NEXXT 1.0 released

I just uploaded NEXXT 1.0 to itch.

It includes 10% addition to the total changelog since i began work. For details, i suggest checking the proper changelog in the zip. 
Here i’ll do a more curated birds’ eye view:

Line tool:
Available in the CHR editor, and the tileset tab (while in draw mode; shift-d)
More than meets the eye. Can make a well rounded assortment of different line algorithms, via the scroll wheel while dragging. Through them you can create virtually any shape you want. The toolbox offers many actions and settings to discover. 

Noncontiguous bucket:
Ctrl+alt+click fills all pixels of the clicked on colour; typically within the current selection.

Available in the CHR editor, and on the tileset tab. 
Push the smudge button, or hold G. Click and hold on any pixel; your pen/brush/line will use the colour of that pixel for the stroke you do (or until you release G. Great for defining borders, fields and clusters quickly without having to switch colours.

Mirror actions:
Findable under menu>patterns
Turns the patterns in the current tile selection into a middle mirrored version. There are three mirror types: vertical, horizontal, and bidirectional. 

Tile associated collision properties:
Assign user defined collision properties to current tile selection. The screen/map gets collision map is derived from the tiles you reference.  This is a popular collision system for games that afford some RAM space to unpack tiles in before sending to the PPU. 
You can also apply special conditions (options: no, yes, all) – make collision bits count combined with specific subpalettes, or have a bit make all other bits conditional on a specific subpalette combination.

Protect colour hotkeys:
keys 5,6,7,8 now toggle colour protections on/off. These masks let you draw, move and paste ”behind” colours, almost as if there were layers, but without the management that layers require. 

Tileset tab toolbar:
The toolbar from the CHR editor is now available under the tileset tab as well. Note that some buttons only have effect on the tileset tab canvas while in ”draw mode” (shift-d). 

There’s plenty more. For a full review, consult the changelog. 


NEXXT 0.18.1 released

In fact, several new versions have been released since i last made a blogpost.

Here’s a quick recap of the most important feature in each:

0.18.x: A nearly complete performance overhaul. Selections, Scrolling, Dragging, typing, Using the Navigator, and some other actions are now a lot more responsive and lean. The Set Canvas Size dialogue has been refurbished, adding new controls and extended freedoms of editing.

0.17.x: Introduced the Navigator, a powerful tool for viewing, panning through, and making large-scale edits to larger-than-screen sized canvases. This is for example suitable for designing stages. Another important feature is you can now import PPU memory dumps from emulators. Some other additions include saving 32×30 tile-sized screens, Invert Tile Selection, & editing Metasprite Labels through the Metasprite Mangager.

0.16: Introduced four versatile methods: Move, Swap and Clone selection, as well as Move Selection Box.

0.15: Introduced Brushes, the Brush Mask Editor, Quantized mode drawing, Recall Colour, Swap Pattern Tables in Selection, and much more.

Throughout the course of these releases, the Find, Remove and Sort actions have been gradually improved to provide a smoother experience as well. The preference menu has been expanded with more controls for.

Of course, there are finer points – smaller additions, bug fixes, experience improvements. That sort of thing.

Find the tool here:

In the future, these ”main features” are on the roadmap. I don’t know in what order they’ll come, but they’re the closest:

-A simple animation prototyper for metasprites
-A metatile librarian which will also work as a layout brush selector
-Improved 8×16 sprite mode editing support
-A system palette browser
-MMC5 ExRAM mode support

NEXXT 0.14 released

New version of NEXXT is up on itch.

Some major new features include:
-CHR Editor now has a 2×2 tile edit mode (hotkey [E] while CHR editor is active, or [Shift+E] elseplace)
-Colours can now be write protected (works with draw tools: pen & bucket, as well as paste). In practice, this is nice for colouring in silhouettes, texturizing them, or pasting ”behind” a pattern like you would a layer.
-.maps now have a NESlib RLE packed equivalent you can save and load: .mrle.

There’s also some minor things like CPU performance improvements, GUI improvements and bug fixes.

NEXXT v.0.13 released

You can find it on here; free to use and public domain.

NEXXT is a continuation of Shiru’s classic NES graphics studio NESst ( NES Screen Tool), with a rough doubling of features. Having used the former as an artist for many years, when it ceased to receive updates, I decided to take on the mantle.

I’ve been going at it for a year and a half, but since i’ve failed to keep the blog updated in favour for twitter and patreon, this is the first you hear about it on here. I figured i should return to writing on here too, but keep it to the more important stuff.

One of the new features in this version of NEXXT: subpalette manipulation tools

Isometry on the NES – again!

Antoine of Broke Studio (makers of Twin Dragons) asked me to experiment with how well i could hide the 16×16 attribute grid in an isometric view, for the NES. This worked out pretty well. The question is whether to come up with a mapper that does 8×8 attributing (a feature mmc5 cartridges had via exRAM), which would allow for more dynamic placement of map objects. This worked out pretty well even at 16×16 though, however, the idea of making 8×8 technically available again is enticing.

To make it a bit more colourful, i borrowed in an old technique from one of my very first attempts at making NES graphics (talk about getting in the deep end – isometry doesn’t come easy on this console, especially when colour count and attribute clash avoidance competing design ends) – putting a forced perspective silhouette in the far background:

And here is the result:

On one hand, this becomes a bit more boardgamey – it becomes evident that the theatre of of the game is just props. On the other, it helps bring a sense of the surrounding theme to life. There are other technical considerations, like HUD method, scrolling, map size and such – all of which are features with strict requirements and conditions on the NES.

