Tag: SNES

I'm the darkness, you're the starlight, and I'm burnin' up in here

So here's what I've been listening to:

That's Balance and Ruin, a 5-disc collection of Final Fantasy 6 cover songs from OCRemix.

Now, I think it's still fair to say that Final Fantasy 6 is one of my two favorite games, though I suppose it probably needs an asterisk at this point.

Digression: While FF6 is a great game, it hasn't aged as well as some of its 16-bit contemporaries. Super Mario World, Mega Man X, and Super Metroid, for example, still stand as the pinnacles of their respective series and respective niches of the side-scrolling platformer genre; they're as close to perfection as a game's ever gotten, and, as years of remakes, sequels, and knockoffs have shown, are pretty damn difficult to improve on and shockingly easy to fuck up. In the Square family, I've always preferred FF6 to Chrono Trigger, but I think it's undeniable that CT's graphics and gameplay hold up better even if it's a shorter game with less-developed characters. And as for A Link to the Past -- well, that would be the other of my two favorite games, and it needs no asterisk.

The other thing that needs no asterisk? Final Fantasy 6 has my favorite video game soundtrack. Its depth and breadth are stunning; it's Uematsu at the top of his chiptune game. It's the only video game soundtrack I've ever bought, and if you name any of the 12 primary playable characters, Kefka or Gestahl, either of the airships, or for that matter most of the locations in the game, I could hum the tune off the top of my head. (And I could probably get either Gogo or Umaro, too, but I admit I might not be able to come up with both of them right away.)

Now, I love what OCRemix is but the truth is that in the past I've found their work hit-or-miss-but-mostly-miss for my tastes. The artists there, understandably, lean toward the techno/electronica style, and that's not my cuppa -- which I guess may be ironic coming from somebody who's checking out cover tunes of old video game songs in the first place.

Anyway, there's a good bit of that stuff on Balance and Ruin, but there's a whole lot else, too. There are plenty of orchestral arrangements here, and the soundtrack runs the gamut from faithful homage -- A Fistful of Nickels, by zircon, XPRTNovice, Jillian Aversa, and Jeff Ball, takes Shadow's Ennio Morricone influence to its logical conclusion with whistling, vocals, harmonica, violin, guitar, trumpet, and Jew's harp -- to riotous reinvention -- The Impresario, by Jake Kaufman and Tommy Pedrini, reimagines the Opera scene by way of Bohemian Rhapsody with a quick stop at West Side Story on the way -- to impressively effective minimalism -- Shnabubula and Gabe Terracciano cover the entire Ending Suite with nothing but a piano and violin.

At any rate, it's delightful, and the whole thing's a free download. Go to ff6.ocremix.org and you can grab a nice legal free torrent of the entire album in FLAC -- or MP3, if all this talk about SNES games has left you nostalgic for inferior 1990's technology.

You know what it makes me wanna do? Replay FF6. Random encounters and all.

But which version? The new Woolsey Uncensored Edition looks promising. On the other hand, I liked Slattery's translation quite a bit too; maybe I'll give FF6 Advance another shot. With the music patch, of course.

I should probably finish Last Story first. You know, the soundtrack's no FF6, but Uematsu's still got it.

Hyrule: Just Visiting

As I've said before, the upcoming Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds has me torn between excitement and cynicism. I see stuff like this

and there's a part of me that's giddy in spite of myself -- I feel excitement at how good this game could be, and trepidation at how mediocre it will probably be.

Jeremy Parish, who played the demo at E3, wrote a piece called Yoshi and Zelda Demonstrate the Trouble With Playing It Safe which articulates my concerns about the game perfectly: so far it seems to be running on nostalgia, a glitzy cover tune lacking in the genius of the original.

Could be it's just a professionally-created fangame.

So what happens when you do get a professionally-created fangame based on A Link to the Past?

As it happens, there is one: The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tablets, a game for the Japanese Satellaview add-on.

