Thursday, January 27, 2011

Update to the Update to the Update. Plus: an Update!

At this point, I think I'll stop uploading new episodes entirely, and simply post endless updates.  So: at the moment, I'm uploading Chronsega Episode 6 on the Youtoobes, broken into several different chunks.  This won't be a big deal to those of you download the episodes.  But for those that prefer streaming, the quality of the Youtube clips is better than that of 

I've noticed videos on Youtube getting longer and longer nowadays, and not just for people like Kanye West, but also for just regular folks.   It seems the 15 minute length restriction has been listed for some accounts - those who have a "history of complying with Youtube's standards" or something.  As of yet, however, I'm still stuck at 15 minutes, so full episodes will need to be broken into 4-5 pieces for the time being.

This site got a spike in traffic yesterday, perhaps due to this article on Joystiq, which mentions Chrontendo in passing.  The article itself is about another NES-themed blog, one which I have not quite wrapped my head around.  I was taken a bit aback to take a look at the most recent post and immediately encounter the word "universalism," which is either being used incorrectly*, or as a needless variant of "universality."  Of course, I'm the guy who wrote "wheelbarrel," so I have no right to complain.  Still, the blog looks very interesting.

Finally, this is the sort of thing that Twitter is for, but I'll complain about it here.   Marijuana has been virtually legalized in California....  However: it's still bad taste to enter a store smelling so heavily of pot that you leave an odorous trail in the aisles as you walk around.   If you absolutely must hotbox in the parking lot, please move around outside for a minute to let the smell dissipate.  Seriously guys, I could smell you from a good 10 yards away.

*Universalism is the religious doctrine of universal salvation. The reasoning usually being something along that lines that a merciful God would not create a soul that he knew would be damned to hell.  In the US, it's connected to Unitarianism.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chrontendo Episode 36 Update

First of all,  it has come to my attention that the video for Ninja Hattori Kun is missing from Episode 7 (The "Zelda" episode.)  I know I played that game, and I know I recorded a video for it.  Somehow, it must have been left out during editing.  When I get a chance, I'll record some footage, splice it into Episode 7 and re-upload it.  However, for those of you anxiously awaiting Ninja Hattori Kun, be aware -- it's a pretty unexciting game.

I was originally hoping to have Chrontendo 36 done by the end of month.  At this point however, that seems unlikely, due to one particular game.  As you may realize, Ep. 36 will be covering the end of Sept 1988 and a good chunk of October, meaning that we will have finally reached the "Official Greatest and Best Selling NES Game of All-Time" -- Super Mario Bros 3.  Yep, that game was released in Japan in Fall 1988, meaning there was almost a 1 1/2 year delay between the Japanese and US release.  Imagine Nintendo pulling that shit nowadays!  "We hope to have Super Mario Galaxy 2 out in the US by early 2012 at the very latest."  Hell, Super Mario World came out in Japan not that long after the US release of SMB 3.

Whoa! There's like, a block way up there!
Anyway, the fact of the matter is that's it's been a loooong time since I've played Super Mario Bros 3.  Playing it after all these years is... well, it's a bit baffling.  I assume most of you have played SMB 3 and know it's jam-packed with crazy secrets, hidden items, alternate routes, invisible blocks, and so on.  I often find myself  at the middle of a level, thinking, "I just know there's something around here somewhere.  Do I hit this block?  Go down this pipe?"   And the game is incredibly long!  By my calculations, if we count the fortresses, the pyramid, that sort of thing, we get a total of 87 levels!  How the hell did we play through this game in one sitting when we were kids?!?*  Playing SMB 3 is not like shooting dudes in Halo; it's actually hard work trying to figure out where everything is!  I play a few levels and then I'm worn out!  Did I really have that much energy and patience when I was younger?

In summary, the good news is this: Episode 36 will feature Super Mario Bros 3.  The bad news: since SMB 3 is the pinnacle of 8-bit gaming, it's all downhill from here.  Shortly after the Japanese release of SMB 3, Sega launched the Mega-Drive and Nintendo demoed an early version of the Super Famicom.  In essence -- the Famicom is dying.   The system's best moment will be behind us by the time we reach Chrontendo Episode 37.  Then we've got another 60 episodes of LJN and Acclaim games to look forward to.

