Monthly Archives: July 2009

King of NES

Errrmember those Top Ten game lists I made for various systems in the Spring of last year? Yeah, those lists sucked and some of them even surprisingly earned the scorn of hundreds of anonymous visitors. The truth is that even though I’ve nerded my way through many video games, there are really no particular systems on which I’ve finished enough games to really be an expert regarding that system’s library. So, the resulting Top Ten lists were somewhat shallow and featured a lot of expected entries.

Well, I decided about a month ago to become an expert on the NES library. This is no small feat as the library is pretty huge but I’m a trooper, goddammit! This doesn’t mean I have to play through every game or anything stupid like that. It doesn’t even mean I have to play every game at all. It just means I’m trying to determine exactly which games qualify as good NES games.

My efforts over the last month have been very Capcom specific. I played through Mega Man 1 through 6, Ducktales 1 & 2, and Gargoyle’s Quest II. I also took a shot at Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers 2, Darkwing Duck, Little Nemo: The Dream Master and Destiny of an Emperor but I decided they just weren’t that great.

I’ve also been playing Earthbound (Zero) which has had its ups and downs. Sometimes I really get into it but the escalation in enemy power is really steep from one part to the next, which results in some tedious grinding. When I become a real NES master, I’ll make a new list, maybe a Top Ten, Top Five, or just ‘Great Games’, and then the world will shake! Oh, and I’m sorry, Scott, but I still just can’t get into Blaster Master.

Begging Ryan Meier

Ryan Meier, I’m begging you: please watch a minute or two of this video and I believe you will agree that it’s the best basketball video game ever.

PS3/X360 Castlevania

Weeks ago, Konami announced a new Castlevania game for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 titled Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.  The big news is that it’s a “reboot” of the series, has big stars like Patrick Stewart doing voice work, and is being co-developed by Hideo Kojima’s studio at Konami.  Some people were really going bonkers at this news but I feel pretty ho-hum about it.

For one thing, Kojima’s team is basically only good at making Metal Gear games.  Their other efforts of the past decade have been just okay, according to critics/reputation.  Second the other half of the co-development team is a studio called MercuryStream, who so far have only made pieces of shit, namely American McGee’s Scrapland and Clive Barker’s Jericho.

I suspect this will just be a God of War wannabe just like the PS2 Castlevanias were Devil May Cry wannabes.  I’ve been thinking that it was time for a change in the Castlevania series for awhile now but this is probably not the way to go.  A dude named Koji Igarashi and his team have basically been in charge of the series for the last 7 years, producing 6 great handheld titles and 3 mediocre console titles.  The problem with the handheld titles is that they kept following the ‘Metroidvania’ format without fail – a design that can become overly familiar after awhile.

I’ll reserve judgment until 2010 but I’m not getting my hopes up!

Mario Family Tree

it looks as if i’m taking over matt’s specialty section of the blog today.

here’s another nerdy video game post:

some amazing person made a mario games family tree.

check out the full tree via geekologie

scott

Nintendo Championships 2009

JJGames.com, based out of denver, just re-created the nintendo world championships and nintendo campus challenge in their “retro games championship”. i guess the owner of this company has the elusive gold cartridges from both competitions, and used them as reference for the competition. (as an aside, these cartridges cost him a total of $31,500) 

duplicate carts were made based on the ROMs, and they set them up on 10 screens for the competition. 5 screens for the world championship, in which players had to get 50 coins in super mario bros., finish a special rad racer track, and get as many points as possible in tetris before the time reached 6:21, and 5 screens for the campus challenge (based off the 1991 competition), where players had to get 25 coins in super mario bros. 3, 100,000 points in pinbot, and highest score in dr. mario also before the 6:21 time limit.

sounds like fun! maybe next year they’ll include re-creations of the star fox: super weekend and nintendo powerfest ’94?

JJGames.com | Retro Game Championship 2009

scott

National Game Registry 1985: Rush’n Attack

RUSH’N ATTACK
aka Green Beret
original platform
arcade
developer/publisher
Konami

A lone commando armed with a knife invades a Soviet base to rescue his comrades.  The perfect Cold War game and something of a predecessor to the run and gun genre.

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Rush’n Attack was inducted on July 17th, 2009.

Return to the National Game Registry to view more inductees.

70 Aspects Of Batman: 12

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DAVID MAZZUCCHELLI

From Wikipedia:

David Mazzucchelli (born September 21, 1960) is an American comic book artist and illustrator. His early work was in superhero comics for Marvel Comics and DC Comics, although he later embarked on a series of acclaimed alternative comics projects.

Mazzucchelli received his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and started working in comics in the early 1980s. He started at Marvel Comics where, after a few various issues, he became the regular artist on Daredevil. He developed his skills working with writer Denny O’Neil and culminated his work on this title with the popular and critically acclaimed Daredevil: Born Again story arc, written by Frank Miller (now collected in graphic novel form). Mazzucchelli began as a traditional superhero artist but over the span of his time on Daredevil, his work gained in confidence and employed expressionist techniques.

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Mazzucchelli’s first Batwork was featured in World’s Finest #302 from 1984. This page showcases his earlier art style which, as mentioned above, is much more in keeping with the superhero comic look of the time. After completing Daredevil: Born Again, Mazzucchelli’s style had developed from that displayed above into the dynamic minimalism that would come to characterize his work from then on, as seen in Batman: Year One.

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Written by Frank Miller and serialized in Batman #404-407, Batman: Year One chronicled the first 365 days of Bruce Wayne’s war on crime, as well as the future Commissioner Gordan’s struggle with corruption in the ranks of the Gotham City Police Department. Year One became an instant classic, thanks in large part to David Mazzucchelli’s sophisticated artwork. Its seen as a seminal Batman story, both in its own right and as a precursor to Miller’s Dark Knight Returns, and was a huge influence on the film Batman Begins.

