News 9/1/22

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

It’s been a bit difficult getting consistent signals from Earth lately, and what has gotten through hasn’t been of too much interest to my gelatinous brain. Maybe some of this might pique your interest?

Jonathan Bolding at PC Gamer says that playing dual-screen with a Steam Deck proves the Wii-U was a good idea! I knew it! What they’re talking about is the ability of a Steam Deck to play dual-headed via HDMI out. This play style is explicitly supported in Wii-U emulator Cemu. The article also notes that Valve has stated that the Steam Deck has out-performed sales estimates, which is good! After the Steam Link and Steam Controller were put on sale for ultra-cheap, I was feeling bad about scooping them up as Valve was clearing out stock. Not too bad, though.

SMB3 Scribe’s tile selector

Here’s some news from a different source than usual. At romhacking.net, creator Michael Nix has been working on a pair of GUI rom editors for Super Mario Bros. 3! One, SMB3-Foundry, is for editing levels, and the other, SMB3-Scribe, edits overworlds. A game like SMB3 is a bewilderingly complex beast under the hood, and the strictures of platform, rom space and development time sometimes force unorthodox decisions, like hardcoding some object placements. There is an article to be written some time about the lengths NES carts had to go through to encode their data, which was usually done using a kind of domain-specific data compression.

SMB3 Foundry’s level editor

I have been avoiding linking CBR.com for a bit because of some excessively clickbait headlines, but a recent device change has reset my killfile, so they’re back. Shane Foley from there reports on series nadir Metroid Other M having one level that made it worthwhile. The “level” in question is in fact the entire postgame; up until the main boss, the whole game is heavily on rails, with full exploration only possible afterward.

At Polygon, Nicole Carpenter mentions the content warnings on new indie title I Was A Teenage Exocolonist, which has a number of traumatic events in the game, but is quite upfront about what will occur, going so far as asking the player if they’d like to be spoiled regarding which characters die, or may die. It is a heartening development.

Keith Stuart at the Guardian has a retrospective on gaming on the Commodore 64 at age 40. That old huh. Naw, that doesn’t immediately paralyze me with fear.

(Note: the Guardian is in one of those phases where they nag you with a huge yellow subscription ad. It can be easily closed, and not nearly as bad as some sites out there, but it happens. One article I checked this time-I will not link them-had autoplaying overlaid videos in the corner, which resulted in them being ejected from this post. Bad web designer, no biscuit!)

Baba Is You

Shaun Musgrave at Touch Arcade lists the best recent iPhone game updates. Mentioned are Baba Is You (yay!), Genshin Impact, and Mini Metro (yay again!).

Destructoid’s Chris Carter lists Switch games that make substantive use of the right Joycon’s IR sensor.

Blogfriend Kyle Orland at Ars Technica reports on Fabrice Breton, creator of indie game Brok the Investigator, and their efforts to track down Steam key scammers, curators who would ask devs for free Steam keys but then sell them. As usual from Kyle it’s great and informative reading!

From Alice Newcome-Beill at The Verge, a report on a new version of a Switch Pro controller from 8BitDo, who seem to make good products, although they note they have not yet received the controller for testing.

I’m sure I won’t see this image a thousand times over the next few months drebnar.
(Source: Lorcana’s official Twitter feed)

And for our weekly eyeroll exercises, it’s been reported everywhere but GamesRadar hasn’t been seen in these pages yet so let’s give the link to them: Benjamin Abbott relates that Disney is releasing a Magic: The Gathering style trading card game going by the name of (roll your eyes now!) Lorcana. I’m already brainstorming jokes to make about it as they leak its features over the coming weeks!

News 6/28/22: Chack’n Dwarf

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

Here’s all the most important gaming news for protoplasmic organisms! Fortunately our interest sphere intersects well with Earth gaming culture for some reason on which I will not speculate!

The Verge, Jay Peters: Steam now supports Nintendo classic controllers, the ones they released to support their Nintendo Switch Online service and are only sold to members of that service. This includes all of the controllers they released, including SNES and N64, which are probably the most interesting for general use.

IGN, Ryan Dinsdale: a fan is remaking The Simpsons: Hit and Run, and in the process is making hand-drawn versions of the cutscenes. That’s the one that was inspired by the 3D Grand Theft Auto series, not the one that was inspired by Crazy Taxi and is said to have been taken off the market due to a Sega patent on the gameplay (that one was Road Rage). It’s especially worth noting that according to this video, the game will never be made available for download, leading one to wonder… why are so many people posting about it, then? That’s a lot of animation work for one person’s enjoyment, I have to say.

Destructoid, Chris Moyse: Bubble Bobble predecessor Chack’n Pop is coming to the Arcade Archives series. You can get some information on it from Jeremy Parish’s NES Works video on the NES port. BTW, I’d like to just shout out to Jeremy for being one of the most watchable, least strident and obnoxious, YouTube content producers out there. Anyway, Chak’n Pop. It’s a much less interesting game than B[u,o]bble, and only supports one player in any format, but you might find it interesting? But, is it $8 worth of interesting? (Eight whole dollars? Really?)

Image from Polygon article, ultimately from Bay 12 Games

At Polygon, Charlie Hall expresses appreciation for the greatness of Dwarf Fortress‘ upcoming pixel art in its eagerly-anticipated Steam version, by artist Neoriceisgood. It seems like nearly everyone involved with gaming has a non-zero quantity of evil in their soul in some place, but Tarn and Zack Adams are as pure as you can find. I hope this works out for them. It’s so difficult to make it as an indie developer, especially one with such a niche following like DF. We wish them all the best.

And Liam Doolan at NintendoLife notes that video board game developer Asmodee Digital is, due to the closure of an important networking back end service (because of Amazon), ending online multiplayer for its Catan implementation. They’re also taking Pandemic off of the Switch eShop on July 31 (just three days from now!), although they seem to be hinting that it’ll be back in an improved and retooled version eventually. People who have already bought it will still be able to download it, but it won’t be sold to new users.

News 6/26/22: Path of the N64 Controller Minecart

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

Graham Smith of Rock Paper Shotgun lets us know that the team who made AM2R, which infamously Nintendo sent a cease-and-desist, are working on a new game that’s a Metroidvania, but has nothing to do with Metroid, called Bō: Path of the Teal Lotus. It’s awful that Nintendo did that, and it’s great that they didn’t let the experience sour them!

Over at wccftech, Aernout van de Velde writes of an N64 emulator plug-in that supports many advanced graphics features, such as ray tracing and 60 fps output! Ocarina of Time ran natively at just 20 fps, seeing it at 60 is like opening your eyes opened for the first time. Here’s the announcement tweet, with embedded demonstration video:

At Ars Technica, Sam Machkovech reviews Sonic Origins, and notes a discomfiting thing about it: it costs $40 for many fewer games than a standard Genesis rom collection, yet on top of that also locks features and music behind DLC charges. Boo!

Matt Purslow of IGN tells us that Microsoft is confirming shortages of Xbox controllers. I’m sure some people are already trying to figure out ways to blame this on Joe Biden.

Ollie Reynolds writing on Nintendo Life relates an interesting discovery about Super Mario RPG back on the SNES: during its minecart section, if you don’t touch the controls at all, the game will play itself, and complete it for you. They found the news from the Twitter feed of splendid Mario arcana site Supper Mario Broth!