animal crossing

Sorry for a lack of updates these past few weeks. A whole lot of shit went down. The five year anniversary of a shitty, transphobic harassment campaign that completely fucked my reputation up, and ruined the lives of my friends. Some IRL issues popping up with estranged family members. An endless news cycle of doom. Generally having mental problems. A lot of things. I guess fate decided that I was overdue for a breakdown. As such, I wasn’t really in the mood for things. Didn’t want to write a bunch of super angry stuff on here; I’d like to think that part of this site is over, but I also wasn’t in the mood to sit down and write super positive things. But now I am! So here we go.

Like seemingly everyone else on Earth right now, I’ve been playing a lot of the new Animal Crossing. I was pumped for New Horizons. I played the shit out of Wild World, until my DS started giving me problems. And then I played the shit out of New Leaf, until my 3DS’ analog nub started giving me problems. Nintendo’s handhelds used to be so much more durable. Anyways. I’ve been playing New Horizons, and loving the shit out of it. But this post is not meant to be a review of the game (REVIEW: it’s really good). Rather, this is more of a loose diary/showing off designs/an excuse to make another music playlist.

So, this is me. Standing here in my living room, with my TV, my tarot set, my Nintendo Switch, a painting of Slimegirl, and the covers of every Black Dresses album. I have other rooms, but they’re not really worth showing off at the moment. Too small, not enough cool shit in them.

Oh, and the Space Invaders shirt was made by me. I’ll be posting all of my designs later.

A cool things about New Horizons is that, holy fuck, other people actually play this fucking game online now. Wild World? Forget it. New Leaf? You had to perform arcane rituals to get other people into your town. New Horizons? Pretty sure I’ve seen my friends running around more than the neighbors who actually live here.

This is me at my friends Gabi’s house. She’s the one with the Nintendo 64 hat, and I’m the one with the dumb expression on my face. This was how her shit looked almost a month ago, I should go back and get some shots of how good her island looks now.

And here I am with my other good friend, Charlotte. We were running around and fishing at 3 A.M. Why were we fishing at three in the morning? Well, mind your fucking business, that’s why!

I put this cool zen garden in front of my house. I like how rain actually causes the rocks to get darker. Good job, Nintendo!

My neighbors say things. Often cute things. And sorry, Keaton, but I sleep in a big bed with my wife.

They also like to hang around the town square and sing, or do yoga, or even aimlessly Naruto-run.

I attempted to give myself ICP face paint, but it doesn’t work. As such, I take it back FUCK THIS GAME!!!!!!!!!! WOOP WOOP!

So that’s been the last month or so of Animal Crossing. I’d like to do more of these in the future. These have just been random screencaps I’ve taken. Next time, I might even have a structure or theme for these!

But in the meantime, here’s my custom designs:

Now the big part of this post: music! I’ve been wanting to make a playlist of songs that fit the whole concept of living on an island. Good weather, good friends, good times. That sort of thing. I was originally going to have 24 songs on here, one for each hour of the day, but uhhhh no. I cut it down to 12 tracks: 6 to represent the day time, and 6 more for night.

3/17/2020

Haven’t done a blog post in a bit. I’ve been meaning to do a write up on why I love Space Invaders as much as I do, but it’s been kind of hard to put together, mostly the format and how I want to go about it. So fuck it, I’ll just make a post for postings sake, as I’ve been way too quiet on here as of late.

It’s been fairly uneventful over here. Plugging away at my work; getting more work done on this Patreon-exclusive game, with bug testing and sound composition making things take longer than I’d like. Also been drafting up Girl Zone #3, the art/poetry zine that I’d like to make a monthly thing.

In-between all that, I’ve been dealing with my brain. I know I’ve been holding back on opening up like this, but I think I can do it once in a while: every so often, you’ll be doing fine, able to manage your symptoms with a nice bit of THC. Then you wake up one morning, and everything is bad and you want to crawl into a hole and wait for the world to die. Even if you vent privately, you still feel bad for having felt that way, and having your negative emotions take over like that, so then you spend a couple days feeling like shit about yourself. I’m currently doing okay.

I finally got a new Saturn controller. The ones that Retro-Bit make are fucking shit, to be honest, falling apart after a few months because they’re built with cheap plastic. So instead, I spent an extra $10 and got an 8BitDo M30. Only had it for a few weeks, but it seems to work a hell of a lot better. Time will tell if the D-Pad breaks after you look at it too hard.

Taken the time to get back into all the Sega Mega Drive/SG-1000 and PC-Engine stuff I’d been unable to play for several months. Need to start downloading some Saturn ROMs soon.

Really, that’s kind of been about it. Been pretty boring while doing my best to stay indoors because of all the shit going around. Maybe next time I’ll have something more exciting to talk about.

Fuck it, I’ll post a song too.

i hate camera- the bird and the bee

compilations

Let me begin this with a, I don’t know, a confession: I originally wanted to do a post on Space Invaders, and why I love Space Invaders and why that little game is incredibly important to me. But something happened yesterday that took my attention, and I felt like it was important enough to talk about instead.

Yesterday, I spent $4 on this bundle of games. I mostly got it just so I would have The King of Fighters XIV in my collection, if I ever got the hankering to play it and not have to drop sixty big ones on it. One of the other games in the bundle was the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection. I was a bit curious about it, if only because I had been informed that Ikari Warriors and Guerrilla War had a new control set up to deal with the fact that, because of their unique “twist-joystick” controls, were pretty much impossible to emulate without being a real pain. I’ll spare you a big review and say that, at least on PC, the controls are fucking shit. Characters spin at the lightest touch, sometimes not being able to face certain directions, or straight up stop moving for no reason. Guerrilla War is already hard enough without having to fight the controls, too. Let me Hail The Heros Of The Glorious Revolution, dammit!

But that wasn’t the worst thing about it. Though this complaint is more directed at game compilations in general. Even if the games themselves are ported well, the most you get in terms of extras are usually some concept art and a sound test. Fucking nothing else. For things that are supposed be celebrations of classic games, there’s not much of a party going on. Doesn’t matter if it’s SNK, or all those terrible Sega compilations that have come out over the years (though shout out to M2; their Switch ports are amazing), they fail to fill the hole left by the greatest retro game compilation ever made. Something that nobody, even the company that actually made it, has managed to surpass or even match in twenty years.

