Monday, March 3, 2014

Why?


Let me point out that, first of all, the new episode of Chrontendo is ready. You can download it in glorious 60 FPS in its purest version here on Archive.  Or you can stream an inferior, yet HD version on Youtube. Take your pick. I'll warn you that the Youtube version might screw up various flicker effects however.

Before I go into the specifics of the new episode, I'd like the discuss the obvious question that many of you might have, "Why was there such a huge delay with Episode 47? What exactly have you been doing for the last several months?" Should I even attempt to answer these kinds of questions? On one hand, Chrontendo is something I do on my own time, absolutely free of charge. I can stop doing it anytime I want, no questions asked. On the other hand, Chrontendo isn't really free. I've asked something very precious of you: your time. I've created these videos, and you've invested your time watching them. Since so many of you have graciously invested many hours of your own lives on Chrontendo, I feel I owe you a great deal.

An idea of how much editing goes into a long complicated segment like "Mother."

The simplest answer I can give you is that I've been busy with life in general. Dr. Sparkle is a guy with a wife, two dogs, a full time job,  a daily commute through traffic, a sink that is always full of dirty dishes, a mother who's not in the best of health, a mother-in-law and father-in-law who aren't in good health, a lawn where the weeds never stop growing, floors that always need the to have dog hair vacuumed off of them, laundry that always needs to be done...it goes on and on.  Every day I get up, rush off to work, arrive home in the afternoon, have a bit of time to relax, then start making dinner, eat dinner, do dishes, and then... the day is over.

Don't get me wrong; I do have free time to do things I enjoy. I often haunt the beer stores, looking for the latest beers to arrive. If you love beer, you need this kind of persistence, and sometimes it pays off. I was able to score a few bottles of The Abyss recently, as well six-packs of Bourbon County Stout, the Firestone Walker limited release beers; all kinds of great stuff. I also enjoy shopping for records. My town has about 5 good record stores, and good records are like good beers: they go fast. You need to spend a lot of time shopping. I also bought a fancy record cleaning machine recently, and let me tell you, scrubbing records takes time. I spend a lot of time listening to music, reading though music sites, listening to music on Youtube, checking sites for pre-orders of limited edition LPs, and so on. Music is a time consuming hobby.
This is what a fancy record cleaning machine looks like. And it's the first LP of All Things Must Pass, German pressing, in case you're wondering.

Another time-consuming hobby: playing videogames. Sometimes I like to like to play non-NES games. Also, watching movies. I'm paying for Netflix, so I might as well try to use it. I'm so far behind on my movies, I haven't even seen that last Batman movie yet. And don't even talk to about the stuff I've bought during Steam sales or on Humble Bundle. (Suuurre, I'll get around to playing Spelunky one of these days.)

It looks bad, then I remember all the Humble Bundle game codes I haven't redeemed yet...
Here's the scariest thing of all: as you get older, time seems to contract. For you younger folks out there: this phenomenon is real and it will take you by surprise. The older you get, the faster time moves. Weeks feel like days, months feel like weeks. I'm not joking. It will happen to you, and when it does it will be terrifying. At some point, you will realize you're used up about 50% of your life, and then the panic sets in. There's no way you can prepare for this, so consider yourself warned.

On top of all this, I think I got out of the habit of working on Chrontendo when I tore apart my office. The computer I use to create Chrontendo on was unplugged for a while, and once I got everything set back up, it wasn't easy to get back into the flow.  Not that I'm trying to blame outside circumstances. There's only one reason for the delay, and that's me.  Procrastination, laziness, bad work habits -- these things are what caused the recent slowdown.

I've made a commitment to get episodes out more frequently, and also to release more content on the Youtube channel. For the sake of the viewers I will do my best to fulfill that commitment.

I'll keep the rest of this brief. Three big games this episode:

Mother



Nintendo's first RPG. While Mother is clearly inspired by Dragon Quest, Nintendo attempted to make it stand out from the many other DQ clones by giving it a 20th century American setting and a storyline involving alien abductions. Mother was created by the Japanese writer/media personalty Shigesato Itoi, which gave the game a bit more prestige in the public's eye. The crazy thing about Itoi was that he became famous as a copy writer. That is, a guy who writes the text for advertisements. The idea of a famous copy writer sounds pretty absurd to us here in the West, but somehow in Japan it was a real possibility. Hardcore Gaming 101 did a pretty good look at Itoi recently. It's essential reading if you want understand who this guy is and why his involvement with Nintendo was a big deal.

