Sometimes They Come Back!

12 March, 1998

So, a week has gone by since I last wrote something. It’s been quite a busy week for me, really. My copy of Dummies is a little more dog-eared than when I last wrote but quite honestly, after last weekend’s C coding blitz I never got stuck into it like that again. I suppose university projects, meetings and my buddy’s 21st birthday party all kind of got in the way. I did manage to get a few good hours worth done over the week - and I would have done a lot more over the weekend, except I was in London (!) for my pal GY’s 21st. Excuses, excuses, huh? Anyway, today was notable because it was the second time I saw a Yaroze in action.

This evening, James dropped by my place on his way home and we trotted up to his place again. After stopping for (the now customary) fish ‘n’ chips, I was treated to a much more advanced version of Snowball Fight. Improved animation, different maps and slightly tweaked control and aiming mechanisms were evident, as well as the presence of (gasp!) music. Very nice. I would also like to state on the official record that I was the first person in the world to beat ‘Mr Frosty’ at his own game (quite literally) - heh! Still, my score was something reduced to something suitably feeble by the end of the evening’s SBF session.

Most of the rest of the time wasn’t spend on the Yaroze, but leafing through James’ emulator and MIDI game music files. I had about 200MB worth of emulation stuff on my hard drive last summer, but a horrific FAT error meant that I lost it all. It was with a faintly teary eye that I once again played Star Wars on MAME, and listened to the Castlevania IV music. I heartily recommend that anyone interested in games programming who wasn’t really into (or ‘around during’ - a scary thought) the 80’s arcade and 8-bit scene gets hold of brilliant emulators like Nesticle (NES), Genecyst (Mega Drive/Genesis), Z80 (Sinclair Spectrum) or MAME (arcade emulator). These games might be old, but many of them still play brilliantly, and to be honest the games you’ll be coding (at least to start with) will have a lot more in common with Lunar Jetman than Tekken 3! I also firmly believe historical perspective is important if you want to succeed at something - it’s a lot like movie directors: guys like Tarantino, Scorsese and Spielberg live and breathe film. Likewise, if you’re serious about games, you have to understand where they’re coming from. I can’t stand people who complain about crappy graphics in old games - they’re often the same ignoramuses who can’t stand watching black and white movies, or think amazing special effects equate to a good film. So, is ‘Flubber’ a better movie than ‘Casablanca’, then? Likewise, is ‘Incredible Hulk’ on Playstation a better game than ‘Commando’? Oh, how I love my over-the-top examples…

I’m not one of those bores who thinks games were oh-so-much-better 10 years ago, in case you’re beginning to think that. I have a sneaking suspicion most of us would rather play Virtua Fighter 3 than Way of the Exploding Fist any day! International Karate + may be crying out for a 90’s remake, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to get a second-hand Amiga and throw away my N64! Like films, mediocre games will often date badly, but the classics of the past deserve to be remembered in their pure and original format, rather than recycled into flashy but vacuous 3D versions of their former selves. I applaud Namco for their museum series, even if some of the more recent titles are distinctly ropey! OK, rant over.

It gets late, so I leave. I arrive home. I sleep. Next week is looking pretty busy. Hopefully, my Yaroze will arrive before the weekend, and I can get it out my system a bit before my end of term exams! I’m not entirely confident in my ability to shelve the Yaroze till after what is, after all, a mere "class" exam. Again, time will tell…

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