2/2/2023

I’m spending this week away from home on business. The place I’m staying at absolutely fucking sucks: shitty furniture; pretty sure my spine resembles the shape of a Taco Bell Cinnamon Twist, no hot water (which is great, seeing as the weather has been hovering around zero degrees the last two weeks), half the lights don’t actually work, internet is a joke, and I haven’t been able to get any good sleep. Me sitting down to write this is actually the longest time I’ve had to myself since Sunday night, as I have been without any sort of privacy all week. Needless to say, I’m just sore and exhausted and waiting for the weekend so I can get the fuck back home. At least I’m being paid really well.

Before that, I got to be disappointed alongside everyone else on Earth when I checked out that absolutely wretched port of Goldeneye 64 on the XBox. God damn that fucking sucked. At least we still have that masterclass that is Perfect Dark 64 on XBox. Aside from that, game-wise, I’ve gotten the Monster Hunter bug again, but I’ve only been able to do literally a couple of hunts due to a severe lack of free time. I did make sure to buy Sunbreak, so at least I’ll have the expansion to mess with when I’m home.

I’d like to be able to get an actual article done this week; I don’t want a repeat of last year where I had to keep putting it off because of real life bull shit. I’ll have to see what tomorrow or Saturday brings. Had I known I would be busier than expected, I would have tried writing something ahead of time. Oh well. Lesson for next time. If I have time after that, I can also try looking into doing more design stuff for the site?

That’s what’s been going on. Been feeling miserable due to external circumstances, but I don’t have to deal with it for too much longer. I also wanted to post a song, due to the passing of Tom Verlaine last week. While I can’t claim to be an obsessive fan of Television, “Marquee Moon” is one of my favorite albums, and his death is a bummer.

television- guiding light

tail of the sun: wild, pure, simple life

Something that I find myself enjoying about the original Playstation is that Sony, to their credit, let anyone make games for it. Even more to their credit, a not insignificant number of those games got released outside of Japan. Granted, the Playstation was home to a lot of unplayable garbage and soulless licensed games, but their laissez-faire attitude to anything that wasn’t a 2D game did lead to some of the most interesting and/or innovative games ever made. It led to record labels and British art collectives putting out their own unique software, and allowed for traditional game studios to get experimental in ways they would not be able to by the time the HD generation came along.

Artdink is a studio that was formed in 1986, and is still making games today, yet feels like they only could have existed during this time period. Mostly known for the Take The A-Train series, city management games with an emphasis on running train stations, a good chunk of their catalogue are games that defy any sort of standard “game” explanation. Aquanauts Holiday, a game where you explore underwater, looking at various schools of fish. The closest thing it has to any end-game goal is attracting these fish to a man-made reef. Kaze no Notam, a game about flying in a hot air balloon, left at the mercy of the constantly shifting wind. Then there’s this game, Tail of the Sun.

Tail of the Sun is an open-world game about a tribe of cavemen who wish to reach the sun, hence the title. To do this, they have decided to hunt mammoths, and use their bones to create a tower they can climb to the Sun. Sounds like an off-beat, but still reasonable game, right? Well, there’s more to the game than that. Mammoths are large creatures that can kill a mere human with their size alone, and all you have are your bare hands. So while the destination is a tower of mammoth tusks, the journey is about building a tribe. You send out a lone hunter-gatherer to explore the world, hunting smaller animals like birds and monkeys to feed the rest of the tribe, allowing them to grow. Along the way, you’ll be eating sugar cakes found all over the ground, raising various stats that your caveperson has. A big enough tribe with enough intelligence increases your “Cultural Level.” In this case, “Culture” means making weapons. You start with nothing, then work your way to sticks, then axes, then finally the spear. Obviously, the better the weapon, the stronger the game you can hunt. Before, you would’ve run from tigers and mammoths, now you have the strength to take them down. Of course, running at them head-first and mashing attack will still get you killed, so that’s why you also had to work on your speed and agility.

Once you’ve figured out the game’s objective (or you read the extremely detailed instruction manual), that’s really all there is to the game mechanically. Build a tribe and build a tower. What makes Tail of the Sun is its abstraction. While things like the objective, cultural levels, and what the monoliths south of your home are for are all explained in the manual, nothing else is. Sure, you have to hunt mammoths, but where are they? Why does your caveman keep falling asleep at seemingly random times? Why did my caveman suddenly drop dead? What are all these weird landmarks?

