Happy Birthday Link

The Zelda franchise is 25 today. Did anybody else play the NES version? It was awesome. It had a gold cartridge. So many hours of my childhood were spent searching for the 8th and 9th labyrinths (I never found them. This was before internet walkthroughs).

GeekDad and the Technologizer have more.

Zelda was the first game to offer a saved game facility, thanks to that little onboard battery.

Super Mario Bros Crossover will waste your life

Did you grow up playing Super Mario Bros? How about the Legend of Zelda? Megaman? Did you ever imagine what life would be like if Link (from Zelda) could run around stabbing those stupid goombas with his sword?

Now you can bring Link into Mario world, and stab away. Thanks to Super Mario Bros Crossover by Exploding Rabbit.

I played with Link. Powerups upgraded his sword. Playing Mario with the Zelda theme music is also kind of cool.

Reality bytes*

Video games these days are so much more fun than they were when I first picked up a console controller. I can’t remember which came first – the NES or the CD TV – it’s all a bit of a blur. Having a father with a casual gig writing games reviews had its perks. Actually, it must have been a NES. Unless the Vic-20 counts as a console…

It did, from memory, plug into your TV… in fact, as a delightful tangent – I should point out that Dad’s game reviewing gig came after he wrote and published this book – unavailable for GBP4.95 from The Book Depository – for those of you who aren’t link clickers it was called “Beyond Simple Basic – Delving deeper into your Vic-20”. Seriously, with a father like that what chance did I have of not turning out as a geek.

Anyway, that’s a significant digression from my original point – but the Vic-20 was an 8-bit machine, so it’s tangentially related. My point was – games are now better. And I’m going to suggest that graphic violence is what makes that so. So it warms me to the cockles of my heart to see this Flickr set – of 8-bit characters rendered beautifully and experiencing graphic deaths. Here’s the demise of a Goomba – cleverly titled Goombash…

There are plenty more where that came from. Including this Pac-Attack…

* the title is only vaguely clever if you know that there are 8 bits to a byte. I have actually always wondered why 8-bit machines weren’t called one byte machines. I might have to look that up…

Zapper mystery zapped

I’ve always wondered how the Nintendo Zapper worked. I was a big fan of Duck Hunt as a child.

We are living in the era of the wii – remotes with in built motion sensors with signals picked up by special peripherals near the TV. But in 1984 (the actual year – not the Orwellian future) these were the things dreams were made of – the 1984 type of dreams (the Orwellian future – not the actual year). 1984 was the year Duck Hunt was released.

Anyway, the Zapper apparently worked like this:

When you shot at one of the ducks in Duck Hunt, the screen would flash for a split second, and the duck would either plummet to Earth like a fallen angel, or continue flying around, oblivious to your vain attempts to destroy it. I always just assumed that the flash was for dramatic effect, but it turns out that it was the key to the Nintendo Zapper’s closely guarded secrets.

Instead of emitting an infrared blast every time the trigger is pulled, the Zapper housed a small sensor that could pick up the flashing screen. If you watched closely you would see that, every time the screen flashed, the duck(s) would be surrounded by a box that was a different color than the background. If the Zapper was pointed at one of the ducks when the trigger was pulled, it would register that the color was different, and thus score a hit. All of this would take place so quickly that, unless you knew what to look for, you would never notice.

Youtube Tuesday: 8 bit Batman

If you’re anything like me you’ve been picturing the Dark Knight – a movie that broke new ground by employing imax cameras for standard cinema shooting – in 8 bit NES style. Or maybe not. This just goes to show that you probably should have been. 

It kind of makes me sad that nobody’s out there programming NES games still…

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