Flappy Bird: A note about 8-bit sprites

February 9, 2014 at 6:08 pm | Posted in Video Games | 5 Comments
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All other things aside, as someone who has had to create both 8-bit and 16-bit sprites… When I read captions like these: “look how similar these are, this is ripped art” alongside images like this:

Flappy Bird 1

I feel the need to point out that 8-bit graphics with such severe palette and size limitations will all end up looking pretty similar. As the image below says, Flappy Bird and a Cheep Cheep look no more similar than a Cheep Cheep and a vast array of NES sprites pulled from multiple different NES games from multiple different companies.

Flappy Bird 2

The same can be said about pipes with such graphical limitations (friends of mine who had to create faux 3D metal in the NES era and before will all attest to this). It saddens me that death threats and other cruel forms of vitriol are being slung over something like this.

similar vs ripping off 2

Are You Quick Enough??

June 15, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Posted in Video Games | Leave a comment
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Hi everyone! Today I have a pretty silly video to share with you all. Last week my friend Phuong released his game, “Are You Quick Enough 2,” which is a fun and addictive iPhone game where you can play a ton of Wario Ware style mini-games. So if you like virtually arm wrestling your friends and throwing ninja stars at bad guys, and want to support a fellow hard working indie developer, be sure to check out his game! Also, I thought it appropriate to pair his trailer (which I made sure to fully dorkify with scenes depicting the “wrong way to do mini-games” (as demonstrated by me) with some Megaman 2: Quick Man on the piano (the theme is Quick!! I guess the theme could also be the number 2… or just: games I like). Anyways, I hope you enjoy:

Why I love video game music

December 1, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Posted in Video Games | 7 Comments
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I’ve been experimenting with a new video setup in order to try and improve the audio quality of my piano videos. I really wanted Hard Man’s theme from Mega Man 3 to sound good because it’s very special to me… it was the first piece of video game music I had ever learned when I was a kid, and it launched me in the direction of loving video game music and eventually pursuing it as a career. So… here is my piano improvisation of Hard Man’s theme from Mega Man 3:

I also suggest listening to the original NES version… the middle part is especially great and really matches the fast-paced feel of his stage. Lastly, here is a vlog that I made explaining why I love video game music (sorry for the weird thumbnail… youtube always seems to catch me in the weirdest poses, or when I’m half-blinking):

Play for Japan and To Far Away Times

April 14, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Posted in Video Games | 11 Comments
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Last week I was invited to participate in Akira Yamaoka’s Play for Japan: The Album, which will be released on iTunes at the end of May. The album is going to be a compilation of music created by video game composers from around the world, and all proceeds will be donated to the relief effort in Japan. I can’t tell you how honored I am to be able to help in this way; my favorite game composers, whom I have looked up to since I was a child will also be participating (Yasunori Mitsuda, Nobuo Uematsu, Akira Yamaoka, etc.). I will try my hardest to compose something beautiful for this album, I hope that I can do a good job!

Also, Matt made a request for “To Far Away Times,” and since he’s like the biggest Chrono Trigger fan I know (he even had a job beta testing the original SNES version) I had to fulfill it ^_^ Hope you enjoy!

Mega Man 2 – Air Man (piano improvisation)

April 12, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Posted in Video Games | 3 Comments
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Random story: When I was in 7th grade, I took a cooking class and the teacher made us choose three “life accomplishments” to write a mini essay about… I don’t remember the last one (and I don’t remember why we did this in a cooking class), but the 1st one I wrote about was how I overcame my claustrophobia by forcing myself to ride an elevator over and over again at Circus Circus in Reno. The 2nd one was beating Mega Man 5. I didn’t have any compunctions whatsoever about putting that one on there.

With that, I give you… (Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy… Woods!! 100 points if you get that reference)… ahem: Air Man’s theme from Mega Man 2 (yes, I know it’s not from 5, but I hope that was a good enough introductory story in that it pertained to my love of the NES Mega Man series ^^). Hope you enjoy!

Chrono Trigger – Frog’s Theme (piano improvisation)

April 8, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Posted in Video Games | 11 Comments
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This one is super short. I was messing around after finishing the recording of “To Good Friends” and decided to play “Frog’s Theme” as well… Originally I wasn’t going to post it because it’s not even 30 seconds long, but then I got a request for it… Now I’m really glad I didn’t just delete it! Hope you enjoy!

Also… who is your favorite Chrono Trigger character? Mine is either Frog or Schala… but then again, I also really like Robo. In terms of battle parties, my favorite was Chrono, Marle, and Ayla because it was fun to do Cube Toss and Falcon Strike!

Chrono Trigger – To Good Friends (piano improvisation)

April 7, 2011 at 12:21 am | Posted in Video Games | 16 Comments
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I love this song ❤

No Yoshi is an Island

April 3, 2011 at 2:45 am | Posted in Video Games | 10 Comments
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I don’t know why Yoshi makes me so happy. Perhaps it’s because I have such fond memories of playing Yoshi’s Island when I was younger. Perhaps it’s because everything in his world is so weird and funny and cute…

See those puffy white things? If you eat them then your pupils will get really small, you’ll completely lose your balance, and the world will wave back and forth as if you’ve had too much to drink. The level is very appropriately named, “Touch Fuzzy Get Dizzy.” Besides hallucinogenic dandelion puffs, you will also be shrunken and eaten by a frog (your only way out being to shoot eggs at its uvula), sent into outerspace to fight a crow by pushing spikes through the other side of the planet (which I suspect was an inspiration for Mario Galaxy), morphed into trains, cars, helicopters, and submarines, and chased by someone named “Tap Tap the Red Nose.”

