Tuesday, April 24, 2012

An Unusually Batman Heavy Update

Okay, first things first, everybody should go watch Holy Musical B@man! as soon as possible. I know it's practically impossible to sell somebody on this kind of thing, so I'm not going to bother. Just know that if you have even a passing interest in Batman, super heroes in general, the Very Potter musicals, musicals in general, or even just comedy, you will UNDOUBTEDLY like it. If that isn't enough of a sell...
I think I've done my part.

Anyway, moving on! All this Batman talk got me in a Batman mood, and since reading any of the modern comics is basically pointless, I decided to more appropriately nerd out by playing Batman for the NES. Developed by then powerhouse Sunsoft and (allegedly) based on the 1989 Tim Burton film starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson, Batman is one of the best action games on the NES, up there with Castlevania and Ninja Gaiden. It also has NOTHING to do with the movie outside of a few cutscenes, unless I somehow missed all the scenes of the film where Batman punched tiny robots, biker ninjas, and enormous frog monsters before bursting into flames. It's like they just dropped Batman into some random anime NES action game, and it's pretty damn cool. Best of all, they couldn't even wait for Batman Returns to make a sequel, so Sunsoft went ahead and made Return of the Joker, which features EVEN MORE nonsensical bullshit. Was also called "Dynamite Batman" in Japan, which is amazing.

All this crazy nonsense got me thinking about how anomalous those games really were, and about what someone with no prior knowledge of Batman would think of the character based on those games. Can you imagine? Of course, it got me to work right quick on an insane, re-interpretation of the character. I'm still working, but I thought some of these drawings were just too fun to leave on my floor.

Right now, the plan is to do this as a six page mini-comic, which I'd like to actually print and give out for free. I'll keep posting neat stuff as it happens, but for now here's a preview of the cover (maybe) and the first page.
And, just for fun, here's a REALLY OLD Batman drawing from when the Dark Knight came out, to illustrate exactly what I'm NOT going for with this new comic...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Deadly Premonition Demake

This is probably my most involved demake yet. For those unfamiliar, this is a scene from the cult game Deadly Premonition, a bizarre adventure game by Access Games and director SWERY. The actual game itself plays pretty much like a combination of Sega's Shenmue and Capcom's Resident Evil 4, and is notable for its strange characters, quirky script and gameplay, and surprisingly intriguing story. I recently finished it in its entirety, and immediately set forth to do a series of screenshots.

This one was a bit tricky, because I was working against instinct in alot of ways. Visually, I wanted to give the appearance of an old adventure game, like the Super Famicom version of Clock Tower, or some of the Sierra/ Lucasarts PC games. It's not something I do alot, and everything from the background, which was much more involved than usual, to the characters, who were more realistic than usual, presented a unique challenge. I spent forever tweaking the portrait shot of York trying to get a better likeness, though I still am less than fond of the result.

The rest of the image, though, I quite like. The actual character sprites turned out quite likable, and the background came together pretty well.

Maybe more in the future.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Dim Souls

The Gaping Dragon the only part of Dark Souls that I really remember fondly. Yeah, he fought pretty brainlessly, and basically just would one-shot you if you were dumb or unlucky enough to actually get hit, but he was cool looking, genuinely disturbing, and every original. Unlike alot of the other enemies, who I just thought were a bit lame, the Gaping Dragon  actually freaked me right out. Everything about that encounter was just cool.

Done to emulate the Gameboy's aesthetic. Don't know why, but I really enjoy the low resolution, monochrome look.

I might make more of this one, actually.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Super Halo Advance 3: Combat Devolved

I was never a big Halo fan. The sortof "us vs. them" story of the first didn't really excite me, but by the time the third game rolled around and the Chief was working together with the Arbiter, I started to warm up to the dynamic, plus enjoyed the fact that it made the second player an actual participant in the story, and not just Copy MC. I haven't really enjoyed any of the games since then, either, so I really wish they'd explore the Covenant/Human dynamic again.

This started as an old school FPS, like Doom, but I didn't much like the way it was shaping up. It didn't quite match my actual feelings about Halo, and due to my unfamiliarity with the franchise, I wasn't really able to replicate the details of the weapons and armor convincingly. Discouraged, I thought about my actual experience with Halo, and realized that it had more in common with games like Smash TV, Commando, and Contra (games I had always loved playing in co-op) than Doom, at least as far as I'm concerned.

Natural environments are pain, and I'm not great at doing tiles. I think the individual elements of the background turned out good, but I'm not thrilled with the way it all came together. I think I'm just not a big enough Halo fan to really pull this kind of thing off. Still, it was fun, and I really like the sprites of the Master Chief and the Arbiter.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Some Kid Icarus Fun

I've been playing alot of Kid Icarus: Uprising, and felt compelled (as usual) to get to work on a quick demake. In this one, I went a bit further than usual and tried to emulate the sprite scaling Mode 7 effect the SNES was famous for introducing to the console scene, in order to replicate the Space Harrier type stages from Uprising. The extreme perspective and chunky scaling on the background elements and enemies were meant to create the effect, although I'm not totally sure I succeeded.
There were a few specific inspirations for this set up, most notably the gorgeous SNES shooter Axelay, and HAL. Labs' early SNES game Hyper Zone. Neither game is remembered very well, but they most accurately reflected the look I was shooting for. Hyper Zone in particular seemed appropriate, since Masahiro Sakurai, the big man at Sora Ltd. behind Uprising, was once a member of HAL.  I suppose the real idea here is "what if Sakurai had gotten to make a Kid Icarus game back on the SNES?"
Ultimately, I'm not sure I really hit all the notes I wanted to, but I'm overall pleased with the result.