Friday, August 31, 2012

In Retrospect: The Battle of Olympus

Of the classic NES games that I never had but absolutely loved, The Battle of Olympus really stands out to me. When I was younger, one of my friends owned this hidden gem. We started it a few times, but he was one of those people who got frustrated at video games and would start screaming and throwing stuff around to the point where it was actually frightening, or would turn a game off as soon as he started to lose, so we never managed to get far. Later on in life though, he managed to mellow out a little bit and we finally got through the game together. After that, I borrowed it from him and played through it a few more times, absolutely loving everything about the game. I've always been awed by the structures and ruins of ancient Greece, the various (awesome) mythical beasts of Greek legend, and the heroes that arose to smash them into dust.

So for a person like myself, what isn't there to like about The Battle of Olympus? Judging a book by the cover (or a cartridge by its artwork) yielded nothing to dislike about this game whatsoever. There were Greek statues and columns surrounded by badass-looking serpents! If that's not an instant win, I don't know what is! Luckily, like the cover art, the guts of this game also happen to be fantastic.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Item Acquired: Lots of awesome stuff!

It's been a couple of weeks since I've posted anything substantial...and today, that won't change. However, here's a quick rundown on what I've gotten my hands on lately!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

When interests collide

Today I found a neat link to an interview with the creators of the classic shoot 'em up series known as R-Type. R-Type has always been one of my favourite side scrolling shooter franchises...I find it's at just the right difficulty, controls and looks great, and also incorporates some really interesting game mechanics. The coolest mechanic within the R-Type series is the Force item. It's an addition to your ship that you can upgrade with different powers, directly launch at enemies, and also place on either the back or front of your ship, depending on where you feel you need more firepower or cover.

The main thing that drives me besides video gaming is entomology. I love insects and have worked with them and around them for almost 5 years, and started taking a strong interest in them around 8 years ago as I was working through my undergraduate degree in Zoology. In particular, I developed a fondness for beetles...they're just so damn cool and diverse! You may be asking yourself why I'm mentioning this in the same article as R-Type. Well, it turns out that the main inspiration for the Force item in the R-Type series was, in fact, a type of beetle! A dung beetle, to be precise. Here's the excerpt and photos from this portion of the translated interview:


A comparison of the Force and a dung beetle with its payload. 

ABIKO (Designer): It started out as a joke, but our idea for the Force came from the dung beetle. We were thinking of a system where you wouldn’t power up your own ship, but would instead power up the ball of dung. We wanted something where two players could play simultaneously within the same screen and fight together, basically. Our programmer AKIO is a hardcore Gradius player, so we were very conscious of the existence of Gradius. If we were going to make a horizontal STG, we knew it would get compared to Gradius, so we were thinking about what we could do differently.

By the time we were asked to start coding, there had been many revisions and changes to the original game design. For example, we originally wanted to make the Force capable of deployment in 4 positions on your ship: front, back, top, and bottom. But it turned out to be too difficult to program, so we left it only front and back. The powerups changed almost completely too. At first we had typical STG weapons like a 3-way shot, but we felt that this wouldn’t distinguish our game enough from Gradius, so we added the reflecting laser. That was a real pain to code. [Laughs]


If you're interested, you can read the rest of the interview here! There are some neat little tidbits about the R-Type series that I never had any idea about...such as what the hell the "R" in the title stands for!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

August happenings!

Hey everyone,

There are two links that are currently keeping me intrigued and will continue to do so until the end of the month. Figured I'd relay them quickly!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Thrill of the Hunt

You may have recently heard about a massive collection of video games in Paris that contained complete, factory-sealed collections for the NES and Sega Genesis, among other systems. This giant trove of nostalgia wound up auctioning off for about...oh, over 1 million dollars and was purchased by a fellow Canadian. This is all pretty cool would be amazing to have a full collection for even any one single system, let alone multiple, and I'd personally love to one day acquire a full NES game collection. Obviously this would involve a lot of cash, but I like to think that everyone's allowed to have one expensive hobby.