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Favorite NES Homebrews/new releases.


asmikace
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On 7/5/2021 at 7:55 AM, asmikace said:

All sorts of games but I want to see if there is any home brews that rival some of the great released stuff

In what manner?  Concepts are getting there, but hardware and programming has a looooong way to go.  It seems like we're not even into the MMC3 era yet, nevermind MMC5 or anything truly custom like the later Japanese games.  I'd say we're approaching the 1987 timetable of the original NES lifespan, in terms of where homebrews are at right now for the top-end stuff.  But at the end of the day, I don't care how simple or complicated they are; all I ask out of my homebrews is that they be fun 🙂

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2 hours ago, Dr. Morbis said:

hardware and programming has a looooong way to go.  It seems like we're not even into the MMC3 era yet

That's a pretty conscious decision, not a matter of "progress". NES homebrew developers are perfectly aware of how to use the MMC3 chip, it's not like it takes any kind of skill or knowledge that isn't around, and INL has been building reproduction MMC3 PCBs for years. In fact, the MMC3 chip makes a lot of things way easier than what you'd do without it. You can animate backgrounds on the fly, or give your character much smoother animations via smaller windowed bank switching, and you can do cool splits and raster effects with very little effort compared to the painstaking timed code required to properly utilize sprite 0 hits.

No, making a MMC3 game is absolutely much easier in every way compared to opting out of it.

If you aren't seeing any games that try to be more like "16 bit games" like what you'd see a bit of towards the end of the NES lifecycle, it's probably mostly because if that's the kind of game you want to make, some people might find that it's besides the point of limiting yourself to the NES platform in the first place. Also, while there are plenty of talented pixel artists out there, you'll probably find that there are a lot of people who don't like working within the limitations of the NES, which can be a lot more wonky than the traditional "only so and so many colors" approach you'd usually see in stylistic "fake 8bit" stuff. As a result, most of the graphics you see in homebrew games are based on the abilities of people already inside the homebrew scene.
Doesn't mean it's not happening though. Former Dawn is an obvious example of an upcoming NES game that does pretty much everything within the spec of the original NES to push it into doing way more than any licensed game ever did. Hell, even NEScape makes use of full screen animations using bank switched nametables, something no original NES games were ever able to do (even though the hardware behind it is simple).

Anyway, in terms of pure quality, I'd say the best NES homebrews can easily compete with at least the top 20 NES titles from "the MMC3 era". Nebs 'n Debs, Micro Mages, Lizard, and Battle Kid 2 are all some of the best games on the platform if you ask me.

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Member · Posted

I'd have to agree with @Sumez and his post above.

I once had a discussion with someone, who said that all homebrew NES games were garbage, due to some graphics usages, game styles, etc. Basically the guy wanted to see MMC3 games, and anything less than that was a sign of the game being garbage, made by someone that was incompetent at what they were doing.

I found the whole thing to be quite strange though, as I've always enjoyed the simple graphics and simple gameplay of some of the earlier games.

While some of the folks might just suck at what they're doing, I'd imagine that most folks are consciously making games that they like, in the manner that they enjoy. And for many, what they enjoy might not be MMC3.

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Here's my general thoughts of the homebrew NES scene, as well as some general history about it.

The NES homebrew scene has grown so much over the past roughly 25 years. It's funny as I was just talking to my brother about it the other day, but I remember that it was a huge deal when Solar Wars came out as back then, most people were just making tech demos, and Solar Wars was an actual full game.

Then it was an even bigger deal (imo) when the Garage Cart was made (a brand new NES game on actual cartridges), I was on the list to purchase one but bowed out at the last minute, stupid decision of a poor high school kid. I think that Sudoku with the metal tin was probably one of, if not the first truly mass-produced NES homebrew, and then grabbed that in 2007 with the help of a friend.

By this point, I think the homebrew scene got a bit stale. The two Battle Kid games were amazing in so many different ways, I'd place them as easily being equally, if not better, than a lot of commercial games from back in the day.

Most of the other entries were lackluster though, imo, and it turned me off from homebrews for awhile. It personally felt as we weren't making much progress, as most of the homebrew games were just simple clones of puzzle games or arcade style games, on par with the type of stuff you'd see being made by Nice Code for their cheap plug n play machines. Yuck!