It's about what you'd expect from a modestly-talented developer playing with the LttP engine: the pieces are there but they just don't fit together as well.

First of all, there's the exploration. Good big chunks of the world are covered by Fog of War as the game begins, and it doesn't feel like the world opens up naturally to you as you go so much as that you're ushered through it region by region. Part of this is simply the nature of its design -- it was designed to be played across four days, with each day revealing a different portion of the world map -- but, well, just because there's a design constraint giving it a good reason to feel confined doesn't make it feel any less confined.

Indeed, from pretty early on you're encouraged to make use of instantaneous travel rather than encouraged to hoof it across Hyrule before being given the keys to the ocarina.

But if the overworld doesn't seem to offer much that's new, the dungeons just seem perfunctory.

They're shorter, they're smaller, and they're a lot more straightforward. The puzzles are simple (though in at least one case the "push a block down a hole" bit is implemented much better than its original use in LttP's Ice Palace, one of the weakest, most convoluted puzzles in the game -- though it at least rewarded players for taking the levels out of sequence), and the thematic elements of the dungeons are gone, replaced with a weird sort of mishmash of different tilesets and bosses. Why the fuck does the Water Temple look like the East Palace inside, and have the sandworms from the desert level as its boss? Who the fuck knows?

It's not that I haven't had a bit of fun playing Ancient Stone Tablets. It's like a cover tune on open mic night -- it's fun to hear somebody new try out your favorite song, even if they're not as good as the original band.

But I haven't had any great urge to finish it, either.

Guess we'll see how the new game goes. Maybe it'll be a lot more ambitious than it looks.

Or maybe it'll be pretty much a remake with less-inspired level design. That would be a shame -- but it'd still probably be worth playing through once or twice.

Zeldas

It's kinda funny how Parish's Anatomy of Zelda 2 series got me interested in replaying the game, and now it's halfway to convincing me not to finish it.

And talking of Zelda, Nintendo's gone and announced A Link to the Past 2. Don't go writing checks you can't cash, now, Nintendo; you wanna use that title you'd better be damn sure.

I've spent the past twenty years trying to find another game like LttP. I've only really found one: Link's Awakening.

My gripes about the 3D Zeldas are well-worn and don't need repeating. But even the top-down ones haven't managed to capture my interest. I played a bit of the Oracles games and Minish Cap but they just didn't quite do it for me. Four Swords was great, but it was a bitch getting four Game Boys together to actually play the thing. I expect we'll hear about a Wii U sequel any time now given that the console seems to be made for exactly that sort of thing.

I've tried other games in the genre, from the new -- I'm enjoying Bastion quite a bit but it's about as far from open-world exploration as it gets -- to games closer to LttP's own vintage -- I dig Soul Blazer all right but the sudden difficulty spikes at the bosses are pretty discouraging.

So, what the hell, Nintendo, show me what you've got. Show me a big open world with a bunch of off-the-path secrets for me to stumble on, and don't waste my time with a bunch of goddamn mandatory fishing minigames, and I just might save up and get myself a 3DS.

There's more to LttP than the enemies and mechanics. I hope the crew on this game understands that and doesn't deliver us yet another rote Zelda sequel.

Still, even if it is a rote sequel, it's nice to be looking down at it from overhead for a change.

Messiah Controllers

So what am I playing Zelda 2 with?

I'm using a Messiah wireless NES controller.

Remember Messiah? They put out the Generation NEX NES clone a few years back. It was a much-hyped, slick-looking system back in 2005, and promised built-in wireless, dual-mono audio output, and full compatibility with both NES and Famicom games and accessories.

And then it came out and turned out to be running the same damn crummy third-rate NES-on-a-chip as every other Chinese clone.

And so Messiah faded into obscurity.

Which is a pity, because despite the disappointing guts of the NEX, Messiah made some damn solid controllers. And while the NEX had a built-in wireless receiver, you can also use them on a legit NES with a dongle. (The gamepads, anyway; from what I understand the joystick doesn't work with a real NES. Don't know, never got one.)

