Sundry Sunday: Our Standards

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

Welcome to a different sort of Sundry Sunday! This week, I’d figure I’d explain to you how weirdly seriously I find this section to do!

You might think just finding a random funny or weird game-related video on Youtube is the easiest cyberthing in the compuworld. It’s only been one of the most popular form of videos on Youtube since it started up. Newgrounds has been around for how long again?

Well, you see, that’s kind of the problem. Newgrounds is part of what I’m going to euphemistically call gamer culture, and that tends to be what I’m going to understatedly call extra. Surely I don’t need to go into the many excesses of gamerdom, at this late date.

So I have to choose carefully. And it’s not just gamer culture I have to carefully circumnavigate, but some other examples of the excesses of fandom.

I figured I’d illustrate by showing a couple of videos that I would not otherwise present in this forum, and note why I wouldn’t. Let us away!

The Ultimate “Super Mario Bros Wonder” Recap Cartoon

3 minutes:

The word “Ultimate” is in the title. It doesn’t reflect my feelings.

This one’s borderline. The opening gag of Bowser turning into a salaryman is a good one. But then a flower starts cussing Mario out, and Luigi slaps the ass of Elephant Daisy. And British hunters poach Elephant Mario, and Mario gets cussed at some more and gets squished to paste inside an inchworm pipe. And there’s a Lion King parody that is just a reference without a point. And then Peach grabs a Wonder Flower, making an enemy bulk up like on steroids, and reacts with anticipation as it then approaches her. You know. “Adult” humor.

“Adult” humor is a difficult thing to apply well. Just having kids’ characters react in such untoward ways is not a positive or negative on its own, but that is my point, just that isn’t enough for me to recommend a video. It feels like I’m recommending a Family Guy sketch, a style of animated comedy of which I’ll litotically say I’m not a fan.

Furthermore, the whole video is just a series of vignettes like that. A single funny joke in a video has to carry the weight of the whole rest of it. I’m not going to say this video is sloppy because obvious effort went into animating it, and there’s even some good ideas in there. But there’s always going to be reasons not to link to something, all it takes is one, and I knew it wasn’t going to be right for Sundry Sunday (outside this context) the moment Luigi slapped Daisy’s butt. Sometimes I despair of finding something good to put in on Sunday, but I’d rather not present a culture find that week at all than one that crosses a grossness line. That’s just me, but then, I’m me, and I’m writing this.

Early on in Mario and Luigi’s Plumbing Career…

1 minute:

This video has the opposite problem. And it’s not really a problem, I’d say, it’s fine, it’s not intended as a value judgement against it, except that, by rejecting it for here (again, outside of this context), I am unavoidably judging it by a value, the value of being right for Sundry Sunday. What I mean to say is, it isn’t bad. I just can’t quite bring myself to say it’s good.

What causes me to reject this one is two things: it’s not funny, and on top of that, it’s kind of glurgy.

In summary: in the universe of the recent Super Mario Bros. movie, Mario and Luigi’s old boss, Foreman Spike, comes into a room to find them messing up on a job, and at first berates them for poor work, but then eases up and has a bonding moment with his two employees, fixing the leak himself while telling him a story of his own early career. And that’s really it. It’s supposed to be heartwarming, but it comes off as ingratiating.

It might work better if there was more at stake. If we had a bit more prior insight into Spike’s character (he’s not a big part of the movie). I’m not as concerned with the fact that the video is just a voiceover of a dramatic presentation of a fancomic, I’ve presented things like that here before.

I don’t dislike it, but I think the bar for inclusion here is a little higher.

Gaming Feast StoryBundle

There’s a game ebook bundle going on at StoryBundle, with a collection of posts from Set Side B on it! But more than that, it has books on Mortal Kombat by David Craddock, books on beat-em-ups and horror games from Hardcore Gaming 101, on early arcade history from Andrea Contato, and books from Boss Fight Games on Parappa the Rapper, Goldeneye 007 and Minesweeper! It’s got just five days remaining.

That’s mine, in the upper right corner! It’s a reference to how many Youtube videos we’ve
featured lately.

You can get all 10 books for $25! It’s gone up lately but it’s still really worth it! All of the books have no DRM and can be read in most any reader, including Amazon devices! They can read EPUBs now! At last finally surprisingly at this late date!

StoryBundle is a wonder, they always present so much interesting stuff. I’m rather surprised they keep asking me back, so I try to make my own weird little contributions to it worth your while.

Gaming Feast StoryBundle (ends December 14th)

Announcement of World of Goo 2

Here we are, at the cusp of 2024, and 2D BOY, along with offshoot Tomorrow Corporation, have at last announced a sequel to the hit that could be considered to have kicked off the whole indie gaming thing: World of Goo.

