Over a year ago, I did a small piece on the game here, and finally, after years of waiting, it’s out! Notice the release date on the banner? Yeah, been waiting a long time.
Now the sad part – I haven’t received my download code yet! I had this thing pre-ordered forever ago. I was supposed to get a steam code, but I haven’t gotten it yet! I’m so friggin anxious to play this game, I’m about to just pay for the damn thing again and download it right away.
If you still have a NES console chances are it’s main fear, as it sits alone in the darkest recesses of your basement collecting dust, is that the next time it sees daylight will be at a garage sale, being offered for a sum so low that a desperate hooker would be insulted. Though the NES glory days may be gone, there is no reason to relegate this once mighty titan to just a fond memory. Through an underground community of dedicated fans, 8 bit games have never truly died. Fan made games, and independently produced titles have been in production for years behind the curtains. The most notable game to crawl its way out of obscurity would of course be Battle Kid: The Fortress of Peril. This is not a reproduction or a run of a game that was never officially licensed, but a brand new homebrew IP designed and produced specifically for use on the NES. Do not confuse this for how we got Mega Man 9 & 10 as downloadable titles for the Wii, PS3, and Xbox; Battle Kid comes in official cartridge format.
Battle Kid plays like the bastard child of Mega Man and I Wanna be the Guy. For those of you who haven’t heard of or played I Wanna be the Guy, know that playing it is more frustratingly painful than having a goat chew on your nuts. Battle Kid isn’t quite as hard, but it’s definitely a challenge. The story is largely irrelevant – has any old school platformer ever had a story that mattered? All you need to know is that there’s some evil guys doing evil and you need to break into their lair, destroy the bosses, and win. That’s all the story we ever needed in the 8 bit days. Your ship lands on the outskirts of the fortress and then you’re on your own, figure it out from there and learn the rules of the game as you play. Like many classic platformers, your skills, reflexes, and patience will all be tested. Expect to throw your controller across the room in a monkey-throwing-feces fit of anger because you will die A LOT. One hit from anything kills you and there’s plenty pitfalls, traps, and tricks to trip you up as well, such as fruit from trees falling UP at you as you jump over them. Checkpoints are few and far between as well, making death all the more unforgiving. There are however multiple difficulty settings along with a password feature. Don’t be fooled though, easy doesn’t necessarily mean easy, just means you have infinite continues. And just forget about unfair mode – no continues and no saves, only one life to complete the whole game – which is impossible unless you’re some teenage Asian kid.
From a development standpoint, this game is the Bret Hart of the video game world. And by that I mean it’s the excellence of execution, not a geriatric, operating in a medium that it’s grown too old for. Controls are tight, accurate, and responsive, which is a requirement of any good platformer. Graphics can seem a bit bland at times, but for the most part there is as wide a variety of colors that the 8 bit palette can muster. Level design is clever and well planned out, offering a lofty challenge but without being too completely unfair. The world is broken down in a Metroidvania style, where instead of defined stages, there is one large seamless map. You are free to explore the areas of the fortress at your leisure, though many areas will be blocked until you obtain the appropriate upgrades after defeating one of the games 8 bosses. My personal favorite aspect of the game is by far the soundtrack. I can only stomach the insane difficulty of the game in small pieces, but the music is always good. 100% authentic, catchy, 8 bit chiptunes, could easily fit into any Mega Man title, and has a quick tempo that perfectly fits the gameplay.
This game is currently available at Retrozone for $30, comes with a full color manual, a dust cover, and should work on any version NES. You can check out a demo of the game in ROM format at the Sivak Games website and also check out the demo of upcoming Battle Kid 2: Mountain of Torment.
Developer: Sivak Games
Release Date: February 22, 2010
Last year Nintendo revealed their next home console. The Wii U was unveiled to a less than overwhelming reception and it was pretty much unanimously agreed it had the dumbest name in console history. But it was just the project codename… or so we hoped. Nintendo is now rumored to be considering a new name for the console. When I heard this, I knew there was one person I had to contact immediately.