I’m talking about the Namco Museum Collection on the Playstation.

What made these five compilations so sick was that you didn’t just get all these classic arcade games on one disc. No, you also got these entire 3D virtual “exhibits” that showed off various aspects of the games in question. Yeah, you got your artwork and advertisements, but you also got scans of rare merchandise that’s no longer available, pictures of the PCB boards, breakdowns of scoring systems or game mechanics. Later entries had Japan-only promo videos. All of these things were shown off in a very cutesy, low-polygon style, rather than a cold menu that felt tacked on.

Now, just as something of a disclaimer: I don’t want to throw around the “L” word. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no such thing as a “Lazy Developer.” Limited budgets, time constraints, publisher meddling, Konami losing the fucking finished source code for Silent Hill, can all lead to a disappointing or even outright terrible end result. Namco clearly had the time, money, and vision to put these five discs together, and I’m incredibly grateful for it.

I won’t do a big breakdown of each of these, as they mostly follow the same format: a handful of old arcade games, each reprogrammed for the Playstation (so these aren’t emulated ports, for better or for worse), and each with their own cute exhibit and personalized “game room” housing the arcade cabinet, all of which are done in that amazing PSX-quality that still holds up today.

Volume 4, though, is my favorite. This is when Namco decided to get weird with it. They had already put various versions of Pac-Man, Galaga, Pole Position, Xevious, and all these other games out there. So with volume 4, you get off-beat and even outright bizarre shit. Ordyne, a relatively obscure shooter that was Namco’s attempt at combining Fantasy Zone with Gradius. Pac-Land, not a bad or even all that strange a game; it served as a direct influence for Super Mario Brothers, but when you think “Pac-Man,” you don’t think “Pac-Man taking a leisurely stroll down the street, putting a fairy in his hat, then running home, now with the power to levitate.” Assault, a top-down shooter where you control both the left and right treads of your tank with the d-pad and face buttons, respectively (continuing with my trend of comparing these games to other games, Assault is like a mechanical predecessor to Katamari Damacy). Assault Plus, which is an updated Assault that’s actually hidden in this compilation. The Return of Ishtar is an action-RPG where you control two characters at once, which is less awkward than Assault, somehow.

Then there is the crown jewel of Namco Museum Volume 4: Genpei Toumaden.

Genpei Toumaden, if I were to describe the game to you, would sound pretty normal. You are a samurai, brought back from the dead, to save Japan from various creatures in Japanese folklore, as well as Japanese historical figures. You move left-to-right, you run, jump, and swing your sword at things. Playing it, though? Genpei Toumaden is a fucking dissociative nightmare in video game form. The music is weird. The graphics are creepy (and surprisingly detailed for the 80s). Level design is haphazard at best, with alternate paths with no real on-screen indication of what you did or where you’re going. Some levels even have Minamoto-no-Yoritomo, the game’s antagonist, appear in the background, larger than the mountains in the level, and try to smash you with a paper fan. I don’t want to sound like one of those “they must have been on drugs when they made this!” assholes, because fuck them, but this is still a strange game, even in English.

Keep in mind, despite me maybe making this game sound appealing, it plays like fucking shit, and it’s hard as balls on top of that. I have never been able to finish it in all the years I’ve tried. At the end of the day, it’s an 80’s arcade game, and it wants your money. So it’s not an overlooked gem, but I’m still endlessly fascinated by the game and its existence.

Plus, the exhibit is really cool, with a couple of hidden things for you to find by looking around carefully.

But I do kind of want to mention the other exhibits. Mostly Ordyne and Pac-Land.

Ordyne’s is cute. It’s made to resemble a fast-food restaurant in the style of Ordyne’s in-game shop. And if you look carefully, you may notice on the menu that smiles are always free!

Pac-Land? It’s just Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man chilling out on a beach with the Pac-Land fairy, a cocktail arcade cabinet, and a boombox playing a really peaceful remix of the Pac-Land theme.

It is the most chill thing. It is, as the kid’s say, aesthetic as fuck. Seeing this one scene in an old issue of Tips & Tricks way back when made me want this game so fucking bad. Kind of a weird tic I have, but I find hub worlds to be the most peaceful, calming in video games. This probably dates all the way back to playing Chrono Trigger and making it to the End of Time. The Playstation really added to that, as my concept of a calming space in a game got really generous, to the point of including the Library from Echo Night, or this one very particular part of the map in Bushido Blade, in addition to normal shit like the town in Mega Man Legends or Brave Fencer Musashi. I was a very weird kid. Either way, Namco Museum, especially the later entries, are like crack for my weird brain. I can walk around these miniature dioramas of a video game, looking at things, even interacting with them in some cases. The games themselves are almost secondary, even though most of them are absolute classics worthy of the price on their own.

It’s just too fucking bad that Namco Museum Encore lacked pretty all of this cool stuff, which is even worse when you consider that that compilation included goddamn Rolling Thunder. Or that subsequent Namco Museums on other consoles, even the Switch, don’t have the virtual museum. The Switch one includes, again, Rolling Fucking Thunder The Best Arcade Game Namco Has Ever Made, and Splatterhouse. Splatterhouse! I’m not even a big fan of that game, but a digital exhibit for it would be amazing! You could even have it be less of a museum piece and more of a haunted house! But no. Unfortunately, we are no longer allowed to have nice things.

Honorable mention for the second best classics compilation goes to Sonic Jam on the Sega Saturn. It’s second best because the ports/emulation/whatever fucking suck, and the games sound and run worse than the original Genesis games. But at least it has those really cool animated movies, commercials, the Sonic timeline, and Sonic World.

You could run around, picking up rings, launching off of springs, hitching a ride on Tails, doing small time trials (pick up X number of rings in this amount of time, etc), and finding codes and secrets for the actual Sonic games on the collection. It’s really cool, but I wish it wasn’t this excellent accoutrement for what is ultimately a big let down of a compilation.

