Sundry Sunday: CUBE

It makes pocket calculators look like the cotton gin

It’s coming….

It’s fifteen years old now, but I still love the old “funnymovieinternet” video CUBE, which is a promo video from an era of video games that never really existed. In our little circle of friends, PREPARE YOURSELF FOR CUBE is still a signifier and in-joke all to itself. The site it came from is long defunct, but fortunately it hasn’t been hit by a spurious Youtube takedown notice yet, which as time approaches infinity, appears to be the ultimate fate of all videos on that frog-forsaken website.

Romhack: Elvira’s Monster Party

Someone worked hard to make that pixel art.

Most, maybe like 90%, of romhacks are pretty dumb. Of the remaining 10%, nine out of ten are somewhat intersting. Then you have that last percentile that achieves greatness. The jury is out, but this one could be in that category.

This hack changes the cult NES classic Monster Party and repurposes it as an episode of Elvira’s B-movie show! It also changes game graphics to make the main character Elvira, and many of the bosses and their text to make them into classic horror movie monsters. It seems like it should be worth a look from that pixel art image of Elvira alone.

Beyond that, the patch file’s ZIP has some other bits of artwork in it, including a poster, and box art:

I should point out that this is not actually a hack of the release version of Monster Party, but of the prototype of the Japanese version that showed up a few years ago. So you’ll have to hunt that down if you want to try it. And it is worth noting that that version had been held by some time by collectors who were unwilling to let it be dumped. So the construction of this particle of greatness was effectively blocked for an age by their greed. Please remember that.

In monster form, Elvira’s black gown switches to something rather more revealing, which is kind of keeping in character honestly.
Monster Party’s collection of B-movie goofballs have been replaced, with a new series of B-movie goofballs. I love the Statue of Liberty’s face in the background.

One of the folk responsible for this patch is Garrett Gilchrist (Twitter), who as it turns out was also one of the people behind the Raggedy Ann and Andy patch we reported on a few weeks ago. They’ve made a number of other patches hosted on Romhacking.net that, if you have an interest in such things, you may want to take a look at.

It wouldn’t be Elvira without a heaping helping of playful innuendo.

Elvira’s Monster Party, at romhacking.net (via Frank Cifaldi’s Twitter feed)

The Looker

Remember The Witness? Remember how everyone loved The Witness?

What? You didn’t love The Witness? Are you it some kind of blasphemer?

Sure, it has all those smarmy tape recordings all over the place. Certainly, you never quite feel like you’re done with it. Absolutely, everyone has at least one puzzle they find maddeningly obtuse (mine was on the ship). But you gotta admit, the special category of puzzle was a work of genius. If you don’t know what I mean by the special category, um… forget I said anything!

Well whether you loved The Witness or if you think it Jonathan Blows, you might want to have a look at The Looker, a pitch-perfect parody that’s actually a pretty decent puzzle game in its own right. It’s rated Overwhelmingly Positive, and as a reviewer says, “If you liked The Witness, you’ll like The Looker. If you hated The Witness, you’ll love The Looker.”

It’s free on Steam, and only takes a couple of hours to complete!

Steam: The Looker ($0) via Dominic Tarason.

Baba Is You XTREME

By now many of you are no doubt familiar with Alvi Tekari’s Baba Is You (itch.io, Steam, Switch, Android, iOS). The premise is simple. In a Sokoban-style world composed of discrete blocks aligned with a grid, you try to get a figure (usually the sheep Baba) to a goal (usually a flag). But nearly everything about this game world is malleable, according to special word blocks in each level. If a set of three blocks is arranged in a horizontal (reading left to right) or vertical (reading top to bottom) line, then that statement becomes true throughout the level. In fact, every level comes with certain statements already in effect: it is only because somewhere it says BABA IS YOU that you can control Baba, and if something else IS YOU, then you can move it too. And you can make new rules by moving the words to make new sentences.

Baba Is You became an indie darling from its game jam release in 2017, and in 2019 it absolutely exploded, being featured on several game stores including Nintendo’s eShop picks page. Its rules are simple, yet their implications becoming diabolically complex later on. Not to give away some absolutely amazing secrets, but there are very few games that get as hilariously weird as Baba Is You-or as difficult. Baba Is You is a challenge that will keep you going for weeks, but eventually pays it all off with one of the best end game sequences anywhere. If you haven’t played it yet, you really should. I did a Q&A with Alvi Tekari for Game Developer about the creation of Baba Is You, and I think it’s one of the best interviews we’ve done.

This is all to make sure we’re on the same page when I mention the sublimely ridiculous Baba Is You XTREME, a free parody of Baba Is You made by Baba Is You‘s own creator!

Baba Is You XTREME seems just like the original at first, right until you press the first key and discover: the game now has a completely spurious physics engine! Baba no longer snaps a step at a time centered in the cells of a Sokoban grid, but now moves around freely, with acceleration and friction. The same is true with all the other objects on the screen that are IS PUSH. Objects that ARE STOP are locked in place, though.

Rules like SKULL IS DEFEAT might seem insurmountable, until you turn to the power of ROCK

The addition of physics makes the execution of any move into a challenge to itself. The rule system is still in place, some old words have much weirder implications, and there are even some new words to explore. There’s only 11 levels (it is a free game, after all), but around level seven you’ll be scratching your head. But one implication of the physics is that words that are in a corner aren’t completely impossible to shift like they were in a grid setting, so with some dedicated pushing it’s possible to break some troublesome sentences here that would be impossible in Baba Is You‘s Cartesian cosmos.

This physics make this a much trickier puzzle than it would be in Baba Is You

It’s completely free, so if you’re a fan of BIY it’s worth checking out. And if you haven’t tried Baba Is You yet, it is worth a look too!

Baba Is You XTREME (itch.io, Windows)