Gaming Hell: The Speed Rumbler

We’ve been meaning to do an Arcade Mermaid article on Capcom’s very difficult late-80s arcade game The Speed Rumbler, since it’s a stand-out inclusion on Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium on current console. This article is still coming, but in the meantime you can read Gaming Hell’s own take on this sadly unknown yet really cool game.

There’s a lot to like about it, but my favorite thing about The Speed Rumbler, known as Rush & Crash in Japan, is the CAR meter:

*CAR*

There is no reason that I know of to put the word CAR in a red splash, other than that the word CRASH in its arcade title screen is also within one. It somehow seems appropriate in the game though, since sometimes just rolling through things is as useful as shooting them.

If I wrote more about Speed Rumbler here I’ll just be using words I’ll have to repeat when I write about it myself, so go read Gaming Hell’s article!

Gaming Hell: The Speed Rumbler

News 1/5/2022: DidYouKnowGaming, Pocket Card Jockey, Unionization

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

Hiya hiya hiya Earth pleps, it’s your favorite alien gaming newscaster, here again with all the news that’s fit to blorp! Let’s get underway–

Ethan Gach at Kotaku notes that Nintendo had a video from DidYouKnowGaming about a failed pitch for a Zelda game that Retro Studios put together, but DYKG managed to get it reversed! Judging by the fact that like 90% of the posts on this blog seem to be about Nintendo one way or another you might think we’d be on their side in this, but nuh-uh! Nintendo abuses copyright law way too much, it’s good that this video was allowed to stand, yet it’s bad that ultimately Nintendo doesn’t suffer from these egregious actions. They can effectively throw out these legal threats with impunity, and their fans will just forgive them every time! I know that it certainly makes us feel a little bad about talking up their games so much!

So, more Nintendo stuff. At NintendoLife, Ollie Reynolds says that 2023 will be the year of 3DS GamePass. They even got an unshaven video maker on their staff to make the case for it. I mean, we’d like nothing better than to see that, but Nintendo themselves largely gave up on the 3DS and all its features years ago. It’s a nice thought though!

Pocket Card Jockey
Official image, from the Mobygames site

Also from Reynolds, good news: Pocket Card Jockey is getting a new edition! And they call it Game Freak’s secret best game! Yes, sweet vendication! And to think they gave its 3DS incarnation a “solid” 7 out of 10 at its release. But wait, there’s also bad news: it’s not coming to the Switch! It’s an exclusive release for Apple Arcade! Seems pretty boneheaded to me, but I don’t have an internal skeleton so what do I know?

While we’re on the subject of folk with heads of bone, Chris Moyse at Destructoid tells us that, in one of the most ridiculous decisions within memory, Square-Enix is doubling down on blockchain support in their games.

Mega Man Battle Network
Image from Mobygames

We love it when we can link to an article outside our usual stable, so here’s an article originally published in Japanese on Rockman Unity, translated into English and presented on Rockman Corner, an interview with the director of Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection about its upcoming release. Those games don’t get nearly the love they’re due, and it’s nice to see them given another chance to shine. Particularly, we’re told that the link cable battle play of the original games has been replaced with online matchmaking!

And to continue the upbeat tone at the end of our post this week, an article on Vice from Emanuel Maiberg about the formation of the biggest union in the US games industry!

Fabian Sanglard on Sprite Creation on the Capcom CPS-1

Street Fighter II has some really complex spritework! Its characters don’t actually use traditional sprites, but more what amounts to custom tile layers for each one. This helped unlock characters from being mostly rectangular, and allow them to have poses with radically different shapes.

Fabian Sanglard has a great article about how character art was created for that system that’s well worth your time to have a look at. Well, maybe it’s worth it? I don’t know you. For all I know you’re looking for sewing advice. This is probably the wrong site for that. No offense to all you clothes-makers out there.

ROMs were expensive, and Street Fighter II required a lot of them, so it was important to make the most out of each one. A big rectangular shape around Edmond Honda would contain a lot of empty, wasted space. Imagine how much space they would have wasted with Dhalsim’s long stretchy legs! With this system, they only had to include the graphics data that would actually contain pixels.

This was in 1991, mind you. More recent development practices would probably have the data be compressed in storage, which would take care of all those empty pixels, or at least they could make a tool to handle figuring out which tiles should contain data. What the Street Fighter II artists had to do was create physical representations of each character on a physical board, chop that up into squares, and figure out what each tile had to contain, a laborious process.

Fabian reckons this system was used for other CPS-1 games, going back to at least Forgotten Worlds. Looking at the tile layouts of CPS-2 titles, it seems a lot more evident that they used a packing tool to handle fitting their characters into the memory space. For more info, please go check out the article!

Indie Fangame Constructor Mega Man Maker Approaches V1.8

Mega Man Maker (available for PC, Mac and Linux) is a fan project to do for Mega Man what Super Mario Maker does for Mario games, and it’s very well-made! It has a huge variety of levels available on its website to play, although what seems to be an account creation bug makes it difficult to tell you about them from experience. In addition to Mega Man (a.k.a. Rock), it allows Proto Man, Beat, or fan-favorite character Roll to be included in levels, each with their own special abilities.

It has a pretty cool tutorial as well, in which Dr. Wily and Dr. Light explain how the editor works. Their pixel artist really nailed that air of playful malevolence in Dr. Wily, who seems like he’d be fun to know if it weren’t for constantly trying to take over the world. Have a look:

I feel I should mention that it doesn’t contain all of the classic Mega Man series’ enemies and bosses, nor does it allow you to string levels together into a Mega Man adventure itself. As did Super Mario Maker, and SMM2 before its world creator update, it’s focused on designing single levels, although you can make them quite large, even big enough to be a whole adventure in itself.

Version 1.8 is due to come out in a few weeks, with a whole bunch of new features, and its creators have been busy hyping it up. We look forward to trying out the new version!

Mega Man Maker

Info on Knights of the Round & Warlock’s Tower Romhack

Scattered throughout the World Wide Web (which, I remind you, is not the same thing as “the internet”) is a wealth of game information, although as old sites die out increasing this info is really hosted on the Wayback Machine. I previously presented the Bubble Bobble Info Pages, which are among my favorite game sites of all.

Image from hardcoregaming101

A relatively recent addition is this description of the great nuance in Capcom’s 1991 fantasy brawler Knights of the Round by Sebastian Mihai. It should be remembered that at that time Street Fighter II was already out and making it harder for games that weren’t one-on-one fighters to succeed. Capcom had a lot of experience with belt scrollers at that time, having made Final Fight and Dynasty Wars by then. A few years after they’d make the (IMO) even better Dungeons & Dragons brawlers Tower of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara, which I think are probably the pinnacle of the genre.

Image from site

As just one example of the thought that went into Knights of the Round, most of the pickups in the game can be struck with your character’s weapon, and this splits them up into multiple smaller treasures, that are both usually worth slightly more than the original, and if desired can be shared with other players. It’s the only brawler I know of that does this!

Last year hackaday reported on Sebastian’s project to create a improved version of the game by hacking the game’s roms. The project page for it is interesting reading for people of a technical frame of mind, going into detail of the hacking process.