In any case, Namco Museum. It is bar none the best compilation of games you could possibly play, so long as you stick to the initial five volumes.

nyla

Wrestling was on last night. I was sitting down in front of my tv, eagerly anticipating one match: the rematch between Nyla Rose and Riho. You may remember back in October when I got mad as hell at Nyla’s loss, because she didn’t just lose, but she lost via stupidity, which I thought was bullshit. On top of that, hot take: I don’t think Riho is any good. She has a terrible look, like a child pageant contestant walked down the wrong hallway and wound up in a wrestling ring, and her look of constant confusion doesn’t help. She botches all the time, maybe not on the level of Sin Cara at his peak, but she’s definitely not a smooth wrestler. She even fucked up the finish of the women’s four-way match in a spot with Hikaru Shida who is 1) really good and 2) speaks Japanese, just like Riho, so you can’t blame it on the language barrier. Riho has go-away heat with me. I understand that I’m in the minority on that, but that’s how I feel. Her and Britt Baker I cannot stand. All these great women on the AEW roster, and the faces of it are a 98-pounder who looks like a child and sucks in the ring, and the other looks like she would rather be in NXT and murdering promos in ways Ken Patera could only dream of.

Anyways. Rematch. Nyla won.

I literally screamed so loud that my neighbors had to come and check on me. I was in a Discord call, getting ready to record a new episode of Book of Megadrive, and I’m sure I killed my co-hosts hearing. I was so fucking pumped, dude. The match was great, and Nyla carried Riho to her best match in AEW.

This was an historic moment. A transgender woman of color won a title in a major American wrestling company. That’s fucking cool as shit. WWE will never do this. They would rather find a way to bury Baron Corbin alive with both world titles in his hands than let a trans person even get a whiff of the belt’s leather.

I realized not too long ago that I don’t like to talk about trans shit anymore. Talking about the feelings of powerlessness and misery don’t help me so much as they help shitheads “allies” jerk off to my inspiration porn. The only people I want jerking off to me are the dudes who call my phone sex line (or, you know, people I’m dating). Representation matters if you’re a child, but I’m 33 years old, that ship has long since sailed for me. That being said, holy fucking shit dude a trans woman won the title!

It’s a feel-good moment for someone like myself. To rub it in the face of every clown online telling me that Nyla isn’t ready, brother, as though Britt Baker is ready with her meandering promos where she spends more time talking about Tony Schiavone working at Starbucks instead of, you know, the wrestlers she is actively feuding with. It’s good to know that we don’t all have to suffer for our art. Every “successful” trans artist I know is flat broke and is only a star’s misalignment away from trying to kill themselves. I don’t know what Nyla’s contract gives her, or how big her payday was for working that episode of Dynamite, but it was certainly more than a $25 pittance from a guy who wants to look at her feet. I consider professional wrestling to be an art, and I consider art to be emotionally, but not financially, fulfilling. That Nyla gets to have both of those is fucking great. She absolutely deserves it.

Now to keep my fingers crossed that AEW doesn’t then proceed to book Nyla with a Rey Mysterio-level title reign. Nobody wants that.

monster hunter

When I haven’t been working on various art/game projects, I’ve found myself becoming addicted all over again to Monster Hunter. Specifically, the Switch port of Monster Hunter Generations that I picked up about a month ago.

Now obviously, this is not my first rodeo. I’ve been playing these games since the PSP days, when I got a copy of Freedom Unite at my old job. I played it for a bit, had no idea what I was doing, and put it away in my PSP case, going back to Mega Man Powered Up and that version of Final Fantasy VII on the Playstation Store. A few years later, I would get back into the game. Sort of. You see, this was before the days of fan wikis being so widespread, or YouTube tutorials that broke down every aspect of a game about five minutes after it comes out. I had no fucking clue how to play Monster Hunter. I ran around with a Long Sword, wildly swinging at things, wondering why evasive rolling didn’t work literally the same as in Demon’s Souls.

Cool thing here, while I’ve long since lost the old blog posts I made about MonHun, I still have the screenshots I took on my old PSP memory stick. Let’s take a look at them!

So, because I had in my head that this game was no different from Demon’s Souls. This included not giving a fuck about the armor I wore, to the point of going out and literally fighting in my underwear. If you are new to Monster Hunter: DO NOT DO THIS! You need those full armor sets so you can get the abilities they have. Another thing I didn’t bother with that you should do: UPGRADE YOUR ARMOR! You need that defense boost, too!

And I would eventually wise up but putting on a full set of armor. Just not uh, a full matching set.

kut-ku, velociprey, and bullfango armor does not work together

Needless to say, I had a hell of a time getting through a number of hunts. I didn’t know how armor worked. I didn’t know that eating before a hunt would give you stat boosts. I didn’t even know that hitting monsters with paintballs would mark them on your map! I didn’t know about hiring Felynes to help me in fights! I was a dumb fucking noob, for sure.

But what fucked me up the most? Hunting the Khezu.

This Eldritch looking worm thing kicked my ass so many times. I failed so many hunts. Keep in mind, this was before Monster Hunter had online play included. In this game, it was either local, or you learned how to get good. Well, slight correction: you could play online, through a third-party app on the Playstation 3 that was Japan-only (until the end of the system’s life anyway), and when you got on, you would find more people interested in playing Final Fantasy Dissidia than anything else. Bleh.

i eventually got one

As a result of my ineptitude, and the Khezu killing me a bunch, it ended up becoming (no pun intended) my white whale. In subsequent games, I would gun for Khezus as soon as I could, hunt them, then wear armor and carry weapons made from their parts.

Monster Hunter 4 on 3DS was the next game I played after MHFU, and this is exactly what I did. I even did the same when Red Khezus started to appear, with my hunter dressed head to toe in a bright pink rubber suit.

Quick tangent here: this will probably get me some heat, but can I just admit to thinking that the 3DS was not a good system? Like, it had great games that I spent a lot of time with (MonHun, Resident Evil, Animal Crossing, Megami Tensei), and it had a few neat features, but I feel like the system was plagued by too many games that tried to push the system to its limits, and did not succeed. I mean, I’ve never gotten very far in Pokemon Moon, because the battles are slow as shit, running at 5 FPS, because I didn’t go out and drop another $150 on a slightly better 3DS. Not nearly as fondly remembered by me compared to the previous generation’s DS and PSP. Plus for a system so reliant on online connectivity, it probably would’ve helped if it weren’t complete shit that lagged and disconnected if the wind was too strong that day.

