kottke.org posts about video games

Kingdom Rush OriginsNov 20 2014

Kingdom Rush Origins

A new Kingdom Rush game is out: Kingdom Rush Origins. Played it for a bit this morning and if you liked Kingdom Rush and Kingdom Rush Frontiers, you'll like this one too. It's more of the glorious same. (via @tommertron)

This War of MineNov 18 2014

This War Of Mine

From 11 bit Studios comes a game called This War of Mine which offers an unflinching view of war focusing on injury, suffering, and survival of the civilian population of a city besieged by civil war. Wired's Matt Peckham has a good review.

This War of Mine imagines an endless civil war. Civilians are trapped in a besieged Stalingrad-like city, suffering from hunger and disease and shelling. Snipers roam the city, as apt to pick off civilians as they are insurgents. The phones don't work. There isn't enough food or medication. Your group operates out of a single structure, viewed from the side like a dollhouse, with apparatuses you can fiddle or upgrade to produce helpful goods or improve existing ones. Each survivor has a hierarchy of physical and mental needs equipoised against variably treacherous means of fulfilling them.

Your goal is simple: Survive. I'm not sure for how long, or if there's even a "win" state, because the best I've managed so far is 25 days, and that felt interminable.

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical ReproductionNov 17 2014

Last year, Greenheart Games released a game called Game Dev Tycoon in which you run a company that makes video games. As an experiment, they secretly released a cracked version of the game for pirates to download...with one small difference: players in the cracked version would always go bankrupt because of piracy issues.

The cracked version is nearly identical to the real thing except for one detail... Initially we thought about telling them their copy is an illegal copy, but instead we didn't want to pass up the unique opportunity of holding a mirror in front of them and showing them what piracy can do to game developers. [...] Slowly their in-game funds dwindle, and new games they create have a high chance to be pirated until their virtual game development company goes bankrupt.

Did the pirates learn anything or feel bad? Not really:

Pirates On Piracy

(via @djacobs)

0h h1Nov 17 2014

0hh10h h1 is a super simple Sudoku-type game where you need to keep the number of blue and red tiles in each row and column the same. I don't know how people keep coming up with such simple games that are still challenging...you'd think they'd all have been invented by now. (via waxy)

Microsoft buys MinecraftSep 15 2014

Mojang's popular game Minecraft has sold over 54 million copies. But that, and the $2.5 billion that Microsoft just paid to acquire the company, dramatically understates the impact that this game has had on [Dave Pell's] third grader and his friends. They all wear Minecraft gear and watch Minecraft videos on YouTube. And several of them completed a week of Minecraft Camp over the summer. The way I see it, $2.5 billion just became the most anyone has ever spent on a babysitter.

The Verge: Why parents are raising their kids on Minecraft.

Markus Persson, the founder of Mojang (known as Notch), explains why he's selling -- and leaving -- the company: "It's not about the money. It's about my sanity."

War photographer embeds himself inside a violent video gameSep 15 2014

Conflict photographer Ashley Gilbertson recently embedded himself in the video game The Last of Us Remastered and sent back a selection of war photos.

Last Of Us Gilbertson

Reminds me a bit of Jim Munroe's My Trip to Liberty City, a film made from the perspective of a tourist visiting the city featured in Grand Theft Auto III:

(via @atotalmonet)

Update: New Gamer took photos of a road trip in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. (via @johnke)

The history of Japanese video game musicSep 05 2014

Red Bull is sponsoring a six-part series on the history of Japanese video game music. The first installment covers the music of Space Invaders through the Game Boy. Highlight: composer Junko Ozawa showing off her hand-drawn waveform library she used in composing scores for Namco. Bonus: Space Invader-only arcades in Japan were called "Invader houses" while arcades in New Zealand were known as "spacies parlours".

Update: Beep is a feature-length documentary film that will attempt to cover the history of video game sounds from Victorian mechanical arcades on up to the present day games. They are currently raising funds on Kickstarter.

Tater TetrisSep 04 2014

I went to the newish Barcade in Chelsea last night to get some dinner and play Star Wars (and Ms. Pac-Man and Tetris and Donkey Kong) and discovered their tater tots are shaped like Tetris pieces:

Tetris Tater Tots

ИOM ИOM ИOM. You can get these tots from a company called US Foods; they call them Puzzle Potatoes. Their sell sheet for the product is a wonder of corporate wishful thinking masquerading as marketing.

Here's a menu item that will encourage kids to play with their food.

Yes! This is exactly what all parents want. Huge parental issue in America right now is that kids don't play with their food enough.

When baked, these innovative Puzzle Potatoes are a fun and healthier alternative to regular fries...

Tater tots are not a health food. That's the whole point. Also, aren't regular fries also healthier when baked?

Puzzle potatoes are new innovative and interactive potatoes for kids.

Imagine the meeting. "Bob, what can we do about these smartphone? Kids just aren't spending enough time with their potatoes anymore. Instead they're Facebooking and Flappy Birding. Wait, I know... interactive potatoes!" [Cut to Bob being paraded around the office on his coworkers' shoulders]

Our proprietary puzzle-piece shapes...

Well, someone else's proprietary puzzle piece shapes, but why quibble with details?

Features & Benefits... 2D or 3D

I don't. I can't. What does that even mean? The sell sheet for these should be super simple: a photo of the tots and this caption in all-caps 120-point type: THEY'RE TATER TOTS SHAPED LIKE TETRIS PIECES! BUY THEM, YOU FOOL! (thx, kathryn)

IdleplexAug 19 2014

Idleplex starts you off playing sheep pong and when you earn enough money from that, you can buy other mini-games which you can level up enough to play themselves, and then you become a manager of sorts of the games. The game's creator, John Cooney, attempts to explain:

I approached this game wanting to return to simple game mechanics. In fact, I considered how simple game mechanics could go, with simple shapes and single-button mechanics controlling everything. After defining these simple mechanics, I wanted to let the games play themselves, and let the players focus on cultivating a mosaic of these moving pieces.

I love these types of games. (via waxy)

DaisyPopAug 15 2014

DaisyPop

I don't quite know how it happened, but I'm presently addicted to DaisyPop on my iPhone. The gameplay is pretty simple: various flowers and bugs float around the screen and you tap on things to pop them. Popping many things at once increases your score. Taps are limited but you get more the better you play. Unlike many other iOS games where frenetic tapping is rewarded, DaisyPop is a game of patience...waiting for several items to float close enough for the big scores can sometimes take a minute or two.

Monument Valley soundtrackAug 12 2014

If you've played Monument Valley, a game so purty it won an Apple Design Award, you know the music is one of the best features of the game. Well, the original soundtrack for the game is now available for streaming on Rdio and Spotify.

The soundtrack is also available to own on Amazon or iTunes.

(Oh, and while we're at it, let's take a moment to witness how nutty app pricing is. Monument Valley costs $3.99. The soundtrack, which is a just a part of the overall game, costs $8.99 at Amazon. And that makes sense how?)

Particle ClickerAug 07 2014

From the gaming laboratory at CERN (??!), Particle Clicker is like Cookie Clicker but about particle physics. As in, you actually learn about particle physics while you're playing.

Particle Clicker

I am addicted to these damn things. Send help. (via waxy)

"80 Days" turns Jules Verne's book into a choose-your-own-adventure gameAug 01 2014

Meg Jayanth was asked to adapt Around the World in Eighty Days into a steampunk-y iOS adventure game. The only problem? She hated the book's character Aouda, the English-imperialist-fantasy of an Indian princess who falls in love with Phineas Fogg. But what if "the damsel-in-distress is actually a sabre-wielding revolutionary leader, where she is not only not in need of rescuing, but in fact, sees herself as rescuer?"

