News 11/16/22: Ubisoft on Steam, Mac System 9 on Wii

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

It’s been a few days! It’s been Globmas on our planet which has filled up my time with various gelatinous timewastes. I gather that the situation has been similar down on Earth, with the advent of an event that I hear is called “Dark Friday.” I hope that soon you manage to unseat whatever terrible villain has been causing you so much trouble.

Because of Dark Friday filling blogs, there seems to be less good news to convey to you this time out. I only have a couple of articles to recommend.

Kyle Orland at Ars Technica tells us that Ubisoft has come crawling back to Steam, after snubbing the service for a while in favor of the Epic Game Store. Exclusivity is awful of course, although it does sometimes give us some pretty nice deals as various strategists and marketers jockey with each other in order to convince customers to join up with their places of market. In Epic’s case, these deals have sometimes been free games, although often what is given away is simply the base or least-featured version of some product. Anyway. I don’t even buy many games at the moment but I still have four game store apps on my PC: Steam, Epic, GOG and itch.io. Of them, Steam and itch are the ones that I actually like. GOG and itch’s apps are in fact optional, although convenient. I suspect that many other people and blobs have the same opinion.

Image from Pierre Dandomont’s blog

Jenny List at Hack-A-Day tells us of a French hacker named Pierre Dandomont that has gotten Mac OS 9 running on an unmodified Wii! Now before you have visions of running Glider on your TV, there are a whole raft of caveats. The Wii’s hardware is unmodified, granted, but to run anything that Nintendo didn’t approve on your machine you are going to have to modify its software. Mac OS 9 is not unmodified, for while the Wii has a Power PC chip similar to that which used to run Mac computers two whole platform changes ago, the rest of its hardware is unstandard to say the least. And while they did manage to get OS 9 running (not OS X, a.k.a. macOS, or any of its more modern updates), it is not in a form that one can just easily drop into their own Wii if they want to run original iTunes for some reason. The hacker themselves tell us that it’s not really a good way to run classic Mac software, which is actually being run on an emulation layer within Linux running on the Wii. So, probably not something you’re going to do yourself, but maybe interesting to read about?

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 10/28/22

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

Pretty light this time out. Jordan Carroll at Polygon tells of how Games Workshop is fighting fascists trying to use Warhammer 40,000 to promote their odious worldview. WH40K’s Earth empire began as an over-the-top parody of fascist dystopias in fiction and games, then when they decided to really push the grim darkness of the setting and toned down the jokes, it started to look a lot more like they were justifying fascism. In an article on their website, Games Workshop says the Imperium is driven by hate, Warhammer is not, and they state in that article: “Like so many aspects of Warhammer 40,000, the Imperium of Man is satirical.” No word yet on if the exorbitant cost of fielding an army of Citadel Miniatures is one of the satirical elements.

Games Workshop also says Hello Kitty is not a part of Warhammer 40K.
Who’s this guy again? A mirror universe Flash?

John Walker at Kotaku brings us more news of the dissolution of ZA/UM, developer of indie hit Disco Elysium: one of the writers that had been “forced out” of the company is suing its remnants. Hard information is still difficult to come by, with some allegations that control over the franchise is being sought by the game’s UK investors. Read the article for more, I don’t feel like I have a good grasp of the situation with my gelatinous brain.

Andy Chalk at PC Gamer tells us that Terraria has become the first “indie hit” to break a million positive reviews on Steam. Seems like a worthy milestone!

Back at Polygon, Ryan Dinsdale reports of Black Adam being added to the cast of Multiversus… oh, and the addition of a new Arcade Mode. I think they may have buried the lede on that one, if they added an Arcade Mode I might have to consider playing it! Can we field amiibos too? Probably not? Darn.

News 10/13/2022: Flee Before The Sight of Black Box Zelda!

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

Benj Edwards, Ars Technica, on using AI to smooth out the features of Virtua Fighter’s characters. Not in real time, and the results are cherry-picked, and look generic as opposed to the distinctive look of the original game. Still, there you go, people tell me this means art is dead somehow.

Just imagine if this were the box that launched the Zelda ship.
(Image from MrTalida’s twitter feed.)

