Summer Games Done Quick 2022

It’s almost time! Tomorrow, June 26, begins SGDQ for 2022, the popular speedrunning marathon, this year benefiting Doctors Without Borders. Their other yearly marathon AGDQ back in January earned 3.4 million dollars, can they top it this time? After two years of remote speedruns, this year it will once again be held in person, with a live audience.

Here is their schedule, and from it, here are some highlights of particular interest to our topic categories of indie, retro, and niche games. Times are given in US Eastern/Pacific, dates by midnight Eastern time.

What to look for? Any games you particularly like, or want to see obliterated, of course. Anything that sounds like it might be a romhack will usually be a good time. Races are fun. Randomizers provide an entirely different kind of challenge to a speedrunning mindset. RPGs and Pokemon games often require some non-intuitive decision-making. Very weird games, of course. New games provide a chance to see people deal with something that’s not been exhaustively demolished, and it’s also cool to see what has been discovered in the short time since its release. And any obscure or rare games you happen to know of.

There are far too many interesting things in the list to call them all out, so, here are three arbitrarily-chosen items to watch for each day:

Sunday, June 26

12:30 PM/9:30 AM: Pre-Show

1:00 PM/10:00 AM: Shadow of the Colossus, PS4, NTA Boss Rush RANDOM

6:58 PM/3:58 PM: Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Switch, Any%

10:10 PM/7:10 PM: Spyro the Dragon, PS, 120%

Monday, June 27

6:41 AM/3:41 AM: Blaster Master, NES, Glitchless (US) Race

9:09 AM/6:09 AM: NiGHTS Into Dreams, Saturn, All Levels Any%

4:03 PM/1:03 PM: The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (2019), Switch, Any% Glitchless Race

Tuesday, June 28

Midnight/9:00 PM[27th]: Silent Hill 4: The Room, PC, Any%

9:14 AM/6:14 AM: Earnest Evans, Genesis, Any% (in 12 minutes)

12:02 PM/9:02 AM – 3:26 PM/12:26 PM: Mega Man Games! Powered Up, Xtreme, Wily Wars and 5

Wednesday, June 29

3:33 AM/12:33 AM: Final Fantasy IV Worlds Collide Randomizer

11:13 AM/8:13 AM: Knuckles Chaotix, 32X, Beat the Game

3:42 PM/12:42 PM: Pokemon Emerald Randomizer, GBA, Evolution Chaos Co-Op

Thursday, June 30

1:17 AM/10:17 PM[29th]: Banjo-Tooie, N64, Any%

3:43 AM/12:43 AM-8:44 AM/5:44 AM: Silly games! DEEEER Simulator, Mi Scusi, Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion, Jimmie Johnson’s Anything With an Engine, Gourmet Warriors, Thunder In Paradise, and Incredible Crisis!

9:08 PM/6:08 PM: Bonus Game, SOUND VOLTEX EXCEED GEAR, 1 player, PC

Friday, July 1

9:01 AM/6:01 AM: Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon, PC, Normal Ending

4:38 PM/1:38 PM: F-Zero GX, Gamecube, Story Mode, Max Speed, Very Hard (yow!)

9:28 PM/6:28 PM: Bonus Game, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Beta Showcase

Saturday, July 2

11:22 AM/8:22 AM: Bloodstainted: Curse of the Moon, PC, Any% Ultimate

5:36 PM/2:36 PM: Kaizo Super Metroid, SNES, Any%

8:31 PM/8:31 PM: Super Mario Maker 2 Relay Race!

Sunday, July 3

12:21 AM/9:21 PM[3rd]: Elden Ring, PC, All Remembrances + possibly as a bonus game, an Any% run

Chrontendo #60

Chrontendo’s back! Dr. Sparkle’s long-running journey through the entire library of the Famicom and NES continues. He’s been doing this for at least 15 years! Chrontendo got its start as a blog, then moved to a YouTube format, although every episode is also uploaded to the Internet Archive. Dr. Sparkle tries to complete the games he covers, meaning, sometimes it takes a very long time to construct an episode, especially when it contains a lengthy JRPG.

