Friday, December 23, 2011

New custom theme for LBreakout2

Updated to v1.1

If any of you play LBreakout2, I have some good news for you. The graphic set that I've stated in my last deviantART journal post is just about complete. Because I'm so generous , I'm letting you get the experience right here. There may be some flubs, but it should still be playable by any means.

I'll try to get some screens later.

And if anyone is curious about the ball character, hold your thoughts and we'll get to that later. If I'm not back on this blog by the holidays, then, well, Happy Holidays, or if any of you follow James Rolfe, Happy STFU.

Friday, December 9, 2011

AlphaBounce Incomplete Block Rip

Since I'm unable to post this onto Photobucket because of it's large size, I'd might as well do it here.

This is a set of many, many blocks extracted and edited from AlphaBounce, a breakout clone I've mentioned in a previous post, based on numerous color palettes that are bundled in Adobe Photoshop. I'm doing this since only a few colors of these were ever ripped, so hey, respect the fanbase.

Once I unlock the ingame level editor, I'll find and extract additional blocks, and for the parasite blocks, colorize them too.

Otherwise, I'm posting this just for anyone who cares to see it: A plethora of sketches!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Scott Pilgrim vs. the Wor... wait... Canada. (AKA Justin De Lucia vs. his love for Evil Exes.)

For starters, happy late thanksgiving and all that good shit, I hope you pigged out and ended up in the bathroom for hours (JK).

But what I'm here to discuss is the ever-so-famous Scott Pilgrim series from Bryan Lee O'Malley. Yea that Malley. The one that treats his fans and followers like total garbage. Not exactly one of the nicest authors, despite being quite well-known in the mainstream thanks to his six-volume series and it's movie adaptation from Universal. What's going to happen right here is me explaining how I got into Scott Pilgrim and it's fanbase.

To speak the truth, my first viewing of the series came when I went on a trip to New York City in August 2010 (wanted to go again this year, but ran out of time). As me and my family (mom, sis, cous, and cous' mom) walked and walked and walked, we passed by a comic book store that stated "READ SCOTT PILGRIM COMICS HERE". and from there, I just interpreted SP as an obscure indie comic book series that somehow went mainstream around that time. Though it wouldn't be until around Fall that year when I heard about the live action film, and the looks of those seven "Evil" Exes (prepare two story arcs of this post) caught my mind right away.

Take note I haven't read any of the books, just watched about 60% of the movie. Throwing that out there in the hopes of not arising any trouble.

As you can tell, my favorite characters in an instant became the Seven Evil Exes, mainly Matthew Patel due to his mysterious appearance and pyrokinesis. Gideon and Roxy were runner ups, and the others I only showed minor anticipation for. When it came to the other characters, the only ones I cared for (and still do) were Scott and Ramona. After all, they were the main protagonists, despite Ramona being a big plot device and the reason Scott became an amateur killer hunting down goths, psychics, Japanese band members, and whatever I'll use to describe Gideon.

The other "story arc" that I wanted to mention is I never interpreted the Evil Exes as being "evil," more or less just big enemies to Scott. If they really were evil, they'd go slaughter random people and those that dislike(d)/oppose(d) them (whoops too violent) while also going after Scott and his allies. Another thing that could be a bit strange for some was that none of the Exes shared the same screentime , except for the Katayanagi Twins. Certainly I could go on with the Exes for years and it wouldn't make the least bit of sense, since I'm a free guy. I could also jump to different topics and confuse everyone the heck off.

Like here for instance. I felt as if the Evil Exes didn't spend enough time in the movie than they should've. Perhaps besides Scott being told by Ramona about the Evil Exes, we could've have a few scenes (aside from the animated flashback parts) with Gideon assembling his team to face Scott, or maybe two separate battles with one Ex.

Just for another off-topic setting, I did see how the movie opened, and therefore I know about the major characters and the setup to the plot with Scott's love interest in Ramona; them first meeting in a dream, dating in the park, and how Scott had trouble confessing to Knives that he had secretly broken up with her to go out with Ramona. And if I recall correctly, I do remember when in the movie Ramona explained to Scott about the Exes on the bus. And I know the movie was based on the comics, for one thing, and I have no intentions on altering the original story to meet my dreams. Sent you into confusion? Good. Let's rewind a bit.

Adaptations don't usually have to follow the film exactly, and there were sometimes (but not always) alternative versions of a single film, ya'know, like the Director's Cut, the Uncensored Edition, etc. What I'm explaining here is what I felt would have improved on the movie following Matthew Patel's introduction into the film, not when he wrote the e-mail to Scott but when he bursted through the roof of the club, interrupting Scott and the rest of Sex Bomb-Omb as they began to perform, thus leading to the first big battle of the film.

Not only would this idea primarily allow Matthew Patel to stay alive a tad bit longer in the film, but it'd also have two Exes besides the twins on-screen at the same time. What would happen here, is both Scott and Matthew would have a long fight, practically wounding one-another to the point of passing out. Just as Scott is ready to launch a sneak-finisher move, the second Ex, Lucas Lee, bursts through the wall and KO's Scott, landing him on the wall, out of commission. Lucas then pulls up Matthew, chats with him for like a few seconds, before escaping with Matthew clutched on his shoulders. Once again, I know this doesn't happen in the book, so I wouldn't be surprised. Just letting on my thoughts.

Another thing that kind of disappointed me was Michael Cera, the actor for Scott Pilgrim himself. While I have nothing against him, and he did portray Scott well in the film, I thought his voice was too soft for someone that was portrayed as having almost a "wild" and carefree expression sort of like how I envision my own character Aozora. I'm not going to say whom I would've preferred for my own good, so take your pick of the preferred Scott.

Otherwise, that's pretty much all I can think of to say, so I'm cutting it here so I don't end up repeating the same things I've already said. But basically put, Scott Pilgrim, even if Brian Lee O'Malley isn't the brightest man on the ball with his personality and art style, (in my words, you're allowed to like something even if you don't like the author or vice versa), is a good series, but not a total godsend in the visual novel era. I like it, and I'm keeping that word to myself.