Tower of Goo (unlimited version)

World of Goo got started as Kyle Gabler’s Tower of Goo, part of the Experimental Gameplay Project way back in 2005, which you can find out more about in this post-mortem here (PDF). Tower of Goo can still be downloaded here it seems.

Kyle Gabler and Ron Carmel formed 2D Boy, who made the sequel World of Goo three years later. World of Goo was what got the ball rolling on indie gamedev, and was an important early hit on the Wii’s digital distribution platform Wiiware and iOS. Versions of World of Goo, now called World of Goo Remastered, can be bought for a variety of platforms today. World of Goo was surprisingly popular, and in its Remastered form looks great even now. It spawned the “Sign Painter” meme that went around for a few years.

One of the many messages from the first game’s unseen breakout character

Kyle Gabler and some other friends then formed Tomorrow Corporation, producing the ungame Little Inferno, and the unique programming games Human Resource Machine and 7 Billion Humans, which I can tell you from experience are all worth playing. But 2D Boy never made another game, until now, or more accurately, until soon.

World of Goo includes a version of Tower of Goo, but also expands upon the theme, and tells a number of very weird stories along the way. If you’re not familiar with the series, using an easy drag-and-place interface, you take goo balls, little black spheres with eyes, and link them together to make physics structures, akin to the ones in the old SodaConstructor web applet, in order to meet various objectives.

All we know so far about the new game is what’s shown in the new trailer, which is where the screenshots in this post come from. It looks really promising, with the physics model now updated to include fluid effects. Game physics have come along very far since the first games were made, it’ll be interesting to see where they take it today, as well as what the Sign Painter has been up to since he was last seen in Little Inferno.

World of Goo 2 – Official Trailer 1 (Youtube, 2 minutes)

Retro365: Apple Galaxian, Star Craft and the Beginnings of Brøderbund

Pretty dry today, a tale on the blog Retro365 about the creation of Apple Galaxian, early action gaming hit for the Apple II, and how it helped establish classic computer publisher Brøderbund, who’d licensed it from the Japanese company Star Craft. It was sold in Ziploc bags, and was an immediate hit.

Here’s what Apple Galaxian looked like in action:

Brøderbund would go on to release many more wonderful programs for home computers, eventually publishing Lode Runner and Myst. Star Craft was still in operation in Japan until 1995. Anyway, please follow the link, it’ll help make up for me having to enter the crossed-o in Brøderbund’s name so many times!

Apple Galaxian: The Vital Japanese Connection (Retro365)

Game Finds: Ghost Hunter

We love it when we find weird and unique indie games to tell you all about! Our alien friends to the left herald these occasions.

Another game jam entry, Róger Goulart’s Ghost Hunter is a short and silly game about a young lady who loves ghosts, maybe a bit more than she should.

Here are some opening screens:

Take a moment to enjoy this screen.
They may have a point.
And a new unholy quest begins.

Most of it is a kind of guessing game. Each of three cemeteries has tombstones arranged around it. You go to each one and dig it up with your Shovel of Resurrection. If it’s a friendly ghost, then it emerges and you get one credit towards your quota. If it’s a cursed tomb however, an angry ghost comes out and chases you for a bit. If it catches you, you take a point of damage.

How do you tell the difference? Well, usually you can’t. But there are these orange tombstones placed around each level, and when you dig one of those up you get a random powerup for a short time. (Usually: once in a while you’ll find an angry ghost in one instead, but that’s rare.) One of the powerups shows you whether a tomb has a friendly or angry spirit in store. Other powerups slow angry ghosts, disguise you so they don’t chase you, refill your health or make you walk fast for a short time.

Level 2 has periodically appearing sludge ghosts that must be destroyed by digging up waterspouts to block them. Level 3 has annoying bat enemies that must be avoided, and a higher quota than the other levels.

My tips:

  • When you stop digging up a grave in the middle of the process, the digging you did before isn’t forgotten. You can sneak in a little extra digging when running from angry ghosts this way.
  • You tend to lose a whole letter grade at the end of a level from taking damage, so be safe.
  • The best powerup is the one that reveals the cursed graves. When you get one, I suggest just wandering around for a bit, looking for the mean ghosts, and remembering where they are so you can dig up friends in piece.

Spoilers for the ending are after the download link!

Ghost Hunter (, $0, web and Windows)

A shame, but they asked for it. Also, what happened to their faces? They’re scarier than the ghosts!
And isn’t that all that matters?

Dan Fixes Coin-Ops Repairs a Baby Pac-Man

Over on Mastodon, Dan Fixes Coin-Ops has been documenting an epic quest: the repair of a Baby Pac-Man machine.