Strider


Just like Bionic Commando, Capcom created two separate games called Strider: one for the arcade and one for the NES. The arcade Strider is non-stop action, while the home version focuses more on story and exploration. Unlike Bionic Commando, the NES Strider is clearly inferior to the arcade version. It's mostly a well made game, but lacks that little bit of magic that made the console Bionic Commando so great.

Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Grafitti



A bit of an oddity, SWG is one of those "parody" games, in which a serious game is given a goofy, super-deformed makeover. But this isn't a quickie knockoff of the original Splatterhouse; it's a completely new action platformer which borrows a number of elements from the original, but still manages to feel very different than the arcade game.

Also:

Cobra Triangle


Yet another NOA game developed by Rare. Once again we are treated to Rare's beloved isometric perspective. Also, the title seems to be two random words thrown together, in the classic Rare tradition.

Cosmic Wars

A rather obtuse military strategy game in the Famicom Wars/Military Madness tradition.  Cosmic Wars is mostly remembered for being a Gradius spinoff, though it seems pretty well constructed.

Takeda Shingen 2/Shingen the Ruler

The second game in Hot-B's short lived series of Nobunaga's Ambition knock-offs. In fact, this is the last game in the series. Unlike the first one, Takeda Shingen 2 received a US release. You might recall something very similar happened with the Black Bass series.

Moeru! Oniisan/Circus Caper


The weirdest game this episode, in terms of its release history. Moeru! Oniisan was an awful looking platformer based on an anime series. For reasons unknown, publisher Toho decided to have the game completely reworked and released in the US as Circus Caper. The extent to which everything in the game has been altered is surprising. Yet the resulting product is so unappealing and terrible, I don't understand why they bothered.

Captain Ed


Another extremely strange game, Captain Ed is one of the least visually interesting shoot-em-ups I've seen in a while. The mechanics are also quite strange, as the background poses a greater threat to you than the actual enemies do. Even odder, all these bizarre mini games are thrown in, which have nothing to do with the shoot-em-up sections.

Thundercade


Classic kusoge-style port of a Taito arcade game, courtesy of our good buddies at Micronics.

Kyuukyoku Tiger/Twin Cobra

Exact same thing as above, only the game is not as bad. We already saw a better port of this game in Chronturbo 3.

Defender of the Crown


Published on Konami's second label Ultra Games, this is a port of the 1985 Amiga hit. It sort of reminds me of a landlocked dumbed down version of Sid Meier's Pirates.

Magma Project - Hacker


Rather improbably, this is a port of Hacker, the old Activision C64 game, reconfigured into the form of an RPG. The lone FDS game this episode.

Melville's Flame

An unpleasant looking RPG/Strategy game hybrid that resembles Square's Hanjuku Hero (covered in Episode 38.

 Famista '89: Kaimaku Han!!

Namco's Family Stadium series has now officially been rebranded as Famista.

Meimon! Daisan Yakyuubu


A nicer looking anime tie-in baseball game from Bandai, developed by Human.

There we go. Another 15 games. Next time, we finish up August and move into September 1989.




36 comments:

Skymaster T said...

Doesn't matter why the delay, all that matters is you're back! When something this good is free, I'm just grateful when I get it. I've happily lost many hours watching Chrontendo.

John Harris said...

Welcome back!!

1. YOU NEED TO PLAY SPELUNKY NOW. I say this as someone with an over 10% win rate.

2. I like Cobra Triangle quite a lot, despite (or maybe because of) the difficulty really. It has a solid frame rate (unlike, say, Strider) some genuine challenge to it, and a good variety of play.

3. On Mother, if you decide to play it again, or anyone reading it decides to give it a try, you really REALLY should use Tomato's "Easy Ring" patch, which includes an item very early that greatly increases experience gain and reduced random encounters. Some people think it makes it too easy, at least around the mid-game, but considering Mother's difficulty largely revolves around the question of have much did you grind, I don't think a lot of people will mind.

Captain Ed looks insane, but like there might be something deeper there. It seems interesting.

Anonymous said...

No need to apologize, Dr S. It would be more worrying if you were putting life on hold to make these videos.

Latest episode was great!

- Greg Sewart

Camous M said...

Well, it seems that the powers of self motivation are a good deal more potent with the good doctor than they ever were with me.

While I have a tendency to start a great deal many creative endeavours I always do so knowing full well that somewhere around the 5-10% completion mark I run dry of that most magical steam of enthusiasm. Thus the big engine of creativity comes to a heavy halt and is destined never to move again.

Mind you, I will often be reminded of that project which I left to rot, and will never fail to imagine how great it would be to return to it, but I never will.

So good on you doctor, to get that hulking engine started up again. I know only full well how difficult it must have been. Your starving audience will devour any new content with twice the voracious appetite.