As far as the original MH Generations went, I liked it, but I think by then I was so burnt out on MH4, and the awkward touch screen controls, and the bad internet, that I ended up not getting very far in it. Then I didn’t touch the series again until World came out. And World is amazing. A great game. But I feel like, in its desire to make the quality of life changes that it did, it kind of moved away from the spirit of Monster Hunter. It’s smooth, moves really quickly, and handles a lot of the pre-hunt prep for you. I find myself preferring the original slow, methodical pace, where getting ready for a hunt is just as important as the hunt itself. I like doing a little flex every time I heal. I like having to go from section to section on the map, instead of following the Dead Space line straight to the monster.

So I guess it’s a good thing I picked up MH Generations on Switch when it was on sale. It’s scratching all those itches. And holy shit, it really shows just how much better these games are on consoles, instead of hunched over, squinting at a handheld screen, with your hand in an awkward claw position to navigate both yourself and the camera. The online is actually not that bad, given the system it’s on. It is like night and day considering how much better Generations is on Switch than on 3DS, which ties back to my point about developers trying to make the 3DS do things it was clearly not meant to do.

what a difference seven years makes

I admit, I have been hooked on this game probably every day since I bought it. There’s always one more thing to do; one more part to collect to make a new weapon or piece of armor, or one more quest to finish to raise my Hunter Rank, or one more something. It is so fun.

My current problem is the amount of choice. I can’t decide on a weapon to stick with! Right now I’m bouncing back and forth between Hammers and Light Bowguns. Do I try out Dual Blades? Sword and Shield? Go back to Long Sword? They’re all so great, with their own pros and cons. Except for Insect Glaive. Fuck the Insect Glaive. Zoe’s shitty rapist ex (yeah, I know, I know, which one?) was always going on about how great that thing was when we all used to play MH4 together, so he killed that weapon for me. For all I know, it could be the best weapon, that suits my playing style to a T, but I don’t care. It’s ruined for me. But everything else? Reduces me to the most indecisive bitch on the planet.

The main reason I made this post, aside from waxing nostalgic about the PSP again, was to let/remind people how fucking good old-school Monster Hunter is. I informed one of the Discord groups I’m in that Generations was $20 a while back, and was met with “old Monster Hunter sounds like a nightmare!” Yeah, World is great, but there’s so much more satisfying weight and heft to the old games. What I’m saying is, if you’re my friend, you should be playing this with me. I’m tired of idiot randos knocking me out of combos while I’m trying to swing a hammer at a monster’s head. And plus, World doesn’t have Khezus in it, and that’s bullshit.

always wearing the khezu gear

hydlide

Let me begin this post by saying the following: I actually legitimately, unironically love Hydlide. To a lot of people, this sounds ludicrous; like my myriad of mental illnesses have finally taken over to the point where I will say with 100% sincerity that Hydlide is a good video game.

This sounds ludicrous because, outside of Japan, Hydlide has been a running joke for so many years now. Frequently torn apart in reviews, most notably with the Angry Video Game Nerd and, ugh, ProJared. Given that its two biggest detractors are a gimmick not meant to be taken seriously, and a guy who got caught showing his dick to children last year, I feel like the game deserves better in the English speaking critical world. Which is why I’m here.

I’ll try to avoid going too in-depth in Hydlide’s history, since you can just read up on that on Wikipedia, but maybe a bit of context is necessary. Hylide was released in 1984 on Japanese computers, and along with Falcom’s Dragon Slayer and Namco’s Tower of Druaga (all released within months of one another), it kicked off the whole Action-RPG subgenre. So like, The Legend of Zelda would have been a game influenced by Hydlide. And also, strangely enough, Metal Gear Solid 5.

It was a big hit in Japan. However, over here, we did not get Hydlide until 1989, five years later. So we’ve already played at least two Zeldas, Faxanadu, and several other action-RPGs that long since expanded upon Hydlide’s foundation. Hell, Hydlide 2 and 3 were already out in Japan, with the Sega Genesis port of Hydlide 3 coming out in the US later in the same year. As a result, and without any context regarding Hydlide’s influence, all people saw was this game that looked worse, sounded worse, and arguably played worse (“arguably” is an editorial insert) that games that had come out in the past half decade.

But with all that said, I still like it. Charm and personality go a long way for me. I mean, the main character is a knight named Jim. Hardly a heroic name, to be certain. Jim the Knight has to rescue Ann the Princess from a demon named Varalys, who uses his magic to turn her into three fairies, who have been displaced across the country. It’s a very simple, stupid story that I can’t help but like it. It’s a game made during a time when technology and experience wasn’t really there to put together a compelling narrative. You combine that with its very lo-fi art style that I find to be very cute, and it’s a good time.

Admittedly, a lot of my love for these old, obtuse games tends to be superficial. Lo-fi graphics, nonsensical progression that sometimes feels like you’re accidentally making progress, big fan of all that. And Hydlide is full of it. Having to find a cross out in a field, so you can fight the Vampire in the castle. Searching a grouping of trees to find the right tree that contains a fairy, the others containing a group of dangerous bees. Having to defeat the Wizard by hitting him and his magic duplicate with a single “Wave” spell, which only travels horizontally, and you have to fight in a small vertical space. Avoiding a massive dragon, burning down a tree that blocks entry to the castle it’s guarding, also the only time you have to use magic on something besides an enemy. Like, this all sounds like a game design nightmare, but I love it. I’m not sure what it is about this era of esoteric cartoon logic design, but it’s extremely appealing to me. Probably because I grew up in a time where you needed to crouch and wait for a tornado, or blow up random walls, or stand in front of a waterfall for five minutes in real time. Probably because I’ve fallen back in love with obtuse shit in a post-Demon’s Souls world. Although, quick side bar: Falcom’s Legacy of the Wizard goes way too fucking far with that shit. There is a limit to what people can take.

Here’s a secret thing for you here: in this section of the desert, you have to hit three worms with one wave spell.