In addition to being generally watchable by anyone with even a passing interest in video gaming history, Chrontendo is a good series just to have on in the background while you do other things. What I’m saying is that it’s comfortable. Like Comfortable Doug! (warning: earworm)

Chrontendo 60 is subtitled “The Most Perverted Episode,” covers April through May of 1990, and features:

  • horse racing sim Kurogane Hiroshi No Yosou Daisuki! Kachiuma Densetsu,
  • a long section the original Fire Emblem and the series in general,
  • Rare’s PinBot, a very unique and interesting simulation of a real Williams pinball table with some unique video extras,
  • GameTek’s home version of the Nickelodeon game show Double Dare, which was also made by Rare,
  • the ludicrously-titled Dinowarz: The Destruction of Spondylus,
  • Imagineering’s Ghostbusters II,
  • Ivan “Ironman” Stewart’s Super Off Road, by Rare,
  • a very long section on the epic Final Fantasy III, from and by Square, which Dr. Sparkle proclaims to be the best JRPG on the system,
  • Kagerou Densetsu, a “sorta action RPG thing” published by “Pixel,” but we’re not sure who exactly that is, and may have been intended, it is speculated, to be a kind of RPG-ish sequel to The Legend of Kage, and
  • Nintendo World Cup (forgive me for not typing out the entire Japanese title), that weird Kunio soccer game that Nintendo published under their own banner, just with all the story and setting removed. It’s a decent soccer game even so.

With this episode, Dr. Sparkle is declaring a dividing point for the series. Up until now has been the rise of the Famicom; the rest covers its fall, what he calls the “Byzantine Empire” phase of the system’s life. This doesn’t mean the series is almost over though. Far, far from it.

Chrontendo #60 (YouTube, 2h 36m) – archivespreviously

News 6/23/2022: RPG Netcode Newsletter

“We scour the Earth web for indie, retro, and niche gaming news so you don’t have to, drebnar!” – your faithful reporter

Not a lot of news today, drebnar! Let’s see what there is to see with our respective light-based optical sensors.

We usually have tons of things to link, so we’ve started leaning away from listicles, but it’s a short broadcast today, so here’s Chris Freiberg’s list of the best 15 Genesis RPGs on Den of Geek. It’s a provocative list, in order from last to first: Gauntlet IV, Ys III: Wanderers From Ys, Syndicate, Sword of Vermillion, Light Crusader, Crusader of Centy, Landstalker, Pirates! Gold, Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun, Shining Force II, Phantasy Star III, Wonder Boy in Monster World, Beyond Oasis, Shadowrun, and, of course, Phantasy Star IV. Now, Gauntlet IV is an amazing port, and no one can fault Wonder Boy in Monster World, Landstalker or Pirates! Gold on general terms, but they’re hardly traditional RPGs. And then there are the games left out: the original Shining Force didn’t make it even through SF2 did, there’s no Phantasy Star II or Shining in the Darkness, and most egregious of all IMO, nowhere to be seen are New World Computing’s terrific ports of King’s Bounty or Might & Magic II, which are fully the equal of their computer versions drebnar! And if you’re going to include Pirates! Gold, you gotta include Starflight! And while it’s a bit clunky in interface, there’s the oft-overlooked early Naughty Dog production Rings of Power!

Victoria Kennedy at Eurogamer casually drops that a documentary is approaching on the making of Nintendo 64 system seller Goldeneye 007.

Lots of places are raving about the excellence of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, proclaiming it a return to the greatness of the classic Konami arcade games. WCCFtech’s Ule Lopez chimes in, in their review, and uses it to explain about the wonders of rollback netcode. Okay by us!

Thom Dunn at Boing Boing reports that the newsletter 50 Years of Text Games is being published in book form!

Finally, back at Nintendo Life again, Alana Hagues points us to a YouTube video explain a trick allowing you to explore underwater areas in Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

@Play: The Omega of Omega

‘@Play’ is a monthly column which discusses the history, present and future of the roguelike dungeon exploring genre.

So let us talk about what is probably the worst thing about Omega: it’s capriciousness.

If you read the experiences of the CRPG Addict you might be given to thinking that Omega is actually pretty easy. Judging by the title screen on his review, he was playing 0.71, a version I don’t have access too, and may actually no longer be available anywhere on the vast World Wide Web.

My version is 0.80, which it seems like it must be harder than his. Also, he backed up his save games, which, while the instructions specifically suggest it if you’re having trouble, is still cheating. All of my games have been played traditionally. And let’s be clear as to why: because I’m a snob. A roguelike snob.

Of course most classic roguelikes have a degree of deadly capriciousness, but for some reason it’s especially bad in Omega. I don’t think I’ve seen a game with as many ways for a game to go from terrific to dead instantly, often without warning and in a single turn.

