Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Konami Code for TMNT 3 on NES

At the title screen, press:


Then choose your turtle, select the level you want to play on, access easy mode (for losers), edit number of lives (winners use 7), and use the sound test.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Song of the Week: GTA Vice City - Push It to the Limit

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City  is pretty much Scarface + GTA, and the inclusion of so many songs from Scarface added that glitzy 1980s sheen that makes this game one of the best ever made (and my personal favorite Grand Theft Auto). I just purchased GTA4 for PC, and although I didn't have time to play it yet I'm looking forward to finally playing the latest major installment in the series.

That said, I'd rather be down south in a speedboat than romping around Liberty City anyday. Scarface is awesome, Vice City is awesome, and Paul Eggelman's "Push It to the Limit" is double awesome.

Check out this awesome Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Tribute by some "gangsta." It features Push It to the Limit, the greatest song from the 1980s.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

3-D NES Wallpapers

I stumbled about this awesome 3-D NES Wallpaper collection today by Justin Buonvino. You can download the full-sized wallpapers on his Deviant Art page I'm a big fan of the Ice Hockey scene, and it's always cool gaining a new perspective on familiar games.

Friday, May 25, 2012

All Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar Dungeon Maps

An elegant and compact set of all the dungeons in Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar. Ultima 4 is probably the most imitated game of all time, and pretty much every RPG since has been a failed attempt at mimicking the greatness of Ultima 4. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Minotaur Berzerker and Mummy Summoner of Sif Muna, Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup

I'm determined to conquer the Lair again in Crawl and to get past the middle game which has been giving me trouble since I started playing Crawl over 2 years ago. This time, I'm playing a Minotaur Berzerker, and Sigmund doesn't stand a chance. This is an awesome class/race combo, and worshiping Trog is always a great idea for melee. The Minotaur has all the aptitudes he needs (+2 Axes, +2 Armor, +2 Fighting) to become a death machine by the end of the lair. The trick is somehow staying alive until Trog can grant you an epic artifact executioner's axe.

I find and destroy my NEStalgia guildmate's ghost. Player ghosts are rarely a match for Berzerk.

However, soon I'd die to poison. A typical death, and annoying. I abandon the Minotaur and try my hand at another Mummy Summoner, eventually worshiping Sif Muna, and the results were:

A pretty easy early game, and I took it slow until finding this altar. Now things could get serious.

Summon Imp Spam on a player ghost.

It's a good thing I summoned some monsters before going down the stairs.

And all I lost was 4 HP :D

I never stop using summon small mammals. It's a cheap way to increase the ranks and protect the monsters that count. It can also be used to quickly position your Mummy in a favourable position before sending out wave after wave of spammed summon.

Narrow passages suck for a summoner.

Sending this Ice Beast into the passage took care of Sonja.

This gnoll sergeant wasn't fucking around; he killed a good number of troops, but he couldn't kill them as fast as I could summon them right back to battle.

This was an epic battle with a Hill Giant and some Yaks. I'd found the "Shadow Creatures" spell, so I was able to summon all sorts of things.

Like these awesome wights.

And some more awesome wights. We eventually won the battle.

But on the next level I died. I honestly can't remember how--I played several games since then and none of them were very exciting. This however, was a disappointing end to a great game. I never found the Lair, which would have made things easier. The Lair is pretty much a ton of free exp, and it has to spawn on level 13 or above. I still feel Mummy Summoner is an awesome class, an will probably continue to be my "main" combination on my quest to retrieve the Orb of Zot.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Top 5 Things Wrong with Mainstream RPGs of the Last 30 Years

Five: Having a stupid fucking "epic" story. 

General Fuckface just captured the courtly guard and is leading an airship rebellion in an attempt to control the flow of magical resources powering streampunk army robots while young white guy farmer learns about morals and philosophy 101 while fucking up a clichéd, emotional romance.  Giant ragtag bunch of heroes saves the world and learns exactly one thing about themselves, solving many of the psychological problems haunting the characters. There is twist, after twist, after twist in this "epic" plot, but by the end of it you just wish it was over.

Four: Being easy as hell. 

Pretty self explanatory--if you're not dying you're not playing a good game. Notable exceptions: Ultima, Roguelikes, Diablo 1, Diablo 2, Diablo 3, Quest 64.

Three: Lack of Scope. 

Seriously guys, Ultima I has 8 Castles, 32 towns, and 26 dungeons to explore. What the fuck. Notable exceptions: Ultima, Quest 64, World of Warcraft, Everquest.

Two: No Randomization. 

Why is it many games continue to drive the player through the same dungeons over and over? I'm looking at you, Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy. Notable exceptions: Crawl, Nethack, all roguelikes, Diablo, Diablo 2, Diablo 3.

One: Having a party instead of one character.

Why do so many games have a party of adventurers? Are we so schizophrenic? Even Ultima eventually fell victim to this unfortunate trend. What seems like an avdance is actually a cleverly-designed artificial game extender. Battles take 4 times as long, and you need four times the supplies and gear. Things become watered down, and I don't even think game developers are aware of what a drag parties in RPGs can be. Notable exceptions: Roguelikes, Ultima 1 and 2, Moraff's World, Quest 64.

