I tend to play a lot of games from each next fest, and there are going to be a lot of indie games to look at.
Sundry Sunday is our weekly feature of fun gaming culture finds and videos, from across the years and even decades.
Usually Sundry Sunday is for things related to games, not games themselves, but this is fun and random so why not?
The WarioWare people have made some weird games. Nowadays they seem to be focused on realizing the software products of Mario’s moneygrubbing alter ego and his disreputable gang of sorta-friends, but they have another series, Rhythm Tengoku, known in (some) English speaking territories as Rhythm Heaven.
Every single Rhythm Heaven game is a joy, from Karate Man to the Final Remix, but my favorite is probably Packing Pests, a.k.a. Pest Protectors.
Your onscreen surrogate is Employee 333-4-591032, working for the suspiciously-named Spider-Free Candy Company. And, well, see for yourself (three minutes):
No Rhythm Heaven mini game is much explained beyond its directions, but all of them tell a story by their details. Your character is a new hire. We know he works for Spider-Free Candy by the poster on his wall when the Wii version is played in widescreen. We know he’s creeped out by spiders by what happens if you accidentally clutch one or let one by your guard. And going by their faces we know the spiders try to leap into the box out of a manic kind of joy. They aren’t hostile! They just live to give you a hug, and to leap into boxes so as to give random other people hugs! Sadly, the demands of capitalism, and by that those of your paycheck, are to deny them in their life’s purpose.
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.
EDIT: there was a WordPress display glitch that was causing images to overlap the text. I’ve changed the formatting a bit to keep it readable.
There’s hundreds of new games released every day, and there’s no way to can even find out what they all are, let alone try all of them. So there’s an inescapable element of randomness to what meets my eyes, and thus to what I bring to you. It’s useless to ask, “Why did you link to that silly little trifile when Important Game by Known Developer goes without remark?” Our finds are always going to be kind of idiosyncratic.
So it is with this one, Feydome, a slight but fun game made in two weeks for a game jam. It’s a laid-back 3D exploratory experience where you’re a barely-garbed, at first, fairy, searching an eerie abandoned village for clothes to wear. Movement is by WASD, with the Q and E, or else the left and right arrows, rotating the camera. Yes, it’s an exploratory dress-up game!
At the start your fairy is weak and can barely fly at all. You find glowing orbs that each grant a tiny bit more wing stamina, but never enough that you can fly indefinitely. Each orb very slightly extends the amount of flight time, by around one or two frames. So you’re always tied to the ground, but there are a lot of orbs to find, and that extra time adds up.
The fairy can glide if you hold the fly button down, even when out of energy, and if you keep tapping the space bar you can glide much further, which is a huge help. It helps to devote one hand to this, while using the other to move forward.
While you can rotate the camera, you can’t adjust the angle vertically, so you can’t look above or below, and there is no mouselook. The developer says that an expanded version is being made, maybe these control oversights will be addressed in that.
The pieces of clothing, 29 in all, are in weird chattering spheres that are stuck all over to the walls, floors and ceilings. When collected, a sphere stops chattering, which is of great help in tracking down the last few. Clothes go into your Customize Menu. You start out with just a Tied Fiber top and Leaf Panties bottom, but each item you find helps to make your wee friend more presentable in polite society (if there were any in this game).
There are no enemies, and no moving objects besides the fairy. While it’s difficult to get around at first, it’s surprising how even an extra half second of flight time expands their horizons. Mind you, there is no reward for finding all of the clothing. There is no ending; the journey is entirely the point with Feydome. You’re left alone in the abandoned world, you and your wardrobe, until you exit the game. There’s no save function either, but the game’s so short that it can be finished in one sitting anyway. Maybe 40 minutes in all, if you focus on finding everything.
But it’s fun to explore! It’s a satisfying gameplay loop, finding orbs, using the extended flight time to find yet more orbs, and punctuating the process with occasional new clothes. I’m sure this kind of gameplay has been done before, but this is a neat example of it, and it doesn’t cost anything to try.
Feydome (itch.io, $0)
It’s too light to make it an official Romhack Thursday post, but it is Thursday, so…. or rather, it was, yesterday, when this was slated to go originally, except Fully Ramblomatic premiered and I figured I should strike while that iron was hot. This iron, after all, is more malleable at lower temperatures.
