Popular Science(?!): Getting Classic WordArt Back In MS Word

There’s many kinds of entertainment you can get from computers. Nominally we’re about games here, but what is a game? There are games implemented in Microsoft Excel. You can have fun at a command line. And you can enjoy making WordArt in Microsoft Word.

Thing about that. WordArt exists in “modern” Word, but it’s not the version that existed in earlier Windows versions. (I can’t bring myself to use the word modern without qualification for Office since they introduced that damn Ribbon and no I won’t let that die.) How to get to it? I don’t know, because Ribbon, but if you search for it in Word’s feature search interface it’ll pop it up for you, not show you where it is in Word’s UI, but just provide it, so if you want to use it again in future you’ll have to search for it again.

Current-day, bad WordArt

Yes, I I recognize this is already turning into a diatribe. But it goes to back up my point that Word is deep into its dotage, and the degradation of WordArt is just another symptom of that.

But as it turns out, the code for classic WordArt is still in Office, it calls out to us despite all the efforts of current-day Office’s hellish UI, and how fitting is it that that other relic of happier times, Popular Science, should be the publication to tell us how to reach out to it.

Classic, good WordArt

Justin Pot is the one who shows us the way there, and let me say, if you think my own writing style is comically florid, you have to see how they described the process.

Pot’s piece is good, but does slightly imply that the main interest of old WordArt is kitsh. That is a factor sure, but the old style of WordArt is intrinsically more powerful than the watered-down version. You can just do a lot more with it! Just look at that example! It is just a tool; what matters is what use you put into it, and I feel like Microsoft tamed the feature’s power mostly because it speaks of fun, and that is something they have made a conscious effort of stomping completely out of MS Office, the same reason they haven’t included easter eggs in “serious software for well over a decade now.

Anyway, to get the old WordArt back, you have to save your document in “Compatibility Mode,” which in this case means in the format of Microsoft Word from 97-03, as a .doc file. I wonder what other aspects of old Word remain in the software? Could it be that the classic menu bar is still in there somewhere? Oh be still my rapidly-beating heart!

The Copetti Site: Architectures of Recent Game Consoles

From the site, a diagram of the architecture of the Wii U’s Game Pad

A good old-fashioned website! It’s hope to information on the construction of a wide variety of console platforms! Docs on the NES, the Sega Master System, the PC Engine (a.k.a. Turbografx 16), the Mega Drive (a.k.a. Genesis), Gameboy, SNES, Saturn, Playstation, Virtual Boy (yes), Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, Playstation 2, GBA, Gamecube, Xbox, DS, PSP, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii and Wii U.

The Copetti site: Architecture of Consoles

News 2/16/23: Switch Online, Google Share Prices, MS v Sony, Toaplan

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

Welcome shlorbs and foobs to our mostly-weekly text-based internet news program! I hope you enjoyed our techno/bicycle horn fusion theme song! It’s the number one chart-topper on my homeworld, but admittedly my species doesn’t have ears. Images includes in this post are ultimately from Mobygames.

Emily Olson at NPR (swanky!): Google’s shares dropped by $100… (holds paper in front of eyes, reads twice to make sure I see it right)… billion after a disastrous AI demonstration. As a wise cartoon butler once said, “You people have too much money!” I guess we see where everyone’s looking for the next unsupportable tech bubble now that crypto’s in what I understand humans call “the crapper!” I never understood that saying personally. It isn’t the thing that craps!

Liam Doolan at Nintendo Life tells us that the game lineup on the Japanese version of the new Game Boy game collection on Nintendo Switch Online is different than the Western lineup. Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare replaces video mahjongg player Yakuman. Interestingly the article tells us that Japan-only classic For The Frog The Bell Tolls is coming eventually, although it doesn’t say if it’ll see U.S. release, let alone if it’ll come out on my planet, drebnar!

I’ll admit, Kirby’s Dream Land is pretty nice.
Just look at the smile on that bomb-throwing Poppy Bros. Sr. That’s not the look of a sane person.

Also, Andrew Webster of The Verge says that the addition of the Game Boy games make Nintendo Switch Online the ultimate retro subscription. I mean it’s pretty good, but how was it that Gameboy titles were what pushed it over the line?

Matt Bassil of Wargamer brings us the surprising news that Bank of America thinks that Hasbro is harming its business by over-monetizing Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering. When a bank thinks you’re too money-grubbing you might want to sit down with some hot tea and reflect on your life.