Good day.

Monday, November 7, 2011

"What do you mean I can't get 100% in this game?"

Let me just come up and announce that for the past two months, I had a sort of brick-breaking fetish playing games of the classic "paddle and ball" genre, established by Atari, but re-invented and revolutionized by Taito. This revolution sparked the interest in many game developers, and I repeat many of them. All throughout the late 80's and early 90's, many developers, both well-known and obscure, released numerous clones for arcades and home computers, both as basic 16bit Windows applications and DOS programs, the later compatible with modern-day OS's thanks to DOSBox. These games vary in presentation, usually with how their hazards are handled, and the ball-meets-paddle physics incorporated, which is how the player can aim the ball. The worst is Aquanoid, which doesn't even allow you to steer the ball with the paddle, and by far the best is Ricochet, with extremely accurate ball aiming physics.

In all of these games, the main goal is simple. Destroy all the basic destructible blocks, go to the next level, and the process just repeats. Pick up powerups and be careful not to scoop up powerdowns, watch out for enemies that try to get in the way of your ball, or enemies which even try to fire projectiles which can stun or kill the player's paddle, or hinder the level in some form or way. Though many Breakout clones get things right, some of them don't.

To sum this up in a nutshell, a Breakout clone that takes on Arkanoid should have several things. Three or more lives to start the game, a good variety of powerups (with the basics: Catcher, Extender, Divider, Shooter, Slow, and 1up), fair, non-cheap gameplay, and fights with enemies and bosses.

This clone in particular is pretty unique in that it's currently the only Breakout clone I know of that crosses with the Role-Playing-Game genre. This particular clone is known as Alpha Bounce.

As said, it's a little fun RPG that takes on a never-used concept. In the far future, in an universe flooded with aliens and blocks, you're put into a prison term doing the best thing to break you out: Breakout. Just imagine how genius the guy in the story thought this was a "punishment" for prisoners. Anyways, you want to get the heck out of imprison and end your term with cleanup missions. Of course, since it's an RPG, you'll have to find, earn, and buy equipment to prepare for the harder levels and traps that await you via an endless universe of levels, though we mostly recognize only 2,400 levels, numbered by their X and Y coordinates. Enemies and powerups are present, though this doesn't really become common until you start moving away from [0][0], otherwise your origin point. Without the right equipment, you'll be good as dead in these later levels.

The equipment and other helpful objects you can acquire include different strengths to the ball, missiles to fire at blocks incase god forbid you are impatient, drones to dissemble blocks that will harm you in some way when hit, pieces of a map to Earth, engines and radars that allow for faster movement on the overworld, extra paddles to start each level with, and stars, which upon finding all seven of them, will allow you to modify existing levels. Though you can't really create your own ones from scratch, just re-arrange the blocks in a particular level. Yea kinda of a downgrade from World's Biggest Pac-Man, where you simplify made new levels which get attached to the main game, while here, every level is pre-made, though you can change them. The reason for this is to keep the initial level's overall difficulty, so that newcomers closer to the starting point don't have to face harder levels.

Now let me stop and say that Alpha Bounce is now considered "finished" and is no longer giving out updates to the game. I tried going into the forums and writing down some of the things that bugged me about Alpha Bounce, but primarily no one agreed with my suggestions to make the game "fair". Looking back, the challenge comes from the harvesting of minerals, or currency if you will, so you can spend them in shops for items you may need to survive the harder levels and therefore advance in the game. I can see now from my mistakes when suggesting features. Though there is a very, very slim chance of Alpha Bounce being updated somehow at this time, aside from the lack of a good no-limit level editor and browser (ala Time Fcuk and Gap Monsters on Newgrounds), I have three common scenarios about Alpha Bounce, one more severe than the others.

For the first part, let me draw your attention to this photo.
The above image shows a player's stat page with every possible item collected and every feat achieved, therefore resulting in a 100% completion file. The downside is, that by default, you are unable to obtain every possible item from the current version of Alpha Bounce. And this is due to a choice that you must make early in the game.

The (name not announced) galaxy is ran by two different opposing clans. The ESCorporation (or just ESCorp), and the FURI. The former is the clan that houses the prisoners and forces them to do the cleanup missions to end their imprisonment term, while the FURI is a rebel clan with mostly no restrictions, whose main goal is to thwart the plans of the ESCorp and rescue the prisoners they've abducted and forced to break blocks in space. As it's an RPG, you can only side with one of these clans, and once you make your choice, you cannot change it. Whatever clan you choose inflects the missions you can get, and therefore can also affect what item(s) you obtain.

Part of the game's format is deciding what of the two clans you'd like to be affiliated with, and depending on your overall choice, you will receive items that the other group doesn't give you, and since you cannot find those items in shops that the other clan gives out, you are forever forbidden from claiming all the available upgrades. From what I can tell, you're also forbidden to create a spare account that joins the team opposite of your main profile's choice, just incase you don't like your choice and want to go with the other side.

The first clan, the ESCorp, which you start as already a member, but can break away before doing 52 "cleanup missions", which after those, you become loyal to the clan and can earn the ESCorp-exclusive items, which include mines you plant on the bricks, a longer paddle, and the 4th and stronger missile type that can wipe out up to 25 bricks of any type. But on the other hand, the FURI, or the "rebel clan" as I like to call it, sacrifices all those, but instead gives you a stronger ball that can go through a few blocks at once, the ability to start with two balls instead of one, and gives you a bonus free play per day alongside the three, thus giving you four per day. Not much worth it since you can already gain quite a number of plays just by paying $7+ for 100 plays, or a slightly higher amount for much, much more plays. Yeah, clearly Motion-Twin knows how to make good offers unlike Zynga's Far... err. ...S**tVille, and that's one of the many good things that this title has to offer.

Aside from that, I have a lot of faith in this game and hope that the admins return to updating Alpha Bounce, because it's a great online game right now, and even with a few minor things to make note of, it's addicting, visually appealing, great controls (except for the fact that you can move the paddle off-screen), and has a great story. You may have to pay to play more in less time, but that's supporting the developers for working so hard to make a gigantic universe with thousands of levels.

