Will's blog

Pro tip: Use your media player to play games.

I like Winamp for a lot of reasons. One being that it plays a ridiculous number of audio types, and another being that you can play games with it.

Let's say that you're using the Bento skin (you can check this by going to Options → Skins → Bento)

Then if you go to your preferences screen (hit CTRL+P) and navigate to Skins → Modern Skins in the left pane and then the Current Skin tab on the right pane.

After all that, double-click on the animation for a surprise.

You get to play that Snake game. Graphics are a bit simple, but hey, you don't worry about that. You can compensate by playing some really good music.

Pro tip: Mario jumps high enough to kill himself

I've mentioned that Mario in his pre-Mario Bros. days was real fragile. If he fell from much further than he'd fall at the apex of his jump, he's dead, which always seemed harsh to me.

But take this screen from the Donkey Kong arcade game:

You'll notice that there are these two elevators, one going up and one going down

While you're waiting for one to take you to the level you want to go, you might decide that you're bored and play with the buttons to kill time. But, hit the jump button when you're riding the Down elevator...

Suddenly the laws of physics go out the window and Mario jumps his normal height while the floor plummets away from him.

Yep, that means that he's fallen too far and buys himself a new farm.

So, I wouldn't recommend it.

Pro tip: Re-used art in Super Mario Bros.

Take a look at this picture:

Looks like a regular old screen shot of Super Mario Bros, right? But take a closer look at the clouds and the bushes.

Turns out that they're the same, just with their colors altered slightly.

You might be asking yourself, "How's this useful information?" I'll leave that to you, you're resourceful and can figure out something.

Pro tip: Using Arthur's Gold Armor to avoid hits

Arthur in the Ghouls 'n Ghosts games is really fragile. One hit and he loses all his armor, and another reduces him to a skeleton. Which is rather unfortunate since the world he lives in is swarming with monsters, each more lethal than the last.

But, if you're lucky enough, you can get a suit of Gold Armor

which is equally as fragile, but lets you do magical attacks.

What's not immediately obvious is that when you're doing these magical attacks, you have a (very) brief window where you're all but invincible. It's basically as long as Arthur is holding his arm in the air. It's kind of hard to see here, but there's an enemy passing right through him unharmed.

It's really hard to get the timing right, since the window you have kind of depends on the weapon that you have equipped. But if you expect to get any kind of good at this game, then you're going to have lots of opportunities to practice it as you pump the quarters into the machine.

Also, this works in the Super NES port.

Pro tip: Using a quarter to say 'I got next'

It doesn't really happen too much any more, but you might run into this scenario some time.

Make your way to an arcade and notice that there are lots of people standing around some machine. On the glass, you might notice that there is a line of quarters or tokens lining the bottom of the glass.

These have been put there by the folks gathered around to watch the game. Each one is someone's place in line to be next at the game. Once the game's over, the loser walks away and the person who's quarter is next in line gets to play.

You do have to do a little work to remember which coin is yours if there's more than about 4 up there. But it's worth it to make sure everyone gets their fair shake at whatever the new game happens to be.

Just make sure you don't immediately put in another of your quarters if you should lose and there are coins waiting on the bezel. That's just rude.

Pro Tip: Totaka's Song

This tip is really about the kind of stuff I get excited about. It's about a guy named Kazumi Totaka who worked on lots of Nintendo's games as sound designer. It turns out that he left a signature tune in just about every game he's worked on, which is kind of neat, really.

There are some pretty good expository videos put out by the folks at Powet.TV.

Thanks, Alisha, for reminding me!

Pro tip: get in the monster corral

Super Pac-Man is one of the many Pac Man games that kind of fall to the wayside when people think about the series. So you might not have played it, and might not have learned everything there is to know about it.

So here's a pointer.

You see the corral in the upper-middle of the screen? the one that the monsters regenerate in? You can't get in there, right?


You totally can go in there. Now you normally wouldn't even dream of such a thing, since the monsters' touch is lethal, but if you've just eaten a power pill, go on in there and go to town.

Just be kind of careful, though. The monsters don't have to go real far to regenerate, and they're primed to smack you down if you're not careful.

Pro tip: Check out some developers' mugshots in Dungeon Siege 2

All over the world of Dungeon Siege 2, you see these teleporter things.

Step in, choose your destination and you get whisked away, passing the time with a sparkly screen.

Kind of soothing, but what if you want to see something different? You're in luck!

Hit the Enter key and type in the word '+twilightzone' (sans quotes).

Now, when you step into a teleporter, the sparklies are metamorphosed into photos of the developers.

Trippy, yes.

To go back to 'normal' just put the code in again, substituting a minus for the plus.

Pro Tip: Read the instructions so that you know what you're doing

Sometimes I take it for granted that some people will use all of the information available to them when they learn how to play a game, but they don't. Most people like to jump in and start going full-bore. Sometimes, that's fine, and you can learn all the gameplay you need to be moderately successful by ham-handedly jumping in and wailing on the buttons, hoping they do something useful.

But you can do it a little more quickly. Take Q*bert, for example. Let the game sit there with no money in it and you'll see some screens that teach you how to play the game.

That screen succinctly describes everything you need to know about how to play the game.

Now, I fully realize that most games nowadays are an eensy bit more complicated than Q*bert, so they come with manuals that are upwards of a dozen pages in some cases (a dozen pages smaller than a 3x5 index card, even). But you'd be amazed what the developers put in there. It's almost like they want you to know how to play their game and give you a handy pocket-sized reference.


Pro Tip: Using the edges of the screen to really amaze people who are easily amazed

You know Donkey Kong the game right? Rescue the girl from the gorilla at the top of a series of construction sites, yeah? The thing is, though, Jumpman (later known as Mario) is extremely fragile. If he falls more than a few inches, it's instadeath for him, so you probably don't just jump off of girders willy-nilly.

Even though you totally can.

The edges of the screen are distinct boundaries. If you hit one while on the ground, nothing especially exciting happens, but if you hit one while jumping, you kind of bounce off of it and fly back the other direction. I pretty much only use this tip to grab the hammer on the left side of the final board.

It's not really that useful of a tip, I know, but it is showy. And you can't be Pro without being a little bit of a showoff, it's just too much fun.

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