Archive for September, 2009

Megaman 2 Pixelart

Posted in Megaman Classic on September 29, 2009 by satoshimatrix

Next, Megaman 2. The best game ever? Maybe. Its certainly a game that’s stood the test of time. These are my tributes to each of the eight robot masters from this classic title.

DWN-009 Metalman

Metalman’s Metal Blade is perhaps the most overpowered Megaman weapon ever. It can be fired in eight directions, consumes next to no weapon energy (WE) and most of the enemies in the game are weak to it!

Metalman sprite comes from Megaman 3. Could not find an idle Metalman sprite from MM2 I liked.

DWN-010 Airman

Airman

Airman’s Air Shooter fires three small tornadoes upward damaging airborne enemies. It works great on Crashman, but isn’t a great general weapon.

Sprite from Megaman 3.

DWN-011 Bubbleman

Bubbleman’s weapon is the Bubble Lead, either pronounced as the metal lead or as in what a leader does in the past tense. Either way, the bubbles travel along the ground before hitting their target. The weapon is rather useless but is actually the final Wily battle’s weakness!

DWN-012 Quickman

As his name suggests, Quickman is fast. Coupled with his weapon the Quick Boomerang he is able to leap about tossing small boomerangs that can be quite difficult to dodge.

This sprite comes from Megaman 3.

DWN-013 Crashman

I’ve never understood Crashman’s name. He is not a crash-test dummy and his power isn’t to collide with Megaman in a body slam type attack. Rather, his weapon is a time-delayed bomb much like Bombman from the first game, but it’s a projectile that will explode upon impact if it hits an enemy. Otherwise, it will attach itself to walls and explode a few seconds later, damaging any nearby enemies. His weapon absorbs crazy amounts of energy and can only be fired 9 times without refilling it with weapon energy.

This Crashman is color corrected when I wasn’t doing color corrections.

DWN-014 Flashman

Flashman is an upgraded version of Light’s prototype time robot, Timeman from Powered Up (MM1). Rather than simply being able to slow time, Flashman’s power is to completely stop it while still allowing him mobility. The problem with the Flash Stopper in the original NES version was that if Megaman  used it it has to be used in one shot. Once activated, you can’t deactivate it until all the WE is gone. If Capcom ever remakes Megaamn 2, they ought to fix this.

The NES Flashman sprite is mostly the wrong colors by being too simplistic. Since this was before I started color correcting sprites like crazy, only the top is his head was corrected.

DWN-015 Heatman

Heatman’s Atomic Fire can be charged up three levels in the same way the Mega Buster could later on in the series. It is also unique in being one of the only weapons in the classic Megaman series that could be charged up at all.

Can you feel the heat? Heatman was ironed a little more than I would have liked, but that’s because of his surrounding flames.

DWN-016 Woodman

Woodman’s weapon is the Leaf Shield. This shield protects the user from harm but is tossed as a large spinning projectile if they move.

Woodman is one of my favorite robots from Megaman 2. His sprite isn’t color corrected, but it doesn’t need to be. Too bad I didn’t add in his leaf shield. Maybe I will if I ever redo this sprite someday.

God I love Megaman 2.

Advertisements

Giana Sisters DS Review

Posted in Reviews with tags , on September 25, 2009 by satoshimatrix

The Giana Sisters coverage continues in part three of my look through the cult-classic series, the Great Giana Sisters.

It is quite unusual for a sequel to ever be made to a game after it’s been on the market for more than 5 years, yet after twenty two years of the silent treatment, the Great Giana Sisters make their return to gaming.

Long after the demise of Rainbow Arts and TimeWarp, a new small developer out of Berlin Germany, Spellbound, has adopted the rights to Giana Sisters and has somehow go the go-ahead to develop a brand new Giana Sisters game for, of all systems, the Nintendo DS.

It seems that Nintendo has finally let bygones be bygones by giving the nearly-identical-to-Mario platforming series the green light. This is great news for retro gamers like me who have been hoping to see an updated version of Giana appear for years now.

Due to the original game’s rich history of legal trouble, Giana Sisters is clearly divided among two groups – the small niche of devoted Giana Sisters fans who played and loved the original and the mass market of today’s gamers who haven’t even heard of Giana Sisters, let alone have fond memories of playing it.

German developer Spellbound decided that the best way to remake Giana Sisters for a new generation would be to whipe the slate clean and start from scratch. All the art direction of the original was scrapped and Spellbound hired local Berlin artist, Alex Pierschel, aka Pikomi, to handle all the art direction for the new version of Giana Sisters. This past summer, release quietly in Germany and later Australia was the aptly named Giana Sisters DS.

Almost as shocking as when I first saw Sonic Advance.