I’ll ruin some of the mystery and say that a lot of cavemen-related things, like hunger and energy, are simply tracked off-screen; you starve if you go too long without eating stuff off the ground, and you fall asleep when you move around for a long enough time. Despite what the internet tells you, you can wake your caveman up manually if you need to get away from an animal or avoid slowly slipping into a body of water, but it’s not a good idea to keep doing that, as they can die from exhaustion that way. Everything else? That’s a mystery for you to explore and discover. It’s a big world you can wander around and get lost in. You can find various monuments that serve no in-game purpose, they only exist for you to discover. There are entire cave systems to be explored, some of which have generic food items inside, while the rest are completely empty. You can swim to different islands, some of which are barren. The only reward is the exploration.

I appreciate games like this existing. Even if Tail of the Sun sucked, and it doesn’t, I would still consider it an extremely important title for the Playstation. It stands tall as an example of how truly creative games can be in arguably its most experimental period. This game about cavemen wandering around this weird, almost alien environment (also: you can meet aliens in the game), with these unique visuals and occasional drum and bass interludes, that revels in its own imagination, that revels in its own freedom. For every Metal Gear or Resident Evil, there were just as many games like Tail of the Sun that captured my attention as a kid. Games that didn’t appeal to “normal” people. Games that took the massive jump in technology that the 32-bit era offered over previous generations and ran with all sorts of possibilities. The most advertising any of these games would get is, if they were lucky, a two-page spread in Diehard Gamefan magazine, but that was all they needed because they have already reached their target audience. Those games defined the Playstation for me just as much as Final Fantasy VII did. Tail of the Sun is as much an off-beat art project as it is a weird game, and the world is a better place for it.

Tail of the Sun is a fantastic Playstation game. Load it up, wander around for a couple hours, find no material reward, and yet never feel like your time was wasted. The kind of game you can unwind with, no real stress attached to it. Perfect for a late Winters night, wrapped up under a blanket. Also perfect for a cool Summer evening, when the sun has finally gone down. Admittedly, it is extremely cliched to end this by referencing the game’s subtitle, but it truly is a Wild, Pure, Simple Life.

guilty gear xrd rev 2

2021 was the year that I finally got into Guilty Gear. I don’t mean in the sense of playing it for the first time; I had spent a lot of time playing XX #Reload on my PS2 back in high school, but it was only ever me playing all of the solo modes, as there was no competitive scene in my area. No, 2021 was when I actually got into Guilty Gear. Learning how to play the games on a competitive level (along with other fighters, but GG is the subject for today). Learning how match-ups worked. Learning to be more flexible in my playstyle. Learning how to do more than sit in the corner blocking forever until I fall for a mix-up and die over and over until I uninstall the game.

Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 (I will be shortening this to Rev 2 for the rest of the post) was my introduction to competitive Guilty Gear. A friend and I decided that There Has Never Been A Better Time to get into the series than now. Turns out, the two of us had a friend of a friend who would set up online lobbies for their Twitch streams every weekend. I dove head-first into a trial by fire, taking on people as new as me, and people who were most likely kicking my ass one-handed while wearing a blindfold. Truly, the best way to learn is to humble yourself in front of a double-digit number of strangers (this sounds like a joke but it’s not). I didn’t have a clue; had no idea how to even do a Force Shield, let alone know the right time to use it. Didn’t know the ins-and-outs of Roman Cancelling. Didn’t know any good combos, good follow ups to a Dust attack, didn’t know that you always want to get a hard knockdown on your opponent. I knew some special moves and what buttons did what, and I slowly picked things up from there. Then Strive came out that Summer and I never looked back, at least not until the rollback update that happened today. As fun as Rev 2 was, Strive didn’t have the nightmare of delay-based netcode and frequent desyncs.

Those were fun weekends. We would play a ton of Rev 2, then spend the rest of our nights either watching whatever was streaming on Outer Heaven, or episodes of mid-2000s Kamen Rider (which is much more homoerotic than my “hasn’t watched Tokusatsu since Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers as a kid” self expected). Unfortunately, those days are long gone now, and that sucks. My time with fighters these days is playing ranked mode all on my own, then getting my ass kicked a bunch and getting sad, or winning a bunch and then also getting sad.