This begs a larger question: is it possible to write a game in which your protagonist isn't the hero? Or maybe, less provocatively: can you write a game in which your protagonist isn't the only hero? ...

["80 Days" is] a world where the protagonist's story of racing around the world isn't necessarily the most important, or the most interesting one available to the player.

(via @robinsloan and @aaronissocial)

Werner the HerzogJul 25 2014

Werner The HerzogMagisterial. (via @moleitau)

Cyclomaniacs 2Jul 16 2014

Occasionally I'll go to my page of addictive Flash games to revisit some old favorites. I mostly play games on my phone now, but some of these are still pretty good. One of my absolute faves is a game called Cyclomaniacs, which I've played all the way through several times over the years. Last night I discovered there's a Cyclomaniacs 2. So good.

Update: There is also Cyclomaniacs Epic and a one-off called Gregmaniacs. (via @ISeeFrants)

Kill Bill as an 8-bit video gameJun 25 2014

If you took all the fight scenes from Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill movies and turned them into a Double Dragon-esque video game, this is what it would look like:

(via devour)

One-Tap QuestJun 03 2014

You only get a single move in One-Tap Quest, so you had better make it a good one. This game has no right to be fun, but somehow it is. My top score so far is 15,800...the best score I've seen is 21,400. (via @mrgan)

The ghost in the machineMay 30 2014

In racing video games, a ghost is a car representing your best score that races with you around the track. This story of a son discovering and racing against his deceased father's ghost car in an Xbox racing game will hit you right in the feels.

Ghost dadUpdate: This story was originally shared in the comments of a YouTube video about gaming as a spiritual experience. (via dpstyles & @ryankjohnson)

Update: See also this story about rediscovering a loved one's presence (and presents) in Animal Crossing. (via @shauninman)

Console WarsMay 15 2014

From Grantland, an excerpt from Console Wars, a new book by Blake J. Harris about the video game console battles of the 1990s between Nintendo and Sega. The excerpt is about the rise of Nintendo.

And just like that, the North American videogame industry ground to a halt. Hardware companies (like Atari) went bankrupt, software companies (like Sega) were sold for pennies on the dollar, and retailers (like Sears) vowed never to go into the business again. Meanwhile, Nintendo quietly glided through the bloody waters on a gorilla-shaped raft. The continuing cash flow from Donkey Kong enabled Arakawa, Stone, Judy, and Lincoln to dream of a new world order, one where NOA miraculously resurrected the industry and Nintendo reigned supreme. Not now, perhaps, but one day soon.

Harris is also working on a documentary based on the book. And Sony is making a "feature-film" adaptation of the book as well. Cool!

Update: Medium has another excerpt from the book.

Maybe this Sonic could sell in Japan, but in America he belonged inside a nightmare.

Kalinske got off the phone with Nakayama and took the fax to Madeline Schroeder's office. "I have good news and I have scary news." He handed her the artwork. "What do you think?"

She looked it over. "I think we'll be the first videogame company whose core demographic is goths."

"Nakayama loves it."

"Of course he does," she said. "It's so weirdly Japanese. I'm surprised the girlfriend's boobs aren't hanging out of a schoolgirl outfit."

Despite his sour mood, Kalinske laughed. "Her name is Madonna."

Schroeder put the drawing on the desk. After a long silent inspection they both spoke at the same time, saying the exact same thing: "Can you fix it?"

Video game soundtracks ideal for work musicMay 15 2014

Video game producers utilize music to keep you engaged, increase your achievement, and give you the energy to make it to the next level. So maybe you just found your ideal work soundtrack.

Karltorp has found that music from games he used to play as a kid, such as StarCraft, Street Fighter, and Final Fantasy, work best. Because the music is designed to foster achievement and help players get to the next level, it activates a similar "in it to win it" mentality while working, argues Karltorp. At the same time, it's not too disruptive to your concentration. "It's there in the background," said Karltorp. "It doesn't get too intrusive, it keeps you going, and usually stays on a positive tone, too, which I found is important."

2048: the Beyonce GIF editionApr 22 2014

Beyonce 2048

There are many versions of the game 2048 (which is itself a rip-off of Threes). There's the original, a version that plays itself, a multiplayer version, a collaborative version, a doge version, a clever Flappy Bird version, the Numberwang version, one that uses only colors, a version that uses Dropbox to save progress and high scores, a hard version that actively works against you, a version where you add tiles to thwart an evil AI, and probably thousands of other versions.

But the best one is the one where each square is an animated GIF of Beyonce.

Super Planet CrashApr 21 2014

Super Planet CrashSuper Planet Crash is half game, half planetary simulator in which you try to cram as much orbital mass into your solar system without making any of your planets zing off beyond the Kuiper belt. You get bonus points for crowding planets together and locating planets in the star's habitability zone. Warning: I got lost in this for at least an hour the other day.

The weight loss gameApr 03 2014

2008 article by Clive Thompson on how Weight Watchers is like a RPG (role playing game).

Think about it. As with an RPG, you roll a virtual character, manage your inventory and resources, and try to achieve a goal. Weight Watchers' points function precisely like hit points; each bite of food does damage until you've used up your daily amount, so you sleep and start all over again. Play well and you level up -- by losing weight! And the more you play it, the more you discover interesting combinations of the rules that aren't apparent at first. Hey, if I eat a fruit-granola breakfast and an egg-and-romaine lunch, I'll have enough points to survive a greasy hamburger dinner for a treat!

Even the Weight Watchers web tool is amazingly gamelike. It has the poke-around-and-see-what-happens elegance you see in really good RPG game screens. Accidentally snack on a candy bar and ruin your meal plan for the day? No worries: Just go into the database and see what spells -- whoops, I mean foods -- you can still use with your remaining points.

And those 35 extra points you get every week? They're like a special buff or potion -- a last-ditch save when you're on the ropes.

It's funny how quaint this seems now...the quantified self and gamification of diet & health is everywhere now. (via @arainert)

Pixel Legend of ZeldaApr 01 2014

16x16 Zelda

Whoa, Ben Purdy made a 16x16 pixel remake of The Legend of Zelda in 48 hours. Here's how he did it.

Over the two days of work, I built the game from the map forward. What I mean is that my first goal was to get individual map pages rendering on screen. From there I moved on to the game manager component, building out the startup logic and render loop. This lead to the entity system, which in turn lead to the player entity. Once I had the player moving around I built code to check for collisions with obstacles in the map and changing the view when the player hits the edges of the screen. At this point you could explore the whole world map! It was pretty boring though.

Next I started making monsters and items for the player to interact with. Since I had common code to check for collisions, get lists of entities occupying particular squares, etc, the monsters weren't terribly difficult to implement. The most time consuming part was getting the combat mechanics to a good place where it was challenging but not frustrating.

(via waxy)

Mini MetroMar 13 2014

Mini Metro is an upcoming game in the style of Sim City, except you're only building subway lines.

Mini Metro is an upcoming minimalistic subway layout game. Your small city starts with only three unconnected stations. Your task is to draw routes between the stations to connect them with subway lines. Everything but the line layout is handled automatically; trains run along the lines as quickly as they can, and the commuters decide which trains to board and where to make transfers.

However the city is constantly growing, along with the transport needs of its population. How long can you keep the subway system running before it grinds to a halt?

Oh man, this is great fun for transportation nerds. Site says it'll be out in "early 2014" for PC, Mac, Linux, iPad, and Android. You can play an early version on the site or d/l an alpha version for OS X, Windows, or Linux.

Super Mario shengFeb 25 2014

The sheng is a free-reed wind instrument dating back to 1100 BCE in China. Using a modern sheng, Li-Jin Lee makes the ancient instrument sound remarkably like Super Mario Bros., including coin and power-up sounds.

And I know the Olympics are over and good riddance and all that, but this Mario Kart speedskating bit is great. Baby Park was one of my favorite tracks on Double Dash.

