5th Anniversary Video by The Makers of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Producer Koji “IGA” Igarashi and director Shutaro Iida posted a video last night (7 1/2 minutes) to their Youtube channel looking back on the game’s creation, starting from its Kickstarter announcement and their many stretch goals, and the game’s planning and development.

Gamefinds: Frogfall

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.

It’s not FrogFind, which is an web search engine with a retro-computing theme run by the person behind Action Retro.

No, this one’s a charming and free action game from itch.io. It’s a lot like a platformer, but not quite completely one, because you never land on any platforms. Once you leave the ground, it’s up to you to guide your tiny friend to eat every fly on the level before they touch the ground again. Each fly gives the frog a burst of height, like they’re bouncing off of them. It’s satisfying to collect every fly on one pass, bouncing off of each one like a little amphibious pinball.

There’s some leeway you’re granted. They frog can hit ceilings without danger; they won’t collide but will just fall from there. Sometimes you can hit walls, although sometimes they’ll result in failure. Retrying is instantaneous though.

As you progress, the game introduces new elements. “Empty” flies only appear and become snackable once all the other flies have been nom’d. Flies with a dot on them must be eaten twice; they become edible again after any other fly has been eaten. Skate rails (the itty bitty froggy can shred, it seems) give the frog a place to grind safely for a while, and can be used sometimes to get around barriers or return to heights to get more flies. There’s bouncing spots the frog can hop endless on too.

There’s 48 levels in the game, three of them tutorial levels and then nine levels in each of five worlds. After they’ve all been cleared and the frog has enough food for winter, you begin to unlock harder “B-side” levels, which introduce new tricks.

The aesthetic is laidback, and the music is quiet contemplative, somewhat in contrast with the frog’s acrobatic feats. So help a frog out! Winter is coming!

Frogfall (by Kultisti, for Windows, on itch.i0, $0)

Here’s video of a playthrough of the main game. Note that, while it does show the ending, it doesn’t show any of the B-side levels.

This late-appearing board is aptly named: “that level”

Indie Showcase for 6/12/24

The weekly indie game showcases highlight the many games we play on the channel, if you would like me to cover your game please reach out. All games shown are either demos or press key submissions.

0:00 Intro
00:14 Sunshine Manor
2:02 Spirited Thief
3:40 MF-01 Aerostrike
5:44 Swordship
7:50 Josh Journey Darkness Totems
9:49 Whisker Squadron Survivors
11:46 Saga of the Moon Priestess

Hare Basic for the Commodore 64

Our friend Robin at 8-Bit Show And Tell lets us know of this cool and free Commodore 64 BASIC 2.0 extension, of a sort, called Hare Basic. It’s a successor to an earlier version called Bunny Basic. Here’s the video, 48 minutes long. My comments on it follow below, which you can read either after having watched the video, or before, depending on of you have most of an hour to spare right now.

Here are the downloads, which are hosted on the creator’s Dropbox, so availability may fluctuate.

Commodore BASIC is, in many ways, the worst of all worlds. It’s a slow interpreted language, a variant of infamous Microsoft BASIC, and it has almost no machine-specific features, but it comes with the machine, and it’s burned into ROM. You can swap it out for extra RAM if you have a replacement OS or are running something in pure machine code.

I could go on for a long time about the problems with Commodore BASIC 2.0, a language I’m quite familiar with having spent much of my teens programming in it. Sometimes it feels like it was designed especially to run slowly. One example: it supports floating point math, which ordinarily would be a good thing, right? Use integer math for performance, and just use floats when you need decimals, right? But no: internally, Commodore BASIC converts integer variables into floats when doing any math with them, and converts them back to store as integers when it’s done. Wilberforce Trafalgar Franklin?! Why?! It does these unnecessary extra steps to do all arithmetic as floating point even when it doesn’t need do, and doesn’t offer a way to do performant integer math at all! Need I remind you that Microsoft BASIC is based upon software written by Bill Gates himself? I suspect that I don’t!

Hare Basic is a highly optimized subset of Commodore BASIC that can be switched on and off as needed. It has to be coded in a special way which might throw beginners for a loop: Hare Basic can’t abide whitespace, for example, only allows for variables of one letter in length, has no support for modifying strings, and contrary to Commodore BASIC can only do integer math. There’s lots of other differences too, and if you want to play around with it it’s essential that you study the manual.

But once you get used to it, it runs blazingly fast, sometimes as much as 10 times faster! And the best part is you don’t have to use it for everything. You can start out with a standard Commodore BASIC program, then enter into Hare Basic mode with a USR function call. You could write your whole program in Hare if you’re up for it, or just loops, or other places where performance is necessary.

Of course, this is ultimately an enhancement for a programming language that runs on a home computer made in 1984. It’s not what one might consider of universal interest. But it might be of interest to the kinds of people who read this site. It’s interesting to me, at least. Maybe I should dust off VICE and see what I can do with it? I haven’t coded on a ’64 in nearly three decades, maybe I should get back into that….

Two Time Twisty Tales

This is a double indie game review of Three Minutes To Eight and Slay the Princess, both played with press keys.

Indie Showcase For 5/28/24

Each indie showcase highlights the many games we play here on stream, and if you would like to submit a game for a future one please reach out.

