The Issues With NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The title refers to the original NES TMNT, not the arcade version or the NES game based on it. This is the version that Konami released under their Ultra label. It sold well (real well!) but is widely considered an inferior game for a number of reasons. Those reasons are the subject of these three videos, from Youtube channel Displaced Gamers. I recommend them, even if I think every place they say gamer it would be more proper to say player.

The first video:

In a long and difficult game, one of the hardest sections comes relatively early. The only swimming section in the entire game, players must maneuver their supposedly-aquatic surrogates through a difficult course that has imprecise movement, water currents, high damage, instant kill hazards, a strict time limit, and, as the video shows, buggy implementation. Many players in the NES era gave up at this point, which is rather a shame considering it’s only at the end of level two. This video examines the code and demonstrates why it’s so challenging, and how it could be made fairer.

The second video:

TMNT has notoriously floaty jumps, a low frame rate, and a fairly weird implementation of gravity. Any platform game that allows players to adjust their jump height according to how long the hold down the jump button is fudging its physics behind the scenes, but TMNT does it rather poorly.

The third video:

Displaced Gamers examines additional problems with the game’s timing, particular with that of its input reading and attack animation. Like the other two videos, they suggest code changes (sometimes in the form of Game Genie codes) that fix the problem, if you happen to have a fondness for 6502 assembly. (I do!)

If you’d like to try NES Teenage Mutant Turtles, it’s included in the “Cowabunga Collection” that was released for Switch, Xbox X/S and Playstations 4 and 5. Fortunately, it also includes twelve much more playable titles.

The Difference Between Kiosk New 3DSes and Normal Ones

It’s a video from YouTube Channel The Retro Future with the title “Nintendo didn’t want us to know this…” which I hate. Why not just mention it’s about the difference between the Kiosk Units and retail ones? I’ve seen a hundred clickbait titles like this that have completely disappointed me.

This time though, it actually was interesting content, even if I can’t see why Nintendo would care if we knew it.

The kiosk units that were displayed in stores to demonstrate software differed from the ones you could buy in one important respect: they have a resistor in a different place on the motherboard. Without this resistor, the kiosk units will only turn on if they’re connected to power. They still have a battery, but it doesn’t appear to be used! If the resistor is removed and soldered into the location it’s at on a production unit, it seems, it’ll function normally.

Here is the video:

RetroGamerNation Covers New VIC-20 Games For 2022

The Commodore VIC-20, Commodore’s first attempt at a budget color home computer, often gets lets out of the spotlight in favor of its more capable successor, the Commodore 64. Back at release it had significantly limited RAM even for the time, only 5K, and it also had only eight colors for general use, simple sound, and no hardware sprites. Even so, it did all right in the market, but was quickly overshadowed by Commodore’s more powerful followup.

But all of these factors mean that making substantial games for it is both a more interesting challenge, and a lot more impressive when it’s done well. Youtube channel RetroGamerNation did a roundup video of interesting VIC games made in 2022. Remember, when watching these videos, the VIC had no sprites. I personally like the look of Flood. Most of these games require significant RAM expansion to run (on the VIC-20, “significant” means at least 16 kilobytes), but many people who try them out will be running them on an emulator anyway, and one of the games actually runs on an unexpanded VIC.

RetroGamerNation: Commodore VIC-20 Games Roundup For 2022 (Youtube)

U Can Beat Video Games: Super Mario Bros 3

We’re brought up U Can Beat Video Games before (here’s all of the videos they’ve done to date, and here is their home page with a merch store), but this time they’ve covered Super Mario Bros. 3 in their typically completionist style, covering every level and every secret in the entire game. Sometimes they split a long game into two or even three videos, but not this time, this one video goes through the whole game, and it’s three hours and 23 minutes long! The other reason to link them this time is it’s their 100th video!

They’ve done some other interesting games since the last time we linked them, which was when they covered A Link To The Past. Some particular games they’ve done in the meantime:

Even if you don’t have an interest in seeing these games taken apart so thoroughly, many people enjoy using their videos as background while doing other things. In a Youtube environment where video makers feel encouraged to go nuts with editing and fill their footage with distracting noises, UCBVG is a model for how to create interesting and informative videos. They are great! And they have a couple of adorable dogs who appear in every video, too!

Sundry Sunday: Little Runmo

Gooseworx’s Little Runmo has 24 million views on Youtube, but it’s amazing how many things with a ton of views are still obscure to most people. Here it is in the likely event you missed it.

Little Runmo is a platforming character in a video game world who begins to question the metaphysics of his existence. Who benefits from him running through this deadly obstacle course? And what happens if he doesn’t just run to the right, but actually explores his world? The answers are funny and disturbing! But mostly funny!