Raffa said...

Commitment sounds so strange talking about Chrontendo, to me it's just pure joy.
So Thanks Doctor S. for bringing lots of joy to us all, and welcome back ^_^

Anonymous said...

It's all good. :) I've seen more than one project fall by the wayside because a "want to do this" turned into a "have to do this". I'm okay with waiting however long it takes for the next episode.

redfive99 said...

Thank you for continuing to produce this excellent show! No matter the time between episodes, I always appreciate the time and love you put into this series.

ShaneWM said...

Welcome back Dr. Sparkle! We've missed you. Is there anything we as the community can do to help?

Doctor Sparkle said...

John, I can see how that patch would help a lot. Though another thing that makes Mother hard is that you have two physically weak characters in your party for much of the game, and they tend to take a lot of damage, and can't dish much out without using MP. Throw in the lack of revival items, and a teleportation spell that requires you to be in a wide open area... and you get a pretty brutal game.

Shawn Bradford said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shawn Bradford said...

Just happy you're back Dr S, can't tell you how much I appreciate the effort you put into the chron-series

parish said...

What is the deal with the contraction of time as you age? I find myself bewildered by the phenomenon on a daily basis?

Anyway, great episode as usual.

Anonymous said...

Great to see you back Dr Sparkle! Thanks so much for the new episode!

LiquidSquid said...

The age thing is too true... It's scary.
Anyway, thanks for another episode, it is appreciated.

Christopher Sobieniak said...

Thank you Mr. Sparkle! I appreciate that you do have your own life to look after and all.

Anonymous said...

'Neenja'? Come on. You don't say 'Neentendo', now do you.

Sean Clements said...

I am glad I didn't reply at 2 AM when I watched this and read the the blog post as I undoubtedly would have babbled far too much. But yes getting old adds perspective to things. And time dilation is totally real. In my mind the last Chronturbo seemed only maybe 6 months ago rather than almost a year.

And I think I am also at an age where rethinking life choices or what more I could have added comes into play. I am not a very creative person, I somehow missed he gene in my family. And the talents I could be using would be improving technically aspects of my job. IE benefiting my corporate employer instead of society at large, I' sometimes like to think that if I had the video editing skills I would creat something like Chrontendo or Chronsega. Who knows maybe someday I'll have the free time to explore some similar creative outlet in the future when my daily obligations allow such a freedom.

That being said I really appreciate what you do. As someone who has limited free time and has a 4 year old on top of that, I wish that I could leave behind a legacy as interesting as Chrontendo. For someone who has limited time to go back and play every Nintendo or Sega game, watching this series has been the easy way to do so. Without having to put in the time investment. For that I am truly grateful. Maybe we all aren't going to write the great American novel, or form a cool band, or become a renowned artist. But I personally would be happy if Chrontendo was my mark on the world. I ,for me, find it just as compelling and interesting. Hopefully your new series will help more fully fulfill your creative outlet alongside the VG related stuff. I am certainly looking forward to it even if it's half as good as Chrontendo.

On to an episode question, do you ever feel that when playing a game like Melville's flame, that doesn't have an American translation, or Cosmic Wars that doesn't have an instruction manual, that it takes away from being able fully see what the game has to offer by putting up a barrier that is too impenetrable to pass? One of the things I enjoy about the show is seeing Japanese games and finding an occasional diamond in the rough. Or have enough people in Western audiences by this point scoured over these old consoles library's that the better games are generally well known?

Anonymous said...

Time dilation ... stinks. My wife and I actually talked about this a few months ago.

I think it has something to do with how the mind perceives time. As you age, an hour (or day, or whatever) becomes a smaller and smaller fraction of your "total life." So an hour is "worth less."

I dunno. I'm probably making no sense.

Welcome back, Professor Sparkle!

Anonymous said...

I, for one, am shocked - SHOCKED! - Dr. S. You playing video games that AREN'T 8-bit was never part of the deal! Heck, that you aren't some NES-game-playing-and-video-editing robot was also never part of the deal.

When 1up.com's Retronauts first made me aware of what a, "Chrontendo" was, I guess I assumed a lot, huh? :D Oh well, live & learn.

Take as many years as you want doing this, man. I'll be checking back every couple of months to see what's up with ole Dr. Sparkle and Chron-whatever, be it Tendo, Sega or Turbo. Glad to have it back!

Anonymous said...

I, for one, am shocked - SHOCKED! - Dr. S. You playing video games that AREN'T 8-bit was never part of the deal! Heck, that you aren't some NES-game-playing-and-video-editing robot was also never part of the deal.