Noted on Twitter by Frank Cifaldi, then cropped and zoomed by MrTalida on Twitter, then called attention to by threads on ResetEra and Reddit (inhale!) then reported on by a plethora of gaming sites, Cifaldi found a picture of an early version of the box-art of The Legend of Zelda in Nintendo press materials form the time, using the original “black box” trade dress, and it is funky.

Rich Stanton at PC Gamer, on when the mods of Ultima Online (remember them? they’re still around!) destroyed the (in-game) possessions of item duplicators. Ultimately, as my link is a link to theirs, so too is PC Gamer’s link one to the original post, so have a link to that too. And if you want to check in with a bona-fide living piece of gaming history, and the last surviving real Ultima game, here is Ultima Online’s website. They just celebrated 25 years of operation!

A dragon-infested day in Brittania.
Screenshot from Mobygames.

Finally, it’s not directly related to games, but you should read this article from TechSpot about the Internet Archive’s efforts to preserve websites in this age of paywalls and walled gardens. While content creators deserve to be paid for their efforts, the fact that so much is locked up means a lot of things are just going to vanish when their hosting sites, sometimes when an account at a hosting site, closes up. Please consider that when you publish. Preservation matters.

News 10/6/2022: Deku Stick, Stadia’s Demise, Chaos;Head Noah

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

Ollie Reynolds at Nintendo Life reports on why the Deku Stick item in Link’s hands looks different between Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. It has to do with a subtle texture reference error.

Oli Welsh, demonstrating that there’s nothing good that can last, tells us that three Disco Elysium developers have left the company. Details are scarce, but it seems it was not by choice. Is it possible that there’s an NDA involved, or else, a non-disparagment clause?

At TechCrunch, Devin Coldewey claims that Stadia, Google’s streaming gaming service that they just finally killed, died because no one trusts them to keep anything alive. I still remember (and tend to repeatedly mention) how frustrated I was when they killed Google Reader back in 2013, in order to make way for a social networking service that no one remembers, and that feeling never really went away.

Chaos;Head Noah, screenshot from Mobygames

Kyle Orland at Ars Technica mentions a visual novel Spike Chunsoft is releasing for Switch that they’ve cancelled for Steam, due to mandated content changes by Valve. The game is called Chaos;Head Noah (their punctuation, not mine), and was originally released for the Xbox 360, with a Vita re-release, that both received very restrictive ratings. Later releases had an edited script which allowed it to be released with a lighter rating, which an anonymous source says is the version to be released on Switch (and not on Steam). Chaos;Head Noah is a sequel to the previous Chaos;Head, and both are part of the same series as Steins;Gate.

The mainstream gaming press suffered another blow. John Walker writing for Kotaku mentions that the ubiquitous Fandom wiki empire, formerly known as Wikia, has purchased a variety of other websites, including Gamespot, GameFAQs, and Giant Bomb, in addition to TV Guide, Metacritic, Cord Cutters News and Comic Vine. The NetHack Wiki changed over from Wikia many years ago, yet Fandom’s out-of-date version of it still confuses Google search results today. And it doesn’t feel great that so many properties have their primary source of knowledge about them owned by one business, which now engulfing a much larger percentage of the fan media landscape. I point you again to the line in our sidebar that says, “Just say no to Fandom.com!” And yet, if you want to find information on some things, Fandom sites are largely inescapable.

Final Fantasy V, image from Mobygames

Marshall Honorof at Tom’s Hardware goes through the six English releases of Final Fantasy V and tells you which is the best to play-although, pointedly, it is challenging to buy these days. It contains a screed about game preservation that I am entirely on board with.

Video Games Chronicle’s Jordan Middler discusses a Bloomberg report that controversial Activision chief compliance officer Francis Townsend has stepped down, a former Bush administration officer who was unpopular with both fans and employees for not addressing reports of harassment.

News 9/29/2022: Dire Tidings From Texas

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

It’s been a slow day at the news desk, blobs and blobbies. Just three items-

Mollie Taylor at PC Gamer tells us that Atlus is suing fans for reviving an old MMORPG of theirs, Shin Megami Tenshin Imagine Online. A particularly galling part of the article: “The suit claims the fan server has ’caused and will continue to cause irreparable damage to Atlus unless restrained by this Court,’ despite the servers being dead for over six years.” Not cool, Atlus! Of course, the law is complex, and very often on the internet the law being violated is not the one you think it is at first, be this seems particularly egregious.