Actually... now that I think about it, we still have Mega Man 2 & 3, Castlevania III and the Capcom Disney games ahead of us, so maybe things aren't so bleak.

*Probably we grabbed a few flutes and warped to the last level.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Good News for Me

Yesterday must have been my lucky day.  First and foremost, I accepted a job offer.  My new employer offered to pay me at the high end of the position's pay spectrum, and there is some sort of profit-sharing deal as well.  What does this mean for Chrontendo?  It means I'll be too busy to work on new episodes since I'll be investing all my spare time in coke and hookers.  Actually... no, it means episode production might slow down a bit.  But I managed to crank out episodes while being employed full-time in the past, so it shouldn't be a problem now.  The coke and hookers binge is strictly temporary, I assure you.

I was naturally quite happy with this turn of events, so a bit later in the day I decided to buy myself a few bottles of fancy beer: the sort of beer that a man on unemployment ("the dole" for our UK readers) should not be buying.  Astute readers will recall a few posts back, and remember that this hasn't stopped me in the past.   As I'm shopping at my local big box liquor store (we have liquor stores the size of supermarkets in Cali; I'm not sure that every part of the world has these.  We don't have drive up liquor stores, however,) one of the employees notices the contents of my basket and informs me that they just got in a limited quantity of Pliny the Elder, and it's stashed in the back room.   They received 48 bottles and now have nine left.  Naturally I took a few bottles.  For those of you who are not beer fanatics, Pliny the Elder is a hard to find, high regarded Double IPA.  So highly regarded that it somehow manages to average an A+ rating on Beer Advocate.  How the hell does one "average" an A+, anyway?  It's so hard to find that individual bottles sell for $12.00 plus postage on EBay.  I happen to live in a city with a pub that sells it on tap, but still... it's not the sort of beer you see sitting on a shelf every day.

So anyway... I hope to have Chrontendo Episode 36 ready by the time my new job starts, but I can't 100% guarantee it.
Oh yes: for those new to the site who have found us due to the "Games, Dammit!" podcast or other things... Welcome, and I'm sorry I just talked about beer in this post instead of video games.  The next post will be all video-gamey, OK?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Few Things

Hey, here's a little post-Chronsega Episode 6 update for you!  First off, if you haven't noticed, there is a follow up video to Chronsega 6 on Youtube.  It simply illustrates a few differences between the arcade game and SMS game in regards to difficulty and ninja magic.  The video is quite short but says a few things that weren't really touched on in Chronsega 6 (but should have been.)

Last Shinobi pic on this blog for a while.

Also, it's been pointed out that QuickTime might experience some problems with the h.264 version of Ep. 6.  I tried playing it on Windows QuickTime and it wouldn't play at all.  QT gave me some crazy error message saying there was a "bad public atom" in the file.  Jiminy Crickets!  Is QT really that fussy?  One "atom" can mess the whole thing up?   I can play videos files that are all corrupted and mangled to hell in VLC, but apparently Mr. Steve Jobs requires absolute perfection from our video files.  Anyway, I re-encoded the file, but the result had the same problem.  Oddly, the larger h.264 file I had also encoded worked fine in QT, so I've uploaded that version.  So, if you had problems with the smaller file, and have a "fat pipe" just grab the larger one, I suppose.

In other news: some of the sites in the links seem to be going content-crazy lately.  SMPS has been pummeling readers with articles in the month of January, including a daily series of SHMUP reviews.  HG101 has also greatly increased their update frequency to the point where I can't keep up.   Among the fascinating offerings are an almost pathologically detailed look at the 30 or so games based on the Astérix comics.  Yes, there are seriously 30 Astérix games in Europe!  They really love them some Astérix over there, I guess.

Also rising from the dead is a special, one-off new episode of Retronauts.   Oh, and by the way, Chrontendo gets a mention by Frank Cifaldi in the latest Games, Dammit! podcast on 1UP (it's at the very end of the podcast, BTW.) Thanks, guys!