If you want to join the best online Breakout/Arkanoid clone (aside from DHTML Arkanoid), you can get the link here. Be sure to input "Superjustin" into the sponsor's field, if it's there.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Shi Kong Xing Shou. One of few Chinese games to be decent.

Hey everyone. I don't think I've done much in the past few weeks, just preparing for Halloween and things. Nothing special. I don't feel like discussing school since it's all for me to discover and not for the people whom follow me to worry about. The artwork I'm doing of OC Shinobou is looking strong, so expect it sometime by later this month or earlier next month (not making any promises).

So before I dive into the topic at hand, let me state the following; Any game that I say I want to make in future years are only concept ideas and are not actually in production. And when they do begin production and eventually are released, they will all be freeware/non-profit games. Some of these range from original, to semi-original, to blant remake, with the final step being what I plan to do with a number of titles, mostly puzzle games. For me, I envy games with a lot of features, and being able to tweak them in many ways to suit my nature. The gigantic Super Mario clone I want to develop featuring my characters, Aozora's Adventure, will have a sister game released much later, subtitled Under Construction. This version will instead focus on players being able to create levels using an editor bundled with the game, and can also easily adjust the graphics and create new skins, characters, and tilesets, as well as add additional songs to the game. Custom levels can then be submitted onto the official server, where they can be played and/or downloaded by other players.

I'll go on with that later. Now, it's time for the main event.
Allow me to introduce goodness from China; Shi Kong Xing Shou.
A rarity agmonst Chinese bootleg games, Shi Kong Xing Shou (also known by English speakers as "Space-Time Star Beast" is a Pokemon clone that was made by the now defunct company Vast Fame. Various people the specialize in pirate/unlicsened games, one being the RX Community, have taken a liking to this title because of it's playability in comparison to many other pirate games released on outdated consoles over the years, which usually suffer from countless glitches, terrible controls and physics, and are just all-around terrible. This one however, has a number of original concepts despite being a complete clone of Pokemon, like a darker plotline (five characters legit die, including one of the later party members), some creative character designs (and what I mean are the human characters, not the beasts/monsters) and so on. I can go on all day over what this game accomplishes. But like all games, it has it's share of flaws. For one thing, it's in Chinese (pointless thing to argue on), some of the monsters have stolen/unoriginal designs, one-hit kills are common, some moves are cheap , having little to no effect, and there are some game-wiping/freezing glitches. If you're going to play this, use savestates often, because you never know when it's going to screw up.

Why I state this is because I want to re-create this game from scratch with faith to the original game, while also incorporating my suggestions and improvements (aside form bug-fixes and other miscellaneous changes). Though I know some people don't like how the game and gameplay is very similar to Pokemon, this remake will probably add a few things to make Shi Kong Xing Shou seem closer to a basic Pokemon game. Such changes are shown below:

*Routes are now numbered accordingly, and (along with some mountainside areas) are extended, with the traditional "wild monster in tall grass" routine as per the real Pokemon games. There also exist other people to battle on both routes and in buildings, and routes that take place on sea or in space are also named accordingly as sea routes and space routes.
*In Shi Kong Xing Shou, completing parts of the game will disallow re-entry into specific areas, such as prohibiting re-entry to the first three towns once the player arrives in the fourth. This remake will keep all areas re-accessible following their completion, the only parts that will remain inaccessible are areas keen to the storyline, like Ballot's father's lab being destroyed following the prologue, and the airplane boarded between Chapters Six and Seven.
*Furthermore, a special character is present in specific areas to backwarp the player to certain areas following scenarios when the player would get stuck in one area and is unable to escape until it is completed, like when the player enters an underwater region of the game, he/she cannot escape it until it is secured (The remake will allow re-entry to and from the underwater village/pathway once the fifth party member, Helen, joins the team.
*The maximum level a Beast can reach is raised from 70 to 100. Evolutions for several species are also added, with the "dex" updated to sport this. The "dex" will include several boss Beasts not in the original's Dex. (Correction: The max level limit in the original Shi Kong Xing Shou was never 70. It was just suggested in a guide that all main beasts and preferred sub-beasts be at Level 70 before confronting the game's final boss.)
*Items in shops are given mugshot images, and the different variations of Capture Balls are colored from weakest to strongest: blue (default), green, red, and magenta.
*The ratio of one-hit kill moves are much lower than in the original game.
*Only one status effect can occur at one time.
*Move order re-arrangement is possible.
*The maximum amount of cash you can hold is raised to 999,999.
*Cheaper moves are weakened or changed to make them more balanced (but that doesn't mean they can't cause high damage).
*Every possible beast can be captured, some of the later ones that you confront at the end becoming capturable following the completion of the game.
*The "Flight" and Avian Strike moves are combined into one.
*A bonus Gijinka mode for those that want to play with the Beasts as human characters.

There are more, but I cannot be bothered to listing them all. ;P

The only assistance I require are sprite rips of all the characters, mug-shots, beast graphics, and tilesets that I can use to base the remake on.

That's all for now, foks. Since we're (sort of) on topic with Pokemon; Who. Drew. This. Why can't they make a game based off of this?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Otaku-Ball post (hopefully) coming soon

Hey everyone. Just wanted to mention that I may upload in a few days a post regarding my idea to create the world's greatest Breakout/Arkanoid clone: Otaku-Ball. In the meantime, I'll give you the planned block graphics to be included in the game. There's more, but this is what I have for now.
You can find more on my Photobucket "Sprite Sheets" folder.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Anime Techno X Aozora's Adventure? Stupid, but possible.

Well might as well spill yet more beans from my gigantic jar of imagination.

Remember back in my days of character-stealing for my original letdown of a "franchise"? Well, something like that is prone to happen again with my new indie series, Aozora's Adventure, but will be taking a much , much smoother and less critical approach than Super Justin did.

But before you bring out your banhammers, allow me to spare the details.