And when you do, these dinosaur footprints appear in the sand, and you get a full magic meter and unlimited magic for a short time. Of course, outside of two specific instances I’ve already mentioned, magic is more or less completely useless (it was added to the Famicom version to give it some added appeal to an audience more than familiar with the PC original), but it’s cool that it’s there.

So much like me, the game is cute and weird. And also like me, it has its problems. For one, something that will make itself readily apparent the moment you start the game is that fucking music. An irritating ten second loop that’s nearly a note-for-note ripoff of the Indiana Jones theme. It’s actually the title theme to Hydlide 2, but some rocket scientist at T&E Soft thought that a short loop originally meant for an opening “PRESS START TO CONTINUE” screen would be appropriate for the length of an entire game. My advice would be to turn down your emulator and listen to something a little more appropriate. Or at least something that doesn’t even last a full thirty seconds. That being said, it may as well be Yuzo Koshiro’s entire catalogue compared to the PC music, which is best described as a five second loop of noise.

Another complaint is that, because the game is so short, the grind for experience so bosses and higher-level enemies don’t immediately kill you can be long and tedious. I’ve alleviated this by using the Hydlide Rebalance ROM Hack, which reduces the grind by a significant amount.

You may have noticed that I’ve been talking about the Famicom port, and not the original computer game. This is because I skipped over it in favor of its 1999 remake. Yes, Hydlide has not one, but at least two remakes.

And the Hydlide remake is pretty much the same thing, but with new graphics and some new sound effects that sound as though they came from AOL Instant Messenger.

Main difference is that the magic system is not implemented here, so a couple of things are slightly different. For one, to defeat the Wizard, you just have to stab him and his clone after he’s shot you with his fire spell five times. And for the castle at the end, you just hit the space bar on the empty space in front of it.

The other difference is that rather than fixing the grind of the original game, the developers instead opted to include an “Overdrive!” mode. Press O on your keyboard, and you pretty much become completely overpowered, take almost no damage, and gain experience several times faster than you would normally. You can even one-shot the final boss while in Overdrive. So yeah, Hydlide Remake literally has a “win” button.

But it does have a neat feature of being able to switch back and forth between the new graphics, and the original PC look.

You can nab this version over at the Internet Archive. Keep in mind though that it does not include the arranged CD music, so you have to live with the shitty five second loop I mentioned earlier.

There was another remake on the Sega Saturn released a couple years earlier called Virtual Hydlide. It’s really good, but I feel like it’s deserving of its own write-up, due to how vastly different it is from the original (think along the lines of Resident Evil on Playstation compared to Resident Evil on Gamecube). I did do a stream of it last year, if you got a couple hours to kill and want to watch me play the game and make jokes the whole time.

Looking through the manual for Hydlide on the Famicom, there’s something towards the end that may catch your eye. Admittedly, this is actually the main reason I made this post in the first place.

It’s an advertisement for a cross-promotional single for Hydlide Special (the name of the Famicom port). The singer in question is Mayumi Chiwaki. Her heyday was in the 80s-early 90s, followed by short comeback from the the late 90s until 2001, where she settled into a radio gig.

I was a bit disappointed at first, if only because of my own brain immediately associating all 80s J-Pop with City Pop, and the dreamy synths it contains. But that’s just me being me. The song itself is fine, and it’s definitely a far cry from the Idol shit I posted in my piece on Heinkyo Alien.

Unfortunately, you can’t just search for “ANGEL BLUE” on YouTube and hope to find the track. This is thanks to Japanese music labels and their severe allergy to anyone actually being able to listen to their music. The most you’re going to get is a guy pointing a camcorder at his record player. It’s pretty fucking grim.

LUCKILY FOR YOU, I happen to have the song, which I’ve gone ahead and uploaded.

mayumi chiwaki- angel blue

That’s Hydlide. A weird game that deserves better, especially now that thanks to From Software, jank is back in style. Go into it understanding that thirty-something years of technology and design has since built off of it, but you should still have fun with it.

 

heiankyo alien

Meant to have a blog post done last week, but that had to wait. I ended up catching a really nasty cold, instead. Nasty to the point of losing my voice for several days, and spending all of Friday in bed, because I was so light-headed and dizzy that being off my feet for more than a few minutes didn’t end well for me.

But it all worked out. I’m feeling a bit better (my nose is still ungodly clogged, and I have a bit of a cough), and I managed to find a better subject to post about. This would have been its own special page on my site, but I got a new computer over the holidays, and as such, I’ve lost my completely legitimately purchased and honestly and ethically installed copy of Adobe Dreamweaver, so it’s a blog post. Besides, blog posts are the future. They were the past, but they’ll be the future again once people finally start listening to me. So let’s do a post about a video game!

Heiankyo Alien was a computer game, according to legend, hastily developed in 1979 by a group of college students at the University of Tokyo after a news reporter was disappointed to find out that they didn’t develop video games. But then a couple days later, the team came up with a game concept, which was apparently enough back in those days to get arcade manufacturers lined up to try and get a deal with you. Long story short, it became something of a success, and got a bunch of ports and remakes, which I’m going to be talking about here.

Now, I don’t have the original computer game, but that’s okay, because it runs like shit anyway. Instead, I have the arcade port that came out a year later.

And…it’s fine. It holds up fairly well for a game of its age, maybe not on the level of say, Space Invaders, but still good nonetheless. The object of this game is that you’re a cop running around the streets of an alien infested Heian-era Kyoto, digging holes, waiting for the aliens to fall into them, then burying them alive, joining Dig-Dug in the sub-genre of “gruesome ways to die presented as a cutesy fun arcade game.” Like I said, it’s still really fun, and totally playable today. A couple of complaints: aliens move really fast and erratically, while you move slowly and dig even slower. And unlike something like Pac-Man, there’s no set A.I for the aliens, either. They’re content to run around in any random direction they choose, which can be a problem when you have your pit defenses all set, only for the last couple aliens to fuck off to the other side of the level.

like so

Later on, we got to the real shit. A company called Meldac, which are responsible for Abarenbou Tengu/Zombie Nation on NES, which was…okay, I guess, and the fucking awesome Mercenary Force on Game Boy, did their own remake of Heiankyo Alien.

