Revengineers 8static EP Review

 

The Revengineers are without a doubt my favorite chiptune-influenced group. They’re about the only post-rock chiptune blending group I’ve heard and their earnest emotional songs really hit hard. Besides that, they have some amazing drumming and guitar playing and avoid all the meandering, pointless doodling sections that make you forget which post-rock group you were listening to.

 

Their new two-track ep is hopefully a teaser for what will be a whole album following in the tracks of their epic self-titled ep. The new tracks don’t stray far from the wonderful formula of NES leads backed by powerful guitars and drums and synths. It seems like there’s a bit more synth action this time around and the overall recording quality is crystal-clear and slightly above that of the self-titled ep.

 

I highly suggest picking up both albums today and making a sizeable bandcamp donation to keep this amazing band going strong!

No memory

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Take an emulation pilgrimage and try out the first four video games

From the early days of computing, games were always an interesting idea with potential. The cost of operating early mainframes was so high that formal games weren’t really a possibility, and the idea that they could be a profitable medium was probably unheard of!

However, there were some early academic projects that we can easily consider games in their proper form. The really cool thing I hope to highlight here is how these early experiments form the basis for the first generation if arcade games and computer games. If alway been under the impression that pong and joust were among the first games, by there is way more history leading up to those games.

The term video game could apply to many things, but for this article, we are gonna look at anything that had graphics of some form. I’m not counting anything that is text-based, or just a electronic version of a board game. These don’t represent the interactivity of a video game as we use the term. This rules out early chess, tic tac toe and text choose your own adventure games.

Tennis for two

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Features: physics for bouncing ball, two player interaction
Released: 1958
Granddaddy of: Pong, breakout, tennis games
Emulate it: http://www.gamersquarter.com/tennisfortwo/

Tennis for two utilized code that was meant for calculating missile trajectories on an analog computer to make a two player tennis game. The coolest thing is how they hijacked an oscilloscope to be the games display and graphics. This would be like rigging your car stereo’s station display screen to display a game of pong. This game sets up future physics based games like pong and breakout.

Mouse in the Maze

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Features: graphical maze, overhead mapping, tiles, user designed levels, path finding ai
Released: 1959
Granddaddy of: Pacman, Gauntlet, Zelda
Emulate it: http://bitsavers.informatik.uni-stuttgart.de/bits/MIT/tx-0/mouse/

While it could be argued that this isn’t a game, since there is no way to “win” per se, Mouse in the Maze represents a stepping stone for path finding ai and level design. In the game, you draw a maze with light pen and place bits of cheese. Then a computer controlled mouse heads out to find them. You have to admit, it even looks like Pacman a little bit.

Space War!

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Features: realistic physics, gravity, space battles, collision detection
Released: 1962
Granddaddy of: Asteroids
Emulate it: http://spacewar.oversigma.com

Space War is arguably the first space shooter. It even “looks” like a classic video game, except it comes on a sweet circular monitor. You can see lots of familiar concepts here: space battle, collision detection, ai, gravity simulation and more. It also had many game modes, a feature now common to almost any genre.

Magnavox Odyssey console

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Features: controlled, standardized console that reads cartridge games
Released: 1972
Grandady of: Nintendo entertainment system, NES Zapper, joysticks and virtually every other modern console
Emulate it: http://www.zophar.net/odyssey2.html

Here’s where pong finally appears…Nope, that’s not some early model Atari, it’s the only game console you could have bought when Led Zeppelin was the biggest band in the world. While it mostly had simple black and white sports games, it pioneered standardized controls and game formats, and even the light gun if nes fame.

Investigating this had certainly raised my level of knowledge and appreciation for the field of game development. Enjoy!

The Best Adventure SCUMM Games to Emulate

The atmosphere of some of the 90's adventure games is truly amazing.

The atmosphere of some of the 90’s LucasArt’s adventure games is truly amazing.

Something the early video games only flirted with was a really immersive atmosphere. Metroid’s ambience only hinted at what could be done with graphics and sound in the future.

For me, SCUMM or point and click adventure games were the first games to make me feel completely absorbed in another world. It was here that the PC first started to outperform the consoles in graphic and sound capability and the combination of classic text games and modern graphics and sound created a memorable sense of escapism. It’s the first time I encountered professional voice acting In a game too, something we take for granted today.

For a few years now, There has been a great SCUMM emulator available to let you relive some of these excellent masterpieces from the early 90s, here’s a list of ones worth checking out.

LucasArts was primarily responsible for many of these games. There are WAY more than these four but these are the ones that resonated most with me. Feel free to add your own to the comments.

The Dig (PC)

With cartoon cutscenes and well known actors like Robert Patrick, The Dig set the cinematic bar to a new high.

With cartoon cutscenes and well known actors like Robert Patrick, The Dig set the cinematic bar to a new high.

As one of the first games to feature real actors voicing characters and a soundtrack by the legendary John Williams, Lucasarts The Dig set the bar very high. Robert Patrick (from numerous sci-fi and action films of the 80’s and 90’s) voices the main character and the hand-drawn backgrounds really draw you into the amazing alien world that the three astronauts find themselves on.

Exploring the abandoned alien world light years from earth is one of the most memorable experiences from my childhood. The game’s sense of isolation is incredible. It’s also a fairly relaxing game. The puzzles stump you but you can’t die. It’s a game you can play while drinking a coffee with your feet up on the table.

Kings Quest (PC and NES)

Here's the upgraded VGA version.

Here’s the upgraded VGA version.

The kings quest series is one of the most prolific in the early adventure game genre. Lots of the content had to do with finding the right items and using them in the right places. This is one of the earliest games I can remember that had things in the “foreground” to create a bit of 3d In a limited way.

