Archive for category Video Games

Date: July 22nd, 2011
Cate: Video Games
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Losing is fun.. what about playing?

One of my many personal failings is that I’ve never been able to figure out how to play Dwarf Fortress. Remember Cypher staring into The Matrix? Playing Dwarf Fortress is kind of like that, except instead of seeing blonde, brunette, redhead you see dwarf, goblin, carnivorous trout. But every once in a while something comes along that makes me think I should try again, like this great article in The New York Times Magazine: The Brilliance of Dwarf Fortress.

The most amazing part is the dedication of Tarn Adams, the developer. He’s got a doctorate in Math from Stanford, but plans to spend the rest of his life working on his game, which is appreciated by few, but is possibly the most intricate game ever created. He works on the game every day, and pays his basic expenses with the few donations he receives. His living conditions would be considered a nightmare by many, but for some is nirvana: he works from 3PM to 6AM every day, in a room with boarded up windows, living on barely more than just soda, coding and brainstorming game features with his brother, Zach.

Somebody on reddit had this to say about the complexity of DF. In most games, you have hit points. Each time you are hit by a bad guy, your hit point total goes down, and when it reaches zero, you die. Dwarf Fortress is different:

In Dwarf fortress, you have individually modeled bones, internal organs, fingers, toes, facial features, and a circulatory system. And that’s just what we can see; I suspect much more. If bitten by something with paralytic venom, the diaphragm (eventually) stops filling the lungs and the dwarf dies minutes later after blood oxygen levels fall too far.

Date: March 28th, 2011
Cate: Video Games


If you haven’t already heard of QWOP and GIRP I apologize for making you aware of them.

Date: February 25th, 2011
Cate: Video Games

Scariest Mii Ever

Scariest Mii Ever

…and the one on the right is kind of creepy too HEYOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Date: February 20th, 2011
Cate: Video Games

So I guess I was 11?

click play for appropriate bg music!

Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of the release of The Legend of Zelda for the original NES. This reminded me of one of my crowning achievements in the field of video gaming. I got Zelda right after it came out, and a friend and I worked together to beat it pretty quickly. We were then surprised by the Second Quest, which starts the game over from the beginning with the levels all switched around and some of the rules changed. We got stuck in the second dungeon, and decided to take the unprecedented step of CALLING NINTENDO. This was back when you could call and talk with “Game Masters” for free. So we called in, described our situation, and got this answer: “Sorry, we can’t help you. We haven’t got that far yet!”

Oh and here’s my favorite bit of Zelda trivia. Hold on to your seat, cause this is kind of like finding out that the clouds and bushes are the same. Are you ready? All the dungeons in Zelda fit together like a giant puzzle. There’s some more detail and discussion about this at incredible revelation at MetaFilter.

Date: January 18th, 2011
Cate: Video Games
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SPACECHEM – End of the Line

Finished the game, finished all the challenges. Completely excellent! If you liked The Codex of Alchemical Engineering or KOHCTPYKTOP, then the $20 for SpaceChem is totally worth it.

Date: January 4th, 2011
Cate: Video Games


Remember this? Well I sure do, and my employer certainly remembers the gigantic hole it left in my productivity. That feeling of dread is coming over me again, because Zachtronics has a new Game For Engineers™: SpaceChem! I just finished the demo, loved it, and am waiting for the full game to finish downloading. If you don’t see me again for a month… well, that would actually be pretty good for this blog.

Date: May 22nd, 2010
Cate: Video Games


Manufactoria is to Конструктор as your Theory of Computation class was to your Digital Logic class. Instead of creating tricky silicon circuits to implement various logical operations, you create tricky state machines to modify and accept or reject sequences of colored dots on a paper tape. And just like Конструктор it goes from super trivial (accept every tape, unchanged) to super insane (reds are ones, blues are zeroes, the input tape represents a number, create an output tape with that number plus one).

I’m hoping that in the last level I have to create a state machine that accepts a paper tape with a PROGRAM ON IT and then EXECUTES IT.

