Sonic 2 Boss Hit Box Bug

While we’re on the topic of 16-bit Sonic, revealed last year by Lapper on Twitter, and recently boosted by Classic Sonic Deconstructed, it turns out that, because of a misplaced hitbox, you’re completely immune to the bomb attacks of the boss of Chemical Plant in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 if you’re crouching.

This is the boss’s only attack. If you’re standing on the middle platform and just duck when he’s attacking, you’re completely safe.

Original tweet.

Sonic Retro’s Physics Guide

tl;dr: The description of the physics and implementation details of the 16-bit Sonic the Hedgehog games hosted at Sonic Retro is complete and amazing.

This is one going out to all you developers out there, either current or aspiring.

It’s amazing to me how fussed, nay, obsessed-over the 16-bit Sonic the Hedgehog games are even to this day. There are a lot of good things about them, and arguably the best is their platforming engines, which are among the best in the field. They take advantage of the processing power of the Genesis/Mega Drive, fueled by a Motorola 68000 processor, the same processor as the classic Apple Macintosh, clocked only slightly slower. This was basis of Sega’s infamous “blast processing” slogan at the time, touting how much faster the Genesis was than the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. This was somewhat unfair, as SNES carts often came with supplemental chips in them that acted like co-processors, and was of a completely different architecture as well with different characteristics, but it did make the Sonic engine possible. A lot of the credit also goes to Sonic programmer Yuji Naka, who is legendary in game coding circles for a very good reason.

If this is the kind of discussion that makes your heart race, we’re glad to have you reading Set Side B! If it’s not, that’s okay. I’m a bit stymied myself, even though I love dives like this.
(All images in this post from Sonic Retro.)

The result of the Genesis’s power and Naka’s expertise was a game engine with, yes, raw speed, but also a lot of nuance. If you jump and land on an enemy or monitor, you can control the height of your rebound, no matter how fast you were going when you hit it. If you jump while on a slope, you don’t jump straight up but away from it, which takes some getting used to at first but can be taken advantage of. There’s lots of fun little cases like these, and figuring them out, and their implications, is the source of a lot of the joy of playing Sonic the Hedgehog for the first time.

Those two places where the slope only intrudes slightly into Sonic’s ground tile are what get me.

I’d even argue, without the solid engine, and great level design taking advantage of it, all of Sega of America’s marketing efforts, which formed the foundation of the media juggernaut that Sonic has become today, with several cartoon series and comic books, and two successful movies and a third one in the works, would have been for naught.

Judging by the later 2D adventures, the nuances of Sonic the Hedgehog’s engine are difficult to grasp without a good amount of effort. It is likely that Sega themselves don’t have the institutional memory to understand how they worked, which is why they went to Christian “The Taxman” Whitehead, and others from the fan game community, to make Sonic Mania, which has a faithful recreation of the original games’ physics.

Why has no one made a Sonic half-pipe trick skateboarding game?

Bringing it back around, the obsession of the Sonic fan community has produced a number of disassembles of the game’s code, which have served as the basis for a wide array of romhacks of rather shocking levels of quality. I wrote about many of those in the Someone Set Up Us The Rom ebooks (ahem).

They also served as the basis for the subject of this post, the physics descriptions at Sonic Retro. Here is basically all you need to make a Sonic-style platformer. Synthesizing this and putting it into practice is a formidable task on its own, but it’s a doable one, and you don’t have to read source code (other than your own) to do it. To those who attempt this task, we salute you! And let us know how it goes!

Sonic Retro: Physics Guide

News 7/20/22: Pikmin Cracked Boy

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

Aaron Greenbaum at Den of Geek investigates, what was the last NES game released? Covers multiple territories, and both licensed and unlicensed titles, although in that later case recent releases stretch the premise considerably.

This might be our first link to comingsoon.net, reporting that Nintendo has purchased the studio that animated those charming Pikmin shorts from back in the Wii-U era. [Reminders: first, second, third] Maybe we should save those links for Sunday? Maybe we’ll just slip them in again some week.

We have a bit of animosity towards Cracked for how they treated several of their prior writers, although that did eventually result in the creation of both Behind The Bastards and Some More News, which are creator-owned. Still, bad scene Cracked. Currently working for them (for how long?) is Eli Yudin, and they wrote a list of 15 Gloriously Weird Genesis games. It contains ToeJam & Earl, Wiz & Liz, Rocket Knight Adventures, The Ooze, and Mutant League Football, among others.

At Stone Age Gamer they have a series about Game Boy sequels to NES games, and in that Chris Randazzo writes about Blaster Master Boy, which is really a Game Boy port of Robowarrior, which was originally known as Bomber King in Japan, where it was a spinoff of Bomberman! The source for that information: the dusty back corners of my beleaguered brain.

Callum Bains at TechRadar brings us news that a number of Bethesda and id Software games are playable for free, for a limited time, to people in the Xbox Insiders program.

Jody Macgregor at PC Gamer tells us that that fan remake of Ocarina of Time will get new features, including unlocked frame rate and adjustable difficulty.

News 7/14/22: Genesis Zim Breakers BBS

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

Matthew Byrd of Den of Geek lists 20 Genesis/Mega Drive games that were ahead of their time. Some interesting choices, like Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday, and they did notice Naughty Dog’s Rings of Power unlike that previous list. They also mention ToeJam & Earl, although they diss it a bit, boo. They also give nods to King’s Bounty, Starflight and Herzog Zwei, which are all fine games. No mention of Might & Magic II though!

Ollie Reynolds at Nintendo Life writes of modders adding color to B&W Gameboy titles.