Currently, all of the major characters in Aozora's Adventure are all original/semi-original designs by myself and a variety of people that I've met via my carrier as an amateur indie artist since early '09 (I'm not aiming to be perfect. Just great by most standards), and not once have I taken/used a character from another series or franchise (the later being a word I refus to say under most instances) without permission, and I do not wish to do this if it'll cause such a rucus similar to what happened two years ago (causing an entire fanbase to strike against me). Like I said, this will not cause many, if not any problems compared to Super Justin. And I'm not going to be "stealing" them. I'm going to earn permission to use non-original characters the only way I can: Making the Aozora's Adventure series good, release it to Japan online as Aozora no Tabi, get it popular (but not that popular) in that country agmonst the web, re-release several freeware Aozora's Adventure games that were originally printed in English, wait a long time, and attract the attention of major anime, manga, and video game retailer Animate. Oh yeah, you know where this is going.

Embrace for unexpected impact in




Meito Anisawa
Well durrhurr yes. If you haven't heard of him already, let me give you a pointless history lesson. Anizawa Meito, the character shown in the image above, is the current main mascot of Animate, and is the protagonist of his own series; Anime Techno. Piror to this, the character and his sidekicks made major cameo appearences in the well-known and popular anime/manga series Lucky Star, which in all honesty, does not require an introduction, and features many other cameos. Seriously, that's how popular it is. And Anizawa is always trying to sell his shit to good ol' Konata Izumi, but tries too hard, flipping shit upside down and over-reacting with army and warfare sequences, and fails after so much effort, even in scenarios where he becomes so close to succeeding. I don't know how many times this has been done in the series, nor if it's a common theme, as I've never seen Lucky Star. So don't complain if my info is incorrect.

Now back to Aozora's Adventure. Yea I would like Anizawa Meito to be a character in my own series. It happened to Touhou Project, why not mine as well? Well, Touhou Project is currently the most well-known doujin series in history, so I can see why Animate would notice and like their own characters to appear alongside the Touhou girls in a crossover title starring Anizawa as one of the main characters. And so around Animate's 10th anniversary, that's exactly what the fans got: Anime Techno X Touhou Project. If that wasn't enough, Anizawa made another cameo in Disgaea 4 as some kind of attack character. Yea clearly Anizawa Meito has the power to appear in everything ever, and take over the otaku culture world just like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, but even with a good number of cameos, mainly in Lucky Star, he still remains a strange and almost unknown figure outside of Japan (IMP, it's my perspective).

And because a few series could do it, I wanted to see if maybe once Aozora's Adventure becomes well-known, I could get permission from Animate (as well as give them some ka-ching), to use Anizawa and his gang in the series. It will not be like me butchering characters from Rosenkreuzstilette and Pokemon in Super Justin by changing their personalities, backstories, and in a few cases their appearances, giving little to no credit to the original designer(s). Anizawa and the other Animate characters would keep their initial personality and appearences from the Anime Techno and Lucky Star OVAs- for prime instance Anizawa still likes to make dramatic expressions, flip all over his Animate shop when a specific person drops by (in this case, the main characters in Aozora's Adventure, mainly Aozora) and blow shit up for no reason other than to give the message "buy my f&cking products!" And he still brings up Comiket, fights with his lesser-employes over disagreements over dead out-of-print products, plus his enemies, spins like the Tasmanian Devil, and set fire to himself when explaining the reason successful animes are successful in the first place. Here however, along with the basic stuff, his attempts would be plotted much more insane, even re-arranging the entire store to parody a movie in the shoot-em-up/war genre, and planting stronger cameras on the outside of his store to spot Aozora from far away down the street so he can quickly re-arrange Animate just before Aozora enters so he can exploit his plans flawlessly. As with Lucky Star, all these plots fail, sometimes with close successions, and other times with Aozora sabotaging one or more of the Animate employes by knocking them out or engaging in a short fight scene. As the series progresses and more failures from Anizawa, Aozora purposely enters the store not to browse, but for him to have fun with Anizawa and watch he and his allies fail at convincing him to buy something from the store, even at booths during events. Much later in the anime's lifespan, Anizawa evolves from an enemy of Aozora to a minor anti-hero, kicking some mecha and witch ass for himself (mostly without the main protagonists) and slowly forgiving Aozora for many tradegies, while still having a small hatred for not buying Animate's products earlier in the anime). Call it a stupid idea, but like before, I'm all up for criticism. And besides, this may not exactly happen.

I'll bring this up: The currently non-existing Aozora's Adventure anime isn't really considered to be made for a profit, just for fun. And even if it does get made, it will be mostly a type of cross-genre anime, spoofing and parodying many other series, both obscure and well known. If I am able to secure rights for the Animate crew, then Anizawa would appear about halfway via the first season, and subsequent appearances in later episodes, both major and minor.

Peace out.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Dot.S, Trains, Puzzle games, Pac-Man, and Break Out oh my!

Yep, get ready folks, because we're going to dig in into obscure gaming and nostalgia overload. Before I begin, though, I want to share some good news with you guys.
I am happy to announce that I have secured a working copy of the Dot.s Design Builder, and have uploaded it to Mediafire. So now people can enjoy this great application that emulates Tomytec's great toy product from Japan. Sure it's in Japanese, but if you're into MS Paint or other common painting applications, you may be able to figure it out without understanding the language.

