Archive for the ‘Potpourri’ Category

PlayStation Year One

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015


Hi friends! This site isn’t updated much anymore, but you should totally check out my YouTube channel, where I’m producing a documentary series that covers every single game released for the original PlayStation during its first year on store shelves. There’s a lot of weird, little-known releases that I’m going to explore in-depth, so if you enjoy hearing about obscure video games that aren’t typically discussed nowadays, you’ll find a lot to like.

Here’s a playlist with the games we’ve covered so far. The PlayStation’s 20th anniversary is coming up soon, and we’ve got some exciting stuff in the works. Give us a look and feel free to join the discussion with any memories you have about the games we’re covering!

A Birthday Wish

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

It’s my birthday, and that means I get to post about whatever I want. With that in mind, here are the top three Internet rhythm game videos that have animals in them.

This first one is fairly straightforward. A pudgy cat observes in bored silence as its owner hits every note in a hard Guitar Hero song. His post-song celebration is obviously not appreciated.

I love this one, and I can’t explain why. A guy repeatedly plays a distorted segment of Rush’s “Working Man,” as a rather large iguana watches with interest.

It’s the collision of specific yet incongruous interests that makes this beautiful. I can’t guarantee you that this is the first Internet video in which a man practices a warbly, fake guitar solo for a cover of a Rush song while being observed by his pet iguana, but it’s the only one I’ve found so far.

I wonder if the iguana’s impressed? It’s hard to tell.

This final video really speaks for itself. Not even Linkin Park’s acclaimed blend of rap and rock can stop kitten cuddles.

News of the World: Updates

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

In this fast-paced digital world, things can change in the blink of an eye. Dream and Friends would like to share with you these recent updates to our late-breaking coverage. This is news you need, when you need it.

When I theorized that the “original edition” of Donkey Kong bundled with European Wii consoles was an unreleased prototype game, I was making an assumption based on the likeliest case among a series of unlikely scenarios. I was wrong. Donkey Kong’s reality is, somehow, even stranger than what I’d suggested.

After examining the ROM’s code, NES hacking wizard BMF54123 posted the following analysis at Lost Levels:

Guys, I don’t think this is a prototype at all, but an official Nintendo ROM hack.

The first half of the PRG ROM contains all the new data for the cement factory level, a copy of the title screen with the updated 2010 copyright, and a lot of code patches. The second half is identical to the US PRG1 ROM, except various routines have been hijacked to point to the new patches.

A lot of them do really hackish things, like manually copying the entire sprite data page to unused RAM and shuffling it around (so the cement pies don’t disappear), checking Mario’s current animation frame to see if he’s climbing (for the moving ladders?), and shoehorning in new data if the current level number is 02. It’s also coded pretty sloppily in places, jumping to the same subroutine 5 times in a row, for example. This might explain why it glitches occasionally.

A true prototype would have certainly been built on the original source code, as Mario Bros. Classic was, not split into a bunch of patches. Whoever did this either didn’t have access to the original source, or no longer had the necessary tools/knowledge to compile it.

I had assumed that Donkey Kong: Original Edition was an unreleased special version coded during the NES’s lifespan. And yet we have proof here of something even more unlikely — Nintendo apparently still employs the rare breed of individual who is familiar with the inner workings of a console that hasn’t seen a new first-party release in 15 years. Let us never doubt Nintendo’s power ever again.

Another unexpected discovery was made during Wizard Week — specifically, the mid-week break in which I focused on a series of strategy guides published by Bantam Books.

Doing some Internet sleuthing, readers Madeline Henry and Michael Stearns identified the cover artist as Bill Mayer. The surfing cat featured in “Ultimate Unauthorized Nintendo Game Boy Strategies” is actually the mascot for the smooth jazz outfit The Rippingtons — he appears on several album covers, and even stars in one of their videos!

Mayer himself later found the comments thread and left a reply:

Too funny…Where the hell did you find these? I am the illustrator responsible for those little diddies, all of the picture Nintendo Strategies were originally done for other clients and uses. They were not allowed to use any of the copyrighted material so they looked around for images of monsters. eventually ran out of monsters and started just looking for anything bright and colorful to stick on the cover. These books were done in ,I am guessing the 1980’s? Can’t believe they are still out there haunting the halls of used book stores in small quiet unsuspecting small towns all across the country Beware…

These books have been in my collection since I was a kid, and finding out more about them after all these years was a real treat. Thanks for the comments, guys!

Finally, Kotaku picked up on the iPhone smash hit My Virtual Girlfriend a full eight months after I’d originally featured it here. Somehow, the fabric of time itself was altered so that the game could be released “just in time for Valentine’s Day” in the year 2011. This serves as an important reminder to always trust Dream and Friends as your first-on-the-scene source for video game news that matters.

Die Hard (Pack-In Video, 1990)

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Die Hard is such a great movie. John McClane is the perfect action hero — he’s tough, likable, and funny, and yet he has enough flaws to make him a believable character. He also straight-up murders lots of dudes on Christmas Eve.

Die Hard is packed with memorable moments, too. Who can forget McClane’s hilarious killing spree in the forest? Personally, my favorite part is when he gets lost in that swamp maze. And then when he finally reaches the 34th floor of Nakatomi Plaza only to discover that the terrorists have secretly replaced it with an ocean? Priceless.

Oh, I’m sorry. You may not be familiar with the Japanese laserdisc cut of Die Hard. It’s kind of rare nowadays, but there’s a more-or-less faithful retelling in Die Hard for the PC Engine, available in English for the first time thanks to a translation patch released today by my buddy and roommate Spinner 8. You should play it!

You wouldn’t think that there would be much to translate in a fairly straightforward Bloody Wolf clone, but you’ll be glad to have English dialog when you end up lost in the underground labyrinth (classic scene, by the way) in level three. It’s quite helpful.

