April 2011


Like a lot of middleware developers, Tony Cannon started developing his own tool to solve a problem he himself was having. Unlike a lot of middleware makers, though, Cannon’s creation grew out of his problems as a player, not as a developer.

As a pro-level fighting game player and one of the organizers of the Evolution tournament series, Cannon was worried that the arcade culture he was steeped in was deteriorating.

“In the mid-90s, arcades were really dying, and we were in danger of losing this thing we really cared about, because everyone played in the arcades,” he said in an interview with Gamasutra.

A ray of hope came in 2005, Cannon said, when Capcom announced it would be releasing a console version of Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting with online play that could hopefully reconnect players who were no longer able to meet at arcades.

When the game came out, though, Cannon said lag and glitches made the internet play unusable.

“It was just bad,” he said. “It was literally unplayable for a hardcore fighting game person. If all you remembered was Street Fighter II on the SNES and you just jumped back in after eight years and just started playing it, maybe it was good for you, but for hardcore fighting fans it was just unplayable.”

(full article)


Everything that makes Super Mario Bros. 3 truly special is exemplified, for me, by a single image: A chain chomp breaking free of his bonds and bouncing off the screen.

You’d be forgiven if you didn’t know that chain chomps – the toothy, black, ball-on-a-chain cum guard dogs that first appear in level 2-5 – could actually break free from their eponymous chains. A chomp has to lunge a full 47 times for its silver chain to start flashing a distressing red, and three more lunges for the chomp to finally break free and bounce towards Mario. The entire process takes about 175 ticks of the in-game timer, depending on how much Mario goads the chomp. That’s easily seven times as long as even the slowest of players usually takes to jump past those snapping teeth and on to the next challenge, without a second thought for the poor, imprisoned enemy they’re leaving behind.

On first glance, this hidden extra seems like a relatively meaningless addition to the game, the kind of pointless Easter egg a bored programmer might have thrown together during a coffee break without anybody else noticing. But taken in the context of the game as a whole, that chain chomp’s potential for freedom is emblematic of the way Super Mario Bros. 3 subverts players’ expectations to make a game that feels truly magical.

(full article)