Nintendo Life has an article by Gavin Lane on which Zelda title players should try first, and of course you just know I’d have to link it as an excuse to get in my two gelatinous cents! I really think people should try the original Legend of Zelda first! It’s hard, oooooh yes it is drebnar, and you’ll die a lot, but that’s what makes it fun! It’s not like you lose much when you die either. The article’s own argument (which you’ll have to read to get Gavin’s reasoning) is: Ocarina of Time, Link to the Past, Breath of the Wild, and Wind Waker.

And a group of writers headed by Rachel Watts at Rock Paper Shotgun report on their favorite indie titles from out of EGX 2022.

Finally, if I might talk about a non-gaming issue that affects all of us on the web… the U.S. Fifth Appeals Court has made a horrendous, head-scratching decision that could easily turn social media into a hailstorm of spam and misinformation, at best. The Atlantic has an article up called Is This The Beginning of the End of the Internet, and from what I’ve seen so far it’s possible? It all has to do with a Texas law that forbids social media from “censoring” people’s feeds, saying if they have 50 million users they no longer have First Amendment rights. Of course the law is complex (as I mentioned above), and the effects of this decision, if it isn’t overturned or outright nullified by an eventual law, will spill out in several directions. But those of us remembering the era leading up to the election of the Terrible Orange Man will remember the kinds of things that floated around Facebook at that time. This looks like it might open the already-leaky floodgates, and, at the very least, turn social media sites into unusable hellholes. For more, you probably should read the article-provided The Atlantic doesn’t ward it from your sight with a paywall. It’s nearly the end of the month, if you’re out of free articles they should reset soon. That’s the way it works, right?

(EDIT: Fixed link. The Windows clipboard continues to cause me problems, argh.)

Nintendo Direct, September 2022

Nintendo released a new Nintendo Direct yesterday, and everyone in the gamesphere is posting about it as they always do. I suppose we should say something too. While it’s not directly related to our subject matter, Nintendo is as niche as a major game publisher gets, so I believe I can find room for it.

First, here’s the video if you care to watch it yourself (the relevent part is about 45 minutes long, I’ve cued it up to the content):

In summary:

Not to bury the lede like Nintendo usually does, the last trailer was about the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, subtitled Tears of the Kingdom. I think they should just call every game Magical Thingumy, but no one ever listens to good sense. The given release date is May 20, 2023, so, not much longer to wait. Despite the closeness of its release, even less was presented about the game than the last time it showed up in a Nintendo Direct!

Fire Emblem Engage seems to offer crossovers between characters from prior games, including Marth himself, Mr. Fire Emblem, the hero of the first game. I mean all the big game companies seem to be falling over themselves to cross their games and even series together into a thick homogeneous paste, why should Nintendo be any different? Arguably they started the whole trend with Smash Bros. anyway. Fire Emblem has been to this well once before with the mobile app Fire Emblem Heroes. Release date: January 20.

A crossover between Fitness Boxing and Fist of the North Star, the anime property no one’s been clamoring for. “Box with familiar characters.” Sure, like, um, that guy. Hatatatatatatata! I’d explain more, but you’re already dead.

OddBallers, a party game for up to six players. Tunic makes it to Switch, where it should probably have debuted. Remakes of Front Missions 1 and 2 (first time out of Japan for the second), with 3 coming in the future.

New release Splatoon 3 (what, it’s out already?) is getting its first Splatfest. Mario Strikers Battle League is getting new characters Pauline and Diddy Kong.

Octopath Traveler 2 is coming and it looks the same, and a new Final Fantasy Theatrhythm (with a ton of DLC of course).

The original Mario + Rabbids took a lot of people by surprised with its deep gameplay, and it even somehow made the Rabbids more fun than annoying. Other than a couple of minor gameplay features (exploring, Sparks), and maybe playable Bowser, the only really new information was its release date of October 20. I mean, there’s pre-order bonuses and a season pass, but it’d almost be more news if those weren’t going to be offered.

Let’s keep rolling with that farming theme. Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life is getting remade as Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life. Why change the brand? Are there rights issues around the original? Turns out, yes. Jessica Thomas lays it all out for us at thegamer.com.

