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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mega Man 9: A Review

EDIT: Oh, another interview of me went up at Interview Game Makers. Check it out!


I haven't done one of these straight-up yet, have I? Let's review Mega Man 9!

Now for a while, I was really hesitant to get this game. I'd been reading reviews of it, and they all seemed to tell me that because I never played a Mega Man game before, I would hate it and its difficulty. But I really, really dig the retro stylings of the game, and I'd already been listening to the soundtrack for a month or two (yep, I got the soundtrack without playing the game--I'm really into VG music)... eventually my curiosity got the better of me and I finally bought it.

And I'm going to be honest: I like this game. A lot.

No I never played Mega Man, but I didn't need to. This is a great game in its own right and a fun introduction to the series. The simplicity in its concept combined with really tight, effective level designs make for a fun package. The levels are all technically short but their life is extended by the array of different unique mechanics you'll be encountering room after room, not to mention the number of times you'll be dying and replaying them before you finish.

And honestly, this game never frustrated me through the deaths. Sure, I might end up quitting after only half an hour of dying, but I always come back; it really does an amazing job at filling my need for some good old gaming once in a while. The game gives a lot to help you overcome its challenge, too. You can buy extra lives and a special item that halves damage for one run, two very useful options that can make up for the fact that you actually suck. Through sheer stubbornness, the game trains you to overcome its challenges the hard way, death by death, until you finally reach the level's end with an incredibly satisfying victory.

And this is old news to all you Mega Man vets, I'm sure, but I really love how the game is structured too; you can choose from any of the 8 levels and bosses to fight at any given time rather than progressing in a linear fashion, and after beating a boss you claim their item to equip whenever you desire. While the game does have its "right" boss order if you want the straightest path to the game's end, having the freedom to defeat each level and collect its item in whichever order you please is really liberating. Being able to play a different level for a change after dying several times on a particularly difficult one is also a breath of fresh air and helps alleviate any frustration.

At only ten dollars, I'd recommend this game to anyone who enjoys simplicity and a bit of retro in his games--NOT just Mega Man veterans. They don't make commercial games like this anymore, and if you don't try it now you're missing out.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sometimes I Hate People

Well, I'm close to finishing exams for school and I'm a bit tired of studying, so I thought I'd give you guys a bit of an entertaining post. The following are some real messages that have been sent to me on YoYoGames.


First, he posted this review of my game:
"Music sucks, plot sucks, animation sucks......... horribly. Sorry, but i'm being honest. Other than that, challenging bosses, semi-complex levels, good enemy AI. I enjoyed the gameplay aspect. but playing the whole game to find out the "secret" was quite annoying. In the future, please invest more time into plot, sprites and the cutscenes at least, even if it means you dont get as much programming done."

Then sends me this private message:
"Hey, i'm currently in the process of making a top down rpg, and your game has a couple features that i've been trying to put into my game for a while. Thing like the combo attacks, dialog windows, charged attacks and counters. I was wondering if i could the editable file for assassin blue to reverse engineer it to get these features into my game. You'll get full credit for your help."

Let him down easy:

Grasping for straws:
"Way to help a fellow maker."

Trying to be helpful:
"Don't guilt me, there are plenty of existing examples that are far easier to understand than the editable of my game."

To which he says:
"Not trying to guilt you there. Just saying that the game maker community is an accepting community who helps their own. And please dont act like your game is some immensely difficult program that someone like me could never comprehend. As awesome as you might think it is, it still needs alot of work creatively."

So let me just make sure I got this straight: he insults me and my work and tells me I'm shit, and then gets offended when I refuse to offer him my help? Am I being unreasonable here?


Hey! I don't know what copyrights are!
"Hello I was astonded by your game "Assassin Blue" It was perfect, but I would like to barrow some the sprites the following characters: Blue, Red, Gunthar, and Riley for a game I'm working on, and figured I'd ask you if you could give me them to save the effort of ripping them, Thank your, please respond.

~(Name removed)"

Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't stealing my work was such an arduous task for you! Here, just take it all!

So after I told him "No," he decided to give it another go...

