Friday, December 10, 2010

Light Cycle (Tron)

So I watched Tron tonight. Hadn't seen it since I was a kid. I can see why I didn't latch onto it way back when. It's a rather dry movie with fewer action scenes than I remember, and a strange plotline that seemed more about computer bits and information than video games. But I can see its influence; the film is way ahead of its time. The weird thing is that while I didn't care for the movie itself when I was younger, I was surrounded by the look, feel, and sounds from the related products. So while I don't remember the movie plotline, I certainly remember going on the Peoplemover and seeing those scenes over and over again in the speed tunnel. And hearing the game sounds in countless arcades. And playing Discs of Tron in college, when a surviving machine allowed me to hone my skills. But that's a post for a different time....

I actually wanted to make a Discs of Tron character, but those sprites are way more complicated than I expected. They're full of added colours that you just don't notice under a machine with a working blacklight. More complicated sprites also mean they're way larger than you'd picture. Even this light cycle is surprisingly tall for such a tiny object on the monitor. And since it was the only section of the game that I rather enjoyed, I went with this. Even though I'm terrible with pretty much each of the four levels on that game. That seems to be a recurring theme here on this blog.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Yikes, this game is 30 years old. I still remember it as one of the earliest games that was sitting around at Skateway, and I played it every once in a while even though I wasn't very good. Maybe it was the cool robot voice samples that made this game memorable to me. It certainly would grab your attention with real loud "Kill all humanoids!" samples blaring now and then. It was pretty repetitive, and the only differences were the speed and colour of the robots. I liked how the robots could shoot each other if they got in each other's way, and it certainly made my job easier, which apparently was to kill all robots.

It also was memorable for the giant evil happy face that would come out of nowhere if you took too long trying to dispatch the regular robots. This evil happy face was indestructable and faster than you. You could maybe outrun it if you were near an exit, but otherwise, the evil happy face would run you down and bounce on you with its evil happy face.

There is also a sequel called Frenzy, but I never knew of its existence until emulators came along. Basically the same thing with a few more obstacles, like walls that would ricochet your lasers and differently shaped robots.

This was the easiest creation I've made so far. I mean, 13 pieces, no weird angles, and all one colour. Took me less than five minutes total. Oh well, I already know what I'm making for December, another oldie that appears more difficult than I expected. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Skeleton (Ghosts 'n Goblins - NES)

It's time for another spooky entry, albeit from the same game as last year. But if any of you played that game regularly, you know how hard it was to even get to these guys. The mere mention of their existence in the manual was enough to pique my interest, but it certainly took awhile to see one for the first time. Even with unlimited continues, it isn't until you get to the castle in stage 5 (the second-to-last level) that they even appear.

And they don't just appear like this; no, instead you see some innocent looking skulls littering the ground. But if you get too close, watch out! They spring up, fully formed and wearing loincloths for some reason. Hopping around way more than any zombies, that's for sure. Once they're out of the ground they're much harder to kill, so I suggest just shooting the skulls when you see them. It will make your life much easier.

Speaking of easy, this was probably the hardest sprite I've ever had to put together. Not because it's complicated, but because I simply could not get a decent screen capture. Now usually I just grab an image off the internet and zoom in, but nobody seems to have any shots of the majority of the creatures from the NES version. So I figured I'd just get a screen capture from an emulator. I had to play the game and use the warp code and it STILL took me awhile to get a reference shot. Only that didn't work out too well either (it's rather blurry and some of the pixels are just not that distinct). So there's a good possibility that this skeleton is not pixel-for-pixel perfect. Oh well. When it comes to loincloths, I'm not too picky about the details. I just hope I got his awesome dark red innards nice and accurate...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I've actually been playing a bunch of older games this past month, but nothing jumped out at me as being particularly interesting, so I'll stick with an old standby...

According to Wikipedia, this is referred to as the Galaxian flagship, or Galboss. I don't know who came up with that. It's hard to trust Wikipedia sometimes. I remember playing Galaxian a lot as a kid, and never being very good. This was in my "get as far as possible without dying" phase, which was not broken until college, when I finally decided to start going for high scores. I also don't know why I preferred this game over Galaga, which now is obvious as the superior game. Maybe I liked the look of the ships in this one better, or it seemed less complicated.

