2015/01/26 23:00

Start the show

Originally posted on tumblr April 25, 2012.

I became obsessed with the Beatles back when the Anthology documentary came out. It was extremely interesting. Here was a band that seemed bigger than life. And there was so much history and nuances to understand – it was the closest thing music has ever offered me to the same enjoyment I get out of comics, books and games.

I have listened to every Beatles song time and time again.

A few days ago an extremely nice person I know mentioned on the Twitters that it was odd that Paul’s Sgt. Pepper’s character would say “I don’t really want to start the show.”

“That is odd,” I thought. Extremely odd.

I had never thought about it. But every time I sung along to the album, that’s what I sang. I was confident that is exactly what was being said. Start.

I went to my computer and played the song. Listening intensely, the line came up and I felt a bit of fuzz shake its way through my brain.

“Did he just say ‘stop’? …’stop’ the show?”

I played it again. I heard stop. Three, four, ten times and I started to hear stop more and more clearly.

My mind was blown

I am a native English speaker. I have listened to this song time and time again for years and I thought what was being said was entirely different from what was really being said.

This was extremely motivating.

I keep worrying that when I study, when I consume Japanese text or audio that if I do not hit every single word and know every single nuance that I will not be able to do well. That I will not become the master of the language that I want to.

And yet, here right in front of me, was something in my own native language that I had been getting wrong for so many years. And it did not matter – that much. Of course it changes my understanding of the song. It all gels a bit better now.

But there is no shame. It was a mistake. One that had no dire consequences. Which means these ‘dire consequences’ that I have been dwelling on in my Japanese studies are mere phantoms. They don’t exist. They don’t matter.

I can let go of them and relax. Then, I will likely truly being to learn.

2015/01/25 23:00

Four games

Ah, Twitter hashtags. Nothing gets the juices flowing, eh?

These four popped into my head instantly. They have two things in common: They changed my life, and I still enjoy replaying them.


Maniac Mansion

The Kickstarter for Thimbleweed Park had a tier where one could be absolved of the sin of pirating Maniac Mansion. I did not need that one. I remember examining the box in my parent’s living room. I remember mistaking “musician” for “magician”. I remember having nightmares about dying from radioactive steam. I remember playing the hell out of Maniac Mansion.


Final Fantasy Legend 2

Dragon Warrior may have been my first RPG, but this is the one that made me a fan. The first game I replayed to see if the end-game dialogue was slightly different if I played a certain way. And it was. It was just one line of text but my mind was blown. And then I played it again. And again.


Chrono Trigger

I didn’t have my own copy of this until the Playstation port, and ended up hunting down a cartridge after my first year in college. I still cannot believe my friend let me borrow this after he brought it to my house to show me how awesome it was. I play this game every year.


Final Fantasy 5

This is why I am where I am today. Discovering that there were three “missing” Final Fantasy games blew my mind. The screenshots of FF5 were just astounding. So I started to learn Japanese. And here I am. I run a charity event based on this game. I have pages of notes of my own game design inspired by this game.

2015/01/24 23:00

[rainblocks development retrospective] 21 – More new things

– Fixed muddy

Another classic example of how notes need to be descriptive to be useful.

– Added new assets
– Background transition in (but choppy)
– Added ability to shake blocks individually

The artwork arrived! I was blown away when I saw it and how alive rainblocks became. It was a great moment in realizing that I didn’t need to have artwork all done and good looking before making a game. I had spent a lot of time working and tweaking my own artwork when I didn’t need to spend that time. I’m not an artist. If I make a game I just focus on the stuff I can do and then put myself in a position where I can find awesome people to work with.

It’s a hard thing to learn and remember.

2015/01/23 23:00

An island of love
[Ripple Island]

Plans were to post this next week, but it turns out today just happens to be the twenty-seventh anniversary of Ripple Island‘s release. So, happy birthday, you adorable little game.

Here, have some spoilers! Were you going to play this game, anyway?

Beating out Monster Hunter by many years, Ripple Island gives players the opportunity to hunt the most elusive of prey. The pixel. In this point and click adventure game, you the player are tasked to tell Kyle what to do with his life so that Princess Nasarell, the daughter of King Dotella, can be saved from Gerogeru – the emperor of darkness and a giant frog. A girl named Cal joins Kyle after he finds her standing on the ruins of her home destroyed by the Frog of Darkness.

There’s your backstory. Here some facts: The game is adorable. The cover art in no way betrays what is in this game. Cute animals and that stupidly charming 80s anime.


So cute.

The game is pretty damn picky about positioning the cursor. Yes, I’d like to get a whisker off of that seal. What? Pointing at the and selecting take isn’t enough? How about its face? No? Okay, let’s try its nose. Nope! Let’s try right exactly at the one pixel where OKAY GOOD! Congratulations, here is the whisker which the removal of must have hurt that seal like hell, except it didn’t wake up so I guess it didn’t hurt that bad? Oh well. Now I can this to another animal so it will help me on my quest. To save the princess. From a frog.

This was one of those events where I was confident I knew what to do, and it wasn’t working. So I hit up a guide. I was right but kind of a pixel or two out of the acceptable zone. Oh well. Then the guide just sat next to me and I didn’t let frustration hit. I just went through and enjoyed figuring out what I could.

The ending picture above is just one of the several endings in the game. That one is kind of bad in that Kyle and Cal just give up right before the final challenge and run away to live on a little island. Then there is Happy End where Kyle saves the princess and get married to her because hey, he saved the princess.