0:00 Intro
00:14 Curse of Eternity
01:35 WizardChess
3:43 Ardenfall
5:11 Sippin Hot Blickety Block…
6:34 Crafty Survivors
8:27 Bad Writer

Wheeler Dealers Has Been Preserved

The news comes to us by way of Apple cracker 4am’s Mastodon account. Wheeler Dealers was a cassette release, a format not as well understood as the Apple II floppy disk formats, but it’s playable on its Internet Archive page.

Its title screen gives it a copyright date of 1978, making it only slightly younger than the Atari VCS/2600. Wheeler Dealers was the first published game by M.U.L.E. creator Dani Bunten. Designed for four players, it came with a special controller to allow four players to participate in auctions on an equal footing. If played in an emulator, they often have settings to allow the buttons to be remapped to joystick directions, and from there to specific keyboard buttons.

It’s a stock trading game, written in BASIC, and much less polished than M.U.L.E. would be. It barely has graphics and has no single-player mode. I find it hard to control in the IA’s web-based Apple emulator. Basic stock trading games seem really simple these days. I think Wheeler Dealers (or “Wheeler Dealer$,” according to the title screen) is mostly interesting these days has a herald for M.U.L.E., which I find holds up really well to current-day tastes. Dani’s real-time auction mechanism would be honed to a fine edge in M.U.L.E., which to this day is probably still the best multiplayer auction mechanism in any game.

Dani Bunten left us long ago now, back in 1998, but her absence is still keenly felt. One of her last projects was a Sega Genesis/Mega Drive port update of M.U.L.E., which was infamously scuttled when publisher Electronic Arts insisted, as a condition of publishing, a mechanism by which players could directly attack other players with weapons. It is far from the only terrible action that EA would be responsible for, but it’s certainly one of the worst.

Indie Showcase For 5/22/24

Our weekly indie game showcases highlight the many games we play here on the channel, if you would like to submit a game for a future one please reach out. Most games shown are press key submissions and demos.

0:00 Intro
00:14 Ghost Song
3:18 Broken Pieces
5:16 A Sleeper’s Quest: A Labyrinth to Thee
7:10 Stars in the Trash
8:20 Kells
10:11 Seasons

Hempuli is still at it

Hempuli is the brilliant creator of the rule-breaking-and-making puzzle game Baba Is You. That is not the subject of this post, but I couldn’t recommend it more highly.

No, the post’s subject is a series of things they’ve made since. Yes, I said things. I said it and I meant it!

They’re all: (free|wonderful|insane|playable in browser|available on itch.io). There’s twenty-three of them, and they’re all ludicrous ruminations on the idea of Sokoban. We’ve posted about Hempuli’s improbable series of Sokolikes before, but they keep making them, and so now there’s 23.

The basic rules are: there are blocks, and you can push them. If all the Xs on the level have blocks on them at the same time, the flag activates, but it stays active only while every X is occupied. If the flag is active, you can step on it to complete the puzzle.

But there are also buttons. If all the buttons of a given color have boxes (or players) on them at the same time, then certain gates in the puzzle open. Some puzzles have water. Don’t step in that. Boxes will usually float on top of water though.

In (nearly) all the puzzles, the arrow keys move your little Sokoperson, the R key resets the current puzzle, and the Z key reverses your last move. Keep pressing Z to keep going back, until you reach the puzzle’s start state.

Those are the basic rules, but don’t be surprised if they’re upturned in some of these games. Hempuli is diabolical, and sometimes the basics don’t apply, or are turned on their head in unexpected ways.

From Mountris. The character is about to make a surprising mistake.

In Mountris, some of the blocks you push are Tetris shapes, that move as a single unit. Think carefully about the implications of that.

Upon seeing this early puzzle in Permaban, my mouth said, unprompted, “What fresh hell is this?”

One interesting thing about these games generally is how they often break one of the central rules of Sokoban, that you can’t push two or more blocks at a time. In many of Hempuli’s variants you can, but in some of them you can only do it in certain circumstances.

Hell, continued: From the aptly-named (?!) Nabogorf. Notice, this one has a different Undo key. Why do you suppose that is?

As I review these games in order, I’m struck by how they keep getting stranger. Evidently the process of making Baba Is You disconnected some important limiter in Hempuli’s brain, and so now they’ve become a portal, spewing forth constant matter from the Elemental Plane of Puzzles. Weep for them… but also, enjoy the results of that, both now and almost certainly in the future.

From Mayban: Oh, there’s color now. What does that mean? What’s about to happen? Why am I shaking in my seat?
Automount turns the game on its head. But they all do, so that statement is meaningless. This one turns it extra on its head. With cherries on top.

A Double Review of Solar Ash and It’s a Wrap

This is a double indie game review of two different kinds of platforming with Solar Ash and It’s a Wrap, played with a retail key and press key respectively.

0:00 Intro
00:17 Solar Ash
5:34 It’s a Wrap

Indie Showcase For 5/14/24

The indie showcases cover the many games we play for my Wednesday night streams and I’m always looking for games to check out for future ones. All games shown are either press keys or demo submissions.

0:00 Intro
00:14 Trifox
2:07 The Entropy Centre
4:30 Grid Force: Mask of the Goddess
6:43 Whateverland
8:49 Fabular: Once Upon a Spacetime
11:40 Chess Survivors

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.