Not to keep banging the drum about the new Mario game, but there are a number of what we might call “music levels” in the game, and a couple in particular fit in with the spirit of the day. Here they are: Pumpkin Party and A Night At Boo’s Opera (length: 3 minutes). This is an edited-down version of a 28-minute compilation of all of the game’s music sequences, on Youtube.
The Annual Ghost Town Pumpkin Festival (itch.io for Windows, Mac and Linux, free but $2 gets you a cosmetic extra, goes offline after Halloween season)
Oy. There are few lorebombs of niche gaming more intricate, and as utterly impenetrable to the uninitiated, as the Five Nights At Freddy’s superseries. What started mostly as a jumpscare delivery mechanism turned out to have backstory, and sequels, and prequels, and novels, and side games, and more.
The “Everything You Need To Know” series takes properties with sizable amounts of lore and tries to condense them to make them generally understandable. By no means do they cover all of the details, choosing to get the gist across simply rather than to explain everything that’s going on. It’s a bit humorous, but the point here isn’t a comedy and/or snarky retelling, as with the So This Is Basically series, but to give you a good rundown with some leavening humor along the way.
So, what will you do with your newfound knowledge? Impress kids? Write fanfiction? Perform exorcisms? Seek to create knockoffs?
It’s Halloween, so let’s review a slightly spooky European computer game that got remade as a Gameboy title with an awesome soundtrack: Bubble Ghost!
It’s kind of a riff on Marble Madness, in that you’re controlling a round object with momentum-based movement through a perilous made of obstacles. But you don’t control it directly: instead, you play the part of an incorporeal spirit that imparts motion to the object, a fragile soap bubble, by applying its ghostly breath. This whimsical concept backs a wonderful little action game. All the versions are pretty much the same game, and they’re all pretty short, with just 36 single-screen levels, but it takes a lot of skill to guide your wobbly ward through the whole maze.
The ghost can pass harmlessly through objects, and the amount of motion applied to the bubble by your breath depends on how close you are to it, which gives you a fine amount of control over its passage if you’re skillful enough.
The Commodore 64 version (below) has jerkier motion for the bubble than other versions, but has atmospheric sound:
The Amiga version is pretty representative of most of the 16-bit versions:
The Gameboy version was implemented by Japanese programmers, has a cuter protagonist and graphics all around, has great music, and an actual ending (though it’s still really brief), but it’s still the same game:
Protomagicalgirl did a speedrun of Gameboy Bubble Ghost at SGDQ2016:
There’s also versions for Atari ST (has an option to play its music out the MIDI port!), MS-DOS, Amstrad (some funky screen trasitions in this one), Apple II GS (not a complete play) and Windows (from 2003, also not a complete play, and has the flair of a bootleg clone). It’s also on Steam, released there in 2018, although that seems to be a direct recreation, maybe even emulation of the DOS version, which is one of the worse versions, with terrible sound.
According to Mobygames, Infogrammes remade the game as Bubble+ on some platforms, and didn’t pay the creators for sales of those versions! I don’t know if the creators get anything from the Steam port.
It’s new Homestaw Runnew, and it’s vaguely game-welated, so hewe it iiis! You see, I did it in Homestar’s voice. As sorta-human embodiment of capitalization Strong Mad would say: I’M A REFERENCE!
It’s a cartoon from the early days of the site, before they had codified how their Halloween comics work-that is, it’s a Halloween-set story with every character wearing a costume that’s a delightfully unexpected pop-culture reference, and at the end they refer to the characters and Homestar humorously fails to understand what the others are dressed up as. With this special DLC upgrade, the characters have new costumes, and the gags are somewhat different! IT’S META!
When last we left Blaseball, that crazy simulated baseball league with horror elements, deadly weather, necromancy, an evil peanut god, etc., the concept of money had been destroyed and a black hole had consumed the universe. Well that’s certainly a turn-up!
It’s been nearly a year since the rather apocalyptic outcome of the previous era. Now, according to an interview with IGN, producers The Game Band are about ready to restart the game once more. Recognizing that it had become rather impenetrable to people who hadn’t followed it for a while, they’re trying to reinvent Blaseball to follow more of a monster-of-the-week format, which seems as appropriate for a Halloween-season post as anything.
They’re also hoping to make it more sustainable by not relying on corporate sponsors as much, instead offering paid accounts to players, offering cosmetic modifications in the game’s social space. Wait, Blaseball had a social space? Is that new?
Blaseball is hilarious and unique and bizarre, and we wish it the best, provided that wish isn’t somehow corrupted by its fell gods and revisited upon our world, which happens like all the time nowadays. We wish it provisional well, how about that?
If you’re unfamiliar with Blaseball, somehow: it’s a fake baseball league. A bunch of fake teams filled with fake players with weird stats play a game that is 90% Baseball in a computer simulation run on the game’s servers.
The simulation is entirely textual. There are no visible players running around. The simulation is run in discrete units, as a series of pitches and plays. Baseball is uniquely suited to be run in this kind of simulation because of its almost turn-based nature. Other than stealing bases, everything happens in brief bursts of activity, and game states can be represented pretty cleanly: which bases are occupied, which players are in which positions, how many outs, strikes, and balls are there, and, where in which inning are we.
Real sports are essentially drama generators, something without real meaning that people can follow along and support as if it did, and Blaseball, which calls itself a splort, takes that one floor deeper into the rabbit hole.
Because it’s entirely fake, it can do weird things. Like, host random kinds of weather during which players can be incinerated or affect the game in other ways. Or have magic baseball-related items that players can be granted.
The real participants in Blaseball are fans, who during social distancing latched onto it and idolized particular players, like Jaylen Hotdogfingers, who was brought back from the dead through a bit of database-related trickery by fans. Fans can also vote on rule changes, advantages for their favorite teams, and other things. Fans can bet, using fake money, on the outcome of the fake games, and that fake money can be used to buy more votes.
If sports are a drama generator, then Blaseball’s is exceptionally dramatic. Enough so that new fans were finding it increasingly difficult to understand. Blaseball’s previous era ended in an intentional exercise in excess, with the evil (fictional) entity that was running the league adding in feature after feature.
Now it looks like Blaseball will be pared back again. It remains to be seen if this will allow new players to join in easily, or if old fans will return, but it’ll be entertaining to watch at least.
The official Blaseball Youtube channel hosts a number of entertaining videos that recap the events of prior seasons. Here they are:
The Discipline Era (10 minutes)
Peace and Prosperity (16 minutes)
Live Bait (17 minutes)
Negative Influence (16 minutes)
Win(Win) (18 minutes)
The cataclysmic events of the final seasons are not recapped, but presumably will be soon.