar genre, begins tomorrow! This year it is again being held virtually. Its schedule is here, and you can get your ticket here. As I write this tickets cost $30, but if you can’t afford that there is an option for free admission at that link. If you can pay though then please consider it? I presented there last year, although in my 30 minute timeslot I didn’t even get to cover like even 10% of what I had planned.
It generally has much of interest both to players and developers, and covers more than strictly-defined roguelikes but also a variety of games and topics related to procedural content generation.Here’s a selection of talks that I personally think may be interesting, although there are many more than this planned:
Persistence and Resistence: How narrative in roguelikes is currently underutilized, by Sherveen Uduwana
Remembering Moria – a roguelike before the roguelikes, by Santiago Zapata
How hard can it be to create a non-violent rogue-lite dungeon crawler?, by Tabea Iseli
Smoothing the Sharp Edges of RNG, by Evan Debenham
A Million Little Players: Monte Carlo Simulations for Game Design, by Phenry Ewing
Tips and Tricks in Procedural Generation, by Pierre Vigier
“We scour the Earth web for indie, retro, and niche gaming news so you don’t have to, drebnar!” – your faithful reporter
G4 TV is back, blobbies! Oh yeah let the good times–wait, it’s going away again. Mollie Taylor at PC Gamer has the deets. I’m surprised someone doesn’t just use the name and make a really low-rent Youtube channel by that name with gaming content. Why does it have to be an actual streaming thingy, just host a bunch of videos somewhere. Free yourselves from the bonds of linear time! Embrace random access! !drebnar back looked never I’ve and ,have I
Uh-oh! Another N64 game has been decompiled to source code! As NintendoLive’s Ollie Reynolds tells us, this time it’s Perfect Dark. FPSes are an interesting case for decompilation. Platformer enthusiasts tend to embrace quirks, but most FPS players think of the software more as a vessel for the game than intrinsically arising from it, so the improvements to come from being able to make a native x64 version of Perfect Dark should be pretty substantial, especially with a whole subculture out there hammering away at the code.
There are tons of interesting indie games coming out every month. Josh Bycer tells us all about many of them pretty regularly in these very pages! Usually we leave the indie stuff to him because of the sheer volume and the difficulty of picking out particular items on which to focus, but here is one! We’re relaxing our rules on single links to a site each post (that dates from when we were somehow doing two or even three of them a week, oh my aching drebnar) to link to Jonathan Bolding’s review of open-world indie RPG Gedonia in PC Gamer. It’s a big game made almost by a single person, and it’s only $15!
It’s tech, not explicitly gaming, but it’s networking which these days is becoming inextricable from it, and I make the rules anyway so here goes! Jon Broadkin at Ars Technica tells us the story of Los Altos Hills Community Fiber, a co-op delivering high-speed internet to residents of their town, which oddly doesn’t have complete access. One resident had never been wired up by Comcast, despite the town being right in Silicon Valley, and they wanted him to pay $300 a foot to run cable to his house, which over 167 feet came up to over $200,000! Nuts to that in specific, and to Comcast in general! In fact all huge internet conglomerates are evil. Power and bandwidth to the blobble! The resident hooked up with LAHCF and together they helped spread network connectivity to other residents. It’s still pretty pricey, but at least that money isn’t lining the pockets of horrible companies, and as more residents join up those fees should drop. It’s inspiring, drebnar!
Zoey Handley at Destructoid sings the praises of HAL Laboratory’s “New Ghostbusters II” game for the Famicom/NES, which never made it to the US. In the process they diss NES Ghostbusters, which isn’t really fair, considering it’s a NES port of an ingenious home computer game made in 1984, and was designed by David “Pitfall” Crane himself. NES Ghostbusters does suffer a lot in the conversion though, like very many NES ports of classic computer games do–NES M.U.L.E. is a travesty. Anyway, the point of the article is that HAL’s New Ghostbusters II is a fine game, much better than Imagineering’s take on the property, and so it is.
Ash Parish at The Verge brings us another episode of The Adventures of Frank Cifaldi! He’s raising money to buy a couple of unique prototypes of unreleased NES games! One works with the Power Glove, and was produced by Rare! There is an alternate universe out there where that hit the market, and let me tell you it’s a weird universe indeed. Pigs there have wings, and can fly right through the air!
On Romhack Thursdays, we bring you interesting finds from the world of game modifications.
Castlevania II is an infamous entry in the series. While it’s the first Castlevania game to use the “Metroidvania” structure that would be more solidly associated with it after Symphony of the Night, there were a lot of… controversial elements? Townsfolk often lied to the player (in all versions of the game), and sometimes their hints were badly translated. A few places required the player to do arbitrary things without much prompting to proceed. And there were the timed scene transitions, between day and night, which some people have (rather unfairly I think) fixated upon as a major flaw.