Here’s a list of ways this can happen, most of which I’ve personally seen.

  • To get it out of the way: you can be struck by a cosmic at nearly any time above-ground (and even underground? I don’t think so). That does 10 damage purely from random chance, with no way to avoid or reduce it. If you have less than 10 HP, your game is just over. Some characters don’t even start with 10 maximum HP.
    Cosmic rays are triggered at two different places in the code, on tables for indoor events and outdoor events. My reading of the code indicates that indoors, a check that can produce a cosmic ray happens every ten game minutes, and outdoors it’s every game hour. However, depending on the terrain, multiple hourly checks can be made per move. Cosmic ray hits are far from the only bad things that can happen per hour, so it’s best to go by road if you can, and with other travel aids if possible.
  • The hedge maze in Rampart is a terrific source of deaths. Traps in there can absolutely wipe you out, or else make the game unplayable. Traps exist elsewhere, but the hedge maze both has a higher density than elsewhere (it always seems to have at least one, and probably has several), and is right there in Rampart. There are a small number of possible layouts for the maze, and traps tend to appear in the same kinds of places, so eventually you figure out where you should search. Specifically: fire traps and scythe traps do a lot of damage, an abyss trap can bestow a bunch of falling damage arbitrarily and effectively teleport you, acid traps do damage can destroy multiple pieces of equipment, a disintegration trap can destroy equipment or kill you outright, and an alarm trap won’t do any damage, but it will make all the guards in Rampart permanently hostile, dooming your character unless you can take them, which is unlikely at the point in the game when you’ll be exploring the hedge maze.
  • Once you step out of the starting city of Rampart there’s the countryside, a whimsically deadly region where you can have “encounters,” during which you may be killed (I can attest) by bandits, goblin shamans, lions, bears, bog haunts, mirrorshades, liches, or even “doberman death-hounds,” who are both fast and get lots of attacks.
    Encounters can generate a monster right beside you, and in that case the game even gives it the first turn. Many times my games have consisted of spending the 15 minutes or so getting all my chores in Rampart done to get my character started, leaving town, getting an encounter on the way to the Archdruid’s temple, and getting wiped out literally before I could do anything. The only thing you really can do about these situations is decrease the amount of time you spend outside.
What did Lawrence Brothers have against dobermans?

I’ve died to random encounters three games in a row before:
#1: Upon exiting the Archdruid’s temple, immediately, a random encounter. Then, in the tactical map, they got a turn before me and I died. I don’t even know what it was; it was invisible and killed me with a missile.
#2: Upon exiting the city of Rampart, again before I got a turn, a random encounter. This time it was a goblin shaman casting spells. One was an area effect spell that killed the caster and awarded me an experience level, but then also killed me.
#3: I got some steps towards the Archdruid’s temple before I got a random encounter that completely surrounded me with hedges. Trying to wade through them poisoned me to poison death.