More farming! New games called Fae Farm and Harvestella. I guess if you’ve completely exhausted all of Stardew Valley’s many many features and updates and are still not farmed out, there you go. You could also go out and get some seeds and plant your own garden, unless you live in the city, you poor soul. Still, this way has far less back-breaking labor, and you don’t have to smell manure.

Even more farming! Your feed trough runneth over! Rune Factory 3 is being remade, and another Rune Factory series is coming.

Playing these things since the Atari VCS days has inoculated me against a lot of hype, but the me that played Goldeneye back in college would have been thrilled by this.

A bevy of new N64 games is coming to the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack, including, Pilotwings 64, Mario Parties 1-3, Pokemon Stadium 1 and 2, 1080 Snowboarding, Excitebike 64, and, amazingly, Goldeneye 007 with online multiplayer. I am practically certain that rights issues will have required that it be modified in some way, but that it has managed to come out at all is amazing considering the James Bond property’s owners, and that Nintendo and game creator Rare are nowhere near as close as they were back then. I’d like to know the story behind its rerelease. Honestly, the original came out twenty-five years ago. If this had made it out on Gamecube or even Wii it would have been a sensation, but FPSes have advanced so much since then. Well, nostalgia is a powerful drug. (Yeah, I said it.)

Along those lines. In addition to Octopath Traveler 2, the fandom dairy farm department of Square Enix is rereleasing Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core on Switch. I am apparently the only person in the gaming world without an abiding affection for Final Fantasy VII (the load times put me entirely the hell off the original game when it was new), so I can only watch from the sidelines. S-E also released (yesterday) the oddly-titled Various Daylife. I’m Somewhat Minuteinterested!

Speaking of fandom milking, prepare to low mournfully at the news that Mario Kart 8 is getting still more DLC tracks! And Capcom is releasing cloud versions of various Resident Evil games. Moooooo.

Wii Switch Sports is finally getting its Golf mode, released in a free update, before the end of the year, with 21 holes. I don’t know why they just didn’t wait to release it when it was finished, especially since Golf was the standout mode in Wii Sports, but I guess it’s common practice to delay a major feature or two on release now so a game can get a sales boost by announcing that feature later. There’s a spreadsheet deep in Nintendo’s marketing department that lays out the financial advantages of doing so. They keep it in a folder next to all their demonic contracts.

Shigeru Miyamoto appeared for a moment to hype the animated Mario movie releasing in the Spring, and the Nintendo World amusement park in Japan, and a new one opening soon in Hollywood, California. It’s kind of amazing to think that this is the very same Miyamoto who designed Donkey Kong in the early 80s, at a very different Nintendo. He devoted a lot of time to explaining the smartphone ARG Pikmin Bloom, even though it’s not particularly new. He mentioned that Pikmin 4 is coming out, but very very little about it.

Radiant Silvergun is being remade. Actually, has been remade, and should be out by the time you read this. It’s being released by “Live Wire Inc.” The word Treasure wasn’t mentioned at any time during the game’s brief appearance in the video.

Finishing up. Intrinisically co-op 3D platformer It Takes Two comes to Switch two, er, too. Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse. Another Xenoblade Chronicles 3 DLC update. A new Spongebob Squarepants game, sure why not. Factorio is coming to Switch. Ib. (Ib? Yeah, Ib) Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & the Secret Key (what the hell is an atelier anyway and why do so many JRPGs have them?), Just Dance 2023 (sadly not for the Wii), Bayonetta 3, Master Detective Archives: RAIN COODE, Sifu, Endless Dungeon, a remake of Tales of Symphonia, Life is Strange: Arcadia Bay Collection, Romancing Saga: Minstrel Song Remastered, Lego Bricktales, Disney Speedstorm, and Fall Guys: Season 2. Kirby Return to Dreamland Deluxe returns to the classic 2D-style Kirby gameplay.

This Direct’s hype score: 3/10. The only substantive announcements were Fire Emblem Engage and N64 Goldeneye 007! We knew Zelda was coming already, and all the other Nintendo things were either brief teasers or we already knew they were coming.

Wake me when it’s May.

