Details of Mario Kart 64’s Catchup AI

It’s information I’d much rather see in text, and I find the video a bit annoying from a construction standpoint (the speaker has a bad case of Youtube Voice), but it’s really interesting information regardless. This video from Abyssoft contains a deep explanation of MK64’s opponent driving algorithm, and explains that the game selects two rivals for your character on each cup, and that opposing drivers pick one of three paths through the course, and can clip right through walls if needed to continue driving around the circuit.

Explaining the Ways in Which Mario Kart 64 CPUs Cheat (Youtube, 12 minutes)

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

Kaze Emanuar’s Adventures in Mario 64 Optimization: Calculating Sine

I’ve mentioned Kaze Emanuar’s efforts to make the best Mario 64 there can possibly be on its native hardware. He’s compiled it with optimization flags turned on, made its platforming engine much more efficient, and worked hard to minimize cache misses, which was a major source of slowdowns in the game’s code. Under his efforts, he’s gotten the engine running at 60fps (although not yet in a playable version of the original). While these optimizations are not the kind of thing that can keep being found indefinitely, he’s bound to run out of ways to tune up the code, currently he’s still finding new ways to speed it up.

I hope you’re ready for some F-U-N (approximation FUNctions)

He made a Youtube video detailing his most recent optimization find: getting the game’s trigonometric functions executing at their speediest. What is interesting is that the Mario 64 code already uses a couple of tricks to get sine and cosine results in a rapid manner: the game only uses 4096 discrete angles of movement direction, and contains a lookup table that covers each of those angles. But it turns out that this optimization is actually a mis-optimization, because the RAM bus hits incurred to read the values into the cache are actually more expensive than just figuring out the values in code on the N64’s hardware!

The video starts out decently comprehensible, but eventually descends into the process of figuring out sine and cosine on the fly, and the virtues of the various ways this can be done, so you can’t be faulted for bailing before the end, possibly at the moment the dreaded words “Taylor series” are mentioned. But it’s a fairly interesting watch until then!

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 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.