Kotaku. Luke Plunkett. Sony claims before court that Microsoft’s request for documentation goes so far that it’s “obvious” harassment. I mean I am at a point in my blobular life that I don’t see anyone representing a corporation as saying a single syllable that isn’t mathematically calculated to four decimal places to improve their balance sheet, so who the hell knows if it’s true. Maybe it is? I am staying neutral in this fight. Acids and bases hurt my cell wall.

Metroid Prime

Oli Welsh of Polygon really likes the HD remake of Metroid Prime that Nintendo put on sale a few days ago, noting that it includes the pointing interface improvements introduced with the Wii rerelease.

Will Shanklin of Engadget tells us that a “Minecraft mad scientist” has recreated The Legend of Zelda in Minecraft, and in true mad scientist fashion is holding the work hostage, refusing to release it unless a video demonstrating it hits 5,000 Youtube likes. The article said it was at 500 likes; at our own press time it was up to 4.5K, so by the time you read this it should have enough. I will pass it along to Editorial as possible blog fodder (“blodder”) for Set Side B!

Ron Amadeo brings us the news that with the switch to monthly updates of Android 14, Google will begin just blocking apps on it made for versions of Android before 6. The reason given is security, but bah to that, old software and its preservation simply isn’t a priority for megacompanies like Google. Does anyone remember the days when it seemed like they might be a different kind of tech company? Me neither.

Nicole Clark at Polygon says Okami is the best Zelda-like. Sal Romano at Gematsu reveals that M2 is planning a collection of Toaplan shooters, including the infamous Zero Wing, the game whose U.S. translation brought us the “All Your Base” meme a 100 billion years ago. And Justin Carter at Game Developer reveals that Double Fine has made a documentary about the making of Psychonauts 2. Drebs out!

Goldeneye on Switch Online and Xbox One

Ordinarily this would be the kind of thing that intrepid blob reporter Kent Drebnar would cover here some week, but this is too big to hide as just one of several links in an omnibus post. At long last, one of the biggest N64 games of all is getting a rerelease on Switch Online (oh, and Xbox One as well), even if you have to get the Expansion Pack to play it. It should be playable when, or soon after, this post goes up! It even offers widescreen support and online play!

All images in this post (except for the last one) from MobyGames.

While it couldn’t save the system in the face of competition from the Playstation, there is no denying Rare’s Goldeneye 007 moved an awful lot of Nintendo 64 consoles, and until now, 25 years later, unless you wanted to pirate it, the original cart and system was still the only way to play it. It remains the most iconic James Bond video game ever made, and it may still be the most popular. They got so much right when making it, both with respect to the franchise and to doing a console-based first-person shooter right.

WARNING: the following paragraph will make little sense to people who weren’t both N64 players and internet readers at the time when it was new:

The spirits of countless N64 IGN readers rejoice this day. a golden eye is an eye tat is golden! Sadly, all record of eye tat boy is gone from their current website, Google is of no use at all in ferreting record of it out of the present-day web, and it’s too much trouble to dredge its memory up from the Wayback Machine. So it goes.

The gaming landscape has changed so much since then. When shrinkwrapped Goldeneye 007 boxes first saw store shelves, Rare was on their way to becoming one of Nintendo’s most beloved second parties. People largely came to see them as like a British branch of the company, then the Stamper brothers wanted to sell, Nintendo somehow said no to buying, and as a result the company began largely to languish, until around the time Viva Pinata came out. Since then, the people who made it left Rare and went on to make the Timesplitters games, which are still fondly remembered.

Such is N64 Goldeneye’s legend that Activision once actually released another James Bond game by that name, that actually wasn’t a port or remake of the original but was more of a reboot of it, with the Daniel Craig version of James Bond included.

Goldeneye 007’s twin release on both the Switch and Xbox platforms must have required some deep licensing mojo, but perhaps not even as much needed to wrest the rights for a rerelease of a James Bond movie tie-in game from the Broccoli family, as well as the likeness rights from Pierce Brosnan. With that many owners looking for their pieces of the financial pie, the stars must have aligned mighty right for the game to see the legal light of day again. Someone, please go check R’lyeh! Cthulhu must be about to awaken!

“a golden eye is an eye tat is golden!!!!”
(image source)

GoldenEye 007 Shoots Its Way Onto Nintendo Switch Online This Week (Nintendo Life)

News 12/28/22: ASCII Dwarves, eShop Shutdowns, Ecco the Dolphin

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

Computer issues kept me from filing last week’s report. That is the reason. It is not true that I got so drunk at a Globmas Party that my chemical composition was 50% alcohol. Don’t listen to those rumors! Let us begin.

