Sundry Sunday: Eario, Janitor of the Mushroom Kingdom

From the files of the old webcomic Brawl in the Family, which has been gone for years now but is still fondly remembered in some circles, and who’s website is still on the web for as long as Keenspot’s servers survive, is this voiced version of the story of Eario. You know, Wario is Mario with the M upside down, so Eario is Mario with the M… sideways. Kind of.

This working-class version feels like it’s a bit more in keeping with Mario’s blue-collar roots. He wasn’t always the hero of the Mushroom people, he was just a carpenter working on a construction site one day when a gorilla went crazy, grabbed a lady, and climbed a tall building. Mario’s had many adventures since then, and a lot of job changes. Eario is the Mario who wasn’t so lucky.

WikiData on Video Games

From Wikidata.

Picture your life and interests. Let’s pick out as part of it your interest in, knowledge of, and enthusiasm for video games. In the future, after you’re gone, what will be left of it? What will be remembered of what you know and have seen? Where will all of that go? Have you considered that, the way the internet is, a lot of that will simply disappear, tracelessly?

Websites die, and when they do, they leave very little in their wake. The early days of the web was filled with an overabundance of fansites and web shrines, and most of those are gone. The demise of Geocities, the decay of free web hosts in general, and the loss of online service web communities and hosts like Compuserve Ourworld, has resulted in the large-scale deletion of huge swaths of content, and the loss of web directories as a thing, combined with Google Search’s slide into senility, means what survives is a lot harder to find.

This is a discursive lead-in to the work at WikiData in cataloging games and game sites, which is summarized for 2022 here. Information on their efforts was written up here.

I wish I could say more, their work seems very important, but I’m just starting to learn about it myself! Apparently there is a means of querying their information to answer questions, like which game series has the most games? More on this in the future.

Godot 4.0

Godot reaches version 4.0! It’s is the free and open-source multiplatform game development system and engine with the most mojo, and it’s only a 50MB download! Here’s the official list of new features, but here’s some highlights:

  • New rendering options for 2D and 3D, including Vulkan
  • Improved shadows
  • Automatic occlusion culling
  • New 2D level editing tools
  • Many shader improvements
  • Scripting improvements for both GDScript and C#, plus support for extensions written in C, C++ and Rust
  • The return of Godot Physics
  • Support for multiple windows
  • An improved UI editor
  • Improvements to animation
  • Editor support for Android and browsers
  • and exports for several new platforms, including Raspberry Pi and ARM-based Chromebooks.

7DRL 2023 Begins Tomorrow!

A quick note today, the 7-Day RogueLike challenges begins tomorrow! Try to make a roguelike game in seven days! This will be its nineteenth year, and its sixth on! Slashie, Darren Gray and Jeff Lait are running it again this year!

Consider joining it to make a game, or consider playing this year’s entries, or those of previous years! Last year there were 65 official entries. Regularly, a number of really interesting games are entered, but all manner of entries are accepted and are playable each year, from nearly professional to barely hacked together, and ranging from full classic style roguelikes to only slightly inspired by the general idea of procedural generation.

The 7 Day Roguelike Challenge

Open World RPG Design With ArdenFall Developer Interview

For this Perceptive Podcast, I’m speaking with Joshua Steinhauer who is the lead designer on the game Ardenfall — an open-world RPG to discuss building the game, RPG design and more.

Pizza Tower!

It must seem like we have the indie gaming spaces hooked up into our very veins here, but truthfully it’s very easy for games with even a lot of buzz to slip through our greedy fingers. So it is with Pizza Tower (Steam), an extremely cartoony and entertaining platformer heavily influenced by Wario Land 4 (3h,22m). All kinds of people have been praising it, and saying that it does basically nothing wrong.

Here’s Polygon raving about it:

Take a good look at it. The loose animation is actually perfect, which it should be because the game took five years to make. The pixel art has way too many frames. The music jams so much. All of its jokes are funny. It even parodies Five Nights at Freddy’s throughout one level with jumpscares.

