Megaman Inspired Venture Kid Features Norrin Radd’s Last ModPlug NES Soundtrack

Matt Creamer aka Norrin Radd has is without a doubt one of the masters of NES composition. With amazing NES albums like Melodia de Infinita and Anomaly and his unique style and mastery of the 2A03, he is the perfect choice for a iOS game soundtrack that tries to pay homage to the classic Megaman series.

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Venture Kid feels like an NES game from the opening cinematic scenes. Every tone and sound is authentic and the game itself mostly sticks to the limitations of the NES, with the exception of some multi-paralax scrolling backgrounds and modern “achievement” style awards.

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Matt says this is his last NES album using ModPlug, which he uses for its ability to slightly detune the pulses, a trick that adds some cool shine to the standard NES tones. Like much of his work, there is a bit of a middle-eastern scale vibe and its mostly apparent in the pyramid level. Perhaps the games only shortcoming is you don’t get to select a stage. It feels like Megaman in every other way but that. The stages are filled with secrets and places to use weapons, but you have to go at them in order. All things considered though, its as close to an NES experience you can get on your iPhone and I highly recommend it.

Little Paw – Space Corgi LP From Ex-Revengineer Nick Maynard

maxresdefault-1Nick Maynard is the guy behind the awesome post rock of Revengineers, one of the best post-rock/chiptune groups in my humble opinion. He also has some solo stuff, an LSDJ manual that is quite popular and has helped out with the also-amazing Noisewaves.

Little Paw is his new release which visits some familiar emotional territory of the Reengineers, earnest guitar and soaring leads evoke all kinds of feelings. However, the palette is expanded and more danceable this time.

While the guitar playing in Revengineers is mostly rhythmic and textural, this project puts it a bit more center stage with some great solos and awesome riffs. One of the most interesting pieces is Flying Slowly, which is a slower song, reminiscent of M38, with an epic bluesy 80s guitar solo at the end.

You will also get some awesome extras, including an unreleased Revengineers track and some wonderful other projects that Nick has in the works. Grab this awesome album today!

 

 

Studio Dustmop Releases NES Cartridge Star Versus

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 1.44.29 PMA while back we did an article about the first video games of all time. Studio Dustmop just released a authentic NES cartridge that mimics one of these early games “SpaceWar!”. While the price is a bit steep, the gameplay video shows a promising and exciting 1 and 2-player game modes, complete with modifications and various arenas with different features. One arena even seems to have some slick faux multiparalax scrolling! The in-game tunes don’t disappoint either. Its definitely a nostalgic rush just seeing the demo so far.  I’ll definitely be getting my hands on a copy as soon as possible. You can purchase your own copy here.

Plogue Chipsounds Wave Table Explained

Plogue Chipsounds works great with its presets. But that wave table can really throw you off if you’re new to the tool. This should will help you learn how to use it to create classic sounds and also show you some great examples along the way.

Wave Sequencer Settings

fade-inSync – This determines if the steps that happen in your wave table are in time with your MIDI tempo or the tempo specified in the BPM.

BPM – Set’s the internal BPM of the controller. It can be overridden by clicking Sync.

Vel – Check this if you want the notes playing to respond to the velocity (how hard you hit it) of your keyboard or midi notes. If you uncheck this, notes play at full volume. Usually you want to uncheck this for realistic NES sounds.

Loop start – Once the entire wave table plays through, this tells it where to start looping (if at all).

Rel Start – If you don’t want to start at the first command the first time through, put the step value in here that you wish to start on.

We will cover Sequence settings in a future tutorial.

The Table

Let’s start by looking at what each feature is for and the options under each one.

T – The T column is for tempo. This controls the length of each sequence of commands and notes that you play. For example, if you make two wave table items with T = ¼, when you play the note, the commands will execute starting from when the midi event (or keyboard hit) is detected and then the second command will kick of ¼ of a note later. Check the Sync checkbox to have it get it’s tempo from the MIDI environment (aka your song’s tempo). You can also put T=0 which means you want to change something about the upcoming note but not actually have it count time for this command. We’ll see how this works in the examples later on.