Image from PCGamesN

Dwarf Fortress’ Steam Edition is still the toast of the gaming blogoglobe! A recent update lets you use the original version’s ASCII graphics instead of the high-falutin’ new pixel art skin. So proclaimeth Ian Boudreau at PCGamesN!

It’s funny. Corbin Davenport writes an article at How-To Geek titled Atari’s New Gaming Console Isn’t Dead Yet. But it’s URL is: https://www.howtogeek.com/855757/ataris-new-gaming-console-is-dead/ Don’t you love how URL slugs can reveal a piece’s working title? The article itself is more about how it’s mostly dead, so someone call Miracle Max.

Gavin Lane at NintendoLife discusses the upcoming shutdown of the 3DS and WiiU eShops. You haven’t been able to add funds for a while through the stores, although you could still add them using the Switch’s shop then use that money to buy there. The piece mentions that Nintendo has been almost anxious to close the shops, due to poor sales of the WiiU. You’ll still be able to download purchased software… for a while.

Also at NintendoLife, Liam Doolan interviews a couple of people at Wayforward about River City Girls 2! It turns out that planning began almost immediately after RCG1 wrapped up.

Tom Ivan. Video Games Chronicle. Microsoft and Activision have filed responses to the FTC complaint about their merger being anti-competitive. Creatures of my species are capable of merging together into one blobby whole, which is admittedly quite fun on a boring Saturday night, but none of us are corporations that control massive segments of the console gaming market!

Related, Jezz Corden of Windows Central reports that Microsoft is claiming that Sony’s influence will prevent four specific games from ever reaching the Xbox console platform: Final Fantasy VII Remake, Final Fantasy 16 (shouldn’t that be XVI?), Silent Hill 2 Remake, and Bloodborne.

And finally, at The Ringer, M.D. Rodrigues writes a long piece about the legacy of the Sega Genesis Ecco the Dolphin games.

News 11/2/2022: Emptying the Ol Bile Gland

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

I’m back! I’ve been bobbing and blobbing around internet slimepools and have dredged from their murky depths the latest gaming information for your consumption! Yum!

Engadget’s Kris Holt tells us that the graphic-based Steam version of Dwarf Fortress is on the way! It’ll cost $30, which it is possible to be dismayed by, except that if there’s any game that offers depth and content worth at least $30, it’s Dwarf Fortress. The version will have not only graphics but a tutorial and updated UI! And the free version will continue to be updated! Dwarf Fortress is going with a paid version because its creators, being not electronic dwarves but actual human being people, need money to live. Please, help them to live!

Liam Doolan at Nintendo Life: Mario Party 1 and 2 are coming to Switch Online’s Expansion Pack. I wonder if the games will destroy Joycons as thoroughly as it did N64 joysticks?

K. Thor Jensen for PC Magazine writes about what he considers the 10 worst arcade conversions of all. They cover a number of likely suspects. Atari 2600 Pac-Man, NES 720°, GBA Mortal Kombat, GBA Marble Madness, PC Thunder Blade, Amiga Street Fighter II, NES Ikari Warriors, 2600 Double Dragon, PS1 X-Men vs Street Fighter, and C64 Cisco Heat. But, I dunno, there are a lot of awful computer ports of arcade games floating around out there. Given the time I could probably redo the whole list, but PC Magazine isn’t paying me to do it. Plus, that kind of negativity is more the Gripe Monster’s lawn.

Ryan Dinsdale at IGN tells us that Microsoft loses from $100 to $200 on every Xbox X and S they sell. Aaahahaha! Yes my minions, exult with me in the misfortune of a major console manufacturer, for no good reason than sheer ill will! Er. Sorry, I let the evil out of my brain for a moment there.

At Kotaku, John Walker says that Playstation Plus has lost two million subscribers after its relaunch! Haahaha! Revel in their misfortune! Giant corporations will destroy the earth, at least they suffer very slightly every once in a great while! Oops, sorry again, I really need to get my bile gland emptied more often. The article mentions that the higher-priced tiers mean Sony is actually making more money now anyway.

News 7/22/22: Rumble Doujin Climber Winston

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

After a couple of pretty light reports,this time out we have quite a lot to go over, so let’s get started!

Chris Moyse at Destructoid says cult fighting game with a fun name The Rumble Fish is coming to consoles.

Those are some angry looking fish in that title logo.

