Thursday, December 17, 2009

You know. Like a sword

I've been tooling around with Double Edged, a nice-looking, simple flash game over on Nitrome. It's pretty much just head right and slash at the baddies, very reminiscent of the old 8-bit games. I can help but wonder, though, what would this game have been like if it were released for the NES?

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.

Oh yeah. This shouldn't be problem at all.

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

Is this the face that launched a thousand titles?

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!

The mountains move! Devilry!

You'll take 2 axes, and you'll like it

How'd you get up there?

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.

"Well, I'm stumped. You win, Joker."

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.

Yep, it just keeps ticking away up there. Kinda creeps me out.

That music will be stuck in your head for a very, very long time.

Red X, you are beauty.

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. is free. It's a wonderful time to be alive.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The First Party Polo

Ever give a gift to someone out of the blue? The sentence "hey, man, I got this for you" when uttered some time other than the Designated Gift-giving Holidays elicits a strange response from the recipient, a bitter cocktail of shame and terror. Fortunately, we have the holiday season, a socially-acceptable chance to act on those altruistic urges.

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.