Nevertheless, I didn't know that if you saved the boss for last, if he flew off the screen, he'd actually go away and reappear on the next wave. so you could theoretically have up to 4 of these ships on the top row, rather than the regular two. I really don't know the point of that, because they're hard enough to kill when they're all coming at you at the same time.

This sprite also appears in Dig Dug as a bonus item, and a bunch of Pac Man games, including the original one, as a "fruit." It is obviously a Namco thing, much like the Capcom Yashici. What? You haven't heard of that one? Maybe another time, dear readers....

Monday, August 16, 2010

Small shark (Jaws)

August started off with a bang this year with Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. I don't get cable, so instead I picture other shark-related activities, like playing video games. Only my memories turn to one of the worst Nintendo games that I ever invested a significant amount of time on.

Jaws for the NES was awful. Loosely based on Jaws: The Revenge (aka Jaws IV aka Jaws '87 in Japan aka Michael Caine missed accepting his Oscar because he was filming this aka How do sharks know to exact revenge?), this game had you travel around in a boat that was being followed by Jaws. Then you hit something. Then you swim around shooting rays and jellyfish and small sharks like the one pictures here. You then collected shells, which are exchanged for things like transmitters and submarines. Apparently shells are valid currency around these nameless Caribbean islands. Sometimes you get in a plane and bomb jellyfish for more shells. When you get powerful enough you attack Jaws by setting off a strobe that somehow causes him to jump out of the water. You then must ram your boat into him using the bowsprit, thus impaling him with your sailboat of death. Then you start all over again and repeat.

I never saw Jaws: The Revenge. I never owned this game, thankfully. I still wasted too much time trying to get to Jaws, but I don't think I even did that two decades ago. I learned early on the LJN made the crummiest games for the NES, because they relied solely on the licensed characters they procured. This will probably be the only entry of a crummy game you will see on here. At least until I get enough bricks to make the actual Jaws sprite....

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Scrooge McDuck (Ducktales)

So yesterday was Disneyland's 55th birthday, and I have to say they did a mediocre job of celebrating it. So here I am celebrating it with a character they really don't have walking around the park anymore. He probably hasn't walked around the park since the mid-nineties when there still was a Disney Afternoon programming block. I did learn that Scrooge has been around awhile, even longer than the amusement park, so while I certainly didn't see this character yesterday, I did wish he was around somewhere...

Scrooge has a really cool backstory that was touched on in the cartoon, but apparently the comics were where most of that stuff came from. I'll have to check out those reprints and such and see how interesting they are. I only remember having some weird book that had him, the nephews, and Donald seeking out some mysterious lost city. It also had a flipbook in the corner of each page.

Oh, this is supposed to be about video games. I liked the game, but never got into it enough to want to own a copy. Since it's probably never coming out on the Virtual Console, and Disney isn't being smart and releasing these games as part of some sort of compilation, I will have to seek out a working copy someday. I think the graphics of most of them are all pretty great, and I'll probably make a few more characters from games I never even played. Any requests?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tanooki Suit (SMB3)

So here I was, all about to go on and on about the strangeness of the Tanooki suit, and how it never made sense to turn into a statue. But then I typed "Tanooki" into Google and got this. Japanese Raccoon Dog? Who has ever heard of those things before?

Apparently they are master of disguise and shapeshifters, which I guess explains the statue thing. It was always a difficult thing to actually keep the Tanooki suit for any length of time, because you were so excited to get it you would inevitably start getting distracted by its weird powers and would stop paying attention to actually finishing the level. I think the Hammer suit was even rarer, yet this one was certainly more stylish.

It gets even better. Read the rest of that Wikipedia article and learn about its 'backpack' and 'drums' and you'll know what I'm talking about. Apparently they make a soup out of them as well. I don't know, if forced to make a choice, I'd think I'd prefer badger soup....

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Thomas (Kung Fu - NES)

Kung-Fu Master tormented me so much as a kid. I liked the look of it and wanted to master it, but whenever I put a quarter into the arcade machine, I would get beaten so badly, that I would immediately mark it off my list of games to keep pouring money into. I don't think I ever made it halfway past the first level. The regular henchmen, called Grippers, would latch on to you and wouldn't let go. I couldn't get rid of them. I would mash buttons, move the joystick, nothing. I would die. And keep dying. Game over. It was miserable. The NES version was much more forgiving, and I actually finished that one after borrowing it for awhile. I kind of want a copy of it now, since it's doubtful it will ever come out on the Virtual Console.