News 9/13/22: Velma, Host Mode, Monocraft, VMUs

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

From Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai at The Verge. More news on Billy Mitchell, retro game record holder and villain of King of Kong. Now, in addition to having his Donkey Kong record stripped from him then reinstated, he has been accused by forensics experts of having used MAME to achieve two of his Donkey Kong scores that were represented as coming from arcade hardware. It has to do with differences between how MAME and the arcade machine build their game playfields for display when a level begins. It’s interesting reading! Mitchell has sued Twin Galaxies over defamation over how he achieved his records, which this evidence could play a role in.

At NicheGamer, Fingal Belmont presents a list of 24 3DS games to get before its eShop closes. There are ways to get new software on a 3DS after the store closes, but they aren’t legal means, and won’t get any income to the games’ creators, and we all want that!

Ryan Gilliam writing for Polygon tells us that Velma in the WB Smashlike Multiversus no longer “calls the cops” on opponents, instead bringing in her friends’ van the Mystery Machine to carry them off. To explain: Velma has a special game mechanism where her opponents sometimes drop clues when they perform attacks. If Velma can collect enough of them, it summons a vehicle (formerly the police, now the van) to cart that opponent away.

The font Monocraft

It’s at Kotaku that Ashley Bardham reports that Twitch is ending their “Host Mode” feature. Through this feature, a channel that isn’t stream itself can choose to host another stream, a loved feature that enables one channel to “raid” another, granting them all its viewers. Twitch says the feature is going away on October 3.

Blogfriend Benj Edwards writing at Ars Technica informs us of a new coding font by Idrees Hassan based off of the typeface used in Minecraft. It’s an OpenType font called Monocraft, so it should work in Windows, macOS and Linux, and it’s available here.

Andy Chalk writing through PC Gamer explains that Crystal Dynamics has managed to reclaim ownership of the Tomb Raider and Legacy of Kain franchises after Square Enix let them go, and Eidos Montreal owns the Deus Ex and Thief series.

Image from Wikipedia, credited to Evan Amos

And at VG247, Alex Donaldson tells us of an Indiegogo project to make an updated version of the Dreamcast’s iconic VMU memory cards. The updated devices will be compatible with the Dreamcast and the original cards, which had an LCD screen that could run simple games, and could even be connected to each other to trade information, but will have more powerful hardware and better screen resolution. The project is here.

News: 8/8/22: All Hail Raytheon

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

At NintendoLife, Alana Hauges notes a dispute between Corecell, developers of AeternoBlade II, and publisher PQube. It’s all a bit tl;dr, and that isn’t helped by the decision to put PQube’s lengthy response up front, undercutting Corecell’s arguments before we can even read them. In summary, Corecell claims PQube didn’t pay them for milestones, and PQube claims Corecell was unresponsive to their requests for fixes and offered to return rights. I mean, it’s rather they-said/those-others-said, but I note that PQube’s bring up the game’s poor sales, an irrelevant issue at best, is bad form. But we’re all busy blobbies and hey, here’s the next article.

“Here at Raytheon, this guy looks thoughtfully at this small bottle, no doubt full of some radioactive isotope or deadly poison. Notice our ‘Social Impact’ submenu, see we’re not evil!”

Even more depressing news, PC Gamer’s Ted Litchfield tells us that Girls Who Code, a non-profit dedicated to helping women get careers in the tech industry (good) was participating in a mentorship program set up by US arms manufacturer Raytheon Technologies (awful).

In more entertaining news, Vikki Blake at GameRadar mentions that Halo Infinite players have managed to discover a way to force a split-screen multiplayer for that game.

Isaiah Colbert writing for Kotaku informs us that Nintendo’s ending the gacha elements in their mobile game Mario Kart Tour. I’m glad to see this scourge of gaming slowly wane. Instead, players will purchase unlockables directly instead of hoping for lucky draws.

From Konami, resting on their late 80s/early 90s laurels for literally decades now!

Bryan at NintendoEverything has an interview with Chris Kohler of Digital Eclipse and Konami producer Charles Murakami about DE’s collection of 13 classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games. Digital Eclipse consistently does such good work these days and it’s a good recounting of the highs of the package and the work involved in bringing it to us.