The controller works well. It's solid and has a good weight to it; the buttons have a good response even if they're a little clicky.

The disc-shaped D-pad is a little weird but I haven't had any real trouble using it to play Zelda 2 -- I have a bitch of a time fighting Ironknuckles, but I don't think that's the controller's fault. I can see it being a problem on something that requires more four-direction precision, though.

It really is a pretty neat device and well worth the $50 Amazon's charging for a pair. (I got the Limited Edition set, which I see is now going for $175 used. I'm tempted to snatch up that $50 set and sell my limited set, but I do like the metal lunchbox.)

I'm kinda disappointed I never got the SNES set, because you can't get those anymore, but I'm seeing good reviews on the SuperRetro wireless SNES controllers. And they have good old-fashioned plus-sign D-pads, too, not discs.

Kind of a moot point, really; the state of SNES emulation and the now-standard design of its controller have meant I haven't hooked mine up in years.

Dragon Quest 1&2 SFC

I've occasionally been poking through the Super Famicom remake of the original Dragon Quest on my cell phone -- you know, when I've had downtime and haven't had my PSP or DS or suchlike with me.

First of all: man, onscreen D-pads suck, even for games that require as little precision as DQ. I have to savestate-spam just to get around the outside wall of Rimuldar without accidentally walking out.

Second: there's so much that's wonky about the interface of this remake. The stupid little half-steps you take instead of moving a full tile at a time, the bizarre decision to stick the action button on X and leave the menu on A (something they stuck with on up through 7 on the PS1!)...frankly I'm almost inclined to tip the Game Boy remake as the superior version of the game despite its inferior graphics and sound, just on its smoother interface.

(Also I recall the GB version having a more charming translation. I probably snorted out loud in class when I took the Princess to an inn and the keeper remarked the next morning that we'd sure been up late last night.)

(Yeah, I played Dragon Quest in class for most of CSE122. If you'd ever tried to sit through a lecture with that instructor, you'd understand.)

To-Do

Games I've Bought Individually and Haven't Played Yet

  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Metroid: Samus Returns
  • Disney Afternoon Collection
  • Divinity: Original Sin
  • Steamworld Dig
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X
  • Pyre
  • Overcooked
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Ys 7
  • Grandia 2
  • Trails in the Sky 2
  • Fallout
  • System Shock 2
  • FarCry
  • Eversion
  • Zissi's Island
  • Paper Mario
  • Shenmue

Games I've Bought in Bundles and Haven't Played Yet

  • Call of Duty: WWII
  • Crash Bandicoot: N Sane Trilogy
  • Spyro Reignited Trilogy
  • Distraint 2
  • Unexplored
  • Rusty Lake Paradise
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine
  • Prison Architect
  • Nex Machina
  • Shantae: Half-Genie Hero
  • Disgaea
  • Disgaea 2
  • Sonic Forces
  • Sonic Lost World
  • Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
  • Metro 2033 Redux
  • Metro Last Light Redux
  • Crayon Physics
  • Broken Sword 5
  • Tesla Effect
  • Shadowrun: Hong Kong
  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall
  • Xenonauts
  • Torment: Tides of Numenera
  • Dreamfall Chapters
  • Affordable Space Adventures
  • Gauntlet '15
  • Civilization 3
  • Civilization 4: Colonization
  • X-COM: UFO Defense
  • X-COM: Terror From the Deep
  • X-COM: Apocalypse
  • X-COM: Interceptor
  • X-COM: Enforcer
  • Pirates
  • Starships
  • Ace Patrol
  • Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies
  • Chameleon Run
  • Hitman Go
  • Dropsy
  • The Banner Saga
  • Punch Club
  • Super Stickman Golf 3
  • Ys: The Oath in Felghana
  • Ys 6
  • Ys Origin
  • This War of Mine
  • Nuclear Throne
  • Renowned Explorers
  • Nova-111
  • The Magic Circle
  • Super Avalanche
  • Tailwind Prologue
  • Strikbold
  • Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
  • A Boy and His Blob
  • Human Resource Machine
  • Retro City Rampage
  • Morrowind
  • Oblivion
  • Bioshock 2
  • Bioshock Infinite
  • Orange Box
    • Half-Life 2
    • Episode 1
    • Episode 2
    • Portal
    • Team Fortress 2
  • Dungeons & Dragons Anthology
    • Baldur's Gate
    • Baldur's Gate 2
    • Icewind Dale
    • Icewind Dale 2
    • Planescape: Torment
    • Temple of Elemental Evil
  • Aquaria
  • Gish
  • Penumbra: Overture
  • Lugaru
  • Trine 2
  • Mark of the Ninja
  • Eets Munchies
  • FTL
  • Rocketbirds
  • LIMBO
  • Shadowman
  • Penny Arcade Episode 2
  • Shank
  • Shank 2
  • The Baconing
  • Plants vs. Zombies: GOTY
  • Fist of Awesome
  • Reaper
  • Super Comboman
  • Ascendant
  • Fist of Jesus
  • Windward
  • Ziggurat
  • Kentucky Route Zero
  • Beholder
  • A Story About My Uncle
  • Neon Drive
  • Double Dragon: Neon

