Sundry Sunday: Waluigi Sings “Rainbow Connection”

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

It’s Waluigi, and he’s singing “Rainbow Connection.” You need more? Are you not entertained?

It’s from Matthew Tarando, aka. Bitfinity, the one who made the Brawl in the Family webcomic. It’s not the first of their works to make it to this site, and it probably won’t be the last.

The Muppet-like version of Waluigi is a highlight. He looks like Dr. Don from Point Blank, a.k.a. Gun Bullet! It feels like it’s come full circle, since Point Blank is essentially WarioWare with light guns!

Dr. Dan and Dr. Don, oft-emperiled protagonists of countless rapidly-shifting scenarios.

Kasey Ozymy Interview

For this Perceptive Podcast, I sat down with RPG designer Kasey Ozymy to talk about working in RPG Maker and designing Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass. We discuss RPG design and making something that stands out from the rest of the pack. For the final part of our talk, we focused on the Kickstarter for his next game: Hymn to the Earless God, and what makes that one different.

Kimimi the Game-Eating She Monster: Brandish

I still have to figure out some consistent way to differentiate things we’re linking to, in titles, from our own content. It’s making me uncomfortable how things we link to on other sites are generally not distinguishable from things we make ourselves. The site: title construction is the best I’ve come up with for that, although I also use it for our own subseries, like Sundry Sunday. Please, except this rambly prologue as an introduction!

Kimimi the Game-Eating She Monster writes lots of interesting stuff, and we’ve linked to her several times before. In fact I have a whole Firefox window devoted to pieces she’s made. This one is about the Super Famicom (and others) game Brandish, one of Nihon Falcom’s many interesting RPG experiments.

Brandish is played in a dungeon where each level is a map, and monsters appear on it, and you attack them in real-time, without going to a separate screen. That is to say, combat isn’t “modal.” When switches change the state of the dungeon, you see their results happen immediately. Areas blocked to you are shown as just plain wall until you reveal them.

These things all make Brandish seem almost like (here’s that word again) a roguelike. But Brandish’s dungeon isn’t random, but set; the game isn’t a generalized system like roguelikes often are, but has set scenario. That makes it seem like a lot of other early RPGs. And one weird thing about it that’ll definitely require some adjustment is, Brandish is programmed so that your character always faces up; if you rotate to face a direction, the dungeon rotates around you. But the game doesn’t use the Super Nintendo’s “Mode 7” rotation feature: the dungeon turns immediately, which is disorientating until you get used to it, and even, it’s still a little disorientating. Brandish probably works that way because it was originally a Japanese PC game, and to implement Mode 7 rotation would mean having to rework some graphics to reflect the different perspectives.

Here’s a Youtube video of a playthrough. Skip past the intro, and what I’m talking about should become clear:

And now you’re ready for Kimimi’s own piece on Brandish. She likes it! And I agree, it’s a very interesting system. Brandish was popular enough to get multiple sequels. If you want to learn more about the series generally, Kurt Kalata’s Hardcore Gaming 101 has a good introduction to them.

Kimimi the Game-Eating She Monster Covers Brandish

Which Version of Wizardry 1 to Play?

Let’s keep rolling with these Youtube finds. There’s millions of them, but most of them are obnoxious, with the emphasis on noxious, so I try only to repost here the best. And this one’s pretty informative.

Which version of the classic foundational CRPG Wizardry should you play? I’m going to emphasize that you should play one of them. Wizardry inspired so many people, but one ever quite duplicated its mixture of tabletop-inspired party-based play, permadeath, and overwhelming difficulty. Wizardry is a game that doesn’t want you to win it. That’s why characters cost a fortune to revive, cost an ever greater fortune to bring back if that process fails, and it becomes impossible to revive them if that fails too.

If characters die in the dungeon, their corpses aren’t even brought back to the surface for you! You have to take a different party of characters into the dungeon (assuming they’re strong enough to survive the journey!), move the dead members into empty slots in your group, then return to town, unload them into storage, and repeat until you’ve rescued them all. And woe to the characters who mistype a teleport spell and end up embedded in rock, because they’re utterly destroyed, vanished, obliterated, annihilated, eradicated, gone.

Wizardry hates players, and that’s why you should play it: to teach it a goddamn lesson.

Youtuber Tea Leaves played a lot of versions of Wizardry, including a very promising upcoming version by Digital Eclipse, which has modern quality of life features and modern graphics, while also having, at its foundation, the Apple II original, with all its hatred for organic life. In summary, he thinks that version is great, but also has positive things to say about other versions, especially the fan-patched translation of the Japanese Super Famicom version. But they don’t like the DOS version-it has a terrible bug which Tea Leaves emphasizes makes it unplayable. Noted!

Which Version of Wizardry Should I Play (Youtube, 27 minutes)

Indie Game Showcase For 5/8/24

Our Weekly showcases look at the many indie games we play here on the channel. If you would like to submit a game for a future one please reach out.

0:00 Intro
00:14 The Pinball Wizard
2:40 Deadeye Deepfake Simulacrum
5:04 Worm Slayer
6:51 Somber
9:00 SuperTotalCarnage
10:36 Heartworm

C64 Dungeon Play and Lost World Demonstration

Another personal project post! I have done more work in making David Caruso II’s obscure Commodore 64 CRPG Dungeon, published in the issues of the disk magazine LOADSTAR more than once, presentable to current-day audiences. Although it certainly has its limits, there are some aspect to it that are unique, even forward-thinking. We posted about Dungeon here before. To remind everyone, we sell Dungeon on my (rodneylives’) page for $5, with the blessing of rights-holder and LOADSTAR owner Fender Tucker.