In the last two or three years though, homebrew games have easily become one of my favourite aspects of gaming. There's been such a mixed bag of releases, and that's what makes it so fun. 

Some titles, such as Project Blue, while it personally wasn't for me, it definitely fits into the category of being on par with something commercialized from back in the day. Then there were the music carts, that space raft game, and so many other neat projects by now. 

Homebrew finally broke out if the initial slump and it's great to see so many people producing fun, unique gaming opportunities for everyone to enjoy.

 

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Member · Posted

NES homebrew is like every other circle of amateur game devs.

  • There are a ton of people with a ton of skills who are constantly f***ing about with a ton of interesting projects, and really impressive programming demos, who never actually finish any projects.
  • And you got the people who are just overtly amateurish in their effort, just doing simple things to satiate their own interest in the NES hardware, making tic-tac-toes, sudoku or whatever.
  • And then there are the people whose core skill is actually being able to finish something, but maybe don't share the typical consumer's care for that extra professional polish. These are the kind of people who'll usually do serviceable artwork themselves despite not being pixel art masters, and simply focus on how to get to the end goal fast. A lot of these games are genuinely great, but I can see why they might be a harder sell to people outside of the community. I think games like Owlia, Mad Wizard and even the Battle Kid games fit into this category, and if you aren't a part of the community it might be easy to underestimate them. But really, you shouldn't.
  • And of course there's the rare talented developer or core team who have the ability to both finish projects and know how to apply that extra care that makes it easier to promote the game to people outside of the core circle of devs and homebrew fans. MorphCat games are probably the biggest player here, with games like Böbl, Micro Mages, and of course Super Bat Puncher, a whole decade ago now.

I figure this last one is the kind of stuff @Dr. Morbis feels is missing, but honestly that kind of product is only ever going to be the rare surface level stuff of any game dev community, whether it's on NES, SNES, or PC. We can't all afford to hire super-talented artists like @FrankenGraphics to make sweet-as NES graphics for us 😆

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Dead Tomb. Check it out.

Most people from Quebec remember it as Temporel on "Videoway" (software streaming cable box from the late 80s/early 90s. info here: http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/temporel-inc-and-the-videoway-system/)

 

A Flash remake of the original Videoway game can be downloaded here, knowledge of french required:
http://www.temporel-inc.com/TemporelInc.zip

Edited by WhyNotZoidberg
added video
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Member · Posted
On 7/5/2021 at 9:55 AM, asmikace said:

All sorts of games but I want to see if there is any home brews that rival some of the great released stuff

Well I have an idea given that Dr Morbis there brought up advanced chips, problem is not only does it rival some great released stuff, it basically copies the package from the 16bit era and pops it onto the NES.

Ever seen Infidelity's 2017 release of Super Mario All-Stars for the NES/Famicom?  He took the concept of the SNES game, created an extreme MMC5 super hack cart.  New menu with music and animation, all 4 SMAS titles + hidden blackbox Mario Bros too.  Every game like SNES has a save/continue, save/exit feature by the stage (not by world like SNES.)  Each save is the same 4 slots per game too, it's a beast and it works marvelous.  I only learned of it when I got the actual cart in an online deal and I love it.  The original games, not the 16bit remasters but with the SMAS perks.  It's nuts.  It totally rivals the SNES game and NES originals obviously, as ultimately it's nothing new persay, but wow, incredible job done there.

I don't have a pic of the exterior of the cart exactly (see top of first image) but the guts of it I do if anyone is curious how it was assembled.  I'd have to give up caring about the NES/FC before I'd part with this.

SMAS-FC-Infidelity2017a.jpg.54aa36d26f995071a726ac568b12944d.jpgSMAS-FC-Infidelity2017b.jpg.6deed09dddd65198e94fb8f4aaebe25a.jpg

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18 hours ago, Sumez said:

If you aren't seeing any games that try to be more like "16 bit games" like what you'd see a bit of towards the end of the NES lifecycle, it's probably mostly because if that's the kind of game you want to make, some people might find that it's besides the point of limiting yourself to the NES platform in the first place.