And now we begin with the real thing.
Since about a year ago, Matt Rix's Trainyard has made a big impact on the mobile gaiming industry, by introducing puzzles that can be solved in hundreds- or even thousands of unique solutions. Since the launch of the level editor September 1st, I have made a number of levels for Trainyard, each with varying difficulty.
If you own Trainyard (not Express), here are the levels.
And BTW, respect the brown trains!
Heheh, sorry. Got a little bit carried away there. ^_^; Anyway moving on.
Next up on our lineup is Xye, a open-source enhanced remake of Kye, the later being a puzzle game made by Colin Garbutt way back in 1992. It was released in two versions, a shareware version that had 15 levels in all (and they get hard very fast), and the ability to add and distribute single levels via the internet. The guy behind the remake is Victor Soliz, and he did a great job on reviving a little under-rated gem by adding many, many new concepts and unique puzzles. It is also compatible with levels created for the original Kye.
You can get Xye as well as multiple versions and editions of Kye here at this site. As for additional puzzles, they two can also be found at Xye's homepage, buy you you can look around the Net. I recommended this site to get old Kye levels and the official Xye forums for both old and new. For more information as well as a few more level packs, Robert Phipps' Kye fansite is the place.
Allow me to introduce two games of the "Noid" family of breakout games. Both by completely different companies and on Microsoft's now-defunct MS-DOS (which means for newer computers, you need DOSBox to run them), Aquanoid (1991-1992) and Electranoid (1994-1995) were clones of Taito's Arkanoid games, that tried to cash in on the popularity. Sadly though, both games sort of failed, as they both had difficult paddle physics, in that the ball wouldn't ricochet correctly as it should in any modern Breakout clone, but they both tried to introduce new elements to the genre of Arkanoid clones. Aquanoid had a massive overabundance of powerups and powerdowns to boot, as well as solid unbreakable blocks that would fire lasers at destroyable blocks. Electranoid (besides sounding like a god-darn Sega Genesis game), had enemies, which Arkanoid also had, but Electranoid take is up another step. These enemies lob balls at you, meant to hinder your progress by turning blocks into metallic ones that require multiple hits to destroy, turning your paddle invisible, or killing you. Yea, pretty crazy, especially with the Green Menacers and their Metallic Green blocks that need the Red Ball from a Red Menacer to destroy, which does become troublesome at times besides not being able to control the ball well. Overall, both games are okay, but I don't recommend them a whole lot (especially Electranoid) unless you are addicted to Breakout and Arkanoid and their many, many clones.
I am supplying a download for Aquanoid because this "limited shareware" version seems to be more up to date compared to the one you can find on the internet. It even has a separate Setup application that you can boot up to change the color of the ingame font. Pretty cool. Get it here. If anyone knows about or has the full 150 level version of Aquanoid for download, please, of all things, let me know.
Electranoid, on the other hand, can easily be found by google-searching the net. Grab it here.
I'm also throwing in a .ZIP of Yabog, another breakout clone with some crazy block types, plus an editor. There's also Bat 'n Ball, but it's remotely nothing special. No power-ups, just a paddle, a ball, and no special block types besides destructible and indestructible blocks.
Dodger is a pretty strange puzzle game (yea that genre is really fancy today) that deserves the title Pac-Man vs. the Space Muntants. You're Pac-Man, you run around, eat food, dodge alien lazers, and avoid swallowing poison.
I only (and sadly) have the shareware version, which lacks the level editor of the full version. Anyways, here you go.
This next one, called Mini Pac-Man is pretty funny though. Once again, you are Pac-man (who looks rather odd), but for whatever reason, he has a bad flatulence and belching problem. Mazes are constructed by blocks and contain dead-ends, turning around sharp corners is hard, no recovery time from getting hit, but still good fun.
So yup, this is why I've haven't been drawing much recently. I've also been getting ready for my final year at school, so I've been doing a lot lately. Yea, I got one hell of an agenda. @__@

Monday, August 22, 2011

Imagining: the Perfect Namco Museum.

And here gores another topic somewhat related to Pac-Man, but instead involving it's creator. Namco (Bandai).

Let me give you a little history lesson to start off things. Don't need to have the shit hitting the fan all at once. Back during the 64 bit-era, when Sony's Playstation and Nintendo's Nintendo 64 were at it, Namco started releasing compilations of their classic arcade games, titled Namco Museum. These were accurate re-creations of their titles, both ones that made it to the States and PAL territories, and ones that didn't. The first one, released in 1995, included several of their well-known worldwide titles, and just for shits and giggles, they splotched in Toypop, one of their Japanese-exclusive games, which I feel as if stuck out from the rest of the crowd because it wasn't relatively known outside Japan. But otherwise, it was a decent title for the PS1 library, and so, Namco followed up with four more volumes released over the late 90's. Each one contained roughly five to seven games, with some of the titles serving the same fate as Toypop and not being relatively-known outside Japan. The second volume featured a simliar layout to the first, the third and fourth ones took their own design, and the fifth one was made less linear, spreading the games around the main museum HUB. Every volume featured a ton of bonus content based on the game's original Japanese releases where you can view promotional flyers and merchandise available during the time of the game's original release. Yea I know I repeated a few things there, but the more the better!

After the original "quintoligy" (or however you say it), Namco released a sixth volume excluvesely in Japan, known as Namco Museum Encore that broke several traditions of the preceding five volumes. Gone was the virtual museum- instead they put you in some sort of black room with nothing but stars and the cabinets of the games all in one room (at least, I think that's how it went. There are only a few screenshots, and not enough good hard evidence to see what really was in Encore), and gone was also the bonus features and content (once again, dunno much about Encore).

But anyways, fast forward to the early 2000's, following the N64 and Dreamcast Namco Museum titles, which are nothing special, aside from being a compilation of Namco's most popular and recognized games. Here we saw the 128-bit console multi-platform Namco Museum, which was a vastly updated version of the N64/Dreamcast versions, containing several additional games, the main ones that got my attention were the "Arrangement" titles, which included remakes of Pac-Man, Dig-Dug, and Galaxian, which were previously seen in "Namco Classics Collection" alongside the games they were initially based on. THis collection for the first time, contained a non-arcade title, Pac-Attack. Then, came Namco Museum 50th Anniversary, celebrating 50 years of Namco's career as a toy company. This one once again was a compilation of some of their most well-known titles released worldwide, but was much bigger, and rather than doing accurate remakes of the titles, they instead did a near-perfect emulated version, and stays very true to the originals. Battle Collection was somewhat of the same ordeal, but had more titles, and brought in new game menus per title where the player can choose their starting level, and therefore continue progress after getting a Game Over. This one also had a different set of Arrangement titles separate from the ones in Classics Collection, that since following Battle Collection have become known as the "Remix" series. These "Remix" titles I felt were weaker than the "Arrangement" variants. Afterwards, there weren't any new titles released in the Museum lineup. Nowadays they seem to be focused on just releasing previously-featured arcade titles just to get them on other platforms, and don't release any of their Japanese-only or rare titles on their recent collections. Nor do they seem to be willing to just throw in a large pack of their hits into one disc. Well that's perfectly why I'm here, to tell you how I feel a Namco Museum should be done, and done right.