Now here’s something I don’t really talk about much, for whatever reason: I fucking love the original Game Boy library. There’s a whole list of stone cold classics that little brick had, and I would consider the GB port of Heiankyo Alien to be right up there. Ain’t even kidding; you got your Super Mario Land, your Link’s Awakening, your Batman, your Avenging Spirit, your Final Fantasy Legend 2, and then you got your Heiankyo Alien.

Fuck Tetris, this is the addicting puzzle game you need on your Game Boy/Game Boy emulator. Everything is faster now. Moving and digging is so much easier to pull off, leaving you more time to prepare your routing strategies and avoiding wandering aliens. Yes, the A.I is still entirely random, but the smaller screen size means it’s easier for them to get you. It also means it’s easier for them to fall into holes you dig. It’s a fast-paced, fun as hell game that you’ll find yourself playing for way longer than you expected. Plus there’s all these neat new gimmicks, like steel floors that prevent you from digging through them, walls that rise and fall to prevent/allow movement through them, and a boat that can take you to the opposite end of a map, but you need to wait for it to dock before you can hop on-board. It also comes with a slightly compromised port of the original arcade game, if you’re into that.

I cannot recommend Heiankyo Alien on Game Boy highly enough. Play it late at night, turn the sound down a little bit, turn up something a little heavy, and have a good time burying those aliens.

There was also an ad campaign in several magazines at the time. These ads were actually really good, especially given the time period, with all its in-your-face, my console’s dick is bigger than your console’s dick bullshit.

Really classy shit. It should be noted that these ads gave us the greatest line in copywriting history:

HEIANKYO ALIEN IS A GAME EVERYONE CAN ENJOY

There’s also a Super Famicom version of the game. It’s…there. I’m not a big fan. It looks nice, but it controls terribly, and the power-up system feels completely tacked on. Feels like it’s trying to be more like Bomberman than Heiankyo. Maybe try it out for five minutes, I don’t know.

That was how I knew Heiankyo Alien, as this really sick Game Boy game. Then, during this past week, I was informed that a new HA was released back in 2017, giving it a scoring system and aesthetic in the vein of Pac-Man Championship Edition. I threw the $13 the game cost right at my computer screen, hoping it would make the transaction go faster.

This is Heiankyo Alien 3671.

it’s a lot less confusing than it looks

You get five minutes to bury as many aliens as you can. You get score multipliers for walking around blocks, digging up hidden items, and burying aliens of the same color. It also includes the ability to distract aliens with a piece of candy, something planned, then cut, for the original computer game. The different songs included are all really good at getting into that “high-score zen” state of mind, including a hidden track you can find that’s done with the Yamaha 2612 chip, which is the same sound chip the Sega Mega Drive used. Again, it’s a very fun and addicting game that’s well worth your time, even if I think that the Game Boy game is superior due to its level design.

There’s some remade graphics, but I don’t like them as much as the old ones.

There’s not really much else to say about it other than it’s Heiankyo Alien, but with more stuff. Speaking of, there’s a greyed-out option on the main menu that caught my eye.

There was supposed to be an “idol version” of the game. I looked into it, and apparently, the Heian police officer would be replaced with one of the members of the idol group GUILDOLL. But since it’s now unplayable, with the only trance of its existence being a short WAV file of a GUILDOLL song, it’s clear that the deal ended up falling through.

This led to me actually looking up GUILDOLL, to see what they were all about. It looks like they’re not a particularly big or notable group, seeing as their shows all take place in these small venues.

Now, as someone who has been to many a small venue to check out local acts, there’s nothing really wrong with that, but you combine that tiny, intimate setting with the crowd, and there’s a problem. Watching these videos, you start to notice that there are a lot of male voices in that crowd. Older male voices. A lot of older men really excited to watch a group of young girls dance and lip-synch to a backing track. Now, I know about the grossness of “idol” culture, but it seems so much sadder and sinister when it’s happening in the kind of smoke-filled shithole I would have some drinks and listen to Ivory Circle or Danielle Ate The Sandwich in. Kind of fucked up.

But yeah, Heiankyo Alien. It rules, regardless of its format (Super Famicom not included), and you should play it.

retail memorabilia gaiden: that time i was at a kotaku event

I should open this with a disclaimer here: the events that I’ll be recounting happened all the way back in 2011. I was also very, very drunk at the time. As a result, I would pre-emptively ask any forgiveness if my memory tends to be hazy or incoherent at times during this post.

Anyways. Back in 2011, things were a little weird for me. I was at home, sitting at my computer, drinking my morning coffee, and checking my messages. While I was doing this, I heard a very loud hissing sound. There was a lot of construction going on outside my apartment at the time, so I ignored it. But I could no longer ignore it when I stepped into my bathroom, and noticed that the floor was extremely wet. That wasn’t construction work outside, the pipes in my bathroom burst, and now my floor was rapidly starting to flood. Long story short, my carpet had to be torn out and completely replaced. Twice, actually, because the first time was an incompetent rush job. And because the plumber took his sweet ass time showing up and shutting the water off (the complex’s water supply is locked, you see), I ended up with black mold on and in the walls, which meant I couldn’t stay there until everything had been fixed and cleaned up. So for the next month, I lived in a motel. Luckily, this stay was paid for by my landlord, so it cost me nothing but the headache of having to be here in the first place. I ate a lot of pizza and brownies, played a lot of Pokemon White, which had just come out (I got White because I accurately predicted everyone I knew would get Black), and got some really good sleep on a surprisingly comfortable bed.

I didn’t really have much else to do at the time, other than wait for my home to be fixed. This was also around the time that Japan had been rocked by that horrible earthquake and tsunami. In response to that, Brian Crecente decided to host a charity event. Because he used to run Kotaku, and Japan=video games, apparently. Not because it was the right thing to do or anything. This was still back when Kotaku was a garbage website with no real quality, before it had its renaissance of having a couple good pieces, mixed with “Why Agent 47 Is The Queer Representation We Need” and “Why Masturbating To Child Pornography Is Good, Actually.” Side note: that fucking child porn article caused me to have a CSA-induced flashback/breakdown combo. So thanks for that, assholes.

Crecente and I both live in Colorado, and the event was held within walking distance of the motel I was staying at. It was at Cervantes Ballroom, a place I hadn’t been to since 2005, when my old roommate and I went to see Chiodos and Portugal The Man in concert. I’m hoping the venue was chosen because its relatively large size, and not because Cervantes also happens to be the name of a Soul Calibur character.