How did I even wander into this situation?
  • Disintegration traps deserve special mention. I have again checked the game’s code and discovered the logic is: when you activate one, if you’re wearing a cloak, it’ll get disintegrated, no checks, no save, it’s just gone no matter what it is. If no cloak, it’s your armor that gets disintegrated. If no armor, it’s you. Traps in Omega are not common in the Goblin Caves, but can be anywhere there, and there’s lots of space for them.
  • Back to the hedge maze. Monsters can get generated there too, sometimes out-of-level ones, like lions, bears, “were-swarms,” frost demons, or pterodactyls. It’s right by the cemetery too, and sometimes it gets incorporeal visitors from there.
  • The hedges themselves can easily kill you. The game always asks if you’re sure when you accidentally miskey into one, thankfully. If you answer ‘Y,’ you open yourself to be stuck to the brambles for a not-insignificant number of turns, getting poisoned (easily deadly if you’re still at level 0), have your cloak ripped apart, or, if your luck is particularly bad, walking straight into the waiting tentacles of a trifid. Moral: YOU SHOULD ANSWER ‘N.’
  • Then there are the monsters who have unusually deadly attacks. Salamanders can breathe fire for high damage and from a distance unless you have fire resistance from a ring. Bog things can outright frighten you to death in melee. Until you learn that you should wear heavy armor to survive the Goblin Caves you’ll frequently get missiled to death by goblin chieftains, which are a prominent early source of fatality.
  • Learn to handle them, and later in the Goblin Caves your bane becomes goblin shamans, who can do a variety of awful things to you. The worst of these is sleep. If you get put to sleep, they’ll be able to get off several spells after. While somehow you can block their attacks, and even counterspell their continued enchantments, automatically while asleep, you’ll still often get slowed, snowballed, cursed, diseased, or poisoned. Entering a new level there is a particularly tense moment once these guys start showing up.
  • Oh here’s a good one. Fighting tooth and nail against goblin chieftains got my hit points down, but I was resting between fights and not doing too badly. Then not seeing any monsters around I walked across the room, happened to step next to a ‘1’ character, a statue. It came to life immediately as a salamander and promptly roasted my ass. I prefer my ass uncooked.
  • Get a load of this. Rolled stats until I got a character who had an Intelligence of 18, so they could join the Collegium Magii for free right away, and also could join the Gladiators. Did both those things. Bought ten buckets of Lyzzard Partes for early rations. Tripped over a hoplon, a good shield, and found both ring mail +1 and a war-hammer + 2 in the pawn shop. Found the Thieves’ Guild by dint of checking nearly every door in town. Joined the college but failed at the roll for learning a random spell. Went to the Arena and chose to fight the first opponent, a lowly goblin. Set combat tactics to Block Low then Lunge Center. On my first attack against the puny green foe, I take one hit point of damage from them, then: “Oh no! You hit yourself! You died!” Eleven points of damage from a fumble at level 0. That’s like having a fatal accident at after-school martial arts practice.
“Stop hitting yourself!”
At INT 18: “Killed by stupidity.”

It’s not just death that particularly bad luck can cause.

  • Weapons can shatter if you roll particularly badly in a fight. In general, you should consider your equipment in Omega as ultimately temporary.
  • Punching is of little use against strong enemies, so I bought a broad sword for 180 gold. Ventured into the wilderness. Got a random encounter involving a freaking lich. I managed to get away, but not before it destroyed my broad sword from a distance with a spell of Destructo Weaponum. I headed back to town and bought another one, then went to the Goblin Caves. Saw some money, stepped to pick it up, but surprise, there was an acid trap there! It destroyed my thieves’ picks, a bucket of Lyzzard Partes, and my broad sword again! Grawlix grawlix.
How does corrosive acid shatter a sword?
  • If an item gets cursed, you don’t have many recourses. I’ve never seen a scroll of blessing work on them; reading the source code suggests they’re just not strong enough. The most practical thing to do is break the weapon to bits with your bare hands: use the ‘z’ key.
Corporal Phantom guards the entrance.
  • Phantoms that appear in the hedge maze can level drain you; the main defense against that is a Cloak of Negimmunity, which you probably won’t have at that stage. If you just walk near the hedge maze, it’s possible to awaken a phantom sleeping inside. Phantoms are incorporeal, so weapon attacks don’t work on them, and once they’re awake they can chase you, floating right through buildings, throughout the whole city. The entrance to the city is a long passage with walls on both sides; if you don’t have a way of dealing with the phantom (use magic if you can), it’ll block the passage when you leave town, and get a few free hits on you when you return.

And then there’s the worst death of all, an attack by the dread monster Segmentation Violation:

Omega still has some decades-old bugs in it.

So what is my point? It’s not that you shouldn’t play Omega. It’s that you have to expect that your game could end at almost any time. Your game is not yours to have. Your character lives on borrowed time, so do as much with it as you can while you’ve got them.

These are a few things you can’t completely prevent, but what you can do is reduce their frequency. You can reduce the number of spaces you walk through in dungeons. You can try not to be slow when traveling the wilderness. If you encounter a trap, it might not be fair to it, but riding a horse will mean its effects are more likely to happen to it than to you. And good armor is almost always helpful, if you can afford it.

But sometimes, you just die. That’s just the kind of game it is. As you get better at Omega, you still suffer from them, but as you learn to play more effectively, you do find you get farther much more often.

How best to do that will be the subject of the next, and last for now, column on Omega.

Famicom Prototype of The Fairyland Story Discovered

Dylan Mansfield at site-favorite Gaming Alexandria tells us that there is now preserved an unreleased Famicom port of Taito classic arcade game The Fairyland Story! Fairies are rife around our offices, I have to tell you, they’re everywhere, getting underfoot and in the way of closing doors. Oh? This game is more to do with a more generic kind of fantasy world? I knew that.