Well, it's kind of difficult to explain, but let me break it up for you. This Museum title, if it ever existed, would contain many arcade titles from Namco's past years, all perfectly emulated, and all in their original language (with some games having alternative ROMS for different languages). It goes back to the museum format of the original PS1 installments, but the games are now laid out on three different floors based on their overall popularity or obscurity. The first floor contains games based on Namco's most well-known titles, the second floor contains some of Namco's lesser-known games that have a decent fan-following, and the third floor contains games there are extremely uncommon outside of Japan, and didn't get releases on a Namco Museum. On each of these floors, you enter doors that lead to the basic gallery rooms where you view the game's bonus content, but rather than just items based on the Japanese releases, this compilation goes further to include items from other releases of the same game outside of Japan (if available). Then at the end of the hall is the room where the game's upright or cocktail cabinet is displayed. The "game" rooms, and their corresponding gallery rooms seen from the original PSX games are also seen here, but enhanced greatly with better graphics and visuals. The sounds remain the same. As for the ones form Encore and other titles not in the original quintology, they are given rooms based on the game that's inside the room, and a theme that fits the game itself (mainly a remix of one specific BGM from the game). Should be easy to explain, but let's move on.

Then, there's a fourth floor that simply contains nothing but bonus content. Background music and sound effects from the games, other Namco-related scans and artowrk, and player/user records and online leaderboards for every title (of which the games need to be played in a separate mode called (Score Attack) to register scores on the worldwide leaderboards, which is each game always on default or easiest settings, both with their own list).

But let's cut the bullshit, and introduce the games. Per floor, in alphabetic order.

1st Floor:

Dig Dug
Dig Dug II
Dragon Spirit
Galaga '88
Jr. Pac-Man
King & Balloon
Ms. Pac-Man
New Rally-X
Pac-Attack (SNES version)
Pac-Attack (Namco Anthology 2 verison)
Pac-Man Plus
Pole Position
Pole Position II
Rolling Thunder
Sky Kid
Sky Kid Deluxe
Super Pac-Man
Super Xevious

2nd Floor:

Assault Plus
Bomb Bee
Cutie Q
Dig Dug Arrangement
Dragon Buster
Dragon Saber
Galaga Arrangement
Gee Bee
Genpei Toma Den
Mappy Arrangement
Mr. Driller
Pac & Pal
Pac-Man Arrangement
Rally-X Arrangement
The Return of Ishtar
The Tower of Druaga*
Toy Pop
Xevious Arrangement
Valkyrie no Densetsu

*(includes Another and Darkness Tower versions from Volume 3, as ROM hacks)

3rd Floor

UPDATE: In response to Namcorules, a user on StrategyWiki, whom I've showed the post to, I've decided to add some more titles to the list, of which I intended to add but got a little carried away writing the list that I forgot to insert them. I'm not going to mark off which titles are now on this list. The reason why I had stated that some of the games would "bump up" the age rating to T/13+ if this ever became a commercial release was because of several reasons, the most notable I can think of off the bat were Wonder Momo's "panty shots" and Yokai Dochuki's heavy religious theme.

Bakutotsu Kijutei
Blast Off
Burning Force
Cosmo Gang the Video
Dangerous Seed
Dirt Fox
Final Lap
Final Lap 2
Final Lap 3
Finest Hour
Hopping Mappy
Kaitei Takara Sagashi
Libble Rabble
Marchen Maze
Marvel Land
Metal Hawk
Mirai Ninja
Quester Special Edition
Rolling Thunder 2
Souko Ban Deluxe
Tank Battalion
Tank Force
Warp & Warp
Wonder Momo
Yokai Dochuki

I am not planning to add the following games:

World Stadium, World Court, Face Off, Kyukai Douchuki, Numan Athletics, Other Namco Sports titles- All sports games. Not that I have anything against them, but I just feel that this collection would be better off without those.
Splatterhouse- I heard the game got negative reviews on various sites. But that's just according to my knowledge. I just don't have much desire to include Splatterhouse.
Four Trax, Other Namco Racing titles- Pole Posistion and Final Lap both share pretty much the same gameplay to these titles. And I feel as if there are enough racing games in this collection. Yea I'm a big fan of racing games, but still.
Galaxian^3, Xevious Sequels- There's enough shooters in this collection.
Steel Gunner, Steel Gunner 2, Golly! Ghost!, Golly! Ghost! 2- all these use the external-gun-mounted-onto-console control format.
Cosmo Gang the Puzzle- This collection already has two versions of Pac-Attack, of which CGTP's gameplay had inspired.
Knuckle Heads, Soul Edge, Soul Calibur, Other Namco Fighting titles- Fighting games. While I do enjoy playing them from time to time, the idea to add these is the same as with the sports titles.
Namco Quiz Games- I quote the Angry Video Game Nerd: "Quizzes aren't fun! Quizzes make you feel like you're in school!"

Once again, sorry if some of your favorites didn't make the list. I want to keep this collection simple and not get carried away with the games.

All games contain their original Dip Switch settings, and like I probably had said before, are all perfect emulations of their original, non-translated versions, with alternative translated ROMS for games in Japanese. More confusing games with complex objectives also include an in-game how-to/walkthrough booklet for specific games, mainly Tower of Druaga.

Please let me know your opinions if possible. Thanks much to Twitter user superfroman12 for supporting the idea, and to everyone else, feel free to spread the word.

Keep making great games, Namco!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Super Mario Bros. Special Restoration Project Announcement.

If you want to bullshit about me talking about SMB hacking and custom games too much on Super Justin: the Blog, go scream into a pillow. It'll be more beneficial to everyone.
Yea I know this is the art for a SMB soundtrack CD, but it just so bears that title, so meh.