The lowest possible score in Super Mario BrosFeb 21 2014

If you play carefully by not stomping enemies, not collecting coins, not eating mushrooms or flowers, and hopping on the flagpole at the very last second, you can rescue the princess in Super Mario Bros with only 500 points.

One bit is surprisingly tricky:

How tough is that jump in 8-1? Well, the timing of the liftoff, the duration of holding the jump button, and the timing of the wall jump are all frame perfect. NES games run at 60 frames per second, which means all the necessary inputs need to be timed within 1/60 of a second. In addition, the starting position before running I used not only has to be on the right pixel, but also the x sub-pixel has to fall within a certain range (technical stuff blah blah blah). In short, it's a pretty annoying jump.

When I was a kid, I left my NES on for three straight days to flip the score in SMB, using the 1UP trick and another spot in the game to get many lives and points. Scoring lower would have been a lot quicker.

Candy Crush IPOFeb 18 2014

Your addiction to various things digital might be wasting a lot of your time. But it's paying off in a big way for companies like King Digital Entertainment, the folks behind the wildly popular Candy Crush Saga. King just announced plans for an IPO. Can a company with one very big hit really go public? On one hand, consider this: "Of the 5000 companies in NASDAQ, only 6 have as much revenue ($1.88b) and fat profit margins (30%) as King." On the other hand, it's tough to stay on top in the hit-driven game industry. Want to invest in this IPO? First, you need to consider how long King will wear the crown.

Candy Crush Saga really has created some incredible numbers.

Flappy Bird Space ProgramFeb 14 2014

Flappy Bird Space Program is my favorite Flappy Bird riff yet. Instead of maneuvering through pipes, the object is to get as many birds as you can orbiting a tiny planet.

Flappy Bird Space Program

Love how the demise of this game has prompted such a burst of creative exploration of simple game mechanics. Flowers growing in Flappy Bird compost.

Massively multiplayer online Flappy BirdFeb 13 2014

This is way more fun that regular Flappy Bird.

Flappy MMO

Would love to see a realtime graph of the distribution of scores for the last 1000 players or so. (My current high: 3 4! [Also, the second I put this post up, the server went down. :( ] I'm the guy repeatedly dying at the first pipe.)

From The Tramp to The Beatles to Flappy BirdFeb 11 2014

100 years ago, Charlie Chaplin put on some floppy shoes, oversized trousers, a bowler, a mustache and became The Tramp. Within a year or two, he was internationally famous and in two years, he was making $670,000/year, an unprecedented figure in those days.

"It was amazingly fast," says David Robinson, a film critic who has written a definitive biography of Chaplin (His Life and Art) and is giving an already sold-out talk titled "100 Years of the Tramp" at the festival. "By mid-1914 he was already popular. By 1915 he was international. The speed with which it happened, without the modern media, is astonishing."

50 years ago, The Beatles were virtually unknown in the US and then, less than a year later, the largest TV audience in history watched them perform on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Consider the following: At the end of 1963, virtually no one in America had heard of the Beatles. Yet on Feb. 9, 1964, they drew the largest TV audience in history -- 73 million viewers -- when they appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show." How could such a conquest have occurred so quickly? I once asked my friend Lenny Kaye that question, and he answered: "Everybody was ready for the '60s to begin." There's some truth to that, but of course there's much more to the story. The explosion of the Beatles in America was the result of combined forces -- artistic, social and technological -- as well as persistence, showbiz rivalries and more than a bit of luck. So how did it happen that the Beatles came out of nowhere to become the biggest cultural sensation ever, in six weeks?

This year, an iOS & Android game called Flappy Bird, that was originally released in 2013, suddenly rocketed to the top of the App Store bestseller list. (Seriously, look at how quickly it got popular.) The developer, Dong Nguyen, revealed in an interview with The Verge that the game was making $50,000 a day on ads. He's since made the game unavailable for download.

On February 1st, reviews exploded to 800 in a single hour. 6,500 iTunes App Store reviews in a single day. February 1st is the day Dong Nguyen woke up, stretched, checked email, checked Twitter, checked iTunes, and witnessed millions of downloads happening.

Millions.

You can only imagine what that must have felt like.

This is the same app no one cared about for more than half a year. Just one month prior, it was a great day if Flappy Bird got 20 total reviews on the App Store. Up until January 9th, there had never been an hour in which Flappy Bird received even 10 reviews (most of the time it was under 5).

The Great Language GameFeb 06 2014

Think you can distinguish between 80 of the world's most spoken languages? Play the Great Language Game and find out. (Oof, I am bad at this.)

What if life were a video game?Feb 06 2014

Oliver Emberton wrote a strategy guide for real life as if it were a video game.

You might not realise, but real life is a game of strategy. There are some fun mini-games -- like dancing, driving, running, and sex -- but the key to winning is simply managing your resources.

Most importantly, successful players put their time into the right things. Later in the game money comes into play, but your top priority should always be mastering where your time goes.

Breaking MaddenJan 31 2014

Jon Bois attempted to create the most lopsided game ever in Madden NFL on his Xbox. He beefed up the players on one team (7'0", 440 lbs, good at everything) and put a bunch of scrubs on the other team (5'0", 160 lbs, bad at everything). He started playing and was on pace to score more than 1500 points when...

With just under two minutes left in the first quarter, I was winning 366 to zero. I realized that I was on pace to score 1,500 points in a single game. I had never conceived of such a high score. I'd never even heard anyone talk idly about such a thing. There was absolutely nothing the Broncos could do to slow down my pace. I could score just as surely as someone can point and click. It was great. I wanted to ruin Madden in a way I never had before, and I was doing it.

And then it happened. Before I tell you what happened next, I want to lay out a couple of things: first, I made no actual hacks to this game. I didn't have some special jailbroken Xbox, nor a special copy of Madden, nor anything like that. I bought my Xbox at Target and bought my copy of Madden off Amazon, and that's that. Second, I stake whatever journalistic integrity I have upon the statement that I didn't Photoshop any of this, and that it happened just as I say it did.

This is LOL funny in several places...particularly the GIFs. (via @delfuego)

Meta gamesSep 26 2013

Coinbox Hero and Cookie Clicker both break the idea of the video game down into the bare essentials: perform an action to get points, use points to power up, repeat. They're games that show you how games work. (See also Cow Clicker.)

In Cookie Clicker, you click to make cookies until you have enough cookies to hire a cursor to click for you and eventually you get enough points to buy cookie mines, time machines, and antimatter condensers capable of generating millions of cookies a second. There doesn't seem to be a goal per se...presumably you can keep upgrading until you're generating trillions of cookies a minute. It's like Bitcoin except with cookies.

In Coinbox Hero, you start similarly, jumping into a Super Mario-esque coinbox to get coins to buy workers to collect more coins for you. Unlike Cookie Clicker, there's a clear objective: earn 1,000,000 points to buy a device that will destroy the coinbox.

I found both of these games very satisfying to play, which suggests that a significant amount of my enjoyment of games derives not from the gameplay but from the amassing wealth and power, which, man, I guess I have something to talk to my therapist about this week. (via waxy)

RetroN 5 retro gaming systemSep 12 2013

The Hyperkin RetroN 5 is a retro gaming system that plays all your favorite games from NES, SNES, Super Famicom, Genesis, Mega Drive, Famicom, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and GBA cartridges. I haven't heard anything about this (is it any good?), but I've got a lot of old games I'd like to play on it, starting with NHL '94. Pre-order at Amazon for $99. (via @cabel)

Hot Pepper Game ReviewsSep 11 2013

Watch as people review video games after eating hot peppers. Here's Erin Schmalfeld reviewing a Nintendo 3DS game after chewing and swallowing an entire habanero:

(via ★interesting)

Free to play vintage handheld gamesAug 05 2013

Donkey Kong Jr

PicaPic is a digitized collection of vintage handheld games made by Hipopotam studio. They're all free and playable in your browser. It's a really slick implementation. It even has the plasticy clacking sound of the buttons. (via @kump)

Ecstasy of OrderAug 02 2013

Ecstasy of Order is a documentary about Tetris and the quest to find the game's grandmasters.

