Friday, August 27, 2010
Friday, January 01, 2010
Thursday, December 17, 2009
No Way, No How, No Saving
After sliding the big gray plastic Double Edged cartridge into the NES, the lucky player would have been given three lives and quite possibly a limited number of what us classic gamers remember as "continues". If you wanted to beat this badboy, you better have slated a whole afternoon and better not ever make a mistake. Or maybe you would get some unintelligible passcode which your brother would write down for you. You know, the kid whose "A"s and "E"s look exactly the same.
Now, Double Edged has twelve levels, or more correctly three levels and twelve save points. Short, I grant you. Just remember that Castlevania had six.
The graphics would be much closer to awful
Pixel art has come a long way since Kid Icarus. Just playing as a character made out of more than nine little squares was a life-altering event. And shading? Utterly jaw-dropping.
Here in Double Edged, not only do we enjoy well-crafted sprites and scenery, but we even get to enjoy multiple levels of moving background! And the characters have shadows!
You'll take 2 axes, and you'll like it
Whoa, wait. You want to press up and move FARTHER AWAY? You are blowing my mind.
In NES land, you will go left, right, or nowhere at all. Better find a way to jump that box, because there's no going around it.
A Few Points
For reasons that make little sense, the already-limited screen would have a points counter on it, hovering above you, as untouchable and judgmental as St. Peter. You know, so you could take a polaroid of your highest score and show it to your buddy Jay next time he came over. At least now you can shoot for an online leaderboard.
That music will be stuck in your head for a very, very long time.
So, somewhere along the line somebody figured out that not everybody likes chiptune? Being able to shut the damn music off is one of the better game developments in recent history. Sure, I like synthetic stylings as much as the next guy, but hearing the same eight bars on a loop as you repeatedly get killed by the same boss is just rubbing 8-bit salt in the wounds.
Now how much would you pay?
Minimum wage in the eighties was $3.35. NES games were fifty bucks. Nitrome.com is free. It's a wonderful time to be alive.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Buying for a gamer can be... let's just say "frustrating". The Geek Nation is known for having oddly specific tastes, and trying to pick up a game, accessory, or other such notion is fraught with the sort of Christmas peril usually reserved for Eastern European folklore. So, what to do? Our friends at Penny Arcade have a solution.
Some four years ago a posted an open letter to the suburban-trend-machine Hot Topic, asking, nay insisting they reconsider their marketing strategy as relates to gamers. A series of brilliant points were made about the fact that gamers aren't all kids and that many want something more subtle, but their nascent genius died on the inter-vine, apparently.
From the open letter:
Here is what I would like to see from you: a series of unassuming polo shirts with corporate logos embroidered on the right breast, but the logos are from the evil corporations from various videogames. For starters, whip a few for Shinra Incorporated, Datadyne, and the Umbrella Corporation.Too subtle, perhaps, but the concept holds. Stop giving us puerile junk. What is needed is some sort of gamer polo shirt. You know, for grown-ups.
Enter the First Party v1.0 Launch Polo. Nice sharp shirt. Understated gamer logo.
At last! We can wear our colors with pride, not gaudy ostentation. A shirt for that day when your office holiday party and buddy Jonesy's LAN party are scheduled back-to-back.
You see polos with tennis rackets, golf clubs, skis, sports franchise logos, heck, even an actual polo player from time to time. And finally now we see something for the more sophisticated lover of the virtual lifestyle.
Now, the in-one's-face style of gamer swag has its place, certainly. In fact, it can be rather rad. But it is nice to have an option. Sports fans have enjoyed this luxury for some time, and I can only hope the First Party shirts are a harbinger of better days.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
You should read this article, the main thrust of which is that we are starting to figure out what to do with the vast amount of free time we as a society have, and that the people who craft the future will be the ones who do just that. The issue of gaming comes up briefly:
In this same conversation with the TV producer I was talking about World of Warcraft guilds, and as I was talking, I could sort of see what she was thinking: "Losers. Grown men sitting in their basement pretending to be elves."Are here we come to a main difference between Our People and non-gamers -- interactivity. We don't want to yell at the running back, we want to control his movements. Seeing who ends up being The Biggest Loser is not for us; we want to train our own characters to succeed.
At least they're doing something.
Did you ever see that episode of Gilligan's Island where they almost get off the island and then Gilligan messes up and then they don't? I saw that one. I saw that one a lot when I was growing up. And every half-hour that I watched that was a half an hour I wasn't posting at my blog or editing Wikipedia or contributing to a mailing list. Now I had an ironclad excuse for not doing those things, which is none of those things existed then. I was forced into the channel of media the way it was because it was the only option. Now it's not, and that's the big surprise. However lousy it is to sit in your basement and pretend to be an elf, I can tell you from personal experience it's worse to sit in your basement and try to figure if Ginger or Mary Ann is cuter.