In some non-video game related (but still plenty geeky) news, Red Letter Media released the long-awaited Revenge of the Sith review a couple weeks ago.  If any of you are not familiar with the "Harry Plinket" reviews of the Star Wars prequel films, and if you have any interest whatsoever by Star Wars, or were spiritually wounded by the awfulness of those films, I would highly recommend you view these, starting with Phantom Menace.   These are not mere "reviews" but insanely long, mult-part analyses of everything that went wrong in those films.  As such, they are far more interesting, well-written, and funny than the movies themselves.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

At Last: Chronsega Six

Update: It has been pointed out that I did make a mistake in the Shinobi segment, namely that I claim there are no bonus rounds in the Shinobi arcade game. In fact, there are (though possibly they only occur after boss battles?).  It occurs to me after the fact that I didn't go into any detail about ninja magic in the game.  Magic is incredibly useful in the much harder arcade Shinobi.  Its importance has been greatly reduced in the SMS game - you start with none, and can only obtain it by beating those ridiculous bonus levels.  In the arcade game, you automatically start out with the ability to use magic once per stage - helpful for doing massive damage to bosses.  The lifebar in the SMS version makes bosses pretty easy, so the magic is not really necessary.  Not that it never comes in useful - the astute viewer will notice I had the "wing" magic during that one impossible jump, and I could have simply flown over it. But I wanted to make a point about the stupid difficulty of that jump.

Yes, all you poor little Sega fans: it's finally here!  The sixth episode of Chronsega, covering the Sega Master System releases of June-October 1988!  Check it out in XVid and high-tech 60 frames/sec h.264 formats over at

Oh! Before we get any further, I want to talk to you about swords.  Specifically the kind of crazy sword that looks like it has little swordlings growing out of it.  Maybe you remember this from Fudo Myouoden/Demon Sword on the Famicom?  Or maybe the Dark Dragon Blade from the 2004 Ninja Gaiden?  It also turns up in Okami, Final Fantasy XI and various Koei Samurai games.  The darned thing appears again in SpellCaster, so I figured it was time to dig up the goods on this nutty sword.

It must be a major hassle to sharpen that sword.

Well, guess what?  It's a real sword!   Known as Nanatsusaya no Tachi or Shichishitō in Japan, it's an old ornamental sword of great historical importance.  So important that folks like you or I can't see it; it's kept locked up in a shrine by the monks.  Wikipedia has more info.

It doesn't look so impressive now, does it?

As you know, the Master System release schedule was not always filled the brim with great games.  Each episode of Chronsega had one or two top-tier titles, such as Fantasy Zone, Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Phantasy Star, Zillion, and so on... but all that changes today.  Yep, third party games finally come to the Master System in droves, meaning we are going to see stuff from Taito, Compile, Irem, and Data East.  Sure, they're all ports of existing games... but, c'mon, this is the Master System we're talking about.   Which would you rather play, Bubble Bobble or Maze Walker II?

There's some decent stuff this episode, but I'm going to give this episode's honors to Golvellius: The Valley of Doom. 

It's like Legend of Zelda, only more colorful.

We all know Compile right?  Zanac and Guardian Legend on the NES.  Tons of great shooters on 16-bit systems like the TurboGrafx 16 and Genesis.  After the somewhat disappointing Aleste, Compile now brings us a straight-up Zelda clone for the SMS.   In Golvellius you play the green-haired hero Kelesis.  Your mission is to rescue the princess and save the kingdom from the brutish, porcine, demon-possessed Golvellius.  Naturally, Golvellius is holed up in some hidden dungeon somewhere; in order to find him, you'll need to work your way through a series of easier-to-find dungeons, and pick up some better weaponry and armor on the way.  While your at it, you unlock new areas, and grab some lifebar extensions and "bibles," which increase he maximum amount of money you can carry.  So Compile has stirred a few dashes of Metroid into the Zelda stew.

Golvellius is a darned pretty game, has cool music (which changes whenever you pick up a new sword or armor) and switches up the Zelda formula just enough to not feel like a quickie rip-off.  While it has its aggravating moments, it's certainly one of the most satisfying games for the Master System thus far.

But hey! This is not a one-game episode.  There are actually other worthwhile releases this time around.