Man, that is such a cop-out.  If people want to develop for NES, then they'll develop for NES, and likewise for SNES; to insinuate that a NES homebrew isn't good because having great graphics would bring it too close to being a SNES game and so the developer would just make a SNES game is a poor excuse at best and a ridiculous assertion at worst.  If The NES is so bad at handling great games, why is it one of the most beloved consoles of all time?  Come on.......

16 hours ago, Sumez said:

I figure this last one is the kind of stuff @Dr. Morbis feels is missing, but honestly that kind of product is only ever going to be the rare surface level stuff of any game dev community, whether it's on NES, SNES, or PC. We can't all afford to hire super-talented artists like @FrankenGraphics to make sweet-as NES graphics for us 😆

What?!?  Polish is part of the process of any endevour.  It's a very important part too, because it's that extra attention to detail that seperates something from being just "good" to being "great."  Have you heard/read about the creation of the homebrew Trophy?  Before it was released, the publisher felt that the design of the character needed a bit of polish, and the end result is a much better looking protagonist for the finished game.  If you think this final step doesn't matter, then you just don't get it.

 @Sumez, your post just sound like a huge wack of excuses to me.  I get that these guys are making these games from their heart for free or very little compensation, and that in many instances they are people we know well in the community, but that doesn't preclude some of them from having the ability to make great games.  And yeah, it's tougher when you're doing it in your free time and don't have the backing and resources of a large established video game developer, but all that means is that it takes longer to get to the same point, not that the same point can't be achieved.  So stop making excuses about the current state of homebrew development and encourage them to get closer to being on par with late-era NES games rather than stymieing the community with reasons why it can't be done.

Regular human beings became proficient enough at making NES games to release games like Battletoads and Return of the Joker THIRTY YEARS AGO; there is no good reason why the same level of polish cannot be achieved today (though I'm sure you'll respond with a big fat list of downers...)

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His point about being too close to the next console is valid. That's exactly why I won't bother with MMC5 - it makes zero sense, at that point it's both cheaper and more convenient to dev for SNES. Or the next leap, if you wanted to do 3d, it makes no sense to do it on superfx, you'd go N64 or GC. You're viewing it from a NES fan's POV, when devs view it from a cost-effort POV. Making a SNES-class game is obviously easier on SNES than on NES.

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Member · Posted
4 hours ago, Dr. Morbis said:

to insinuate that a NES homebrew isn't good because having great graphics would bring it too close to being a SNES game

Huh, I'm not sure that's what I said at all. 🙂 You were talking about technology, "hardware and programming", right? That's the subject I'm addressing, I'm not talking about the quality of graphics. I think NES games should have great graphics.

I'm addressing that subject later on in my post. If your issue just is "I wish homebrew games had better graphics" I'm not sure why you didn't say that instead.

4 hours ago, Dr. Morbis said:

 @Sumez, your post just sound like a huge wack of excuses to me.

No, it's not a huge wack of excuses, it's a huge wack of explanations. 🙂 I'm in the same boat as you, I want my games to have that extra stroke of detail that seperates the "good" from the "great". I have played Trophy, and although I liked the game, if I'd made it, it definitely would have more stuff going on in the background, busier stage design in general, and more challenges to go for in terms of gameplay.
But guess what? I also never finished a project of my own that wasn't just a port of an existing game, and that is exactly the reason why. Being able to finish a game is absolutely a skill, and it's one people often underestimate.

Here's Derek Yu's blog post on the subject, and based on your interests for amateur game development I'm assuming you know who he is.

4 hours ago, Dr. Morbis said:

So stop making excuses about the current state of homebrew development and encourage them to get closer to being on par with late-era NES games rather than stymieing the community with reasons why it can't be done.

But that's the part I think you probably missed. The state of homebrew development is on par with late-era NES Games, and has been for years.
If there are also still games coming out that don't look it, it's because NES homebrew is for anyone and there will always be people for whom making tic-tac-toe on an NES is an accomplishment as well. Both things exist simulatenously, and with all the NES games being made these days, there is also no shortage of impressive looking ones. Have you seen Witch n' Wiz, Orange Island, Astro Ninja Man, Halcyon, Blade Buster, Project Blue, From Below, Nebs 'n Debs, Lizard, Micro Mages, Böbl, Former Dawn, Indivisible, Sam's Journey, Full Quiet, NEScape?