It's pretty simple when you look at it. Good RPGs will tend to have a single character, gigantic scope, and a lot of randomization. It almost seems like cheating, because any game made with this formula sounds pretty damn fun.

Instead, gamers get railroaded down a single boring path of 12-15 hours of time-destroying brainrot.

Adventures in Ultima

After watching Deeds of Yore, I was inspired to finally finish my Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar game. However, that didn't happen. I decided to play the original Ultima, although not on an emulator. Like most other dos games I'm running the Ultimas on an old Windows 95 computer which I've scrapped together. This version of Ultima is actually a port to DOS from the Apple II original. Some of the graphics have obviously been ripped from Ultima IV, and I was almost disappointed that the graphics weren't more primitive. The towns have a Roguelike feel to them, and offer you the chance to buy or steal items, armor, vehicles, food, beer, hp, and receive quests. No one town has everything, so you'll be force to explore the countrysides.

And the countrysides are vast. Ultima, quite frankly is a huge game. Without maps it almost impossible to navigate around. I've been lost for hours trying to find Lord British's castle. I needed a break from playing, so I'll post the story of quest so far.

It's late at night, and the only light is coming from the Monitor connected to my 1.78 Mhz machine. Ultima runs smoothly, slightly faster than it would have run in the past. Occasionally signs can be a challenge to read, and without an emulated dosbox I can't adjust the CPU speed. This Windows 95 machien is capable of running Dosbox, but the mouse isn't working and I don't feel it's worth the effort.

It's far too late to write a full, formal review of Ultima I. The game is famous, and I'm almost passing out at the keyboard so whatever. This is more about my adventures in this incredibly non-linear game anyway.

After many deaths, I got lucky and stole some great gear. I can attack from a distance and I''m not sure what the Reflect suit does, but it's expensive. Maybe it blocks spells as well.

This is just my old computer and my netbook. I may have been listening to the song from Deeds of Yore.

Every time you die, you keep your exp but HP and Food go down to 99. It's a brutal system because EXP makes the game get harder by increasing the overworld monsters.

Almost kicking ass now! I've got a some gold, food and HP. If I keep exploring this cave my numbers will only get better.

In this picture, I'm seriously into the zone.Repeated trips into the dungeon beef my character up in no time. The key skill here is "risk vs reward" as the player is tempted to remain in the dungeon for as long as possible, but it can be quite dangerous. Even on the first level of the dungeon it's easy to get lost and mobbed.

All the monsters use these awesome wire-frame designs. The pictures don't do justice to how brightly these things shine in an otherwise dark room. The vector graphics are a refreshing change of pace from the Ultima IV monsters roaming the overworld.

This skeleton is one of the better early-level monsters. The programmers even went through the trouble to generate 2 different skeleton sprites for variety.

The town of "Imagination." Not much is going on here, but at least I can steal some weapons and buy some food. The towns are all single-screens, and I love how you have to put up with absolutely 0 town bullshit. You get want you want and you gtfo.

Orcs lurk in the lower levels, and the difficulty increases dramatically.

I tried to push it to the limit and failed. This is one screen I've seen dozens of times already. You keep your armor, but you lose your weapons... You really don't want to die in Ultima.

Starting over from scratch isn't easy, but it's workable. However, the more I level up, the more monster appear on the over-world. Travel is beginning to be a problem.

Stole a Phazor from the King. Unfortunately it sucks as a weapon. 

After some extensive dungeon leveling, I'm back on a roll collecting massive amounts of gold. Only a few more trips down and I'll have the gold to get the super fucking awesome hovercraft, which will let me explore more of the world and complete some of the quests the Kings keep offering.

See it, want it, buy it, own it.

Cash rules everything around me.

Ok, I just got my hovercraft and it's time to cruise around killing shit and amassing sweet glory through adventure!

30 seconds later I lost the hovercraft.

In my fervor I parked the hovercraft at an island dungeon and subsequently died in said dungeon. I'm not even sure if my hovercraft is deleted or not... After so many deaths, which I didn't describe because deaths suck, and losing 2 hovercrafts (Yes, I actually lost another hovercraft a few hours before the one pictured above) I called it a night and decided to post the pictures I had taken. 

Well, it's the next morning and I'm probably just going to restart the game because I'm level 6 and the monsters are literally clogging the overworld when I try to explore. I'll have to redo a few quests, but in the long run I feel this is the better option. Because I restart with only 100 food, after one trip to a dungeon I need to purchase more from the towns. It's on this trip that the overworld swarms me with Necromancers, Dragons, Dark Knights, and Pirate Ships. It might be doable, but I'm sick of trying. 

So, readers, don't die in Ultima and consider taking breaks after you've been playing for 6 hours.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ultima II Box and World Map

I beat Ultima today after playing constantly for three days. It's an epic journey which I'm editing and getting ready to be posted soon, but in the meantime I thought I would kick off the Ultima fun with these Ultima II box scans and world map.

Attempting to get Ultima II to run on a Windows 95 machine presented it's own set of challenges--it took me over 2 hours to get the game running properly and patched correctly. In the end I was successful, and maybe I can package my files together to make it easier for others to play this classic.

The early Ultima games blend fantasy with 20th-century technology in a way that wasn't really done again until Final Fantasy 7. It's certainly unique; nothing else feels quite like Ultima.