Giana Sisters officially on a Nintendo system. History sure can be ironic.

First off, this should not be confused with the homebrew game, Giana Sisters DS released previously. That game is simply a port of the C64 original whereas this game is a brand new title designed for the DS specifically. So is this new version worth a look? Read on and find out.

Genre

Just like the Commodore 64 original, Giana Sisters DS is a 2D left-to-right sidescrolling platformer that borrows almost all of its gameplay ideas from SMB. The game is single player only, unlike the original. This means that Giana’s twin sister Maria makes no appearance and indeed there is no mention of her existence in the DS remake. It seems over the years platformers felt the need to evolve and become more complex by adding bonus areas multiple exits and a lot of different things to collect. Giana Sisters DS streamlines this into a very simple basic form of get to the exit and collect diamonds.

Story

The story from the original has been updated ever so slightly – one night young Giana locks her collection of blue diamonds in a large chest and falls asleep on top of it. Then apparently the chest becomes possessed and opens, causing Giana to fall into a dream world where she must collect the master diamond to awaken again.

Graphics

giana2

Graphically, Giana Sisters DS has dramatically updated and is quite honestly one of the best looking games on the DS. With often four background layers, landscapes come alive in a super detailed fantasy world. The game is 100% sprite based with non of that 3D nonsense that the DS Castlevanias used. All the sprites look gorgeous and are as fluid in motion as a Disney cartoon. Like Mario 3, the levels are varied and add all sorts of new eye candy. You’ll explore meadows, snowy mountains, caves, castles, volcanoes and more.

Sprites are neither too big or too small for the DS screen. Spellbound has found the perfect sprite size to prevent the “leap of faith” jumps so common in handheld platformers. On the offtime you do need to see what’s above or below, you can simply look up or down by pressing up or down on the d-pad. Giana Sisters DS is stunning. Still screenshots do not do this game justice; you need to see it in motion.

Gameplay

This new DS version has refined, simplified and added to the formula from the Commodore classic. Gone are the homing fire airshots and time-freezing clocks from the original. In their place are brand new items that help Giana on her way in two totally different ways.

First is the Soda (pop) bottle which can be used to dissolve away bricks, put out fires and push away enemies. The soda can be sprayed in any direction and is single use. Once its used up, you need to find another bottle to dissolve more bricks.

The second new item is the bubblegum, basically the flight ability of Giana Sisters DS. Without going into too much detail, the biggest problem I found with New Super Mario Bros. was that that Mario was grounded throughout the game. The best parts of Mario 3 and World were flying around with the raccoon suit/magic cape. In Giana Sisters DS, the bubblegum incases Giana in a giant bubble with anti-gravity properties. As long as the exterior of the bubble is not pierced by hitting an enemy or object, Giana will be free to explore the skies for lots of hidden goodies. Spellbound used the DS microphone as a gimmicky way to control flight while in the bubblegum. The more forcibly you blow into the mic, the higher Giana will fly upward. Recognizing that the portable game could be played on a noisy subway or otherwise in a public place, Spellbound thankfully included the option to turn the mic off during these sequences and simply use the standard jump buttons to control flight movement instead.

Replacing the homing airshots from the original Giana Sisters is a very Mario-like fireball attack. Like Mario, Giana can fire up to two fireballs at once, but unlike Mario they travel in an arch and do not bound around. Once the hit something they bust apart. This change keeps the gameplay fresh and makes the shooting mechanics feel unlike that of Mario.

Speaking of hidden goodies, Giana Sisters DS updates the formula from the original by adding in special red diamonds hidden throughout each stage. No stage is truly finished until all red diamonds are collected. Some red diamonds are very tricky to get to but are well worth it; for every world of nine levels, if you can collect all the red diamonds from all the stages, you will unlock a special 10th stage that will take place in the clouds and give Giana the opprotunity to collect loads of diamonds to get extra lives.

If you can complete all stages by collecting all red diamonds, you can unlock a special bonus stage that contains all 32 original Giana Sisters levels all remade with the new game engine! Oldschool Giana Sisters fans will eat this feature up, and this is the reason why I picked up the new game.

The levels are on the short side, but many can be tough, and thankfully Spellbound has included mid-level savepoint flowers throughout the stages. The savepoints keep track of all red diamonds collected up to that point, so players need not recollect the same red diamonds if they should die after reaching a mid-level save flower.

Dispute its flesh coat of paint and new advancements in gameplay to distinguish itself from other platformers, Giana Sisters DS still can’t shake that Mario vibe as it feels like an expansion of Nintendo’s own DS offering, New Super Mario Bros. in a weird way. The whole super cartoon look is very similar as are the controls.

giana1

Control

The game’s controls have been vastly improved over the C64 version and now feel perfect. Giana’s jump is mapped to the B and A buttons whereas her fireballs are Y and X. Yes thats right, once again exactly like New Super Mario Bros.