The world is highly interactive for a Super Nintendo game, which is probably why I spent so much time replaying it… Besides wanting to get 100% on all the levels so I could unlock bonus mini-games and secret levels, I also wanted to uncover all the little hidden details that made the world feel so creative and whimsical. In one of the levels, there’s a row of enemies standing above you. Their goal is to pass a bomb from one side of the room to your location so that they can hit you with it… But if you stomp the ground while the bomb is being passed from enemy to enemy, whoever is holding the bomb will prematurely drop it, causing the poor butterfingers to lower his head in shame as his peers disapprovingly shake their heads.

I could go on and on about how much I loved the gameplay, the puzzles, the character art, the music, and the world… but the thing I love the most about this game was how it inspired me. When I was younger, I used to subscribe to Nintendo Power (I also got grounded a lot for calling the Nintendo Power Hotline, but that’s another story)… My favorite issue was #77 because it had an article on Shigeru Miyamoto that completely fascinated me. This was the first time I’d ever heard anything about the creator of Super Mario Bros. and I was immediately impressed by him. When I was growing up, I always found myself immersed in some sort of creative activity… I drew comics of my friends on the side of my math homework, I procrastinated practicing my Classical music assignments because I was too busy improvising new songs or figuring out how to play the music from Little Nemo the Dream Master on the piano, I wrote stories and designed new levels in Megaman, and I was always imagining. The more I learned about Shigeru Miyamoto, the more I felt like I could relate to him and how he saw the world. Yoshi’s Island was like this big crazy manifestation of all that creativity… and after reading that Nintendo Power article, it became my dream to work in the video game industry; I promised myself that I would never abandon my creativity and that I’d always try to look at the world with a childlike heart.

So that brings me to the latest video:

This is my improvisation of the ending theme song from Yoshi’s Island, which was written by Koji Kondo. It’s beautiful and sweet; a perfect way to end the game. The premise of the game is that Kamek (a wizard and caretaker of Baby Bowser) has foretold that Mario would stop Bowser in the future… so he sends his cronies to kidnap Baby Mario as he’s being transported by the stork to his future parents. The cronies are able to kidnap Luigi and the stork, but Mario falls safely onto the island of the Yoshis. Shortly after, the Yoshis set forth to rescue Luigi and the stork so that the babies can be delivered to their parents. At the very end of the game, the parents hold up Baby Mario and Luigi, and “heroes are born” is shown at the bottom of the screen. Right at that moment, the Super Mario Bros. “level completed” riff from the original game is been worked into the composition… it’s so beautiful… I’m slightly embarassed to admit this, but I get tears in my eyes during that part.

Anyways, I hope you like this rendition… and if you’ve never played Yoshi’s Island, I hope you get the chance to play this wonderful game. Who knows, maybe it’ll inspire you, too.

Thug Santa Minecraft

January 3, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Posted in Video Games | 15 Comments
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A few weeks back Dylan introduced us to the wonderful world of private multi-player servers on Minecraft. It was the first time I’d played in months (I had previously sworn off Minecraft after losing several hours worth of goods to an untimely spider and skeleton related death deep in an unnavigable mine shaft). After deciding it was okay for me to play again, Dylan showed us around his private server (which was incredible, I can’t even imagine how long it took them to build that snow fortress), and then invited us to try out a separate server.

We start messing around and building random things when suddenly, in the midst of building a giant “Oooo Cocoon” statue, George starts getting attacked by some invisible force. It keeps harassing him while he’s trying to work, and finally manages to kill him and take all his items. Once George gets back from the spawn point, the invisible force then gives all his items back. We couldn’t figure out what was going on, so we started joking around in the chat window about how it was an invisible Thug Santa… he comes to kill you and then gives you presents. Dylan finally figured out that it was his brother Jordan, who was exploiting a bug that lets you come back as invisible once you die… So to keep him from attacking us, he imprisoned Jordan in an Obsidian jail.

Believing that we were now safe, I started building a house. But then I get the message from Dylan, “Jordan’s escaped, be careful!” At this point I’m a bit afraid because I’m expecting some invisible force to come and kill me in the dark… but when I turn around, I see this coming towards me (click to enlarge for full-effect):

Jordan actually went and found a Santa avatar so he could come and chase us with it. Believe me, getting chased by a freaky lego Santa Claus carrying a diamond sword in the dark is nothing short of frightening. When he finally caught up with me, he threw coal at me!!

And for those who have no idea what I’m talking about, I strongly recommend checking out this game. Remember how as a kid you could play with legos or blocks or dollhouses, and it was endlessly fun and creative? Minecraft feels just like that. Despite looking like a blocky cube world, it somehow manages to touch upon some fundamental aspect of human nature… and the interesting thing is that it seems to engage people in an amazing variety of ways. My one piece of advice is to watch this video before playing, it teaches you how to survive the first night:

As for the first screenshot, Dylan gave me a bunch of gear which I thought was for the purpose of defending myself against Thug Santa Jordan… it was actually so he could hold a 1-on-1 arena match in the pit he had just built.

How to get the Singing Sunflower Pet

December 28, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Posted in Video Games | 11 Comments
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I thought I’d do a quick post on this because I noticed that I’m still getting tons of visitors via search terms like “how to get singing sunflower pet.” For those who are still looking: to get this pet you have to complete a series of quests offered by Brazie the Botanist, a Goblin NPC located just under the Sludgeguard Tower in the Hillsbrad Foothills. You’ll find him around the red X in the screenshot below:

If you’re interested in more comprehensive walkthrough, Robin Torres from Joystiq.com did a great live stream on this topic a while back, which you can find here. Or feel free to check out TotalHalibut’s video from the Cata beta where he plays through the entire Peacebloom vs. Ghouls mini-game.

She seems so sunny, even in Undercity 😛

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