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1 hour ago, erac said:

His point about being too close to the next console is valid. That's exactly why I won't bother with MMC5 - it makes zero sense, at that point it's both cheaper and more convenient to dev for SNES. Or the next leap, if you wanted to do 3d, it makes no sense to do it on superfx, you'd go N64 or GC. You're viewing it from a NES fan's POV, when devs view it from a cost-effort POV. Making a SNES-class game is obviously easier on SNES than on NES.

Yes. There's no accomplishment involved in making something "impressive" that's only possible on MMC5. You aren't pushing the limits of the NES, you are just doing stuff that the MMC5 allows you.

I don't know, maybe some "NES fans" thinks it's cool if you can do vertical splits or 16x8 color attributes in an NES game, and get results you aren't used to seeing on the platform? And sure, some homebrew devs are into that as well, but usually if you choose to make a game for the NES, the 16x16 color attributes and heavily limited memory and addressing range is a part of that endeavour. So yeah, outside of MMC5 carts being stupidly expensive to produce, it's just something that doesn't make sense for a majority of homebrewers to have any interest in.

Besides, I think it actually is besides the point, because you don't need MMC5 or even MMC3 to make a crazy impressive looking game. Micro Mages and Nebs 'n Debs are very fine example of that. So again, I don't think Dr. Morbis was really requesting more advanced mapper techniques, but rather just homebrewers with more ambition.

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16 hours ago, Dr. Morbis said:

Man, that is such a cop-out.  If people want to develop for NES, then they'll develop for NES, and likewise for SNES; to insinuate that a NES homebrew isn't good because having great graphics would bring it too close to being a SNES game and so the developer would just make a SNES game is a poor excuse at best and a ridiculous assertion at worst.  If The NES is so bad at handling great games, why is it one of the most beloved consoles of all time?  Come on.......

What?!?  Polish is part of the process of any endevour.  It's a very important part too, because it's that extra attention to detail that seperates something from being just "good" to being "great."  Have you heard/read about the creation of the homebrew Trophy?  Before it was released, the publisher felt that the design of the character needed a bit of polish, and the end result is a much better looking protagonist for the finished game.  If you think this final step doesn't matter, then you just don't get it.

 @Sumez, your post just sound like a huge wack of excuses to me.  I get that these guys are making these games from their heart for free or very little compensation, and that in many instances they are people we know well in the community, but that doesn't preclude some of them from having the ability to make great games.  And yeah, it's tougher when you're doing it in your free time and don't have the backing and resources of a large established video game developer, but all that means is that it takes longer to get to the same point, not that the same point can't be achieved.  So stop making excuses about the current state of homebrew development and encourage them to get closer to being on par with late-era NES games rather than stymieing the community with reasons why it can't be done.

Regular human beings became proficient enough at making NES games to release games like Battletoads and Return of the Joker THIRTY YEARS AGO; there is no good reason why the same level of polish cannot be achieved today (though I'm sure you'll respond with a big fat list of downers...)

Ugh I can not agree more with that opening statement against what Sumez said.  Now while this is using something initially that was NOT homebrew, in essence the development cycle, choices, and limitations of the hardware squarely make it as such.  Piko's version of Jim Power for the NES was developed entirely using the licensed game they own from 16bit hardware as a template to make an 8bit game.  It pushes levels of quality you find squarely post SNES where the wow factor stands, color usage and high detail with solid wow audio of Gargoyle's Quest II type.  They didn't run away from it, embraced it.  It's a total excuse entirely to make that comment.

