Mega Man, in love and death

I get why Mega Man fans are insatiable. Even after 10 games to the main series’ and at least double that if you include spin-offs and variations, it wasn’t enough for me as a child. I remember browsing the game rack at Bonanza Video and being unable to taper the thirst for more of the series’ Robot Masters. It didn’t matter if I could actually beat any of the Robot Masters, those meat shields made of metal for the nefarious Dr. Wily. I’d have my ass handed to me by every Frog, Skull, and Air Man. I just wanted to…


The forgotten politics behind Contra’s name

Do a quick Google search of “contra.” Browsing the first few pages, you should see a saturation of links about the videogame—the now-primary version of the word—sprinkled with other definitions. Next in the deck is contra as preposition: “against, contrary, or opposed to,” suitingly enough. Then, a “contemporary New York cuisine” restaurant; contra-dancing, a folksy flirty form adaptable to many musical styles; the second album by Vampire Weekend; and eventually, peeking through before being closed out again, you’ll stumble upon the elephant in the room. Contras are the name of the group of soldiers from Nicaragua that Ronald Reagan cultivated…

Super Russian Roulette

Super Russian Roulette turns a beloved childhood console against you

No matter how old we get the NES is seen through the same preserved lens—that of our youthful pupils. Our bodies grow hair, stretch, they wrinkle. But that classic grey plastic will remain supple for our entire life span (it will degrade slowly, over the centuries). It remains a steadfast icon for our childhoods. This may explain why there are those that want to drag the NES through the decades with them, re-purposing it, assigning new and probably less innocent memories to its cartridge slots and controllers. Perhaps this is why Super Russian Roulette exists. It’s a subversive piece of software…


Introducing the world’s first 8-player, 360-degree NES

The memories a lot of people share with the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES for short) are typically rooted in solitude. Running across World 1-1 for the first time, embarking on a quest to confront Ganon at Death Mountain, venturing through Zebes to kill Mother Brain—all, for the most part, alone. Multiplayer existed in the realms of games like Dr. Mario, but was always confined to only two players. That changes now. Disney Researcher Bob Sumner and the ETH Zurich team have created the world’s first eight-player NES, one that also projects onto a 360-degree display. Not modding or hacking the system…


In praise of Mega Man X

Going fast is easy—the challenge is in reacting to the unwritten near-future while maintaining environmental awareness to avoid running into shit. For all the risks to life and limb, the human brain and body craves the thrill of speed. As such, even relatively primitive virtualized acceleration titillates. In the 16-bit era, games like Sonic the Hedgehog and F-Zero managed to create a placebo of velocity; my muscles tingled at every near-miss and last-second pass, or more often my ears throbbed with the rage of repetitive crashes. A lack of larger peripheral vision is what held back the otherwise stylish and…


Bring order from chaos with this NES glitch simulator

Near the top of a list of a child’s worst fears is an unsaved game crash. It comes swiftly with an onslaught of colors flashing on the screen, the crackle of the soundtrack being halted to a resonating hum, and the impending feeling of doom that you’re probably going to need to take on Bomb Man all over again. Picture Processing is an NES CPU simulator where you try to unscramble glitched-out images from NES titles, back to their original, playable form. The entire title is a play on the colors and randomness of old NES glitches—the start screen is…


Here’s how Shovel Knight devs made the first modern NES game

The discourse around Shovel Knight, the chivalrous and retrofitted platformer released earlier in the week for Wii U, 3DS, and Steam, is that it’s a NES game developed a few decades after the fact—very reminiscent of blasting renegade robots with Mega Man or pogo-hopping on a cane with Scrooge McDuck.  But in a really fun postmortem on the game at Gamasutra, David D’Angelo of the dev team explains that this is not merely a rehash of the old. The design is result of a thoroughly investigated vision of how games for the classic NES would look today if its predecessor,…