My Favorite SID Tunes by Link

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Klaus Grøngaard, known as Link in the European C64 demo scene, was the first person to use my music editor on the Commodore 64. He was active from 1989 to 1991 and created more than 150 tunes.

Question: SID tunes? What's that?

SID tunes are chiptunes created on the Commodore 64, or an emulation of the C64 or its SID chip.

The SID chip in the Commodore 64 was quite advanced in 1982. It had three channels across eight octaves, ADSR, four different waveforms, pulsating on the square waveform, three ring modulators, and multi mode filtering. The music players written for it were usually called 50 times a second, quickly changing waveforms and frequencies to simulate vibrato, drums and arpeggio chords.

I’ve been listening through all of Link’s tunes in the latest High Voltage SID Collection which was at #65 at the time of publishing this blog post. I noted down the 32 tunes I liked and created stereo MP3 files for easy listening here. You could call it sort of “Link’s Greatest Hits” as compiled by JCH.

Most of the tunes also have mono MP3 alternatives from SOASC created using a real C64.

Abnormal
1989 Vibrants SOASC

Action Guy
1990 Vibrants SOASC

American
1991 Vibrants SOASC
The bassline and synth riff in the first 15 seconds was taken from “You’re the One For Me” by D. Train.

My Favorite SID Tunes by Drax

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Thomas Mogensen, known as Drax in the European C64 demo scene, created almost a thousand SID tunes on the Commodore 64 from 1987 and up. Most of these were composed in my music editor.

Question: SID tunes? What's that?

SID tunes are chiptunes created on the Commodore 64, or an emulation of the C64 or its SID chip.

The SID chip in the Commodore 64 was quite advanced in 1982. It had three channels across eight octaves, ADSR, four different waveforms, pulsating on the square waveform, three ring modulators, and multi mode filtering. The music players written for it were usually called 50 times a second, quickly changing waveforms and frequencies to simulate vibrato, drums and arpeggio chords.

I’ve been listening through all of Drax’s tunes in the latest High Voltage SID Collection which was at #65 at the time of publishing this blog post. I noted down more than 100 tunes I liked and created stereo MP3 files for easy listening here. You could call it sort of “Drax’s Greatest Hits” as compiled by JCH.

Most of the tunes also have mono MP3 alternatives from SOASC created using a real C64.

24th Amaranth Grand Prix – Selector #1
1991 Vibrants SOASC
24th Amaranth Grand Prix was supposed to be a racing game similar to Out Run, only here you were riding a motorcycle instead. It was never finished.

24th Amaranth Grand Prix – Selector #2
1991 Vibrants SOASC

24th Amaranth Grand Prix – Selector #3
1991 Vibrants SOASC

The Witcher 3: Pretty Pictures, Part 3

Here’s a gallery of 14 HUD-less screenshots I saved while playing Hearts of Stone – the first expansion pack for The Witcher 3. Most of them are from the upper right corner of Velen as well as Oxenfurt.

There should be virtually no spoilers in these screenshots – it’s mostly just Geralt and nature.

I’ve used a Jetpack plug-in for WordPress to show the gallery in a nicely tiled manner. If you’re reading this in an RSS feed, open the blog post in a new tab in order to browse the screenshots in a viewer.

The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone

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Developer: CD Projekt RED | Released: 2015 | Genre: RPG, Third Person

It took me almost 17 hours to get through the first expansion pack – main quest, secondary quests, treasure hunts, question marks and all. Again the writing of the story and quests was of a very high quality, and there was a lot of both awe and humor to behold. If anything, some of the tasks fulfilling the three wishes of Olgierd von Everec were quite arduous and that actually held me back a few times.

“Should I play some more today? Urggh, that wedding/heist… I think I’ll watch some Netflix instead.”

I was also slightly disappointed at the generally higher difficulty. The last half of the vanilla game had lulled me into a great feeling of superiority, defeating monsters with ease, but in this expansion pack I constantly had to be on my toes. I reckon most players like that, but I’ve always liked having it a little easier. And it was not just the bosses. A giant toad and a mage with crazy tornado skills were tough, but as bosses that was kind of expected. The new enemies like boars and spiders ran all over the place and it was hard to get close to them without using freezing bombs. Even old vanilla enemies were not easily defeated.

Screenshot
Geralt of Rivia, Gaunter O’Dimm and Olgierd von Everec – the three main characters of the expansion.

There was also a new “temporary” love interest in the expansion in the form of the red-headed medic Shani, which unfortunately I couldn’t remember at all from the previous games. She reminded me a whole lot of a younger version of Catherine Willows in CSI.

Quote of the Past

The thing that old people don’t understand is – you know if you’ve never heard Bob Dylan, and someone listened to him for 15 minutes, you’re not going to get it. You are just not going to understand. You have to put in hours and hours to start to understand the form, and the same thing is true for gaming. You’re not going to just look at a first-person shooter where you are killing zombies and understand the nuances.

There is this tremendous amount of arrogance and hubris, where somebody can look at something for five minutes and dismiss it. Whether you talk about gaming or 20th century classical music, you can’t do it in five minutes. You can’t listen to The Rite of Spring once and understand what Stravinsky was all about. It seems like you should at least have the grace to say you don’t know, instead of saying that what other people are doing is wrong.