Type – The type column explains what each step will actually do. They are defined of the following:

Null – Nothing happens, use this to leave a gap or a delay of a certain time before the next command executes.
CC – Control Channel – You use this to change things like the vibrato, expression (volume level), filter cutoff ect.
NoteOn / NoteOff – These do what you’d think, they tell the note to play or not to play. You can use this to make gaps, echoes and arpeggios.
Pitch – This will take the note up or down the amount you specify in the Evt1 column. It is used for making arpeggios.
KS – Keyswitch controls which of the channels of the default chip you are using, you use this to change from pulse1 to pulse2 to triangle, to noise. This can create some interesting effects that would be hard to do in a real tracker but not impossible for the chip to play.
Evt1 Column – The settings here depend on the type you’ve selected. For CC it’s the selection of the note property you wish to change. It will give you a drop-down of valid choices based on your type. For pitch, it is the amount of up or down steps you wish to go.

Evt2 Column – This column is usually the value of the change For example, if you select Type CC and Evt1 = 1 (which is Pitch LFO Depth aka Vibrato) Evt2 tells the system how much vibrato you want to be added to the note at this point.

Some examples will explain it best. We will explain what happens at each step in the process.

Echo

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0 – The note plays for 1/64 of a whole note.
1 – The note is turned off for 1/48th of a whole note.
2 – The note is turned back on but at a lower volume (evt2=61)
3 – The note it turned off again.
4 – The note is turned on again at a much lower volume (evt2=20)

The 64th and 48th notes give it the offbeat echo effect that we commonly hear in music.

Looping Staccato Arpeggio

arp-loop0 – The note is turned on and plays for 1/64th.
1 – The note is muted for 1/64th.
2 – The pitch is stepped up 5 half-steps. Since T=0, this is done before the next note plays.
3 – The next 5 half-step higher note plays for 1/64th.
4 – The note is turned off for 1/64th.
5 – The pitch is changed to +12, since T=0 it’s done before the next note plays (no time passes)
6 – The note is played an octave above the original for 1/64th.
7 – the note is muted again.

Loop start = 2 – the sequence goes back to step 2 until the user lets go of the keyboard or the MIDI note ends.

Increasing Vibrato

vibrato-fade0 – The volume (CC=11) is set to 127 (evt2=127)
1 – The vibrato (CC=1) is set to 0. No time has passed, nor has a note played.
2 – The note begins to play for ¼, each time a key is pressed, steps 0 and 1 execute with no time pass before this step.
3,4,5 – After 1/8 the vibrato (CC=11) is increased slightly.
6 – The volume (CC=11) is decreased slightly.
7 – The vibrato reaches its maximum of 8 here.

Make sense? It’s really about setting up a series of steps that happen in a finite space of time. Do it right and you can really get some sweet sounds of out this unit.

Is Nintendo Planning to Release a Tablet with Gameboy Emulator?

gbNintendo recently filed for a patent for an emulator for the Gameboy, Gameboy Color and Gameboy Advance. What does that mean exactly? Well, it’s no secret emulators exist in an unofficial capacity. But officially, Nintendo has never made their products available outside of their official platforms and devices. This, coupled with a recent slew of unofficial tweets about a possible Nintendo tablet makes us wonder if we’ll be popping open classic games on a tablet or an un-jailbroken phone in the future.

Nintendo is not the only company to realize their legacy products are still getting heavy use. Most of the classic SquareSoft RPGs are already available on the iOS as well as some classic Sega games (Sonic CD plays great on an iPhone). It’s still all rumors at this point, but it would stand to reason that Nintendo wants to make the most out of something most of us are already doing without their consent or help; playing our favorite games through an emulator.

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.

Shirt Monday: Rom Glitch Ultra C by Glitchaus

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Ultra Games was a Konami shell corporation created to bypass intends “5 games a year” law in the late 80’s. Anyone recognize the other graphics?

Get it.

Kickstarter: Brad Smith To Release NES Game on Actual Cartridge

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I am quite possibly one of Brad Smith’s biggest fans. His complete cover of The Dark Side of the Moon on a NES cart is always in regular rotation on my playlist. Brad is putting his chiptune and professional game development experience to work on a brand new game for the NES called Lizard. He’s running a Kickstarter here and it’s a project I’d really like to see succeed. The demo thus far reminds me of Legacy of the Wizard, Metroid and Little Nemo. The video also hints at some different play modes and of course, we can expect quality chip tunes. Pledge 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!