Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Triptych: Steamboat Rockman Edition

"The Year Is 193X" by Rongs1234

"American Heroes" (t-shirt) by Beware1984

"1920s Pop Culture Collaboration" (t-shirt) by the RBC and the RBA

Can you really call it a demake when the goal format predates videogames? I SAY YES.

Triptych: Frogger

"Wooden Frogger" by The Wooden Arcade

"Froggy's Lament" (t-shirt) by Dave Perillo

"Life Cycle of Frogger" by Phil Jones

Triptych: I Like Turtles

"TMNT" by Matt Synowicz

"The Turtle Van" by LN Design

"Raphael" by Adrien Menielle

Triptych: This Reminds Me Of A Murder

"Sherlock Crest" (t-shirt) by Thomas Ketchen

"Chef Moriardee" (t-shirt) by Michael Myers

"Professor Layton And The Curious Crossover" by MarauderOctobot

Triptych: What The Math?!

"Tollbooth Adventures" (t-shirt) by Karen Hallion

"Adventure Time x Tintin" by Francisco Perez

"Super Adventure Brothers" by Victor Louis Maury

Boy, people sure love mashing up oul' Finn and Jake with other things that they like.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Triptych: Ol' Yeller

"Mega Man Tribute" by Helbetico

"Mega Man: The Yellow Devil" by Matt Cummings

"Yellow Devil" by Chris Furniss

"Yellow Devil Powered Up" by Blademanking12

"Mega Man Tribute: Yellow Devil" by Rongs1234

"Mega Tribute" by Francisco Perez

Yellow Devil! Remember this guy?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cthulhu Cthursday: It's Madness, I Tell You!

"Cthulhu Awakening Front Poster" by John F. Sebastian

"Comrade Cthulhu" (t-shirt) by Gwen Callahan

"Spelling Bee" (t-shirt) by Teo Zirinis

"Land of Lovecraft" (t-shirt) by Nik Holmes

"Cthuloops" (t-shirt) by Brandon Wilhelm

"Struttin' Cthulhu" by Chris Goodwin

Triptych: Roamers, Lurkers and Herds

"The Walking Dead Poster" by Andy Helms

"Typographic Poster For The Walking Dead" by Gabriel Marques

"It's Walking Dead Time!" by Robert Barnett

Dang you guys, I love The Walking Dead. I don't care what all the haters are saying, about how the pacing is off, how there's too much talking about feelings and not enough zombie-killing action, and how Lori is an idiot. I will confess that Lori is an idiot because man who could argue that, but as far as adaptations of comic books go, it's pretty damn near perfection in my eyes. I can't wait for Michonne to show up and really up the bad-ass ante of the series.

Before the first season aired, I came across these fan-made introductory titles, by one Daniel Kanemoto. While I've definitely warmed up to the title sequence that ended up on the show, I'm still pretty fond of these. Check 'em out!

Triptych: Amateratsu

"Ōkami" by Warren Louw

"Amateratsu + Issun" by Greg Sujkowski

"Videogame Minimalism: Ōkami" by Daniel Bevis

I recently started replaying the PS2 classic Ōkami, a game that I will probably eventually cover in my "Games To Play Before You Die" series. Man, that is one beautiful game... And yet somehow, also one of the most annoying in terms of how it replaces any spoken dialogue with squeaky sound effects, kind of a pixie-on-helium parents-in-Charlie-Brown's-world effect. Is that what we sound like to dogs?! Poor bastards.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Games To Play Before You Die: #11 - Little Nemo: The Dream Master

Little Nemo: The Dream Master (1990)
Publisher: Capcom

(“I told you last night that you would dream if you ate those doughnuts.
But you would not listen.” -- Nemo’s Mother)

Little Nemo in Slumberland, if you’re not familiar with it, was a comic strip by Winsor McCay that ran in newspapers from 1905 to 1914, enjoyed a brief revival in the 1920s, and and then fell, for the most part, into obscurity. The comic strips of the early 20th century were a much more elaborate affair than they are today, and McCay’s tale of a young boy who finds himself lost in increasingly troubling and surreal dreamscapes were, by today's standards, simultaneously amateurish and beautifully rendered. Recent years have seen a renewed interest in McCay’s work on Little Nemo, along with his previous strip Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend (which followed a similar format), but in 1990, outside of a select circle of aficionados of turn-of-the-century cartoons, both creator and comic strip were unknown.

