Super Cat Bros on Our Wall

From Pix’landScreen Shot 2014-12-24 at 11.40.33 AM

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Cheerful Ghost and Wick Release Starship Rubicon with Beatscribe OST

starship_rubiconOSTEver wish Asteroids had more comprehensive and immersive gameplay qualities? If you have, than look no further than Starship Rubicon. Cheerful Ghost and Wick have released the massive expansion to the original Rubicon today for a steal price of just $10. A Linux version is coming soon. Imagine playing Asteroids in a large environment where there are other ships to interact with, mission objectives and a customizable ship a la FTL.

The soundtrack for Starship Rubicon is a complete remake of the original three tracks I did almost two years ago for the original Rubicon. It’s now been expanded to a full soundtrack including some bonus remix tracks from the chiptune scene, Inverse Phase and sleepytimejesse. Some of the tracks here I composed over 10 years ago and was saving for the perfect game. Rubicon has proven to be worth of the music. It’s not the simplest game ever, but the slight learning curve is worth the in-depth and exciting gameplay. Grab the soundtrack on bandcamp today!

When Glitches Create New Worlds

The Farlands - Some of the most enigmatic glitchy weirdness ever.

The Farlands – Some of the most enigmatic glitchy weirdness ever.

Programming a video game is a huge task. You are essentially creating rules of a controlled slice of reality. If you want to draw your users in, it has to feel like a real world and behave like one. This applies even to the oldest, simplest video games.

Sometimes, though, it’s impossible to test every scenario or know what strange unexpected action a user will take. This can lead to odd, confusing behavior or a total breakdown of reality. Sometimes, glitches misinterpret game data and create entire new worlds. Here’s a few examples of that and some explanations of why and how it happens. In most of these classic games, levels were just blocks of data stored sequentially, cross to the next room = load the next block of data. But sometimes bugs made it possible for these blocks to be misread or interpreted incorrectly. Check out some of this crazy stuff and explore these accidental worlds for yourself.

 

Super Mario Bros. – The Minus World

As a kid, the “minus world” was almost like an urban legend. There was no youtube so we only heard word of mouth stories of people finding this secret world in one of the most famous games of all time. Turns out, it is for real. It’s apparently in the game’s data as level 36, but since there is no graphic for 36, it just says [blank]-1 for 36-1. The level can’t be completed, but as you can see in this hack, there are even more levels created beyond it if you use an editor to add a completion flag.

 

Metroid – Secret Worlds Door Glitch

Metroid was always kind of glitchy. You’d get stuck in walls sometimes, or see a creepy flutter of color at the edge of the screen as you leave a room making you wonder if something was just off screen waiting for you. Another childhood urban legend was that there were entire worlds you could access by slowing jumping your way through the ceiling while stuck in a door. And it was true!

The story on this one, as some rom hackers discovered, is that once you leave a vertical area via the top of the screen (instead of through a door like normal), the game’s adjacent blocks of data (often the horizontal stages) gets interpreted as vertical stages, creating entire worlds filled with enemies, terrain and paths. It’s a super dangerous place, lava is everywhere and there are pits you can’t get out of, pitfalls that you can’t climb out of. Some journeys into the secret worlds only last a few screens before you by a dead end or die, others can go on for hours. There is of course, no goal, or way to return from them. There are similar bugs to be exploited with Metroid II and Super Metroid, but its amazing how substantial the secret worlds can be on the original.

 

Megaman II – Airman Glitch

 

This one actually happened to me and freaked me out. If you use Item-1 to climb back up to the door in Airman’s boss room, you somehow scroll to the right into a trippy version of Airman’s level. The story here is that the developers probably never thought anyone would try to go back out the “in” door when they fought airman. It’s normally out of Megaman’s jumping range, but with the Item-1 you can do that. Then you once again get data read with the wrong tiles, an all kinds of weirdness.

Minecraft – The Far Lands

 

Minecraft generates its world based on an algorithm. Notch never imagined anyone would end up 32 million blocks away from the game’s starting point. At this point, the integer rounding errors start to throw things off. The normally serene and simple terrain of Minecraft starts to distort into a densely packed and twisted world filled with crazy patterns, finally ending in a gigantic “swiss-cheese” wall, beyond which rocks stretch off into eternity. Why does it remind me of Inception?