Roguelike Celebration Talks: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Cataclysm

We’re going to spotlight some of the talks from this year’s Roguelike Celebration over the coming weeks, which is always crammed full of wonderful talks! The first one I’m directing your hungry gaze towards is Jeremy Rose talking about his strategy guide for Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead.

There used to be a time on the internet when nearly everyone would understand a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference.

Strategy guides for classic roguelikes are not like strategy guides for other genres of games. It is technically possible to win at NetHack without perusing spoilers, but it will probably take you a long long time. Fortunately for those with less free time, there exists the NetHack Wiki. And, since the games are randomly generated with each play, you can actually be perfectly spoiled and still find the game challenging. Although, I still think people will find playing these games without spoilers interesting and rewarding-knowing everything there is to know about NetHack makes the game seem much smaller.

I haven’t covered Cataclysm or its updated version Dark Days Ahead on @Play yet, and I really should! An interesting fact about it that comes out in the talk is that DDA may be one of the largest open source projects of all. It has had over 1,700 contributors! The mega-popular programming language Python has had around 2,000!

Roguelike Celebration 2022: Jeremy Rose presents The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Cataclysm (30 minutes)

Sundry Sunday: Homestar Runner 2000 Halloween DLC!

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!

Video: 8-Bit Show and Tell Examines the Bally Home Computer System

Video is about 32 minutes long

The Bally Professional Arcade, a.k.a. the Bally Computer System, then the Astrovision, eventually settling on the Astrocade, was in its hardware a cut-down version of their early arcade hardware. While not a big seller, mostly an also-run alongside the Atari VCS, Intellivision, ColecoVision, or even the Odyssey2, it could, like several of those systems, run a version of BASIC with an add-on cartridge. (The VCS had its Basic Programming cartrige, the Intellivision had the Entertainment Computer System, and the ColecoVision had ADAM.)

The Astrocade (to settle upon one name for it) had some interesting advantages. It uses the same graphics chip as Gorf, Wizard of Wor, and Robby Roto, but due to having less memory to work with doesn’t support as good a resolution as the arcade units. If the chip is used in multi-color graphics mode, it would use all but 16 bytes of memory! The Atari VCS, by contrast, only had 128 bytes of RAM, but didn’t have a bitmapped display taking up so much of it. These were the kinds of tradeoffs console designers had to make at the time. While it didn’t have hardware sprites, it did have “blitter” circuitry for rapidly moving data around in memory.

8-Bit Show and Tell’s video also describes the culture around the machine, which saw production for a surprisingly long time, and had several independent programmers selling their own games for its BASIC cartridge. They even supported a newsletter, the Arcadian, that shared coding tips.

Everything about this system was odd, from the pistol-grip controllers, to the built-in software on ROM, to the calculator-style keypad set into the unit itself, to the almost-but-not-quite Atari-style joystick ports. But I don’t want to steal 8BSaT’s thunder, watch the video if you’re interested in learning more!

A Real Computer? Exploring the Bally Computer System aka Astrocade

Sundry Sunday: Vs. Balloon Fight Soundtrack

For making it through another week of internet life in 2022, let’s reward ourselves with the notably changed soundtrack to the arcade version of a NES classic, Balloon Fight.

Balloon Fight is remembered for its catchy music, which you get to experience in length when you play its Balloon Trip endurance mode. The music is also heard during the bonus round. Well, the arcade version, called Vs. Balloon Fight in keeping with Nintendo’s branding efforts at the time, has a rather fancier version of that track! Whoever is playing those virtual drums is a real show-off.

Extra! There’s a lot of cool little touches that make the arcade versions stand out. Vs. Excitebike has a fun and simple little bonus stage that requires you to jump over trucks evidently owned by the Mr. Yuck Moving Company.

NES Works Presents The Portopia Serial Murder Mystery

Portopia is the biggest missing piece, to many US enthusiasts, of the history of Japanese gaming. It led to the creation of Dragon Quest, but it had a huge influence all on its own, which can be felt in a wide variety of other Famicom titles, including some that did make it to the US. Why do The Goonies II and Dr. Chaos have those weird room-based adventure sections? It’s because of Portopia, trying to mix its kind of menu-based first-person gameplay with the pre-existing side-scrolling platforming game style popularized by Super Mario Bros. It seemed random to Western players at the time, but Japanese players would have known exactly what those games were trying to do.

We’ve mentioned Jeremy Parish and his various Works projects before, and they’re always interesting and informative, a great antidote to the strident style of many popular Youtubers, and this one is especially important to anyone seeking to understand how the Japanese game industry grew and evolved in the Famicom era.

Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken retrospective: Beefing in Kobe | NES Works Gaiden (17 minutes)

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.