"Hello again, I will ask you again explaining more in-full:

Hi I am making a game called YOYORPG, an RPG game with characters from the best games on this site, I am intending to use the characters' original sprites from their games. I have been intrigued by your game, and would like to add Red and Blue to the cast, I implore you to please make a sprite sheet of said characters for the game, I would also like Riley and Gunthar as bosses in the game. If you give them to me I will not distribute them in any way. If I do not get Red or Blue from you,
I WILL rip them. I am asking youout of respect and to make retrieving said sprites easier.

~(Name removed)"

Make entire RPG sprite sheets for you? What makes these people think that I have the time to do something like that? And how is it that he assumes he can just steal my work if I don't give it to him?!


I could keep going, but I won't. In closing, I'd like to ask people to stop sending me stupid questions. Thanks.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Let's Play Assassin Blue!

I thought this was hilarious and just had to share it...

A dude from Britain who goes by the name Malefact played through Assassin Blue, recording his commentary along the way. Fun times! I stuck all the videos into a single playlist so you can enjoy them all from the comfort of my blog.

That aside...

I haven't had much time to work on my new game, but I have given it a title: Yellow Goo Love! I think those who enjoyed the likes of Assassin Blue will find this an odd change of pace, but, hey. Now here's a screenshot or two for those who are hungry to see them...

The intro cutscene, from which the game gets its name...

Yeah, I threw in a Super Mario Galaxy level for kicks.

Holy shit, I was featured on
My life = Rather complete

Monday, January 19, 2009

My Next Game...

...Looks like it might be this!

No title yet, but this is some kind of puzzle/physics/platformer thing. You hold down the mouse to aim and release to fling the little yellow goo ball through the air. A lot of focus will be on different level gimmicks/mechanics, like blocks you can stick to.

I've been playing around with this for a couple days now, don't know how much time I'll have to work on it in the coming days/weeks. I might skip the WIP release and just put this out when it's finished, at the rate it's going.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Who's Famous? Me.

My very first interview following Assassin Blue's success just went up at the wonderful indie gaming blog MOUSE NO! You can read it here.

I love doing interviews. I'll be putting up more as they come up.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Assassin Blue: Behind the Scenes Part 1

If you're here now, it's probably because of the recent popularity of my game, Assassin Blue. When I made Wolf I included my commentary as an unlockable feature, but there was no such thing in Assassin Blue... so I've decided to talk about the game's development here.

The Origins of Blue

Blue was a character I actually conceived of 2 or 3 years before I even started work on Assassin Blue. He wasn't called Blue, either. At the time I'd been working on a classic-style RPG like Earthbound or Dragon Quest, and I was coming up with character designs for the party. These images have been previously unreleased...

Walking animation

See the third character? That's Blue! And for the record, yes, the fourth party member is Kylie, the one and same heroine of Wolf.

His original design was virtually identical to the one he has today, down to his character. He was a boastful show-off with a strong moral compass, trapped in a promiscuous line of work (in this case, thievery). In addition to having the flashiest sword attacks, he provided healing spells for the party, making him one badass cleric.

Around the time that game was being developed, a big game idea was forming; why not make a Super Smash Brothers game using game maker characters? I was among the first to submit a design...

This was his first time being sprited for a platformer. I think the idea stuck.

Even though he hadn't actually made an appearance in-game, I tried to get him into the Smash Bros game. But as history tells us, both the Smash Bros game and the RPG were eventually discontinued and the mysterious Thief was never known.

...Or at least, until another game came along, called Wolf.

Wolf, my Zelda-esque adventure title.

The story of Wolf involves Kylie, a nice young woman, who inadvertently becomes a werewolf and kills just about everyone in her village. Now the game ends there, but originally I had some ideas for how to continue it. I had plans in particular for my old friend the Thief...

Blue as he was going to appear in Wolf.

His name was Hiro now, a twist on "Hero." He was to act as a foil to Kylie. Officially, he was a monster hunter who caught wind of Kylie's curse and pursued her. He was radically different from the Blue we know, however; he was interested only in his own glory and fame, and thought nothing of justice or the right thing, solidifying the irony in his name "Hiro."

I had his first appearance worked out, too. Kylie was to run into a lady being attacked by monsters, but just before rushing to her rescue--SHLINK! Blue appeared from nowhere, killing the monster and trying to impress the two ladies with his arrogant gloating.

