Preserving Monkey Ball Flash Games

Adobe (formerly Shockwave) Flash had a good long reign on the web as the premier means of presenting snappy interactive content without requiring repeated trips to the server. For ages, Javascript wouldn’t cut it for many purposes. Being tied to a full authoring environment helped it gain in popularity. Whole careers were built off of creating Flash content for the web.

Flash was easy enough to work in that many companies would produce Flash applets, even games, merely as promotional content, intended to be cheap and quick to make and ultimately disposable. Many of these games were lost when the websites they were a part of were taken down.

The Flashpoint Archive project, headed (I think) by BlueMaxima, has as its mission the preservation of these ephemeral creations. A post on Flashpoint will be coming eventually, but in the meantime I’d like to point out a 2021 Youtube video by (adjusts glasses) “Goober13md,” although I suspect that he may not actually be a medical doctor.

Goober13md’s beat is all things Monkey Ball. He made a video about the search for, and ultimate rediscovery, of three Flash games commissioned by Sega to promote the first Super Monkey Ball titles, as well as one for Super Monkey Ball Adventure (which Goober13md is understandably reluctant to mention by name). It’s an informative story about the difficulty of content preservation in a time, which is still ongoing might I add, where companies don’t see their web presences as anything more than transitory. Look look, see see!

The Super Monkey Ball Flash Games That Were Lost For Over a Decade (Youtube, 29 minutes)

The works of GAMEDESIGN & SKIPMORE

The Japanese person (or people) behind the website www.gamedesign.jp are mysterious to me. I know nothing about them, except that they’ve been making games, first in Flash, then more recently using the Ruffle runtime, since at least 2001.

DICEWARS

While the title under which they put up their efforts may not be memorable, if you’ve been playing web games for a while you probably know some of their work. Possibly their best-known game is DICEWARS, which is like a version of Risk that plays much much faster, most games over in minutes, instead, as with the people I know who have played it, of days.

In DICEWARS (several of GAMEDESIGN’s games are stylized with allcaps), you have nation whose territories are represented as colored areas, each containing a stack of from one to eight six-sided dice. Each nation gets a turn to act, during which they can use a stack of dice to attack the dice of a neighboring country. Fights are resolved by rolling all of the dice in the two stacks. If the attacker wins, they move all of their stack save one into their conquest and take over (the enemy dice are lost), with that single die remaining in the stack’s previous home to keep the lights on.

If the defender rolls higher, or there’s a tie, the attacker loses all of their dice in the stack except one and the defender loses nothing. A stack of one can’t attack, and is generally pretty easy to slaughter by other nations; a good element of strategy is figuring out how to keep high-dice stacks near the front, between enemies and your single-die lands, since you can’t manually move dice around between your territories. When a nation is done acting for a turn, they receive extra bonus dice relative, I think, to the largest contiguous group of regions they control. They are placed randomly among all their possessions.

Fairune (Flash version)

Various versions of DICEWARS can be found on mobile app stores, although I don’t think any of them are officially blessed, and they tend to disappear after awhile.

It turns out they have a lot of other games that you may know of. One of particular note is Fairune, which is a capsule, very much simplified JRPG. Fairune and sequels made it to the 3DS and Switch eShops, where they are very inexpensive and enjoyable. Fairune is copyrighted by SKIPMORE, which may be a different entity. It’s still a nice game, worth looking into.

EDIT: SKIPMORE has their own website, which now mostly presents their downloadable console and mobile games.

The works of GAMEDESIGN (www.gamedesign.jp)

Sundry Sunday: Chaotix Neighbors

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

I’ll admit it, there’s this cable that goes into my brain directly from Youtube, and I use it to cut the number of game-related things I have to post daily on this site by a full seventh. I know you all suspected it, I’m just confirmin’ it. I’m like a vermin, for confirmin’. I’m a squirmin’ vermin for confirmin’! In German! No, no let’s not write Shecks my language skills cannot kassieren.

Record scratch you know who does fun cartoons sometimes? Doobus Goobus. Like that other person, Pringus McDingus. I’d understand if you mixed them up from their names. But DooGoo posts more often, and longer things! Just a little less polished. Pringus has a really appealing art style, while Doobus traffics in the internet’s default art style: purposefully ugly. Nothing against that as a style, just calling a misshappen spade that thing that it is.