There’s more. The Japanese version of the game came with a map of the countryside that was left out of the U.S. release, meaning, some locations in the game were not even given names that a player could discover in the game, which in a couple of places required them to guess which location was meant by a clue.
To the rescue of a player trying to appreciate this game now comes Bisqwit, a.k.a. Joel Yliluoma, and his Castlevania II Retranslation project. It doesn’t remove the townspeople telling incorrect things (which was intended by the developers-why should a random villager happen to know for certain anything to do with destroying Dracula?), but it does make their hints more comprehensible, remove the reliance on guidebooks and FAQs that have interfered with the efforts of many to enjoy the game, and it greatly speeds the transitions between day and night. It even offers an animated prologue (wait from the title screen) and an in-game map, based on the one in the Japanese manual, to lend context to the player’s explorations.
There are plenty of other new features too, such as an end-game report that gives your win time and SRAM-based (battery-backed) save games. Some of the new features require better hardware than the original game had, which may limit what devices can run it, so Bisqwit thoughtfully provides a website that allows the player to customize the modification to their liking. Go there, choose the options you want (which includes language – if the site isn’t in English click the button to the left) then click the Download button to get a version with features set to your requirements and/or liking.
Lots of romhacks seem superfluous relative to the original game, but Bisqwit’s translation patches substantively improve upon the original game in many ways. It really is the best way to experience Castlevania II. If you’ve played it before you should give it a try; if you haven’t, I strongly suggest playing this version, instead of having to suffering through the original’s quirks. At the very least you it’ll mean won’t end up having to resort hunting up a thirty-five-year-old FAQ before the end.
And if you like the patch, why not have a look at Bisqwit’s Youtube channel, which has a lot of interesting technical content on it, much of it unrelated to video games?
Blogfriend David Craddock has an article up at Ars Technica about the drama that went down back in the days when Mortal Kombat was a big hit of the arcade scene, and people schemed to make careers off of it. Even though it took in a lot of quarters pretty quickly and spawned several arcade sequels, it wasn’t the institution it was today. When it hit it big, the actors whose digital likenesses appeared in the game sued for royalties not received due to the sale of home versions of Mortal Kombat on the SNES and Genesis.
It’s an excellent article. David really did his research on this one! The end result is, most of the actors settled, but one, Dan Pesina, still claims to this day to have “co-created” the game, which seems ludicrous. It seems to me weird to keep at that in this era, with Midway long gone and the rights having moved to Warner Bros., but then, I have no stake in the matter? Ah well.
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”
According to the people at Rice Digital, many of Namco’s games set in the future, including Galaxian, Galaga, Gaplus, Bosconian, Baraduke, Burning Force, and many more, are all part of a common timeline! Namco calls it the UGSF History. Due to the inclusion of Kissy from Baraduke, which was named to be Susumu “Mr. Driller” Hori’s mother, it also drags in the Mr. Driller games, and even Dig Dug! You can read about it on their site here. Namco’s own site concerning it is here.
According to their timeline, the earliest game chronologically is Ace Combat 3 (which is not an arcade game), and the latest is Galaga ’88!
The Bally Professional Arcade, a.k.a. the Bally Computer System, then the Astrovision, eventually settling on the Astrocade, was in its hardware a cut-down version of their early arcade hardware. While not a big seller, mostly an also-run alongside the Atari VCS, Intellivision, ColecoVision, or even the Odyssey2, it could, like several of those systems, run a version of BASIC with an add-on cartridge. (The VCS had its Basic Programming cartrige, the Intellivision had the Entertainment Computer System, and the ColecoVision had ADAM.)
The Astrocade (to settle upon one name for it) had some interesting advantages. It uses the same graphics chip as Gorf, Wizard of Wor, and Robby Roto, but due to having less memory to work with doesn’t support as good a resolution as the arcade units. If the chip is used in multi-color graphics mode, it would use all but 16 bytes of memory! The Atari VCS, by contrast, only had 128 bytes of RAM, but didn’t have a bitmapped display taking up so much of it. These were the kinds of tradeoffs console designers had to make at the time. While it didn’t have hardware sprites, it did have “blitter” circuitry for rapidly moving data around in memory.
8-Bit Show and Tell’s video also describes the culture around the machine, which saw production for a surprisingly long time, and had several independent programmers selling their own games for its BASIC cartridge. They even supported a newsletter, the Arcadian, that shared coding tips.
Everything about this system was odd, from the pistol-grip controllers, to the built-in software on ROM, to the calculator-style keypad set into the unit itself, to the almost-but-not-quite Atari-style joystick ports. But I don’t want to steal 8BSaT’s thunder, watch the video if you’re interested in learning more!