Final Bubble Bobble

Taito?  On my Master System?  Yes, it's true.  Two Taito arcade games find their way to the SMS this episode.  Despite the weird name, this is simply a regular port of Bubble Bobble; one that is somewhat more accurate, in terms of color and detail, than the earlier Famicom/NES version.


I agree.  That dragon's head does not look very attached to the neck.

Our second Taito game is a more grisly affair.  A shameless Conan wannabe, Rastan is a nearly-naked, well-muscled dude who walks around hacking up monsters with his sword.  Perhaps the most violent video game we've seen so far, Rastan graphically depicts enemies erupting into geysers of blood when killed.  It's a decent amount of fun, though stiff jumping controls result in some frustrating sequences.


Back in the 80's, acid green was considered an appropriate color for ninja outfits.

In the mid-80's Sega arcade division produced more than those super-scaler games, such as Out Run and Afterburner.  They also made stuff that could be well-translated into the console format: games like Shinobi.  You control Joe Mushashi, the world's least ninja-like ninja.  Out to rescue some children and kill some bad ninjas (?), Joe doesn't make the slightest attempt to be subtle or stealthy.  Nor does he engage in ninja activities such as wall climbing or crazy jumping.  I guess just about anyone can get away with calling themselves a "ninja" nowadays.  Still, Shinobi is a fun game.

Captain Silver

The arcade and Famicom versions are not exactly well loved, but Master System Captain Silver acquits itself pretty well.  Let me clarify: the Japanese/European release is pretty good; the heavily edited US release is almost pointless.   In an attempt to fit the game on a 1 Megabit cartridge, Sega cut out two levels, four bosses and numerous enemies, making the US version absurdly short and easy.  In this episode, we play the longer version, and encounter the dreaded Banana Knight boss, one of the most frustratingly hard enemies I've encountered recently.

Nekyuu Koushien

How to tell if a baseball game was Japanese-developed: Exhibit A.

It's hard to get too excited about another 8-bit baseball game, but Nekyuu Koushien is surprisingly enjoyable.  Maybe it has to do with the dancing cats.


A technically impressive port (programmed by Compile) that is unfortunately completely overshadowed by the excellent PC Engine/TurboGrafx release already covered in Chronturbo 1.

This episode is surprisingly short of bad games.  But here they are:

Rambo III

Here you see Rambo fighting some "Soviet" soldiers.

A short, difficult, repetitive Operation Wolf clone that Sega spruced up at the last minute by adding a title screen that says "Rambo III."  The game itself doesn't seem to have anything to do with the movie other than the fact that it involves shooting people.

Thunder Blade

Once again, a Sega Super Scaler arcade game gets a less than thrilling Master System port.  The arcade Thunder Blade had very cool 3D effects; the home version was simply a very dull shoot-em-up.  It also contained some of the worst sound effects of any Sega game.


Oh!  BIG!

Irem's arcade game Vigilante was nothing special; just another pre-Renegade style beat-em-up.  However, for the SMS version, Vigilante was transformed from a mindless button masher to an exercise in pure frustration.  The most common enemy went from being a standard one-punch-kill minion, to a guy who latches onto you by putting you in chokehold that slowly drains your health.  Even worse, he is almost impossible to hit and simply walks through your punches and kicks before grabbing a hold of you.   The best way to complete the SMS Vigilante is to simply jump over these guys when ever they appear - and they appear constantly.  Probably the only reason to play this game is to get a look at all the weird billboards and signs in the background.

And, here we a few other nice games:

Kujaku Ou/SpellCaster

Isn't it weird how villains in video games always know who you are before you know who they are?*

We just saw this in Chrontendo 35!  But here, instead of an adventure game/RPG hybrid, it's an adventure game/sidescrolling action game hybrid.  Sadly, it suffers from cut and paste level design and illogical adventure game sequences.


Congrats, Shanghai, you are the first game to appear on the Famicom, PC-Engine and Sega Master System!

Megumi Rescue

Little girls and kittens are your highest priority; after that, salarymen.

A cute little Breakout/Kaboom type game that uses the paddle controller.  Here, you are rescuing people (and adorable kitty-cats!) from burning buildings.

Lord of Sword

I just had a GREAT idea for a game.  A guy walks around and hits stuff with a sword!

Released the same day as Kenseiden, this reminded me a bit too much of Kenseiden to be enjoyable.