Games I've Bought and Haven't Finished Yet

  • Indivisible
  • CrossCode
  • The Messenger
  • NieR: Automata
  • Iconoclasts
  • Tanglewood
  • Hollow Knight
  • Tetris Effect
  • 20XX
  • Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark
  • Final Fantasy 15 -- Finished 2019-06-28
  • Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
  • SteamWorld Heist
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Sonic Mania
  • Spider-Man -- Finished 2019-04-16
  • Borderlands 2
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Wasteland 2
  • Shadowrun Returns -- Finished 2018-03-16
  • Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap
  • Dragon Quest Builders
  • Breath of the Wild
  • Super Mario Maker
  • Mad Max -- Finished 2018-02-11
  • Shadow of Mordor
  • Tomb Raider '13 -- Finished 2017-06-13
  • Owlboy
  • Rayman Origins
  • Freedom Planet
  • Civilization 6
  • A Link Between Worlds -- Finished 2014-08-28
  • Majora's Mask
  • Fire Emblem: Awakening -- Finished 2015-03-14
  • Shin Megami Tensei 4
  • Devil Survivor Overclocked
  • Mario Kart 7 -- Finished single-player 2014-07-20
  • Super Mario 3D Land
  • Ys -- Finished 2017-02-04
  • Ys 2
  • Ys: Memories of Celceta -- Finished 2017-02-01
  • Axiom Verge -- Finished 2016-09-11
  • Stardew Valley
  • Mighty No. 9
  • Transformers: Devastation
  • Trails in the Sky
  • The Stick of Truth
  • Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
  • Shovel Knight -- Finished 2016-02-15
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown -- Finished 2016-03-17
  • Civilization 4 -- Finished a full game 2016-01-23
  • Civilization 5 -- Finished a full game 2016-02-14
  • Undertale
  • I Am Setsuna
  • Shantae: Risky's Revenge -- Finished 2016-08-07
  • Adventure of Mana
  • Witcher 3
  • Skyrim
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution
  • Bionic Commando: Rearmed
  • Guacamelee -- Finished 2015-02-21
  • Valkyria Chronicles -- Finished 2014-12-20
  • Valkyria Chronicles 2
  • Valkyria Chronicles 4
  • Walking Dead: 400 Days -- Finished 2014-01-05
  • The Wolf Among Us -- Finished 2014-07-18
  • Psychonauts
  • Super Mario Galaxy -- Finished 2013-06-15
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2
  • Xenoblade Chronicles
  • Last Story -- Finished 2013-07-13
  • Red Dead Redemption -- Finished 2018-04-14
  • Gears of War
  • Crackdown
  • Dead Rising
  • Tactics Ogre
  • Star Ocean: First Departure
  • Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles
  • Dragon Quest 9
  • Etrian Odyssey 3
  • Retro Game Challenge
  • Mega Man ZX
  • WarioWare DIY
  • Half-Life
  • Cthulhu Saves the World
  • Bastion
  • DuckTales Remastered -- Finished 2013-08-22
  • World of Goo
  • Samorost 2
  • A Virus Named TOM
  • Fez
  • Brutal Legend
  • Ghostbusters
  • Penny Arcade Episode 1
  • Legend of Grimrock
  • Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril
  • Pier Solar
  • Metroid Prime 2
  • Persona 4
  • Mega Man X8

