Sundry Sunday: The Incredible Shrinking Hedgehog

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

Mashed has a fun animation up on Youtube starring Sonic, his pals, and his enemies, where they’ve been, um, ensmallerd to itty bitty size. It’s a standard Saturday Morning kind of plot, but the voices are good, the writing is funny, and the animation, by Painter Seap, is sharp. It’s 5 1/2 minutes long, and it’s embedded below. Just so you’re properly warned, it ends on a cliffhanger, but it’s a fairly minor one.

Sundry Sunday: Lego Breakfast with Super Mario

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

tomoseen is a gifted stop-motion animator from Japan, who’s made over 40 videos on Youtube. They make animations with tiny figurines of cats and ducks, food, dice and Lego pieces. All of them are a ray of sunlight, but very few of them are relevant to our subject. In fact, really only one is: a Lego video of breakfast made from Mario enemies. It’s five minutes long, and amazing:

Wait, there is one other tomosteen video that’s slightly game-related: Steak Dinner with Dice has a special guest appearance by Tetris, but it’s not really enough to merit its own post here. Consider it a bonus:

Completing Arcade Dragon’s Lair

Dragon’s Lair was the original laserdisc arcade game, and a big hit at the time. It immediately caused a large part of the ailing arcade sector to swing around to doing laserdisc games, a trend that will seem very familiar to people who have been following NFTs, overwhelming the market and ultimately further contributing to the downfall of the golden era of U.S. arcades instead of saving it. Dragon’s Lair, and its sequel Dragon’s Lair II: Time Warp and spinoff Space Ace, were by many accounts among the best of the era, with excellent cel-drawn animation provided by the studio of former Disney animator Don Bluth.

Now that I have properly introduced the concept to those who might not have known, I can now introduce this video (14 minutes), put together by the Youtube channel Broken Arcade, which demonstrates how to complete Dragon’s Lair. It’s not a perfect playthrough, but it is done on one credit, and while it plays the player explains what movements he’s doing on the joystick and button, along with notes on timing and tips for getting each scene right. The directions and button presses needed to finish each scene (which are presented randomly in the game) are also listed in the description to the video.

Even if you’ve never heard of Dragon’s Lair before, it’s worth it to watch the lush animation! Here it is embedded:

Demoscene: La Linea

The demoscene is a rich source of awesome, and at times ridiculous, imagery and sounds. Once in a while we sift through it to find things to entertain you with.

Demos aren’t necessarily out to wow you by pushing a computer’s hardware to its absolute limits. Sometimes one will just present something that was obviously (to people who understand the platform) challenging to do, but is fun for its own sake.

La Linea is a series of short films made for television created by Italian animator Osvaldo Cavandoli. They may be familiar to 80s kids who watched a show called The Great Space Coaster, as they were in regular rotation as segments on that show. They feature an expressive and excitable character, known as “Mr. Linea,” who speaks gibberish and has a variety of adventures, despite the fact that he and his world are represented (with some cheating) as contortions of a single horizontal line. The character often speaks to the off-screen animator, asking for various items, devices and, occasionally, other characters to interact with. Every cartoon ends with the main character falling off or through the line in some way. Some of them are collected on Youtube. Here is an example (2 1/2 minutes):

In 2002, the demogroup Breeze made a tribute to Cavandoli’s work in the form of a full-length La Linea cartoon running on a Commodore 64. It doesn’t have the distinctive music or the gibberish, and there’s no photorealistic hand that reaches in to draw parts of the scene, but the style is otherwise faithful to the original. It is a remake of La Linea #10. Please, enjoy (3 1/2 minutes)!

Sundry Sunday: Stop-Motion Promo for Metal Slug Awakening

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

I’ve always been a little ambivalent about Metal Slug. Not about its gameplay, which is excellent, but about its theme. It’s been said that it is impossible to depict warfare without glorifying it in some way. I think there is some truth to that, and there is no question that the Metal Slug games depict the hell out of it.

I think the Metal Slug makers recognize a bit of that, because of how humanely the enemy soldiers are depicted. They’re all trying to kill you, but they’re far from snarling villains. When not actively trying to bring about the end of Marco and Tarma (and Fio and Eri)’s lives, they’re chatting with each other, having a meal, sunning themselves on the deck of a ship, using the toilet or just hanging out. When they spot the invading players, they often react in terror. Sometimes you don’t want to shoot them, even when they’re climbing on your Slug and trying to throw a grenade in the hatch. Even their leader, General Morden, is not the typical villain. His backstory says that dissatisfaction with corruption in the Regular Army’s ranks, along with the loss of his wife and daughter due to an act of terrorism, was what caused him to launch his rebellion, and his solders admire his leadership.

It’s almost enough to make one want to overlook the questionable aspects of his army’s symbology, for which I can only thank my lucky frog the usual suspects haven’t latched onto. Morden is rehabilitated a bit in the endings of Metal Slugs 2 and 3, where he’s betrayed by the Martians he joined forces with, and helps the player’s commandos defeat, but its true that he’s always the antagonist at the start of each later game. Metal Slug, for all its sci-fi, zombie, magic and other trappings, is still a game about depicting conventional warfare, no matter how one-sided and improbable it may be.