Back in the mid 1980's, not long after Nintrndo's own Super Mario Bros, a company known as Hudson Soft, popular for their Bomberman games, was given the rights to produce three Mario titles for two Japanese-only home computers. Two of these, Punch Ball Mario Bros. and Mario Bros. Special, were both related to Nintendo's own arcade smash hit Mario Bros, and was released prior to the perhaps more well-known title, called Super Mario Bros. Special, which counted as the true first sequel to Super Mario Bros, preceding the Lost Levels, but it never came out for the Famicom or NES, it stayed excluvise to the PC88 and the Sharp X1, of which the former is the console that is used most (at least in emulator form) to play SMBS. However, that version has colors that are only shades of red, blue, and yellow. The Sharp X1 version instead uses 8 colors, sometimes merging two colors into a single sprite (mainly for used pipes and green objects), so it is the better-looking of the two. However the PC88 version is the more well-known version, and it's the one people use for LP's, so that one I know far more than the Sharp X1 version. However, I heard that version plays a little more smoothly, but I don't feel like comparing the two, so we're going to focus on just comparing the PC88 version to the original Famicom/NES version, and this version that has yet to come, as well as discuss the inaccuracy of the butchered Super Mario Bros. Special NES hack.

First, the PC88 version of Special, compared to the NES original.

*The controls and physics are somewhat worse than the NES version. Mario runs, jumps and drops faster and is harder to slow down, enemies are harder to hit as they too, move faster, and the Mega-Man styled screen-orientation flip-screen doesn't help either, in fact it's harder to land jumps because of it, making the hill-top levels harder than they should be.
*The maximum height for blocks is one square lower, which explains why the X-3 castles look odd.
*The "Koopa Stairs 1UP trick" is much easier to perform, and Mario does not need to be directly next to the stairs to do it.
*on lifts, there is only one platform, as opposed to several in underground areas.
*A single template which is used for every level in the original is replaced with all of the scenery being placed tile-by-tile, which explains why there are tall trees in some levels of the game (the biggest example being World 3-1.
*Underwater blocks and coral reefs can now be seen in above ground and one underground level(s), the later acting as a solid block. This is because every tile is now connected to one sheet, rather than using one with different palettes and tiles configured for each environment.
*Pipe entry and exit areas on the screen's y-axis are now unlimited, and now long, horizontal pipes not connected to vertical ones are also present.
*Starmen now have cutesy smiles.
*Bonus areas are now located in a select few castles.
*The well-known "ground" tile can now be placed anywhere on the screen, besides just being restricted to the first two rows on the bottom of the screen.
*There are more varieties of areas in the game- no room is seen twice in the game on different levels.
*Upside-down Piranha plants are seen, as well as pipes (The tips for the pipes are the same), regardless of what direction it is sprouting from)
*Just to be fancy, some new enemies and items appear here. The enemies originally appeared in Donkey Kong and Mario Bros; the two games that made Mario well-known before his star appearance in SMB. THe items are original to this game, with the exception of one item.

The enemies are:
Barrels- somewhat of a cross between Buzzy Beetles and Spinies. They cannot be jumped on, nor are they affected by your fireballs. Only Stars and Hammers are capable of taking these out. They first appear in 3-4.
Icicles- The enemy that appears late into Mario Bros; they simply come down from the celling in underground and castle levels, starting from 4-2.
Sidesteppers- Probably a skin for Spinies, but I'm assuming that if you want to remove one standing on a block from below, you'd have to do it twice (the first hit makes it angry and speeds it up). First seen in 4-2.
Fighter Flies- hopping flies from Mario Bros. that are basically just like Paratroopas, but slower and doesn't hop as high. Appears first in 5-1.
Fireball/Firebugs- The last of the enemies, that are invincible to possibly every attack, except the Starman and quite possibly the Hammer, though the later cannot be conformed because the Hammer never appears in a level alongside the Fireball/firebugs. First seen in 8-2.

The five exclusive items are all secretive, none of them can be found from ? blocks just out in the open. You have to look hard for them. Below are the items, their functions, and their locations.

Hachisuke- This item is only seen once in the very first level of the game, just right after existing the game's first bonus room. It is Hudson Soft's bee mascot plastered onto a yellow plate. Some sources claim it grants a continue, but in reality, it's only purpose is to award the player 8,ooo points.
Wing- Seen first in World 3-2's normal path and later on top the first item block in 4-1, this poorly-drawn wing gives Mario the ability to "swim" in midair. Unfortunately, it's duration is very, very short, making it somewhat useless.
Hammer- This is the only familiar powerup in this game, previously appearing in Donkey Kong. It causes Mario to proceed to swing a hammer that is the same size as him, mowing down anything in front of him. It's only temporary, but it does have quite a cool feature. It first appears in 3-4 in the "barrel room" and one last time in 5-1 before the staircase to the flag, which is ridden with Fighter Flies.
Lucky Star- No relation to Kagami Yoshimizu's manga which had a special cameo from Anime Techno's Anizawa Meito (*fangirl scream*), this item only appears in 4-1 and looks like an atom, complete with a nucleus and electron rings. Pick it up, and it kills everything on screen. Sadly, it too is also useless, since by the time you're able to grab it, the enemies on that screen would have already left by now.
Clock- Not identical to the stopwatch, both in appearance and functionality from Super Mario Bros 2 (US), this one looks like a classic desktop clock. Pick it up, and you get 100 extra seconds onto the clock (which helps because of how fast it ticks down compared to SMB in the NES.