Games I've Received as Gifts and Haven't Finished Yet

  • Last Remnant
  • Portal 2
  • Sleeping Dogs
  • Hatoful Boyfriend
  • Shower with Your Dad Simulator
  • The Walking Dead -- Finished 2013-02-17
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns
  • Kirby's Epic Yarn
  • Mega Man 10
  • Kirby's Canvas Curse
  • Dragon Quest 6

Games I've Borrowed and Haven't Finished Yet

  • Destroy All Humans -- Returned
  • Batman: Arkham City -- Finished 2012-12-02

Games I Got for Free and Haven't Finished Yet

  • AM2R
  • Spelunky
  • Batman: Arkham Knight -- Finished 2015-08-12
  • Batman: Arkham Origins
  • Game of Thrones
  • Monument Valley
  • GTA: San Andreas
  • Wario Land 2
  • Sonic 4 Episode 1
  • Ultimate NES Remix -- Finished 2015-05-24
  • New Super Mario Bros. 2 -- Finished 2015-03-18
  • Torchlight
  • Bioshock
  • Fallout 2
  • Bard's Tale (Android)
  • Mighty Gunvolt -- Finished 2014-09-11
  • Game Dev Story -- Made it to endgame 2014-03-29

Expansions I Haven't Finished Yet

  • Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
  • XCOM: Enemy Within
  • Shovel Knight
    • Plague of Shadows
    • Specter of Torment
    • King of Cards
  • KotOR 2 Content Restoration Mod
  • Final Fantasy 15 Royal DLC

Games I've Bought and Haven't Finished Replaying Yet

  • Batman: Arkham City -- Finished 2015-01-06
  • Valkyria Chronicles
  • Mega Man Legends 2
  • Mass Effect 2
  • Sonic CD
  • Mega Man: Powered Up
  • Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X -- Finished 2015-10-12
  • Crisis Core
  • Super Mario World
  • Super Mario Land 2
  • Zelda 2 -- Finished 2013-05-05
  • Final Fantasy 6 Advance
  • DuckTales Remastered
  • Skies of Arcadia

Remakes I Haven't Finished of Games I Have Finished

  • Final Fantasy (PSP)
  • Final Fantasy 4 DS
  • Final Fantasy 5 (Android)
  • Sonic 2 (Android)
  • Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland
  • Mega Man Legacy Collection
  • Dragon Quest 7

ROMs I've Downloaded and Haven't Finished

  • For the Frog the Bell Tolls
  • Retro Game Challenge 2
  • SaGa 2 (DS)
  • Earth Bound
  • Earthbound
  • Soul Blazer
  • BS-Zelda -- Time limit ran out; unwinnable; not going to start over
  • BS-Zelda: LttP
  • Sonic 2 Delta
  • Phantasy Star Generation 1
  • Super Mario 3mix

ROMs I've Downloaded and Haven't Played

  • 7th Dragon
  • SaGa 3 (DS)
  • Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem
  • Soma Bringer
  • Tales of Innocence
  • Valkyria Chronicles 3