Ah, as is often my habit, I used the subject of the post to write a short essay on some aspect of gaming. I hope you don’t mind. Here is the video, a stop-motion recreation of a typical Metal Slug scene, made by official entities to promote a mobile game. It seems appropriate to the subject.

Metal Slug: Awakening | Full Stop Motion Video (Youtube, 1 1/2 minutes)

Sundry Sunday: Stop-Motion Kirby Dance

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

The Youtube channel Animist did a stop-motion recreation of the famous Kirby victory dance a couple of years ago. (Well, one version of it, there’s many.) Most of the 9 1/2-minute video depicts the making of, including showing off the toys that were used, so if you just want to get to the finished version use this link. Here it is in full:

Making Kirby’s Victory Dance in Stop Motion (Youtube, 9 1/2 minutes)

Sundry Sunday: Shinra’s New Boss

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

Newgrounds videos aren’t as easy to embed as with Youtube, but once in a while I find one that’s worthy enough to try. Plus, it’s a Final Fantasy VII animation, and that’s a type of fandom that we cover here extremely rarely. Rarely enough that… I’m not sure we’ve ever exhibited Final Fantasy fanwork here, other than the occasional romahck. Huh.

Well, here is a short Flash animation, rendered into video of course because of our cold and heartless age, from Newgrounds, of a bit of audio from Team FourStar’s Final Fantasy VII Machinabridged Episode 10.

<iframe width="800" height="450" src="https://www.newgrounds.com/content/embed.php?id=LFfBM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Shinra’s New Boss (Newgrounds, 47 seconds)

Sunday Sunday: Shiftylook’s Mappy Cartoon

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

Shiftylook was a great site with comics and animation based on Namco characters, with official permission. It’s been gone for several years now, but it was nice while we had it.

Some of its cartoons have managed to survive, transferred to other sites, and the entire run of their Mappy cartoon, 13 episodes at nearly two hours in total, is on Youtube, uploaded by Nicky. We’re highly cognizant here of the demands of maintaining a daily blog, and I probably should be spreading these out one a week, but eh, I’m sure we won’t run out of material any time soon…. Of everything Shiftylook put out, Mappy has an unusually high number of people fondly remembering it. I haven’t seen much of it, so there’s always a chance there’s something unfortunate in there. If there is, I’m sorry, but I doubt it could be that bad.

Mappy the Complete Series (Episodes 1-13) (1 hour, 55 minutes)

Pac-Store Animations with “Pac-Marie”

If it’s generally entertaining, I try to save game-related animations and cartoons for Sundays, but this is probably interesting more for how it illustrates how the Pac-Man propery is changing. Yes, it’s another excuse to rant a bit about how Pac-Man’s lore is changing under Namco’s direction, like in the Baby Pac-Man post!

I recognize that Bally/Midway’s taking the lead on Pac-Man promotion and lore amounted to a bit of cultural chauvinism. In the early 80s, U.S. licensors of Japanese arcade games would outright put their own copyright notices on games. When I was a kid and Pac-Man fever was running at 104 degrees (Fahrenheit), I knew that Bally/Midway was a thing that existed, but nothing at all about Namco. They filled that widespread ignorance of the game’s origins with their own lore, starting with Ms. Pac-Man, and it’s surprising that now, long after their deal was dissolved and Midway games division consumer games division shut down, that their lore survived for so long.

Tengen’s first release of Pac-Man for NES, with Hanna-Barbera cartoon character designs. Image scavenged from an Ebay listing.

A lot of that has to do with the enduring popularity of Ms. Pac-Man. Other Bally contributions like Jr. Pac-Man haven’t proven nearly so enduring. Another part of the U.S. Pac-Man lore, that has ended up exerting a strong, almost unhealthy, influence over their property has been the Hanna-Barbera cartoon show, yes the one almost no one remembers except for its weird Christmas special, from 1982. That thing got two seasons, alongside likewise forgotten (and less durable) properties Richie Rich and The Little Rascals. H-B’s version of the characters continues to pop up randomly in different places, like the cover art for the original version of Tengen’s release of Pac-Man for NES.

The Hanna-Barbera cartoon was a strong influence over the art design and music of Pac-Land, which means among other things that that weird cartoon is now echoed in Smash Bros. Ultimate. Shh! No one tell Warner Bros!

Okay, time to spiral on down to the point of this post. A “pop-up store,” it seems, is a “retail concept” that involves setting up a small store for a limited period of time, often with a strong theme or a focus on a single brand. Kind of like a micro-sized version of Spirit Halloween.

Namco experimented with a Pac-Man-themed pop-up store in Japan in 2016. They called it “Pac-Store,” and they came up with its own idiosyncratic take on the Pac-Man lore for it, and made a series of short web cartoons to promote it. They’re still on Youtube, but they’re collected into one video by The Pac-Man Archive. That’s what is embedded below. Even though it’s mostly in Japanese you should watch a few minutes of it, if just to see how Namco has retconned the history of the hungry yellow sphere.