Tetris. We've all played it, rotating the pieces ("tetrominoes") and dropping them in the perfect place, or despairing as we discover a piece won't fit. You may have even joked about "mastering" the game during a stint of unemployment, or as a child, before you could afford any other Game Boy cartridges. But what about the people who've truly mastered Tetris? Where are the Kasparovs and Fischers, the great champions who've dedicated their minds to solving its deepest puzzles?

One man made it his mission to find them. In an effort to legitimize Tetris as a pro sport, Tetris super-fan Robin Mihara summoned the greatest Tetris players from around the country to compete in Los Angeles at the 2010 Classic Tetris World Championship. Among them are the only players known to have reached the unthinkable perfect 'max-out' score on classic Nintendo Tetris: Jonas Neubauer and Harry Hong. Add in the top players for most lines, Ben Mullen and Jesse Kelkar, as well as newcomer Dana Wilcox and modern-day Tetris Grandmaster Alex Kerr, and a storm of Tetris greatness is brewing.

The film is also on Hulu (US-only) if you don't mind commercials.

The last of the 16-bit heroesJun 07 2013

When Grant Hill and Jason Kidd retired from the NBA this week, they were the last players who appeared in the NBA Jam video game from 1994. There are still three active NHL players who appeared in the classic NHL '94: Teemu Selanne, Roman Hamrlik, and Jaromir Jagr. Kotaku's Owen Good takes a look at which athletes were the last men standing from 8-bit and 16-bit sports video games.

Landeta, whose last game was in 2005, is the last man on the Tecmo Bowl roster to appear in an NFL game, beating out the Raiders' Tim Brown, the 49ers' Jerry Rice and Minnesota's Rich Gannon, all of whom retired in 2004.

New Kingdom Rush game for iPad: FrontiersJun 06 2013

The makers of Kingdom Rush, probably my all-time favorite iOS game, are out with a brand-new game: Kingdom Rush Frontiers.

Kingdom Rush Frontiers

I will see you all in a few days. Tell my wife and kids I love them. ("thx", @mykeatkinson)

Maddeningly simple game: ReboundMay 14 2013

Two controls, one bouncing stick, uneven terrain that eventually falls out from under you, get the stick as far to the right as you can. Harder than it sounds. I got 107.04 on, like, my 2,341st try. (Cheat code: you can get pretty far just by holding 'A' down.) Also fun: seeing how far to the left you can get...I couldn't get much past -48.

SiSSYFiGHT 2000 returnsMay 01 2013

If you're of a certain internet age, from the time when idealistic nerds and not bizdev bros ruled the roost, you probably remember SiSSYFiGHT 2000. (If not, this Salon review of the game from 2000 may lift the fog.) The original creators of the game are bringing it back, open sourced, HTML5, and the whole thing. Funds are being raised on Kickstarter as we speak.

In the mystical years of the late 90s, a little game called SiSSYFiGHT 2000 was born on the web. Hundreds of thousands of players fought as bratty little girls, teasing and tattling and licking their lollipops on the playground. An amazing community sprang up around the game, in which players became fan artists and storytellers, reporters and celebrities, criminals and vigilantes.

There was something special about SiSSYFiGHT. It was one of the first multiplayer games with real-time chat in a browser. It was a social game with actual social gameplay, long before "social games" on Facebook existed. Its stylishly primitive visual look preceded the rise of big-pixel indie games by almost a decade.

Fantastic. (via @jomc)

Which of these two displays of athletic quickness is more incredible?Apr 18 2013

The first features TAKASKE, a Dance Dance Revolution player with ballerina-quick feet. Here he plays all eight footpads at ludicrous speed.

Then there's Cara Black, a higly-ranked women's doubles tennis player with a killer net game. Here she's practicing volleys off the wall at close range.

She reels off 115 volleys in 43 seconds, beating the performance of her 16-year-old self.

The politics of Super Mario BrosApr 09 2013

Quora is full of questions college students ask each other while high, except that sometimes they get answered seriously. Case in point: What is the political situation in the Mario universe? The top answer starts out:

Without going into too much detail, Mario generally lives and works in the Mushroom Kingdom, one of the largest geo-political structures on Mushroom World, in the Grand Finale Galaxy in, yes, the Mushroom Universe.

For the purposes of this answer I will deliberately restrict the terms to discussing Mushroom World, as a comprehensive answer on the entire Mushroom Universe would require covering 20-22 (depending on how you count) Galaxies and frankly, I doubt it would be any more fun to read than it would be to write.

Also, Bowser is probably a fascist.

Ridiculous FishingMar 20 2013

The new iOS gaming hotness is Ridiculous Fishing. In it, you try to get your hook as deep as you can, then catch as many fish as you can on the way up, and finally shoot as many of the fish as you can with a gun. There are also chainsaws and an in-game Twitter clone called Byrdr. This game is ten times more charming than that Arnold on Green Acres and fun as hell. Highly recommended. If you need an extra nudge, here's the trailer:

The father of video gamesMar 07 2013

Poignant video profile of Ralph Baer, the inventor of the Magnavox Odyssey, the first home console gaming system. He's still inventing at age 90.

The rise of BarcadeMar 01 2013

For Polygon, Simon Parkin writes about how Barcade came about and where it's going.

Younger gamers are, in a sense, both the secret to Barcade's success and its great ongoing threat. More than players like Chien and the older pros, Barcade attracts young local patrons typical of the Brooklyn bar scene. For many of these visitors the classic arcade hits of the 1980s were released long before they were born, familiar to them primarily as cultural icons rather than living memories.

"When we opened in 2004, some of these games weren't even 20 years old," says Kermizian. "But now, eight years on, we find the ideal period of nostalgia keeps shifting on us as our customers are a little bit younger. So we've started to go with some early '90s games. You know, we've put Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in two of the three arcade locations and that's our number one most popular game now. People just go crazy playing that."

On a good night a single Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles machine will see its coin tray filled. "At the end of the night we just dump a bucket of quarters out of the machine, around 50 bucks worth."

All these years on, with prices unadjusted for inflation, the aging arcade still offers a viable business. But time continues to be the greatest menace to the arcade, even in the midst of this repackaged revival. For many, this parade of curios whose bleeps and flashes provide an atmospheric link to the past long gone is little more than a hands-on exhibit, where Space Invaders' and Pac-Man's iconography is not forgotten but made fashionable. But fashions are transient. How long can the business model sustain?

Tetris: winning an unwinnable gameFeb 08 2013

Chris Higgins travels to the Tetris World Championship and profiles a couple of the game's top competitors. The issue at heart is: how do approach playing and mastering a game that you can't actually win?

When Steil achieved his current high score of 889,131 points (and 222 lines) in October of 2012, it felt like a loss. Despite being Steil's best game to date, it represented a failure to reach the perfection of a max out. When he posted the score on Facebook for his Tetris friends to see, he wrote, "Another new high score, but what a choke job at 222 [lines]. Each new high score is a minor success as well as a monumental failure."

This attitude pervades competitive Tetris, and it highlights the perverse aspect that the best game is still a loss. Faced with this harsh reality, NES Tetris players have devised ways to compete (the Championship), milestones to achieve (max outs and high numbers of lines per game), and ways to measure performance (max outs achieved starting at higher levels are more difficult due to the game's speed). Fundamentally, however, players compete against themselves and lose every time.