Games I Got for Free and Haven't Played

  • Endless Space Collection
  • DiRT Rally
  • The Last of Us
  • Obduction
  • Tacoma
  • Teslagrad
  • SOMA
  • Lego Hobbit
  • Lego Lord of the Rings
  • Full Throttle
  • Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion
  • Orwell
  • Hacknet Deluxe
  • Unreal Gold
  • Eador: Masters of the Broken World
  • Satellite Reign
  • Crusader Kings 2
  • Spec Ops: The Line
  • The Darkness 2
  • Alcarys Complex
  • F1 2015
  • Lethal League
  • King of Fighters 2002
  • Amnesia: The Dark Descent
  • Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
  • Carmageddon TDR 2000
  • Oxenfree
  • Layers of Fear
  • Homefront
  • Grim Fandango Remastered
  • Company of Heroes 2
  • Sanctum 2
  • MDK
  • Syberia
  • Killer is Dead
  • Rising Storm
  • Jotun
  • Shadow Warrior
  • Lost Odyssey
  • GRID
  • DiRT Showdown
  • Dungeons 2
  • Saints Row 2
  • Corporate Lifestyle Simulator
  • Huntsman: The Orphanage
  • Fantasy General
  • Batman: Arkham Origins: Blackgate
  • Tropico 4
  • Bionic Dues
  • Divine Divinity
  • Sonic 4 Episode 2
  • Gothic 2
  • Ultima 4
  • Worlds of Ultima: Savage Empire
  • Ultima: Worlds of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams
  • Akalabeth
  • Shadow Warrior Classic
  • Jagged Alliance: Deadly Games
  • Wreckateer
  • Penny Arcade Episode 3
  • Star Command
  • Magrunner: Dark Pulse
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • Aliens vs. Predator Classic 2000
  • Metro 2033 -- Bought Redux; not planning to play original
  • Teleglitch
  • Mount and Blade
  • Stealth Inc 2
  • Gabriel Knight: SotF20AE
  • Dreamfall Chapters
  • SPACECOM
  • Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee
  • Outlast

Games I Got for the Multiplayer
(so finishing them isn't really the point)

  • Katamari Damacy Reroll
  • Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
  • Super Mario 3D World
  • New Super Mario Bros. U
  • New Super Luigi Bros. U
  • Super Smash Bros Wii U
  • Splatoon
  • Mario Kart 8
  • Yoshi's Woolly World
  • DKC Tropical Freeze
  • Goat Simulator
  • Rocket League
  • Pac-Man 256
  • Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime

Games I've Funded on Kickstarter that Don't Exist Yet

  • Project Phoenix

Rellenos and Republicans

Still can't quite get this beer batter thing right. 4:1 ratio of beer to flour is just runny liquid; 2:1 is pancake mix again. I'm thinking maybe next time I won't mix the flour in, I'll just dunk the chili in the beer and egg and then roll it in the flour.


I really do love that the Senate Conservatives Fund decided to say, "Hey, remember that guy who said that really offensive thing that made our entire party look bad who we said we wouldn't give any money to? Let's give him three hundred grand and see what happens." and he immediately turned around and said more crazy misogynistic shit.

First of all: instant karma is the best kind of karma. After all, if you wait an hour before you whack your dog on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper, he will not make any connection between what he did wrong and the fact that you are punishing him. This way, even the dimmest conservative organization can't possibly help but think "I just made a huge mistake."

Second: It's always better to see right-wing organizations throw their money down a bottomless pit than contribute it to races where it might actually help their candidate. (Like all that money Sheldon Adelson threw at Newt Gingrich. You know, for a casino magnate he's really pretty terrible at predicting odds.)

And speaking of candidates who they could have helped, that brings us to #3: this is actually hurting other candidates who they've endorsed in close Senate races. The Dems in Massachusetts are calling for Scott Brown to give their donation back and they're going to try to hang it around his neck until the election.

(Now, in point of fact, I don't especially dislike Scott Brown; I think he may very well be the only Republican left in the Senate who might actually be willing to compromise to get laws passed. And I wouldn't be devastated if he were reelected. Nor do I want him to lose his seat because I care unduly about the numbers game -- the Democrats couldn't pass shit when they had 59 seats plus Lieberman; there's really not a hell of a lot of difference between 45 Democrats and 60 Democrats, thanks to the automatic filibuster.