Then there is the true ending. Where Kyle say “Nah, king. We kinda just met and yeah. I’m going to go hang out and stuff.” And then Cal and Kyle just spend their days hanging out. Because they had an adventure together and are pretty happy together and stuff. Which is kind of profound for a 1998 game about talking animals and saving a princess from a frog.

Also, you get to defeat an armadillo with a clothespin.

Ripple Island is an old adventure game and falls into some of the trappings for the era, but it’s charming as hell and a quick play. If you’re the type who doesn’t mind hitting up a FAQ for an adventure game when your patience runs thin, this is a great game to put a smile on your face. And get a tanooki super drunk.

2015/01/22 23:00

Filling up the Queen
[Metroid II: Return of Samus]

Games I beat in 2015: #4 – Metroid II: Return of Samus

I sat on the linoleum of the kitchen, phone cord tugged tight, back against the wall, Gameboy in hand. My best friend Paul sat on the other end, helping me navigate SR388 via his copy of Nintendo Power. Which was extra kind considering that it was his copy of Metroid II that he let me borrow after we went to Chuck E. Cheese for his birthday. I was constantly told that it wasn’t Chucky Cheese. That sticks in my memory, but not if I finished Metroid II or not.

I kept a map open on my laptop the whole time. After Metroid: Zero Mission, a remake of Metroid II was constantly something I hoped would pop up in the news. Cartography is not a skill I desire. Games, tell me where I went and where I left something behind. If the map on GameFAQs could have only shown where I had been, I wouldn’t have felt like I maybe, kinda cheated. But when Samus was nearly dizzy from not figuring out where to go, that map.

Metroid II was short, straightforward and clunky. Samus was so damn big on the screen that I hoped putting the 3DS a bit further a way might help with the zoom. Even with a map to tell me where to go and the locations of where to restore Samus’s health and missiles with a simple touch, the game wasn’t easy. Keeping those Alphas and Gammas and Omegas at bay to get the necessary number of missiles into their bodies before earning that game over explosion was a constant challenge. It wasn’t unfair – it just wanted the player to keep track where they had been and where they were going.

Figuring out how to take down the Queen was where I stumbled the most. It ended up being no tricks, no misunderstandings on my part. Just pump those missiles in. Dodge those attacks. Repeat. Get that pattern down. Boom. Done. Designing some action scenes in a game right now, it feels weird in the “Well, yeah, but if there are patterns, won’t players just figure it out and do it right every time?” And then I play Metroid II and see how easy there being patterns makes it for me.


Having just beaten Super Metroid again last month, perhaps it is time to go back even further and finish the original game. Another map will be at my side, but I’m okay with that. There are going to be some patterns to learn.

2015/01/22 16:47

Initial notes on The Legend of Legacy

  • Start by picking a character
  • Asks if you want to see the opening event.
  • I picked Eloise, saw her opening event.
  • Little cutscene explaining the world a bit, voice acted.
  • Love the music.
  • Nice use of colors and fading with the dialogue. (monologues have everything but the character dimmed)
  • Landed in an area and was given the map.
  • tried to leave the first area, it kept me in
  • Start and select button takes screenshots.
  • oh damn, the music
  • oh damn, this is so Saga.
  • oh daaaaaaaamn. So SaGa
  • let's you know mid battle if you gained stats up
  • summary at end of fight.
  • heal at end of fight
  • picked up treasure and got "Okay, we'll check this out when the mission is over "
  • no Button opens a menu. Can't change stuff unless in a "safe zone?"
2015/01/21 12:00

Nintendo Japanese VC Releases for 2015.01.21

Wii U VC

BREAK IN (PC Engine): ¥617 (¥150 card-only on Suruga-ya)
Pool! Billiards! Whatever you call it, it’s not that fun in video game form.

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (Game Boy Advance): ¥702 (¥4300 cart-only, ¥7720 complete on Suruga-ya)
One of my first new imports! What a memory. The game is a buggy mess and the least fun of the GBA Castlevania trilogy, but I still love the game.

Dragon Buster (Famicom): ¥514 (¥400 cart-only, ¥820 complete on Suruga-ya)
Damnit, Nintendo! This game just had its anniversary. I can’t go linking to the first Let’s Playing video ever, can I? Shouldn’t I have something else to say about this boring arcade port? Hm.

2015/01/20 23:00

Backlog slamming

In the wait for The Legend of Legacy I have been trying to find something to finish on my backlog list. Xenogears has hit another snooze portion for me as I deal with sewers. Advance Wars: Days of Ruin has been taken to about the halfway point, but now it is getting difficult. Final Fantasy Tactics I haven’t touched because the room with my streaming setup is cold. I’m not sure why I haven’t booted up Romancing SaGa. Translation work has kept me busy. Final Fantasy Record Keeper I’m still plugging away at, but it doesn’t count for games, right? I mean, one can’t “beat” a FTP game, can they?

Playing so much stuff, working on so much stuff. Good times. Can’t wait to show the next game I’m working on.

2015/01/19 23:00

The lychee

Part of lunch today was a brown ball. It looked like a boiled chestnut that wanted to eat your face. It was a lychee. I’d never eaten one before. Lychee gummy-candy is not unfamiliar to me and the taste was spot on between the two. It was a bit sticky and hard to eat, but good. Nice experience.

Many students didn’t even try theirs. Some braved it and declared it tasty, which caused others to try it. It’s a genuinely tasty fruit. But there was a fair amount remaining at the end of lunch. And then there are days why I wonder why they aren’t so responsive in English class.