Figuring Out Kakariko Village’s Unemployment Rate

MiyaTRT figured it out. Karariko’s Unemployment Rate. In both Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom.

You might disagree with their methodology. Like in BotW he declares that Paya is unemployed even though she is obviously training to become village leader after Impa retires. But it’s still an entertaining video, and probably will tell you some things about Chicken Town’s NPCs that you didn’t know before, like that in BotW one of the townsfolk stamps on one of their neighbors crops at night!

Kakariko Village Has A 6.03% Unemployment Rate (Youtube, 7 minutes)

The Complete Script of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Not only is it everything in the game, including unused dialogue, but it’s not a text file on Pastebin, GameFAQs or Github, but on its own website, at! This means, when its domain expires, it’ll be gone from the web. Maybe the Internet Archive can rescue it….

If you’re not familiar with it, Thousand-Year Door is widely regarded as the best of the Paper Mario games. Not only does it update the game system of the original Paper Mario with all kinds of new ideas, but it has a fairly brilliant story given its having to work with Mario lore, and it has hilarious writing and memorable characters. Super Paper Mario, that followed it, has its charms, but a somewhat lesser story. And after SPM, it seems Nintendo decided that they weren’t fond of the branching-off of Mario lore that the Paper Mario games was doing, so games after that didn’t have as much of their own continuity.

This is the game where Mario joins a pro wrestling federation as “The Great Gonzales,” where he solves a murder mystery on a train (with a particular NPC who is slightly menacing somehow!), and has one of the best uses of Luigi from among all the Mario games: while you’re on your journey to rescue Peach, it turns out that Luigi is on his own weird adventure, in the “Waffle Kingdom,” that you only find out about from talking with him. Luigi his own crazy partners that accompany him, who have their own opinions about his adventure. Here is the page on that lists that part of the script–needless to say, it is spoilers, and if you plan on playing TYD you probably should experience it there first.

Dialogue Tree, Home of Game Scripts (although so far only Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door)

Escapist Collapse and Aftermath

“Hey, remember me?”

Just saw on Metafilter that The Escapist has fired Nick Calandra, who helped revive the site after they threw their lot in on the side of Gamergate during that whole fiasco. In summary, it took a huge amount of effort and good will on their part to recover, and that they did was largely because of Calandra, and long-time Escapist video maker Ben Croshaw, a.k.a. Yahtzee, the maker of the 16-year-running Zero Punctuation. Croshaw has left the site too, which is difficult for him because The Escapist owns the rights to ZP. I think he’ll probably bounce back from it, ZP is nothing without Crowshaw, seeing as how it’s inextricably tied up with his voice, editing, art style and sense of humor, all of that is a lot more recognizable than the name “Zero Punctuation,” and it’s all him, but it does mean having to start from scratch without a link from the old site, just hoping that his fanbase can locate him again.

(On Metafilter, people are mentioning that Croshaw was one of the voices both-sides-ing Gamergate, which is something I had not been aware of when I linked to him here in the past. I do think people are allowed to change, although I haven’t seen him say anything about it since. Mind you, his general style isn’t hugely appealing to me, so I probably still won’t be linking to him that much in the future.)

The word is that Calandra is taking Croshaw and possibly other people and may end up “doing a Defector,” start an independent site with the evicted/departing talent. Getting creators out from under the thumb of having to give up control in order to chase startup money is good, generally, and I wish them well on that.

Aftermath” in the title doesn’t refer to the aftermath of the collapse of The Escapist, but to a separate thing that some people from Kotaku have started, for similar reasons to the Defector. In fact even moreso, since Kotaku is owned by the people who own Deadspin. Luke Plunkett, who I’ve linked to before, is among them.

Lately we’ve put Kent Drebnar’s news recap feature here on hold, on the grounds that it’s a lot of work for relatively little reader interest, but maybe we should revive it, with an emphasis on these new gaming outlets? It is a thought. Among the Aquatic Life Sizes of gaming journalism Set Side B weighs in at a mere Guppy, but supposedly any link helps increase Google ranking.

However, I am still concerned. There’s almost always something to be concerned about in this internet age, after all. My biggest worry about a proliferation of gaming sites is that many of them are going to go with hard paywalls. This is understandable, people gotta eat after all, but there are only so many dollars out there for these places to chase, and proportionately very few of them are in my pocket. I know that I feel strong qualms about linking to articles that most of my readers won’t be able to read.