If you get stuck, consult this exhaustively detailed video walkthrough…which by all means should not be, given that we’re talking about a 20-year-old Japan-exclusive game based on American movie for the TurboGrafx-16, for chrissakes. As unlikely a thing as it is, though, I’m very glad that it exists.

Or you can just enter the debug code — Up, Up, Left, Left, Left, Down, Run — at the title screen. That’ll let you see most of the game’s content without actually having to play it. Honestly, you’re not going to want to play through the whole thing. It gets stupidly difficult later on, and the bosses are a pain in the ass. Still! It’s Die Hard!

(You might also want to check out Spinner’s recently updated translation for Nintendo’s obscure but super-fun The Mysterious Murasame Castle, which really needs an American Virtual Console release already.)

Braid’s International Boxart

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Jonathan Blow’s inventive puzzle-platformer / passive-aggressive sexist tripe / thought-provoking treatise on the creation of the atomic bomb / weepy LiveJournal post Braid is back in the news again, thanks to its inclusion in this year’s Humble Indie Bundle charity drive.

Braid, along with Machinarium, Osmos, and some other games that you’ll never play because they’re not on Steam, can be yours for whatever price you think is fair. Be aware, however, that your digital purchase does not include any cover art. In Braid’s case, this is a real shame.

Japan got the best end of the deal. It’s official art that hints at the game’s central mechanic, and it manages to be intriguing without being too literal. Psh. Whatever, Japan.

Europe’s box art, on the other hand, is top-to-bottom hilarious. It’s hard to pick the single funniest part. Maybe it’s the jovial exclamation mark! Maybe it’s the way it claims to have received an unprecedented 9.5 out of 10 stars (count them) from Gamespot, yet gets a standard numerical grade from Eurogamer.

Or maybe it’s because the character art just makes me think of this:

Oh, and then there’s the Russian cover art.

Seriously, though, if you can afford it, please donate to charity during this holiday season, either through the Humble Indie Bundle or elsewhere.

Do it.

An Ode to Mastiff

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Mastiff is an odd little company with an interesting success story. Based in Japan, it started out as a North American publisher of limited-appeal Japanese games. Some of its more notable localizations include Nippon Ichi’s strategy-RPG La Pucelle: Tactics, Namco’s rhythm-action game Technic Beat, and Falcom’s PSP action-RPG Gurumin.

In a brave move at the height of its publishing days for the PlayStation 2, Mastiff even went as far as to buy the international licensing rights for dozens of Korean pop songs for inclusion in Pump it Up Exceed, a multiplatform dance game. Pump It Up Exceed was released at retail bundled with a unique dance mat peripheral, adding even greater expense to the venture.

“Niche” does not even begin to describe Mastiff’s interests, in other words.

Mastiff showed canny discretion in the games it chose to localize. The majority of its published works met with praise from fans in each game’s respective genre, and many won critical acclaim as well.

It was only when Mastiff applied its business sense to a more competitive genre that it found major sales success, however.

In a press release issued in September, Mastiff noted that its budget-priced Wii hunting game Deer Drive had sold more than 400,000 units in North America since its launch in 2008. For Mastiff, this is a major victory, considering that sales of its previous releases were often modest at best.

By all means, Deer Drive should have been lost in the shadow of its competition. The hunting genre, despite its almost complete lack of mainstream media coverage, is a surprisingly popular niche. It’s especially popular on the Nintendo Wii, which hosts dozens of hunting and fishing games, along with countless related peripherals. And yet Mastiff has managed to remain consistently successful across multiple releases, and has published hit after hit for the Wii.

So how did Mastiff succeed here, where many others have failed to make an impact? Let’s look at some of Mastiff’s efforts in the genre, compared to its competition.


M. Night Shyamalan Presents: Alf (Sega, 1989)

Thursday, October 14th, 2010


A Year of Sexually Charged Nintendo E-Mail

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Okay! I love excitement!



Oh! Haha. Whew.

Whoa whoa whoa, hold on I

Well…all right. I guess that makes sense?

Sounds innocent enough. Fine, tell me what happened to Kirby.


Should…should I call the police?

Sega Master System Angels

Monday, September 20th, 2010

One of the first games I owned for the Sega Genesis was Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, a solid but unremarkable platformer that I nevertheless completed many, many times over, as it was one of only a handful of games I owned for the system for several years.

For me, Enchanted Castle is particularly memorable because of what happens when Alex collides with a deadly enemy or object. Instead of keeling over, exploding, or shrugging his shoulders before dropping out of sight — as I was used to seeing in NES games — Alex instead turns into an angel and floats skyward, eventually disappearing off the top of the screen.

The effect was jarring. The idea that a character I was controlling in a video game could actually die and proceed to the eternal hereafter because of my poor motor skills was more than a little concerning.

It wasn’t until years later that I picked up a Sega Master System and discovered that Alex did the same thing in Enchanted Castle‘s 8-bit predecessor, Alex Kidd in Miracle World. Soon I found out that this wasn’t just a peculiar trait unique to the Alex Kidd series — it was an honest-to-god theme carried across multiple Sega-developed games in the late 1980s and early ’90s.

What follows is a complete list of every Sega Master System title in which, upon death, an in-game character’s soul escapes from his or her body in the form of an angel.

Alex Kidd in Miracle World

Alex Kidd in Shinobi World

Alf (yes, really)

Gangster Town

[Notable not only because the gangsters turn into angels when you shoot them (maybe they’re not such bad guys after all?), but also…

…you can then shoot and kill the angels as they fly toward heaven, robbing them of their one shot at eternal salvation. Hardcore.]


Epic Fail

Friday, September 17th, 2010