Its hero, the amusingly-named Peppino Spaghetti, isn’t Wario, but has his own vibe. He looks like he might have an aneurysm at any second. But like Wario he’s mostly invincible when he’s not fighting a boss. In normal levels enemies may slow him down, or cause him to lose points, or even give him temporary abilities, but they can’t stop him. He has a wide variety of moves to get him through the game world that you’ll have to completely master by the end.

The biggest point in common with Wario Land 4 is the escape sequences. Each of the game’s levels has a place in it where you have to destroy a pillar, which starts a timer and forces you to go back through the level you just passed with some minor differences. You can fail here if you don’t make it out in time. In order to get the highest rank on a stage, the vaunted “P” rating, you have to escape perfectly, without breaking your combo, and find all the treasures… and also escape twice within the time limit, by going through a 2nd Lap portal at the exit that takes you back to the beginning!

It’s already gotten a lot of people talking about it in terms like Game of the Year, and I’m sure it’ll be a prominent run at SGDQ 2023! Have a trailer:

Pizza Tower (Steam, $19.99)

Behind the Code Examines The NES Punch-Out!! Boxer Engine

Here’s another of those deep-dive NES internal videos from Behind the Code, possibly the most complex one they’ve done to date. Most game engines, when you examine their basic logic, are basically physics simulations, with some AI included to determine how actors behave.

Not so with the Punch-Out!! games. They are essentially entirely different kinds of games from that. You have certain things you can do moment to moment, and opposing boxers do too. Each of those opponents basically runs a big script, made out of byte code, that determines their behavior throughout each round of each fight. I am struck both by the simplicity (no need to simulate gravity) and the complexity (boxers take all kinds of things into account) of the system.

One of the interesting things shown is that the engine can affect more than just the boxers, but can also subtly affect the crowd, which is how the previously-revealed fact that a specific camera person in the crowd uses his flash right at the moment the player must counter Bald Bull’s charge move. It turns out that this isn’t the only instance of this happening in the game!

You don’t need to know 6502 assembly code to get what the narrator is talking about, but a lot of code is shown, so those of you who understand it may get a bit more out of it. Here are a few basics to help you follow along.

The 6502 has only three registers (bits of memory internal to the CPU that can be accessed quickly), the Accumulator (sometimes called just A), the X register, and the Y register. Each is only one byte long. The Accumulator is by far the most flexible, but all three are general-purpose registers. The most common instructions are Loads (LDA, LDX, LDY), Stores (STA, STX, STY), Transfers between registers (TAX, TAY), Incrementing and Decrementing (INX, INY, DEX, DEY), Adding (ADC), Subtracting (SBC), Comparing (CMP), Branches (some of them, Branch Not-Equal to Zero: BNE, Branch Equal to Zero: BEQ, Branch of Carry Set: BCS, Branch on Carry Clear: BCC), Jump (JMP), Jump to Subroutine (JSR), and Return from Subroutine (RTS). While some instructions are just one byte long, the longest any 6502 instruction can be is three bytes, and the opcode (the command itself) is always just one.

(I wrote all of that from memory. I figured, I have all of this in my head from my coding youth, I might as well use some of it.)

The 6502 can only address 64K of memory, so often systems will use bank switching to connect various memories to it within that space. The great majority of NES/Famicom games had to do this. Punch-Out!! was unique on the NES in that it was the only game to use Nintendo’s MMC2 chip. (I wonder if the chip was designed ahead of time, and they made this game as an excuse to use it?) Punch-Out!! uses MMC2 to bank in each boxer’s large data script as needed.

Behind The Code: How Do Boxers Work in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!? (Youtube, 20 minutes)

Q&A with Patrick of Patrick’s Parabox

We’re not averse to some cross-promotional synergy at Set Side B, so I figured I’d get a day’s linkage from a Q&A that I myself did with Patrick Traynor, creator of the astounding and brilliant puzzle game Patrick’s Parabox (, Steam). Parabox starts with Sokoban, but then compounds it in bizarre and fascinating ways. Ways like these (and this is very much only the beginning):

I did the Q&A some months ago, but it ended up getting delayed until late January of last month.

Designing the mind-bending puzzles in Patrick’s Parabox (Game Developer, I’m the interviewer)