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Year One would also be the last time Mazzucchelli would draw Batman and his universe, apart from the two Who’s Who entries below:

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And, aside from a story in Marvel Fanfare #40, that was pretty much the extent of Mazzucchelli’s mainstream career; in 1991, he began his creator-owned Rubber Blanket and from then on his work could be found sporadically in publications like Zero Zero and The New Yorker. This month his graphic novel Asterios Polyp was published, and has been garnering rave reviews.

Oh, here’s the almost-obligatory Black And White statue….

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G.

P.S. More Mazzucchelli here.

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The miracle of emulators: Earthbound (Zero) and StarFox 2

One of the great things about the emulation community is that it allows you to play many great games that were never released in your region.  Thanks to the efforts of devoted translation groups, you can even play games that were only produced in Japanese.

This is especially handy in the world of RPGs.  To date, the ONLY versions of Final Fantasy III, Dragon Quest V, and Dragon Quest VI that have been released in the west are 3D remakes for the DS.  Thanks to the emulator nerds, you can play the original versions wherever you are.  Of somewhat more interest are games that are STILL unreleased here, like Seiken Densetsu 3 (the direct sequel to Secret of Mana) or Terranigma (the third chapter in the Soul Blazer trilogy).

There are also tons of ROMs out there for games that were finished but, for one reason or another, never released.  These range from unreleased Pac-Man versions for ColecoVision all the way up to full-blown Super NES games.  There are currently two games in this category that interest me at the moment.  If you’re familiar with the SNES cult hit EarthBound you may may be aware the game’s Japan-only, NES predecessor, Mother.  What I didn’t know until recently is that this game was fully translated by Nintendo of America and was set to be named “Earthbound”, like its successor.  The game was delayed and delayed until it was cancelled but years later the OFFICIAL, translated ROM leaked onto the internet, available to English-speaking nerds everywhere.

Another awesome entry in this category is the little-known StarFox 2.  This game was announced in 1994 for the Super NES and, although nearly completed, was never released to save hype for the later release StarFox 64.  Again, years later, the ROM leaked, in Japanese and containing some programming notes.  Leave it to the nerds, who actually FINISHED THE DEBUGGING, translated the game, and now it’s out there for all of us!

I’m currently playing the NES Earthbound which is pretty decent so far.  I fired up StarFox 2 just to check it out.  It’s pretty interesting as it actually contains many of the strategic elements that turned up later in the DS release, StarFox Command.

The End.

70 Aspects Of Batman: 11

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BRIAN BOLLAND

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From Wikipedia:

Brian Bolland (born 1951)[1] is a British comics artist, known for his meticulous, detailed linework and eye-catching compositions. Best known in the UK as one of the definitive Judge Dredd artists for British comics anthology 2000 AD, he spearheaded the ‘British Invasion‘ of the American comics industry, and in 1982 produced the artwork on Camelot 3000 (with author Mike W. Barr), which was DC’s first 12-issue comicbook maxiseries[2] created for the direct market.[3]

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In addition to the above credits, Bolland is most widely known as the artist of one of the definitive Batman stories, The Killing Joke. Created in collaboration with writer Alan Moore, The Killing Joke explored the unique relationship shared by Batman and The Joker, providing a template that would underline almost every subsequent portrayal of the dynamic between these characters (up to and including 2008’s Dark Knight film).

Years in the making before its eventual release in 1988, The Killing Joke is, sadly, one of the few complete interior art jobs that Bolland has done in the past 20 years. As you can see, his art style is incredibly detailed and, presumably, incredibly time consuming.

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As such, he mainly sticks to covers. Here is a gallery of various Batman-related covers he’s illustrated over the years, many of which come from his extended run as cover artist for Batman: Gotham Knights.


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Unlike most comic artists (who still use the traditional pencil and paper illustration method), Brian Bolland has exclusively utilized a Wacom tablet for producing his artwork since the 90s. This allows Bolland more control over the artwork in all capacities, from drawing to coloring. Unfortunately, it also means there is no original artwork for the collectors to search for.

Bolland has also had a Black and White statue based on his work…

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…and figures based on his Killing Joke work.

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So yeah, I love this guy’s work. It’s a tragedy that he hasn’t done more interior stuff, but I guess I must learn to appreciate what I get, which is a regular stream of some of the best comic covers being produced today. I’ll defintely do another Brian Bolland themed post down the line, but I’ve still got a million 70 Aspects Of Batman posts to do. Y’know, I guess sometimes it’s

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P.S. Here’s a link to a short story Bolland both wrote and drew for the Batman: Black And White anthology, entitled “An Innocent Guy”. He has said of this story that “if anyone were to ask me what is the thing I’ve done in my career that I’m most pleased with, it would be this.” Enjoy.

G.

Monday, July 20th – Japandroids, Beati Paoli, Wolves in the Attic, Banshee Beat, The Huxley Maxwell Exit

July20thshow1x2This Monday, July 20th,  TNM’s own Beati Paoli will be playing with the latest buzz band, Japandroids, at the Vaudeville Mews (212 4th St) in Des Moines. Also playing will be Wolves in the Attic,  The Huxley Maxwell Exit, and Banshee Beat.  It’s an 18+ show, cover is $7, doors are at 7 and show starts at 8.  It will easily be the most rock n’ roll that Des Moines will see this summer!

Japandroids – Wet Hair (from “Post-Nothing”)

Beati Paoli – Disturbance (from the brand new digital download “Quid Pro Quo” which can be purchased here.)

Wolves in the Attic – On and On (from “Electronic Hearts”)

See you Monday!