I had the pleasure of sitting with the Nintendo prophet, Jim Peterford. Yes, THE Jimmy Peterford, who back in a 1991 issue of Nintendo Power, predicted the Wii console. Hoping that lightning would strike twice, we united our brains together until divine inspiration bestowed us with the NiRVGSCBAYSi. That is, the “Nintendo Real Video Game System Coming Back At You Suck it” (see how I worked those two lower case i’s in there like the Wii? Clever huh?) This no holds barred approach to naming is symbolic of Nintendo’s intention to show gamers that they’re back and they mean business and they’re more than just a toy for the whole family.
Peterford came up with his own artist’s rendition of what he believed the NiRVGSCBAYSi will look like. The front panel of the console itself seems to resemble a TV remote, which probably implies Nintendo is going more towards being a multifunction entertainment unit. There doesn’t appear to be any ports for inserting external media, which hopefully means there’s a substantial hard drive inside and any data transfer will be wireless. The most notable aspect of the new console is probably the controllers. Taking a more SNES look and style, the remotes are wired, forgoing the wireless motion controllers, thus restricting any sort of motion gaming programmers would throw in. Which is fine, because flailing your arms around and dancing to video games is stupid.
I’m pretty confident Jim Peterford is right on the money with this one. If our predictions are accurate, and they almost certainly are, Nintendo will once again be the top contender in the home console market for hardcore gamers.
If you haven’t heard of Retro City Rampage yet, you either didn’t grow up with a NES or you’re one of those people that doesn’t play anything but Madden. But if your gaming library consists of more than just the past 3 years of EA sports titles, please, read on.
Retro City Rampage is a Grand Theft Auto open world style parody, but done in glorious 8-bit! In development now by Vblank Entertainment, a process which has almost reached completion after 7 long years. I had a chance to chat with Brian Provinciano, the founder and lead developer, briefly via email. He’s a busy man and has already done a handful of interviews with people far more important than myself, plus I didn’t want to hamper production of this game any further, so I kept the questions short.
Greg – Clearly there were many influences you had going into this game; Mega man, Duck Tales, Metal Gear, Grand Theft Auto, Bionic Commando, Jackal. You didn’t seem to stick to just games either, I see Back to the Future* in your logo. Did I miss any? What else was on your mind?
Brian – I got into games because of the games I loved growing up. Retro City Rampage is an homage and celebration to pretty much everything that I’ve held a controller to and enjoyed. I’ve lost count!
Greg – How did you find ways to fit all the parodies* in? Was there a massive brainstorming sessions or just work them in as they came to you? I feel this is a pertinent question because every time I watch a video, I notice another little easter egg.
Brian – There were some brainstorming sessions, mostly in the beginning, but otherwise it’s mostly me. Maxime (the other artist on the project) has some great ideas though too when we’re adding some extra cherries on top.
Greg – I know Grand Thefttendo was the original title. I hear it was even originally supposed to be on a cartridge. What other major changes have taken place since? Are there things that have been taken out of the game that couldn’t fit?
Brian – Grand Theftendo was an entirely different game, but same end goal –an 8-bit Grand Theft Auto style open world game. I developed that on the NES, whereas Retro City Rampage is running on current platforms and does far more than an NES actually could. It still retains the same feel but packs are more punch, fun and is dosed with more sprinkles.
Greg – I guess with the cost of production, I can see why you chose to go digital, but will we ever see a physical copy?
Brian – It’s possible, but I wouldn’t expect something like that to happen for over a year if it did. Digital is far better in many ways. It costs 6-7 figures to release a retail game. Some XBLA games gross less than that. We may sell retro boxes/manuals with download codes though. It’s still up in the air.
Greg – Can you make just one? Or two. One for me, one for you of course. I’ll pay for both.
Brian – Unfortunately you can’t just start the presses for a couple copies of a console game.
Greg – The soundtrack fits perfectly with everything I’ve seen so far. What kind of direction, if any, did you give to your composers? It all seems to be very reminiscent of NES Konami games.
Brian – Konami’s been a great influence, but they’ve been very focused on experimenting with every style, from those of different NES games to music genres that didn’t even exist in those days. The soundtrack covers everything! Some of the songs were designed to be specific homages or fit specific missions, but I also told them to just have fun and play around for many others. In both cases we ended up with amazing tracks.
Greg – I remember last year hearing that Retro City Rampage was coming out holiday 2010. It was then set to release this summer. Any final words on a release date?
Brian – Likely mid-late January 2012. For business reasons I need to wait until the AAA and holiday season craziness is over.