At PC Gamer, Kerry Brunskill proses about how Steam greatly expanded the potential market for Japanese doujin releases like Touhou.

VGC’s Chris Scullion notes that the FCC may approve Microsoft’s buyout of Activision/Blizzard next month.

Ollie Reynolds at NintendoLife tells us that the team that made Mario Kart 64 almost included a no item mode, they say to appeal to F-Zero players.

At EventHubs, someone going by the name of Justin “Adaptive Trigger” Gordon, which, if you can get people to call you that then fine I’m not opposed, tells us about how the Ice Climbers, long an infuriating opponent to face in high-level Super Smash Bros. Melee, might be getting some of that tech in Ultimate.

That’s a background color that we here refer to as “spritesheet purple.”

At Kotaku, a site that will on every visit ask if you want to sign up for their newsletter, Ian Walker notes how romhackers are putting Winston, the fourth Ghostbuster played by Ernie Hudson who for some reason was left out of most of the series’ promotional material, into the Sega Genesis Ghostbusters game. The patch doesn’t seem to be out yet, mind you. The original story appears to be from Ghostbusters News. Great Floating Radioactive Astrojebus, it’s about time, even if it had to be done via an injection of code to be playable through quasilegal emulation. Man helped save New York City from ghosts twice, you’d think he’d get more respect. There’s also a hack to add him to HAL Laboratory’s Japan-only Ghostbusters II game for the Famicom.

And TechRadar’s Rhys Wood at TechRadar informs us that a lawsuit is being brought against Sony alleging overheating issues of the PS5 causing the console to spontaneously shut down.

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!

Link Roundup 5/6/2022

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

Tyler Wilde of PC Gamer: Activision/Blizzard shareholders approve Microsoft buyout.

Alice O’Connor of Rock Paper Shotgun tells us about Backpack Hero, a demo with a lot of buzz around it. I’ve played it, it’s cool, drebnar!

Liam Doolan of Nintendo Life points us to a Kickstarter for a Game Boy Advance add-on that lets you play games on an HDTV television. It does require opening up your device, though! Gizmodo has its own report. What it is is basically an alternate case for the guts of a Game Boy Advance, that provides it with output ports.

One of the humorous bits about Facebook’s (I refuse to call them Meta) Metaverse thing is that it’s dragging out all the dumb old corporate internet tie-ins, just like it did when the web became big, and again when they tried to make a go of Second Life. So the wheel turns again, as Ryan Gilliam tells us on Polygon, with “The Metaverse’s first Coke product,” Byte, which is reputed to be “pixel-flavored.” The only thing it’s missing is an NFT. All the news sites are talking about it, because all the news sites have space to fill and read press releases, drebnar. It comes with a QR code with “an AR game unlock.” The kids still care about those things, right?

Some emulation news: 3DS emulator Mikage is in development again, as is PS4 emulator GPCS4.

Matthew Carlson of hackaday.com brings us news that long-time fangame editor Zelda Classic now runs in web browsers! Zelda Classic can do a lot, so it’s great to see developments in that area! Here’s the technical details.

Andy Brown writing for NME tells us that the time is right for a remake of Simpsons Hit & Run.

And Jeremy Winslow at Kotaku points out the point-and-click adventure game Perfect Tides.

Windows 3.1 Turns 30

Windows 3.1 logo

Windows 3.0 is where it became obvious that Windows was going to be a big thing. Previous versions of Windows were novelties. Now Microsoft had something that looked as good as a Mac. MS-DOS had become the de-facto standard for computing, but its UI was a command prompt, great for power users but impenetrable for the average PC owner. Windows 3.0 began to change that, and Windows 3.1 was a substantial improvement upon that.

April 6th is the 30th anniversary of Windows 3.1, released in 1992. While many of its elements may seem unfamiliar to younger users-there is no Start Button, desktop directory, taskbar, Windows Explorer or web browser-millions of people got their first exposure to Windows here. It used a “Program Manager” to allow users to launch their software.

File icons don’t appear on the Desktop. Minimized programs appear there instead, at the bottom of the screen. And under the hood is MS-DOS, which would remain around in some form until Windows XP finally annihilated it completely in 2001.

Benj Edwards of HowToGeek spoke with former Microsoft VP Brad Silverberg on the version of Windows that many cut their teeth on.

Benj’s Twitter feed has some more discussion.

You can run Windows 3.1 in your web browser at pcjs.org.

The file manager of Windows 3.1, called File Manager natch, has been officially remade for Windows 10 and later, and is available on the Microsoft App Store.