And as everything people see and touch becomes more and more interactive, we recognize that the world is finally starting to catch up.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Enter Charlotte Ronson. No, I didn't know who she was either.
Ms. Ronson, a fashion desiger, is collaborating with Nintendo on Style Savvy, an upcoming DS game slated fora November release.
From Nintendo's website:
Style Savvy combines creativity and fashion with a collection of trendy clothes, chic accessories and stylish shoes. As the owner of a clothing boutique, you must purchase inventory, monitor the store’s funds and try to please a constant stream of customers who look to you for the best fashions.What's the game going to be like? Don't care. What I do care about is pictures like these:
A VG device used as a fashion accessory? Nails painted Noble Blue to match? I thought gamers were all supposed to be mouth-breathing weirdos. Aren't I supposed to be embarrassed to own a DSi?
Something called "Fashion Week", which I assume is some form of festival related to clothing and cigarettes, took place recently, and Ronson held an after-party featuring several DSes and a preview of the Style Savvy game.
Charlotte Ronson knows how to put together a good show on and off the runway. Following an edgy SS 2010 collection, the designer threw a party where celebs drank Svedka cocktails and previewed a new fashion boutique game called Style Savvy from Nintendo DS and DSi. (The yet-to-be released game will launch later this year so you won’t have to wait long!) Erin Lucas, Tinesley Mortimer, Kirsten Dunst, and Avril Lavigne were all glued to their Style Savvy shopping and styling outfits. It’s only a matter of time until we see this cute little game in every fashionista’s hands as they frolic in the park, travel on the subway, and sip their lattes at Starbucks.
I'm assuming we aren't going to see hand-helds incorporated into any challenges on Project Runway any time soon, but any press is good press when it comes to normal adults gaming. No, games aren't just for children. No, gamers don't all talk funny/smell funny. Yes, videogames are cool. Even the people who decide what 'cool' means think so.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Semantics aside, there can be no doubt that logging some time with Super Star Trek counts as retro-gaming.
Yes, that’s an actual screenshot. A far cry from this, yes?
I first heard about SST when I was a young kid and my dad would tell tales of playing it on some massive old rig at work. (“During breaks”, of course.) Various incarnations of this game could be found on various boxes and home computers throughout the seventies. It was distributed for home use the old-fashioned way – by publishing the complete BASIC code in a magazine. A few hours of careful transcription and you were ready for… what exactly?
What on earth would motivate a modern gamer to keep playing this thing after a few curious moments? Sure, download a new version, tool around a bit, have a laugh. But to actually play? What could this code-snippet possibly have to offer?
It comes down to three aspects, few of which remain in today’s games.:
#1 – Turn-based play. Sure, it’s still out there, even on consoles, but there’s not much of it around. Spending some time with a game that allows you to leave it alone for a few hours while you consider whether or not you want to use your last photon torpedo on that distant klingon warbird (represented by a capital “K”) has a completely different feel. SST combines tactical turn-based play with the map size and freedom of a larger-scale strategy game.
#2 – Randomness. As you direct the Enterprise (that’s the “E”) around the charted galaxy, just about everything can go wrong. You are quite often yanked across the board by a “tractor beam” and placed in the middle of a firefight – not good if you’re on your way to a starbase (“B”) to reload. Sometimes the transporter will just flat out fail without warning, and the last sound your away team will hear is Scotty wailing that he’s losing them. A star (“*”) in your sector can go nova and toss you across the map like an empty can of Tab. Etc. And when I say “etc”, I mean it; much of the strategy in this game is focused on how to prepare for the worst that merciless random-number-generation can deal out.
#3 – The promotion system. Every lasting game needs a rewards system, and in SST it comes as a notification that you have been promoted to the next difficulty level. Sure, you could start at the hardest setting or keep on riddling away at the easiest, but getting the word that you have saved the Federation and are ready for harder trials makes the challenge all the more fun. When the player reaches the Expert level and scores well enough, the program will print a plaque. That’s right – something you can hang on your cube wall to show the world how awesome you are at Super Star Trek. Smitty over in networking will never live it down.
A large part of my personal enjoyment of this game comes from the hard-core, early-days-of-computing, Soul of a New Machine feel. After few rounds of typing in your commands (“pho 3 2 1 5 4 8 7”, for example) and squinting at the box of numbers and periods that serves as the starchart, you’ll feel your sideburns growing and your shirt sleeves shortening. There’s a romance to that green-texted era, the first time in history that true geekiness could be used for something other than HAM radio and Monty Python references. This is the time of legends, when Our People began. Which is why I can’t help but feel a flush of embarrassed pride over this:
Download it here.