Super Racing

A game in which you race cars!

I'd like to think of Summer-Fall '88 being sort of a last blaze of glory for the Master System.  By the end of year, the rate of releases in Japan will have slowed to a trickle, with the last ever Japanese Master System game coming out in early 1989.  The system will still chug along in the US and Europe, and some interesting SMS exclusive games will turn up in 1989.  Eventually, Sega will rise, Phoenix-like, in the early 90's. 

But that's a story for another time.  Until then, enjoy Chronsega 6.

Addendum:  I encoded two versions of the h.264 MP4. The first was a little on the big side: 699 Megs, and the second turned out smaller than I thought it would: 312 Megs.  The smaller video looks just about identical to the larger, so I uploaded the smaller one.  If you guys fell the larger file is worth uploading, I will.  Here's two screenshots.

The larger file is on the top. Click to englarge.

*Think about it.  And when you bust into the boss' lair, they are never asleep or in the shower or whatever.  They're always standing around just waiting for you.  Though they often claim to be a little surprised that you "...made it this far."

Monday, January 10, 2011


At a restaurant recently, I heard a video game based conversation at the next table ("Wait a second, Dr. Sparkle," you say.  "I thought you were unemployed!  Are you telling me you are using my taxpayer dollars to buy fancy-ass hamburgers and overpriced beer* at some bistro!?"  Yes, that is exactly what I am telling you.)

Guy: So I was playing this video game, called God of War, and there's a part where you have sex with these chicks.  Like, you turn the controller one way, and this girl's top comes off.  And then you press a button and you start going at it...

Girl (laughing): Wow, so, it's like a porno video game?

Guy:  Well, it's just that one part. I didn't even know that would happen.

You have to imagine the conversation in frat boy/fashion victim girl voices.  I'm guessing... God of War 3, maybe?  I assume there's a sex mini-game in that one?  It's always interesting to hear non-gaming geek types talk about such things.

And I'm working on Golvellius, so Chronsega 6 will be ready really soon, I swear.

*Bear Republic Mach 10, incidentally.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

OK, Sorry!

Alright, so a "couple days" have passed, and no new Chronsega!  I'm still working on Golvellius!   Don't blame me, blame Compile for making a Zelda clone, where every single item in the game is hidden.  And I didn't get any work done today, either, as I was out and about (among other things, seeing Black Swan.)   But it's worth it, for as Sgt D says, you can count the good SMS games on two hands, and Golvellius is one of those games.

But seriously, Chronsega 6 should be ready in few days.  In other cool news, qaylis/Kahless GOA (is there an explanation behind that name?) has pointed out the very recent release of a prototype for Square's Aliens game for the FDS.  Aliens has got the be the oddest title in the Square catalog -- an MSX game based on the James Cameron movie.   Yes, it's actually an official licensed Aliens games from Square.  A Famicom Disk System version was produced but never released.  Thanks to a dedicated individual a prototype disk was acquired, dumped and released.  This has actually been a pretty good couple of months for prototype releases: aside from Aliens, there has also been a Legend of Zelda prototype, and Baldur's Gate for the Playstation.

It's not clear why this game takes place in the outdoors with a mountain range visible in the background.

I'm not sure how I'll work in unlicensed or unreleased games in Chrontendo, though I'd certainly like to cover stuff like Aliens.  Half of the fun is seeing terrible early work from companies that later when on to bigger things.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Next Up: Chronsega

Episode 6 of Chronsega, the Sega Master System counterpart to Chrontendo, should be up in a few days.  This new episode is simultaneously running a bit early and a bit late.  Early, because it seems I just released Chrontendo 35 a few days before Christmas.  Now, New Year's has just past and a new episode is already coming up.  I guess that's pretty quick by my normal starndards.

But it also feels a little late since this is taking just a wee bit longer than the average Chronsega.  Why?  Let's face it: the typical episode of Chronsega features two or three interesting games, padded out with some generic sports titles, some light, goofy stuff like Galactic Protector, and a bunch of crap.  Chronsega 6, on the other hand, is stuffed with big, important games: Shinobi, Rastan, R-Type, Captain Silver - and to top it all off - frickin' Golvellius!   Throw in a decent baseball game, and some lesser know action games such as Spellcaster and Lord of the Sword, and you've got one super-packed episode.