Here's what getting a max score on Tetris looks like:

(via @VintageZen66)

Hilarious African knockoff video gamesFeb 06 2013

The Gameological Society's Joe Keiser went shopping for video games in Nairobi and found a ton of PlayStation 2 knockoffs. Like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Kirk Douglas:

GTA Kirk Douglas

Full disclosure: this article exists so I can tell you all about Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Kirk Douglas. Just look at it! It's exquisite. The game itself is as grand as the cover. It is San Andreas, with the load screens replaced by EXTREME closeups of Kirk Douglas-and occasionally his son Michael Douglas, because hey, close enough, right? In the game, the main character appears to be a rough approximation of Kirk Douglas. Oh, and all the missions have been removed, so there's nothing to do.

And RoboCop:

Robocop Sparkle

I do not doubt RoboCop's commitment to Sparkle Motion.

Downton Abbey game for Super NintendoJan 29 2013

Help Lord Grantham find his cigars, puff up pillows for Anna, and spy on other staff for Lady Mary in this "tastefully exciting" SNES version of Downton Abbey.

The life and death of the American arcadeJan 17 2013

Writing for The Verge, Laura June has a long piece on the history of arcades in the US, from pinball to Barcade. I had no idea that pinball was banned in NYC until 1976:

The first full-fledged and highly publicized legal attack on pinball came on January 21st, 1942, when New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia banned pinball in the city, ordering the seizure of thousands of machines. The ban -- which would remain in effect until 1976 -- was the culmination of legal efforts which had started much earlier, and which could be found in municipal pockets all over the country. LaGuardia, however, was the first to get the job done on a large scale. A native New Yorker of half-Italian, half-Jewish ancestry, LaGuardia despised corruption in all forms, and the image of the stereotypical Italian gangster was one he resented. During his long, popular tenure as mayor of New York City, he shut down brothels, rounded up slot machines, arrested gangsters on any charge he could find, and he banned pinball. For the somewhat puritanical LaGuardia, pinball machine pushers were "slimy crews of tinhorns, well dressed and living in luxury on penny thievery" and the game was part of a broader "craze" for gambling. He ordered the city's police to make Prohibition-style pinball raids and seizures its "top priority," and was photographed with a sledgehammer, triumphantly smashing the seized machines. On the first day of the ban, the city police confiscated more than 2,000 pinball machines and issued nearly 1,500 summons. A New York Times article of January 23, 1942 informed readers that the "shiny trimmings of 2,000 machines" had been stripped and sent off to the country's munitions factories to contribute to the war effort.

HundredsJan 07 2013

Your addictive iOS game for the week: Hundreds. The concept and gameplay is super-simple...tap to expand circles until you reach a score of 100 without letting an expanding circle touch anything. And then it gets surprisingly difficult. Check out how the gameplay works:

Eminem is a skilled Donkey Kong playerDec 26 2012

It turns out that Eminem is a pretty good Donkey Kong player.

272,300 is a great score, but 465,800 is no less than world class-close to the top 20 on the Twin Galaxies leaderboard.

Read past the screenshots for some top-notch Donkey Kong Kremlinology about Eminem's playing style. (via @bydanielvictor)

Bo Jackson's quarter-long runDec 12 2012

In this video, Bo Jackson's historic quarter-long run against the Patriots is recreated on Tecmo Super Bowl almost exactly. I tried to figure out how many yards he actually ran, but I can't count that high or fast. Apparently a Tecmo quarter lasts about 1:54 when the clock is allowed to run.

See also, You Don't Know Bo, the just aired ESPN 30 for 30 documentary. (via @sportsguy33)

What your favorite Nintendo game says about youDec 12 2012

Let's see, my favorite game was probably the original Legend of Zelda, so:

You have carried a piece of string cheese behind your ear for a whole day.

Not the whole day, but certainly longer than was socially or hygienically acceptable. (via @tcarmody)

The inside story of PongDec 03 2012

On the 40th anniversary of the seminal game's invention, Chris Stokel-Walker looks back at the history of Pong and why it was such a big deal for the gaming industry.

On Nov. 29, 1972, a crude table-tennis arcade game in a garish orange cabinet was delivered to bars and pizza parlors around California, and a multi-billion-dollar industry was born. Here's how that happened, direct from the freaks and geeks who invented a culture and paved the way for today's tech moguls.

MoMA adds video games to permanent collectionNov 29 2012

MoMA has acquired 14 video games for their permanent collection. Presumably they paid more than MSRP?

We are very proud to announce that MoMA has acquired a selection of 14 video games, the seedbed for an initial wish list of about 40 to be acquired in the near future, as well as for a new category of artworks in MoMA's collection that we hope will grow in the future. This initial group, which we will install for your delight in the Museum's Philip Johnson Galleries in March 2013, features...

The games include Tetris, Passage, The Sims, and Katamari Damacy. No Nintendo games on that list, probably due to ongoing negotiations with Nintendo.

Making Gangnam Style playableNov 28 2012

Polygon visited Harmonix to learn about the process for Gangnam Style to become a part of their Kinect game Dance Central 3. The result is partially a look at the challenges in that process, but also ends up being a good profile of Harmonix. The "cat cow" move was particularly hard to put into the game.

The "cat cow" requires the dancer to get on hands and knees, thrust their hips and swing their head from side to side. It is but one of a handful of ridiculous moves in a dance inspired by playing cowboy and humping things, but throughout the day we will hear from almost everyone we talk to that in spite of how ridiculous it is, it has been hellish to recreate it in the game. A lot of magic has been thrown at solving the problem of the cat cow.

Typing KaraokeOct 25 2012

With Typing Karaoke, instead of singing the songs, you type along to the lyrics and get points for lack of errors and how well you keep up. Too fun!

New iOS game hotness: LetterpressOct 25 2012

I only downloaded Letterpress about 10 minutes ago but I am already hopelessly hooked. The game is a combination of Boggle and Go and was made by Loren Brichter, who made Tweetie back in the day. This is the sort of app that makes me weep because it's so simple and polished yet endless. Brichter is some sort of iOS wizard and we should have him burned at the stake for his wonderfully addictive magic.

OSU Marching Band tribute to classic video gamesOct 07 2012

The halftime show of the OSU vs Nebraska football game featured the OSU Marching Band's tribute to classic video games. This is a 9 minute video, and I surprised myself by watching the whole thing. Tetris at 1:25 is fantastic, and the running horse at 6:00 EXTRA fantastic.

(via @wilw)

Did blowing into Nintendo cartridges really help?Sep 25 2012

Ok, I'm gonna point you to the article discussing the whole thing but based on my years of extensive experience as a kid, I can tell you that blowing into the cartridge absolutely did work. Zelda in particular always needed a good blow before playing. (via @djacobs)

Latest iPhone game obsession: 10000000Sep 20 2012

Even after reading this rave review of 10000000, I was skeptical about trying it.

The best part of my job is randomly stumbling across a game no one knows about, by a developer no one has heard of, and have it absolutely blow my mind. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it results in drained batteries and dropping everything to get something on the site about it while I wait for my iPhone to charge only to return to the fray.

It just didn't look that fun. But I did try it. Once, twice, three times. And it didn't grab me. Then I picked it up last night and ended up playing for two hours straight. It's taking all my self-control right now not to play it all day. In conclusion, you should totally not download this game because it will completely disrupt your entire life.

New Kingdom Rush levelsSep 19 2012

The new version of Kingdom Rush for the iPad includes two new levels. Love this game and still play it way too much.

Super Mario Bros for the Atari 2600Aug 23 2012

This seems like a Soviet version of Mario:

Get the game here. (via bb)

Traditional-style woodblock prints of video game charactersAug 16 2012

Illustrator Jed Henry takes video game characters and draws them in the style of Ukiyo-e woodblock prints. Here, for example, is Mario Kart:

Mario Kart Woodblock

If that tickles your fancy, Henry is collaborating with woodblock printmaker David Bull to make actual woodblock prints that are available via Kickstarter.