-Since some people would yell at me if I didn't bring it up, some areas in the game lead to traps that the player cannot escape from, the most well known being 4-3's Coin Heaven (of which the same level also contains a puzzle where you have to collapse one of the scale-lifts to make a platform appear to progress through the level.) Here, the bonus room looks fine, but for whatever reason, the exit pipe does not work. Was it intended to be a trap? No. It was perhaps the result of a bad ROM dump, as anyone who played the PC88 version of SMBS may have also noticed that worlds 4-4 and 8-4 can also be corrupted, to the point in which 8-4 will not even start up. In this case, the exit pipe here was also corrupted due to the dump. thus leading to a trap where the player has to wait for the timer to run out. According to Wario Bros/ WarioBrose, the same thing also happens in the Sharp X1 version, but here we can see where if the exit pipe were to work, it would warp you to a warp pipe situated underneath the end-of-level staircase, of which contains a hidden 1UP block.
-In the level preceding this un-intended "trap", (4-2) there is a pipe following the underground portion exit that would seem like a warp zone, but also possibly due to a bad ROM dump, it does not work properly, resulting in you getting stuck and having to wait out on the timer. It is unknown where this pipe would have led if it did work. I'll talk about this strange pipe later.

Now about two decades and a half following the release of the PC88 version, two members of, known under the names frantik and Levi "Karatorian" Aho attempted a remake of SMBS in the form of a ROM hack of the original Super Mario Bros, titled SMBS for NES. Besides just acting like a way to better enjoy Special with the precise and flawless physics of the original, there are some things that were changed between the PC88 version and the hack, and I say PC88 because I think they based the entire thing on that version.

*All of the scenery and blocks are not precisely like the original versions, the "ground" tiles are restricted to the bottom two rows, coral reefs and underwater tiles on the overworld levels are changed to basic solid blocks, there are no long trees or small clouds, pipe exits and certain rooms (one of them belonging to 4-4) are moved/changed do to the limitations of the NES version.
*The colors went back to the original palette of the NES version.
*The "drop the scale lift platform" puzzle in 4-3 is rid of, but unfortunately the un-intended coin heaven trap is not touched, meaning the exit pipe in that area still does not work (c'mon guys, you could've at least made the pipe work!)
*The upside-down pipe ends are given their own graphics, rather than using the ones from pipe uprooting from the ground. While we're on topic, the upside-down Pirana Plants are made into Red Pirana Plants, even though all of the Pirana Plants were green in the original game.
*Possibly what I feel is the worst offender of all, every of the SMBS-excluise items and enemies were not in SMBS. May I ask, if two people were able to program SMB3 font on the title screen, add red-colored pirana plants, and upside-down pipe graphics (which wasn't even in the original version), then why couldn't they just expand the ROM's size so they could splotch in five new enemies and five new items. If ATA can make SMB into a Metroi... wait a second. I think I know why the SMBS-exclusive stuff wasn't in this ROM hack.

For one thing, Super Mario Bros. Utility, the currently easiest-to-use editor for SMB, is not that user-friendly compared to Lunar Magic, as that was an editor for a game that was capable at holding much more memory, and due to the SMB ROM I assume already being at it's maximum size, the user can only modify, and delete content. The reason why the blocks are not arranged as they were in SMBS is because in SMBU, you move these green squares to modify the level, and depending on where you place them, the structure changes. If perhaps there existed a better, more simpler version of SMBU, that automatically expands any ROM loaded onto it, allows a drag-and-drop editor like Ting_Thing's Mario Builder, the ability to add additional rooms, more freedom for spawning points on the Y-axis, an in-game palette editor, and the use of multiple block types and palettes per level, (and of course containing content from Special and Lost Levels) then perhaps just maybe a more faithful conversion of SMBS could exist in NES format. But no. Only the levels were carried over from the PC88 version, and the well-known 4-3 trap was left in on purpose.

In Extra Mario Bros, enemies and items were not added, but instead replaced. Buzzy Beetles were replaced by Goombas wearing iron helmets that cannot be killed, and only bump Mario to the side without harming him. If the player continuously jumps on top of this Goomba, he/she can ride them across certain chained platforms. Laiktus were replaced by Blarggs that spew podoboos, and Spinies were replaced by lavaballs that are immune to fireballs until you get the "Super Fire" upgrade.

Starmen were replaced by special mushrooms that gave Mario permanent upgrades that lasted for the entirety of the game, such as allowing Mario to melt spikes and walls, allow Mario to arc fireballs higher, and gain a double-jumping ability. I believe if you finish the game and find all of the 1UP mushrooms, you get a special suit the next time you play that makes Mario immune to enemies and lava, allowing you to access a secret area where you fight a giant Metroid.

Now back to SMBS. Yea a lot of us may have expected more from the NES hack, but it wasn't as well-done as I had hoped. It probably would've worked better as a Super Mario World hack, since the ROM of that game could be expanded to have plenty of room for Special's new items, enemies, and block types. So because the NES hack didn't do quite well in comparison to the original (IMO), I decided to use Ting_Thing's Mario Builder to recreate each and every single element of SMBS down to almost the exact detail. What will this accomplish?

*All 32 levels from SMBS, drawn into MB exactly with no changes to scenery and block types.
*SMBS' exclusive enemies and items replaced with enemies from more recent Mario titles following the original, and rare items that will make very few appearances. This is due to Mario Builder lacking the exclusive features of Special.

Now here's what I'd like to have in this remake, but can't:

*A skin editor to apply the appropriate SMBS-styled skins to coins, brick blocks, ? blocks, the characters, the flagpole, and so on. The only thing I can do for now is just skins for background scenery and solid objects. This would also come in handy for other projects in Mario Builder.
*Have constantly-generating vertically-moving platforms ala the original, plus the scale platforms.
*Properly-working hidden ? blocks.
*Firebars that spin counter-clockwise.
*A SMB-styled Bowser, and the classic collapsing bridge and ax to go with it.

Well that's it. At the time I'm writing this, I only have completed the first three levels, including their bonus rooms. I'll try to make this remake more true to the original than the NES remake, and then I'll work on publishing it. Since I easily get occupied with other things, there may be days where I won't work on the remake. But for now, I'll show you some screens from World 1 and it's bonus room (and you may be able to tell why I recommended a sprite editor)

So yeah. There you have it. I have a pretty interesting month coming up, so maybe I'll write some stuff on deviantART soon. In the meantime, I'll leave you with some bonus content: Tilesets for use with Mario Builder, ripped from three different ROM hacks of the original Super Mario Bros.

-rip images-