Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

Happy Birthday, Sonic

Friday, June 24th, 2011

For those who missed it, Sonic The Hedgehog was 20 yesterday.  To celebrate, here’s 10 facts (plus a bonus) which I randomly squeezed out onto Twitter last night and you may have missed.  All of these are true.

No. 1: Sonic 2 was released on “Sonic 2-sday”, which was a Tuesday, which was a great play on words but also quite odd.

No. 2: The cheat codes for Sonic 2 in the UK were exclusively revealed in the VHS databurst on ITV’s Bad Influence!

No. 3: Rik once knew 10 cheat codes/glitches for Sonic 2. Play 19, 65, 09, 17 in Sound Test & A+Start in menu for level select.

No. 4: Sonic & Knuckles gives a series of “special stages” if plugged into any other MD cart, A+B+C+Start on title screen.

No. 5: Sonic CD had a cheat code that allowed you to play with the orientation of the 3D cloud texture on the title screen.

No. 6: The Sonic CD Wacky Workbench zones – the Past variant – had a secret statue in a room that threw you rings.

No. 7: Sonic 2 & Knuckles contains a bunch of new extra lives in hard-to-reach places that require climbing. Have a hunt.

No. 8: The Spring Yard Zone (Act 1, I think) is the only level in Sonic 1 to have 2 separate exit signs. (They both spin.)

No. 9: Extra lives in Master System Sonic 1 disappeared forever after collection, except one which gave 2 lives & didn’t.

No. 10: Tails’ full name is Miles “Tails” Prower, the quality of which as a pun is left as an exercise for the reader.

Bonus Mario Fact: Super Mario Bros. 2 was a completely unrelated Japanese game, with some sprites & title screens changed.

Alternative technologies on the Nokia N900

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Hello, all.  I’ve been on holiday in darkest Cornwall this week, but nevertheless there has been a soupcon of time for adventures in the world of the mobile technology.  Just wanted to quickly share the results here, partly to show what a flexible beast the N900 really is.

First up – with the help of another enthusiatic coder – here’s a couple of (admittedly as yet unexciting) proof-of-concept applications running under the OpenLazarus (that’s Pascal/Delphi for people old/mad enough to remember) framework for Maemo 5.  I didn’t do much but test and run these, so here’s the results:


OpenLazarus app running on Maemo 5 using standard widgets

OpenLazarus app running under Maemo 5 using Custom Widgets

…and then there’s what I’ve been fiddling with.  Thanks to the frankly magnificent Wonko from the talk.maemo.org forums, we have a working Java/SWT stack for the phone.  That means that my ShinySlots project can run out of the box and look like this:

You can see that the forced window-size has exposed my slightly-cheating repeating background, and sadly it’s not that performant at the moment, but it works as advertised, and improvements are in hand…

Up, Down, Left, Right, A+Text

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

I wandered past an advert for the Sony Ericsson Jalou the other day.  Here’s a picture:

sony-ericsson-jalou

I can only assume that if you collect all 8 phone colours and get 50 text messages you’ll go bright yellow, your hair will stand on end and you can run around for the rest of the day making people explode until your battery runs out.

Is that a Megadrive in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

It’s not very often I confess to my adulation of the Sega Genesis Megadrive or reading CrunchGear, but in this post I’ll do both.  An article has just popped up on a licensed Portable Genesis Megadrive that you can whack in your pocket and get your early-90s thrills anywhere for just $50.

Now, I don’t need to argue the case for getting one – Genesises Megadrives were awesome, so of course you should – but I’d like to ruminate on the games that come packaged with it.

pocket-megadrive

You too can have oversaturated animals in your pocket for a low, low price!

There’s a copy of the Sega Genesis Collection on my PSP games shelf, so I’ve got something to compare the Portable’s packaged-in listing with.  Interestingly, quite a lot of the games are the same between the two, particularly a lot of the older titles.  Unfortunately what a lot of these have in common is that they’re terrible:  Flicky (Chuckie Egg but with more green and less gameplay), Ecco Jr. (great for kids, not so for late 20-somethings), Decap Attack (a port of Magical Hat Adventure with much worse graphics) and Altered Beast (“wise fwom your gwave” to witness some bone-crunchingly bad game design decisions) languish at the bottom of the barrel.  Alex Kidd, Kid Chameleon and Golden Axe all contain similarly stiff platforming, yet manage to retain enough charm to see the player through to the end.

Other classics have stood the test of time well; Ecco The Dolphin is as enjoyable as ever and Bonanza Bros remains unique, if short.  Shinobi III is one of the best games of both collections (though infinite shurikens are essential, natch.)  Sega have been packaging the ancient Columns with every new system since the dawn of time (I’m looking at you, Mega CD Classics Collection) and the handheld also bundles Puyo-Puyo clone Dr Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine which will no doubt please pretty-square-movers everywhere.

The handheld gets excellent treatment on the Sonic front with both Sonic & Knuckles and the under-loved Sonic Spinball present.   While you could argue that the PSP’s Sonic 1 & Sonic 2 have intrinsic classic value (and better music), S & K was one of the most inventive of the 2D series, and Spinball brought, against all odds, pinball and platform puzzling together, with a rough-around-the-edges feel that was most unlike any of the others, and makes me particularly jealous that the PSP doesn’t have it.

That seems to be about as modern as it gets for the handheld, though – the PSP collection includes on the other hand the excellent Ristar, the Vectorman series and even Virtua Fighter (!)  The average age of the handheld games is higher, which I assume is down to increased licensing costs on newer games.

Still, all said and done, the Portable Genesis doesn’t look like a bad investment; there’s a bunch of other games I haven’t mentioned due to lack of knowledge or opinion, and $50 is half the price that I paid for the full version of Lemmings in the mid-90s* and you’re getting 20 games plus something to play it on.  What’s not to like?  Except that it’s not available in the UK of course…

* I’d just like to say that Lemmings was not worth anywhere near the price tag.  Hate me all you like, but you’re wrong.

Gaming Underground

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

underground

Spelunky on the left.  Something I can’t pronounce on the right.

There’s a bit of a rush on cave-y explore-y adventures in Shinypixel World recently.  Only yesterday I stumbled upon an incomprehensibly-named Japanese game dubbed “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” on Jay Is Games*  Quite a sweet little thing it is too, though.  The use of crisp, conservative pixel graphics creates a massive gameworld in proportion to your tiny character, and the switch-pressing exploration gameplay is reminiscent of Switchblade on the 8-bits.  It’s not without its faults – jumping is quite sticky, and there are ropes and ladders you can’t actually use – but it’s a great way to kill a couple of hours finding the 40 hidden artefacts.

At the other end of the scale, there’s something that I am totally crap at.  Spelunky.  Derek Yu (of TIGSource fame) has released version 1.0 of his, procedurally generated cave adventure, which manages to be tremendous fun and inexplicably hard at the same time.   I’d have more to say about it if I didn’t keep dying so much, but the care and attention is obvious and keeps you coming back for more punishment – don’t play it if you’re easily addicted.

* Sorry, I was desperate.