At risk of sounding like I’m too cool for the room, because after all, I was attending an event hosted by a video game website, this was exactly what you would expect. Lots of stereotypical nerds with no real social experience huddled around game merch and a couple of consoles hooked up on the ground floor. There was a small LAN center on the balcony, so if you wanted to play Counter-Strike or Starcraft (AND NOTHING ELSE), you could do that. And on the stage? You think maybe because this a music hall, there would be a band performing? Of course not. It was only a projector, and XBox 360, and a copy of Rock Band. For anyone who is unaware, Denver has a great music scene. A lot of amazing bands would certainly be available. Or, you could watch a bunch of random weirdos play plastic instruments. That works, right?

I realized pretty quickly that I was out of place. Sure, I love me some games, maybe even too much. But I’m not, and never will be, a “gamer.” I came in wearing a nice shirt, nice pants, a sweet jacket (it was cold this time of year), things you would wear if you were out at a nice club for an event. Everyone else was wearing shitty jeans and shirts with mystery stains. Not exactly “club” material.

pictured: me in formal attire (at the time, anyway). my scarf makes it look like i don’t have a chin, sorry about that. not sure why i put my hair behind my glasses frame, i’ll chalk it down to being drunk.

So as you do when you’re out at club and things are weird: you go and get drunk. And drunk I got. Apparently, as the bartenders had informed me, I was literally the only person there who ordered anything besides a glass of water. As a result, they gave me my “usual” a vodka/Red Bull combo in the Long Island Iced Tea glasses. If you’ve never seen one of those, understand that that level of alcohol, in that glass, got me fucked the fuck up in a hurry. This is where things start to become a bit of a blur.

One thing that sticks out to me is when I needed to use the bathroom. There was a line outside the men’s room. The first thing that comes to mind is, what the fuck? Why would there be a line to the bathroom at a club? They are designed to hold a large number of people. So I ask the guy at the front of the line what the deal is. His answer?

“Oh…there’s someone in there already.”

Now this is the part where I’m too cool for the room. I open the door, to show everyone that in public venues such as this, there’s more than one stall! And guess what? There was nobody in that bathroom! These people, who were all apparently adults, did not realize that there’s no line to a club bathroom. I took a piss, and walked out laughing.

Because this was an event for charity, here’s where the money raising things started to happen. Aside from the $10 cover charge, there was also an auction for various game memorabilia happening. If I had the money for it, I could’ve gone home with a physical copy of the Mega Man 9 box art, eternally tying me to that cursed game.

POINT OF THIS BLOG POST NOW

At some point during the night, I somehow managed to actually socialize with a small group of people. One of them was a cute girl in a Symphony of the Night t-shirt. That’s about all I remember about any of them. But while this was happening, and I was shaking my head at Brian Crecente’s incredibly cringe-worthy stage presence (complete with wearing a Denver Nuggets jersey and trying to speak “jive”), someone had approached us holding a small cardboard box. He informed us that it was a Lego model for some Lego game that was meant to be put up for auction, but the guy dropped it, causing the pieces to break off and leave the model unfinished. In his embarrassment, he asked us if any of us wanted it. Me, hella wasted, said yeah. I didn’t have to pay for it, and plus I got a free box to put my motel shit in. Things get really hazy after that. The cute girl talked me into going up on stage with her and her friends to play Rock Band. I think we did a Muse song. Was Muse ever actually in Rock Band? I don’t remember, and neither do you. Thankfully, for all the official Kotaku pictures taken that night, none of them feature me. Simply admitting this is embarrassing enough.

The next morning, it was dark, it was cold, and I was hung over. I spent the day opening up that box, and putting the model together.

And here it is, pictured taken literally the moment I finished it.

My apartment was eventually fixed up. I still live there now, actually. And Wall-E still sits on my desk, next to my other collectible toys.

I end this post by doing something Brian Crecente didn’t have the wherewithal to do: actually showcase a local Denver musician.

ivory circle- insomnia

the 2010s

I’ll open this post with an admission: I’ve been torn on how I’ve wanted to go about writing this. The last few days have seen me writing, rewriting, scrapping and coming back to this space, trying to figure out the best way to talk about this past decade. There were a lot of great things that happened to me. There was also so much more terrible shit that went down. Things that have changed me, and not for the better. Making me want to be less of an “approachable” person, more of a recluse who doesn’t like to share their feelings. Because, for all of the great relationships I’ve made in this time, there’s still that part of me that knows how I came in to the 2010s as a relatively care-free dude making video game gif’s on Tumblr in an attempt at drawing a crowd towards the short stories and music reviews I was writing, and I came out of the 2010 a bitter trans person that everyone hates, and I hate twice as much. There are days and sometimes even weeks where I would love to drop everything and disappear into a fucking cave. And yes, I know it seems silly and maybe even hypocritical that I would make a post opening up about myself after making a big spectacle over never wanting to open myself again, but I feel like I can make an exception this one time.

I had dreams once. I had goals. I was idealistic. The desire to make things that people care about; to make my mark in a world that told me I would never amount to anything. Now? Now I just make shit because I’m too stubborn to quit now.

Let me go way back to the early 2010s for a moment. I had just left my shitty job with the weird hours that kept me from having any kind of social life. I had gotten back in touch with my old high school friends, several of whom were playing in bands. So for a good couple years or so, I would go to their shows, we would hang out, get drunk, and have a good time. Then I got the bright idea to write about the shows that I went to. Not just as music reviews, but as pieces of non-fiction about the things that went on at these venues. The people I met, the things I saw, or whatever was on display at the small art museum next to the concert hall. That’s when things started to change. I was no longer an old friend, but looked at as someone who would write glowing reviews to help make them more popular. And when I wouldn’t do that, my phone stopped ringing, and my calls were no longer answered. I was no longer useful, so I was cut out. My entire social network more or less evaporated immediately. My Bipolar diagnosis came shortly after this, so I was not in a good place around this time. One day, I stopped feeling angry and sorry for myself, and swore that I would never find myself in a position where my friendship was something to be exploited.

