An 8-bit ‘08
Before 2008 goes completely cold here’s eight of my favorite 8-bit (and related) things from the past year.
Suggested by James Bowskill this ‘80’s gaming-themed café was cool enough to revisit during my November-long trip to Tokyo. On the return visit my pal (and host) Jon discovered a wonderful little drink called the Dr. Mario. I’m a little fuzzy on the ingredients but this Dr. Pepper-based cocktail is served in a beaker with a vial of multi-colored jelly pills on the side. As great as it was I’m sure there were plenty of other gems hidden in the Japanese-only menu.
Mega Man 9
Mega Man “Jump! Jump!”ed the shark on the 32-bit Saturn/Playstation more than ten years ago with Mega Man 8. Fortunately Capcom decided to go back to the franchise’s roots with Mega Man 9 for the current-gen systems—quartering the bits in the process. It looks, sounds and plays like Mega Man 4-8 never happened. The pixels are the size of fingernails. The music chirps along. Pattern identification, memorization and reflexes are absolutely required. In other words, it’s a perfect way to burn the midnight holiday oil.
Richard Bannister is the prodigious, undisputed king of emulation on the Mac. While I’ve been using Nestopia (and about half his other emulators with Emulation Enhancer) for years, this past year Nestopia saw a lot of use—especially after Mega Man 9 started an insatiable desire to play unforgiving platformers.
Metroid: Zero Mission
While not exactly 8-bit and not released this year, Metroid: Zero Mission for the Gameboy Advance found it’s way into Slot-2 of my DS Lite quite a bit this year and introduced me to the speed-running scene. Imagine the original Metroid streamlined and refined by the team responsible for Super Metroid. Super, indeed.
Bit Shifter released Information Chase in 2006 on 8bitpeoples. I downloaded it with a bunch of other releases but never got around to really listening to it until this year when it was brought to my attention by the chiptune documentary Reformat the Planet—which takes its name from one of the tracks on this beautiful, 8-bit EP.
In the same vein (and spirit of the season) Doctor Octoroc gave us 8-bit Jesus. Eighteen holiday favorites individually recrafted in the musical style of familiar NES games. I will definitely be breaking this out next year when the rote, unsolicited holiday music begins its annual assault. Like in October.
Or maybe I’ll cook up my own 8-bit tunes with the Korg DS-10. Two melodic channels, four percussive, and up to eight DSes linked over WiFi. In a word: rad. Or you could just let these original square waveforms do the talking:
Wandering through Akihabara unguided it’d be easy to miss Super Potato. So I took notes. Two floors filled with used retro consoles, games, OST CDs, guides and accessories, it’s a miracle I made it back from Tokyo with a yen to my name. I did pick up a Super Famicom, two controllers, Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy VI, Star Ocean and Super Street Fighter II—all for under a hundred bucks. I had a boxy Super Nintendo growing up so I was always envious of the ergonomic design of the Super Famicom/European Super Nintendo.
Now I have one of my very own to enjoy in the New Year.