At first, Sorrel Kerr-Jung’s article at CBR about Invader Zim’s voice being recast, and series creator Jhonan Vasquez being upset about it, doesn’t seem like it fits in with our theme. Even hearing about it being in SMITE, which is one of those MOBAs a particular breed of older kid might be enthused with… well, I’ve never heard of SMITE. But when I found out it was because they wanted to avoid voice actor Richard Horvitz’s union, and yeah, that’s the kind of terrible behavior we can get behind telling people about. The developers responsible are Hi-Rez Studios and Titan Forge Games. Also, whose idea was it to put Invader Zim in a MOBA?

At Nintendo Everything, Brian notes about upcoming asymmetric multiplayer game Dragon Ball: The Breakers, where some players play as DB side characters, and others of villains like Cell, Frieza and Kid Buu. The developers were unsure anyone would want to play weak characters like Oolong and Bulma. Geez, those are some of my favorite characters! Vegeta is cool and all but he’s kind of one-note, and let’s face it, Goku is probably insane.

Sad news that’s been going around: popular niche puzzle makers Zachtronics is closing up shop. They’re making one last game though, Last Call BBS, which Vice’s Renana Price calls “a beautiful vision of the 90s internet.” It’s basically a collection of smaller puzzles with a framing story about maintaining a friend’s website. Like all of Zachtronics’ products, it looks very interesting. It’s available on Steam.

News 6/23/2022: RPG Netcode Newsletter

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

Not a lot of news today, drebnar! Let’s see what there is to see with our respective light-based optical sensors.

We usually have tons of things to link, so we’ve started leaning away from listicles, but it’s a short broadcast today, so here’s Chris Freiberg’s list of the best 15 Genesis RPGs on Den of Geek. It’s a provocative list, in order from last to first: Gauntlet IV, Ys III: Wanderers From Ys, Syndicate, Sword of Vermillion, Light Crusader, Crusader of Centy, Landstalker, Pirates! Gold, Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun, Shining Force II, Phantasy Star III, Wonder Boy in Monster World, Beyond Oasis, Shadowrun, and, of course, Phantasy Star IV. Now, Gauntlet IV is an amazing port, and no one can fault Wonder Boy in Monster World, Landstalker or Pirates! Gold on general terms, but they’re hardly traditional RPGs. And then there are the games left out: the original Shining Force didn’t make it even through SF2 did, there’s no Phantasy Star II or Shining in the Darkness, and most egregious of all IMO, nowhere to be seen are New World Computing’s terrific ports of King’s Bounty or Might & Magic II, which are fully the equal of their computer versions drebnar! And if you’re going to include Pirates! Gold, you gotta include Starflight! And while it’s a bit clunky in interface, there’s the oft-overlooked early Naughty Dog production Rings of Power!

Victoria Kennedy at Eurogamer casually drops that a documentary is approaching on the making of Nintendo 64 system seller Goldeneye 007.

Lots of places are raving about the excellence of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, proclaiming it a return to the greatness of the classic Konami arcade games. WCCFtech’s Ule Lopez chimes in, in their review, and uses it to explain about the wonders of rollback netcode. Okay by us!

Thom Dunn at Boing Boing reports that the newsletter 50 Years of Text Games is being published in book form!

Finally, back at Nintendo Life again, Alana Hagues points us to a YouTube video explain a trick allowing you to explore underwater areas in Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

U Can Beat Video Games: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

U Can Beat Video Games (their YouTube channel) has only been around for a bit over a year, but they’ve already covered a lot of challenging games. It serves as a complete video playthrough, often revealing all the game’s secrets, and has remarkably restrained and helpful audio commentary by YouTube standards.

UCBVG videos cover the entire game, and can be long. The most recent, the covering A Link to the Past with a second part, is nearly two hours but it uses YouTube’s timeline annotations to mark any potential trouble spots you may have. Even if you’ve mastered the games he covers, I find it relaxing to watch anyway to refresh my memory on these decades-old amusements.

To date, UCBVG has covered 70 titles across the NES, SNES, Game Boy, and Mega Drive/Genesis. Some highlights include their videos on the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for NES (the first game on the channel), Mega Man I, II, and III, The Legend of Zelda, its second quest, and it’s sequel, Ghosts ‘n Goblins, Legacy of the Wizard (a.k.a. Dragon Slayer IV), Castlevania and Simon’s Quest, Blaster Master, Punch-Out!!, Ninja Gaiden and its first sequel, Clash at Demonhead, Metal Gear, Crystalis, Wizards & Warriors and its sequel Ironsword, Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy (in two parts), Actraiser, The Guardian Legend, Kirby’s Dream Land (including Extra Mode!), the weird and unique The Magic of Scheherazade, Sonic the Hedgehog, and even the notorious Battletoads, among many other games.

They update weekly, so why not take a look!

Video: Chrontendo and related

The third and last of the chronological platform cataloguing efforts is the longest-lived and most complete, Dr. Sparkle’s wonderful Chrontendo, going through the entire library of the Famicom and NES, along with sister projects Chronsega (Mark III/Master System and Mega Drive/Genesis) and Chronturbo (PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16).

Each of the projects I’ve presented have had a different style. Atari Archive does one game at a time, devoting from 8 to 20 minutes to it. Video Works tends to cover two or three times per video. Well, the various Chrons go for the omnibus approach: each entry shows from a dozen to 20 or more games. It also emphasizes gameplay footage, and also sometimes some side bits amidst the many games.

Chrontendo has been going since a while before 2010, and so there is a whole lot of material to catch up on. It also has the slowest rate of updating, with sometimes whole years between episodes. But each episode is its own little wonder, containing a solid mass of retro gaming information, including many games you probably won’t ever hear about anywhere else.