Like gag me with a spoon, it’s Pac-Marie! I love the Pac-gloves on this style of character.
From Ghostly Adventures: Pac-Man and friends who I don’t even care enough about to learn their names. UGH. That’s a lot of detail spent on the idea of Pac-shoes. Image from Gamespot.

Pac-Man has two assistants, but they’re not Ms. Pac-Man or Baby or Jr. They don’t even have “Pac-Mom,” Namco’s more-recent recreation of Ms. Pac that isn’t burdened by AtGames’ licensing with Ms. Pac-Man creator GCC. Instead, Pac is backed by “Pac-Marie” and “Pac-Little.” Keep in mind that the horrible “Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures” TV show was released around 2013, and its characters got unfortunately crammed into at least one iteration of Pac-Man Museum (the one I have on Steam). It’s interesting that they didn’t use those for Pac-Store. Maybe Namco was already coming to realize that Ghostly Adventures was destined for purgatory.

I actually don’t hate Pac-Marie, she’s got a fun design, and it’s not like Pac-People have much to distinguish them anyway. She’s still a hell of a lot more appealing than anything from Ghostly Adventures.

Pac-Store – All Animated Shorts (Youtube 8 1/2 minutes)

Don’t make her angry. You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry.

Little Runmo: The Game

Last year for Sundry Sunday we linked to Gooseworx’s video game-inspired cartoon Little Runmo. In summary: a platforming character discovers that the peril-filled world he’s tasked with traversing is part of a system designed to support the life of a grotesque ruler. They turn it off, but other circumstances happen, and in the end things don’t go too well. Here’s the video, again (16 minutes).

A little green person off on a dangerous journey.

Little Runmo was made four years ago and has amassed 30 million views. Much more recently, a month ago Gooseworx made a pilot for a show to be called The Amazing Digital Circus, which in that short time has gotten an incredible 147 million views. Presumably it’ll get a series, but who really can tell these days? We have one major media company that thinks it’s worthwhile to make complete expensive productions then purposely kill them before release for a tax writeoff, but these are not the pages to discuss that.

Pointy things: the bane of all runny jumpy people

Over on itch.io JuhoSprite has made a platformer game inspired by Little Runmo, constructed in Godot and (it seems) with Gooseworx’s permission. Here is the trailer (2 1/2 minutes):

You might think it’d be a simple recreation, in game form, of the original, but it’s got its own things going on! Its platforming is pretty sharp. In addition to basic running and jumping, pressing an action button in the air gives Runmo a forward dive that gives a slight bit of extra height and some forward distance. On the ground while ducking, this move turns into a forward dash that can get through low ceiling passages.

Even with all the thematic deconstruction happening in Little Runmo, we never find out why Runmo has to traverse dangerous worlds. Presumably the evil king their deaths supports has set up some social pressure to convince his people to traverse spiky obstacle courses. Maybe the local rulers are in cahoots with him. BTW, it’s fun to say “cahoots.” Cahoots!

The game is divided into levels, but they aren’t clearly announced, and to a limited extent you can explore the areas as you wish, in a different order than as presented in the cartoon. The game world isn’t exactly as the cartoon presents it either, with the areas much larger, and containing a decent number of secrets to find! It’s usually worth it to poke around out of the way places if you can figure out how to get to them.

There’s a section with Mario-style timed alternating blocks, although here, if you’re inside a block when it appears, you just die.

The game starts out fairly chill, but gets pretty difficult. It doesn’t seem like an unfair level of difficulty, although it may take you a few plays to build up the skills to conquer it. Here is some advice to playing it:

  • If you haven’t seen the cartoon, you should know that the above ground area is only a small part of the game. The wide pit, the first one with the alternative spike wall over it, is the entrance to the rest of the game. Pikit’s message hints that that’s the way to go (press up to listen to it).
  • Unlike as seen in the original cartoon, you have to use the midair dive move to get past the pit, it’s too wide to cross with wall jumps alone.
  • Get used to hugging walls on the way down, to slow your descent. This can be used to scout out pits for secrets, to see if the scrolling continues.
  • If you press towards most walls but keep jumping, you can climb them easily. Get used to doing this all the time.
  • If a ceiling has a one block overhang, you can get around it with a jump off the wall and a dive back towards it.
  • Watch the cartoon, and think about ways to explore regions that the animated Runmo doesn’t go to.
  • There is at least one place where there are extra lives hidden off the top of the screen.
  • While running out of lives doesn’t erase your metaprogress, it just sends you back to level 1, the game does not save its state when you exit it. If you quit out and reload, you’ll be at the very beginning.
The Meatball Man is one of the funniest parts of the cartoon. It is possible to complete his room, but it’s optional in any case.

If you don’t care to see the game yourself, this 100% completion speedrun shows off the locations, although of course it doesn’t waste time talking to Pikit or exploring unnecessary places. There don’t seem to be any unnarrated longplays around yet, so, best to sharpen those skills if you want to experience it all.

Little Runmo: The Game (itch.io, $0, Windows & Linux)

Here is a secret room. What is this place? A possible reference to The Amazing Digital Circus?

Sundry Sunday: Cooking With Louie #2

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.