Vintage computing, old video games

Finished Cuphead (PC, Windows)

What was good
• It looks like one of those old timey cartoons!!!!
• Art direction
• This game is a literal work of art.
• Gameplay-wise, each level feels very fresh and different, where you have some standard shoot-y 2D bosses, some gravity-changing platforming, Gradius-style shooting, vertical scrolling boss fight. It has everything

What was not good
• There was this one part where ha ha just kidding it’s perfect

This game avoids having too many moves or power-ups which are “just good”; each weapon has its advantages and drawbacks, and your starting weapon– the peashooter– could very well be a good late-game choice. For example the second-to-last boss fight (King Dice) I used that one. This specials are not your musou in Dynasty Warriors. They are not “just good”, (with one exception) you are not invincible when you use them, they can and will get you killed versus if you didn’t use the special. From a gameplay perspective this makes you put a lot more thought into your actions.

This game was as challenging as everyone says it was. There were moments I thought I may not be able to make progress in it, however each boss’s moved are telegraphed one way or another so once you pick up on that it gets doable. I tend to be better that the reflex-based parts (like the bird feathers or robot missiles) while I had trouble with the weird parrying mechanic.

“Easiest” boss- the pirate. Everything in that fight is pretty killable or avoidable…
Hardest” boss- The bee. I don’t know exactly why I really had trouble with it. feels like Donkey Kong?
Favorite boss- the stageplay/actress one. There is this part where she is replaced by a cardboard cutout. It reminds me of the final fight with Kefka from FF6. It’s great.

November 4th, 2017 at 12:49 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…/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

Dying 10000x at Lion King Souls: Ashes of Rafiki

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

Finished Rocko’s Modern Life, the SNES action game based on the ’90s Nickelodeon cartoon.

I remember watching this cartoon thinking was pretty funny while also kind of gross because when I was little, I didn’t like seeing eating of hearts, brains, etc. It looked really disturbing. Don’t know if I’d find it gross now? Apparently the show also had lots of innuendos which had to have gone totally over my head at the time since I don’t recall that.

The video game inspired by the cartoon is essentially escort mission genre. There are a bunch of puzzles and obstacles, and you must guide your silly dog Spunky to the goal (golden fire hydrant) at the end of each level.

Spunky moves indiscriminately, autonomously forward- but you can make him switch directions or pause in one spot for a short time, and manipulate the environment to affect where he goes. The game allows you to pause and view the entire map if you want, so you can plot out a course of which items and environmental features to use. Overall difficulty I think is low-med.

The environments and sprites are pretty sizable and visually consistent with the cartoon. There are lots of frames of animation in things. The game makes use of wavefile sound (actual voice clips). I don’t have rosy nostalgia goggles for this cartoon, I don’t have them for this game either, so it was just okay.

The game is not very long or difficult- I played basically the entire thing while on a Skype call with my mom. Now I’m finally running out of SNES games not-yet-beaten.

Maybe it’s time to suck it up and get Ringed City.

April 11th, 2017 at 7:34 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Finished Pagemaster (SNES)

Do you remember this 1994 Macaulay Culkin movie? I had seen it a long time ago, this is the video game tie-in. It has the guy from Home Alone and when he reads some book he enters this alternate universe and there’s cartoons / he becomes a cartoon. This another classic ’16-bit movie tie-in platformer’- not quite as punishingly heard as some of the Disney ones (the Aladdin game, and the Lion King game, omg…) but it gets up there.

The game trolls you in some epic ways. For example, it might seem useful to grind lives for the last level. You would be wrong. You have effectively one shot to beat the last level. Why? Because at the end of the last level is a long, long path of lethal spikes, and- from all I can ascertain- you are supposed to take one long jump at the spikes, then carefully use I-frames to run that long remainder of the way and you barely have enough. You only have I-frames at all if you have an item to spare, it’s Mario style where power-ups are the only thing shielding you from insta-death. And you res with no power-ups obviously. And there are literally no power-ups present in the level. On the condition that all of these things are true, you can have 99 lives for the last level, it won’t matter- if you die you might as well hit the reset button..

One thing this game has, that I sort of miss, is some screen- could be the ending screen, could be the “I want to stop playing screen”, doing a “while(1);” basically. It stalls forever. Accepts no input. That’s where you just turn off the game.

Separate topic, but I really like this type of ending screen with the while(1).

Pagemaster’s ending screen does this. So does Chrono Trigger’s and Super Metroid’s and Super Mario RPG’s and EarthBound’s and Lagoon’s and like every RPG from that era.

An an example besides ending screens, SimCity (SNES) has an option called END. The game stops and it shows a simple animation of a moon sleeping. It will do this forever and you just shut off the console. Looks like this.