Date: August 15th, 2009
Cate: Video Games
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Scariest Game Music

Prompted by this entry at Crummy about video game music medleys, I went and listened to some old game music and realized that some of the songs that have stuck in my head throughout the years were accompanied by some of the scariest moments. Here are some that play in my head AT LEAST once per day, in trendy “TOP $N” format:

#3 Scariest Moment: Dracula

Castlevania was the first game I ever played where, when you finally manage to kill the final end guy, after weeks of playing to reach him… HE COMES BACK TO LIFE IN AN INCREDIBLY MORE SCARY FORM and immediately jumps on you with huge sharp claws and you die. This is the music that plays as that happens. It took many more weeks to figure out how to kill the alternate form of Dracula. The secret, which is to use the Holy Water, came to me in a dream. For reals.

#2 Scariest Moment: About that cake…

In Portal, throughout the whole game you have been promised, and I quote, “delicious cake”. When you finally finish the last set of obstacles and your Aperture Science Unstationary Platform rounds a corner, instead of cake you find… the oven.

And the #1 Scariest Moment is: MOTHERBRAIN

Anybody who has played Super Metroid remembers this moment with perfect clarity. You have descended to Tourian, in the depths of planet Zebes, and found Mother Brain, in exactly the same setting as the original Metroid. The same way to destroy it works too: missiles through the glass. It doesn’t even take that many before Mother Brain explodes, and you get ready to celebrate. But then, after an eerie pause, this music begins to play and Mother Brain comes back to life in a screen-filling, and seemingly invincible form. None of your weapons work, and Mother Brain keeps shooting you with an energy draining beam that pins you to the back wall and leaves you immobilized. No matter how many E-Tanks you have, all you can do is sit there and watch them all be drained away. To raise the drama even further, Mother Brain shuts off the beam when you have like 10 energy points left, giving you a few moments to helplessly pound on the buttons, or scream and swing the controller around over your head, depending on your panic level. Lots of games do the “that was only a hologram… now my TRUE FORM” thing with the final end guy, Castlevania was maybe the first, but I say Super Metroid did it the best.

Date: March 13th, 2009
Cate: Video Games


Date: January 31st, 2009
Cate: Video Games

Judo chop!

Date: January 10th, 2009
Cate: Video Games
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Blasphemy. Madness!

You meet some interesting people playing Dr. Mario online…

Date: December 30th, 2008
Cate: Video Games
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Fredrik Larsson’s “Wind Waker Unplugged”

I like to occasionally revisit how far fan-made versions of video game music have progressed. This, as far as I’m concerned, is as good as it gets as of 2008:

Here is an interview with him about this incredible video.

Date: February 7th, 2008
Cate: Video Games
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I have determined the top two Street Fighter videos on the ENTIRE INTERNET, but I just can’t quite tell which is the absolute champion:


Date: February 17th, 2007
Cate: Video Games
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Inexorable progress towards the Mario Singularity

In case you’re wondering how far technology has progressed since Super Mario Brothers: Piano Version, the answer is Super Mario Brothers: HUMAN BEATBOX FLUTE VERSION!

(oh, and they invented YouTube in the meantime as well)

Date: January 18th, 2007
Cate: Video Games
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Internet radio on Wii GET

Want to listen to Internet radio on your Wii? Try Wii Hear. They have 45 stations available so far, and are adding more all the time. Plus their player makes EXTREMELY satisfying Mario sound effects.

Want to listen to stations they don’t offer? Or stations that aren’t Shoutcast/Icecast streams? I asked how and within 36 hours, some wonderful person came along with all the secrets! The lazyweb triumphs again! Sort of.

Date: September 25th, 2005
Cate: Video Games
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Miyamoto trip wrap-up

That was as close as we ever got to Miyamoto at the Nintendo World event today. With my silver Wavebird for him to sign, we got there about 90 minutes before the event was supposed to start. We found a line of hundreds, maybe a thousand, some who had obviously stayed overnight. We took our place at the end of the line and waited.