As I had already mentioned, Rev 2 got a big update this morning: better netcode! I spent the wee hours of the morning, then a few hours this afternoon, getting back into the swing of Rev 2. Relearning all the mechanics and characters of a game I haven’t touched in nearly two years. After all that, I have to say: Goddamn, Rev 2 fucking kicks ass.

Guilty Gear, as a whole, is such a satisfying series to learn. A lot of other fighters have a degree of rigidness to them, an expectation that you have to play a certain way. Guilty Gear, by design, is much more free form. Character hitboxes are all different, take damage differently, have different speeds in which they get flung into the air or sent falling back down, so basic combos and techniques need to be adjusted on-the-fly depending on the match up or even the position you and your opponent are at in the level itself. As an example, you cannot rely on the same attacks you would use as Ky Kiske against Sol Badguy that you would a character like May, Potemkin, or I-No. Guilty Gear walks this fine line between the constant spontaneity and flying by the seat of your pants, while maintaining the strategy and calm thinking that is needed in a competitive environment like this. It is an An*me Fighter in every sense of the term.

Rev 2 is no different. It is immensely satisfying to land that shot that allows you to follow up and knock and opponent into the air, or push them into a corner, where you can then proceed to beat the fuck out of them. Also rewarding to be on defense, and find that perfect moment to shift the momentum your way, either winning the round or making your opponent sweat to get those last few hits on you. I’ve picked up Venom as my main, whose fighting style is “playing Pool.” Lots of fun setting up his magic cue balls after knocking down an opponent, and hitting said balls at weird angles, keeping my opponent on guard while I try and then break that guard with my physical attacks. I’ve come a long way from 2021.

training mode example

Fighting games are a hard genre to get into. They ask you to put in a lot of time and effort for a victory that you will only ever get 50% of the time. It’s a genre where you have nobody to blame but yourself for failure (unless you get into a match with a ping of 300, in which case it is absolutely not your fault (shout out to that Sol player I took on earlier. Fix your internet, bitch)). They can be merciless and cruel, and you may give up and take a break from them for a while, if not contemplate giving them up entirely. But when you’re in the groove, that moment when win or lose, you and your opponent have laid it all out on the line. The moment when you go beyond merely pressing buttons, when you find a way to play mind games that work on someone half a country or even half a world away. When you can say “good games” afterwards and actually mean it, not simply handwaving a complete and total loss while you keep your head down in defeat. That’s when fighting games are good. As far as I’m concerned, no other game speaks to that spirit like Guilty Gear. Thankful that Xrd is now in a much more playable format, and can now be enjoyed for many more years to come alongside it’s fellow definitive GG’s in Accent Core and Strive.

custom multiplayer titles are fun

1/21/2023

You may have noticed that things look a little different than they used to. I’ve been wanting to find a new look for the site for a long fucking time. Specifically, I wanted a design similar to the web logs I used to run in my teen years and early twenties, something that has become incredibly difficult to find these days. Posts in the middle, one sidebar for pertinent information, another sidebar to let new readers know who I am and to put goofy bull shit on, a header that lets you know that I spend a lot of fucking time writing about games, loads quickly and looks good. Used to be able to find that shit super easily. Everything these days has to be in a “magazine” format (see example: any news site that you hate navigating), or has to have a bunch of ugly shit that takes too long to load, or is all about SEO or something. Have I mentioned that I hate the modern internet lately?

I found this current theme, but I’m not really feeling it, but I’m running with it for at least a little while. May have to just say “fuck it” and actually learn advanced CSS instead of relying on pre-made stuff. Or maybe I’ll be like my fellow cool kids (aka fucked up tranny freaks) and do something “minimalist.” I don’t know. I get very indecisive when my initial choice isn’t available. Blaming this on my recently diagnosed autism, a diagnosis that will surprise absolutely nobody but me. Definitely explains a lot in hindsight, at least.