The requisite preamble now complete, please enjoy five Sonic the Hedgehog characters using profanity at each other in an entertaining manner.

The Chaotix Neighbors (& Knuckles) (Youtube, 1 1/2 minutes)

Sundry Sunday: Eggpo #1, “New Job”

A few years ago the Homestar Runner guys got a sweet gig for a while making content for Disney. I think some of it was broadcast on Actual Television, but all of it, I think, is currently on Youtube, minus one video that seems like it was taken down for some reason. (I don’t know which one that was.)

None of the characters from the Homestariverse appear there, and because they’re all owned by The Mouse none of the many Two More Eggs characters are likely to get cameos on those few future occasions that HR updates in the future. But in the series there’s still around 90-or-so fun short videos to watch there of a very Homestar-ish kind of humor. Among them are Eggpo, the story of a couple of alternate-universe Goomba-like enemy minions just trying to do their simplistic jobs in a video game world.

We at Set Side B are in it for the long haul, so I feel there’s no reason to stuff all the Eggpo shorts (around seven) in one post. So here is just the first chapter… of the saga… of Eggpo.

Sundry Sunday: The People’s Mario

Content warning: cartoon blood, violence against Goombas.

This one goes back a ways. I wonder how many people have viewed this in the past decade? It was popular enough once to get up to nearly half a million views, but who knows how many since its original upload in 2007?

A reference to the website of an ancient meme (it seems to have died in 2007), itself riffing on the white flag with a red star that goes up when Mario reaches a castle. This realistically-proportioned Mario ruthlessly smashes and crunches Goombas in a variety of ways, armed with the People’s Hammer, while stirring Russian choral music plays in the background. The video is a rendering of a Newgrounds flash animation, that seems to still be up, and even playable (I assume they’re just using a recording of a higher-quality rendering of the Flash file).

While Russia’s actions as of late are not a laughing matter (except perhaps in the sense of laughing at incompetence at war), we can separate the action in a 2007 meme from their current misadventures, right? Freedom for Ukraine!

Sundry Sunday: Little Runmo

Gooseworx’s Little Runmo has 24 million views on Youtube, but it’s amazing how many things with a ton of views are still obscure to most people. Here it is in the likely event you missed it.

Little Runmo is a platforming character in a video game world who begins to question the metaphysics of his existence. Who benefits from him running through this deadly obstacle course? And what happens if he doesn’t just run to the right, but actually explores his world? The answers are funny and disturbing! But mostly funny!

Sundry Sunday: Mario Twins

This one’s really going back a ways. The description on this 2012 video says it’s a Newgrounds classic, and I was not a habitué of that site then, I’m sure it goes back to at least 2005.

It is a type of meme video that long time internet layabouts will recognize the irreverent take on some property, in this case Super Mario Bros. done up in a whimsical yet somewhat profane way. The highlight of the audio, though, comes after the introduction, where performers Group X do a voiced rendition of playing Super Mario Bros., including music and sound effects, back by drum and cymbal (and, later, bass). Being a part of gamer culture from that that you can expect some coarseness (like a crude Flash animation of poop being tossed at a toilet). Some people like that kind of thing I hear, I can’t tell you why.

The attributes of early Flash animation are prominently on display, like copious use of tweens. Flash is still around as an animation tool, and I presume tweening is still available, but with the death of browser-based Flash (not counting Ruffle) recall of the unique crappiness of badly-made shape tweens is rapidly fading from internet memory.

Well, there it is. Hey, it’s Sunday, I’m not supposed to be stressing about posts made today!

Remembering Orisinal

We’ve been remembering old game sites lately, not the big ones like Newgrounds, but the little ones. Specifically, Ferry Halim’s Orisinal.

I hesitate to offer that link because everything on Orisinal is programmed in Flash, and not in way that works great with secure Flash emulator Ruffle, but the site survives today, even if it’s difficult to play anything on it. The games to the bottom of the list are more likely to work well with Ruffle.

Orisinal is a collection of very simple games with a laid-back vibe. Nothing too demanding or upsetting. Just a lot of clean and fun amusements for passing a few minutes in a pleasant way.