Stuff like Jim Power, and hey why not KHAN Games epic release of the first Leisure Suit Larry??  He's not rolling in the money running some business with employees and wow on that one and some of the others.  There's homebrew, which typically looks like school project try hard stuff, and then there's taking your time, even if it takes years an hour here or there to do it, and pull off a panty dropper in quality you could swear should have been on the shelf in the late 80s into the 90s.  Battle Kid pulled it off twice, Khan a few times, Piko even with his one helper coder/hacker on staff who whipped that gem up on his lonesome.  It's why I own very little homebrew, most of it is just not up to where I can tolerate it due to lack of polish, bad choices, whatever.  There's just no more excuses, none, this isn't hidden info, in the last 25 years since emulation started, Marat, byuu(RIP) and others started busting out documents and testing stuff like mad and getting every little bit understood.  It's out there, you utilize it properly, or you do a halfass effort.  If your skills lack, get help with the art, the stage design, whatever, or just don't bother perhaps releasing it?  Whatever the case high levels of testing and polish can be applied to make commercial quality games now on these old formats.

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Homebrew Team · Posted

There is a great range of genres and scope with homebrews nowadays.  I agree with titles suggested already.

Recommended Recent-ish Releases:
- Nebs n' Debs
- Project Blue 
- Trophy 
- Micro Mages 
- Cowlitz Gamers Second Adventure 
- Haunted Halloween 86 
- Twin Dragons
- Mall Brawl
- Lizard
- NEScape!
 

Recommended Yesteryear Releases:
- The Mad Wizard
- The Incident
- Quest Forge
 

Title to be released in the future:
- Halycon
- Janus
- Witch 'n Wiz

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Member · Posted
3 hours ago, Tanooki said:

Ugh I can not agree more with that opening statement against what Sumez said. 

Even though its literally not what I said?

Please read the rest of my posts guys 😅

Either way I think the idea that all homebrew coming out should look amazing is oddly entitled. There's lots of amazing looking homebrew (and it really has nothing to do with tech :)) and theres plenty of less than amazing looking ones. Like I said, homebrew is for everyone, all walks of life. And not everyone care about polishing to the same degree, knowing well to keep their ambitions in check. 

Please check out the titles that I mentioned at least. 

Edited by Sumez
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Member · Posted
2 hours ago, Sumez said:

Either way I think the idea that all homebrew coming out should look amazing is oddly entitled. 

I don't really get this sort of attitude, either. 

Why exactly is the indicator for whether a homebrew is "polished" or not the graphics, or how fancy the music is? As I mentioned earlier, I really don't "get" this, using the same philosophy, all NES retail games that don't look end of era are therefore not polished? Really confused by the whole thing.

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18 hours ago, Sumez said:

But that's the part I think you probably missed. The state of homebrew development is on par with late-era NES Games, and has been for years.

Here's where I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.  It seems from your posts that your assertion is that the only true "NES" games are the original launch-release timeframe games that were 40k with no memory mappers or hardware tricks or anything else - just what the original 1983 Famicom was "designed" for.  So anything beyond that level is too much work and trickery and so why not just make a SNES game?  Well I actually count Super Mario 3, for example, as a NES game, in spite of the fact that it uses extra hardware beyond the capabilities of a launch title.  In fact, I count the entire library up until 1995 (or the present, if you prefer) as NES games.  Putting extra hardware into NES carts to make them go further was part of the development process.

I agree that much of the fun of programming for NES for some people is dealing with the limitations, and regarding that, we need look no further than Micro Mages: it was programmed to the specifications of an original black box game, and truly blows most of them out of the water in every way, including polish; and that is what I think is missing with a lot of homebrews.  I love homebrews and have bought a ton of them, but my original comment about homebrews being at like 1987 levels is a roundabout way of saying we can do much better.  Not to say current games are bad - far from it - but that current NES programmers can do a whole lot better.  This is not an insult; it's a reflection of my observation that NES homebrewing is currently in the middle of a journey rather than already at its destination.  Using MMC mappers and other hardware advancements is not somehow cheating or overdoing it; it's what most of the best part of the original NES library IS.

So the TLDR version is this: I disagree with you completely about the state of current homebrew development being on par with late-era NES games.  You should try playing a well-regarded NES game from the '90's some time 😉

And if homebrewers truly are intent on staying away from memory mappers and other advanced hardware as you say they are, then they will just as truly never reach the heights of the original late-era NES library; it's like trying to beat an NFL team with your high school walk-on club... Not... Gonna... Happen....

Edited by Dr. Morbis
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