I missed out on probably the biggest Nintendo DS wireless gaming session EVER, because I don’t have a DS. But I was eavesdropping on several people who were participating in insane PictoChat sessions, and got some information on progress at the front of the line that way. Nintendo gave out free water and pizza to everybody waiting, which was really nice.

Eventually people starting coming out who had seen him! Several had him sign Nintendo T-Shits, controllers, games, and instruction manuals. “He’s so nice!” “Good luck you guys!” “He’s still signing, you have a chance!” The line moved forward at a near glacial pace. I went to check out the head of the line, it snaked into the store and then up some stairs and disappeared into the second floor. Can’t even see him!

Around 1:30, people coming out were saying “It’s all over, he’s left already.” NOOOO!!!! I went up to the front of the line again to see what was going on. Somehow, just at that moment, MIYAMOTO CAME TO THE WINDOW! I was among the first to notice him there, waved, and he waved back! I tried to quickly get a cameraphone picture, but it didn’t really come out! The rest of the crowd realized he was there, and surged forward. He kept waving, and eventually apologetically moved away from the window.

At this point the crowd was completely out of control, blocking the street, just trying to get a glimpse. Jenny joined me, and when he came back to the window again for an encore, she got a few pretty good pictures and even a movie of him waving. He’s just as cute and goofy in real life as he looks in pictures, and seemed to really be enjoying the crowd. He waved, gave several multi-thumbs up, and pumped his fists to get the crowd going. “NIN-TEN-DO! NIN-TEN-DO!” and “REV-O-LU-TION! REV-O-LU-TION!” chants started, but eventually he did move away from the window again, and didn’t come back. I assume he left through some sort of mushroom-powered airship or possibly a green underground pipe, because we never saw him come out.

So, final tally: Almost four hours waiting. One grainy picture…. of Shigeru Miyamoto! MISSION: SUCCESS! Also, we got to try this dumpling place Jenny wanted to go to:

By the way, Joystiq has a pretty nice post covering the whole event, including a much better picture of the guy who got his Power Glove signed, which I think is pretty much the coolest thing to have him sign ever.

Date: July 19th, 2005
Cate: Video Games


Finally Bionic Commando gets the recognition it deserves! Now let’s see if they’ll also be smart enough to include the other forgotten classics: Rastan and Twin Cobra.

Date: November 9th, 2004
Cate: Video Games
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Lazyweb: Katamari Damacy translated lyrics?

Why is it that I can’t find a copy of the lyrics of all the songs in Katamari Damacy translated into English? I’m actually quite surprised that this hasn’t already been done! Lazyweb: consider this a formal request.

I have found a FAQ (the first one) with romaji versions of the lyrics, and some sites with Japanese lyrics: at 2chan, search the page for NAMCO, and also at Cube Media. But no English! Will this stand? I think not.

Date: June 9th, 2004
Cate: Video Games
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Spinning bird kick attachment is extra

Need an Auto Register Flexo Printer Slotter? Get it from Chun-Li!


Date: May 11th, 2004
Cate: Video Games


Remember this? Nintendo announced that it’s coming out in the US this year! Set your count down clocks for September 27th…

Date: May 11th, 2004
Cate: Video Games
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Nintendo DS

So there it is! USA Today has the story. Two screens, one touch sensitive, but you need a stylus? Backwards compatible with all GB games, and has built in Bluetooth for networked play (no more stupid wires).

And for the purposes of comparison, here’s Donkey Kong Game & Watch, a single-game Nintendo system from the early 80’s:

Date: February 3rd, 2004
Cate: Video Games
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Recognize this?

Date: January 18th, 2004
Cate: Video Games
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Kyou mo genki ni Mario ga hashiru, hashiru

Ever wondered what the lyrics to the Mario song are? Listen! (full lyrics and translation here)

That’s an excerpt from MARIO & ZELDA BIG BAND, the latest video game concert in Japan. If you know about BitTorrent, you can get the whole thing here, from #gamemp3s. And if you search those file sharing networks, you might even be able to find a copy of the DVD. It’s great! You can see Shiggsy HIMSELF playing:

Nice t-shirt he’s got there.