Other than struggling with site design and plugging away at my game (things are looking good, but I have since learned to keep stuff close to my chest until it’s time to have a solid announcement), I started up a new run in Morrowind, as it has been suggested that I try out an Argonian. I picked a very lore-friendly name:

Anyways, that’s my not often enough “Update” post. See you all again when my next article drops tomorrow.

wcw vs the world

Given recent events in the world, I have been over the moon the last couple days. We’re getting closer and closer to the day that The Big Trump Fundraiser known as WWE finally dies. It’s about fucking time. A company that built its fortune off of broken bodies, and a mountain of people who died too young. A company run by white supremacists and sexual predators. I have been given a few lectures that I shouldn’t be happy about this, because of all the fond memories people have and the smiles that WWE put on their faces. My response to that is: I don’t fucking care. I was a WCW kid growing up, and I am All Elite as an adult. I should be more understanding for the nostalgia over miscarriage storylines, Triple H’s “black people don’t deserve to be world champion” feud with Booker T, all the storylines involving rape and simulated necrophilia, or that time Owen Hart fell to his death due to gross negligence and Vince McMahon forced his horrified friends and co-workers to go out and wrestle around his dead body. Now, while WCW was by no means a perfect company; it was infamously imperfect, I still loved it and it should have won the Monday Night War. As far as I’m concerned, this is revenge.

The above paragraph was meant to be a killer segue into a write up of WCW/NWO Revenge for Nintendo 64, which is among the greatest wrestling games ever made. Problem is, for reasons I cannot figure out, there is not a single N64 emulator out there that will actually save any screenshots of the game. I can take screenshots of any other N64 game, but the moment I do it for Revenge, either the emulator crashes or I get a big blaring error message. Of course, trying to look up information on the internet these days is a fools game, so I can’t fix this issue, and I gave up. So instead, I’m covering an earlier WCW title, WCW vs The World.

The thing about being a wrestling fan who owned a Playstation is that if you wanted a good wrestling game, you were fucked. There was Power Move Pro Wrestling, a half-way decent port of Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game, and Fire Pro Wrestling G if you were willing to navigate Japanese menus and pay the inflated import prices of the era, but you otherwise had nothing until the Smackdown series began in 2000. Up until then, it was putting up with whatever dogshit Acclaim was putting out, and those bad WCW games whose only redeeming features were its FMV “rants,” if only to see a clearly inebriated Kevin Nash.

That being said, I was looking forward to WCW vs The World. After all, this was developed by the same team that would later do all those great N64 wrestling games. We knew them as AKI Corporation, later becoming syn sophia (stylized in all lower-case), the developers of the Style Savvy series. However, when this company began, they went under one of the greatest names a company can have: The Man Breeze. Let me say that again, THE MAN BREEZE. That’s awesome.

I bring all this up because it is baffling to me that this company would go on to do all of those great games, because WCW vs The World fucking sucks. There is a lot wrong with it.

Let’s start with this screenshot of the character select screen. Terrifying drawing of Sting aside, there’s a lot of characters, right? Look closely. All those names in the red boxes? Barring some hidden characters and one exception I’ll get to later, that is the entirety of the WCW roster in this game. Everyone else is a changed-so-as-not-to-violate-copyright version of a real wrestler from various Japanese wrestling promotions. This would be one thing if it were something like Fire Pro, where everything is unlicensed and I know what I’m getting into with that so there would be no complaint, but this an officially licensed WCW game and there’s only about 16 actual WCW characters in a game with a roster of 60! Of all the complaints anyone has ever made about World Championship Wrestling, at no point in time has there ever been a complaint about its roster being too small. Not that I’m sore about a number of awesome Japanese wrestlers being present, even in a compromised fashion, but I feel like if I put down some money for a WCW game, I would want some fucking WCW guys to be in the goddamn thing. Yeah, it has Hogan, Sting, Flair, the Steiners, and Lex Luger. But where is Randy Savage? Where is Kevin Nash and Scott Hall? Where is Rey Mysterio Jr? Harlem Heat? Brian Pillman? Diamond Dallas Page? Chris Jericho? Konnan? Maybe one of the colorful weirdos from the Dungeon of Doom (aside from The Giant, who can be unlocked)? It’s very obvious that this was a hastily edited version of a previously existing game made to have a slightly higher WCW presence.

There is a character in the blue section who is given the creative name of “Billy Gaijin,” who is a very obvious rip-off of Scott Norton. Here’s the thing: Scott Norton was already in WCW! He joined the company in 1995! He was one-half of the Fire and Ice tag team with Ice Train (CHOO! CHOO!)! He was part of the NWO! You don’t need to make a knock-off version of someone WHO IS ALREADY A CONTRACTED PERFORMER FOR THE PROMOTION YOU ARE MAKING A LICENSED PROPERTY OF.

