A while ago Displaced Gamers, as part of their great Behind The Code series, did a video about how awful NES Strider’s sprite updating was. Arcade Strider was huge hit and outright masterpiece, a great arcade platformer released right before fighting games took over game rooms around the world, but NES Strider was a wretched thing, full of big ideas but with code woefully unable to live up to them. Imagine a puppy trying to do your taxes. It might put up an adorable effort, but it’s just not going to get the job done.
We linked to their last video examining its malformed construction. Well, Strider is the well of crap that keeps on gushing, and so Displaced Gamers has another video on the subject of the flaws in its programming, this time about its player physics. Walking into walls causes Strider Hiryu to shudder in place; jumping beneath a low ceiling causes him to bump his head repeatedly as his jump continues even though there’s no room to ascent; and his infamous “triangle” wall jump is so wonky that it literally requires a frame-perfect input to pull off, and not even the right frame. You have to jump the frame before you contact the wall!
Here is the new video, which explicates the entire cruddy system. It goes into exquisite/excruciating detail, including tracing the code and examining Hiryu’s X and Y coordinates on a frame-by-frame basis. It’s the kind of deep geekery that I just know you love/hate! Enjoy/despair!
The title refers to the original NES TMNT, not the arcade version or the NES game based on it. This is the version that Konami released under their Ultra label. It sold well (real well!) but is widely considered an inferior game for a number of reasons. Those reasons are the subject of these three videos, from Youtube channel Displaced Gamers. I recommend them, even if I think every place they say gamer it would be more proper to say player.
The first video:
In a long and difficult game, one of the hardest sections comes relatively early. The only swimming section in the entire game, players must maneuver their supposedly-aquatic surrogates through a difficult course that has imprecise movement, water currents, high damage, instant kill hazards, a strict time limit, and, as the video shows, buggy implementation. Many players in the NES era gave up at this point, which is rather a shame considering it’s only at the end of level two. This video examines the code and demonstrates why it’s so challenging, and how it could be made fairer.
The second video:
TMNT has notoriously floaty jumps, a low frame rate, and a fairly weird implementation of gravity. Any platform game that allows players to adjust their jump height according to how long the hold down the jump button is fudging its physics behind the scenes, but TMNT does it rather poorly.
The third video:
Displaced Gamers examines additional problems with the game’s timing, particular with that of its input reading and attack animation. Like the other two videos, they suggest code changes (sometimes in the form of Game Genie codes) that fix the problem, if you happen to have a fondness for 6502 assembly. (I do!)
If you’d like to try NES Teenage Mutant Turtles, it’s included in the “Cowabunga Collection” that was released for Switch, Xbox X/S and Playstations 4 and 5. Fortunately, it also includes twelve much more playable titles.
Jon Bois has been an internet favorite ever since Breaking Madden, his series where he strained mightily to upturn all of the assumptions that the Madden football games make to present reasonable game experiences, and in so doing revealed those games are made out of cardboard and paste.
Modern EA has long been on the outs with me, but discovering that this company that has locked up the exclusive rights to make official games for multiple sports, for decades now, makes terribly buggy, broken product, has caused me to see them as a force for evil in the world. If you want to play with NFL teams, it’s either the Football Fetus (see above), or nothing. I know, capitalism sucks, but this is a particularly egregious example. But that’s beside the point.
(The only reason I’m not linking to an explanation for what the above thing is, is I’m saving it to post later. Keeping up a daily gaming blog is a marathon, not a sprint, and there is no reason to wind myself.)
Jon Bois and sitemate Kofie Yeboah now hold their game breaking adventures over at Youtube channel Secret Base, which also has a homepage. They mostly work in the medium of video now, which I can kind of understand? Youtube ads probably pay more than web page banners. I still miss their text output though. But that’s also beside the point.
What is the point? They have a new video where they tried to adjust the stats on an AI team in NHL 2022 with the sole purpose to get them to the end-game shootout, which apparently happens in the NHL in the primary season if overtime ends with a tie score, as often as possible. In the process they incidentally cause and win an epic number of fights and eventually take the Stanley Cup. And in the process, in typical EA Sports fashion, game bugs cause players to slowly skate with the full speed animation and sometimes put a spurious extra player on the ice in overtime for no discernible reason. Here it is:
Watching these videos and reading their old articles almost make me want to forget about my long-standing disdain for both EA Sports and pro sports games in general and get one just run crazy experiments like this. But only almost.