Young witch protagonist Ptolomy clears a number of successive screens of enemies using her magic that can turn them into cakes! Released to arcades in 1985, it’s kind of an intermediate game between 1984’s Chak’n Pop and classic 1986 arcade hit Bubble Bobble. If you’re a fan of the arcade game you should check into this one, as many of the level layouts are different! The announcement post and rom is at Forest of Illusion. Unfortunately-named YouTube channel Hard4Games has a short video about the find:

Forest of Illusion: The Fairyland Story (Japan) (Prototype) via Gaming Alexandria.

News 6/21/22: Atari Protonic Quakey Pikmin

“We scour the Earth web for indie, retro, and niche gaming news so you don’t have to, drebnar!” – your faithful reporter

Rich Stanton at PC Gamer: Atari shocks the world with decent-looking game, Atari Mania! He compares it to the Japan-only Segagaga, but what the gameplay description really brings to my protoplasmic mind is NES Remix. We’re pretty harsh on the company that calls itself Atari on this site, but it’s really nice to see something genuinely interesting coming from them, that respects and pays homage to their paid-for name instead of just cashing in on it!

Atari Mania

Ana Diaz, in the virtual pages of Polygon, says that Netflix subscribers should download Poinpy, a short and fun game that’s free to subscribers. It’s a game about climbing and making smoothies for hungry monsters!

Liam Dawe of GamingOnLinux writes about Proton 7.0-3 further improving Windows games on Steam Deck and Linux running Steam. I anxiously watch for the day when Windows 10 reaches end-of-life, since none of my current machines officially supports Windows 11, drebnar.

Noelle Warner at Destructoid relates that crowdfunded indie game A Frog’s Tale looks great, with play inspired by games like Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga.

We usually steer away from speculative news here, but the piece by Jess Reyes at Inverse is too interesting to ignore, that Breath of the Wild 2 leaks suggest Zelda might be playable and a New Game Plus mode. Now that’s some meaningless hype that we can appreciate, drebnar!

Martin Robinson at Eurogamer suggests that Street Fighter 6‘s Smash Bros-like control system might be its best new feature. I’ve mentioned here in the past a personal grudge I have against fighting games, having never grown to cotton to them back when I was a teenage blobby, but it’s nice to see the series working to make itself more accessible to new players, even if the article’s tone verges slightly on the over-enthusiastic, in my amoebic opinion.

Adam Conway at XDA, on how Quake was ported to the GBA. A quick summary: “with much difficulty.” But truly, it’s a very interesting article, with the added detail that the unreleased rom has been preserved! There’s an attached YouTube video.

Alana Hagues with the one NintendoLife link we’re allowing ourselves this time, a reminder that it’s been five years since last word of progress on Pikmin 4.

And, honestly, a lot of the pieces that make the page here are light and fluffy, but here’s one a bit more important than usual. I love the headline applied to Ethan Gach’s bit for Kotaku, entitled Activision Blizzard Clears Itself of Any Wrongdoing. And the tagline reads, “The Call of Duty publisher says it’s the victim of an ‘unrelenting barrage of media criticism'” I WONDER WHY THAT IS, ACTIVISION BLIZZARD. HOW COULD THAT HAPPEN?

The Looker

Remember The Witness? Remember how everyone loved The Witness?

What? You didn’t love The Witness? Are you it some kind of blasphemer?

Sure, it has all those smarmy tape recordings all over the place. Certainly, you never quite feel like you’re done with it. Absolutely, everyone has at least one puzzle they find maddeningly obtuse (mine was on the ship). But you gotta admit, the special category of puzzle was a work of genius. If you don’t know what I mean by the special category, um… forget I said anything!

Well whether you loved The Witness or if you think it Jonathan Blows, you might want to have a look at The Looker, a pitch-perfect parody that’s actually a pretty decent puzzle game in its own right. It’s rated Overwhelmingly Positive, and as a reviewer says, “If you liked The Witness, you’ll like The Looker. If you hated The Witness, you’ll love The Looker.”

It’s free on Steam, and only takes a couple of hours to complete!

Steam: The Looker ($0) via Dominic Tarason.

News 6/21/22: Elden Daggerfall Kunio Ring Scrolls Kun

“We scour the Earth web for indie, retro, and niche gaming news so you don’t have to, drebnar!” – your faithful reporter

Kate Gray at Nintendo Life presents Moonstone Island, described as Zelda meets Stardew Valley.