There are a few bugs in Dungeon, now basically impossible to fix, that I’m trying to track down and document, and I’m also working on improving the documentation, as well as provide some useful goodies with the system, like a disk of monsters, equipment and magic items. That’s useful because Dungeon has a special feature where it’ll take the monsters and items on a “Data Disk,” and scatter them around a dungeon map of its own creation. It calls these randomized adventures “Lost Worlds.”

Lost Worlds operate as a kind of quasi-roguelike. The Dungeon software creates a random map and places random items around it, but once created it becomes a Dungeon adventure that any created character can explore as many times as they like. While it doesn’t have roguelike tactical combat gameplay or random item identification, it does have a form of permadeath. Characters only get three lives to advance their level as far as they can go.

Lost Worlds are interesting places to explore, but there are some bugs in them. It is possible, in fact pretty easy, to get stuck in a part of the dungeon from which one can’t escape. Sometimes a one-way door leads into an area that can’t be escaped, and sometimes a passage-blocking trap will strand the player’s character in a dead-end. And once in a while a Lost World is downright unfinishable, its goal item disconnected from the parts of the dungeon the player can even reach.

While there are spells (Passwall and Teleport) that can release a trapped character, if they aren’t available the character is not completely lost. If you turn off the C64 (or close the emulator), then return to the Guild screen, the character will be marked as GONE. Over time, measured in loads of the Guild menu, the character will eventually find their way back on their own. It takes quite a while for this to happen though: I counted 15 loads, saving the game each time, before a GONE character returned.

This video (23 minutes) is is something I recorded myself as a demonstration of both Dungeon’s gameplay, and its Lost World adventure generation. It uses a set of 30 low-level monsters and items based on the stats of the old Basic edition of D&D, and a set of magic items I created for usefulness and to show off Dungeon’s spell set.

So, why would someone want to play this game, when there’s so many other newer CRPGs out there to play?

  • The idea of rolling up a character and taking them through scenarios made by other people, to try to get their level up as high as they can get before they die three times, is great. My hope, perhaps misplaced, is this release will inspire other people to make dungeons for others to play, and I look forward to seeing them myself.
  • The magic system of Dungeon, while it doesn’t allow for characters to learn spells themselves, is unique in that most of the spells are utility spells! There are spells for passing through walls, for teleporting anywhere on the map, for revealing terrain, for seeing in darkness, for giving oneself a damage shield, for locating the goal item, for disarming traps, and more. There is only one direct damage attack spell! Spells are more like tools than something you use to pound through the enemies.
  • The dungeon model allows for dark areas, traps that block exits, two-way and one-way teleporters, secret doors, one-way doors, and decorating dungeon maps with PETSCII graphics. The simplicity of the dungeons, all of them fitting on one screen, works in Dungeon’s favor. No dungeon can be too large since they must all fit within the bounds of the map grid.

There are unique design considerations for making Lost Worlds too. Even though the computer creates the maps unaided, since it populates them from the monsters, items and traps that are on the Data Disk, the difficulty of the resulting dungeon is affected. The various doodads are distributed without apparent heed for what they are; I wonder if the generator actually cares for their identities or if it just checks how many of each type are on the disk, so as not to exceed that number.

If there are more easy monsters, more powerful items, and more weak traps on the disk then the dungeon will be easier due to their corresponding numbers being greater, and vice versa. It occurs to me that one of the flaws in the dungeon generation I mentioned could be alleviated, by not giving it one of the wall creating traps that could trap a player in a dead-end, but that also makes the dungeon a bit less interesting, so I’ve left it in the mix I use.

I recognize that, if I let myself, this might become a Dungeon blog. Rest assured, I’m not going to take it that far. But I really hope that some people give Dungeon a chance. While sure it has its inspirations (one person on Mastodon said it reminds them of Phantasie, a somewhat less obscure early CRPG), I think it’s pretty unique, and deserves for more people to have a look at it. I’m particularly pleased how well the sample monsters and items I made work in the Lost World framework, and I’m trying to think of ways that it might be improved. More on this later… but, not immediately, I think.

RGME: Glitching Mario World by Stomping Wigglers

More Youtube videos coming up! In this hellish age of the World Wide Web, where discovering things with Google Search is harder than ever, at least Youtube has a decent discoverability system (when it works, which is not always). Discovering things has long been really difficult on the internet, what we’re witnessing is just a regression to an earlier state where things appear and disappear unseen all the time, like particles and antiparticles annihilating each other. It’s still a huge problem, we just forgot, for a while, that there’s still no good solution. Um, what was I talking about again?

Retro Game Mechanics Explained (RGME: See? The acronym in the title means something!) recently explained a glitch in Super Mario World, a game that is becoming infamous for its many glitches. Some of those glitches are oversights, but some are the result of features planned in development, and even partially implemented, but then for whatever reason were abandoned.

Most of the enemies in the game, if you stomp on them over and over without touching the ground, give you more and more points and eventually extra lives. But there are indications that, at some point during the game’s development, it wasn’t going to stop there. There is support in Super Mario World for further rewards beyond “1UPs”: 2UP, 3UP, 5UP, and from there, for some unknown reason, coins.

The code in the game supports going into those ranges, but for all the enemies in the game, only one has the support enabled, probably accidentally: Wigglers. If you consecutively stop Wigglers, which is only possible in one or two levels, the cap on the awards for stomping on them is lifted, and the lookups from the table on which the rewards are stores continue, off the end of the table, into miscellaneous ROM space, awarding undefined rewards, and quickly awarding many hundreds of thousands of points.

The full details are in their video, here (20 minutes):

I have a particular fondness for this glitch because I encountered it myself once, long ago, on actual hardware!