Alex Zandra on Mastodon, @firstname.lastname@example.org, who is @zandravandra on Cohost, put together a list of her favorite Mega Man romhacks that looks pretty interesting.
The games are (in order through the series): Mega Man Speed Bomber, Rollchan No Constancy, Rollchan At The Tokyo Olympics, Mega Man 4 Voyage, Mega Man 5 Double Jumper, and Rockman 6 Spirit of Hackers. The closest I’ve come to playing any of them was Rockman No Constancy, before Roll was put into it. There are lots of hacks that are difficult even to play, so curated lists of them are very useful!
Alex Zandra’s list of Mega Man Romhacks (cohost.org)
So the dust has settled a bit, and now Nick Calendra, Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw and a number of other people from The Escapist’s video production department have left that company and started Second Wind, fully creator-owned. And Yahtzee has made his first episode of the replacement for the 16-year-old Zero Punctuation, using the name of his blog, Fully Ramblomatic. The episode covers Alan Wake II, and it’s exactly what you’d expect it to be: profane, insightful and full of obscure references, like using the head of H.P. Lovecraft as part of the “lake of mysterious occult wank” that Alan Wake has lept into.
It’s all still Ben Yahtzee, which isn’t entirely to my tastes, but other than a couple of missteps through the years he’s generally been a good egg, or so I’ve been given to understand. I’m on board with things that increases the viability of creator-controlled media at least, so I wish them well.
What pushes a game past the notability barrier, that makes it interesting enough for me to post it here? Classic arcade game remakes are always a good sign. Items for the Pico8 fantasy console are also a strong positive factor. These two elements combined well make it a must-post.
Especially when the game is Mappy. A great game from Pac-Man-era Namco, simple rules but, while surprisingly difficult, a little strategy can get you a long way in. Still, true mastery needs a lot more than that.
This Pico8 version is a good remake, although quite a bit harder. Guide Mappy of the Micro Police through each mansion, stealing back the ill-gotten gains of kitty-cat gang. Unlike many policepeople, Mappy is an entirely non-violent actor, and actually never arrests anyone; he just takes back their loot. And for their part, while the Mewkies and Goro (“Boss the Big Bit”) do knock Mappy out of they catch him, later media seems to indicate that neither side bears any real antipathy for the other. They’re just doing their jobs.
The thing that makes Mappy unique is its trampolines. While on a trampoline you cannot be hurt by the cats, but three bounces on the same one without stopping causes it to break. When you get off the trampoline it’s easy to get caught unless you use the doors as a defensive tool. Pressing the button (X in this Pico8 version) opens the closest door in front of you-you don’t even have to be near it. It swings out in the direction of its doorknob, and knocks out any cat near it on that side for a few seconds, allowing you to pass by. The light-colored doors also house the powerful Microwave, not here a cooking tool but a multicolored beam that launches out and sweeps cats it hits out of the level for a few needed seconds.
This remake of Mappy restores the Japanese name for Goro, “Nyamco,” a pun on the arcade company’s name with a cat angle: “Nyan” is Japanese onomatopoeia for “meow.” You’ll find that while supposed-boss Nyamco is as aimless as he ever was, wandering each level mostly randomly and hiding behind loot, the Mewkies are tenacious chasers, and here will quickly corner you if you don’t have a good plan. Even with its higher difficulty it’s a lovely port, and it’s free to play too!
Mappy for Pico8 (itch.io,x` $0)
More of my favorites from the first Nextfest of 2023.
Here are the contents, each section is about two minutes in length:
Wizardry used to be the most popular computer game in the world.
It has fallen on hard times recently. Creators SirTech released the terrific Wizardry 8 but then almost immediately closed up. The name is currently owned by a Japanese developer, who make games in the classic style but they’re still quite different, chasing old ghosts instead of trying to adapt the idea for new generations.
A full examination of Wizardry will have to wait for another time, but until then there’s a repackaging of the original Apple II versions available from the Total Replay folks. It’s made to run off of a ProDOS-formatted hard drive, words that themselves form a fearsome incantation, but you can still play it emulated. And should!