Apparently Nintendo shortened the title to just Kung Fu, without a hyphen for some reason (which to further confuse things was actually called Spartan X in Japan). They also gave the hero black hair and a less attractive girlfriend to save. The game was based on a Jackie Chan movie, although it is terribly similar to the finale of the Bruce Lee film Game of Death. Too bad there's no character like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the game.

So, 20 some-odd years later, I just learned that in order to throw the Grippers off of you, you're supposed to wiggle the joystick back and forth. I tried that. 20 some-odd years ago. It sort of works, but they still kill me. I still hate arcade Grippers....

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I've been sitting on the Pac Man ghosts for awhile now since they're some of the first designs I made in Lego form. However, I've been holding out for all them in their normal colours in order to somehow put them all together in a nice group portrait. The only problem is, I can't find enough aqua Legos to finish off that fourth ghost. They are rare and someday I'll get to them, but in the meantime, you get this generic blue ghost. Which I guess really is Inky.

I had a Pac Man board game that looked like this. Sure, it had a bunch of cool marbles and looked relatively decent, but it only ended being more confusing because it had strange coloured pac men and a yellow ghost. Plus, I was an only child and so it was hard to get anyone to play it with you. Who would want to be a green or blue pac man? I wish I had one of these instead....

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


A few months ago I was driving along when I saw a rather large frog, literally hopping up into the air in great leaps, starting to cross the highway. It would have been rather comical if it weren't for the fact that it probably didn't have two extra lives left. Fortunately, I didn't see a lot of traffic or a horrible aftermath, so I like to think that it survived to get to the next dangerous part of Irvine, with all its fast lumber and beavers that come up behind these logs to tip them.

One thing that always bugged me about certain video games is how they ignored obvious things like frogs being able to swim, or moon patrol vehicles that can't handle small boulders on the moon. I guess they were early game attempts to create obstacles, but I usually steered my quarters clear of illogical game concepts. Like that childhood logic makes sense in a world of mushrooms that make you big, or space insects that steal your ship away in a tractor beam...

Knowing I was going to be away from my supplies, I prepared a few pictures of things ahead of time for the upcoming posts. After I took some pictures, I realised I once again needed to put together a green subject, and fast. Funny, I almost forgot last year's scramble to find something green for St. Patrick's Day. And yet Frogger doesn't actually have that much green in him. What is up with that?

Friday, February 19, 2010


"This game is about a guy named Jason.

Jason had a pet frog named Fred. One day, Fred decided he had enough of being locked up in a fish bowl and made a dash for the door. As fate would have it, Jason was there when all this happened and he gave chase. Once outside, Jason was totally amazed to find Fred running toward a huge radioactive chest. As soon as Fred touched it, he grew to an enormous size, and the radioactive chest fell into the earth along with Fred. Jason tried to reach for Fred but fell into the hole along with him.

When Fred landed, he found himself alone next to a huge armoured vehicle. This was not just any vehicle, but one designed for the ultimate challenge against the radioactive mutants living under the Earth's crust. These mutants, created from escaped radioactive waste, are controlled by the Plutonium Boss.

Your mission is to fight your way and destroy the Plutonium Boss before he destroys you.

Along the way to your final encounter are many warlords of the underground you must destroy."

Greatest backstory ever.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Duck Hunt

I thought I would try something different this time around. Oh no, not by choosing another obscure subject like that Goonies game. Because this is about as obvious as it gets, and I don't even need to mention where it's from (except in the title, of course). I thought I'd be a little artsy this time and leave the edges unfinished. Well, that's mainly because I ran out of light blue bricks, but what can you do? In the past I would have waited to post this until I had replenished my supply of necessary bricks, but since this isn't about trying to create some elaborate background, there wasn't any real point to doing that. So tell me what you think. Does it look too unfinished, or does it have a bit of a artsy quality to it?

The first time I ever played an NES was in a store that was either a Gemco or K-Mart. I'm leaning towards K-Mart (the one that is now an Albertson's, diagonally from the Gemco that is now a Target). The demo was almost always this game, and of course I was amazed at the light gun technology. And of course I never owned a light gun. It hasn't even been on a list of things I should pick up, mainly because I don't like those ugly orange ones (most of the surviving examples are coloured that bright orange). Find me an original grey one that works, and then we'll talk....