Then there’s “The Unknown.” At first glance, you might think this is a take on Jushin “Thunder” Liger. That makes sense; after all, he was in the first match on the first ever episode of Monday Nitro. Except that this isn’t Liger, he’s elsewhere on the fictional roster. This is Super Delfin, a wrestler WHO HAS NEVER HAD A MATCH IN WCW!!!!!!! FUCK!!!!!! We could have had Booker T in this game. It sounds like I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, but it is fucked that a WCW game is lacking in having anything to actually do with WCW. Plus, the game gets so much worse.

Actually playing WCW vs The World is a chore. Controls are sluggish, with inputs not being recognized to such a degree I had to check and make sure my controller wasn’t broken. Even on Normal difficulty, the CPU counters every move you throw at it. Go for a strike, the CPU will immediately do a counter-grab. Go for a grab, the CPU will do a backdash and avoid it. Go for a running attack, the CPU will block it. Go for a block or a counter-grab, the CPU will do a regular grab. Change the difficulty down to Easy, and the CPU just stands there and lets you wail on them until the match is over. So there is either no challenge, or SNK-boss level bull shit. Those spirit meters on the bottom are there to illustrate how well you’re doing in a match, starting at red and moving to white. When it’s fully white, you can do your characters signature move. Or at least that’s how it worked in the N64 games. Here, it’s a fucking mystery how this shit works. You can beat the fuck out of your opponent, only to find that their spirit is rising, while your spirits remains at the same level. Put someone in the Scorpion Death Lock, and there’s a good chance they’ll have a finisher ready to go as soon as they get out of the hold. I had assumed that maybe I had to play going along with the ebb and flow of a real life pro wrestling match, where there’s a back-and-forth of offense and defense. Well that doesn’t work, shockingly enough. If you play too well, your opponent gains an advantage, while you get nothing. If you get your ass kicked, your opponent gains an advantage, while you also get nothing. I tried other things, like mixing up my offense and making sure to do different moves each time I was able to get a shot in. Still only served to help my opponent. The only winning strategy here is you should have bought a Nintendo 64 instead, you fucking mark.

WCW vs The World is a game that punishes you for trying to get any sort of enjoyment out of it. Whether it’s enjoyment from the perspective of playing a game, or the enjoyment you might get as a fan seeing your favorite WCW wrestlers. Even the part where the main roster plays second-fiddle would be more acceptable if the game itself wasn’t this frustrating mess to play. It is mind boggling that The Man Breeze made this, then proceeded to make six of the greatest wrestling games of all time back-to-back. Also a shame; this could have been a great digital showcase for fans of 1996-1997 WCW. Instead, it was treated more like a showcase for fans of 2000 WCW.

Wait, hold on.

Jeff Jarrett is a hidden character!? Alright, never mind, this game rules. 10/10. Jeff Jarrett is the GOAT.

gotta protectors: cart of darkness

Gotta Protectors: Cart of Darkness was one of the best games released last year, and I’m kicking myself now that I didn’t write about it when I bought the game at release. Cart of Darkness is a sequel to Gotta Protectors on 3DS, which is itself a sequel to Protect Me Knight, a game that makes me mourn the closure of XBox Live Indie Games every day, as that was the best game on the service by a mile. This is a series developed by Ancient. Yes, as in the company founded by Yuzo Koshiro’s family. A company responsible for games like the Master System version of Sonic the Hedgehog, Robotrek on SNES, Beyond Oasis and Legend of Oasis for Mega Drive and Saturn, and some no name indie title called “Streets of Rage” or something like that. So there was a pretty big pedigree behind this game, and I was looking forward to it.

