The 'Shroom:Issue 108/Palette Swap
Happy March, everyone! I hope that it finds you safe and happy wherever you may be!
This month is a rather quiet one after our last special issue, no surprise. We have a fantastic selection of sections for you all to read, so please don’t let me keep you from scrolling down!
Additionally, there are a couple things I need to clarify about applying for sections for Palette Swap, especially for Featured Sprite and What's on the Box? These two sections are now being reworked to solely focus on fan-made sprites and box art. So, if you're a sprite-maker or would like to analyze fan-made mods and box art, please consider applying for either spot! The decision last year for Yoshi876 (talk) and I to step down from the sections was made for this reason, to bring more fan-made art into Palette Swap. So again, if you love making fan art, please give it a thought and maybe send us an application with a sample?
I also have updates for you about our two contests from last month’s issue, so do check those out as well! As always, if you’d like to apply to write for us, please PM me with any questions, or PM Henry Tucayo Clay (talk) with your completed application, and we’ll get you started!
Legend of Zelda Music Contest
Due to some concerns and comments from contestants, the music contest deadline has been extended 1 month! All entries must be posted to the official board in the forums no later than April 16th to be eligible for voting! No exceptions!
Pokémon Art Contest
Our art contest has been wrapped up! Please check the Fan Creations thread on the forums for the official voting board later today to vote for your favorite entry! Remember to read the rules before you vote!
Section of the Month
Well, that didn’t take long. Congratulations to Walkazo (talk) for taking the top spot with The Adventures of Little Mario! Thank you everyone for voting, and please remember to throw a vote our way again this month as well!
I had been busy with modding with the past couple of weeks. New exciting developments are coming to the Wii U modding scene, such as a full-blown emulator for the Wii U, called cemu. Check out the thread if you want to learn more about it and its developments. Currently, it's in an extremely early stage, so don't expect full-playability of any game, and don't expect it to look nice either. Here's a beautiful example of Mario Kart 8 on it. "Beautiful" meaning that...uh, well at least it can run the game! Can't wait to help upload images for the wiki with this beauty once it's finished with development.
For now, I'll talk about a far smaller scale mod from a last gen game. Super Smash Bros. Brawl is one of the first games that I knew about that can be altered. Many tools were developed for it, but the most versatile tool that had the most extensive developments is, by far, Brawl Box. Fortunately, the Wii has a bunch of similar file formats across it, so it works across many familiar games such as Mario Kart Wii and New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
This month, I'll talk about a small model import. Paper Mario over Mr. Game & Watch, made by Starwaffle of the Legendary Smash Team. It coincides well with a recent announcement of the new game of the Paper Mario series, regardless if the game was initially well-received or not. Even so, Paper Mario is a highly popular character, and he's requested often for a playable fighter in Super Smash Bros. games.
What makes this particular hack so special? Well, Mr. Game & Watch is an incredibly difficult character to replace. Not much hacks of him exist, and most of them are composed of simply recolors. And his model is flattened. Wait, he's not a sprite? Yep, he's a flattened 3D model with key-framed animations like any other character, just a bit more...sprity. Here's what he looks like if you preview him in BrawlBox:
See, 3D model right there. He faces to the left just for the three-quarters front effect that you see in the Paper Mario games. Animation bones control the width of this character. I can't really demonstrate it with BrawlBox, as the animations appear a bit wonked up from loading FitGameWatchMotionEtc and may require more editing just to display correctly in BrawlBox.
Paper Mario uses a Save Block as his forward aerial. It beats me why he uses a Save Block to bonk his opponents, I guess he's so confident about himself that saving is for squares, literally, and he'll gladly wall of pain you just to prove a point. He uses his Hammers for various attacks, either a Super Hammer or a regular Wooden Hammer; too bad he doesn't use Ultra Hammer at all, because that would be his most effective hammer. It isn't known exactly what boots he uses, but that's irrelevant, since none of his moveset involves his feet. Stars fly out when Paper Mario does a fully charged Oil Panic, probably something that Kirby dreams of having an attack that strong.
There's not really much else I can say, because, even the hack is probably the most impressive Mr. Game & Watch hack that's not a port for another character (*cough cough Shadow ports*), he still plays exactly like Mr. Game & Watch, just in a different appearance. You have to give credit to the authors of this particular hack, moveset changing is a slow and tedious process, and it takes a ton of effort to even make tweaks. This is not even taking time bug-testing, balancing and creating new animations in mind. You have to work with what you got, and not many people have the time and energy to create new movesets for completely new characters.
If you read my section, well thank you! If you want to offer any suggestions on what I should cover, drop a message to me on my talk page, PM me on the forums, or drop me a message any where I can read, such as my Steam profile or my deviantart profile. There's still a bunch of untapped mods out there I'd love to discuss about, even if I never got the chance to play their source game, namely Skyrim or other games I may never heard about. If I haven't, I'll research the mods on YouTube and other websites. If not, look forward to my next section in April!
Ongoing Fan Projects
In honour of its (hopefully) imminent finale, I'm dedicating this month's Boombox to the long-running webcomic Homestuck, by Andrew Hussie. Now I'm sure many of you are thinking "what does a webcomic have to do with VG music?" and the answer is "a lot". If you're unfamiliar with it, in a nutshell, Homestuck is a story about a bunch of human and alien teens getting caught up in the business of destroying and creating new universes, with the means of said universal reproduction being a construction-simulation/action-adventure computer game. The characters' existence is game-like from the start, so when installing the game allows them to physically alter each others' houses over the Internet and fight evil monsters to level up and collect building grist, it's no big D - they've already had plenty of experience fiddling with hold item storage modes, having turn-based battles with their caregivers, and other such 21st century magic realism shenanigans. And not only is Homestuck like a video game in-story, but it's also presented like an oldschool text-based game at times, with the links to the next panel being presented as action commands. As the comic went on, it became less focused on the video game constructs within its storytelling, but in exchange it became increasingly elaborate in its use of media, fully-animated videos, interactive Flash panels, and even sequences of actual playable games. Not to mention the upcoming video game spinoff, Hiveswap, and also the fact that a few Homestuck characters were surprisingly featured in the now-unavailable Namco High dating sim game.
Now that Homestuck's video game cred is established, the next matter is the music. Thanks to the comic's fanbase, there are over two dozen official albums of music, much of which appears in the animated cutscenes. On top of that, there's countless hours of unofficial fan-made stuff, from original works, to parody songs, to all manner of AMVs and PMVs setting both canon and fanon pics and clips to music, and even some live-action cosplay music videos (CMVs) too. This time, I'm just going to focus on the most video gamey content: the background music of the aforementioned playable portions of Homestuck, starting with "Doctor". This lovely tune ushered in Act 4 of the comic with a fully interactive walkaround Flash, where you control the main protagonist, John, as he explores the land, talks to salamanders and hits enemy imps with his giant hammers. It's not a hard game (if you somehow run out of HP you respawn immediately), but still pretty fun, and the track accompanying it remains one of my favourite pieces of Homestuck music, and is popular with the fandom as a whole. One of the numerous remixes of it, "Planet Healer", was even used for John's second platformer adventure later on.
The first walkaround, however, happened much earlier, and while it didn't have background music by default, clicking on the piano plays a haunting refrain, and an Easter Egg lets you switch into "Trickster Mode", which results in "Harlequin" playing as the background music while you float around the screen. Even before that initial platformer segment, the first minigame was a turn-based "battle" between John (playable) and his Dad, with "Showtime" as the background music. A 16-Bit remix is later used when John tries (and fails) to battle an imp in his house, and the aforementioned piano tune was yet another version of "Showtime", while "Harlequin" gets a few remixes as well, including a rock version that plays during a silly pogo ride minigame. All the other main kids have their own "strife" battles too, featuring the songs "Aggrieve", "Beatdown (Strider Style)", "Dissension (Original)" and "Sunslammer". While the second group of human kids introduced later in the comic don't have this sort of minigames as the first group, there is one point-and-click puzzle adventure, featuring "Rain", "Ruins (With Strings)" and the recurring "Elevatorstuck" (so-named because it sounds like mellow elevator music).
Aside from the humans, Homestuck also features a cast of aliens from a species called Trolls, and they have a few walkaround adventures too. The first is called "Alterniabound" (as is its corresponding album), named after the actual game EarthBound, to which it bears some similarities and shoutouts. Three trolls are playable, with corresponding leitmotifs for each one: "Karkat's Theme", "Terezi's Theme" and "Vriska's Theme", and by hitting "Ctrl T" (or "Ctl Alt T" if that doesn't work, and "? (Alt) T" on Macs), you can go to a sound test room with these and lots of other tracks, as well as sprites of the four Earthbound kids. This Flash was followed by two more, "Kanaya: Return to the core" and "Equius: Seek the Highbl00d". The former includes two more Trolls' themes, "Darling Kanaya" and "Eridan's Theme", as well as a new strife theme, "Nautical Nightmare", and a single bonus track in the secret room (to Ness and friends' chagrin), "Heir Conditioning", which is especially gamey as it's a remix of two Touhou songs ("Beloved Tomboyish Daughter" and "Solar Sect of Mystic Wisdom ~ Nuclear Fusion"). Meanwhile, all the other songs in these two walkarounds get their own gaming cred due to the mere fact that they were made by Toby Fox of Undertale fame - in fact, one of the bonus tracks in Alterniabound is "MeGaLoVania", first heard in an Earthbound hack Fox did, then here, then in a proper Homestuck animated sequence, and finally in Undertale. Anyway, the final of these three platforming adventures has "Horschestra (STRONG version)" and "Nepeta's Theme" as the playable trolls' walkaround leitmotifs, before it takes a turn for the unsettling with "Blackest Heart (With Honks)" and goes downhill from there once the cutscene kicks in.
And just when you think you've escaped, there's another trilogy of playable Troll stuff, collectively known as "Openbound" and coded in HTML5 instead of Flash for a change. It's got a hella lot of songs, but unlike all the other playable bits, the Homestuck Wikia actually documents them properly for a change, so I'll just let them do the full track list for ya. However, special shout-outs do go to "Fuchsia Ruler", "Violet Prince" and "Indigo Heir" as my faves of each part. But as good as a lot of the tracks are, and as interesting as the dialogue in the walkarounds can be, the most fun I had "playing" Homestuck was this page, which lets you remix your own sick beats. A later Flash also lets you play the flute pitifully, but it's more funny than musical - still worth mentioning, tho. A few other pages let you play excerpts from songs one at a time, but as liberal as I've been with my use of "game" for the things I've talked about so far, I feel like it'd be stretching credibility to the breaking point to include these ones too. Plus, I've talked long enough already, so maybe next time. Until then, adios toreadors.
This Month in Albums
Here we are again, covering all the best and worst albums released since last month's issue! Again, this is all just my opinion, so if you feel you may enjoy an artist that I disliked, or aren't into the artists I do enjoy, then by all means, continue as you are. You are entitled to your
THERE YOU GO! Problem solved! Now get to reading, you silly buggers.