D. Hardawar of Engadget really quite likes Radical Dreamers, that Satellaview text adventure sequel to Chrono Trigger that was presented to the world as part of the recent remake of Chrono Cross.

Chris Moyse at Destructoid mentions that Kyoko and Misako, the protagonists of the popular recent beat-em-up River City Girls, are going to appear in another Kunio-kun spinoff, River City Saga: Three Kingdoms, in which the popular high school fighting characters appear in the Chinese epic best known to Westerners as Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It’s not the first Kunio game even to do this; back on the Famicom they appeared in game set as a school play, called (translated into English) Downtown Special: Kunio-kun’s Historical Period Drama!, which is playable in Double Dragon & Kunio-kun: Retro Brawler Bundle.

Matthew Byrd at Den of Geek brings us to mind of the Dark Souls 3 mod The Convergence, whose makers are now turning their attention to Elden Ring.

Good news from Jarred Walton by way of Tom’s Hardware: with the blessed collapse of cryptocurrencies, GPU prices are set to plummet!

At Kotaku, Zack Zwiezen notes the indie game Agent 64: Spies Never Die is set to remind everyone why Goldeneye and Perfect Dark were so great.

And Luke Plunkett at Kotaku informs us of the 1996 Elder Scrolls game Daggerfall getting a mod to update it with modern graphics and controls! The post links to a 19-minute demonstration video.

Maze of Galious Enhanced

You want to know a great game that, statistically speaking, you’ve probably never played? Konami’s Maze of Galious for the MSX. It’s an early example of that genre we all now call Metroidvanias (Jeremy Parish, your royalty check is in the mail), and in Japan it was hugely inspirational. More recently, it was a direct inspiration for the La-Mulana games.

Well, more-recently-than-that, some romhackers have updated it to take advantage of the much more powerful MSX2 hardware. This results in much more detailed and colorful graphics and a number of other game improvements.

Playing it requires a rom of the original game (which you much seek out yourself), the patch file (here’s it’s GitHub site), and a patcher like Floating IPS. Or do you? Indie Retro News found a site that’s serving up the game and patch together, all ready to play!

Look at that murderous dungeon room. Now that’s what you call a video game.

If you’re prepared to patch the rom yourself and name it correctly (it’s explained on the project’s GitHub page), it can also be played in the online MSX emulator at webmsx.org.

So, what’s playing it like? Challenging! You have two characters, Popolon and Aphrodite, who have separate health and experience meters. Filling up your experience bar doesn’t actually improve your stats at all; it just heals that character up to full. And your characters’ jumps, while not as stiff as Simon Belmont’s, are not fully controllable in mid-air.

The two characters have subtly different abilities. Popolon’s attacks do more damage, he can jump higher, and his jump height varies according to how long the button is held. He’s also the only one who can push open doors. Aphrodite’s jumps are of constant height, but she’s also the only one who can survive in water! If one character runs out of health, the other can soldier on alone, but reviving the other is a difficult process.

Aww, they’re wearing matching armor!

In fact, the whole game is a difficult process! This is from that thankfully-brief time in the history of video gaming where developers seemed to revel in putting in secret features and hidden passages. Beating the final boss requires you find a very well-hidden item, the Cross, which is in a very secret passage. If you no longer have months to devote to finishing a game, you’re probably going to want to find at least a good FAQ for this one.

Via Indie Retro News.

Sundry Sunday: Mornal’s Phoenix Wright Animations

It’s Sunday again. You made it! Every Sunday you pass a checkpoint and your progress is saved, so if you die over the next week you can just reload to this point! Unless your universe is playing by “roguelike” rules. If that’s the case, I’m sorry. Anyway, as a reward for making it this far into the hellscape of 2022, here are some funny game-related videos.

Mornal’s made some hilarious animations on the video sharing site all the kids love: TikTok! What no? Ah, YouTube! I knew that! I’m “down with the street,” sure!

Above is the first, but they’re all great. Here’s the most recent:

Fixing E.T.

It’s nine years old, but I’m amazed by how few seem to know of these old projects that litter the internet, and this is one that’s definitely worth revisiting.

When people talk about reasons for the Great Game Crash of 1983 (which, it should be remembered, was mostly a crash in the U.S., other countries didn’t suffer much loss in popularity), one reason sometimes given was the lack of quality of one specific game: Howard Scott Warshaw’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, for the Atari VCS/2600. (That’s not really the point of this post. For more of this, seen the Addendum, below.)

