Vintage computing, old video games

Animal Crossing (for Gamecube) contains a functional, hidden Famicom emulator

July 12th, 2018 at 7:58 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Finished Wonder Project J (SNES)

What it is- Pinocchio: the anime game

The scientist Geppetto has constructed a robot named Pino, part of a special family of robots called Gijin. In a tragic and sudden surprise, Geppetto was captured by the evil rulers of the kingdom before he was able to finish Pino’s programming. You play as Tinker, a magical fairy who guides Pino toward being able to rescue the kingdom and his creator Geppetto.

You don’t control Pino directly, but Tinker. Tinker can direct Pino left or right, or tell him to stop; signal to him “right!” or “wrong!” She can tell him to interact with an object, she can pick up and move objects.

Interactions with Tinker comprise the building blocks with which Pino learns language, combat, good manners, sports, musical instruments. And how not to eat the cat. (In my 1st playthrough he hoisted the cat up into the air and into his mouth and it disappeared. I think it’s a glitch, but he gained a bunch of health from it, so… I dunno…)

Another game never released in the west. It turns out there is not much of a market for these sorts of simulators. It was tantalizing reading about this in Nintendo Power magazine but there was no typical way to play it.

Playing it in the late 90s / early 2000s was difficult because it was only available in Japanese and there didn’t yet exist any English-language guides. Fortunately the gameplay is very all-ages friendly and visually explanatory, so it worked well as a learning tool for some words and vocabulary at that time.

Graphically it was all about really layered, complicated backgrounds and big smoothly-animated characters. Oh, and voice acting. In an SNES game. When Pino learns something, he actually says “Wakatte wa!” (Got it! / I understand it). There’s a poignant moment where he says “Arigatou… minna”. There were maybe 5 or 6 voice clips like that. I really want to know what percent of the cartridge was dedicated to storing wave file sound. Voice acting in SNES games exists but it’s very rare.

Today there is a 100% complete fan translation. A superb one at that. It’s been worth the wait.

February 23rd, 2018 at 12:07 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Finished Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts (SNES)

This one, I streamed it live on Twitch. Thanks to those who joined in! The playthrough consisted of going through all levels of the game, beating the last boss, then doing all levels AGAIN and beating the new final boss to get the “real” ending. Completion time: about 2 hours 16 minutes.

This game was released by Capcom in ’91, making it very early-gen. It is notorious for being a finicky oldschool 2D platformer. It is all about double-jumping and its unique flavor of double-jumping is hard to get used to. It is easy to take damage and taking two damages kills you.

Something I like about this game is how it’s easy to just dive in and play without much time commitment. No long, annoying cutscenes, no tutorial, you just sort of blast right through. I practiced this game a bit while listening to an audio-book and it was a nice way to keep myself occupied. As some telegraphing is sound-based it’s not super mute friendly but you can do it.

It has some things going for it: the art direction is good for the time at which it came out, and the early and midgame levels are creatively designed.

The game is severely held back by the amount of content recycling. Enemies, bosses, level progression. The hardest-to-forgive is how it forces you to effectively play through the same content twice to get to the ending.

I don’t recommend this game. If you want a sense of what its art direction has to offer, play a different but related game Demon’s Crest.

February 14th, 2018 at 1:11 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

From a shields-only play of Dark Souls I did with a friend.

We got past the first area, and it was was my turn to face off against the Taurus Demon. I was nervous since would the bash be prohibitively short range? How much damage would it do?

Ultimately it didn’t matter.

November 19th, 2017 at 9:16 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Finished Dark Souls III: The Ringed City DLC (PS4)

With a heavy heart, playing the supposed the last game in the series. From’s Hidetaka Miyazaki confirmed that the franchise was done.

Now I have played Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls 1+2+3. All DLCs. Play time on average 200 hours per game, on average 3 playthroughs per game. I intend to play some multiplayer on Ringed City while there is still life on online. Other than that, that’s it.

It has been a large part of my life since playing the Chinese pre-order of Demon’s Souls back in the summer 2009, on a CRT, when I was living in Santa Clara CA. Demon’s Souls was not well marketed. Found out about it through random word of mouth. At first I thought it would be a very typical character-driven fantasy ARPG. But, everything about this game was surprising. It was created in the golden age of quest markers and in-game explanations, of which there were none. It is a fantasy RPGs and those tend to be character based, but the focus was totally on gameplay and environment. It is Japanese, but plays like a WRPG.

