Posts in category “Video Games”

Rayman (GBC) Review

Developer: Ubisoft Studios SRL
Release Date: 03/29/2000
Platform(s): Gameboy Color

I really do miss the days where different versions of games would come out on different platforms. It added some interesting variety and sometimes you'd get very interesting takes on the same concept. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater for the PS1 is an amazing game, and the Gameboy Advance Tonky Hawk games were a great translation of that style of game to an isometric perspective that worked on the GBA. Now translating a platformer to a portable system doesn't require the same amount of ingenuity, but Rayman for the Gameboy Color is an interesting downport of what is a more visually stunning PS1 game to the small screen.

The most major change from the PS1 Rayman experience is that there are no boss fights except the final one against Mr. Dark. I am not too torn up about this as I always found the HP sponge bosses of Rayman 1 a bit dull to do after a while. Combat in general is deemphasized in this version, which is good as it does feel a bit clunky when it does come up. It felt like I had trouble making punches connect when it looked like it should have, and similarly I felt like there were some general hitbox issues on receiving damage as well. This doesn't come up too much, but it is frustrating when it does. Overall the controls are a bit muddy, but serviceable most of the time. The GBC version really de-emphasizes combat overall to focus more on platforming.

The level design is overally enjoyable and not as difficult as the original game.. You do still have some of the somewhat maddening "walk somewhere to invisibly trigger a change elsewhere" elements that Rayman 1 had, but I didn't get stuck on those too much. Exploration for electoon cages is the main collectible and each level has a different number of them available, indicated in the HUD at the bottom. Once you beat the game, you unlock a world map that lets you go back to the earlier levels to wrap up your collection. Like the original there are several levels based around rising water that I had a bit of trouble with when hanging from ledges was involved, but I didn't get stuck too much in this game. It's a much easier experience overall than the original game its based on, which is nice and in combination with the smaller set of levels and worlds, lets it be a bit of a breezy play through.

I liked the levels that mirrored the original's Band Land, called Airy Tunes in the GBC version. It captures the same feel and look as that level and has some fun new platforming gimmicks original to this game. My only major complaint is that several of the worlds are varaitions on "forest" as the theme and look a bit samey. I would have liked a few more different-looking zones to play in, but what is there is good. The game also has a secret final world once you collect all the electoon cages that serves as a final challenge as well. I played it a bit using a password to get there, because I didn't enjoy the game enough to 100 percent it.

The graphics attempt to capture some of the detail of the PS1 game, but it can make the screen a bit busy. I think it looks good overall, but there were a few times where I wasn't sure what was interactible or just part of the background. Rayman's sprite looks good, as do the enemies and some of the small "cutscenes" between worlds.

I would reccomend giving it a shot for at least a few worlds if you're a Rayman fan or looking for a platformer from the era you haven't tried before. Not the best platformer, but it was a real pleasant surprise to play a Rayman game I didn't know existed.

Rayman Redemption Review

Developer: @Raymanni
Release Date: 06/19/2020
Platform(s): PC

Rayman Redemption is a fangame that remakes and reimagines the original Rayman title created in Game Maker Studio. Redemption is a surprisingly faithful adaptation for a recreation in Game Maker Studio, with the physics feeling very similar to me, only a few thingss around the rings feeling noticeably different to me. While a faithful recreation of the basic physics and gameplay, it's a distinctly different game that reimagines a more modern take on the original Rayman game.

The original Rayman is a difficult game, with the later levels and most of the bosses causing me a lot of heartache as a kid. Redemption smooths a lot of these out. Rayman starts with most of his powers already unlocked, you do not have to unlock the ability to punch or use the helicopter hair anymore. The most dramatic change to his moveset is in the helicopter hair which now works like in the sequels, letting you slow your fall as long as you hold the jump button down. Additionally, you start off with more lives, have more HP, have infinite continues, and level layouts are made easier for the most part. Despite some of these changes to the difficulty, it is still very difficult in the late game and the bosses still continue to be healthsponges.

Redemption isn't exactly a replacement for the original game, it has a lot more differences than just a simple remake and is more of its own game. The original Rayman has about 18 levels, while Redemption has about 30 and the original levels have quite a few changes. The quality of these vary, but I appreciate it expanding on some of the one-off gimmicks from the original. Features like the super helicopter, bean sprouts, and moskito show up more often, and the Candy Chateau is expanded from the single level it was in the original game. I don't care for the dark level gimmicks where you only have rayman's fist providing light for the most part, but other new gimmicks such as the rainbow paint punches that create new platforms feel like they could have been in the original game.

A screenshot of the Toyland level

I do at times wish there were two version of this, one that was a more faithful version of the original with the extra lives and widescreen and one that contained all of this new content. While I do like a lot of the new content — the new world Playtopia looks a bit off in some of the backgrounds, but it does fit in style to the original game — the game can feel a bit unsure of its identity at times. Some decisions, such as removing some of the minor routing choices from the game feel strange, but as a whole I really enjoy Redemption's love for the original game and the series as a whole. There are new collectibles in each level and there are shops you can spend tings in. The shop with its unlockable skins (including the SNES prototype graphics) was a great addition.

If you enjoy the Rayman series, I'd recommend this game whole heartedly. I don't think it's a replacement for the originala or anything, but if you enjoy Rayman 1, this really scratches the itch of more content for Rayman 1. Ryemanni even made a new version of the old PC level editor that includes all of the features of Rayman Redemption and more. All-in-all a really cool fan project that makes me want to play the older Rayman games again.

Thoughts on Hypnospace Outlaw

Screen Shot of Zane's Hypnospace page

I started to write a Game of the Year list for 2019, but uhhhh it was July and I hadn't finished it so here are my thoughts on hypnospace broken out.

Hypnospace Outlaw is extremely my shit. Hypnospace Outlaw got me to consider making this site and writing stuff on it again. It made me miss the days of the personal website. Now social media allow a cover photo and avatar at best, with tumblr being the last refuge of custom looks and feels to someone's page. Hypnospace is not just a nostalgia piece though, I think even those unfamiliar with the 90's/Early 00's internet can get a lot of out Hypnospace. It is not a simple recreation or reference to the internet of the time, but something with the "feel" of that period of the internet that captures what it is remembered for in an alternate universe setting.

Hypnospace takes place in an AOL-like internet full of geocities-esque pages full of animated gifs and poor design accessed by people in their sleep using special headbands and technology we do not have today. Almost every page has autoplaying music, mostly in a simple midi-like style that many older websites had. You play as an Enforcer, a moderator of this internet and the main gameplay loop is that of a detective game, you are investigating reports of rule infractions and giving people demerits and bans for inappropriate conduct.

The first case you get is that of copyright infringement in "Good Time Valley," a community dedicated to the good old days full of older users. It seems the residents are using animated gifs and images of an older cartoon character named Gumshoe Gooper and the copyright holder is not happy about it. As you report the infractions of an elementary school teacher who posted drawings her students did of the character, she updates her status to express outrage at her unfair treatment. As the game progresses, this snowballs into an open rebellion as people begin to put "I Stand With Gumshoe Gooper" badges on their page. A page with american flags and patriotic midis is created to denounce the communist plot to take down Gumshoe Gooper and take away their rights to free speech as the community becomes divided over the issue. The debate bleeds over to other communities with "Teentopia"'s teenage hacker T1MAGEDDON making a satirical page about it to keep people riled up.

The thing I liked the most about Hypnospace is the characters involved weren't just there to be funny. They all have their own lives and relationships you can glean from their pages. Abby, the school teacher, is lonely after her daughter died at a young age and she lost her husband. The trial of Gumshoe Gooper's censorship causes her and another member to begin an online relationship as they bond over organizing the protest. Abby is popular in the community and is friends with an older biker who lost his wife a few years ago and they connected over their shared loss. The gooper gifs are made by a furniture salesman who lost the use of his legs in a car accident in his early twenties and uses hypnospace to communicate with people who don't just think of him as the guy in the wheelchair. Each investigation allows you to go down a rabbit hole of webrings and links to find out more about the characters and their lives.

Every area in Hypnospace includes its own cast of characters whose homepages give you glimpses into their lives. There's the pastor's kid in Teentopia afraid her dad is going to take away her Squisherz game because he thinks its satanic. There's a recurring washed-up musician known as "The Chowder Man" (played by internet funny guy Hot Dad) who is trying to return to popularity and is the source of the funniest songs in the game.

Most of the gameplay involves searching for keywords to find pages both listed and unlisted related to whatever investigation you're currently working on. This is reminescent of Sam Barlow's 2015 game Her Story and its computer-based search puzzle. The conceit works well enough and facilitates finding easter eggs and new pages and it helps that other mechanics are layered on top of it regarding hidden pages and areas. Collecting icons, wallpapers, themes, virtual pets and especially music tracks were really enough for me to keep engaging with every page I could find.

I don't have anything particularly profound to say about Hypnospace and its overall story arc, so I won't go into great detail about it. But the story of corporate greed and shortsightedness, teenagers desperately trying to be cool and loved and the ending really emotionally affected me in a way I didn't expect. Hypnospace does a great job of capturing that feeling of putting an image of yourself out there for others to see and how others who see this can keep an image of who you are for years to come.

World 1 - Mushroom Kingdom of my Super Mario Maker 2 game

Super Mario Maker 2 - The Mushroom Kingdom

I'm once again taking Super Mario Maker too seriously and am making a world map for my levels. This is the planned first set of levels, though I've only made up to the tank and will likely change the map a bit as I make more levels. I plan on making an interactive map with the level IDs when I'm done with this part. I have some Tiled tilesets I made this with. I also have the SMB3 tileset for the worldmap and the super mario bros deluxe map. I might switch up the style on world.