The updated controls are everything that the original controls were not; they are quick, responsive and perfected.

Sound

All the music from the original game is back and has been masterfully remixed. The new tracks are a perfect fit. They sound bright colorful and have that distinctive Euro-vibe to them. It feels modern like New Super Mario Bros, but I honestly think this is the better of the two soundtracks.

Giana_Design_05

Audience

Everyone – Giana Sisters is simple and cutey, making it apprriate for all gamers regardless of age or gender. I encourage everyone to give this game a shot.

giana3

Graphics – 9.5- Amazing stuff. Brilliantly animated sprites and ever changing backgrounds make this game both fun to look at and artistically a masterpiece.

Sound – 9.5 – The original tracks have all been updated and feature many remixes. For the retro C64 levels, there is even a new remix of the original tracks that make keep many of the SID chip beeps and boops while adding a new techno beat. It’s spectacular.

Gameplay – 8.5 – A Mario clone now more than ever, but what a clone. This game is every bit as good as any first party platformer I’ve ever played.

Control – 10 – Gone are the josticks from the original replaced by the great DS Lite d-pad and buttons. The new control scheme is both logical and functional. Absolutely perfect controls.

Lasting Appeal – 8.0 – A very very long platformer at over 80 levels, plus the original 32. Levels are short, but can be replayed at anytime just like Super Mario World. The game is short can be can completed in only a few days, but you would do well to keep this game in your collection and come back to it in six months to play through it again. You’ll have just as much time the second time through as you did the first.

Overall – 9/10

giana_sisters_artwork_I_2009_04_06

This short promotional video will give a pretty good understanding of what the game has to offer both visually and audibly.

Giana is back, and if you missed out on her last time, you should make sure you don’t this time around. Small devoloper Spellbound has not been able to release Giana Sisters DS outside of PAL territories Germany the UK(?) and Australia. If you live outside these countries you will need to import. The DS ROM is a mere 8 MB and is thus great for flashcarts, but please, support Spellbound on this fantastic game. Maybe we’ll see a sequel someday. Let’s just hope its not another 20 years.

The Great Giana Sisters Review

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , on September 25, 2009 by satoshimatrix

Now that you’ve read the Giana Sisters Retrospective (Late comers can read it by clicking the previous article) I thought I should address the original game in a review. This is my first review for wordpress, so bare with me as I iron out cinks on how I want to do this.

I’ve hammered this point countless times, but once again, The Great Giana Sisters is a direct copy of the formula behind Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. for the NES. Giana uses almost all the concepts of Super Mario Bros. from items hidden in blocks to jumping on enemies heads to defeat them to even collecting 100 diamonds to gain an extra life. At the same time it also expands on the design adding more interesting level designs, verity of enemies and both a few steps forward and a few steps back from Super Mario Bros’ approach to gameplay.

So then obviously, it is impossible to review Giana Sisters without constantly comparing it to its obvious inspiration, Super Mario Bros (NES). From this point on I’ll simply call the Nintendo game SMB.

Giana Sisters is basically SMB designed with the C64's limitations in mind

The Great Giana Sisters is basically SMB designed with the C64's limitations in mind

So some basics – The only version of The Great Giana Sisters I have is the Commodore 64 version, so this review will not cover Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST or ZX Spectrum versions.

Although never released in the US, Giana Sisters was widely distributed due to the ease of copy and its only thanks to piracy that the game became so popular and well-known.

Although never released in the US, Giana Sisters was widely distributed due to the ease of copy and because of Nintendo's legal action against it in Europe, it is only thanks to piracy that the game became so popular and well-known.

Genre

The Great Giana Sisters is a 2D left-to-right sidescrolling platformer that borrows almost all of its gameplay ideas from SMB. The C64 version supports 2-player alternating play just like SMB with twin sisters Giana and Maria replacing twin bothers Mario and Luigi.

Story

“One night, when little Giana from Milano was fast asleep, she had a strange dream. Everybody dreams weird things at night, but no-one will have experienced situations like Giana is about to. Giana suddenly finds herself in a strange mysterious world, where everything is completely different. Gravity has almost disappeared – sometimes one feels like flying away – and everywhere there are unexplainable buildings and structures. Old grottos and deserted castles seem to hide lots of secrets, and righting and hideous creatures appear. This wouldn’t be too bad, except that Giana can’t leave this world until she find the magic, huge diamond. So, she starts of to search for this wonderful jewel. However, she is not totally alone, for her little sister Maria can dream too. ”

So yeah, the basic story is that Giana and Maria fall asleep into a dream/nightmare where they need to find the huge magical diamond to escape it and wake up. Slightly more original than Mario having to rescue a kidnapped Princess.

Graphics

giana_sisters

Graphically, Giana Sisters looks quite a bit like SMB1. Both games have brown brick like grounds and blue skies. However, the C64’s color depth of only 16 colors on the screen at a time vs the NES’s 25 or so means that the graphics aren’t as detailed as Nintendo’s offering. One thing i do like about Giana Sisters is upon being defeated, all enemies’ bodies remain onscreen and are not simply removed. This gives the same a slightly more adult feel to it.

Gameplay

The gameplay in Giana Sisters is extremely similar to SMB – Over the course of 32 levels, Giana and Maria can collect diamonds scattered across the levels and hidden in flashing bricks. In some of these bricks are other items including a red-and-white ball that turn Giana and Maria into punks, who can now smash bricks with their heads and when you collect a second ball, the Giana Sisters gain the ability to fire lighting balls to kill enemies from afar. Enemies die when jumped on just like SMB and there are a few secret underground shortcuts through some of the overworld levels.

For all the similarities, there are a few differences. First, most of the levels are much shorter than SMB’s and many resemble the sizes of some of the smaller SMB3 levels. As well, Giana and Maria will die in one hit regardless of if they have collected a punk ball or lighting bolts. In SMB, you would revert back to your basic form if you got hit while big instead of simply dying outright. The useless fruit for points isn’t present in SMB either. In SMB1, all enemies except for the spinning fire sticks could be killed somehow, but several of the enemies in Giana Sisters are invincible and must simply be avoided.

One key difference is in how Giana Sisters and SMB control. The C64 joystick was quite like the Atari 2600; it was a DB-9 Stick with only a four-way pad and a single action button. Since the C64 had an entire keyboard to input, Giana Sisters relied on keyboard inputs upon bootup to select the number of players, but in-game requires the joystick.

Just one of many C64 joystick variants

Just one of many C64 joystick variants

With only a +pad and a single button, jumping was handled like in most fighting games – by pressing up. As I’m sure you can imagine, the fact that you need to press up on the joystick to jump doesn’t work nearly as well as SMB with an actual button for jumping. This fact makes some of the jumping sequences much more difficult than they otherwise could be. Another problem is that Giana is much more sluggish and slow to respond to direction input than Mario is. Whereas Mario is sensitive to any Dpad movement, Giana is most definitely not. There’s no running in Giana Sisters either, but this is made moot as there are no parts of the game that require it either. All jumps can be made from a standstill or walking.

It is worth mentioning that if you want an easier time with Giana Sisters, you can use any Sega Genesis controller with the C64 as well.

When playing Giana Sisters on the real Commodore 64 hardware (as you should be!) you can swap the C64 joystick and use any Sega Genesis controller with the C64 as well. Just remember to plug it into Controller Port 2.

Sound

Both Mario Bros. and Giana Sisters have fantastic soundtracks. I would go even as far to say that Giana Sisters might have a better soundtrack than the wonderful efforts of Koji Kondo in SMB! German composer Chris Hülsbeck, the composer of R-Type, Turrican, Monkey Island, Star Wars Rogue Squadron, Resident Evil 2, Rouge Leader, Rebel Strike and most recently Lair, Giana Sisters has probably ther best soundtrack of any game on the Commodore 64.

Ports

Online flash versions:

A free online flash version of the game that replicates the game can be found here: http://juegos.hey.es/juego/the-great-giana-sisters/

A free online flash version of the exact C64 game can be found here: http://c64s.com/game/1397/giana_sisters/

GS logo

In 2007, a homebrew conversion of the C64 version of Giana Sisters was released for the DS, essentially being a self-contained C64 emulator with only Giana Sisters running on it.

If you’ve got a DS flashcard, you can download this homebrew version here: http://galway.c64.org/gianads/

Ratings

Graphics – 7.0- A good effort on the limited C64, but not the best looking game on the computer.

Sound – 9.5 – A legendary soundtrack that begs to be heard. Even the gameover theme is simply amazing.

Gameplay – 7.5 – A Mario clone in almost all aspects, but dying in one hit no matter what state the Sisters are in is just lazy programming.

Control – 6.0 – Joysticks make lousy subsitutes for D-pads in platformers, but you can switch the C64 joysticks with Genesis pads. This still doesn’t fix the Up = jump problem though.

Lasting Appeal – 8.0 – Giana Sisters in large thanks to its fun nature and fantastic soundtrack make it one of the best Commodore 64 games and one great showpiece of gaming in the late 1980s.

Overall – 8/10

Giana Sisters Retrospective and editorial

Posted in Retrospectives with tags , , , , on September 23, 2009 by satoshimatrix

Let’s rewind 22-some odd years. It’s 1987 and Nintendo rules the gaming world with an iron fist. The popularity of the NES has proven the “videogames are a fad” nay-sayers wrong and the Sega Master System is but a distant competitor.

The Nintendo Entertainment System. Your parents help you hook it up!

The Nintendo Entertainment System. Your parents help you hook it up!

There’s no denying that the success of the NES was due in large because of pack-in game Super Mario Bros. Effectively perfecting earlier attempts at the platforming genre like the Atari 2600 classic Pitfall, Super Mario Bros. shown that good games could indeed be made and the crash of 1984 could be avoided from occurring ever again.

Super Mario Bros. was the best selling game of all time until Wii Sports surpassed it because of the casual gaming market.

Super Mario Bros. was the best selling game of all time until Wii Sports surpassed it because of the growing casual gaming market.

This was fine and well for NES owners, but by the late 1980s many people owned their first personal computer. Early home computers were marketed as being able to do everything from help your kids with their homework to keeping track of expenditures to playing games, so many technology blissful parents felt that their money would be best spent buying an affordable personal computer.

One popular computer was the Commodore 64, first released in 1982. Because of its ease of use, relative power and $399 price, the C64 proved to be a popular alternative to the NES for many parents. The C64’s MOS 6510 processor was quite similar to the NES’s 2A03 processor, [which itself was basically a modified version of the 6502 processor] and both systems had a similar color depth for displaying a Super Mario Bros. style platformer.

Eager to copy the success of Super Mario Bros., a small German C64 developer named Rainbow Arts (credited as TimeWarp for the C64 version) quickly began work on a platformer of their own employing many of the same ideas of Super Mario Bros. while using a few more of their own. It wasn’t long before Rainbow Arts/TimeWarp released The Great Giana Sisters to the world and many, including Nintendo, took notice.

Giana, put on a bra, you hippy!

Giana, put on a bra, you hippy!

Juggernaut Nintendo saw Giana Sisters as a blaitant rip-off, and while harsh, that might not be entirely untrue. Suing the pants off Rainbow Arts/TimeWarp, Nintendo demanded all copies of Giana Sisters be recalled and taken off store shelves. Thus, Giana Sisters was shot down before it could take off.

Despite this, I along with many other Commodore 64 gamers was able to enjoy Giana Sisters as a child due to having a pirated Giana Sisters floppy disk. Even back before the internet, game piracy was rampant and floppy disks were an easy and cheap medium to provide pirated games.

The Commodore 64 Disk Drive provided hours of quality entertainment nobody paid for.

The Commodore 64 Disk Drive provided hours of quality entertainment nobody paid for.

For the sake of this article, I won’t write an in-depth review of the original Commodore version. For that, I will review it in the next part.

Not similar to SMB

Not similar to SMB

Not at all.

Not at all.

Okay, well I might have stretched the truth on that one a bit, but you get the point. The Giana Sisters became an instant cult classic and remains for many their favorite Commodore 64 game.

Now, return to the present. It’s 2009 and its been 22 years since the Giana Sisters came and went, but fans still revere it as one of the best games of a bygone era. Today’s gaming environment consists of a mix between hardcore gamers who grew up with the industry and those who either have never played a videogame before or people who rarely do so. This split has caused many developers to change their approach to gaming.

Where hardcore gamers demand deep, complex and visually stunning masterpieces, the casual market demands simple, easy-to-play games that don’t require an expert knowledge of a genre to enjoy. Striking a balance between these two forces has proven to be near impossible for many developers and company strategies, so clear divides have instead been implemented across today’s platforms in general.

The Wii is almost exclusively marketed for the causal market, whereas the Xbox 360 and the PS3 are marketed almost exclusively for the hardcore market.

The Wii is almost exclusively marketed for the causal market, whereas the Xbox 360 and the PS3 are marketed almost exclusively for the hardcore market.

Interestingly, the traditional platformer genre now falls somewhere in the middle of both camps. Hardcore gamers will love and play platformers because they already know what to expect and also because of the nostalgia factor. Meanwhile the casual gamer will play and love platformers because of their simplicity.

Still, 3D platformers like Rachet and Clank or Dr. Muto from a few years back probably attract more hardcore gamers than casuals due simply to the fact that they’re in 3D and that spatial dimensions need to be accounted for in leaping and simple movement.

Dr. Muto is a game bogged down by the fact that it's 3D

Dr. Muto is a game bogged down by the fact that it's 3D

This leaves of course the age-old 2D platformer. 2D games are a tough sell for many developers; when your system can do so much more, why limit yourself to 2D? Will people buy 2D games anymore? Many developers think they wont and aren’t willing to chance the age-old genre. Personally, I find this to be quite upsetting; because platformers have their feet in both casual and hardcore camps, I think 2D platformers can sell to a large audience.

Giana Sisters Retrospective and editorial

Capcom's Megaman 9 uses 8-bit 2D graphics because 2D games in this style will appeal to a wide audience and the 2D nature is an artistic choice.

So if you’ve read this far, you just be wondering: what the hell does this have to do with twenty-two year old Giana Sisters?

The answer is this.

New Giana Sisters logo

Yes, after two decades of waiting C64 gamers and casual gamers alike can look forward to a sequel to this classic title. For the diehard, this is the news they’ve been hoping to hear for years. For those who’ve never even heard of Giana Sisters, its news of another great DS game to be released.

Thanks to the dedicated efforts of a small German developer called Spellbound, the spritial successor to the TimeWarp platformer has been quietly released on the DS in Germany and Australia.

Even now 22 years after the original game’s lawsuit, its ironic to see Giana Sisters appear on a Nintendo platform, now more than ever. Believe it or not, Giana Sisters DS shares even more in common with Super Mario Bros. than ever before.

Want to learn more about Giana Sisters DS? Well, in the intrest of article length, I’m not going to review GS DS just yet. That will come in my next post in the next few days.

Stay tuned, much more to come!

Megaman 1 Pixelart Complete Works

Posted in Beadsprites, Megaman Classic, Pixelart with tags , , , , on September 20, 2009 by satoshimatrix

So, Megaman 1. Here is my collection of beadsprites of characters from this iconic first game. DLN = Doctor Light Number. This is the serial numbers of each robot. DLN-P are for the prototypes.

Dr. Thomas Light

Dr. Light is the creator of several intelligent robots including series star Megaman. His sprite resembles Santa Claus.

Dr. Albert W. Wily

Brilliant mad robot scientist, Wily is apparently German and wants to take over the world. His sprite makes him look like Einstein.

Megaman himself, DLN-001

megamannessheet sprite Megaman original NES sprite

Series hero Megaman was originally built to be a lab assistant to Thomas Light, who lived alone and had no family. It is perplexing that such a renowned scientist like Light would have no human apprentices, and this fact would weigh heavily on the the first century of Light’s final creation, X’s life, as once Light died, there would be nobody to carry on his work.

My beadsprite is simple and to the point. This sprite is probably around the 7th Megaman sprite I’ve made.

Roll DLN-002

Again, since Light had no family or apprentices, Roll was built by Dr. Light to cook, clean and keep charge of general housework. Roll is regarded as Rock’s “sister” and her cute charm makes her a fan favorite. In her recent appearance in Tatsunoko vs Capcom Roll sports her retro Megaman outfit.

And yeah, Roll actually DID appear in Megaman 1, although only at the end of the credits and was unnamed. My sprite is the retro Megaman1 roll, recolored to match her iconic red dress she wore prior to Megaman 8.

Cutman DLN-003

cutsheet sprite Cutman original NES sprite

Cutman is a sprite I haven’t really bothered to go back and redo – he was one of the first sprites I ever did!

Gutsman DLN-004

Gutsman is huge. This is also a custom sprite.

Iceman DLN-005

Iceman was built to explore the arctic. I really dislike his sprite and plan to make another custom one someday.

Bombman DLN-006

Bombman was built to clear away bedrock. I’ve always thought Bombman looks awesome. Too bad his time delayed weapon isn’t that great.

Fireman DLN-007

Fireman is a waste disposal robot. My Fireman sprite is a complete recolor to add in his gray instead of the white that the NES uses.

Elecman DLN-008

Timeman DLN-P009

Timeman is a prototype robot that Light was working on to stop the flow of time. Timeman cannot do this, however; he can only slow time down. Wily later improved on Timeman’s design and created Flashman.

Timeman did not appear in the NES version of Megaman1. He was designed along with Oilman for the PSP remake, Powered Up. As such, this is a custom sprite made by the crew of Rockman 7 and & 8 FC. I improved the sprite colors to match the official art.

Oilman DLN-P010

Oilman was created to……do something. I’m not sure what his purpose is. His weapon sucks to boot.

Oilman did not appear in the NES version of Megaman1. He was designed along with Timeman for the PSP remake, Powered Up. As such, this is a custom sprite made by the crew of Rockman 7 and & 8 FC. I improved the sprite colors to match the official art.

NES to Xbox

Posted in Mod Projects, Peripherals, Tutorials with tags , , on September 19, 2009 by satoshimatrix

Over the years and getting good deals on mixed gaming odd and ends on ebay, I’ve acquired quite a few NES controllers. You know the kind – the iconic boxy less-than-comfortable-yet-so- nostalgic-we-accept-them-anyway ones.

Amongst all my NES controllers I had one that wouldn’t work – its 4021 Control Chip was apparently shot. Being useless to the NES now, I thought of other usages – decoration on my car rear view mirror or maybe on my backpack. Hack it up to work like those NES controller mp3 players we’ve all read about. Or maybe just keep it around for spare parts.

I didn’t like any of these ideas all that much and I really just wished I could use it in some way. It wasn’t long before I got the idea to use it as an interface device with my Xbox 1. To interface the NES controller with anything else would require removing the 4021, and since mine was shot anyway, there would be no loss. For the project I wanted to use a controller that wouldn’t matter, so I purchased a Madcatz controller.

Copied controller make for great hack projects

Copied controller make for great hack projects

When it arrived, the fun began. The first thing you need to do is open that NES controller up – its held together by six small star screws and the back plate easily comes off when the screws are removed.

The stock NES controllers inner beauty

The stock NES controller's inner beauty

In the middle of the PCB is the NES 4021 Control Chip. Mine wasn’t working, but regardless you’ll need to remove it. There are a number of ways you can successfully remove it. First, you could simply cut off the pins and then use a soldering iron to loosen and drop the remaining bits out, you could use a soldering iron and a solder sucker/braid and drop the chip out that way, or you can go overboard and use a heatgun like I did. At the time I did this, I didn’t have a solder sucker yet, so I was unable to use that approach.

If using a heatgun, first wrap the entire PCB in thick plastic – the kind of waterproofing walls, not grocery bag plastic. Then, use a marker to outline a box around the 4021 chip. Remove the PCB and use an knife to cut out a small rectangle. Tape the plastic tightly over the PCB. Next, wrap the entire board except for where you want the heat applied with tinfoil. By doing this, you will ensure you do not damage any part of the board. This is a risky process, so don’t blame me if you destroy your NES PCB.

Your NES controller should now look like this.

Your NES controller should now look like this.

With the 4021 chip removed, yo can now clearly see the trace lines. I had the fun time of mapping the NES controller’s 4021 pinout. Since the NES controller’s cord had only five wires (thus the need for the 4021 chip to decode those few wires) and yet the need for 9 (eight for the buttons and one ground) I had to replace the cord too. Use anything you can find that has at least nine wires. old printer cables work great here. Because you won’t be using the old cord, this means that only nine of the sixteen pins matter.

My crude diagram showing which pins are which.

My crude diagram showing which pins are which.

Once traced, The fine small soldering began and after a bit of work, I was able to wire an NES controller right to the Xbox 1 controller!

Here you can see the points where you need to solder to in order to do this project on the Madcatz Xbox controller:

Marked in red are possible solder points. Choose which buttons you want to use.

Marked in red are possible solder points. Choose which buttons you want to use.

Before soldering, you need to consider where the cord to the NES controller will go. I thought the best place would be where the memory card slot was, so I removed the memory card pins (since you will never need them anyway). Feed the cord you will use for the NES through the hole and hot glue it in place so it doesn’t move. Once this is all done, you will end up with a setup like this

an NES controller wired to a Madcatz Xbox 1.

an NES controller wired to a Madcatz Xbox 1.

Next carefully fold the wires on the NES side into place where its old cord was and put its back on and screw it in place. On the Xbox Controller tape down the face buttons as they will now be nothing more than decoration. Carefully reapply its casing and screw it back in place. If everything went according to plan, you should now have a working NES controller on your Xbox!

Use it with emulators, collections, and even some Xbox 1 games that don’t require a ton of buttons!

And here it is! Ready for some NES action?

And here it is! Ready for some NES action?

Arcade stick roundup

Posted in Peripherals on September 9, 2009 by satoshimatrix

Today is September 9th 2009. The first day of college again. Yay. But enough of that boring stuff, onto my first post!

Ah…the arcade. Nowadays, hardly anyone frequents them anymore, what with the quick and easy console market. As a result, many of my [and chances are, your] favorite childhood places to visit have vanished over the years. To try to recapture some of that arcade magic, companies have released many home console arcade sticks over the years that emulate the arcade experience with varing degrees of success.

Some of the oldest sticks I own

Some of the oldest sticks I own

This is to show off several of the sticks I own and have collected over the years. This isn’t all of them, but this is all the ones I have that are NOT in peices.