Time to ride the wild, red worm!
So give me a few days to finish this thing up, and we'll see how it goes.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Let's Get This New Year Rolling.

I figure I'll not dick around after New Year's Day and get Chrontendo off to a good start in 2011.  First of all, I hope everyone had a good, or at least safe, New Year's.  For all you young folks out there: enjoy it while you can.  Once you reach a certain age, a certain amount of existential dread kicks in every time you pull down a calender and put up a new one.  This is generally accompanied by a thinking, "Holy Fucking Shit!  It's 2011!  How is that even fucking possible?!"

And thanks for the comments wishing my father-in-law well.  I have pretty ambivalent feelings about the situation myself, for a number of reasons that can't be discussed here.  This is, I believe, at least the eighth time he's been admitted to the emergency room in the last 12 months.  After a while, a certain numbness sets in when it comes to the man's health issues.

It's tempting to kick the year off with some sort of look back at 2010.  If you perused the online gaming media at all recently, you're sure to have seen countless "Best of 2010" lists.  After reading such lists myself, I  realized: I haven't really played any new games recently.  There are lots of things I would have liked to have played, such as the new Kirby and Donkey Kong games, but that simply hasn't happened.  I'm sure many of you have gaming "backlogs."  Since much of my video game time is consumed by Chrontendo, I've pretty much fallen out of the loop when it comes to newer games.  Thus, the Chrontendo 2010 Awards has only one category:

Best Video Game Themed Music Video

What else could it be other than "Who's That? Brooown!" by Das Racist?  Was there even any real competition?

While clearly based on Sierra adventure games, "Who's That Brown?" manages to squeeze in references to tons of old-school NES and arcade games, and even the ancient computer game Snake.  There's even a flash game that goes with it.  Das Racist, I salute you.

The one modern game I have been playing recently is none other than Dragon Age.  Like any Bioware game, it tends to mix in great voicing acting, plot twists, lots of dialog options, and the ability to act like a good guy or a total dick at your discretion.*  Naturally, Bioware tosses in plenty of long loading times, bizarre interface design decisions, and a handful of "how did this get past QA?" bugs.  The most consistent bug I've encountered concerns the wheel-like interface that pops when you want to use an item or cast a spell.  This freezes the action while you go through the various sub-menus, and make your selection.  After closing the menu, the action starts up again, and you then move your character around, attack enemies, and so on.   Not infrequently, when opening up this menu at the start of a battle, a huge glitch occurs where the action continues while the menu is open and freezes when it is closed.

This prevents your main character from moving or attacking and will generally result in needing to reload, even though it can sometimes be fixed by opening another menu.   That fact that the game shipped with a recurring bug like this is pretty amazing.  Not the mention the many other infrequent glitches that have been documented.  As for the interface, it's a bit baffling that someone making games as long as Bioware has still hasn't overcome difficulties with such basic features as inventory menus.  For a detailed and thorough take-down of Mass Effect's crazy interface design, check out this three-part article on Game Design Reviews.  Yet... despite Bioware's lack of slickness, we still love them.

In brief:

Here is one of my favorite "Year End Roundup" articles, perhaps one you haven't seen considering where it was published.  There's a nice bit of bitchy back-and-forth going on between a few of the critics.

Pre-Sonic Genesis is alive and kicking!  After a hiatus of a few months, CJ Lowery returns with two Genesis games.  It's nice the see the "list of death," as I call it (due the number of sites that cease updating after being added to the list), has not let claimed another victim.  Maybe I'll start putting sites I hate on the list.

And I've received a few comments about the Phantom Fighter ad campaign.  I guess the game was advertised in comic books, and those ads generated some attention.  Is this the ad in question?

Image taken from The NES Player, a fine site you should all be familiar with.

So what about you guys?  Did you play an games in 2010 that stuck out?  Any consensus out there about the "big" games of the year: Black Ops, Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect 2, etc?

*I generally play the "good guy" option in such games.  However, I did play Mass Effect last year, and decided to take the "dick" route.  It helps if you make your character look like a bit of an asshole.