I understand the game a bit better if it’s contextualized against King’s Field for the PSX, understood as a spiritual predecessor to the franchise. I didn’t play King’s Field until just a few years ago, but when it came out it would have been received much the same as Dark Souls today. It’s an RPG that is so finicky and brooding with barely any background music.

Ringed City was a good time. At the same time I think they have chosen a good place to end it.

November 12th, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Finished Yoshi’s Island (SNES)

In this, ‘finished’ means 100 points on every stage of all worlds including the extra stages.

The extra stages include some Kaizo level nonsense. I’m thinking particularly of Hit That Switch. I did Hit that switch while streaming though. Darn, I should have recorded it…

This game is different from the usual format. In it, instead of Mario controlling Yoshi, Yoshi must escort the infant Mario around. If Mario becomes separated from Yoshi he makes a terrible noise, so there is a strong non-gameplay incentive to not let that happen.

This is the game where it is apparently revealed that Mario and Luigi are twins. Is this canon?

October 17th, 2017 at 10:26 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Finished Kirby Super Star (SNES)

Kirby Super Star consists of ‘9-games-in-one’. ‘Finished’ here means ‘100% completion’

The concept and envrionments of Kirby are so darn cute I want to hate it but I just can’t.

The game modes are different enough from each other to make things interesting:

Spring Breeze – Simple platformer
Dyna Blade – Slightly more challenging platformer
Great Cave Offensive – Treasure hunt! Look for secret passageways etc
Revenge of Meta Knight – Fast moving platformer
Milky Way Wishes – Metroidvania ish
Arena- Beat all 20 bosses in succession. 5 health refills available

And three small ‘coffee break’ games.

Why hello
http://e3.nintendo.com/…/kirby-for-nintendo-switch-working…/

Q: If Kirby ate you, what ability would he gain?

In before “debilitating depression” or “alcoholism”

September 24th, 2017 at 11:23 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Finished Pilotwings (SNES)

Is it possible to make a game entirely in Mode 7? Yes

Pilotwings is very earlygen SNES. It showcases the capabilities of Mode 7 graphics (texture-mapped plane which can be scaled/rotated/perspective transformed) to get something of a faux 3D. There are six flight modes: small plane, skydiving, rocketbelt (like a jetpack), hang-glider, helicopter, and some thing like a wing suit.

Defeating the first four courses unlocks the ‘expert’ mode, where the courses have some difficult twist (ice and snow, night, strong winds, etc) plus other difficulty adjustments. Clearing all expert courses clears the game

Too bad flight simulators are a dead genre. (“something something Microsoft Flight Simulator”, Microsoft Flight Simulator is older than I am) (“something something indie games” . okay) Unfortunately I think that to make a flight simulator marketable nowadays, it needs to have combat elements incorporated. Thinking about it, the last-released flight sim I remember playing was Il-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey on Xbox 360 which had reasonable mainstream success. That one takes place in a war scenario obviously with the shooting mechanics you would expect.

Pilotwings did not make the cut for SNES classic but maybe the IP will get picked up for the Switch.

August 23rd, 2017 at 12:01 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Ogre Battle is one of the best RTS franchises of all time. Which is surprising since it is a console game. You play as army leader <your name here> organizing a rebellion against an evil empire. The game consists of micromanaging how your army units are formed, where they go, who they attack. For each character in a unit, you pick out equipment, formation and role. Battles themselves play out automatically according to what attack policy you use, but you can also interrupt the flow of battle to issue some commands.

What makes this game so great is the gameplay and level of polish. The gameplay is complicated enough to be immensely replayable, without feeling bogged down by too many shoehorned-in mechanics. The polish comes from the nice pre-rendered backgrounds in the battle scenes, character and spell animations with a lot of frames and a lot of variety. Ogre Battle 64 really nailed this type of art direction imo, but MotBQ is where it all started.

The in-battle and out-of-battle gameplay are very different from each other- it changes from this customizable turn based thing to your typical RTS with an overworld map. The closest other game I can think to compare it to is Bahamut Lagoon (NOT Lagoon different game)

The game has thirteen different endings depending on decisions- some picky, some irreversible- you make throughout.

A long time ago, I rented this game repeatedly but I wasn’t able to beat it. Some jerk rented it after me and over-wrote my save. IIRC they also named the overwriting character “BUTTS” or something dumb.

Other related titles in this franchise are Tactice Ogre- of the same “Tactics” genre as Final Fantasy Tactics, Dynasty Warriors Tactics etc- and Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber

July 24th, 2017 at 1:29 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Dying 10000x at Lion King Souls: Ashes of Rafiki

July 21st, 2017 at 10:57 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink