Tag Archives: gintendo

A look at that rarest of treats: A classy ROM hack

For this week’s Gintendo stream I finally spent some time with something I’ve been meaning to try out for quite a while, ever since it was released at the beginning of the year: A ROM hack total conversion of the original NES Metroid called Metroid: Rogue Dawn. It turned out to be quite good, with the kind of flow I like in an exploratory game. I don’t know if it was fun to watch, but I spent a lot of time searching for paths forward and accidentally going back the way I had originally come through alternate means before finally stumbling across the proper route. From the hour I’ve played, Rogue Dawn seems designed in a way that almost frustrates but then rewards thoughtful play with a satisfying resolution. I dig it.

I managed to make it just far enough into the hack to finally reach the part that took it beyond a simply facelift and reshuffling of the original game: At the end of the stream, I found an item that adds a new wall-jump mechanic that reminds me a bit of the one in Strider and, natch, Super Metroid. Though it’s much easier to pull off here.

I have been told the final area of the game degenerates into fiddly ROM hack expert-play nonsense, which is a shame, but I’m still intrigued enough by what I’ve played to want to find out for myself. Probably not on a stream, though. As lost as I ended up becoming in this game, I can only assume it’s going to get a lot worse further in, and constantly jabbering about what I’m doing is not really the key to successful concentration in a sprawling video game world. Nevertheless, a pretty solid ROM hack — much better than the innumerable low-quality hacks of yesteryear. Maybe give it a shot for yourself, if you’re into that kind of thing.

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Reminder: You should join us live at Midwest Gaming Classic

Yes, that’s right: Next weekend (April 8, to be precise) Bob and I will be setting up camp at Midwest Gaming Classic in Milwaukee to present our first live Retronauts panel of the year. Last year, we waxed eloquent about the Sega Master System with the help of some SEGA experts; this time around, we’ve rounded up two local Splatterhouse experts in order to talk about, yes, Splatterhouse. Caitlin Oliver and Kevin Bunch will be joining us to discuss the history of the series, its sequels and offshoots, and hopefully explain what allure the franchise possesses to entice them to go toe-to-toe to defend the arcade game’s all-time high-score record.

The talk will take place next Saturday at 3 p.m. And we’re hoping to host a meet-up later in the evening at the event’s bar, so please join us for that! If it happens!

On the much less expert side of things, I’ll also be taking the dilettante approach to Splatterhouse in a Gintendo stream tomorrow afternoon. (It’s Friday, it’s OK to start up with the gin a little early.) Specifically, I’ll be trying out Splatterhouse 2 for Genesis, because I need to stream more frequently from SEGA systems, and then moving along to the copy of Splatterhouse Wanpaku Graffiti I picked up during my last trip to Japan. I can’t promise I will play well, but at least I will make groaner puns on the fly and talk about alcohol…?

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Let’s take on the Plutonium Boss with Gintendo

Blaster Master Zero launched last week for 3DS and Switch, and it’s just lovely. The Retronauts review will be along soon in the form of a lengthy Retronauts Micro episode, but for now let’s mark the occasion by playing the original NES game. Today’s Gintendo stream will happen at 4:30 p.m. ET (1:30 p.m. PT), and will absolutely not feature me completing this incredibly tough NES game or even making it to the Plutonium Boss.

Heck, I might even run out of continues in the space of an hour. Who knows! So join me on YouTube this afternoon and see what madness transpires.

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Put on your power tie and Power Blazer for today’s Gintendo

Well hello! It’s been a while since I last streamed a video game while sipping a libation, because I’m afraid I’ve been out of town doing Important Retronauts Things for the past week. Today, however, I’m settled back in, and it’s time to get back on the wagon. Uh, so to speak.

This afternoon I’ll be getting together with Ben and Benj to record another episode of Retronauts East (it’s all about SEGA this time), and once they’re gone I’ll be hitting the digital airwaves to broadcast a classic (cult classic, at least) NES game: Power Blade by Taito. Join me at 5:30 p.m. ET (2:30 PT) for a look back at this cloniest of Mega Man clones, which I’ve always had a soft spot for. It’s no masterpiece, but it’s a totally solid 2D platform shooter with some enjoyable upgrade mechanics and that wonderful 8-bit Japanese trend of combining loopy weirdness with sci-fi futurism.

But that’s not all! 

Rather than focusing strictly on Power Blade, I’ll also be looking at its Famicom counterpart, Power Blazer. I’ve heard Power Blazer was wildly different from Power Blade (and generally not as refined), so I picked up a copy in Japan to discover simultaneously with you, my friends. We’ll start with the U.S. game before moving along to the Famicom original, because regression is apparently all the rage these days.

So please join me this fine afternoon for a stream of a fine game and some fine gin (gin optional). I’ll be streaming on YouTube per usual beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET.

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I’ll be streaming Zelda for tonight’s Gintendo!

Yes, Zelda is this week’s big topic. That and Switch, but at the moment most people only care about Switch because of Zelda. Sadly, though, Nintendo won’t let us stream the new one, so in lieu of Breath of the Wild I will instead be streaming the Zelda that will serve as a subject for this week’s Retronauts recording marathon: Link’s Awakening.

(I was going to stream Power Blade today, but we’ll save that for some other time. There are many more streams to come!)

The magic will happen this afternoon at 5 p.m. ET, which is (rumor has it) 2 p.m. PT. You can enjoy the madness on my YouTube channel, per usual.

Will I reach the Wind Fish? (Spoilers: Not even close.)

This will, of course, be the final Gintendo for February! I’ll be out of town for the following week for Game Developers Conference and the aforementioned Retronauts recording weekend, but I’ll hit the ground running once I return. Thanks as always for your support of Retronauts video endeavors… and don’t forget that there’s a Final Fantasy IV episode of the show online and ready for your enjoyment if you support the podcast, too.

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Enjoy Bomberman’s most obscure outing with an afternoon live stream

I will once again be taking to the virtual airwaves this afternoon for another Gintendo livestream, this time at 5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. PT). I’ll be playing another pick-up from my trip to Japan, generously donated to the cause by Eric Klein of Kyde and Eric. It’s a little thing called “SameGame.”

That’s sah-meh gah-meh, not same game.

I discovered SameGame the same way I did Puzzle Bobble: By way of a shareware Mac-based ripoff on my university newspaper’s production computers. The real game is much more interesting than that simple clone, though.

Hudson’s SameGame only ever shipped in Japan, for Super Famicom. It came in an unusually oversized cartridge… yet it looks curiously reminiscent of something else. Specifically, if you’re familiar with the Japanese version of the Super Game Boy, it looks almost exactly identical to that cartridge.

And for good reason: Like Super Game Boy, SameGame is a cart within a cart. You can plug expansion packs into the top slot to switch up game elements. By default, it shipped with a Hudson mascot pack, and apparently this standard combo is not particularly in demand — overpriced Akihabara game shop Super Potato was selling this entire setup for a mere ¥180. That’s about a buck-fifty. They did have a couple of expansion packs as well, but those were selling for around $20 apiece… so I decided to go with just the basic pack, thank you very much. Apparently all the expansions really do is allow you to switch graphic to different tile sets, which is not really worth the premium. Besides, the default pak contains Bomberman and Bonk, so they kinda gave away the premium set…

I haven’t been able to find much concrete documentation for SameGame in English, so I have no idea how many jumper paks Hudson created, or what characters and properties they contained. I do know that SameGame was somehow able to connect to Nintendo’s Japan-only Super Famicom online service via the Satellaview, which I think allowed you to upload rankings to a leaderboard.

So, it’s a pretty neat 16-bit curio. It’s also not really that much of a game, so my guess is that I’ll play this for a while and then switch to something more exciting midway through the stream. I have no idea what that’ll be, but I’ll fish something fun out of my fairly respectable Super NES/Super Famicom collection to make it worth your while.

As always, you can witness the stream live and in person on my YouTube channel, or you can watch it later via the stream archive. See you there!

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Join me and Simon Belmont this afternoon for a Gintendo stream

Hi everyone, once you’ve savored this week’s super cool episode of the podcast, be sure to tune in for a brand new Gintendo stream. I don’t know if I’ll be able to stream daily this week, but I’ll do my best! Today I’d like to continue with my promise to celebrate Castlevania’s 30th anniversary by taking on the second Castlevania game: Simon’s Quest for NES. Or, possibly, I may try and slug my way through the Japanese version of the game, which appeared on the Famicom Disk System. As I demonstrated in last week’s Retronauts Radio episode, the Japanese “Dracula II” was essentially the same game as Simon’s Quest, all the way down to the infamous lying villagers, but it used the Disk System’s hardware for its soundtrack. It also included really annoying load times. So, if my increasingly cranky Disk System will behave long enough to keep the stream up and running, I will attempt to show off this slightly weird rendition of an old familiar favorite this afternoon… and if not, well, I’ll just play plain ol’ Simon’s Quest. In English.

Either way, the stream begins at 4:30 E.T. this afternoon (that’s 1:30 P.T.), so set some time aside and join me as I try to remember where the heck I’m supposed to go in this open-ended non-linear adventure. I may need your help for advice on where to go next, actually. And I’ll try not to slow down the adventure by grinding out levels in the mansions….

You can view the stream on my YouTube channel, or catch it here on the site once it’s archived.

“I will drink your blood like cherry pop gin and tonic!”

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Gintendo returns with Japanese gin and Japanese mystery games

I had hoped to stream some Gintendo videos from abroad as I traveled through Japan last week collecting interviews for Retronauts, but that didn’t happen; between jet lag, a packed schedule, and the last lingering bits of a cold, I simply wasn’t able to. Don’t worry, though, because I’m going to make up for the disruption with style. Beginning tomorrow, I will be hosting frequent Gintendo streams featuring the games I picked up while in Tokyo (mostly per Patron request).

I’ll kick things off tomorrow at 5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. PT) with a mystery stream:

I will be playing whatever this strange Game Boy cartridge contains. This is a Nintendo Power cartridge, which has nothing to do with the American magazine — rather, it’s a blank rewritable cart that you could take to a convenience store kiosk and load up with inexpensive games. The service has long since become defunct, so carts like this one exist as relics of sort, containing whatever games the last owner happened to have downloaded. There are a couple of pretty cool games on this one, according to the label, so hopefully it still works when I plug it in tomorrow. Join me tomorrow to enjoy the surprise.

Also new for this stream: I picked up the legendary Super Game Boy Commander controller for use with Game Boy World (and related streams). The controller I’ve been using has been a standard Super Famicom controller, which I picked up last time I was in Japan. It was naturally in much better condition than any vintage Super NES controller you’re likely to find here in the U.S… but the controller cable is so short that it’s difficult to use with my office setup. The Commander has a nice lengthy cable, and it’s specifically laid out for use with Game Boy software, so that should be a nice upgrade.

And finally, the gin for the evening will be the very first gin ever distilled in Japan (so far as my research can determine): The Kyoto Distillery’s Ki no Bi (as in “the beauty of seasons,” not as in Obi-wan Kenobi). It debuted back in October, and obviously, I had to acquire a bottle for Gintendo purposes. Big thanks to Retronauts friend Kyle McLain for helping me to track it down!

You can watch the stream Thursday afternoon here or on the YouTube channel.

http://www.youtube.com/c/JeremyParish/live

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Oops, an unannounced Gintendo

Yesterday afternoon we recorded the first episode of Retronauts East, which I desperately hope turns out well — there’s a lot of fine-tuning that needs to happen with our recording setup, so the sound quality could turn out to be kind of awful. I guess we’ll find out! Once we wrapped the recording session, I decided to celebrate the show’s eastward expansion by launching an impromptu and unannounced Gintendo live stream of Castlevania:

Incredibly enough, it went remarkably well. Shockingly well, actually. I aced the two big sticking-point battles on my first go (skip ahead to 16:30 if you want to see the most impressive showing I’ve ever put up versus Frankenstein’s Monster and Igor). Then… the second half of the stream consists of my nerve breaking and me failing abysmally against Dracula’s stage and the final battle, over and over again. It was a pretty solid first half, though! I guess you could blame the gin (Reisetbauer Blue, if you’re curious).

