Emptyeye.com Week 26- Wow! No Real Content!

This week at Emptyeye.com, I should have been preparing for The Six Day Exile (By the way, there will be no updates between this coming Thursday and the following Tuesday…I’ll be too busy recording during said exile), but elected to play video games instead. Actually, that’s not entirely true, it’s just that you didn’t hear much of the prep work I actually did, which involved programming the drum machine as much as I could. Looking back at the songs I wrote, I was surprised that quite a few of them don’t even have drums. Further, I couldn’t prep as much as I wanted to; one of the machine’s limitations is that it can’t really switch between tempos rapidly, or at all really. In other words, for stuff like Epic Failure, I’ll essentially have to record all the parts separately and sort of stitch them together. That should be interesting.

In gaming news, this past weekend I played a lot of an old NES game titled M.C. Kids. Don’t let the fact that the game is a giant McDonald’s ad (Which, ironically enough, McDonald’s never actually supported–the planned super humongous cross-promotion with the McDonald’s Happy Meal fell through at the last minute) fool you; it’s a surprisingly deep and challenging game, especially in the later levels. I was playing it through, partly out of nostalgia, and partly because I thought it might make a good game to speedrun, which I’m now re-thinking. It’s not up there with the hardest games of the NES era, but it is far harder than its intended target audience, particularly in Hamburglar’s Hideout.


    • James on April 14, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    I checked out your link to M.C. Kids (M.C Kids?) and was surprised how gushing the reviews were–until I realized it was one of the game designers writing it. I agree with you that it is surprisingly deep; mostly because the ties to McDonald’s predispose one to think it utterly sucks. It’s not a GREAT game by any means, though for a NES title it IS slightly above average (I tend to put it on par with games like Kid Niki, Friday the 13th, Clash at Demonhead). I would probably give it a 6/10 or so. If I remember correctly, the play control wasn’t great–running was an issue since you didn’t have the “B” button sprint ability ala the Mario Bros. series. Also, if I remember correctly you own the actual cart of the game, yes?

    As for the drums… well, my suggestion would be to go with the Sonar midi drums using the piano grid (and snap to grid option). It gives you a ton of control like my old beloved Winjammer and changing tempos and drum kits is a snap. I know because you HAVE the drum machine you want to use it but for ease of use (and lack of headaches) I really like Sonar’s drum layout. I almost always copy and paste a simple beat to get started and work on it from there.

    • emptyeye on April 14, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Yes, M.C. Kids. And yeah, that was one of the developers of the game I linked to. There are a couple other articles about the creation process on his website, which are neat (Though far more interesting to me is the fact that one Tommy “Video Games Live!” Tallarico did Quality Assurance for the game). I honestly wonder if the game was too deep in a sense for the target audience and that’s why the McDonald’s deal fell through–as the developer said, simply getting to the end of the levels got you nowhere. You had to actually explore and collect items and then get to the end of the level on the same life, which actually gets pretty hard on the later levels. Despite the wacky “inertia makes you run faster!” control scheme, I like the game, and would give it probably 7.5-8/10.

    Incidentally, Kid Niki is still what I consider to be the ultimate mediocre game. Like, it blows me away with its mediocrity such that I want to announce it to the world much like Vegeta announces Goku’s power level.

    As for the drum machine, it’s really not as bad as I make it sound–I can string things together without much a problem. It’s only the tempo changes that may pose a difficulty. It’s not just “I have drum machine and want to use it”, it’s that the machine’s drums are so much better than the MIDI drums on my old sound card (Incidentally, I never tried them on the Indigo…hmm) sound-wise, even before I learned how to moderate the volume so it sounds less like me on drums and more like someone actually rhythmically competent.

    • James on April 16, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Heh–it looks like you gave M.C. Kids a 6/10 on Gamefaqs as I predicted (without even looking!) I agree that the game is too advanced for the target audience though. Tommy Tallarico is kind of an interesting character–he’s done a lot for exposing game music and such but the games he’s actually COMPOSED music for tend to sound terrible. Maybe he’s best off as a producer?

    I still like Kid Niki, it’s almost like a mock- cel-shaded game long before its time!

    One thing I noticed with my drum sounds is a new sound card made a world of difference. The Sound fonts are pretty high tech now and if you have enough memory to run the larger sets, they sound pretty convincing (after all, they are actual samples of real drums). Either way, whatever is easiest is probably the best way to go (hiring Tom?)

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