It includes an update of the original Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord, plus the successor scenarios Night of Diamonds and Legacy of Llylgamin, plus five fan-made scenarios. It also includes WizPlus, a character editor, but diehards won’t use that. It’s cheating!
To explain Wizardry in summary, it took the ideas of early Dungeons & Dragons and adapted them to a dungeon exploration simulation with the same kind of theoretical basis. In D&D, if a character dies and there’s no way to revive it, it’s gone: no backsies. And sometimes revivals fail, and the character is gone anyway. And the dungeon in a genuinely treacherous place. If your party wipes, to even try to revive them, you have to create a new party of adventures, take them in, find the deceased party’s corpses in the dungeon, and either use magic to revive them there or drag them back to town to have the Temple of Cant do it.
If this sounds forbidding to current sensibilities, it certainly is! But that’s the point. Because of it, it’s about as close as you can get to traditional RP-gaming as you can get on a computer, even more so that official D&D products. Roguelikes come close, but since you only play as a single character in most of them they still don’t quite fit that electronic bill.
Wizard Replay (Apple II, Internet Archive)
Sundry Sunday is our weekly feature of fun gaming culture finds and videos, from across the years and even decades.
A few weeks back we posted a fun stop-motion animation of Louie, the hunger-driven sidekick and alternate leader character from the game Pikmin 2, hosting a cooking show in which he tried to prepare a Bulbear for eating. It didn’t go well, because Bulbears in Pikmin 2 spontaneously come back to life if not harvested quickly. Oops!
Well sponsors Hocotate Freight didn’t learn their lesson, and there’s now a second episode of Cooking With Louie. Word of advice: it’s best not to use live alien lifeforms as your method of roasting the dish.
Pixelfont is a neat web tool that will take an image you provide, laid out in the proper format (which you have some control over, like character width and height) and will turn it into a pixel TrueType font for you to use! The gamedev applications of this should be obvious.
This isn’t the first free online font-building tool of this nature. The classic in the field is Fontstruct, which can also produce pixels that aren’t square, and can even extend outside of their cells, but also shows ads (although unobtrusive ones) and doesn’t let you import an image. Still, both are rather of use, or at least are fun to play with!
MiyaTRT figured it out. Karariko’s Unemployment Rate. In both Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom.
You might disagree with their methodology. Like in BotW he declares that Paya is unemployed even though she is obviously training to become village leader after Impa retires. But it’s still an entertaining video, and probably will tell you some things about Chicken Town’s NPCs that you didn’t know before, like that in BotW one of the townsfolk stamps on one of their neighbors crops at night!
Kakariko Village Has A 6.03% Unemployment Rate (Youtube, 7 minutes)
Not only is it everything in the game, including unused dialogue, but it’s not a text file on Pastebin, GameFAQs or Github, but on its own website, at dialoguetree.net! This means, when its domain expires, it’ll be gone from the web. Maybe the Internet Archive can rescue it….
If you’re not familiar with it, Thousand-Year Door is widely regarded as the best of the Paper Mario games. Not only does it update the game system of the original Paper Mario with all kinds of new ideas, but it has a fairly brilliant story given its having to work with Mario lore, and it has hilarious writing and memorable characters. Super Paper Mario, that followed it, has its charms, but a somewhat lesser story. And after SPM, it seems Nintendo decided that they weren’t fond of the branching-off of Mario lore that the Paper Mario games was doing, so games after that didn’t have as much of their own continuity.
This is the game where Mario joins a pro wrestling federation as “The Great Gonzales,” where he solves a murder mystery on a train (with a particular NPC who is slightly menacing somehow!), and has one of the best uses of Luigi from among all the Mario games: while you’re on your journey to rescue Peach, it turns out that Luigi is on his own weird adventure, in the “Waffle Kingdom,” that you only find out about from talking with him. Luigi his own crazy partners that accompany him, who have their own opinions about his adventure. Here is the page on dialoguetree.net that lists that part of the script–needless to say, it is spoilers, and if you plan on playing TYD you probably should experience it there first.
Dialogue Tree, Home of Game Scripts (although so far only Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door)