But Elizabeth Warren is legitimately my single favorite person running for office this election, and I would love to see her win, not because she's a Democrat but because she's Elizabeth Warren.)


Playing: Decided to take a crack at Soul Blazer. So far it's pretty neat!

Adjust That Score and Play Some More

Xeni Jardin posted this video on BoingBoing. It's a jest.com montage of Phil Moore singing along to the theme music on Nick Arcade.

In the comments section, someone going by Seg links to a Splitsider interview with Moore and the creators of the show, James Bethea and Karim.

On the so-famous-somebody-made-a-montage-of-it song-and-dance silliness, the piece has this to say:

And there‚Äôs his rather — at times — goofy antics (which he also told me he can now look back on and laugh about, wondering "what kind of crack was I smoking," explaining to me that he only would so indulge when he felt the kids were freaking out so bad about being on a nationally televised show that if he was weird enough, nothing they could do would embarrass them).

There's some fascinating stuff in there -- I never thought about the logistical challenge of the simple four-directional decision tree for Mikey's movements on the game board. Dragon's Lair was out nearly a decade before Nick Arcade aired, but of course there's a difference between burning LaserDiscs for mass distribution and having one put together especially for an episode of a game show. Or at least there was 20 years ago; you can do all that shit on a phone now.

Other interesting subjects: making sure the girls on the show were comfortable; not realizing Moore was the only African-American game show host on TV at the time; the surprising ease with which they convinced the major publishers to send them games, even betas.

Those betas, of course, have become important to the collector community; most notably, the Sonic 2 prototype, which made its way into the wild some 14 years later. It includes the Hidden Palace Zone, which was teased in magazine previews but didn't make it into the final version of the game (causing, as you might expect, all manner of proto-Internet rumors in its day), and contains a whole lot of leftover material from the original Sonic, proving that Sonic 2 was built on top of the Sonic 1 code.

A silly little show, probably mostly forgotten -- funny how cutting-edge the thing actually was.

(And I don't know about you, but I was singing "Adjust that score and play some more, adjust that score and play some more..." before I pressed Play.)

(Also funny: "Fillmore", by coincidence, is the name of the first area on Act Raiser -- which was featured on Nick Arcade.)

Monkeys Aren't Donkeys

Something that always bothered me:

Okay. So Cranky Kong is supposed to be the original Donkey Kong, right? Except now he's old and cantankerous and has a long white beard.

Except here's the problem: Donkey Kong was released in 1981. Donkey Kong Country was released in 1994.

Now, I'm no expert on anthropomorphic video game gorilla physiology. But it seems to me that thirteen years is a bit of a short time to shrivel up and grow a long white beard. (And that's without even considering DK's appearance in the 1994 Donkey Kong remake just months earlier, looking perfectly healthy.)

I guess that, of all the places to draw a line in the sand for suspension of disbelief in a game about anthropomorphic, barrel-hucking gorillas, "How did that one get so old so fast?" seems rather an arbitrary place for it. But dammit, it bugged me.

And it gets worse: Donkey Kong Country Returns, released in 2010, a full 16 years after the original DKC (and 14 after DKC3) -- nobody has visibly aged. Donkey Kong, Cranky Kong, and all the rest look exactly the same as they did in 1994. 1981-1994: dramatic visible aging. 1994-2010: no aging whatsoever.

Unless -- and here's my theory -- the original Donkey Kong died of old age, the Cranky Kong in DKCR is actually the 16-bit Donkey Kong now old and decrepit, and the Donkey Kong you're playing as is actually...a now-fully-grown Kiddy Kong.

Course, then you still have to explain Diddy, Funky, and the rest of the Kong family.

Anyway. Here's the trailer for Wreck-It Ralph. Which, while not technically a movie about Donkey Kong, appears to be a much-better-thought-out story of Donkey Kong's journey from villain to hero than the Donkey Kong Country series.