CoD is this fun little game. This top-down action game where you play as this cast of colorful, wacky characters that fights all types of monsters. While fighting said monsters, you also escort a princess on a castle mounted to some tank treads so that she can ram an opposing castle until it is destroyed. If I had to do the dreaded Elevator Pitch, I would say that this is like Gauntlet mixed with a Team Fortress 2 payload map. God, remember Team Fortress 2 before Valve completely fucking killed it? All of the playable characters have their own individual abilities, strengths, weaknesses, attack range, and so on, as to be expected in a game like this. They all have unique personalities as well, but there’s one character in particular I want to talk about:

The Ninja

For most people, you look at this guy and think, “oh this is some ‘lol randum’ humor! The Ninja isn’t wearing any clothes!” But for the rest of us who are educated and cultured, we know better. We know that Ancient threw us a bone and had a character that was a walking Wizardry reference. See, in Wizardry, Ninjas gain a natural improvement to their armor class if they level up without any equipment on. This has led to a lot of naked ninja jokes, particularly in Japanese fan circles, which is why the Ninja is barely clad here. So if nothing else, I appreciate the fact that Gotta Protectors is appealing directly to my weird tastes. The second best Wizardry-related moment of 2022, right behind all of the official scenarios in Five Ordeals being localized at once.

Cart of Darkness is extremely goddamn fun. Running around in this 8-bit world, fighting ever growing scores of monsters who want to make damn sure that princess does not reach her destination is exciting, and very rewarding when you finally nail a good strategy for clearing out seemingly impossible odds. Maybe you used the effeminate Prince and his screen-filling magic. Maybe you used the Amazon and her massive ass and titties (this is both a major character design and me being a pervert) to clear out sections of enemy squads while moving the princess to a safer location. Maybe the Oracle’s ability to summon ghostly allies? The Mage’s uh, magic. The Fighter or the Old Man building barricades and support turrets? There’s quite a bit of planning that goes into mashing the attack button. An old advertising slogan for Gotta Protectors, back when it was still Protect Me Knight, was “Kill Fucking Demons.” One, that’s awesome. Two, that really does describe this series to a T. You kill Fucking Demons. It’s simple, but it works, and it works really well.

Should go without saying that Yuzo Koshiro did the music for CoD. He didn’t just do the music, he redid every single song in multiple sounds chips. The music was done using the Famicom’s sound chip, but would you like to hear it through the Famicom Disc System’s sound chip? What about the VRC, the chip responsible for Castlevania 3’s music? What if you got to hear it through the PC-88 chip? The Mega Drive’s FM chip? The Super Famicom chip? How about the Game Boy chip? What if you wanted to know what this game would sound like if you played it on the motherfucking Wonderswan? Those are all options available for you to listen to in-game. Granted, this is all paid DLC, but this is paid DLC that’s actually worth it. Sadly, for reasons I’ll get to soon enough, trying to actually find any of this music outside of the game is impossible, so all I can do is link to a YouTube trailer.

 

I should also bring up the dialogue in Gotta Protectors. This is not a game that takes itself seriously at all, if the Ninja was not already a dead giveaway. And damn if the game isn’t pretty fucking funny most of the time. There are a few lines that are trying a little too hard and get the “oh BROTHER” reaction out of me, but by and large I’m a fan of the humor. Certainly better than that dogshit Ricky and Morty shooter that came out recently. Yes, I am taking “High On Life” down a peg from atop my ivory tower. Suck on my dick and balls, whoever made that terrible game. Anyways, the localization for CoD was done by 8-4, the team who did Metal Gear Rising and Nier Automata, and they don’t fuck around with good localizations.

this is a pretty good line

this one, though, is an eye-rolling OH BROTHER moment

A complaint that I have, which will probably be going for the rest of this piece, is that there are levels that can be way too fucking overwhelming for a solo player. This can be mitigated through playing co-op. As a lonely curmudgeon, I cannot play this locally, but maybe the internet can help?

No it cannot. The online for this game is a complete ghost town. For as fun as this game is, for as good as it looks and sounds, and as funny as the dialogue is, nobody played this fucking game. Some of you are hearing about Cart of Darkness for the first time right now, which is a shame. There’s maybe a handful of videos about the game on YouTube, and most of them don’t even go a full thirty minutes. Really, just a tragically overlooked and quickly forgotten title that absolutely should have a massive, thriving community behind it. Astro Boy: The Edge of Time, an online collectible card game that was so beloved that it was shut down and delisted less than a year after release, has more of a playerbase than Gotta Protectors. It’s also much easier to find Akira Yamaoka’s soundtrack for that game than it is for Yuzo Koshiro’s work for this one. That’s pretty fucked up, right? That this really good game by the Street of Rage team has gone virtually unnoticed all this time? You can get the game and all of its various DLC for less than thirty bucks, and you should! More people should be playing Gotta Protectors!