The cliché of the nerdy kid who doesn’t go outside and just plays games is completely untrue. And it’s also true for the nerdy kid who studies comic books and turns into this genius, and it is also true for the nerdy kid who listens to every nerdy thing that Led Zeppelin put out. That kind of obsession in a 16-year-old is not ugly. It’s beautiful. That kind of obsession is going to lead to a sophisticated 30-year-old who has a background in that artform. It just seems so simple, and yet I’m constantly in these big arguments with people on the computer who are talking about, ‘I would never let my kid do this and this in a video game.’ And these are adults who when they were children were dropping acid and going to see the Grateful Dead.Penn Jillette

I think this quote must be 7 years old by now – but it’s still great.

Botanicula

Developer: Amanita Design | Released: 2012 | Genre: Adventure, Point & Click

I absolutely loved this one. Irresistibly cute and easy on both ears and eyes. Made by the creators of the Samorost series and Machinarium, I controlled a small team of five weird inhabitants of a tree culture, walking along branches to solve puzzles or collect items for a broader purpose. The game is filled to the brim with hilarious animals animated in an even more hilarious manner, and the sound effects performed by humans match perfectly.

Each of the half dozen of levels consists of a large number of flip screens to traverse. Some of the screens just have weird creatures to interact with for entertainment, others would eventually reward me with an important item or open up a new passage. Pointing and clicking is not the only thing, I also had to nudge floating or swaying items. Sometimes I even had to choose one of my team members for a specific task. Everything is shown with animations or signs, there is no language involved in the gameplay.

The game generally felt easier than Machinarium, but some of the later levels had quite a few screens or items to collect, such as 14 chickens from small huts all over. The penultimate level contains a staggering amount of screens, so many that the developers felt it necessary to put helpful icons on each exit. There was a leaf in my inventory that functioned as sort of a map, but I didn’t find it necessary to refer to it.

Without spoiling too much, I only controlled one of five in the last level of darkness. There was one section here that kind of simulated a shoot’em up by alternating clicks on a floating character versus incoming enemy icons, but it wasn’t difficult. Not a lot of dexterity was required to get through this game.

It took me about four hours to get complete it. I got 104 out of 123 cards and 42 out of 53 achievements. Fraps wouldn’t grab any screenshots as it was essentially a Flash game.

TitleLengthDatesDiff / ChtSaveScore
Botanicula
2012 Amanita Design

4h 30m

3

2012-10-02
2012-10-04
10

To see a page with all the PC games I have played – along with an explanation of the abbreviations – click here.

Spate

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Developer: Ayyo Games | Released: 2014 | Genre: Platform, Adventure

Another Saturday, another shorty. This one lasted barely two hours and turned out to be one of those art games with more mood and style than gameplay. It was constantly raining hard, the grass was waving, and the 3D engine added multiple layers of surrealistic shapes. I was controlling an alcoholic detective yearning for his lost daughter, and he was narrating both this story as well as various findings on my way.

There are several good things to be said about balancing tough challenges with streaks of nothing to gear down, but this game felt like it was overdoing it a lot. The game was for the most part easy and only offered more or less dexterous jump puzzles. Sometimes a cannon had to shoot a seesaw to get it in position or I could fly a small airship for a while, pressing one button to thrust it upwards past the saw blades.

But then as a sequence of this was done, our hero was merely wandering along for minutes and minutes, no jumps, no nothing. Maybe a very long bridge or past a small town. This is typically where he started narrating a lot about his miserable past and how he deserved his fate. These passages were so long that it made the game feel like part platformer, part walking simulator. It was too much of a good thing.

The Witcher 3: Pretty Pictures, Part 2

Check out the this gallery with the second half of more than 50 HUD-less screenshots from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. This part contains screenshots from Kaer Morhen, Velen, and various islands in Skellige.

There should be virtually no spoilers in these screenshots – it’s mostly just Geralt and nature.

I’ve used a Jetpack plug-in for WordPress to show the gallery in a nicely tiled manner. If you’re reading this in an RSS feed, open the blog post in a new tab in order to browse the screenshots in a viewer.

Check out part 1 for the first half of the gallery.

The Gravity Gun, 45 Years Prior to Half-Life 2

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When Half-Life 2 was released in 2004, everyone was taken aback by the marvelous gravity gun – a beam weapon that could pick up and throw objects. It paved the way for a lot of awesomeness. Enemies could be defeated in entirely new ways and puzzles could be solved by stacking or moving stuff around.

In fact, the gravity gun was so ingenious that it has since been copied by many other video games. One of my personal favorites is Rochard from 2011, a side-scrolling platformer with an emphasis on puzzle solving. I have also seen similar gravity manipulators in e.g. Dead Space, Doom 3, and Singularity.

But did you know that Valve didn’t actually invent the gravity gun? To be absolutely fair, the honor of envisioning it should really go to the Belgian comics artist André Franquin – more than 40 years before Half-Life 2 was even conceived. Just take a look at this:

Spirou and Fantasio: The Prisoner of the Buddha

The Witcher 3: Pretty Pictures, Part 1

Check out the this gallery with the first half of more than 50 HUD-less screenshots from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Most here are from various mountain tops in Skellige.

There should be virtually no spoilers in these screenshots – it’s mostly just Geralt and nature.

I’ve used a Jetpack plug-in for WordPress to show the gallery in a nicely tiled manner. If you’re reading this in an RSS feed, open the blog post in a new tab in order to browse the screenshots in a viewer.

UPDATE: Since the creation of this blog post I’ve saved a few more HUD-less screenshots. Rather than just add to this one and make it bloated, I’ve decided to split it up into two posts with 26 screenshots in each.

Check out part 2 for the second half of the gallery.