Anyway, it’s here if you’d like to watch it.

I head out of town for a week on Sunday, so I won’t be able to host a normal Gintendo while I’m abroad. Although… I guess there’s technically nothing stopping me from taking along, say, the Retro USB AVS? And an Elgato device? And maybe picking up some random retro Famicom games and playing them? Hmm. If nothing else, I might try and stream a stroll through Akihabara or something, assuming it won’t devastate my international data plan. And I definitely will be posting all throughout next week on my game-shopping and developer-interviewing exploits in Tokyo, so you can at least look forward to that.

(Promo art by Rusty Shackles)

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Gaming loses another giant: Remembering Masaya Nakamura

The Associated Press reported today that Masaya Nakamura has passed away. This isn’t really one of those shocking, out-of-nowhere passings; Nakamura had reached the ripe old age of 91 and seems to have lived a full and successful life.

If you don’t recognize Nakamura’s name immediately, don’t feel too bad about that; he was an executive, not a designer, and few people in that line of work tend to see a lot of recognition among consumers. He had held an honorary position for years, long since having retired from the day-to-day management of his company. But, you will definitely have heard of the company he established: Nakamura Amusement Corporation, or Namco for short.

Nakamura founded Namco in the ’50s, during the same fertile period of Japanese post-war reconstruction that gave us SEGA. Even if you didn’t recognize Nakamura’s name right away, you’ve probably heard the sincerely inspiring story behind Namco’s creation. The company began as a handful of electric kids’ rides on the roof of a department store, for which Nakamura himself provided maintenance and upkeep. From that humble beginning, he built a massive arcade empire, eventually getting into the creation of arcade games rather than merely their distribution. It was a natural fit, and Namco’s distribution network meant their games had an easy in to arcades.

Still, none of that would have amounted to much if not for the fact that Namco produced some of the absolute greatest games of the golden age of arcades. Nakamura didn’t design the games himself, but he nevertheless spent time with each one before release, making sure it was up to standards through exhaustive personal play testing. Compare that to Nintendo’s Hiroshi Yamauchi, who prided himself on never having played a video game. Both men ran incredibly successful game businesses — it’s not hard to imagine that Namco could have become a first-party giant if they had gone the sam route as Nintendo and produced their own console in the early ’80s — but they approached their respective businesses from completely different directions.

Maybe it’s not surprising, in that light, to know that Nakamura and Yamauchi butted heads for a while. Namco had supported Nintendo’s Family Computer pretty much straight out of the gates, porting their arcade classics to the system as one of Nintendo’s first third-party publishers. Pac-ManGalagaMappy, and Tower of Druaga were just a few of the arcade best-sellers that became Famicom best-sellers; in fact, I believe Druaga did even better on consoles than in coin-op form due to its decidedly RPG-esque nature. As Nintendo’s console matured, the company began to tighten restrictions on third parties — including its die-hards. Nakamura reportedly felt ill-used as a result; it wasn’t hard to make the argument that Famicom owed much of its success to the high-quality hits Namco brought to the console, and Japanese business revolves greatly around relationships. For Nintendo to treat such a trusted partner the same as middling latecomers like, say, Bothtec or Towa Chiki… well, that flew in the face of protocol (something Yamauchi was known to do when it suited him).

So, Namco unabashedly pushed back, scaling down their Famicom production and going all-in on NEC’s PC Engine instead. Nakamura also played a key role in the establishment of Atari subsidiary Tengen, which went rogue in the U.S. and published classic games — many from Namco — without a license.

So Nakamura was a pretty cool guy who helped usher essential masterpieces to market and wasn’t afraid to go his own way. A true great of the games industry, and a rare gem of an executive who regarded his company’s creations with a personal passion and commitment to quality.

To honor Nakamura in my own small way, I’ll be streaming some Namco games tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT. I’ll start with Rolling Thunder and move on from there. I can’t remember which Namco games I have in my library at the moment, so it’ll be a potluck of sorts. Join me and be surprised!

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