2022 year in review

Hey this year fucking sucked. General dog shit world events. The All Out press conference, and the literal months of unhinged bull shit that followed. Having to work and travel for offline reasons for most of the year left me unable to do any cool projects I actually wanted to finish. Lots of personal loss. Lost respect for a lot of people I would have considered friends up until now. Lost my cat. Lost the rest of my family that I didn’t have issues with. Lost my best friend. On top of all that, I was literally snowed in today and couldn’t leave the house. Really did not enjoy 2022, which felt more like a continuation of the terrible ways 2021 ended, which was a complete 180 from how 2020 ended.

Let me try and find some good things that happened this year. Well, I finally wrote a short story for the first time in a decade. Not sure if it was a particularly great one, but at least I wrote it and put it out there. Can’t get better at something if you never put the effort in, right? Made a couple new friends, ones that I can play fighting games with, which is always good. Twitter and Kiwi Farms died this year. I guess some cool games came out? That’s fun. Damn, that’s really about it. At least, about as much as I can remember off the top of my head; this year really sucked, folks.

So, what are my plans for 2023? I want things to quiet down. I simply wish to be left to my site, and to my projects. I want to write things that are cool, or write about things that are cool. I’d like to finish developing a game for the first time since the pre-pandemic days. I’d like to improve my skills at fighting games. I would like to be able to communicate with people in a better way than we have for so many years. I want to be able to sit down with a cup of coffee and read someone’s blog posts, the way we used to. I would also like to start having my name associated with the things I create, rather than nearly a decade of notoriety that I don’t want, never wanted, and never asked for in the first place.

Please, I ask to nobody in particular, have 2023 be a year free of bull shit. The year where I get that edge back. Kind of over feeling so drained that I pass out in my office chair when I could be doing something creative or fun. I’m getting old, I need everything to slow down a little bit. Leave me alone to be a cantankerous old fucker that wants to analyze retro games and break down what makes them good. Well, leave me alone only if you’re if a dickhead or the bad kind of weirdo, like the “I don’t really know what boundaries are” kind, otherwise feel free to leave comments or messages. Might even bring back the mailbag!

Well, that’s it. My mood has been getting better than it has been over the last couple weeks, so I’ll be getting back into the swing of things. I’ll leave you all with a recent redesign of everyone’s favorite OC, Slimegirl:

(compare this to the original design)

And also a gothic song, so we can really back into the mood.

moi dix moi- shadows temple-x

winter playlist

I’ve decided that I won’t be doing any articles until the start of the new year. Given that it’s the final week of 2022, that’s a pretty easy decision to make. However, it is Christmas Eve, and I thought I would at least leave something here. That something being The Winter Playlist. This is not a series of Christmas related songs. Rather, I picked a bunch of game tracks that evoke that feeling of a real winter; the cold, the darkness. Hope you like it!

12/15/2022

Hello everyone. I’ve been pretty quiet as of late. The reason being is because I got some bad news, which has very quickly led to 2022 being one of the worst years of my life, and left me in a state of mourning for a while. I’ve spent so much time the last week and a half either upset, pissed off, or being completely numb and not realizing that I’ve spent an hour blankly staring off into space. That’s why there wasn’t any post last week, and why I’m not exactly in the mood to do any work this week. I’m making this post because I didn’t want to come across like I was going to abandon this place or shut it all down; I just need a little time, is all.

So, what have I been doing this whole time, aside from grieving? Well, not much. Doing that thing where I fall asleep in my chair while watching videos again. Trying to play some games to pass the time, and not really enjoying them. Like, even Guilty Gear doesn’t feel fun anymore! It’s been an internal battle in my head over whether or not I should be allowed to enjoy things right now; I’ve dealt with a loss on a level that I haven’t dealt with before, I can’t just load up an old Sega game and make the bad feelings go away. On top of that, I’m kinda sorta full of extremely vengeful feelings right now towards the games industry and its horde of neo-nazis and neo-nazis who pretend to be communist for twitter likes. I feel like the only reason I haven’t deleted all of my work and gone to live in a cave is because there has to be at least one person in this country who can analyze and develop games without turning into a murderous right-wing queerphobe or a straight up rapist. Now that I no longer feel the need to force myself to read people’s stupid bull shit that they say for “engagements,” maybe I can merely retreat into a digital cave. A digital cave of retro games, space stuff, pro wrestling, and trans porn. Fuck your discourse and “main characters,” leave me alone to be with my dungeon crawlers and hot chicks with fat hogs (yeah, hate-read that, game journos who like to come here and steal my ideas and analysis and do a bad job of applying your own spin on it).