“This guy is helping us put a tiny portion of our tremendous military profits into these boxes to feed to poor people. We’re actually good!”

News 9/1/22

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

It’s been a bit difficult getting consistent signals from Earth lately, and what has gotten through hasn’t been of too much interest to my gelatinous brain. Maybe some of this might pique your interest?

Jonathan Bolding at PC Gamer says that playing dual-screen with a Steam Deck proves the Wii-U was a good idea! I knew it! What they’re talking about is the ability of a Steam Deck to play dual-headed via HDMI out. This play style is explicitly supported in Wii-U emulator Cemu. The article also notes that Valve has stated that the Steam Deck has out-performed sales estimates, which is good! After the Steam Link and Steam Controller were put on sale for ultra-cheap, I was feeling bad about scooping them up as Valve was clearing out stock. Not too bad, though.

SMB3 Scribe’s tile selector

Here’s some news from a different source than usual. At romhacking.net, creator Michael Nix has been working on a pair of GUI rom editors for Super Mario Bros. 3! One, SMB3-Foundry, is for editing levels, and the other, SMB3-Scribe, edits overworlds. A game like SMB3 is a bewilderingly complex beast under the hood, and the strictures of platform, rom space and development time sometimes force unorthodox decisions, like hardcoding some object placements. There is an article to be written some time about the lengths NES carts had to go through to encode their data, which was usually done using a kind of domain-specific data compression.

SMB3 Foundry’s level editor

I have been avoiding linking CBR.com for a bit because of some excessively clickbait headlines, but a recent device change has reset my killfile, so they’re back. Shane Foley from there reports on series nadir Metroid Other M having one level that made it worthwhile. The “level” in question is in fact the entire postgame; up until the main boss, the whole game is heavily on rails, with full exploration only possible afterward.

At Polygon, Nicole Carpenter mentions the content warnings on new indie title I Was A Teenage Exocolonist, which has a number of traumatic events in the game, but is quite upfront about what will occur, going so far as asking the player if they’d like to be spoiled regarding which characters die, or may die. It is a heartening development.

Keith Stuart at the Guardian has a retrospective on gaming on the Commodore 64 at age 40. That old huh. Naw, that doesn’t immediately paralyze me with fear.

(Note: the Guardian is in one of those phases where they nag you with a huge yellow subscription ad. It can be easily closed, and not nearly as bad as some sites out there, but it happens. One article I checked this time-I will not link them-had autoplaying overlaid videos in the corner, which resulted in them being ejected from this post. Bad web designer, no biscuit!)

Baba Is You

Shaun Musgrave at Touch Arcade lists the best recent iPhone game updates. Mentioned are Baba Is You (yay!), Genshin Impact, and Mini Metro (yay again!).

Destructoid’s Chris Carter lists Switch games that make substantive use of the right Joycon’s IR sensor.

Blogfriend Kyle Orland at Ars Technica reports on Fabrice Breton, creator of indie game Brok the Investigator, and their efforts to track down Steam key scammers, curators who would ask devs for free Steam keys but then sell them. As usual from Kyle it’s great and informative reading!

From Alice Newcome-Beill at The Verge, a report on a new version of a Switch Pro controller from 8BitDo, who seem to make good products, although they note they have not yet received the controller for testing.

I’m sure I won’t see this image a thousand times over the next few months drebnar.
(Source: Lorcana’s official Twitter feed)

And for our weekly eyeroll exercises, it’s been reported everywhere but GamesRadar hasn’t been seen in these pages yet so let’s give the link to them: Benjamin Abbott relates that Disney is releasing a Magic: The Gathering style trading card game going by the name of (roll your eyes now!) Lorcana. I’m already brainstorming jokes to make about it as they leak its features over the coming weeks!

News 8/23/22: Falcom, DLC, Playing Cards, Shipping

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

News posts has been light lately. I’ve been worried I’ve been starting to congeal. Even alien blob creatures get older. Well let’s go with what we have–

Kerry Brunskill at PC Gamer breaks the news about Startrader, a shmup made by Falcom for the PC 98. Falcom was mostly known for its classic and unique RPGs, while the PC 98 was mostly known for its erotic anime-styled games that could somehow make full-color pictures (yes, often of naked women) often with only 16 colors and a whole lot of dithering. Startrader went against both the RPG and eroge trends, but still managed to host some amazing artwork.

