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  • Rising sea levels forcing jungle animals to adapt?

    Posted on May 24th, 2013 keving 3 comments

    Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D is out! Let’s celebrate by watching a new TAS of the v1.0 Japanese version that goes through every stage (but doesn’t 100% it).

    Unfortunately, the thumbnail kind of gives away the best part of the video (skip to around 16:00 to see it in action, along with the setup that makes the bug possible — basically the code gets confused about whether you’re entering a new stage or restarting one after losing a life). You also get a lot of Diddy Kong tumbling forward in a straight horizontal line while the game’s ambient soundtrack plays on in the background, an oddly soothing audiovisual experience.

    Part two is after the cut.

    Expect FUN episode 5 on Sunday. Happy Memorial Day!

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • Earthbound finally coming to Wii U Virtual Console

    Posted on April 17th, 2013 keving No comments

    Happy “now we can all play EarthBound cheaply and legally” day! I doubt this will do much to lower the price of complete-in-box examples of the game — collectors are always going to be loons that way — but the days of your beat-up loose cartridge with the ripped label fetching you $120 will hopefully be over for a few years, at least.

    To celebrate, here’s a TAS from a couple iterations ago. This is no longer the fastest, but I find it the most entertaining in terms of the rather surprising turn it takes just before input ends.

    Note: Of course, don’t watch this if you care about having the ending spoiled to you. Mother fans are anal that way.

  • Yoshi’s Safari (Nintendo, 7/14/93)

    Posted on April 8th, 2013 keving 2 comments

    Called Yoshi’s Road Hunting in Japan, which is a much apter name I think. The landscape is so flat and barren, I’d be hard pressed to call it a safari really, any more than I would call a trip across I-70 in Kansas that.

    Yoshi’s Safari, that most whimsical and cartoony of the games that supported the Super Scope 6 TV-bazooka, is pretty easy. With a real-life rifle, anyone of average coordination can beat it in two or three hours. Yet the TAS (freshly posted today) takes distressingly long to get all the way through. Ah well.

    The game is also worth noting because the American release in the fall of ’93 marks the first time Nintendo of America called Princess Peach “Princess Peach”, a fair while before Super Mario 64 cleared the air once and for all. She had been called that in Japan since ’85, but you know the sort of goofy stuff NES manual writers came up with all the time…

  • Pilotwings (Nintendo, 12/21/90)

    Posted on March 18th, 2011 keving 4 comments

    Pilotwings Resort is coming out pretty soon, but why not concentrate instead on the only game among the SNES launch titles that got me really, really excited? (What can I say — Mode 7 was really amazing to me, in a way that the PlayStation wasn’t somehow.)

    This game, featuring music by my beloved Soyo Oka (who must have really like that “blaaa” instrument because it’s used in two tracks), is one of several to use a DSP-1 coprocessor in order to speed up the trigonometric calculations required for the quick scaling/rotation seen in-game. F-Zero does not use this coprocessor despite having even faster scaling/rotation moves. This is because — and I forget who told this to me, so I can’t give a source — something like half of the game ROM is composed solely of precalculated cosine tables, obviating the need to come up with the figures in realtime.

    Japanese Wikipedia claims (unsourced) that the first shipment of Pilotwings in Japan did not include a DSP-1, something which I don’t think is actually true. What is true is that the game may have either the DSP-1, DSP-1A, or DSP-1B chip onboard. The 1A is a simple hardware revision to make the chip smaller, while the 1B is the same as the 1 except with a few bugfixes to the microcode that drives the device. You can tell which chip is inside your Pilotwings without opening up the cartridge because the 1B revision actually triggers a bug that’s easily demonstrated. Start up the game and keep it running until you get the gameplay demo with the light plane. If the plane lands correctly, the game’s running on a DSP-1 or 1A; if it crashes well in advance of the runway, you’ve got a DSP-1B.

    Neat, huh? And until I started researching this, I didn’t even realize there was that “secret” side pool you could hit with that one bonus stage.

  • Another reason why the Satellaview was really awesome

    Posted on June 25th, 2010 keving 1 comment

    Microsoft got a lot of positive press for its Live implementation of 1 vs. 100 last year, with critics calling it an innovative example of socially-oriented online gaming. It turns out that Nintendo did nearly the same thing about 12 years previous.

    I’ve been going through a lot of Satellaview videos on Nico lately; there’s a ton of them, taped by forward-thinking Japanese gamers back during the service’s salad days of 1995-98. It’s given me a newfound appreciation of just how ahead of its time the thing was. That holds especially true for the SoundLink-compatible titles, which combined video games running on the SNES hardware with audio voiceovers from the digital-radio bit of the BS-X cartridge.