Update: the name of the new venture is Second Wind. They already have a Patreon, a Youtube channel and a Twitch channel. They say they’ll be hosting a livestream today at Noon US Eastern with information on their plans. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that they will be successful! Here’s a link to the stream, for when it goes live.

Chrontendo 63!

Dr. Sparkle has come through once again with the 63rd edition of Chrontendo! It’s the third we’ve linked to from Set Side B (even if, for a while, we incorrectly labeled the previous one as #68, oops).

The games covered by this one are:

Knight Move (Japan only): A puzzle game involving landing a chess knight trying to land on a target square. Apparently this got a later release on PC by Spectrum Holobyte. Wikipedia tells us that the “A. Pazhitonov” listed as the creator on the Famicom version’s title screen is Alexey Pajitnov, the creator of Tetris. I cannot speak to that fact’s veracity, but it seems plausible enough. Pajitnov later would be hired by Microsoft to make puzzle games for them around the Windows XP era.

Lamentable US cover art of The Mafat Conspiracy (image from MobyGames)

The Mafat Conspiracy: the sequel to Golgo 13! The US release does its Japanese manga source material a great disservice by not having the grim face of protagonist Duke Togo visible anywhere on the front of the box, instead using extremely generic cover art. In play, it’s very similar to a slightly more competent version of the original, just with a different scenario.

Disney Adventures in the Magic Kingdom: Another of those Capcom Disney games, a glorified minigame collection, and probably the worst of the bunch! We’re a mile away from Ducktales here. As if to confirm the player’s low expectations, trivia questions are part of the game.

Solstice: Isometric platformer of the style well-known around that time in the UK, a very difficult yet respectable exploration game, and probably the best game in this episode. I prefer its SNES sequel Equinox, programmed by the Pickford Brothers, which has a highly distinctive look.

The vibe of Solstice’s print ad is like “we’re gonna make a porno”

The Last Starfighter: This is secretly a renamed port of the Commodore 64 classic Uridium! A little of the bloom is off the rose here, if only because high speed scrolling of the kind you see here is so common on the NES, yet so difficult to accomplish on the Commie. The C64’s distinctive look was heavily influenced by that system’s limitations: it takes some serious programming effort to get the C64 to be able to scroll significant screen data in a frame, enough so that, to do it, you basically have to leave color memory unchanged, since it can’t be relocated like tile definitions can. The NES can do scrolling much more easily than the Commodore 64, and had been doing very colorful fast-scrolling games like the Super Mario series for years, yet the game kept the same nearly-monochrome look as the C64 game. That’s why Uridium got such acclaim in the UK, because scrolling games like it were unknown on the system at the time, while the NES had support for it in the hardware, so it didn’t have nearly the same impact.

Captain Skyhawk: The main things I remember about this, a game which I’ve played and beaten, is it was made by Rare, and that Dave Barry once wrote a column about how much his kid dearly wanted a copy of this game. Dr. Sparkle is pretty hard on this one too, and I think for good reason. This is clearly a game intended to be in the River Raid style, but with elevation. It could have been done as a quasi-flight sim, with targets you have to duck beneath or fly over, but in its design the elevation barely matters, and instead it’s a lot more like a standard vertical shooter. The enemies don’t even cast shadows! Helicopters or ground vehicles alike can be shot if if they were on the same plane. It would have done better if it had either gone all-in on the elevation, maybe tying it to the player’s speed, and having fewer yet smarter enemies that also had elevation; either that, or taking out the elevation completely and making it into a 2D shooter more like Zanac or Raiden. Rare at that time understood the NES hardware better than most developers, and was more than capable technically of going with either approach. But they didn’t.

Then after you have Afterburner-style dogfighting levels, then the point where most players threw down the controller in disgust, when they’re asked to align and dock with a rotating space station. It all resembles a tech demo at Rare that Milton Bradley decided to try to make a few bucks off of selling as a game.

This even made it into the US release

Mechanized Attack: It’s another military-themed SNK action game, like Ikari Warriors, Guerilla War, Iron Tank or P.O.W. This one’s a light gun shooter. The game is most notable for having a debug mode, accessible by a code, with pixelated female nudity. This connects with reports of sexism in the Japanese game industry at the time (link found on Kid Fenris’ blog). The full salacious details of the cheat are up at The Cutting Room Floor.