Most people get here by using a hack or cheat to teleport out to this area. However, one man is walking there, in a surprisingly interesting youtube show. You can read more about it here, it will take him years to walk to the Far Lands, but he’s committed.There’s a bunch more glitches like these in classic games. Post some of your favorites.

Gazapper Games releases Solar Rush with Beatscribe Sounds

IMG_4369.JPGGazapper Games continues outputting awesome android games based on classic zx spectrum titles. Their latest one is based on Transversion. It’s a great space game that tests your reflexes. It seems simple at first but this simple strategy title’s difficulty escalates quickly.

Gazapper Games’ titles are rooted in the retro gaming style of the early generation of consoles, but they wanted to take the music a bit forward from the spectrum with some Genesis style 16-bit vibes. Get it today!

Plogue Chipsounds Wave Table Tutorial

Plogue Chipsounds is one of the best tools for making retro-chiptune style sounds. However, the wave table configuration is sometimes a bit confusing to learn. Here’s a quick video to show you the basics on how to do it. It’s not very different from Famitracker or the LsDj table setup. This tutorial will show you how to make some Megaman-style sounds.

Aeon Genesis Completes 10-year Project of Translating NES Classic Lagrange Point

In a translation work that took almost 10 years, Aeon Genesis has completed their translation of Konami’s 8-bit NES sci-fi 1991 RPG Masterpiece Lagrange Point.

Lagrange Point is one of the most advanced NES games ever to come out. On a technical level, it uses Konami’s VRC7 sound chip to create FM synthesis on the original NES. While not all the tune are super memorable, they have a character all their own and the FM Synths really lend themselves to the games space theme.

Ironically, the VRC7 inclusion is probably what kept the game out of the USA. Its $78 price tag in 1991 was pretty nuts for a video game. People did get what they paid for with this game. It has a great story that makes you care a lot more than your average 8-bit RPG.

There aren't many Sci-Fi RPGS on the NES, let alone with FM Synthesis soundtracks!

There aren’t many Sci-Fi RPGS on the NES, let alone with FM Synthesis soundtracks!

Game-wise, Lagrange Point plays like a futuristic Final Fantasy 1. It has some features that are far ahead of its time, such as a weapon forging system. Have two decent weapons, meld them together in the factory and get something even better. The colorful graphics are a treat and the “flying corridor” battle backgrounds really draw you into the game. There are 3 different kinds of playable characters; humans, cyborgs and robots. Each have their own attributes and weapon types. There are 10 playable characters in all who can be swapped in and out of your 4-person team.

Lagrange Point does suffer from a lot of the 8-bit RPG downfalls. You will be fighting a lot of repetitive battles. Even the auto-battle function doesn’t help you stave off the annoyance of this. However, the story keeps you going to see what happens next. If you loved Phantasy Star, you will like Lagrange Point.

Here’s what you’ll need to play it.

The Original Rom (just Google search for it)
Aeon Genesis’ Patch
IPS to Apply the Patch
NES Emulator (I recommend FCEUX since it can play the FM music which some emulators can’t)

Enjoy!

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!

Tutorial: Recreating the Quick Man Song With Plogue Chipsounds

I love watching waves...

I love watching waves…

Plogue Chipsounds is one of the most comprehensive and powerful sound modules for creating classic game console chip sounds. However, if it’s interface might not be the most obvious and intuitive when you first start to use it.

Why would you want to use an Audio Unit/VST instead of the actual hardware or a tracker? Well, for adding some quick chip sounds to an existing song or remixing a classic song, it’s super useful to have everything happening in MIDI. You can speed things up, transpose them and make changes without having to spend time outside of your main DAWS. Whenever I want some Nintendo triangle bass, I go straight to chipsounds!

The Quick man track is one of the most amazing classic NES songs ever. It’s just buzzing with electrical goodness and really makes the intense Quickman level even more amazing. In just a few minutes, you can create a pretty accurate sound in Chipsounds.

I have to say that I really love the respect that the author of Chipsounds has for the classic chips. Chipsounds conforms to what the chip its emulating could actually do and won’t let you play ten notes on the NES chip. This helps keep things accurate. The tool is definitely worth the cost and I’ll be covering some of the other features in later tutorials. I also love their statement about “preserving endangered chip species”; there are some amazing sounding chips from obscure systems which create some amazing classic sounds. Definitely worth looking into to expand your sound repertoire.

In the tutorial, I use some DMC samples from the original Nintendo which you can download here. Thanks to 8bitpeoples and Null Sleep for the DMC samples.