Maniac mansion (PC and NES)

04 Rusted Shut

When the aliens took over the mansion, they didn’t know about the ill-thought-out human custom of hiding a key under the doormat.

Probably one of the strangest games ever made, maniac mansion is a sort of b-movie camp sci-fi affair about a sentient meteor controlling a local scientist in his mansion. Only a group of teenagers seems to be awAre that something is amiss in the neighborhood and has to rescue their friend from the mansion.

This is one of the earliest games I can think of that had multiple endings, various solutions to problems and fairly non-linear gameplay. I literally had entire sections of the game bypassed simply by using another character who found himself in new situations. It must have been a nightmare to plan all possible scenarios and combinations of teens and abilities. It’s said you can finish the game with any combination of the teens. This game even spawned a short lived TV show.

Nightshade (NES)

Nightshades dark film noir graphics stand in stark contrast to the games humorous delivery.

Nightshades dark film noir graphics stand in stark contrast to the games humorous delivery.

Nightshade came out a few years too late for it’s own good. This genre crossing game is mostly a SCUMM but occasionally you have to fight bad guys in a side view ninja-gaiden style mini-level. The film noir atmosphere juxtaposed with cheesy humor is great. I just love the opening, nightshade strikes a
Dramatic pose and speaks about how he’s going to right the wrongs in metro city..then the game cuts to a few hours later..he’s already tied up and captured in the bad guys fortress, off to a great start, there .it’s also cool that instead of a simple game over/continue system, when you are defeated you Are put in a bond-villainesque death trap that is easily escapable. Get out, and the game goes on!

You can of course emulate the Nes games a variety of ways, look here for help. And you can get the DOS SCUMM emulator here.

Exalt releases Fruit Slinger with Beatscribe music

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I love ski ball, although I was never particularly good At it. Fruit Slinger accurately captures the feeling of ski ball on a mobile device. It’s a fun casual game that keeps you coming back for more.

For the music, Exalt wanted something that sounds modern but also iconic western. It was a odd combination but I think it worked out nicely. Get it today!

[android]. [iOs]

Wick Studios and Cheerful Ghost to Release Starship Rubicon with Beatscribe OST

I’m really excited to share some news about Rubicon, a game I worked more than two years ago.
The creator Wick is back with plans for an all-new version and partnering with Cheerful Ghost to get the game to a wider audience than ever before.

What started as a small kickstarter campaign to let Wick spend a summer making a game instead of working during college has blown up into a life-changing project.

The Rubicon sound track was an important career stepping stone for me too. Although I split duties with another composer, it was one of the coolest genres Id had the privilege to work on. It helped me solidify “my sound” and lead me to many more jobs.

Since I’ve learned a ton since then, I’ll be remaking the original soundtrack from scratch and also creating a variety of brand new tracks. In the end I’ll be releasing an entire OST album based on what we make plus some remixes and other treats.

Runicon has always been about the juxtaposition of classic gaming and modern game design, it’s fitting the soundtrack would merge Chiptunes and EDM into each other in a similar  way.

Please support this project, if it goes well enough we could get the much desired multiplayer version! I’ll keep you posted on how. In the meantime check out the original tracks I created years ago. You can also get the latest free builds of the original Rubicon here.

Chess.Com Now Loaded With Beatscribe Sounds

chesscomChess.com recently revamped their website and had me do some all new sounds for their site.

We wanted the sounds to be realistic and also give you a sense of accomplishment when you take a piece or put your opponent in check. I’ve been a member on chess.com for years so I was honored to work with them on their project. They have a great mobile app to play online with your friends from your devices and even different themes (complete with unique sounds).

Try out chess.com today.

Gambit.Com Now Loaded With Beatscribe Sounds

gambitGambit.com has just loaded up a their games with a whole bunch of beatscribe sounds. Gambit is a great place to play online games, especially some of your classic favorites. The best thing is, you can transact with bitCoins (and even win them) on Gambit. Additionally, there is no flash, java or applets, meaning these games work just about everywhere! Check out these great games today.

Fill your MP3 Player With Sega Genesis Sounds

This should provide adequate audio sustenance for the next 8 hours of programming!

This should provide adequate audio sustenance for the next 8 hours of programming!

Last week we looked at some awesome Sega Genesis soundtracks. As a programmer, I spend at least 8 hours a day firmly ensconced in headphones. I’m one of those few people who probably actually uses the iPod classic to it’s full capacity (I’m one of the few who even has a iPod classic). You can listen to these online but I like to “own” my music, not be dependent on wifi or anything.

You could try your hand at those annoying fileshare websites to get these mp3s but most likely you’ll spend hours downloading one track at a time and maybe get a virus too.

Instead, project2612.org is the place to go for Sega Genesis soundtracks. However getting them into mp3 format isn’t the easiest thing around. They are in vgz format, which of course your phone or MP3 player can’t run. I saw some frustrated posts about this so i came up with my own solution. Here’s the steps to convert them.

  1. Download all the soundtracks from project2612.org that you want and unzip them to the same directory.
  2. Download Winamp and the out_lame plug-in that goes with it.
  3. Create a new playlist in Winamp and drag all the VGZ’s into them.
  4. Click Ctl+P to open preferences, and under output pick “Lame Mp3 writer”.
  5. You may want to adjust some of the settings by clicking “Configure”. Assign the path that the mp3s will be written to.
  6. Click Play, you won’t hear anything but the mp3s will be created.
  7. Drag them into iTunes or whatever you use. Assign cool pixel art, enjoy.

For Nintendo and Super Nintendo soundtracks, I recommend flyingomelette.com. There are probably more comprehensive collections out there but this one had everything i was looking for. Check out their video game shrines too!

Day Off at Wormhole

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