The lady he saves, infatuated with her savior. Kylie was wise to him from the start, though.

But I decided to keep Wolf short and simple, so I cut out Hiro and released the game. Months later I began working on Assassin Blue, focusing the game on the hero I'd spent so many years working with.

Getting the Game Going

Getting the game off the ground proved to be nearly impossible. I spent two short weeks programming the basic engine in April or May 2008, until I had a demo that looked like this...

With the balance of combat and platforming, I knew I was on to something, but I lacked the spriting skills to make decent tiles for the game. So I put out at least 5 team requests across various forums, looking for someone to join up with. I got an early response from a guy called Kindred, who worked with me to make some tiles for the game's level 1.

The original level 1

The game was looking to be awesome, until Kindred suddenly disappeared off the face of the Earth. After he was gone for a month I put up all my team requests again, spending weeks looking for a response, slowly losing hope... To keep myself interested, I programmed the first boss, Riley, but even after he was finished I never got a response. Frustrated, I discontinued the project.

Then in July I found the old editable, full of potential but missing decent backgrounds. That was when the idea hit me; if I can't sprite the backgrounds, why not hand draw them? And so was born the Assassin Blue we know today:

The game's very first official release looked like this. Compare to today's:

After about a week of backgrounding, level 1 was finished and was met with great success. With another week of work I turned my very first original demo into level 2, squoze the already-made Riley at the end, and the game's first 3 levels were done. The rest is history.

One Last Fun Fact!

This was Red's original character design. Seriously.


That's it for now. Next time I think I'll be doing something a bit more analytic, studying the game's level design or story...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Super Mario 64 is Better Than Mario Galaxy

I often see people claim that Super Mario Galaxy is a better Mario game than Super Mario 64, if not the greatest Mario game to date. I completely disagree, and I've always wanted a chance to talk about why in full detail. So here's my two cents on why Mario's first 3D platforming outing is still far better than his most recent...

Super Mario 64


Graphics-wise, both games are/were pushing the limits of the system and treading new ground in their respective times. I don't think I need to spend more time on that particular matter.

But when considered as a whole, Mario Galaxy wasn't as universally appealing. With its cutesy bunny rabbits, cheesy talk about stars and frolicking in fields of flowers, Galaxy is decidedly girly and childish (an opinion only further made popular with the infamous U R MR GAY discovery). I felt outright embarrassed to be playing it at certain points. Mario 64 certainly was no GTA, but it didn't border on this level of girliness; as a young child and as a young adult today I still have fun playing it, and not once does it feel too "kiddy."

Mario Galaxy also got a lot of praise for its complex, epic orchestrations. I'm not going to argue with that, the music was big, loud and adventurous, and it fit. But the N64 cartridge they stuffed Mario 64 could never hoped to achieve that level of orchestration anyway. What Mario 64 gave us were a lot of really catchy, memorable tunes, songs I still remember today very clearly. What about Mario Galaxy? How many tunes do you remember from that? In all its powerful orchestration and big sound, it lost something. I'm not saying a game has to have memorable music to be good, but Mario 64 did have some classic videogame melodies and Galaxy didn't.

Super Mario Galaxy


Mario Galaxy brought some new cards to the table in the gameplay department, that I won't deny. It's high point--for me--were the really great new powerups. Ice Mario? Boo Mario? Yes please.

And of course it got a lot of talk going about its crazy physics engine, right? Mario could walk around the surface of an entire sphere! But as cool as that was, it created some problems, too. The game's gravity rules weren't universal: sometimes you could walk around the bottom of a a planet, sometimes you couldn't, and there was never any indication of whether or not you could. There were a few good handful of times when I died because I assumed I could walk off the edge to the underside of a platform.

Mario 64's level design was more fun, too. Yes, you read correctly. Mario 64's open, explorable levels were fun and exciting, and they totally captured our wonder, totally helped us understand what a 3D game could be. Mario Galaxy's levels are almost all linear; the only path is to go from planet A, find the launch star, get to planet B, etc. And even when it did offer some large explorable areas, they never felt as open and exciting as in Mario 64. Really my biggest gripe in Mario Galaxy was that they reused level maps. I repeat: They took one level, copy and pasted it, and called it a new one with a little recoloring. Don't believe me? Look:
Wow! What a cool level!
Hey, wait, isn't this a little familiar?

I don't care if they had some differences here and there, if the missions were different, whatever. This was a HUGE game, destined to be a trend-setter for all Wii games to come. It was Mario's newest platforming adventure in years. How is it that nobody, at any level of this game development, saw level repetition and thought "This is great"? The game already has a few dozen maps, I'd rather have one less than the same one again.

Is Mario Galaxy a good game? Yes, it is. It was fun, certainly among the best of the Wii's offerings. But it isn't at the same level as Super Mario 64, and I can't agree with anyone who thinks so.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Look At My Favorite GM Games

Alright, so. I've been a member of the Game Maker Community for about 4 years now, and in that time I've played a LOT of games. I'd like to talk about my four most favorite Game Maker-made games of all time. These are in chronological order.

Grapnel by ArchMageOmega

Take Spiderman-Man, combine him with the famous Helicopter game, and you've got Grapnel. This is a game that somehow borders on perfection; completely engrossing, completely addictive, exhilirating, and amazingly simple.
This is a game I will end up spending hours playing, usually without even thinking about it.
It's only flaw is in the unlockables; there are some really awesome ones that make the game even better (Accelarate and Rubber Floor, I'm looking at you) but many aren't very good. Geting the money to buy an unlockable is hard enough, worse that the one you decide to buy might end up being a waste of time.

Clean Asia! by cactus

Clean Asia! is seriously awesome. The story involves giant alien eyeballs attacking Asia, and so of course the only method to defeat them is to send a lone pilot out against them in a super-cool spaceship. Whatever.
The game has two different ships from which you can select, the Reflector and Attractor. Of the two, the Reflector is the more classic ship and was the one I used first. But the Attractor is where things get cool. Its only main attack is a short ramming attack. It can blast through parts of the enemy ship, shattering them into a hundred tiny squares... and then with the second button, it draws the enemy's shattered pieces toward it, like a giant vortex of multicolored squares. Once you've got some enemy pieces floating around you, you can fire them one by one with the ram button, or--my personal favorite--just let go of the attractor, unleashing a storm of squares that does massive damage. And then, naturally, the enemy will shatter apart more and you'll have more pieces to fling at him.
Combine excellent SHMUP gameplay with excellent vector-y graphics, three totally different totally crazy fun levels, and some kickass music to top it off, and you've got one hell of a game.

The Hanrahan Game: Final Mix by flying squire

The Hanrahan Game is straight-up well made action with a storyline that is pointless yet engaging. The graphics and music aren't spectacular but they work; the game does a good job at keeping things varied with many different locations and colorful environments. At the core this game is fun because of the awesome swordplay and enemy physics. When killed enemies go flying around in a hilrious mess, and you feel pretty badass running through a group of enemies, throwing them about like a demon. There's also a nice subweapon feature that opens the doors to some really cool extra attacks (particularly those of the explosive variety). The only major flaw in this game are some poorly designed bosses.

Shotgun Ninja by cactus

Shotgun Ninja sets itself apart from the other games on this list as being the only I've actually managed to finish. This is partly a testament to how short it is, but even more a testament to how much fun it is. Slippery platforming with some awesome features like sticking to the ceiling, combined with fun shotgun/grenade kills makes for really fun gameplay. The graphics and sound are awesomely retro, and the music is particularly catchy and fun. Not to mention a hilarious plotline and engaging level design.
The only moment in which the game loses its magic is during a couple of the particularly long levels; getting hit once kills you, and dying makes you respawn at the beginning of the level. This leads to some huge frustration, but the game's sheer awesomeness made it bearable for me to play through the same level 15-20 times.

Those are my favorite Game Maker-made games. As I play more games of interest I'll probably be posting about them here.

Friday, January 09, 2009


Hey everybody!

I am Banov, and this is my brand new blog.

I'll be posting all sorts of fun things concerning me, myself, and I; my thoughts on games, music, news and updates on my own projects, etc. It'll be fun.