Famicom HJ-7 Arcade Stick (Famicom/AV Famicom/Twin)/FDS)

Was once white

Was once white

The oldest stick by far is the Famicom arcade stick. I don’t even know what to call it. Interestingly, it was made by famed Arcade marker Hori and carries a copyright date of 1984. It has as you can see, yellowed in the same way most Famicoms have over the years. This stick is small and with its oversized joystick yet undersized and oddly shaped buttons, it was probably made for young children rather than adult players. The very small Start and Select buttons don’t help against this theory either. The stick features a 4-way/8-way switch (that seems to be broken on mine) and a Player 1 or 2 slider. There are no extra buttons, no turbo. This being a Famicom controller of course means it has a DB-15 plug so this is not NES compatible as is. Even if it was though, the next controller totally blows it out of the water. Price paid: $10 Est. Value: $25 Overall: 6

NES Advantage (NES)

The NES Advantage was released in 1987 and quickly became a hot item. It is made of sturdy thick plastic with a metal plate bottom for extra weight. It features an excellent custom joystick oversized angled A and B buttons and smaller Start and Select buttons. But what really set this controller apart from others of its day was its turbo feature. Not only could you toggle turbo on for each button, you could also select on a dile just how many times a second the button would be resister as being pressed! The Slow-mo button is actually just a rapid fire Start button, but for games that allowed you to quickly pause it really did feel like playing in slow motion. Price paid: $20 Est. value: $25 Overall: 8

ASCII NES Joystick (NES)

Just what in the hell is this?

Just what in the hell is this?

This is a odd stick I bought for $5 as it reminds me of the sticks from my childhood computer, the Commodore 64. Outside of slower paced shooters, I wouldn’t recommend this stick for anything. Novelty only. It doesnt even have start and select buttons! Price paid: $5 Est. value: $5 Overall: 5

ASCII Fighting Stick (SNES)

Great for SFII, Gradius III, and lots of other classics

Great for SFII, Gradius III, and lots of other classics

This arcade stick released around 1993 is similar to the SNES Advantage but much smaller and much less useless space. There are turbo switches for each of the face buttons and the Start button. It’s decent. Price paid: $$15 Est. value: $20 Overall: 8

ASCII Fighting Stick (Genesis)

Great for Thunder Force and Mortal Kombat

Great for Thunder Force and Mortal Kombat

The Genesis version of the stick above, it is exactly the same. Great for the many shooters on the Genesis and Sega CD. Price paid: $20 [new in box!] Est. value: $30 [new] Overall: 8

GameStar Xbox Arcade Stick (Xbox 1)

With so many great fighters on Xbox, its too bad this stick isnt better

With so many great fighters on Xbox, its too bad this stick isn't better

This is another used game store find. It was dirty and cheap, and complete, but honestly its a step backwards from the ASCII 16-bit sticks I own. The joystick on this thing is loud and unresponsive and the buttons are extremely mushy. I don’t recommend you buy this stick. Price paid: $7Est. value: $15 Overall: 6

Naki-Tec Mini Stick (PS2)

This is probably the worst arcade stick ever

This is probably the worst arcade stick ever

Ugh. What a piece of shit. I have TWO of these but thankfully I didn’t pay for them; they were a free gift when I bought two controller adapters. Even free these controllers are a rip-off. They are made of poor quality buttons and the stick is awful. DO NOT buy. Price paid: $0 Est. value: $-20 Overall: 0

Hori EX2 (Xbox 360/Windows XP)

A decent stick, but could be made better

A decent stick, but could be made better

This stick is an official Hori product, so you know you’re getting quality. Unfortunately, Hori uses their own parts in this stick so while good, they aren’t the god-like Sanwa parts. Luckily, this controller can be modified with sanwa parts to increase the performance to a professional level for around $50 in parts and tools. I’ll be trying this sometime this month. Wish me luck! Price paid: $40 Est. value: $60 Overall: 7 (as is)

Hori Real Arcade Pro 2 (PS2)

The holy grail of console sticks

The holy grail of console sticks

And here it is: the best stick I own. This beast uses real sanwa buttons and a sanwa JLF stick. It has turbo switches for each button making Gradius V and other PS2 and PS1 shooters a snap. The controller is very very large and extremely well built. Words can’t express how good this stick is. You want it. you want it now. So….go buy one! Price paid: $150 Est. value: $150 Overall: 10

PS2 to Xbox and Gamecube adapter

You want one of these. You need one of these. Or two

You want one of these. You need one of these. Or two

If you get a RAP2 and have a Gamecube or Xbox, you’ll want to pick up one of these little gems so you can use the awesome PS2 stick on your other consoles. This handy adapter is plug-and-play and is a great alternative to the Gamecube’s semi-crappy controller design for its fighters. Price paid: $10 Est. value: $10 Overall: 9

I also have a youtube video detailing the same. Sorry for the shitty audio.