Date: January 15th, 2004
Cate: Video Games
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Why why why why do the Japanese keep all the best games for themselves? Why can’t we get one… just ONE of these super games that they’ve been hoarding? Curse Nintendo and their territorial lockout!

actual gameplay 200x faster
(click for frenetic Japanese commercial)

NINTENDO GAMECUBE DONKEY KONGA! I don’t care that it’s a complete blatant shameless rip off of Taiko no Tetsujin, I still want it. It has screaming monkeys. And you clap!

(thanks to Waxy (Waxy in the news) for finding this one)

Date: December 22nd, 2003
Cate: Video Games
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The 8bits of Christmas

BEST THING EVER! THE 8BITS OF CHRISTMAS! Christmas songs played on 8-bit PCs and game systems. My favorite is Let it Snow, on the Gameboy.

You can then scroll down on that page to descend into “chiptune” madness.

Date: December 3rd, 2003
Cate: Video Games

Marble Mayhem

Marble Mayhem. Kind of like Super Monkey Ball.

Date: December 2nd, 2003
Cate: Video Games
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Super Mario Brothers Sheet Music

The best place for Nintendo sheet music is Brian’s Video Game Sheet Music. He’s got all the Mario themes, Zelda, Metroid and more. Here’s Mario:

Date: August 20th, 2003
Cate: Video Games
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Super Mario Brothers: Piano Version

The best place for Nintendo sheet music is Brian’s Video Game Sheet Music. He’s got all the Mario themes, Zelda, Metroid and more. Here’s Mario:

Date: August 15th, 2003
Cate: Video Games


Lemmings, in DHTML and Javascript! Is that even possible?

(found at Interconnected’s mini links)

Date: August 6th, 2003
Cate: Video Games
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The same guy who created Porrasturvat – Stair Dismount, the famous stair-falling-down game, has now created Rekkaturvat – Truck Dismount.

The game is very simple: A truck, with a driver inside, faces a brick wall. Relaxing, trancey music plays. You adjust various sliders to position the driver inside the truck, and optionally add ramps between the truck and the wall. Then you hit “go”! The truck races towards the wall, and crashes. As the driver smashes into the windshield and around the cabin, you hear bones crunching and wails of pain. The parts of his body that are being injured light up in red, and damage points accrue. If you’re really good, he actually flies out of the cabin into the wall. If you’re really really good, you manage to get him to fall out of the cabin and be run over by the truck. If you’re really really really super good, you can get the truck to fall over on him, crushing him. The goal is to hurt the little man as much as possible. There is a web site that tracks high scores, but it is generally ruled by people who have hacked the game, and caused the driver to start out 10,000 feet above the ground, or added like 10 trucks that all run over the guy in sequence. The author, being quite an accomplished hacker himself, encourages this.

According to muxway, this game is based on the OpenDynamics articulated rigid body dynamics engine, which should make for some fun code reading someday.

By the way, if you like this game, you’ll probably love Pontifex, a bridge building game. I haven’t played the sequel, Pontifex II, but it looks even better.

Date: May 28th, 2003
Cate: Video Games
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Sony will release this year (in Japan) a new console confusingly called the PSX. It’s a PS2/TV Tuner/Satellite Tuner/120GB HDD/PVR/DVD[+-]R. No word yet on the price, or plans for a US release. It also will feature some unspecified connectivity with their new PSP handheld, and an Internet adaptor.

blue LEDs

Strange that this was announced now, instead of at E3. I wonder, does this mean PS3 is still quite a ways off? Maybe Nintendo really will be first to market with their next-gen console, like they hinted they would be?

UPDATE: This story says PSX will be released in the US and Europe early next year!

Date: April 23rd, 2003
Cate: Video Games


Who knew! It’s almost E3 time already! Nintendo has put up an E32K3 page with some announcements.