God mode in-app purchase for iOS gamesJul 11 2012

Free idea for iOS game devs: for just about any iOS game I've played for the more than 60 minutes, I would pay dearly (like $10-15) for a God-mode option that let you play the game infinitely long without dying. The type of God mode would depend on the game. For Tiny Wings, it would be as simple as removing the sunset. For Ski Safari, ditch the avalanche. For Kingdom Rush, God mode might be something like starting any level with unlimited gold and unlimited enemies. (For KR, I would probably pay $30 for an unlimited mode.) And perhaps God mode purchase option only unlocks after a certain amount of gameplay. It wouldn't work for any game...e.g. I can't think of what God mode for Angry Birds would be like. But for a certain type of game, God mode would be a great way for experts to explore more of the games they love.

Update: Several people of Twitter mentioned The Mighty Eagle as Angry Birds' God mode, which is close. A couple of others also suggested unlimited birds of your choosing on every level...good idea!

Tiny Wings 2.0Jul 06 2012

Uh oh, this is bad news for my productivity after this Thursday...Andreas Illiger is set to release the sequel to the mega-fun Tiny Wings on July 12th. In the meantime, watch the adorable handmade trailer:

Kingdom Rush for the iPhoneJun 28 2012

In the amount of time I have spent playing Kingdom Rush on the iPad, I could have completed a second or even third college degree. So it is with some relutance that I have been made aware of the iPhone version of Kingdom Rush, out today. It's the same game, optimized for the smaller screen on the iPhone and only 99 cents. Maybe the reason the whole "can't use the iPad/iPhone for creation" thing persists is that everyone is using the damn things to play tower defense games instead.

More than you could possibly want to know about TetrisJun 13 2012

After reading Noah Davis' piece in The Verge about Tetris, Aaron Cohen collected a bunch of other long articles about Tetris.

Also worth watching is this hour-long BBC documentary on Tetris.

Alexey Pazhitnov, a computer programmer from Moscow, created Tetris in 1985 but as the Soviet Union was Communist and all, the state owned the game and any rights to it. Who procured the rights from whom on the other side of the Iron Curtain became the basis of legal wranglings and lawsuits; the Atari/Nintendo battle over Tetris wasn't settled until 1993.

And there's always the kottke.org tag for Tetris.

Current iOS game obsession: Ski SafariMay 02 2012

Ski Safari is an iOS game that's kind of a cross between Tiny Wings and CycloManiacs...which is to say that I love love love it. Here's my high score, about which I'm very ashamed and proud at the same time:

Ski Safari High Score

(via @gavinpurcell)

Super Mario Bros, the abridged versionApr 24 2012

A Super Mario Summary is a abbreviated version of the original Super Mario Bros game in which each of the levels has been squeezed into one screen. For instance, here's World 1-1:

Super Mario Summary

(via waxy)

The museum of Soviet arcade machinesApr 11 2012

From what I can tell, the Museum of Soviet arcade machines is an actual physical museum in Moscow but you can also play one of the games (called Morskoi Boi) online. The museum has around 40 machines, about half of which are playable, including Repka, Safary, Vozdushniy Boi, Duplet, and Snezhnaya Koroleva.

Soviet Arcade

Might as well face it, you're addicted to gamesApr 05 2012

Judging from the sheer number of you who sent in this link, it might be the kottke.orgest link in the history of the internet. In it, Sam Anderson goes long for the NY Times Magazine on casual games (like Angry Birds, Tetris, Bejeweled, etc.).

In 2009, 25 years after the invention of Tetris, a nearly bankrupt Finnish company called Rovio hit upon a similarly perfect fusion of game and device: Angry Birds. The game involves launching peevish birds at green pigs hiding inside flimsy structures. Its basic mechanism - using your index finger to pull back a slingshot, over and over and over and over and over and over and over - was the perfect use of the new technology of the touch screen: simple enough to lure a suddenly immense new market of casual gamers, satisfying enough to hook them.

Within months, Angry Birds became the most popular game on the iPhone, then spread across every other available platform. Today it has been downloaded, in its various forms, more than 700 million times. It has also inspired a disturbingly robust merchandising empire: films, T-shirts, novelty slippers, even plans for Angry Birds "activity parks" featuring play equipment for kids. For months, a sign outside my local auto-repair shop promised, "Free Angry Birds pen with service." The game's latest iteration, Angry Birds Space, appeared a couple weeks ago with a promotional push from Wal-Mart, T-Mobile, National Geographic Books, MTV and NASA. (There was an announcement on the International Space Station.) Angry Birds, it seems, is our Tetris: the string of digital prayer beads that our entire culture can twiddle in moments of rapture or anxiety - economic, political or existential.

But the real lily gilder here is that you can play Asteroids right on the article page...you can shoot almost everything off the page aside from the article itself -- ads, comments, navigation, etc. This in-article game is based on this JavaScript hack that will let you play Asteroids on any old web page. Pretty cool. (thx, everyone)

Bloody funny game: Happy WheelsApr 04 2012

Don't know why exactly, but I am loving the hell out of Happy Wheels. The game is pretty simple -- it's a cross between CycloManiacs, Line Rider, and Jackass -- you ride on a bike or Segway or mobility scooter through a course avoiding obstacles and trying to reach the end. Which is fun enough except that when you hit something hard, you body flies apart and blood sprays all over the place. Hilariously. Like this Skate 3 video, which is also inexplicably gut-busting. (via mlkshk)

Cool Flash game: ConstellationsApr 03 2012

Been a few months since we've had one of these. Constellations is a simple game where you shoot jellyfish at stars and shoo fish out of the way. What, I was just playing that for 30 minutes? Oof.

Kinect Star Wars dance partyApr 02 2012

Kinect Star Wars has a Galactic Dance Off mode where you can "dance to modern songs remixed with Star Wars lyrics". After watching 30 seconds of this, you may not be able to get "I'm Han Solo" out of your head. It features dance moves like "The Speeder", "Chewie Hug", and "Trash Compactor".

Kind of amazing, but not surprising, that the Star Wars universe has come to this. As one YouTube commenter noted:

I just felt the death of Star Wars. It was as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.

Here are some of the lyrics:

I'm feeling like a star,

you can't stop my shine

I'm loving Cloud City,

my head's in the sky

I'm solo, I'm Han Solo,

I'm Han Solo.

I'm Han Solo. Solo.

Yeah, I'm feeling good tonight,

Finally feeling free and it feels so right, oh.

Time to do the things I like,

Gonna see a Princess, everything's all right, oh.

No Jabba to answer to,

Ain't a fixture in the palace zoo, no.

And since that carbonite's off me

I'm livin' life now that I'm free, yeah.

Told me to get myself together

Now I got myself together, yeah.

Now I made it through the weather,

Better days are gonna get better.

I'm so happy the carbonite is gone.

I'm movin' on.

I'm so happy that it's over now.

The pain is gone.

I'm putting on my shades

to cover up my eyes

I'm jumpin' in my ride,

I'm heading out tonight

I'm solo, I'm Han Solo,

I'm Han Solo.

I'm Han Solo. Solo.

I'm picking up my blaster,

put it on my side.

I'm jumpin' in my Falcon

Wookie at my side.

I'm solo, I'm Han Solo,

I'm Han Solo.

I'm Han Solo. Solo.

It's at this point that Lando comes on and gets jiggy. Amazing. (via ★ironicsans)

Super Mario Bros as surrealist artMar 16 2012

Eating a flower gives you the power to spit fireballs. Bullets have faces. Stars make you invincible. In addtion to being video game, maybe Super Mario Bros is a surrealist masterpiece.