That type of ending screen doesn’t modernize super well… You can kill the game process but it just doesn’t have that same “winding down” feeling. I like it because it’s an option I can select when I really do want to stop playing, and there is nothing tempting me to go back and re-enter the game. Most importantly, the static nature of the screen takes me out of it.

Actually, modern MMOs- such as Blade and Soul, when I played it- do the exact opposite of this. If you select “Exit”, there will be a waiting period of about 30 seconds just to make sure you’re actually, actually sure. They probably have some argument about it curbing cheating or ragequitting but I think we all know the real reason. I would like to see more ending screens in games that just tell you good job, now shut it off and do something else.

February 9th, 2017 at 10:25 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Finished ActRaiser (SNES).

ActRaiser plays like two games in one. One half is a top-down ‘god game’ city-building simulator, the other half is your standard side-scrolling platformer with very oldschool difficulty. Although the two modes have such different visuals and gameplay, they are integrated. Your success in the citybuilding increases your health/spells in the platformer, and your success in the platformer unlocks the next part of the citybuilding.

I have to admire how much effort it would have been to include both these two modes. They are so visually different you basically can’t recycle any assets between them. Another cool thing is that the overworld map, shown with the ‘mode 7’ efffect, shows how your city actually looks at the present time- the terrain changes, and the placement of cities- not just some constant pre-canned thing.

There is a sequel to this game, ActRaiser II, but they axed the city-building part in favor of just having the platformer alone. Kind of a curious decision since that’s what really made this game unique.

The difficulty of the game varies wildly. The SIM parts are quite relaxing, and some of the early-game bosses are a joke, but the final boss gauntlet is something else. You need to fight all the bosses from the latter half of the game in succession, and then an additional final boss with two forms. In between bosses your health doesn’t replenish. Your magic doesn’t replenish. You can die twice but no more. Oh, and the bosses are all sped up compared to before. I was able to put together a ‘take no damage’ strategy for a few of them but not all. I got through it by the skin of my teeth.

This was a very challenging but fun game, I loved the two-genres-in-one and visual style. I had rented it a couple times when I was younger but never owned it, and for some reason, I had never beaten it even though it’s short. Maybe it was too hard. Now I got to revisit it. There are a lot of games I was not able to beat when I was younger but I can beat them now, I think because I became better co-ordinated.

And between this, Kirby’s Marx and Lagoon- seeing any 2D game level whose background is just a moving starfield makes me instantly know what’s going on… It’s a huge cliche!

February 5th, 2017 at 5:14 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

This game was a team effort with myself and 4 other students, for a contest called Games4Girls. The contest is run by University of Illinois. The objective is to make a 2D game, of any kind, targeted toward a female highschool-age demographic, with the restriction that we use Game Maker. Game Maker is a proprietary program used for scripting 2D games, using a C-like language. The choice of Game Maker had something to do with problems with past entries that depending wide assortment of platforms/runtimes; many games wouldn’t run. So, they ruled that all entries had to use Game Maker.

We decided to make a platformer type of game, which is familiar to most people. The player controls a character named Alessa, and uses her various weapons to defeat enemies and move through the levels.

Because there were restrictions on using copyrighted content, we created all the graphics and music ourselves.

My personal role was

  • coding object collisions
  • coding scene transitions, scoring
  • creating sprite and background graphics and getting them into the game

Overall the project was a lot of fun to work on.

As it turned out, our entry was very well-recieved and we finished in first place. We won a cash prize for our team and some money donated to our CS faculty at University of Waterloo.

The levels contain various enemies and obstacles.

The game includes some dialogue segments, illustrated by our group, with larger character graphics illustrated by my super-artistically-inclined groupmate! The dialogue provides some story background to the game.


  • Left/right arrows: move Alessa
  • Up arrow: Jump
  • Any arrow(in water): swim
  • A key: Shoot an arrow
  • S key: Swing a sword


My team consisted of (with thanks!):

Download Win32 binary

The game was originally built and tested on a Windows 7 environment.

Notes for running on Windows 10:

  • Windows may mark the game executable as protected by SmartScreen. Although anything downloaded here is at your own risk, I can attest that we did not put malware into the game and do not distribute it knowingly with any malware. To proceed past the SmartScreen filter should you choose to do so click “More Info” and “Run”.
  • The Game Maker environment relies on DirectPlay which, from Windows 7 to 10, was changed from a built-in feature of the OS into an optional component which is downloaded on demand. If Windows prompts you to download it, choose Yes to proceed with downloading it and enable playing the game.


June 18th, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink