Monthly Archives: November 2020

Today I discovered that it’s thirty years since The Undertaker made his WWF debut. As the mystery man making up “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase’s team at Survivor Series, this was a character that was probably going to go one of two ways. As it was, Taker enjoyed instant success and despite being introduced as an evil, undead beast doing Paul Bearer’s bidding, crowds bought into it so much that they wanted to see him, and began cheering for him. The rest is history and, as Bobby Heenan would cry on commentary, “long live The Undertaker!”

Here’s a little thing to mark the anniversary. In preparation for RetroMania, I started taking WrestleFest sprites and attempting likenesses of various wrestlers, as I’ve posted on here previously (indeed, it was that post which got me the job!). The Undertaker was one of these experiments; really, it’s a surprise he’s not in the game to begin with, though its 1991 release means he may have debuted a little too late for it. With such a progression in outfits and styles, it was a lot of fun in the good old pixel style.

As if the watermark weren’t large enough, I feel the need to reiterate that The Undertaker is NOT in RetroMania Wrestling. Sorry if I got your hopes up!

RetroMania Wrestling is coming to a computer or console near you on 26th February 2021.

It began as a spiritual successor to WrestleFest, a very popular and fondly-remembered arcade game from 1991. Now, it’s an officially licensed sequel, with an eclectic roster spanning several decades and cameos from many others whom you may recognise.

I have spent the best part of two years working on the character models for this game and, if you’re a wrestling fan or just a fan of fast-paced, action-packed gameplay, you will enjoy it. I will doubtless go on and on about the game in more detail come February. You’ve been warned. In the meantime, take a look, and be sure to grapple with RetroMania Wrestling in the new year!

Friendly or calculating? Maybe both? You decide.

I was looking at drawing some faces in pixel, something I’ve struggled with in the past. Then I started looking at pixel art of robots, androids and this spilled into browsing – and wanting – several of those vintage wind-up robot toys you often see popping up in stores around this time of year. This was my attempt at combining all of the elements, and what fun it was, actually, much more so than vanilla portraits would have been and have been in the past. I started with the bottom-right, mostly based on the reference, and used him as a template for the other three. Admittedly I did try to make them look reasonably non-threatening, but it’s probably advisable not to run into any of them in a dark room, whatever their disposition.

I can’t help but wonder if, in an alternate universe, it’s these chaps who are doing the dishes, taking care of those suspicious stains and making sure the jetpack is fully charged – the helpful companions we were meant to have had for decades by now, you know? But I suppose that’s just a less photogenic version of Humans. And we all know how that ended. Well, actually, I don’t. I only watched the first series. And, if they are truly calculating, maybe the States could’ve done with a few of these bots over the last few days…  amirite, folks? Phew! It’s been an exhausting week, a nail-biting week, but what a week. The sights of people dancing in the streets say it all. I know this is only the start, and there’s an awful lot of work to be done, but I’m happy and hopeful for America and all of my friends there.

Yes, what the title says. But this Halloween was a bumper night of retro thrills for me. I watched The Shining for the second time ever (and I still have so many questions, but we shan’t address those as I don’t want to spoil a forty year old film for you). Later, the early hours were spent watching a livestreamer play through the original Doom on the highest difficulty, and with fast monsters enabled. Even if you’ve never seen or played Doom, that should be self-explanatory. Anybody who has played Doom will know that the enemies move and attack pretty darn fast to begin with, and that fast monsters is very close to reaching bullshit territory. But it was oh so entertaining to watch.

It’s a game that I’ve written about several times over the years I’ve kept this blog, and will probably come to again at some point in the future. The legacy it holds is on a scale rarely seen, and the  development and its deceptively simple mechanics continue to fascinate me. Over twenty years since my first playthrough on the much-maligned 32-X port, there are still phases where I play it regularly.

One of those phases occurred recently, hence the ZX Spectrum treatment. Of course, Doom began its life on the PC in 1993 and was ported to just about everything, but – and who would have thought? – the ZX Spectrum was not on that list. And not just because the system was discontinued a year earlier. Had things been different, I suppose a 2D, Robocop style game might have been an option, but it wouldn’t have been Doom. Doom is all about the bleak atmosphere and the desperate exploration; the intimidation of dark halls and the sound of demons getting louder as they close in on you. A platformer version adorned in cyan and magenta probably wouldn’t have pulled that off particularly well.

This being said, a port did arrive on the Spectrum, kind of: an unofficial, fan-made project surfaced in the late nineties, comprising a few levels and a selection of the monsters. And it did try to mimic the original’s visual. Impressive though it is, I’ve never been able to watch a playthrough for more than a couple of minutes, and I defy anybody to navigate the searing maze with their eyesight intact. Such are the dear Speccy’s limitations. I feel that more or less sums up what an official Spectrum Doom would have been like; ‘hellish’ seems a fitting descriptor.

As a bonus treat, I thought I’d try and convert the legendary At Doom’s Gate, Bobby Prince’s soundtrack to the very first level, into something that might have been doable even on the Spectrum 48K. I emphasise the ‘might’, as I’m far from an expert on sound and feel there are probably too many channels running at one time (four). Either way, my thanks to shiru8bit on Reddit for compiling the soundfont used here to rip and tear through such an iconic tune. Mmm… strident.

When I started working on the Super Loop on Top called Colorado, I realised I was probably going to have to create some appropriate scenery for the backdrop. Hence, deserts, rock structures and mountain peaks were the order of the day, with a splash of waves and rapids to suit the water jets on the ride… a feature I ultimately didn’t include anyway. The ensuing studies and developments were, suitably, quite a rocky bunch; as per usual, it didn’t take me long to go completely off-brief. Here are some of the diversions that were taken.

The turquoise sky piece did actually find its way into the ride, adorning the control/ticket booth. Chiefly because I like turquoise.

Really, the only reason any of the above have made it onto my blog is because I transplanted the circuitry from my previous post and started concocting a similar landscape. The result – a series of cyber mountain ranges. I rather appreciate the dystopian, Doom-esque aesthetic. For me, they’re the peak.

A change of pace from the Norfolk Broads, anyhow.