Super Mario Bros with a Portal gunMar 07 2012

Mari0, the Super Mario Bros + Portal mashup I posted about last August, is now finished and available for download for Windows, OS X, and Linux.

The music of Daft Punk revisited on vintage video game systemsFeb 24 2012

Daft Punk already sort of sounds like they make their music using vintage video game systems but Da Chip is what that would actually sound like. Better than I expected. (via @shauninman)

Martin Amis' guide to old-school video gamesFeb 17 2012

Martin Amis, one of the greatest living British novelists, published a guide to video games in 1982 called Invasion of the Space Invaders: An Addict's Guide to Battle Tactics, Big Scores and the Best Machines. It has an introduction by Steven Spielberg and Amis has barely acknowledged its existence since its publication.

It's a deeply strange artifact: an A4-sized, full color glossy affair, abundantly illustrated with captioned photographs, screen shots, and lavish illustrations of exploding space ships and lunar landscapes. It boasts a perfunctory introduction by Steven Spielberg ("read this book and learn from young Martin's horrific odyssey round the world's arcades before you too become a video-junkie"), complete with full-page portrait of the Hollywood Boy Wonder leaning awkwardly against an arcade machine like some sort of geeky, high-waisted Fonz. We're not even into the text proper, and already its cup runneth over with 100-proof WTF.

Kingdom Rush for iPadJan 13 2012

I was addicted to this tower defense game awhile back as an in-browser Flash game, but the iPad version is even better. It's like the iPad was made for games like these. (thx, jim)

ps. Can you hear that sound? That's Kingdom Rush sucking all your free time away this weekend. You're welcome.

Wipeout track using quantum levitationJan 03 2012

The quantum levitation videos I showed you a couple months ago are pretty cool, but scientists scienticiens at the Japan Institute of Science and Technology have upped the game by using QL CGI to build a real-world Wipeout track.

Say it with me: science!! Also, do Rainbow Road next! (via ★interesting)

Update: Say it with me: advertising! Or some other such nonsense. Several people have alerted me that this video is a fake...you can see vapor trails passing through walls, etc. Boo. Boo-urns. (thx, all)

Lizard squashes ants in touchscreen gameDec 14 2011

An increasingly frustrated lizard plays a game called Ant Crusher on an Android phone. He's pretty good, but is no less hungry than before he started.

(via stellar)

Google Street View first-person shooterDec 12 2011

There's no gameplay asside from firing the gun and moving around, but it's still disturbing to walk around within Google Street View with an assault rifle. (thx, job)

Shigeru Miyamoto to step down at NintendoDec 07 2011

Miyamoto, who is responsible for creating or overseeing the creation of Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, and many other games, is stepping down from his role as manager of Nintendo's Entertainment Analysis and Development branch to work with a smaller team on smaller games with much shorter timelines.

"What I really want to do is be in the forefront of game development once again myself," Miyamoto said. "Probably working on a smaller project with even younger developers. Or I might be interested in making something that I can make myself, by myself. Something really small."

Miyamoto was profiled in the New Yorker last December. (via @shauninman)

Update: Nintendo says it was a misunderstanding.

"This is absolutely not true," said a spokeswoman for Nintendo. "There seems to have been a misunderstanding. He has said all along that he wants to train the younger generation. "He has no intention of stepping down. Please do not be concerned."

Classic video game deathsNov 10 2011

A video compilation of deaths from old school video games, from Pong and Space Invaders right on up to Afterburner.

The music is a MIDI version of Mad World, originally done by Tears for Fears but probably best known in the gaming community as the music in the most poignant trailer ever done for a violent third-person shooter game.

Kreayshawn The GameOct 28 2011

From Beth Maher, a Flash video game featuring rapper Kreayshawn (Gucci Gucci). And it uses Silkscreen! (via clusterflock)

Type design gameOct 28 2011

Remember the kerning game? The same folks have built a letter shaping game where you can play at being a type designer. I found this to be a bit more difficult than kerning.

Metroid source codeOct 14 2011

Here's the entire source code + helpful annotations for the original Metroid game for the NES.

Labels corresponding to address values have been added to every line to make the code easier to follow for beginners interested in understanding the inner workings of a Nintendo game. The labels also make the code easier to debug if it is modified. At this time, the source code is still a work in progress but it is much farther along than the original document. The title page is completely documented. The intro routine, end routine, password scheme and sound engine are described in detail. About a third of the game engine is detailed and about half of each game area page.

(via @shauninman)

So you think you can kern?Oct 11 2011

Kern Type is a game that compares your kerning efforts to those of professional designers. It's surprisingly fun. (thx, damien)

Museum of 8-bit video game title screensOct 03 2011

Title Scream is a collection of 8-bit video game title screens. Not just static images either...animated GIFs, yo.

Why is Sergey Brin so good at Angry Birds?Sep 30 2011

I spent perhaps too much time this morning pondering one of the mysteries of the internet: Sergey Brin's astronomically high scores on the Google+ version of Angry Birds. For instance, Brin's high score on the easiest level of the game is 36240. It's a legit score (here's a higher one) and he has impressive scores on several other levels. But in 15 minutes of playing this morning, I couldn't get within a thousand points of his score. (Hey, at least I beat Kevin Rose.)

Google+ Angry Birds

So does Brin actually spend time obsessively playing Angry Birds to get those high scores (instead of, say, running Google or his other ventures) or has he written a program of some sort to produce near-optimal scores or does he have a fleet of interns playing as him for hours on end? We need to know this vital info...if you're interviewing Sergey at an upcoming conference, please ask him about this!

Glitch is a goSep 27 2011

Glitch, the "massively multi-player game built in the spirit of the web" built by Stewart Butterfield and other ex-Flickrinos and ex-Game Neverendingarinos, is out of beta and ready for everyone to try. The Glitch blog has more.

Glitch launches today. Launch is an important milestone, but in most ways, this is just the beginning. The end of Beta means we have something stable enough and fun enough that we're happy to invite the world to play. But we want to create a game and world with the real possibility for infinite play, and that means Glitch will be continuing to grow, develop and evolve for many years to come.

The Artist is Present video gameSep 15 2011

This is ... well, I don't really know what to say about it. It's a video game version of Marina Abramović's The Artist is Present. You buy a ticket, walk into the museum, look at some art, and then you wait in line. (via waxy)

A Super Mario Bros version of Portal?!Aug 29 2011

Wow. Someone is making a video game featuring the original Super Mario Bros worlds but Mario is outfitted with a Portal gun. Watch the demo:

More information on the game's development is here.

Yes, this is an actual game being developed - it is not a mod of any existing one. It's coded with L"ove (info at the bottom of the left menu) and will be released for free (so we don't get stabbed by lawyers)

All the source code of the game will be available after release

The game will have mappacks, which will be downloadable from ingame. Users most likely won't be able to publish maps directly, but will be able to send them in and we'll add them for everyone to use.

The primary maps will have a story and some portaly puzzles. What kind, well, we'll figure that out as we go

Level editor will be embedded in the game so you can edit the level while you play

Original SMB levels and Lost levels will be included

Simultaneous Multiplayer

WonderputtAug 25 2011

Wonderputt is a wonderfully inventive mini golf game. You might even call it whimsical. (via waxy)

Kingdom RushAug 19 2011

Ok, if you don't want to be playing this game for the next 20 hours straight, click away now. Kingdom Rush is my latest tower defense addiction and it may be the best one yet. That the music sounds a lot like the Game of Thones theme isn't hurting it either.

If Super Mario Bros was designed in 2010Aug 11 2011

If Super Mario Bros was designed more recently, it might look a little different.

