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Throwback games are awesome.

The other day I was making the usual internet rounds, and came across some people on a retrogaming site talking about an upcoming Wii Ware title, called Bit.Trip Beat. I was intrigued, and went looking for the trailer they mentioned.

To me it looks like what Space Invaders Extreme was to Space Invaders, only in this case, to Pong. I’m a fan of those games with dynamic soundtracks, like the aforementioned Space Invaders Extreme, Orbient, or Rez. And the total late 70s/early 80s graphics are just too awesome to someone whose earliest memories include playing the family Atari.

5 responses to “Throwback games are awesome.” »

  1. Jon Conley says:

    While I enjoy the nod to the past, I must admit that those repetitive sounds are carving a hole into my mind; not unlike that of an electric drill. I had the same problem with Rez.

    Music like that just drones on and makes me uncomfortable. It feels like purgatory.

    I want to like this, I do; but there is such a thing as having too many bleeps and blorps. And it is called Bleep.Blorp Beat.

    Besides, you need a paddle to play that. Where’s the Wii paddle attachment?

  2. Kevin Bunch says:

    I’m actually assuming that it uses the motion sensor to position your paddle. At least I hope so, because using that thing AS a paddle sounds like a horrible idea.

    I actually like that sort of repetitive sound. In my experience, it makes it easier to reach that level of “zen gaming” that makes you pretty much unstoppable when you’ve got this sort of baseline sound that you can space out to.

  3. Jon Conley says:

    I cannot achieve this so-called state of zen through what I would describe as irritating sounds. I suspect it’s mostly the frequencies and wave forms used, not just the repetition. It’s not so much the impact of the pong ball that annoys me, but that rapid beeps after the fact. It seems like it’s part of the song, or a score / multiplier counter.

    Comparatively, I could hear Mega Man’s blaster and jump sounds over and over, without feeling uncomfortable.

    To me, the state of zen is reached when you realize you’ve got a serious high score built up, and your natural reflexes just take over for your mind. There are very few games where I am able to accomplish such a feat. It is mostly in dual-stick shooters. Particularly in Geometry Wars: Galaxies, which gives the player a lot of numbers and progress to track.

    I once held the #3 spot in Geometry Wars: Galaxies for the DS; a game which I declare is the definitive version of Geometry Wars. It’s really the only moderately high score I’ve ever claimed. It was accidental, really. Long bus commutes led to nearly two hour play sessions, each trip. For about four hours, each day, I was able to ignore cramped public transportation, swindling bums and rush-hour traffic.

    It is an excellent mobile game, by the way; so long as you have the thumb-strap stylus (impossible to find anywhere besides NOA in Redmond).

    I joked about it at the office, challenging people to pick up the game and to try and take away my score. About a month after the fact, a video went around the office, where some guy on YouTube dethroned my score, along with the other two top spots. Somebody had found it on accident, and recalled my hyping the game to fellow employees. The running gag was that I was going to make a King of Kong style film, where I did nothing but try to reclaim that score for a month, and film it.

    Thinking back, even when I had an Atari as a kid, I didn’t much care for the sound effects and limited music. Very few games, such as Galaga for the 7800, were enjoyable for me. It wasn’t until the NES came along, that I really fell in love with game music and sound (well, besides the Apple II).

    So I understand the idea of just ‘melting’ into a gameplay experience. I just need more pleasant sounds.

    More on the subject of this game, I really think that something like this would work much better as an iPhone game. Have you tried Space Out for the iPhone? You should. It is excellent, and filled with retro goodness.

  4. Kevin Bunch says:

    Alas, I do not own an iphone.Looks like a nifty game though! I do deeply enjoy Geometry Wars Galaxies, however I marginally prefer the Wii one.

    But old Atari era game sounds hold a special magic for me, and the music made with said audio limits interests me. You may loathe the opening song to the homebrew game Thrust due to the fact that, well, the Atari’s sound chip is pretty weak, but I love it 😛 But my zen gaming moments, where my big scores have come from, usually have some audio accompaniment. Historically, it’s been something akin to Bit.Trip’s music. Touching back on Thrust, I once ended up getting 3rd in a high score competition in that game, and doing well in that game is not easy when you start getting into reverse gravity planets. And if I remember correctly, my background music was the Rez soundtrack. But, obviously enough, your mileage may vary!

  5. Jon Conley says:

    I understand loving that music and appreciating the limitations. I’m currently working on songs with NES limitations, and learning to play the Mega Man 3 theme. I can tell you, there’s a whole new level of appreciation that one gains when attempting something like this. So many rules and limitations; I’m so impressed by all of the good music from the era.

    But with Atari sound, and the TIA chip, it’s just something about the wave forms and frequencies of that chip that digs into my brain. The notes are not evenly spaced to scale, which is why it’s so hard to make a catchy song. As I’m sure you know, the TIA sound chip was the biggest weakness of the Atari systems. Especially so when you stack it up against competitors like Commodore and Nintendo.

    It mostly sounds like white noise to me. In NES games, that noise was usually reserved for explosions and drum tracks. In Atari games, it’s not uncommon for the majority of sounds to be comprised of just that noise channel. It was a big part of my childhood, but I could never really enjoy it. But to each their own. 😛

    I think this video will illustrate my…’issue’...


    Also, if you ever fall into some spare cash, you may want to consider picking up a refurb’d iPod Touch. There are lots of neat games for this little device. I’m quite addicted to Fieldrunners. I’m also playing through all of my favorite ScummVM games (which are actually playable, despite your initial thoughts).

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