How did they do that in 16 colors?

At NintendoLife, Kate Gray suggests 3DS and Wii U DLC you should get, if you can, before their eShops shut down. Games discussed include Fantasy Life, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Spirit of Justice and Dual Destinies, the many songs of Threatrhythm Final Fantasy and its Curtain Call sequel, and Fire Emblem Fates.

Kotaku’s Luke Plunkett brings us a sad story of a couple of packs of Nintendo playing cards from the 50s, that were bought at auction but, once opened, turned out to have been ruined by age. The arrow of time is one-way, sad to say. Ow, my nucleus!

And it’s not game related, but a friend-of-the-blog suggests, from Benj Edwards at How-To Geek, this guide for shipping fragile electronics.

News 6/9/2022: Multiversus, Pinball, Roguelikes

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

We’ve been distracted here at the news desk lately. A couple of our planet’s moons regularly collide with each other, causing both to reverberate and flex in a disconcerting way that causes them to warm appreciably, and will inevitably cause them both to disintegrate, resulting in major tidal trauma on the planet’s surface that our scientists insist “is nothing to worry about.” It’s still difficult not to be concerned, but I’m sure things like that happen on Earth all the time. Let’s get to the important stuff: video game news.

This building, the Sega Sammy corporate HQ, appears to be made of glass. They’d better not throw any stones! (image from Wikipedia, owned by TarkusAB and used under CC BA-SA 4.0)

Ollie Reynolds at NintendoLife notes that Sega Sammy’s finances are looking up this quarter, due both to the release of Sonic Origins (yay) and pachinko machines (boo). Jeepers Horatio Chrysler, it’s like gambling is slowly swallowing up every aspect of computerized gaming. It’s devoured most of Konami and all of former gaming stalwarts Bally, Williams, and Midway, is responsible for gacha mechanisms in mobile, and is behind several of the most odious aspects of that whole NFT thing. At least Sonic Origins is doing well.

Owen S. Good at Polygon chimes in with this week’s legally-mandated Multiversus news, noting that it’s getting ranked and arcade modes. I mean, on one hand it’s completely obvious that the game is the result of the same kind of soulless corporate mandate that resulted in the execrable Space Jam: A New Legacy, a movie that somehow took a 90s movie based off of a series of sneaker commercials and made the concept worse, but on the other hand it’s got Steven Universe in it. With the parent company in disarray, cancelling nearly complete $90 million dollar movies in order to take a tax writeup, it’s amazing WB, now WB Discovery, can do anything right at the moment.

At Ars Technica, Sam Machkovech reports on 1Up’s new pinball cabinet, which provides emulated (well, simulated) versions of several classic Bally/Williams games in digital form. No video pinball game can hold a candle to real pinball, because of framerate limitations, because of the importance of nudging the machine, and because pinball is cool because it’s a physical ball shooting around the table. Still though, most people can’t afford to pay thousands of dollars for a real table. The unit is one of three pinball products they’re releasing, with this one offering 10 games running Zen Studio’s engine. The headliner is Attack From Mars, but most of the games are really solid, including some underrated classics like Junk Yard and No Good Gofers. Sadly, Machkovech reports that White Water suffers from stuttering and input lag, which speaking as a habitué of Wet Willie’s, is unacceptable for that game. For the record, the other games are Fish Tales, Medieval Madness, Road Show, Hurricane, and Tales of the Arabian Nights. So, no Funhouse. I dunno, for $600 you’d think they’d just include all the games they had the license for?

Not mentioned in the article: NetHack

Cameron Bald at PCGamesN was just asking for our rancorous commentary when he wrote what he claims are the best roguelikes and roguelites on PC. I mean we host @Play now, honor demands that we chime in! The list is Hades, The Binding of Isaac, Darkest Dungeon, Dead Cells, Don’t Starve, Downwell, Into The Breach, Slay the Spire, and Spelunky 2. While, yeah, they’re all good games and I’ve nothing bad to say about any of them, they’re all commercial roguelites. Nothing about NetHack or Angband or anything. Oh well.

Whew, that’s a high commentary-to-link ratio. Let’s continue the list next time. Toodles!