    The above video, a broadcast of Satella-Q from March 1997, shows how the two forms of media worked together. You had a couple of radio hosts serving as MCs of the quiz, moving the game along from their end, and you inputted answers to the questions whenever the hosts prompted you to. (Whoever taped this show just let it run without actually playing, which is why he gets all the answers wrong.)

    Maybe it’s not quite as straight-on interactive as 1 vs. 100 (scores were kept on the client side only), but it’s plainly working along the same lines.

    Between this and all the fusion radio drama-style stuff Nintendo and St. GIGA (the world’s first satellite radio company) were experimenting with, the Satellaview was one of the very few examples in game history of Nintendo being too far ahead of the technical curve for its own good.

  • Chō Makaimura (Capcom, 10/4/91)

    Posted on June 8th, 2010 keving 2 comments

    It’s easy to spot an early-era SNES game. There’s slowdown in places where you wouldn’t expect any slowdown. The Mode 7 effects are a bit janky and look a lot better in screenshots than live. The music is really tinny throughout — an issue Capcom seemed to struggle with all through the console’s life, come to think of it.

    Nevertheless, Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is a decent platformer, just as hard as any other in the series, and this TAS attempts to get through the game while defeating the absolute bare minimum of enemies — the bosses, and a set of cockatrice heads that must be killed in order to remove a wall blocking your way. The results are pretty spine-tingling, and even though this is a TAS and you know Knight Arthur is never going to die, it’s still thrilling to watch him take this leisurely stroll through the demon world.

    Note that this video begins with the final boss of the first playthrough to save time, since (like with most Ghosts ‘n Goblins titles) you must beat the game twice in a row to get the real ending. Stick around for that ending and you’ll also get to see an interesting bug that was fixed for the SNES release. In the Super Famicom Chō Makaimura, if you reconfigure the button assignments in option mode and then finish the game, Arthur’s movements in the ending will grow more and more haywire, until he finally dies in one part of it. If you beat the game with 0 lives left, the ending is then halted by a Game Over and you have to “continue” to see the rest of it. (Doing this kills the ending music, and the credits roll at the very end is completely silent as a result, which is why it was cut out of this video.)

  • Pilotwings (Nintendo, 12/21/90)

    Posted on February 25th, 2010 keving 1 comment

    A Japanese TASser has uploaded a new runthrough of Pilotwings completed in 22 minutes and 27 seconds. He also uploaded a few videos of him screwing around which are, to be honest, a lot more fun to watch. Here’s one of them.

    Back in 1991, when my 13-year-old self camped out at a friend’s house to play his shiny new SNES, we’d do a lot of the exact same things you see in this clip — right down to figuring out how spectacularly we could crash the light plane upon landing. Ah, nostalgia! (I also like the demonstrations of him missing each license by a single point. I didn’t realize that was possible.)

  • Super Family Gelände (Namco, February 1998)

    Posted on August 30th, 2009 keving 4 comments

    A more well-rounded test of YouTube annotation. In a way I like YT annotations over subtitles for things like these because the annotations don’t get compressed with the video and don’t take up as much onscreen space, but the annotation-editing interface (while simple) is very time-consuming for projects like this. For that reason alone I might switch to more traditional subtitling in the future; not having to move between the mouse and keyboard all the time would save a lot of drudge work.

    Super Family Gelände (スーパーファミリーゲレンデ), as you’ll probably notice in this video, is the spiritual 2D ancestor to Namco’s We Ski (2008). The story mode is but a small part of the full game, which places the main emphasis on time trials and such as you blaze the eight slopes available. Since it’s only an option and not the main thrust, I suppose the developers felt safe in making the story as silly as possible — the chapters only get more amusing as time goes on, and you’re doing something different in each one, so it never gets boring. If there’s interest, I could make this story mode the next “running series” here after I’m done with The Phantom of Akihabara.

    This game bears a copyright date of 1995 but wasn’t actually released until February 1, 1998 — exclusively on the Nintendo Power service in Japan, no less. This has made it a pretty damn obscure title, which is a shame; I can’t imagine why Namco sat on it for three years. There isn’t a whole lot of depth, no, but the unique control scheme makes this game remarkably novel and oddly addictive — I’m usually not the sort of person who cares much about getting fast times in racing games, but I’ve been obsessed with time-attacking in this game ever since I discovered it in the earlier part of the decade. Give it a shot if you’ve got access to it.

    (In case you’re wondering: The Japanese took the German word gelände (meaning “terrain” or “field”) and use it to mean “ski trail” for some reason.)