It’s one of the non-Namco Pac-Man spinoffs that Bally/Midway released in the wake of the original’s extremely high popularity. I’d like to remind readers that while Namco has been the sole beneficiary of Pac-Man’s heights lately, the original game, at first called Puck-Man in Japan, was not popular there. The spin-offs, console ports, handheld games, trading cards, stickers, clothing, cartoon show, Christmas special, breakfast cereal and unnumbered other items, that was all Bally/Midway’s doing. Toru Iwatani created and designed it, his team made it into a game and cabinet, Namco released it in Japan to middling success, and from there Bally/Midway got behind it and turned it into one of the most gigantic video game hits there’s ever been, a machine that at one point had one hundred thousand units.

Now, I’m not going to deny that their effort led to some erasure of knowledge of Namco’s existence at the time. All those Pac-Man machines and spin-offs mentioned “Bally Midway Mfg. Co.,” with nary a mention of Namco. But it’s undeniable now that erasure is happening in the other direction: a search over the History page on official Pac-Man website has no mention of Bally at all, even though the page acknowledges that the game was “a major hit in the United States.”

Some of that success leaked back to Japan and fueled some Namco-made sequels: Super Pac-Man, Pac N Pal, Pac-Land, Pac-Mania, Pac-Man Arrangement and eventually Pac-Man Battle Royale and Pac-Man Championship Edition, and more recently things like World’s Largest Pac-Man and Pac-Man Battle Royale Chompionship.

Bally/Midway made their own sequels. One of those, Ms. Pac-Man (created by GCC), came to eclipse the original in popularity, but in addition to their licensing of Super Pac-Man and Pac N Pal they made Jr. Pac-Man (also from GCC), as well as Professor Pac-Man and this game here. The one Dan Fixes Coin-Ops repaired. Baby Pac-Man.

Baby Pac-Man is a game that only could be made by Bally, because it’s a video game/pinball hybrid.

Bally, together with the company that would buy them, Williams, is arguably the greatest pinball maker there’s ever been. Up until around 2000 (a heartbreaking year) they made wonderful machines like The Addams Family, Twilight Zone, Attack From Mars, Star Trek: The Next Generation and quite a few others. In 1982 though pinball was in a slump while video games had reign over arcades. The decision to make a game that connected one of the greatest arcade games of all with pinball must have seemed obvious. (It wasn’t their only attempt to capitalize on their golden license with a pinball table, witness Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man, which I’m informed was released eight months before Baby Pac-Man.)

The combination of an arcade video game and pinball makes for a unique experience. It also makes for a game which breaks down even more often than your standard arcade game, as the thread notes: there’s three computers in the thing, and it’s subject to all the typical arcade game problems, all the typical pinball problems, and special problems with the portions of the machine that connect the two halves together.

The thread begins memorably:

In case y’all were tired of hearing about popular Fediverse people making bad decisions, just thought I’d let y’all know I bought a 1980’s hybrid pinball/videogame tonight

I bought a god damn Baby Pacman

Like this isn’t for a client, I’m not working on it to earn. This game COST money. This is my game now, I paid for it and it lives in my house. I’m not gonna get to give anybody a bill.

This is such a perversion of the natural order of things. I’ll probably route it one day, but for now this is an arcade machine that I SPEND money on!

It’s taken me a little while to get it into the house and have a chat with the mate who sold it to me and let the littleun have a go and put her to bed and fix a couple things and have a go myself so I’ve not been catching up on my notifications, I saw some questions so I’ll do a little thread on it over the next couple of days

I cannot stress enough that you should not buy one of these things

Folk who like 80’s pinball want stuff like this or Haunted House and you shouldn’t buy a Haunted House either

These are games for pinball techs or people with money to hire pinball techs or very close friends of pinball techs

Except Baby Pac-Man needs you to be friends with an arcade tech too.

He finally got it working after three months of work, and what a journey it is. He did it for love of the game: while Baby Pac-Man is dissed in some circles it’s a genuinely interesting game. But to like it, you have to abandon the relatively lenient expectations of classic arcade video games. Pinball is inherently unfair, and that unfairness oozes out and coats even the video portion of Baby Pac: the ghosts don’t waste time in coming after you, and you start with no Energizers: you have to earn them in the pinball portion, which for the most part you can only visit once per life/board. You can return to the video portion temporarily though by locking the ball in a scoop.

Here is the full thread (to date) in Masto Reader, which is a Mastodon version of Threadreader. It takes maybe half a minute to collect the posts and present them though, so to read the whole saga you’ll have to be a little patient.

An interesting video about Baby Pac-Man (although with some bad sound) District 82 Pinball’s here (12 minutes), which covers the tech and gameplay:

And Joe’s Classic Video Games’ demonstration (25 minutes):

Dan Fixes Coin-Ops: Baby Pac-Man Repair

District 82 Pinball’s Baby Pac-Man play and tech tips (Youtube, 12 minutes)

Joe’s Classic Video Games on Baby Pac-Man (Youtube, 25 minutes)

Next Fest Showcase 12/4/23

Josh Bycer presents more favorite games of nextfest.