This is an great video by Brian Provinciano explaining how he developed the NES prototype that eventually became Retro City Rampage (available now on XBLA, PSN, WiiWare, and Steam). In the video, Brian shares tons of insights into the constraints of NES hardware and the heroic effort to make a complex game for it. It’s a must-watch for fans of homebrew.
Here’s a link to NESHLA, the NES assembler that he wrote for the prototype.
If you’re interested in NES homebrew, you should check out Zooming Secretary, an original action game from programmer Shiru and artist PinWizz. In the game you play a secretary who has to answer phone calls after visiting the appropriate filing cabinet. Various co-workers will hamper your progress, but a coffee power-up will offer a speed boost to help you get through each of the eight work days.
Zooming Secretary is simple but polished, making it a good study for people interested in making their own NES games. The source code of the game is available here. A NES emulator like FCEUX is required to play.
Also, FEMICOM has an interview with PinWizz here.
Blade Buster is a new homebrew NES shoot ‘em up by the doujin group High Level Challenge. The game is based on the two time attack modes from the 1990 Turbografx-16 vertical shoot ‘em up Super Star Soldier, in which you try to achieve the highest possible score in either 2 or 5 minutes. So there are only two short stages in the game, with the boss battles at the end of each one. Aside from the standard enemies, boxes, and gems, there are various hidden bonuses you can get for extra points.
It’s always nice to see a high-quality homebrew title come out for the NES, and Blade Buster certainly fits the bill, with nice graphics and music, and fun level design. The game also runs very well on FCEUX, my NES emulator of choice, putting lots of fast-moving sprites on the screen with almost no slowdown or flicker. Check it out if you’re a fan of NES homebrew or shoot ‘em ups!
TIGdb: Entry for Blade Buster
What do you do when you’re programming AI for a turn-based strategy game but modern computers aren’t challenging you enough? Put it on the 8-bit Atari! And that’s what Jakub Debski did when he created His Dark Majesty, which is free to download and is playable via a number of 8-bit Atari emulators, like Atari800Win. Links to the emulators are available from the game’s homepage, along with an interesting account of the game’s development (including screenshots). It’s a beautiful piece of work. (TIGForums thread)
This is kind of amazing: homebrew developer Sivak has just released Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril, a new NES (actual NES) Metroidvania that’s inspired by Kayin’s I Wanna Be the Guy and NES classics like Mega Man. It features 550 rooms, 30+ enemy types, and 8 bosses. There are 5 difficulty settings and a password system, too.
The cartridge, which is region-free and works on clone systems, can be purchased for $27. It comes with a full-color instruction manual and black dust sleeve.
Sivak has released a few other homebrew NES carts, I believe, although the only one I could find was Mystic Pillars, a Columns-like. Here’s a short interview that Screw Attack did with him earlier this month about Battle Kid.
Speaking of Mega Man, Cutman Mike (I really like that name!) is working on an FPS deathmatch based on the venerable Capcom series. Mega Man 8-bit Deathmatch, which is being made using the Skulltag engine, will let you play as every single Robot Master from Mega Man 1 through 6 (48 in total) and use all of their abilities (Mega Man himself is also a playable character)! The game will be released some time in 2010 as a free standalone title.
(Source: Duncan Bell, via Twitter)
P.S. This reminds me of Mega Man 2.5D, another fan game that’s based on Mega Man 2. That game is also planned for a 2010 release.
The 15th Ludum Dare "48 hour solo game development competitionâ€ has ended. The theme this time around was “Caverns,” and there were over 143 (i.e., 144) games submitted — all of which you can find here. (With screen shots!)
The top honors this time went to ChevyRay‘s Beacon (shown above) and ’ Thorson’s Site">YMM’s Broken Cave Robot, which are both excellent. But there are many other gems! I advise scrolling through the voting results and trying everything.
Ludum Dare 16 will begin in December. Prepare thyself!
BOH (an Italian phrase roughly translating to “I have no idea”) is a new top-down shooter by Simone Bevilacqua that was originally released for the Amiga but has since been ported to the PC and Mac. The goal of the game is to progress through missions made up of a number of smaller levels, or phases. At the end of each phase is an Evil Master that must be summoned and destroyed to open the exit.
BOH employs real-time lighting, line of sight, and tight passageways to create a claustrophobic atmosphere and monsters appear constantly from off-screen, forcing you to keep moving – oftentimes the best course of action is to simply run away from monsters or run into them and take some damage to destroy them with your shield. It’s a challenging game, too. The demo includes a mission called “Tougher and Tougher” that reveals instant-kill sinkholes and traps that can get you stuck, forcing you to quit the mission and start over from phase 1 (there’s no saving in the middle of a mission). It also took me a while to realize that keys can be used between phases – make sure you fully explore each phase before you move on to the next, because there’s no turning back. The full game has 30 missions, but more missions can be created using a text editor.