I should emphasize that it was easy to get frustrated by E.T. Its development was rushed so that it could be in stores in time for the 1982 Christmas season. Warshaw’s previous work Yars’ Revenge was a huge hit for Atari, but its successor, Raiders of the Lost Ark, is possibly a bit too experimental. I think E.T. is a better game than Raiders, it’s easier to learn certainly, but it has some definite issues that make it very frustrating to play.

There were a number of issues, but the biggest by far was that it was extremely easy to fall into the many pits that dotted the landscape of the game’s version of Earth, and after floating up out of one, it was just as easy to immediately fall back into one again. You could fall into a pit merely from changing screens in the wrong location.

Back in 2013, a user in the AtariAge forums using the handle recompile produced a hack to fix the game’s problems, including this one. They made a page that the hack from which could be downloaded, and explained, in great technical detail, how it had been made. The result has slightly worse graphics than the original, but is much more playable, and reveals that there is a very interesting game hidden beneath the rushed product mandated by Atari’s managers. Not only is the page and his work still up now, nine years later, but so is the AtariAge thread he made.

Remember: a delayed game is eventually good, but a bad game is bad until someone with enough time, energy and technical know-how takes it upon themselves to fix it, which in E.T.‘s case was about 31 years from its release.

Addendum

Was E.T. the real reason for the U.S. crash? Honestly, I’m dubious. It’s likely a contributing factor, but a slight one. But the fact that it can’t be ruled out, and probably helped a little, makes it something that many writers can point to without much fear of contradiction. It’s the way many narratives are built.

But there were plenty of good games, by the standards of the time, to offset the fortunes of any single title. A more likely explanation was a deluge of bad games, and a market oversaturated by them produced by companies looking for a quick buck, so that unless a consumer had done their research, it was difficult to separate the worthwhile purchases from the cash grabs.

Video games had, almost overnight, turned into a billion-dollar business. For a few years, specifically 1978 to 1982, the success of arcades, and of the Atari VCS and a number of excellent games for it, tantalized a nation. For a brief period, almost everyone sold game cartridges. I remember seeing them on the racks of drug stores during that time.

Then, almost as suddenly as it had risen, it collapsed. No one knew which games were good and which were bad. Even the good ones were pretty expensive: a $30 game in 1982 was nearly $90 in today’s (2022) money. All of those stores that had jumped on the bandwagon were left with piles of unsold inventory. Console gaming died out almost completely for a few years, until the arrival of the NES, and some canny moves by Nintendo of America, resurrected the industry in the land of its birth.

News 5/7/22: Diablo Immortal, Toy Story pinball, Metroid music takedown

“We scour the Earth web for indie, retro, and niche gaming news so you don’t have to, drebnar!” – your faithful reporter

Paul Tassi at Forbes (really? wow) mentions that it’s been discovered that not only does Diablow Immortal have significant pay-to-win aspects, but also contains measures that drastically decrease drop rates if you get too many rare items in a day.

Anthony Culinas over at The Beta Network reviews cute platformer Grapple Dog! Verdict: he likes it, mostly!

At Rock Paper Shotgun, C.J. Wheeler talks about Obsidian’s murder mystery game Pentient, which is illustrated in a style akin to medieval manuscripts! It’s always nice to see a game eschew the boring push towards photographic realism.

Gizmodo’s Andre Liszewski brings up a new controller from 8BitDo that puts all its buttons on the face. No shoulder buttons remain! It’s intended for accessibility purposes, although that doesn’t mean anyone can’t use it. And it’s only $35! Sadly it only works with the Switch and Android devices, although I don’t see why it couldn’t be put to use on PCs too? Is it blocked from working on PCs somehow, and for some reason?

Lauren Morton at PC Gamer mentions Backfirewall, a puzzle game set inside a smartphone with an outdated OS. It’s mentioned that it has a demo on Steam.

Samuel Claiborn at IGN brings information about Jersey Jack’s upcoming Toy Story 4 pinball machine, designed by Addams Family and Twilight Zone designer Pat Lawlor! I have a friend who’s really jazzed up to get their hands on it, and has preordered it, despite it selling out in three minutes and costing $15,000!

Under our new policy of one link to a major news site per news post, we have Ollie Reynolds covering Nintendo’s typically hamhanded takedown of fan content, this time of fan remixes of Metroid music. Sheesh, N!