Greg – This has clearly been a labor of love, taking you 7 years to complete. How do you feel? What are your plans afterwards?
Brian – It’s absolutely a labor of love. I’m very happy with how it’s turned out and all of the extra time I spent polishing it makes all of the difference. I was just playing it last night and a cutscene happened which I’d polished last month. I stopped for a moment and said to myself “Wow, those little extra touches really make it feel extra special”. I’m still polishing things as we speak. That’s what makes a game great.
I have a half dozen ideas for games I really want to make, but we’ll see which ones come to fruition, as games take a long time to make.
Greg – Do you still have a classic gaming collection of your own?
Brian – I do. I think I collected about 1/3rd of the NES library. However it’s all in boxes at my parent’s place. I don’t have room for it at my place, or money to continue collecting. Every last penny these days goes directly into funding RCR.
This game is parodies within parodies. They really threw everything into a blender with this one. My personal favorite I’ve seen so far is when the player gets bitten by a radioactive plumber and gains the super stomp ability. This is the type of genius you’ll encounter throughout the game.
Retro City Rampage, coming out early first quarter 2012 for XBOX Live Arcade and Wii Ware. You can check out Retro City Rampage‘s homepage for updates as the game nears its final stages, check out the developer blog, and watch some trailers. Being a big chiptune fan myself, I really dig the soundtrack. If you like that old 8-bit style of music you can download the tracks from the game there as well. The artists do an awesome job putting together a soundtrack that feels completely retro yet altogether something new. I strongly recommend checking out each of their own sites for some rockin’ tunes.
As always, don’t forget to share this post. And don’t forgot to drop Brian and his crew a line as well. They’ve put a lot of work into this game. Let them know what you think.
Thanks for reading!
*I know Back to the Future was a game too, but does anyone really care about that awful thing? Let’s forget it existed, ok?
No it has nothing to do with a Metroid themed Rubik’s Cube, though that would be cool too. This is about a game that’s been around for awhile that’s definitely worth a mention and shouldn’t be passed up. Metroid Cubed is a modded version of the original NES Metroid game. The creator, whose name is inconveniently never mentioned, took the 1986 classic and painstakingly took all the pixels and turned them into voxels. Basically a voxel is a 3d pixel and using his own voxel sculpting tool, he reformatted the game into a volumetric 3d environment. He explains it in greater detail on his own site. I’m impressed to say the least and I always appreciate to see someone’s work of passion come out so well.
Aside from the obvious graphical overhaul, there are a few slight changes. The first being a tweaking of the music. For the most part, the sound effects remain faithful to the original, but the soundtrack has been given a slight “earlift” (It can’t be a facelift. I mean, you can’t see sounds… Shut up, I made up the term and I can use it if I want). It’s been remixed in such a way that the music itself sounds like it has more volume; as if it too was given a 3rd dimension, not volume as in louder. The other change, a bit more major, is that the difficulty of the game has been radically altered. That is if you want to cheat. All the upgrades are available to you right from the onset. It’s optional if you want to turn them on or not, but seriously, who has the time or patience to go through all of Metroid again? You still have to find extra energy tanks, though you do start with two automatically.
Be sure to visit the site for Metroid Cubed.You can play the game there straight from the website or you can download it, both choices free. Most importantly be sure to share this link with others. Too many artists go unappreciated throughout their lives. That’s what supporting indie gaming is all about, making sure they don’t go unappreciated. But then again, Square Enix is very appreciated and look what happened to them. Maybe we should appreciate less…or knock off a few Final Fantasy fan boys… but I digress.
ANYWAY, http://pages.infinit.net/voxel/ incase you missed the link above.
Thanks for reading!
Most of us have fond memories of NES games. Games like Ducktales, Mario Bros., Zelda, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Castlevania, Contra. I could go on like that for hours, but you get the idea. I’ve heard the term “shovelware” get tossed around rather loosely when referring to the Wii, but I think we forget that the Wii wasn’t the first perpetrator of such an offense. We either were too young to remember, or have chosen to forget about these video game dung heaps. I’ve pulled together what I feel are the worst games ever made for the NES. Yes there are some other really awful games out there, but I decided to set it at 8 and I think these are the worst of the worst. If you don’t recognize the names of some of these games, then trust me, you’re better off. Let’s see what you think.