This is definitely a polished product all the way around, and very faithful to its old school roots. The ability to create your own levels and skin the game (right down to the menus) is also welcome. The full game is 10 euros ($14) for a downloadable ISO or 12.50 euros ($17) for a boxed CD that includes the ISO, the game on all three platforms (it apparently also runs fine under WINE), plus an instruction manual.
Thanks to Eclipse for the heads-up.
DUX, a new homebrew Dreamcast R-Type-based horizontal shoot ‘em up, is drawing the ire of hardcore shmup players on the Shmups.com forum, in a back-and-forth with the developer that I rubbernecked last night. The main problem, I gather, is that not only were many promised features left out of the final release (like multiple game modes and loops), but the game’s scoring system and continue system are also broken due to a few simple oversights and bad decisions. The creator, one of the members of NG:DEV.TEAM (Last Hope), tries to play down the bugs rather than accept them straightforwardly, drawing further criticism (okay, intense hatred), but also admirably offers up a free patch to people who purchased the game.
Why does this interest me? Well, there is, as Bill of the2bears puts it (source), the obvious “train wreck” factor of watching a developer go head-to-head with the most intense type of video game fans. It’s also not every day that a full-blown Dreamcast production comes out. But what I really found fascinating about all of this was 1. the relationship between the developer and the fans, and 2. the ideas and history behind the shoot ‘em up genre that make its fans enjoy it so intensely in a way that most players don’t understand.
To summarize the points of conflict, scoring is of the utmost importance for a hardcore shoot ‘em up player, and in DUX there is currently a bug which allows the player to “counter-stop,” or max out his or her score, in the first level. Also, by committing suicide, one can abuse the game’s checkpoints and extends to max out their lives and score. The final shmup sin that DUX’s creator committed is forcing the player to continue, which makes it difficult for players who consider continuing to be cheating and are aiming to “1cc” or one-credit the game.
For many people, the whole thing no doubt sounds like a bunch of loser assholes whining about technicalities that 99% of the population wouldn’t give two shits about, and indeed, perhaps given some of the ravings and crude insults hurled at the developer (e.g. “Don’t ever make games again”), there is some truth to that remark. But I think there’s also something fascinating about hardcore shoot ‘em up players, the purity of the genre, and how the improvements made with each generation of games seem incremental and yet appear to make a world of difference to the players who play them. It also brings in to question more generally why people play different types of games – is it for entertainment, challenge, art, completion, or what? For shoot ’em up players it’s obviously about the challenge as well as the eye and ear-candy.
And finally, yes, the relationship of the developer to the player, of which, like any relationship, the creator is at the ultimate mercy of the consumer, who generally has no interest in the hardship of creation or the feeling of having a work analyzed and criticized. On one hand, this is the way it is and will probably always be, and perhaps this kind of artistic Darwinism is necessary to further the growth of games and art, and the creators, too… on the other hand, I think one of the great things about independent game development is that it blurs the line between creator and player in a way that I believe moves the medium forward (and backward, and side-to-side) in a more positive and proactive way.
As for DUX, the game certainly looks pretty, and if the scoring bug and continues don’t bother you, and you have a Dreamcast, it’s probably worth the $20 for you. Future versions of the game will also hopefully have this bug cleared up.
Oh. My. Goodness.
Blaster Master meets Bionic Commando, with sexier physics and disturbing visuals? Yes, please. Not only is this the best XNA Community game I think I’ve ever seen (though, I’ll admit, my experience with XNA games is limited), it may be the best game ever? (Sure, I’m exaggerating here. But only slightly.)
My very first thought when I saw this was, “Hey, that looks like ”http://www.itchstudios.com/psg/metafight/metafight2.htm" titles=“Arne’s Bionic Commando meets Blaster Master meets Excite Bike meets AWESOME game concept”>one of Arne’s concepts!" Could this be the dream game he’s been waiting for? I mean, supposedly it “features dynamic decision branching, and multiple, story-driven endings.” Does that mean free-roaming exploration? I sure hope so.
(Thanks again Offworld!)
The Uzebox, the open-source homebrew retro game console we covered last year, is now available for purchase as a fully-assembled unit for $95! You can also buy the $70 Fuzebox, an unassembled kit that comes with a printed circuit board. The above video shows off some of the games and demos that have been put together since the project was first announced. Thanks, Uze!