When 1up.com's Retronauts first made me aware of what a, "Chrontendo" was, I guess I assumed a lot, huh? :D Oh well, live & learn.

Take as many years as you want doing this, man. I'll be checking back every couple of months to see what's up with ole Dr. Sparkle and Chron-whatever, be it Tendo, Sega or Turbo. Glad to have it back!

Camous M said...

The explanation behind time dilation is quite elementary, really. Once you pass the 25 year mark your life will start to become increasingly routine, netting you fewer exciting new life changes or experiences to commit to memory.

The number of such experiences are what defines ones sense of time when thinking back on a period because the brain sort of filters out all the routine periods, blending them into a vague grey blur in remembrance.

Also, dear Doctor, the movie adaptation game that you mention in the end of the video is Marusa no Onna, right?

Whenever I see a copy of the game pop up on ebay I think of what bizzare set of circumstances must have led to its creation. I know nothing about the genre of the game, so I am looking forward to finding out in the next Chrontendo.

Cheers

fuxter said...

oh, how i missed this -__-

any chances of `20 Best Albums of the year` this time around? i greatly enjoyed last one.

appreciate what you're doing, doc.

Doctor Sparkle said...

Well good job Camous on figuring out that game. Capcom was clearly trying get into licensed products, what with their manga tie-ins, the Disney stuff, and adaptations of movies. That movie was a huge hit, so I guess they figured "why not?"

Sean - Yeah, kids pretty consume all your spare time, I hear. I know I wouldn't be doing the show if I had kids.

As for games like Melville's Flame, well, sure we can't completely appreciate it. With long, drawn out games like that, I try to find a playthrough on NicoNico or something just to make sure nothing cool happens later. In this case of MF, very little happens beyond what is seen in the video. Just endless battles & occasional dialog, but no cutscenes or boss battles or major changes of scenery. Many JP only games that are really cool have followings in Japan & the US. MF doesn't even have its own JP Wikipedia page, which means NO ONE cares about it.

Doctor Sparkle said...

And yes, there will be a favorite albums of 2013 thing coming soon. As well as a very special Beertendo or two!

elblanco said...

OMG! So excited! Thank you for taking the time to continue this incredible gift.

Eugene Judas said...

I like how you start the episode letting me know that you're "all up in" my spouse but then use the word heiny instead of ass or even butt a little later. Your inner censor is weird.

Jackson said...

Sweet, a new Chrontendo episode. That means I'm sparking up tonight and getting ear-massaged by the plush speaking voice of Dr. Sparkle for an hour or two.

Joe P said...

Awesome as ever, Dr S. The release of a new Chrontendo episode is one of life's sweet joys, so many thanks for the herculean ongoing effort it must entail.

Anonymous said...

HEY, GET OUT OF MY WIFE DR. SPARKLE!!!
Actually, in my book you can do whatever you damn well please, so please,enjoy.
So glad to have you back.If you take as long to make the next episode, dont sweat it. I will just re-watch all Chronuniverse(what should we call the entire body of your work?)over again for the ump-teeth time.

InsaneDavid said...

Crazy that to develop Circus Caper a company would take a game engine, a terrible game engine, and decide to completely overhaul everything else. That couldn't have been all that much cheaper than building a game from the ground up or finding something else to release stateside with way less rework.

Great to see the Chron' series resume!

gary sargent said...

Regarding your tweeter thing about wearing hoodies with hoods up inside in public: I think it is a tribute to Trayvon Martin. Also, at the pharmacy right by where I live, if you go in with a hood, hat, or sunglasses on they will ask you to take them off cuz they think that is gonna stop people from stealing Oxys or whatever. I wonder if they would ask a Muslim or whatever to take their turbans off?

Skymaster T said...

Can't wait to hear about the beers you've been drinking lately. Winter/early spring is my favorite time of year for seasonals.

Yanix said...

Thank you ! A new Chrontendo is like a little miracle.

Kevin "k8track" Moon said...

I am so glad to see you back, and I really enjoyed Chrontendo 47. I thought you would be interested to know that I actually watched it via VCD, possibly the only person on the planet to do so. I wasn't trying to be quirky or hip, nor am I living in Hong Kong circa 2001. Suffice it to say, it was due to a series of very particular circumstances. Only took 2 discs, and the quality was OK! My hope at the moment is that some techno-hipster reading this post will declare "challenge accepted" and burn the entire Chrontendo series onto CEDs.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for making Chrontendo! It's really nice of you to consider that you owe the people who watch it. I don't think many people would view the relationship you have with your viewers like that. I'm not sure I would, but I recognize that it takes a really nice person to feel that you owe us anything.

John Harris said...

Waiting very patiently for 48, hee hee....