Super Mario 2010

(via ★interesting-links)

AudiosurfJul 29 2011

Audiosurf is a racing game where the courses are determined by the music you play from your own library. There are all sorts of YouTube clips of the gameplay (which is reminiscent of Guitar Hero)...here's a representative one:

Infinite Super Mario BrosJul 26 2011

Based on Super Mario 3, this HTML5 Super Mario game goes on forever. Someone bet Billy Mitchell he can't finish this game and we'll never have to hear from him again! (via waxy)

The Xbox version of Dock Ellis' LSD-fueled no-hitterJul 11 2011

In 1970, professional baseballer Dock Ellis, who was good at pitching baseballs, threw a no-hitter while under the influence of LSD. In 2011, professional blogger A.J. Daulerio, who isn't so good at video game baseball, attempted to throw a no-hitter while on LSD...playing a customized Dock Ellis in MLB 2K11 on Xbox.

But by the fourth game I started to pick up tendencies in all the batters. Jason Bartlett swung at first-pitch changeups. Will Venable couldn't hit the palm ball. In fact, most of these free-swinging Padres couldn't hit Dock's funky palm ball. I threw it often. But by then, also, the first acid distractions entered: the TV flickered; the cracks in the wall started to move; the hand soap started to breathe -- those sorts of things. Plus I was drawn to the outdoor garden between innings. Rain was near, I sensed.

Hedgehog Launch for iPhoneJun 28 2011

Why didn't anyone tell me that Hedgehog Launch was available on the iPhone? You're all fired!

World's best Tetris playerMay 26 2011

You think you're good at Tetris? Think again. Hell, you think you're good at anything? Think again, again! Tetris grandmaster Jin8 shows you how it's done:

It starts getting insane around the 3:00 mark and then, at 5 minutes in, all the blocks turn invisible and he keeps right on going! It's like he's playing blindfold speed chess on the hood of a stock car!! I mean, !!!!!

Winning at the game of moneyMay 10 2011

James Somers noticed that his equity derivative-trading roommate was the only one of his young professional friends who comes home from work "buoyant and satisfied", so he accompanied him to work one day to see what his job entailed. Turns out he basically plays video games all day.

A trader's job is to be smarter than the market. He converts a mess of analysis and intuition into simple bets. He makes moves. If his predictions are better than everyone else's, he wins money; if not, he loses it. At every moment he has a crystalline picture of his bottom line, the "P and L" (profit and loss) that determines how much of a bonus he'll get and, more importantly, where he stands among his peers. As my friend put it, traders are "very, very, very competitive." At the end of the day they ask each other "how did you do today?" Trading is one of the few jobs with an actual leaderboard, which, if you've ever been on one, or strived to get there, you'll recognize as being perhaps the single most powerful driver of a gamer's engagement.

That seems to be the core of it, but no doubt there are other game-like features in play here: the importance of timing and tactile dexterity; the clear presence of two abstract levels of attention and activity, one long-term and strategic, the other fiercely tactical, localized in bursts a minute or two long; the need for teams and ceaseless chatter; and so on.

Athleticism and competitiveness are often downplayed when we talk about white collar careers but are essential in many disciplines. Doctors (surgeons in particular) have both those traits, founding a startup company is definitely competitive and can be as physically demanding as running, teachers are standing or walking all day long, and even something like programming requires manual dexterity with the mouse & keyboard and the stamina to sit in a chair paying single-minded attention to a task for 10-12 hours a day. (via @tcarmody)

World's largest game of Pac-ManApr 14 2011

This is kind of amazing: a nearly neverending Pac-Man maze constructed by the players.

Big Pac Man

You pick a starting maze and instead of the exits taking you to the opposite site of the current maze, it takes you to an adjacent maze. (via @davidfg)

A tower defense word gameApr 08 2011

That's how Clockwords bills itself...you try words containing the available letters to shoot badguys coming your way. More fun than it sounds, especially for Boggle/Scrabble nerds.

Atari iPhone appApr 07 2011

Atari's Greatest Hits is a free iOS game that come bundled with Pong and the option to purchase 99 more classic arcade and 2600 games. Available games include Tempest, Missle Command, Crystal Castles, Centipede, and Asteroids, some of which are multiplayer over Bluetooth. (via df)

First person Super MarioMar 24 2011

Here's what playing the original Super Mario Bros would look like from a first-person perspective.

(via devour)

Play DOS games on your MacMar 21 2011

Yo dawg I heard you like to play DOS games on your Mac so, uh, here's some software to do that.

Boxer plays MS-DOS games on your Mac. It's based on the robust DOSBox emulator, with a lot of magic sprinkled on top. Run DOS programs from Finder. Wrap your games into tidy gameboxes that launch like Mac apps. Painlessly install games from CD-then bundle the CD with your game so you don't even need it in the drive.

Dune 2, here I come! (via ★robinsloan)

The story of Oregon TrailMar 18 2011

Oregon Trail is one of the most-played video games in history, and certainly one of the most popular educational games. Here's the history of how the game was developed.

Forty years and ten iterations later, the Oregon Trail has sold over 65 million copies worldwide, becoming the most widely distributed educational game of all time. Market research done in 2006 found that almost 45 percent of parents with young children knew Oregon Trail, despite the fact that it largely disappeared from the market in the late '90s.

A recent frenzy of nostalgia over the game has yielded everything from popular T-shirts ("You have died of dysentery") to band tour promotions ("Fall Out Boy Trail") to humorous references on popular websites ("Digg has broken an axle").

"It's hard to think of another game that endured for so long and yet has still been so successful," says Jon-Paul Dyson, director of the International Center for the History of Electronic Games at the Strong. "For generations of computer users, it was their introduction to gaming, and to computer use itself."

Play Katamari Damacy on any web siteMar 14 2011

This bookmarklet will let you play Katamari Damacy on any web site. Activating it will display a ball on your screen that will roll up all the images and words on the screen. Try it right now on kottke.org. Works best in Firefox and Chrome. (thx, yotam)

Swipe Four for iPhoneMar 09 2011

I love Boggle, so Swipe Four is right up my alley...it's sort of Boggle in reverse. You build up the board letter by letter in an attempt to maximize points. There's a playable online demo and it's only 99 cents on the App Store.

Tiny Wings is the new Angry BirdsMar 07 2011

Tiny Wings is a nifty one-tap game featuring a flying bird...the graphics are really lovely and feel almost handmade.

Available on the App Store for $0.99.

Evolving a carFeb 14 2011

BoxCar 2D is a fun little toy: it uses genetic algorithms to evolve little cars that can complete obstacle courses (like the ones you'd find on Cyclomaniacs). If you play this for more than a minute or two, you'll be at it for 30 minutes, easy. (via moleitau)

World of Goo for iPad only 99 centsFeb 10 2011

Today only, World of Goo for the iPad is only 99 cents. Like I said before, this game is what the iPad was built for. (via capn design)

The game of LoveFeb 04 2011

Forgive me Internet for I have sinned. It has been several months since I regularly posted addictive Flash games to kottke.org. As penance, I offer up Love, in which you get your spinning square close to (but not too close to) a bunch of squares. More funner than it sounds. Go in peace.

Two new Angry Birds games coming soonFeb 02 2011

The big new game will be called Angry Birds Rio. It's a movie tie-in (blech), but as long as the game features a ton of that trademark bird-flinging action, who cares?

There will also be a Valentine's Day edition of Angry Birds, perfect for ignoring your beloved on that special day.

MetagamesFeb 01 2011

Andy Baio has compiled a listing of metagames...video games that are about video games.

Over the last few years, I've been collecting examples of metagames -- not the strategy of metagaming, but playable games about videogames. Most of these, like Desert Bus or Quest for the Crown, are one-joke games for a quick laugh. Others, like Cow Clicker and Upgrade Complete, are playable critiques of game mechanics. Some are even (gasp!) fun.

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