Then I met Zoe Quinn. And I think you all know how that particular story ended. I found myself in the same spot I swore I would never be in again. I’ll be carrying that particular guilt over being manipulated and used for a long time to come, I think.

Though, there is at least one thing that keeps me from completely losing it: unlike your Zoe’s, or Randi’s, or anyone else who thought it would be a good idea to exploit me and my friends for a few bucks, my name is not built upon pity. See, the thing about all of them, is that no matter they do, there will always be that specter of being “the Gamergate Girl” following them around. When people buy or support anything that do, it’s because they feel sorry for all of them. It’s why Goddess Mode’s sales dropped 53% in one month. My name is built on respect. When people support me, they do it because they actually like me as a person, or they think what I do is actually really fucking good. Nobody looks at my art, or plays my games, or watches my streams, or listens to my podcasts, or wears my shirt designs because they feel sorry for me. I will never rely on trying to sell my shit by saying “hey ya’ll! Play my game and trigger the alt-right today!”

It’s not much, but it is at least enough to hang my hat on.

The last five years alone have been an endless shitshow, the memories of which still plague me right fucking now. Nobody believes in anything. For all the grief that South Park (rightfully) gets for its “caring about things is stupid” message, there sure are a lot of people out there that have no problem with using it as their core belief. The people who will adopt socialist or communist language and ideologies in a cynical attempt at capitalist brand-building. People who will claim to be allies, but instead give $200 to some C-List celebrity to mumble out “uhh trans rights” on Cameo while ignoring the dozens of GoFundMe’s being shared around the internet on a daily basis. The same ones who will make empty platitudes about standing up for you, but then turn around and call Chelsea Manning a “monster” because she went to a couple of parties to try and dox Charlie Kirk. Or they stick up for Wil Wheaton after his bigoted ass got rightfully driven off of Mastodon. The same ones who will use their platforms to tell their audience to “shut the fuck up about Gamergate” and “pay attention to the real issues” while 8chan and Milo Yiannopolous are in the middle of targeting every trans women they can find en masse.

You got people who will yell, scream and carry on about sticking up for sex workers, and that SESTA/FOSTA was bad. These are the same people who gleefully turned their collective back on Alison Rapp, because she might have done some escort work in the past. Escort work, the “gross” kind of sex work; the kind that’s a bit more complicated than closing the PornHub tab after you’re done jerking off.

People who will demand that you put a content warning on a picture of your lunch, but will think nothing of sharing an uncensored video of a child getting his skull caved in by the butt of an M16, commenting, “this is like, bad, and stuff.” YOU THINK? Now, maybe I’m too old. Maybe I’m some outdated fuddy duddy who doesn’t know shit about how things work anymore, but I feel as though war crimes and police brutality are a little more distressing to look at than the grilled cheese sandwich you had today.

How about a recent thing that happened? How about having to watch a bunch of people that you care about panicking and freaking out after putting themselves on the line to try and expose Ben Judd and all the bullshit he was pulling off with Dangen Entertainment? How about seeing a bunch of notable names in the games industry immediately shit on it and say who fucking cares? We need to talk about Vinny Vinesauce! You know, because I guess doing a funny Super Mario voice in your apartment at two in the morning while playing The Legend Of Zelda is so much worse for marginalized people than abusing your position of power to expose your dick to women half your age.

Believe victims, except for these select victims, because some guy at Amazon none of them have talked to in about four fucking years said “Allyzone” once, and that’s enough to ensure that they should never be believed or supported for the rest of lives and beyond. Class solidarity, ya’ll…unless your podcast is funny or popular enough, in which case it’s totally cool to hassle retail employees on Christmas Eve; we all know that marketing and executive decisions are made by the miserable guy behind the counter. Corporations aren’t your friend, which is why we all need to strike back in the most radical of ways: buying a copy of Red Dead Redemption 2 as soon as possible. Sure, the working conditions on that game were toxic and abusive as fuck, with all the profits immediately pocketed by its execs, BUT THE COYOTE PHYSICS ARE PROBABLY DOPE! And if you aren’t talking about every issue plaguing the world right fucking now, a bunch of rich white girls in the Bay Area will call you “privileged” before going back to dilating the pussies their dads bought for them and referring to anyone who transitioned in or after their 30s as “men in dresses.”

The decade is coming to a close, and I’m fucking exhausted. Ten years- ten years of being fucked over, used, treated like shit by abusive assholes, having my name and reputation dragged through the mud over things I’ve literally never said or done. Doesn’t matter if you’re a shitty pop-punk band in Denver, or a shitty game developer who’s biggest talent is dating the worst men, fuck you. I’m using this space to finally get all that anger out once and for all. And my goal for the next decade is this:

I just want to be left the fuck alone.

That’s it. Aside from a couple of exceptions, you probably noticed I wasn’t naming a whole lot of names in this post. This is because I don’t care about fighting anymore. I just don’t care. I simply wish to exist and continue making cool shit. You don’t like me? You think I’m an asshole? Great, I don’t care. All I ask is that you leave me alone. Don’t talk to me, don’t look at me, don’t even think about me, and I’ll be more than happy to extend the same courtesy to you. I spent so many years waiting for an apology that would never come, and I don’t need the headache anymore.

All I ever wanted was a place where I could feel like I belonged; despite my web site’s title, being alone isn’t such a great thing. I have that now. I have my friends. I have my partner(s). I have the small communities I’m a part of. I have Black Dresses. I have Tsuchinoko Radio. I have Tekken 7. I have Bitsy. I have AEW. I have a sick new computer that runs Gamecube ROMs. I still have my creative spirit (Slimegirl Adventures 2020). I don’t need anything else. I definitely don’t need the constant bickering, or the performative bullshit, or the constant hypocrisy that gets people hurt. I don’t need the fighting, and the discourse. I don’t need the memories of the past haunting me anymore. I know I’ve said “time to move on” like a million times, but if there was ever a time to repeat it, it would be now. Will the world still be a shitty, festering hellhole? Yeah, it will. Can I do anything to change that? No, not really. I can’t be Superman, but I can at least try to do my part by being Ramona.

To everyone who has stuck by me all these years, thank you. I’m going to make 2020 and beyond my time.