So it was an odd choice for a licensed Nintendo game, to say the least. The fact that the game was based on a Japanese animated film, Little Nemo: Adventures In Slumberland, did little to quell the absurdity of its existence since, as it turns out, North American audiences were about as aware of trending Asian animated cinema as they were turn-of-the-century comic strips. We knew it had to have been based on something, but -- being blithely unaware of the source material -- we simply took it at face value instead of looking into it too deeply (this was before the ubiquitous omniscience of Wikipedia, remember, so trying to figure out where a game came from, and what it might have been based on, required a sight more legwork than it does today). Whatever it might have been, one thing that was certain was that it was a tight, well-executed and devilishly difficult Capcom platformer.

With the benefit of time, though, and a heightened cultural awareness of Winsor McCay’s signature work, revisiting Little Nemo: The Dream Master reveals a game packed to the brim with highly appropriate weirdness. Nemo feeds the various dream-creatures that he encounters with candy from an apparently bottomless bag, which not only tames them but, in proper dream fashion, turns them into frog- or bee- or mole-themed outfits for him to wear, with accompanying abilities. Nemo traverses a number of surprisingly large and creatively-designed levels, including an upside-down house, a speeding toy train and nighttime suburban rooftops, searching for keys to unlock the door at the end of each stage. The sheer number of possibilities engendered by the different animals Nemo tames in obtaining keys and solving puzzles is impressive, considering that the typical platformers of the day (even those produced by Capcom, who were widely regarded to be the masters of the 8-bit platformer genre) were fairly linear in construction.

In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Capcom's Nintendo platformers (also known as sidescrollers, hop-and-boppers, or jumping games) were known for three things. First, they all had fantastic soundtracks, as anyone who remembers the chiptune scores to DuckTales, Mega Man or Strider will attest to. Secondly, they were built on a very solid, stable engine; Capcom had a very thorough QA testing process, and bugs and flaws in their games were a distinct rarity. And finally, they were really bloody hard.

Little Nemo: The Dream Master is not an easy game. There was no save option, no password entry screen, enemies spawned endlessly, and spikes and pits were unforgiving in their placement. Playing it again today is an exercise in frustration verging on masochism, until we remember that back in the day, every game was hard (although perhaps not quite this hard). In a world of walkthroughs, cheat codes and god mode, we’ve forgotten what it was like to be truly challenged by what amounts to a children’s game, and this is one of the reasons that Little Nemo: The Dream Master deserves to be remembered.

Little Nemo was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990, at the tail end of Nintendo era, and stands as one of the last great games for that console.

(Following the end of the strip's run in 1927, Little Nemo was not officially seen in any media format (with the exception of reprints of the strip) until 1989, when the Japanese animated adaptation Little Nemo: Adventures In Slumberland was released, a period of 62 years. Little Nemo: The Dream Master was a licensed tie-in to that film, which did not receive a North American release until 1993, and even then to very little fanfare.)

Triptych: Expecto Patronum!

(Click for full-size)
"Expecto Patronum" by Eminina

"Dark Side of The Deathly Hallows" (t-shirt) by Jeremy Bingham

"Pinball Wizard" (t-shirt) by Ashley Hay

Pixel Up Your Desktop

(Wallpaper pack available here)
"Dragon Quest Slime Wallpaper" by Justin Ziarko

(1920x1080 wallpaper here)
"HD Space Invaders Tribal" by Fraser0206

(1680x1050 wallpaper here)
"Pac Man" by Abang Zam

Triptych: Yeah Science!

"Heisenberg and the Cartel of Death" (t-shirt) by ninjaink

"Mr. White" (t-shirt) by Tom Trager

"Br Ba" by Pasta Soup

Walter White is bad-ass. That is all.

Triptych: Toitles!

"TMNT" by Mike Gaboury (Wallpaper pack available here!)

"Ninja Melodies" (t-shirt) by Nathan Davis

"Shell Shock" by Kali Meadows

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Triptych: It's On Like Donkey Kong

"King of Kong" by Zero Lives

"Donkey Kong" by Oo-De-Lally

"Donkey Tron" by Drew Wise