Horrifying Palamedes box art (image from Wikipedia)

Hatris: Another game designed by Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov, it’s also nowhere near as iconic as Tetris was, but as time has shown us, very little else is. I get the play mixed up with that of Nintendo’s Yoshi puzzle game, perhaps for good reason. Turns out there was an arcade version of this!

Palamedes: Another Tetris-ish generative piece-laying puzzle game, this one with a dice theme. And there was an arcade version of this too!

Hiryu No Ken III: 5 Nin No Ryuu Senshi: Only released in Japan. Dr. Sparkle is quick to let us know right off this isn’t the “Fist of the North Star” Ken, but the Flying Dragon: The Secret Scroll Ken. These games are a bit more simulationist (in a sense) in their depiction of martial arts than most beat ’em ups.

SD Hero Soukessen: Taose! Aku No Gundan: Also Japan-only, second in a long series of “super deformed” (basically meaning big headed, small bodied humanoid figures depicted in a cutesy kind of way) robot fighting games. The robots (and tokusatsu characters) are licensed from a variety of media, making this a massive crossover media series that could be seen as an inspiration for the hulking monstrosity that Super Smash Bros. has become. Properties that I recognized from the video are Kamen Raider, Gundam and Ultraman. This one has a fan translation patch.

Chrontendo 63 (Youtube, 1 hour 18 minutes)

Playing Fortnite As A Pacifist & As A Friend

In many kinds of games, one of the most difficult playstyles to pull off successfully is the pacifist: a character who either (according to its community) doesn’t harm, or doesn’t kill, any other character in the game. Lots of games have some form of violence as their primary verb, so eschewing all of that is choosing to make (your own) life harder.

A game in which pacifism is particularly difficult, yet possible, is Nethack. It’s a “tracked conduct” in that game, meaning, when your game ends, you’re informed as to if you played that way. There’s a page on the Nethack wiki all about it. Back on GameSetWatch I related a story, from a Usenet post, where a player won as a pacifist. Since then, many people have ascended (Nethack’s term for winning) as a pacifist. It’s hard, possibly the hardest single conduct, but there’s still lots of ways to take care of opponents without killing them, including let your pet do it. Nethack gives players ludicrously many possible actions, and there’s almost always a way.

There is another conduct, “never hit with a wielded weapon,” but it’s not necessarily much harder, since you can kill things with it, you just have to use other tools, or your fist. Monks, who fight best with martial arts, find that the best way to play anyway.

This is all a digression, because it’s hard to shut me up about Nethack, but it also serves as a segue. How about Fortnite? It’s a game where 100 people are dumped into a space and the only way to win is to be the last survivor. By definition, you can only win at it if everyone else dies, so they have to have an accident. Not a mafia-style “accident,” but a genuine one.

As it turns out, Fortnite even has an achievement for it, although its reward is laughably small. And it’s not so much that it’s hard, but relies heavily on chance. The video that follows then expands the subject a bit: it is possible to befriend another player, whose main objective is to kill you?

Searching for Humanity in Fortnite (Youtube, 30 minutes)

Sundry Sunday: Pirhana Plants On Parade With Fan-Made Lyrics

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

We linked a couple of weeks back to the Pirhana Plants on Parade music in an early level of Super Mario Wonder. Here are well-written and executed fan-made lyrics for the song, presented along with the level. It reads and sounds like something Nintendo’s own localizers might have made! Please enjoy:

Pirhana Plants on Parade With Lyrics (Youtube, one minute)

Indie Game Showcase For 11/2/23

Each showcase highlights the many indie games we play on the stream here, if you would like to submit a game for a future video and stream please reach out. All games shown are either press key submissions or demos.

0:00 Intro
00:14 Patch Quest
2:10 Apico
4:35 Voodoo Detective
6:28 Opatra
7:55 Ex Zodiac
9:23 Forza Polpo

Jeremy Parish Covers NES Friday the 13th

Few games for the NES have been better treated by hindsight than Friday the 13th. At the time it was regarded as a terrible game with difficult play and nearly impossible to win.