Secret of Mana

You mightn’t be aware of it, but possibly Jenny’s all time favorite video game is Secret of Mana. Do you know why she liked it? Helping. It was a two player cooperative game. Each person controls one character on screen and you fight monsters together and help each other. Jenny likes competetive games, but she LOVES helping games. Unfortunately they are few and far between. That is, until now!

Pikmin 2

The first Pikmin was a great game. You indirectly control a swarm of little aliens to do various tasks, like build bridges, collect stuff, push rocks around, and fight bugs. Now Pikmin 2 is coming out, and it features a helping mode! Both players control the little aliens. This sounds like lots of fun. “I’m going to lead the blue ones across the water to get the item, you collect as many yellow and red as you can and try to fight off the bugs until I’m done!” “ROGER!” But that’s not all…

Mario Kart Double Dash!!

Somehow Mario Kart is helping now too! This new version is called Mario Kart Double Dash!!. Kind of like the ancient game Fire Truck, each cart is driven by two players. One deals with driving, the other with weapons and fending off the other drivers. You can switch positions during the race to take advantage of each character’s specialties. This is great. I wonder why the sudden fascination with helping at Nintendo?


Also a new F-Zero is coming. How can you go wrong with an F-Zero game? This one is made by Sega and allows you to share data between the home version and the arcade version. That feature will probably take off in Japan but I doubt anybody will use it here.

Date: April 16th, 2003
Cate: Video Games


Enigmo is fun! It’s like “The Incredible Machine” except with water droplets. Go download and play it right away. That is, as long as you’re running the new official cool computer. But everybody must be by now, right?

Date: March 30th, 2003
Cate: Video Games
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BREAKING NEWS: Linux running on unmodified Xbox!

Found at Slashdot. Here’s the original announcement, where this unknown shows up and says “I got Linux to work, here’s how to do it” and all 800 people who have been working on this for years say “nice try, whatever, ha ha, april fool’s, go away, don’t bother us” and then post back again a few minutes later saying “Holy #*^$@(*… IT WORKS!”

Turns out “007: Agent Under Fire” (and some other games too) have a bug in the saved game handling routine, which can be exploited to run my personal favorite kind of code, arbitrary.

I find this hack very aesthetically appealing. You boot up a standard game, go to “Load Saved Game” and the Xbox goes all freaky as the cruelly composed data in the saved game causes the machine to have a heart attack and tear through its own memory, circumventing all the carefully designed encryption and lockout code. The screen blanks out, the LEDs blink, and then this alternate OS which is contrary to everything the Xbox stands for loads up quietly. The machine has been completely and totally “owned”. This is the way a system would be hacked in a Neal Stephenson novel.

Date: March 8th, 2003
Cate: Video Games
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Fighter’s Generation

You probably think I’m weird for wanting to rip a few sprites from Street Fighter. Check this out: Character Gallery. Frankie (with some community help) has collected information, pictures, and animated sprite rips from EVERY CHARACTER from EVERY FIGHTING GAME, EVER. I mean like EVER. From Adon to Zangief, with some really obscure ones thrown in like Belger, the end guy of Final Fight. The pages for the more popular characters, like local favorite Chun Li just seem to go on and on and on forever. Then you get to bottom and it says “click here for page 2″. WHAT?

Look at the rest of the site, too. He’s got other neat stuff, like pages for every game, including ones that don’t exist. And if you ever needed to see what the character selection screen of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo looks like, you just need to visit his selection screen section, and get it. Of course there is also the obligatory which fighter are you? quiz.


Date: March 8th, 2003
Cate: Video Games



Date: March 3rd, 2003
Cate: Video Games
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Link, he come to town

Flash Flash Revolution. Go to “Arcade” and play song #1, Legend of Zelda. I bet you didn’t know that song had lyrics, did you?

If you can beat that one — I know it’s hard, but keep at it — you are rewarded with bonus YOSHI LEVEL, which is absolutely impossible.