Bubble Bees

In internet terms, Orisinal is ancient, and the internet is not forever. Quite the opposite in fact. The oldest games on it date to around 2000. That it’s still up, even if it hasn’t seen much new content in over a decade, is a miracle. I keep harping on this I feel like, but things vanish from the internet every day, and the Wayback Machine can’t catch all of them (and itself isn’t guaranteed to not disappear someday). Enjoy it while you can.

Cats

Orisinal

Remember EYEZMAZE and GROW?

There was a time when these short Flash games were the toast of the internet. There is very little cultural memory online for anything that isn’t absolutely huge (and almost no quality control over the things that become huge) so no one talks about GROW anymore, or its Japanese creator On, which is a tremendous shame.

EYEZMAZE took a tremendous blow when Flash shut down. I really hate how people generally accepted its demise as good and necessary when it obliterated so many great things, like Homestar Runner’s original website, that are only now sort of becoming available again. There were serious problems with Flash, it’s true, but not all the reasons it was shoved out the airlock were good ones. Fortunately On has converted many of his games to work with HTML5.

The art is great for its own sake, but the games, available by clicking on the icons at the top of the site, are the highlights, and foremost of those are the GROW series. I was going to link them individually here, but most of them are GROW in some form of other. You should probably start with the first.

The object is to figure out the best order to click on the various items to add to the GROW planet. Every time you add something, things that were already on the planet may “level up” depending on the other things that are with it there. Some things being added too early may harm the development of other things. Usually there’s one specific order that will result in a perfect score (and an animation that goes with it). Figuring it out, using the visual clues from your failed attempts, will usually take many tries, but a run through only takes a couple of minutes at most. All off the GROW games take this general form, although most of them aren’t as complex as the first.

Bitrot has not been kind to GROW. There was an Android version of Grow RPG that appears to have succumbed to Google’s awful app culling policy, where if something isn’t updated, for whatever reason, in a certain time they just delete it. (Not nearly enough has been said about his hostile this is to software preservation. It’s horrendous.)

On has had health struggles over the years, which have interfered with his creation of new amusements. He still seems to be up and active though, and we hope he continues creating both his games and his art for a while to come.

EYEZMAZE (some games may require Ruffle)

On’s Twitter feed

On’s Bilibili page (Bilibili is a Chinese video site)

Sundry Sunday: Strong Bad Plays Vampire’s Castle

We’ve posted Strong Bad videos a few times before here, and for that I make no apologies. Left up to me we’d be a 24/7 Homestar Runner joint. But there already is a 24/7 joint of that nature, and it’s called homestarrunner.com, although we do have a more frequent update schedule than them these days.

This one’s special though in that it is a new Strong Bad video, one that went up late last Sunday evening. In it, the bulbous-headed wrestleman plays the short DOS text adventure Vampire’s Castle, which was written in less than 200 lines of BASIC code. It inspired the HSR Flash game series, previously linked, Thy Dungeonman, Nos 1, 2 and 3 (“Behold thy graphics!”), which you can still play (drumroll)… with Ruffle!

Vampire’s Castle is completely text, so the Baddest Strong enlisted the help of The Cheat to make illustrations of the rooms, which is where a lot of the entertainment value of this video derives.

Strong Bad’s Disk 4 of 12: Vampire’s Castle (30 minutes)

Sundry Sunday: Strong Bad Email 94, Video Games

It’s Sunday! You’ve crossed the finish line (which is not a Finnish line) of another week. You deserve a short and funny video something for your dogged persistence against entropy.

In making these posts, I’m aided by there being a nearly 20-year history of weird and fun video game related things on the internet. According to the excellent Homestar Runner Wiki, Strong Bad Email 94 originally went up on January 12, 2004, over 18 years ago. It immediately became iconic and soaked its way into the soul of the web. If you ever see someone on the internet say hat their HEAD A SPLODE, this is where that came from.

They even made playable versions of the games in the animation, although they don’t work without Flash (Ruffle may work, but its compatibility isn’t 100% yet): Rhino Feeder, Secret Collect, Strongbadzone, and the Thy Dungeonman trilogy, one, two and three.

Here it is on homestarrunner.com, in case you somehow have a way to watch Flash. (The alternative web player Ruffle is an up-and-coming solution! There are even browser extensions available that make its use almost seamless!)