A Video on Nintendo Manga

I’m working on something big for you all, but it’ll take some time to get ready. So to free up time for working on that, here’s something I’ve been saving, a Youtube video exploring manga based on Nintendo characters, from the account of S Class Anime. Enjoy!

Exploring the World of Nintendo Manga (Youtube, 20 minutes)

Dall-E Sucks At Drawing Most Classic Video Game Characters

I had originally scheduled a post on this for a couple of weeks ago, but WordPress gained what I will euphemistically call a personality at that time, and the post developed a “critical error” whenever I tried to edit or view it. I kept pushing it back in the hopes of being able to figure out what was the trouble, but the trouble refused to be be figured out. So eventually I just remade the post.

Whether it’s intentional or not, if you ask Dall-E to depict a number of classic video game characters or elements, it’ll show itself to be surprisingly clueless. Here’s what I got from it:

Galakong

Another LUA-based game hack from 10yard! This one’s a mashup of two perennial arcade favorites, Galaga and Donkey Kong. Each level has a chevron powerup somewhere in it. When Jumpman picks it up, he’s joined by the spaceship from Galaga. The jump button is also the fire button! Further, the ship’s shots are piercing, and can destroy more than one enemy with a single blast.

You’d think it’d make the game much easier, but the difficulty of the game has been subtly increased to make up for it, plus controlling the ship as well as ol’ Jumpy is a distraction, so it’s still pretty challenging.

In addition to Donkey Kong, the hack’s github page notes that it works in Donkey Kong Jr. as well!

Galakong (github)

Vector Kong

Please pardon the stuttering, evidently capturing the game at high resolution was a bit much for OBS to bear.

Vector Kong is not a romhack of Donkey Kong. Instead, it’s a LUA script, run through MAME’s plugin support, that makes the graphics display as if they were on a vector monitor.

It doesn’t leave the game unaltered otherwise: the only boards playable are Girders, and it also skips over the scene at the opening. Still though, it definitely looks sharp! Here’s hoping creator 10yard applies this treatment to the rest of it someday!

Vector Kong (github)

News 1/24/22: Pokemon Collecting, Universal Mario World, Commodore 64 of Theseus

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

Let’s make it quick this week-

Oli Welsh at Polygon tells us what we already knew, that No Zelda Game is Closer to Breath of the Wild Than The 1986 Original. We can’t recommend it whole-heartedly though because it gets in some digs on the older game, saying it’s nowhere near as much fun as Link to the Past, a statement I disagree with.

Hope Bellingham at GamesRadar tells us that U.S. Customs wrecked a sealed-in-box copy of Pokemon Yellow valued at over $10,000. I rather disagree with that valuation too. I thought all the misguided young people were losing their money in crypto these days? (Note: GamesRadar is one of those sites that waits until you start reading an article then puts up a blocking box begging you to subscribe. Hint to GamesRadar: NO, and if I were interested in subscribing my generous impulse would have been destroyed by your prompt!)

Image from The Guardian, probably ultimately from a promotional photograph

At the Guardian, the very British-named Oliver Wainwright reviews Super Mario World, not the game but the theme park in California, a part of Universal Studios Hollywood. The verdict: 8/10, good graphics, some replay value. I’ve been in a melancholy frame of mind as of late, so seeing those brightly-painted dioramas makes me wonder what they’ll look like in twenty years, when Universal Studios’ attentions have drifted to another big thing. Nothing ages quite as badly as a happy prop painted in primary colors.

I said I was going to make this quick, let’s keep moving. Maya Posch at hackaday talks about a project to build a Commodore 64 using new parts.

Ollie Reynolds found some Donkey Kong design documents on Twitter, from the days when it was planned to be a Popeye game. He found them retweeted by blogfriend Mike Mika of Digital Eclipse, who in turn found them looking through Mario history site Forest of Illusion.

News 12/1/22: DABLOONS

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

Quite a bit to get through today! Pull up a florb and moop for a bit!

Luke Plunkett at Kotaku informs us of Nintendo pulling support from the third-party tournament Smash World Tour, leaving them in a gigantic financial hole. This will severely harm tournaments’ willingness to trust Nintendo in the future, and the esports scene around future Nintendo products. Nintendo’s response at the end is especially frustrating, claiming they did not request any events be cancelled while still denying SWT a license, forcing them to cancel anyway.

Benj Edwards at Ars Technica: an AI from Nvidia can play Minecraft now, performing tasks based on text prompts. Congrats, you’ve invented a 10-year-old!

Image from Wario 64’s Twitter feed

After our initial post, I’ve purposely been trying not to talk up the Super Mario Bros. movie, but I do think this post from Ryan Leson at IGN is of interest, about Shigeru Miyamoto noting that Donkey Kong’s been a bit redesigned for the movie, still recognizably the Rare-made version of the character, but with some adjustments to more resemble the original version.

Here’s Rich Stanton at PC Gamer on the effort to preserve a Ridge Racer Full Scale, a version of the arcade game that featured an actual car chassis the player would sit it, had triple ultra-wide display, and cost operators $250,000. Very few were sold, and it’s possible only one survives, which was in Blackpool. After an arcade museum sought to purchase it, but refused when they learned of damage to the frame, it was thought lost, but although the physical structure of the unit has not been salvageable, the car portion and the hardware have been saved, and its code dumped. More can be read at Arcade Blogger.

Yep! I’m old.

Richael Watts at Rock Paper Shotgun has a piece up on Dabloontok, an RPG-ish thing a bunch of people are doing on TikTok, involving cat videos trading an imaginary currency called “dabloons.” This isn’t imaginary in the sense of crptocurrency, or indeed all money when you think about it; this is really imaginary. How many you have is completely on the honor system. Participants use it to “trade” with these cats, and they can also be “stolen” by them. The whole thing seems pretty silly overall, but it’s entertaining to learn about!

And at Engadget, I. Bonifacic remarks upon Pong turning 50 years old. Yeah, that number isn’t getting any smaller. It’s a useful retrospective, although I take issue with them saying that without Pong Nintendo would not exist. Nintendo is over a century old, originally making playing cards. What is more likely is they wouldn’t exist as we know them today-they may not have gotten into video games at all. (By the way, they make traditional Japanese game playing equipment too, like go boards!)

Sundry Sunday: The first episode of Saturday Supercade

This is a real rarity. Saturday Supercade has, to my knowledge, never been officially released on any media format. All of the tapes of this show date back to their original broadcasts in 1983-5. I’m sorry for the poor quality, but this is from a tape almost certainly recorded off of live television nearly 40 years ago.

The year 1983 was such a weird time in media history. Take for instance the movie Joysticks. A cheaply-made culture cash-in, essentially the Supervan of its decade, it was a teen sex comedy themed around arcades, and it could only have been released in 1983. In 1982 games were big, but it takes time for a movie to be made. In 1984, US arcades and consoles had crashed calamitously, and any projects in production would have been cancelled. Saturday Supercade also dates from 1983.

Saturday Supercade was a Saturday morning cartoon show that hosted a variety of different game characters and universes. By no means a classic of animation, there’s still a lot of interesting things about it. Donkey Kong gives Mario and Pauline their modern names (decided on around the time of Donkey Kong Jr’s arcade release), and Donkey Kong is voiced by legendary early TV children’s entertainer Soupy Sales.

Frogger is depicted by the show as a reporter for a swamp’s newspaper. Q*Bert is a student in a 50s-styled high school, and other characters (including a girl Q*Bert, “Q*Tee,” not seen in the game) are imagined as his friends and rivals. Donkey Kong Jr has the young ape searching for his father, while assisted by a greaser. Pitfall’s cartoon is not only the sole home-original game to be featured on the show, but also lent two of its characters, Pitfall Harry’s niece Rhonda and mountain lion pet Quickclaw, to cameo roles in the game’s sequel Pitfall II: Lost Caverns. Kangaroo and Space Ace were introduced in the show’s second season. Yes, somehow, it got a second season.

The Wikipedia page of the show notes that episodes of Space Ace were once shown late at night on Cartoon Network, and once in a while can be spotted between shows on Boomerang, while “The Best of Q*Bert” is available as a print-on-demand DVD from Amazon. Other than that, many episodes are lost outside of master reels held by whatever company owns Ruby-Spears’ output these days, which I expect is Warner Media. There’s tons of Saturday Morning shows that are lost; this one only survives to us in any form because classic video games have oddly persisted in this weird cultural cul-de-sac, the same one that made Wreck-It-Ralph an improbably hit for Disney.

So please, enjoy, or else, experience whatever substitute for enjoyment you can bring yourself to feel while watching an old old kids cartoon from the classic arcade era. Queasiness? Unease? Existential dread?

Arcade Heroes Reviews Mario’s Arcade History

Image borrowed from Arcade Heroes-so that I can promote the post it came from!

It’s a great article! It starts out covering the classic-era games everyone remembers, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr. and Mario Bros., and then slowly gets less and less well-known. It even mentions the two Gottlieb pinball games!

News 9/13/22: Velma, Host Mode, Monocraft, VMUs

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

From Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai at The Verge. More news on Billy Mitchell, retro game record holder and villain of King of Kong. Now, in addition to having his Donkey Kong record stripped from him then reinstated, he has been accused by forensics experts of having used MAME to achieve two of his Donkey Kong scores that were represented as coming from arcade hardware. It has to do with differences between how MAME and the arcade machine build their game playfields for display when a level begins. It’s interesting reading! Mitchell has sued Twin Galaxies over defamation over how he achieved his records, which this evidence could play a role in.

At NicheGamer, Fingal Belmont presents a list of 24 3DS games to get before its eShop closes. There are ways to get new software on a 3DS after the store closes, but they aren’t legal means, and won’t get any income to the games’ creators, and we all want that!

Ryan Gilliam writing for Polygon tells us that Velma in the WB Smashlike Multiversus no longer “calls the cops” on opponents, instead bringing in her friends’ van the Mystery Machine to carry them off. To explain: Velma has a special game mechanism where her opponents sometimes drop clues when they perform attacks. If Velma can collect enough of them, it summons a vehicle (formerly the police, now the van) to cart that opponent away.

The font Monocraft

It’s at Kotaku that Ashley Bardham reports that Twitch is ending their “Host Mode” feature. Through this feature, a channel that isn’t stream itself can choose to host another stream, a loved feature that enables one channel to “raid” another, granting them all its viewers. Twitch says the feature is going away on October 3.

Blogfriend Benj Edwards writing at Ars Technica informs us of a new coding font by Idrees Hassan based off of the typeface used in Minecraft. It’s an OpenType font called Monocraft, so it should work in Windows, macOS and Linux, and it’s available here.

Andy Chalk writing through PC Gamer explains that Crystal Dynamics has managed to reclaim ownership of the Tomb Raider and Legacy of Kain franchises after Square Enix let them go, and Eidos Montreal owns the Deus Ex and Thief series.

Image from Wikipedia, credited to Evan Amos

And at VG247, Alex Donaldson tells us of an Indiegogo project to make an updated version of the Dreamcast’s iconic VMU memory cards. The updated devices will be compatible with the Dreamcast and the original cards, which had an LCD screen that could run simple games, and could even be connected to each other to trade information, but will have more powerful hardware and better screen resolution. The project is here.

Arcade Donkey Kong Romhacks

The website Donkey Kong Hacks has a number of interesting modifications of the original Donkey Kong arcade game. Some of these are intended for use in training, such as Free Run Edition (which removes all the enemies and deadly obstacles) and Skipstart (begins play at maximum difficulty). There are versions that only contain randomly-selected versions of the Girders (a.k.a. Barrels) screen, versions that change the maps, and more. Some, like Donkey Kong Wizardry, change the graphics and change the cutscenes too! The Readme for the Crazy Barrels version explains how to play these hacks in emulators.

There are other fan-made hacks floating around, some available as installable kits from the site DK Remix. Deranged Edition keeps getting harder after difficulty level 5, and Remix and Christmas Remix change the game up a lot, adding alternate maps, bonus stages, and some Rivets stages that fall apart as you remove rivets.