Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rockman

OK, so I never really call him Rockman. He will always be Mega Man to me. He's the most complicated character I've made to date, so I thought I'd end the year with him. He's so nice I haven't had the heart to disassemble him and work on his adversaries. Magnet Man calls to me....

When I first heard they were bringing back Mega Man (and in 8-bit glory no less), I got so excited I pulled out all the old games and tried to beat them all. I even played Mega Man II on the difficult level, which I had never done before. Unfortunately, I didn't finish III in time, since Mega Man 9 showed up for download right in the middle of this run. It was a little jarring to try and finish up III while still trying to check out the new game. I have never even finished IV, but then, I got that one off Ebay and haven't had years to try and defeat it over and over like the others.

Mega Man 9 is the hardest one since at least the original Mega Man. Even after getting a few hints online, I got so frustrated I haven't played it in weeks. I'm going to play it right now though, as I'm strangely inspired for some reason....

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Lakitu

I probably shouldn't use up my small stash of backlogged photos, but Thanksgiving is making me sleepy, so I better make better use of my time.

You remember Lakitu, don't you? He's known as Jyugemu in Japan. Perhaps you are more familiar with the spiked eggs that he throws down on you, as you attempt to avoid a bunch of other obstacles. They hatch instantly, and become Spinies, those little spiked turtles that for seem reason seem less intelligent that the other turtles in the game. Maybe because they don't have big eyes and necks. You better hope you have fireballs.

Oh, I was supposed to talk about colours awhile back, wasn't I? The tan that Lego uses doesn't quite translate so well to a generic skin colour, so I've had to pick and choose which characters work best with it. So far, generic Jumpman and Lakitu here pass the test, but when I made Luigi using the exact same colours, something just didn't look right. Sure, I'm tweaking the contrast a lot when I post these here, but maybe the tan wasn't swarthy enough for a green and white-clad plumber. Actually, for some reason, the game uses a real orange-y hue for Mario and Luigi. I have to go with what Lego gives me. I had the same problem with Link, which is why I haven't posted him yet. It's actually good that Lego doesn't give me a lot of colour choices, because then I'd probably go crazy buying them all up. I've already bought some questionable colours in the hopes that I'll have a need for them in the future. Maroon, orange-y brown, and forest green: I'm looking at you....

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jumpman

Did you know that Mario wasn't originally called Mario? He was Jumpman. I'm glad they didn't call him Hammerman. Or Generic Construction Worker. Whatever his name, he worked in the most dangerous environment ever. Even if the ape wasn't throwing barrels around, you could fall off a conveyor belt and die really quickly. They looked like pies would be coming towards you, but I think they were deadly dishes of concrete, or perhaps a very coarse sand. After watching King of Kong, I was determined to get to this level I've just described, because they inexplicably left it out of the documentary, even though it was totally another screen to delight and entertain the audience! The only problem was, that game is too damn hard. It took me weeks to just get to that level and watch conveyor belts destroy poor Jumpman, leaving his love for Pauline unrequited.

And don't even think about jumping very well. For a guy called Jumpman, he couldn't jump very far. Those Track and Field guys would waste him. They even had similar mustaches.

I really think i should start writing descriptions this way. Maybe I didn't think of this before because I didn't have good Dig Dug anecdotes. It's also scary if I actually do have real video game anecdotes....

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fygar

Funny, they didn't have green when I was a kid...

Lego Mosaic came to the rescue by providing me with nice little transparent bases to put my pixels on, as well as a bunch of 1x1 bricks in a variety of colours. The basic idea is that you have a picture that you place the clear base onto so you just stick the bricks over the grid one at a time. Kind of like the old Lite-Brite patterns, but re-usable. This is fine with the Lego-provided instructions, but for some reason they didn't give you a blank grid that was sized to the Lego studs. So, when you want to make your own pictures, you just have to improvise. Maybe I'll make and photocopy some blank grids someday.

Now here's the kicker: when I counted the number of dots on these bases, I found they were 16x16, which is exactly the same number as the patterns for the dot-s pegboards. So whenever I use those instructions, everything is translated nice and easy. Except for trying to match colours when they're not simple primary ones. But more on that next time....

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pooka

The dot-s website shows a bunch of sets that I probably never would have had a chance to pick up without spending a lot of money to import them all. But it is great nonetheless because it has alternate "recipes" for some basic characters, as well as some lesser pixels such as fruits or bonus items. Pooka here can also be shown being blown up, and I should totally make that version for a later entry.

Pooka uses basic colours, but I learned early on that my Lego collection wasn't as extensive as I remembered. Since I mostly had space and castle sets, my colour palette was very limited (mostly grey and blue). Scrounging together red and yellow for Pooka was fine, but any larger character would require me to buy a bunch more. Luckily I found the solution in Lego Mosaic. More about that next time....

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dig Dug


The first one of these Lego creations I attempted was Dig Dug.

He's easy because I already had these colours and looks like an expression-less Smurf. A Smurf that impales you with an arrow and pumps you full of air so that you explode. If the Smurfs had used these tactics against Gargamel and Azrael, there would still be Smurfs around today. I was never really good at this game in the arcade, but I picked up a Windows version years ago and I became quite dominant. Then Bill Gates became evil(er) and wouldn't let me transfer this to newer versions of Windows even though I was using the original floppy discs. I can sort of play it on Vista, but then it crashes all the time. I guess at this point I probably could just play it on my phone....

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dots and Pegs

OR, How I Learned to be Pseudo-artsy from Tiny Japanese Products


Welcome to my new blog, placed here just so I can share my slight obsession with old-school video game graphics. It started when I first discovered dot-s at the Giant Robot store in LA.

These little products are self-contained kits that have all the colours you need for a particular bunch of video game characters, and a wealth of patterns to vary your purchase. They're only a few inches high, so the pegs are very tiny and a bit difficult to switch around if you get bored quickly. You can also connect the backboards together and make bigger scenes. The instructions are very simple and have grids on them to make placement that much easier.

Now, since they're imported from Japan and I believe mostly out of production, I started thinking of other ways to create these characters. I've seen lots of people tackle this kind of art, so I got a lot of ideas. There's these things called Pixelblocks that are translucent and do a good job since they're stackable, but I didn't feel like investing in a whole bunch of them. That's when I realised I could pull off the same effect with Lego, and I already had a bunch of those.

So I pulled the boxes out of storage, waded through all the space pieces to get to the basic bricks, and started putting things together. There's plenty of references online, and I took a few lousy pictures with the cellphone camera before I decided I should document these better. So here's a website to stick everything I deem worthy.