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Vintage computing, old video games

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

I loaded the system disk into my computer and started the game. First couple quests things in the town to unlock the starter equipment.

Graphics and sound are good.

It can load saved games (of which, the previous owner left a couple @_@)

But, can it save games?
Yes. Yes, it can. Yeah, let me just load my game from this 30-year-old magnetic tape
Minimal grinding and churning !!

The gold cave is a maze so thank goodness I have my strategy guide.

Can I join the PC gamer club now?

August 15th, 2017 at 10:36 pm | 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

It’s in the original RadioShack box and everything, plus instruction books and inserts. I can’t believe it, they’re practically like new…

This is a 6809-based machine which was first released in 1983. It runs BASIC and the form factor comes built in with the keyboard. It can save and load programs from cartridges (called “Program Pak”s). The name TRS stands for Tandy/RadioShack- the manufacturer Tandy produced this hardware, and Radio Shack distributed it (Radio Shack used to be two words).

As it happened I did not have one of these growing up, but as a child we had an Apple IIc which was from around that era. I have fond memories of learning how to program in BASIC on that machine, writing small programs and simple text games, and the task of having to figure out how to debug them. The TRS-80 really reminds me of that whole experience. Now, in more colors than my former binary color dipslay. I went and cleared the screen to green, blue, and magenta just to make sure.

July 12th, 2017 at 1:31 am | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

I installed Windows 98 to the “space heater computer”

Is it possible to install 98 to an Intel Core-i5 with 4GB of DDR3 RAM?

Turns out, yes. If you spoof it to only enumerate 1GB, plus a bunch of other sketchy edits to system.ini and config.sys.

Β 

June 26th, 2017 at 10:30 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Finished Super Mario RPG (SNES)

Do you remember back when Nintendo’s first party titles tried to push the limits of the current technology?

Since I had done the “finish all my Super Nintendo games I currently own” I bought this new one. This game was not technically new to me since I played it all the way through as a child but I wanted to re-visit it.

I’m of the opinion that this game is the spiritual precursor to Paper Mario. They share the same role-playing elements and comedic style. Before SMRPG- and not counting weird outlyer games like “Mario is Missing”- Mario was a side-scrolling platformer and that was basically it. This was a first in having a Mario game with a character-driven story, EXP and inventory management, and so on. It has a very disctinctive level of polish, and so I think Paper Mario went on to build on this idea later.

SMRPG- which is top-down isometric 2D- achieves a “3D-looking style” through pre-rendered 3D graphics and creative ways of having planes overlap each other. You would not guess that this game was for a platform optimized for copying 16×16 sprites since literally nothing appears to have square boundaries. So many things have curved, irregular edges and unusual types of blending. The sprites all look like shaded 3D models because they are (were). One other game that comes to mind which used these same techniques is Donkey Kong Country 1/2/3 but SMRPG has larger, more varied worlds and characters and so I think it represents a greater level of achievement.

Given the sizes of sprites and envrionment with the lack of repitition or content recycling, I have no idea how they were able to fit a game of this size into 32MB. Performance-wise it was one of only a handful of games that were accelerated by the SA-1 chip though.

The game uses QTEs in all fights which keep things from getting boring or too grind-y.

In this game someone from the Final Fantasy franchise makes an appearance. In this playthrough I beat Culex, an optional boss- for the first time. I can see why this was optional. This was harder than literally anything else in this game including the final boss.

June 25th, 2017 at 9:56 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

June 24th, 2017 at 6:23 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Japanese, USA and German respectively.

The Germans do not mess around with their box art

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May 22nd, 2017 at 9:53 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