every single shop

This is my absolutely terrible rendition of just about any given shop in Faxanadu for the NES. It doesn’t help that I’m not the best drawer in the first place, but using a mouse to draw makes it even worse. I hope this causes at least one other person to remember their mantra. 

Hey, minimalism has it’s charms.  And man oh man I haven’t thought of Faxanadu in a long time.  I think I must have rented it once, because I don’t remember much of what comes up on googling but I have a small potent memory of the basic gameplay interactions.


I know, the games not actually out yet, but I’ve watched the gameplay video so many times it’s imprinted in my memory more than most games I’ve actually played.

I really love this stage. Hell, I loved it in God of War 3. I can’t wait to play it.

Ha!  We should have a whole “draw a map from a game you haven’t actually played” challenge some time.

X-Com, old and new

Seen as you love X-Com and I recently (Easter) picked up X-Com UFO Defense off Steam… You automatically win. It’s became my favourite franchise (Aside from Apocalypse, I keep watching LPers play it but it just doesn’t catch my interest in the slightest) I cannot wait for Xenonauts and the XCOM Enemy Unknown game made by Firaxis! What upsets me is there is not enough people who know what X-Com is. :(

I know, right?  It’s the best game.  The best game.  And such a tricky one to help first-timer folks cross the gap on once you’ve gotten their attention, because as fantastic a game as it is, it was still sort of a quirky budget title from 1994 with lots of weird little idiosyncrasies and basically zero tutorial or hand-holding: just, okay, here you are, in charge of an upstart agency with limited resources against an unspecified threat.  Aaaaand go.

Which, as a long-time fan, it’s easy to forgive or even to just forget about.  And I’ve tried a couple times to get friends into it after the fact with mixed results. 

If you’ve got someone who already has that oldschool PC gaming background, who is sort of simpatico already about the level of expectations for these older games, it’s not so bad.  They sort of know what they’re getting into, they’ll put up with some “what is even happening here?” bullshit for an hour or two on the strength of your recommendation.

But someone raised on more modern, mature game productions where nobody reads the manual (what manual?) and everybody plays through the tutorial because that’s how the game teaches you about itself, X-Com is just a brick wall, a total slap in the face.  And it runs at a horrible low resolution that doesn’t even scale right on a widescreen monitor.  And it is paced weird.  And it is really hard.  And so on.  It can be a tough sell.

So I’m pretty excited about both Xenonauts and Firaxis’ Enemy Unknown.  Not just for myself (though I’m am ridiculously excited, especially about the former) but for all the folks who I’d like to introduce X-Com to but who I suspect don’t have the patience or the context to dig into the weird dated wonderful lo-res gem that is the original.  These newer games should be a whole lot more accessible to J. Random Gamer, and that’s great.  And then maybe they’ll want to go back for the original!


Also, folks?  You wonderful Mapstalgia readers?  The queue is empty!  Forever it is in danger of emptiness, and lately that danger has been sitting around mostly being realized.

So, time to draw something.  Time to draw it up and save it or scan it or photograph it or describe it in a short written essay and submit it to Mapstalgia.  You’re the engine that makes this car go, so let’s hit the road!

– Josh

world map excerpts

I should clarify that this is woefully incomplete not because I can’t remember any more of the map but because for some fool reason I convinced myself I could do the whole map basically screen-perfect from memory and then found out in the trying that that was a ridiculous, demoralizing thing to attempt.

And so these drawings, across three sheets of paper (measured out carefully to 16*8 screen proportions on the graph paper but pasted together not-to-scale here in order to make the emptiness a bit less sprawling), stop the moment I was Not Quite Sure about how a screen broke across to the adjacent one.  Or in a couple cases, a screen too late — I’m certain that on the left end of the central section I divvied up the screen real estate wrong.  And I knew it as I was doing it.  And so I stopped.

I’ve been meaning to come back to this one for weeks and weeks now, and I keep not quite having the will to make myself crazy on it again.  I know ninety percent of the remaining map reasonably well, but not well enough to glue it all together without a reference like this.  It’s a maddening little feat — and defeat — of memory, the way individual screens come to mind without effort but slotting them into one precise puzzle of map with a ballpoint pen just doesn’t happen.  How uncertainty over where the tiles of the map went moving from screen A to screen B blossoms into a kind of mind-melting circle of doubt.

Because, the thing is, I’ve spent a lot of time with the Zelda map. 

Not just as a kid, though to be sure I spent a great deal of time with it, it was one of my early NES loves and I’d scoured most of the map in great detail, burning every bush, bombing every rock wall, memorizing the locations of the heart container. 

But more recently, even, less than two years ago, I spent days building Hyrule’s overworld from scratch in Minecraft from reference maps.  I felt after that like I had the map tattooed in my mind, indelible, unforgettable.

And yet, here we are.  Memory fades.


I hope I can do a map I made in sketchup for your blog. It’s from memory. I took some stylistic liberties where my beginner sketchup skills failed me. It’s Warlock from Halo 2, my favorite Halo game. This isn’t my favorite map though; Terminal was probably my favorite (warthog jump + guardian train). But I decided to do Warlock because it’s where I first fell in love.

Double Kill, swag

We traded gamertags at school. It was our first online match. It was in Team Doubles, the most romantic playlist. I remember the exact moment, if that helps: At some point in the game he got a double kill and felt compelled to affirm it by shouting, “Double kill sonnnn!!!”

“What an asshole,” I thought.

Ha!  Love at first frag.  Sketchup work looks great, this is a neat variation on the theme.  Thanks for the submission!

every floor of Jail/Catacombs

It is currently the eve of Diablo 3 and I have Diablo on the mind and was also looking for something to kill the last 24 hours, ailment so here you go. Over 9,000 hours in MS paint, bask in its glory. Seriously though, sorry it is way uglier than my previous submissions, I drew it without really expecting to submit it, but figured “what the hell” at least it is somewhat topical.

Since these floors were randomly generated, this is more of a “commentary” about how seemingly every single time the staircase to proceed would always be the very last room left to clear. This happens pretty much everywhere in the game for me, but it seemed particularly frequent in Act 1.

See also how the more people you are playing multiplayer with, the more likely it is that you’re stuck going through tiny one-at-a-time worm tunnels in Act II.  Everything about Diablo 2 that wasn’t awesome was TERRIBLE.

Medium craft

I’ve mentioned that I love X-Com (oh hey, the Xenonauts Kickstarter hit its funding goal! And way early!), and one of the things that made it so great was the way a little bit of chance and quirks of the AI meant that the same setup for a given mission could play out a lot of different ways.

Which is a good thing, because one of the things that was not random was the layout of the actual alien ships themselves.  And there were a number of different ships in the game, on a size continuum from the teeny tiny probe that could house a single pilot on up to really huge four-story things that were fifty yards across and stood on four massive legs that were themselves each the size of entire small alien craft.

But the thing about a game like X-Com is that, because you end up loving it a whole lot and playing it to death, you see those same ship types again and again and again.  And maybe this time the ship landed near a barn, and maybe that time it was a crash and half the aliens are dead, and maybe one time the alien crew is spread out in the countryside trying to snipe my guys as they climb a hill vs. the next time when they’re all hanging out in the engine room pissing their xenopants, but: but the ship is always the same.  It’s the constant in the equation.

So the layouts got pretty familiar.  I can’t even remember for sure whether this was actually the “medium” ship or the “small”, and I may have goofed on the placement of some detail here, but there’s no question that this was the ship I was going to find if I chased down or shot down this craft type.

There were eventually mods written for X-Com that made it possible to use random layouts for the ship interiors, which is a pretty neat idea and something I’ve enjoyed playing around with occasionally.  But for those core, brain-searing memories of my earliest love affair with X-Com, the ships were always the same.  This ship was always this ship.

You liked X-Com? Go pre-order Xenonauts!

I may have mentioned this game before, medical but as a huge huge fan of the original X-Com games from way back in the mid-90s, health I’ve been thrilled to death by the ongoing development of indie crew Goldhawk Interactive’s Xenonauts, see a really solid attempt at doing a faithful modern remake of the old strategy-and-tactics alien invasion defense game.

I pre-ordered it a while back.  (Before it was popular.  I am an X-Com remake hipster.)  And it’s looking really, really great.  If you’ve played X-Com, you know why this is exciting.  If you haven’t, you can play an alpha build public demo available at their Kickstarter page.

And they’ve just launched a “help us finish this game off and make it amazing” initiative on Kickstarter.  And if you like deep, compelling, you-are-gonna-lose-some-guys gameplay that mixes creepy tactical turn-based isometric combat with high-level save-the-world strategic base planning and research, you should go throw your twenty bucks at a pre-order.  Because OMG. 

Oh.  Muh.  Guh.