That being said, I have been picking up Game Boy development again, as I’ve run into some serious bugs and issues with the game I wanted to release for PC and Switch (right, I don’t think I mentioned that I became a licensed Nintendo Switch developer earlier this year (not nearly as impressive as it sounds)). Some of you may remember that I have already released one GB game already, but that was merely a graphically face-lifted version of the stuff I had been doing in Bitsy. This time, I’m making a game with mechanics and fun factor and all of that. It feels a lot more rewarding putting together a functional platformer here on Game Boy than in the engine I had been using previously. So far, at least. The game is basic stuff right now, but it should be pretty fun when I get around to finishing it when the fuck ever.

Anyways, that’s all I’ve got for now. I’d like to really come back and do fun stuff like talk about games; despite how much I hate the industry, I absolutely love games. I think they’re great! They are a medium that cannot be replicated in any other medium aside from itself. Talking about good games is fun, and I love doing it. Maybe I can try writing other stuff again, like a second short story or something. But right now? I’m just not feeling it. Need to finish processing this loss of someone I cared about. Not that it’s something you can ever truly get over, but accept to a point that I can do stuff again and not be sad in the middle of doing it.

bit generations: orbital

Thanks to Astro Boy, I have sort of fallen down this nostalgic rabbit hole of old GBA games I was obsessed with a decade ago. Shockingly, Nintendo had a great handheld where a good chunk of its best games were buried underneath a mountain of licensed dogshit based off of a cartoon that was already memory holed months before the game left the planning stages, or were left in Japan entirely. The latter is what happened to the bit Generations series. A series of simple yet aesthetically pleasing games that ranged from “eh, not that great” to “put this on your list of must-play GBA games” in terms of quality. Orbital is, not surprisingly, one of those games.

Orbital is a game where you are a tiny white star that’s trying to become a planet. You do this by absorbing other stars of an equivalent size until you become big enough to move on to the next stage. You can only move by using your planet’s own force of gravity to attract itself to or repel itself from another celestial body, all while trying not to collide with another planet or asteroid. You do this for 30 levels, then two additional sets of stages, assuming you unlock them. It’s a pretty simple concept, but a compelling enough one.

You may find yourself wondering if Orbital counts as this chill game. Is this the kind of thing you want to play in order to relax?

NO

Orbital is a pretty hard game! The weird movement and relying on gravity can be pretty tough in later stages full of asteroid belts, or when you have to maneuver between multiple large planets orbiting one another, where your gravity gets really weird and you don’t know where you’re pulling yourself to. You can go from clearing one stage in moments, to crashing into seemingly everything and getting a game over in the next stage. Orbital can be obtuse, it can be frustrating, it can be weird in an uncomfortable way. All that being said, Orbital is still a tremendous amount of fun that still looks great. I consider this my favorite in the bit Generations series. Yes, Dotstream is extremely colorful and visually pleasing to me, and Coloris has a Cornelius music video included with it, but I still prefer Orbital. Also, it probably doesn’t hurt that it’s a game about space, and space is one of my many gimmicks.

Orbital also got a sequel (remake?) on the Nintendo Wii where it was called Art Style: Orbient. This was also a pretty fun one, and it at least was given an international release. I know this because I bought it day one on the Wii Shop and enjoyed the hell out of it. It’s a bit easier to get into than the GBA game, but not an easier game to finish. Still rules. Play it in Dolphin.

It’s always fun to load up the emulator (mGBA seems to be the go-to these days) at night and play this game about literally finding your place in the universe. I did it all those years ago, huddled up and freezing to the bone in my shitty apartment where the heat doesn’t work, listening to shoegaze and moody ambient music. I’m doing it again now, still freezing, still listening to great music, still enjoying the sight of the stars.