But even then there were things about it that indicated that there might be a little more going on then than was first apparent. Publisher LJN was known for making terrible games, but they outsourced their work to different companies that often weren’t actually that bad, just given weird properties for video games (The Karate Kid? Jaws? T&C Surf Designs??) and approaching them with experimental gameplay. And for their part, all of LJN’s games are technically sound, and manage to hit their 60fps frame rate targets, which is much more than you can say for many other NES games, including some from big manufacturers like Capcom, like Ghosts & Goblins and 1942, both implemented by Micronics, or Strider, which as we’ve noted before is a mess.

The critical reappraisal for Friday the 13th began with TripleZeroFilms made a well-produced 76-page PDF strategy guide for it, that exalted its good qualities. There is a Metafilter thread, from user Pope Guilty, on it that may also be of interest.

It has come time, as we all knew it must, for Jeremy Parish to collide with Jason’s axe, and as befits the game’s redemption, his video is divided in half, first about its reception at the time, then later now that it’s appreciated a little better. Just don’t turn it off after the 8 minute mark, there’s still more than half of it to go!

The masked axe-slinger: Friday the 13th, NES Works 113 (Youtube, 18 minutes) Folder Dungeon

Folder Dungeon, on, is a short and not-too-difficult game where an adventuring cursor has to dig through the folder structure of a hard drive to find an important file. Each window is a room of the dungeon; entering a Door folder takes you to another room down. You can go back the way you came using the back arrow icon at the bottom of the window.

In addition to doors, rooms can contain items, which can be picked up by clicking on them. Gold is among the items, the value of the coin indicated by a number. Some items cost money; if they do, they’ll have a coin and a number on the item. Some items, notably Health Potions and Ice Cream, take affect immediately; they never enter your inventory, but work immediately on your stats whether you needed it or not.

And, some of the things in rooms are monsters. If you do something other than attack a monster by clicking on it, then every monster in the room has a percentage chance to attack you; if you attack a monster, then it always counter-attacks if it survived the attack, but other monsters in the room don’t get the chance to attack.

Somewhere in each folder structure is an Exit icon. When you find it, you can only enter it once all the monsters in its room have been defeated. You don’t have to defeat all the monsters in a room to leave it, but it does give the monsters in the room a chance to attack you.

The most interesting play mechanic is, every action you take generates “heat.” You can only take so much heat. If heat reaches your maximum capacity, you take one damage per action until you leave the level (which resets heat to 0) or you lower your heat by collecting an Ice Cream.

Note, as you can see in the above screenshot, there’s a display bug in the current version that cuts off the left and right sides of the screen. Or is it a bug? It didn’t actually prevent me from playing? Maybe it’s an aesthetic choice? Anyway, I managed to finish the game on my first attempt, but it was close.

Folder Dungeon (by Ravernt,, $0)

The November Nethack Tournament!

The replacement for the old dev/null tournament, the November Nethack Tournament is on! Get yer armor and weapons, read your spellbooks and start testing those items! Maybe you’ll find a Wand of Wishing on the first floor? Probably not, but there’s all kinds of crazy D&D-ish adventures to be had this month, so get ‘hacking!

The November Nethack Tournament (

Super Mario Bros. Wonder Halloween Music

Not to keep banging the drum about the new Mario game, but there are a number of what we might call “music levels” in the game, and a couple in particular fit in with the spirit of the day. Here they are: Pumpkin Party and A Night At Boo’s Opera (length: 3 minutes). This is an edited-down version of a 28-minute compilation of all of the game’s music sequences, on Youtube.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii’s Exception Handler Code

Codes are largely a forgotten element of video gaming. They started out as debug features that didn’t get removed before release, then they became easter eggs to reveal to favored players, ways to dispense unlockables, ways to provide extra difficulty balancing, and even publicity tools, before the age of DLC gave developers a way to profit off of bonus features. Why have players enter up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right when you could just sell them play advantages outright. I’m simplifying the situation a bit, sure, but I’m not simplifying by much.

Codes still exist, once in a while, but it seems like they’ve gone back to being development aids. One of them crept into New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but only becomes usable if the game crashes. The code is: Home, Minus, Plus, Minus, Plus, 1, 2, 1, 2, A. It brings up a scrollable register dump and stack trace, and other assorted information. It doesn’t let you continue playing. For players, it’s just a curiosity, but it’s a thing that is interesting.

This video shows it off:

New Super Mario Bros. Wii Exception Handler (Youtube, two minutes)