This one ”cheats” a little – by using aforementioned 8×8 attribute grid to smooth out a few details. That’s a maybe, if 8×8 gridding can actually come back into existence. MMC5 is not a readily available mapper any longer, but it is possible to have the same scheme on another PCB:

The 8×8 attributing It is probably underused here considering i started working on this assuming 16×16, but i expect the turnout to be in the details either way. Most of all, it might help make general map building easier as you can plan the layout more freely, which might be beneficial to the play experience. Way too early to tell, though!

Review: Trophy (NES, 2020)

I’m trying something new – a game review! Here’s Trophy, a new NES game by Gradual Games ; also responsible for the music driver that runs at the back of every other current NES homebrew game the last few years.

It’s on kickstarter right now for a few more days, so be sure to check it out!

Fair note: my screenshots look a bit empty. that’s because i need to shoot things before i can screenshot the scene, haha. So when you look at them, imagine the poor guy taking a well deserved rest. 😉


Derek, programmer and the Gradual Games namesake, and Laurie, artist, are no newcomers to the modern NES scene. Earlier releases has been Nomolos: Storming the Catsle and Legend of Owlia, which reminded me of Willow. Both are formidable, medium length features.
This game is bigger, bolder and more well tuned overall. It makes no secret of being a love letter to the mega man franchise. You know the drill – good robot guy fights mad, toylike robots in all forms and shapes to save the day. True to the spirit of many nes games of old, there is a backstory, but you don’t need to sit it through to get to the goodies. It’s in the manual at your option. 
There are nine thematic stages; where of 8 are freely playable in any order. On each stage (i think), there is a powerup (a life meter expander or a weapon) hidden that you get to keep, even between game overs. A very nice touch here is that if you get beaten on a stage, you still get to keep any powerups you find. This means that if you find the going too tough, you can make it easier for yourself by finding more powerups and then go back to the stage where you had problems before, now better equipped.

I want to applaud the care and effort that has been put into making the levels varied not only in theme, but also the gameplay! Each level seems to have something of a twist. Gravity changes (sometimes within a stage), and the concept of checkpoints is even thrown out the door on the train level; making it something of a gauntlet (but a fair one)! There are moving platforms, conveyor belts, deep snow, slick ice and deadly traps waiting for you. Some levels focus on climbing, some on platforming, and some on fighting. the priorities are subtle, but helps keep the experience fresh throughout despite the player character being very straightforward, with a simple control scheme that doesn’t change with the acquisition of powerups. 

In true NES fashion, the location of mentioned powerups range from straightforward to sometimes cryptic. Exploring levels more keenly can sometimes lead to dead ends or even feel a bit suicidal. Trophy(Ellen)_012Take this screen for example: when you move up and down this ladder, you’ll see that it looks possible to go off-screen to the left. But if you jump to get there, a ”falling to your death” mechanism triggers because of the camera snapping. It’s not a big deal, but goes to show that just like most NES games, you must embrace the internal game logic to become fully successful – you need to game the game just a little bit. Likewise, be prepared to battle respawning enemies in true nostalgic fashion – something you can turn to your advantage if you wish, but i’ll leave it for you to find out how. 

I’ve had news that some of the quirkier aspects that sometimes surface when you’re navigating the levels in a more exploratory, poking fashion are being ironed out in some places, and streamlined in others. So expect this aspect, to be smoother than i just described! Personally, i don’t mind it all that much, since you have an unlimited amount of continues, but some of you might! In that case, this is of course positive news.

I think that it’s also nice that all the powerups i’ve encountered seem to be increasing your chances only incrementally, whereas some powerups in games like castlevania (while fairly balanced in placement) basically set the difficulty mode all on their own and in of themselves. There seems to be no way to cheese your way through with powerups in this game, so it feels more gratifying when you beat that boss!

Speaking of bosses, they’re drawn on the background layer, which means they circumvent the sprite restrictions of the NES. They’re BIG. That’s always nice to see.
These bosses above? Yeah, they’re the small ones… some are real screen fillers!

There are many nice little end polish features like how the camera snaps in some regions to a locked position to indicate something, blinking lights, waving sea grass, and so on. 
Lastly, the music is melodic, engaging, and rocking! The one that stuck in my head was the tivoli music, for some reason.
Gameplay: 7/10 – the game is very straightforward, and is good at what it does.
Variance: 8/10 – All levels have their own theme. There are enough enemy types and combinations to keep it varied throughout a session


Challenge: 6 / 10 – I think the challenge curve within a level can be a bit uneven, but given the nonlinear approach to how you progress it also doesn’t matter all that much. If you get stuck somewhere, you can always return later when you’re better prepared and more skilled. 

Would buy: Yes, and already did, despite getting a digital copy to review.
Would recommend: Absolutely!

In sum: It’s very early in 2020, but this might be one of the best games to launch for the NES this year!

Announcing Project Borscht

This has been in the works in one form or the other ever since i created an account on the nesdev bulletin board. Just wanted to show off a sudden fit of inspiration with these two new scenes.


I also decided to give it a temporary work name, so it gets a bit easier to talk about. I decided on Project Borscht, because it’s my favourite soup; delicious, slavic, and red, much fitting the general aesthetics of this NES gothic romance/horror platformer.

This is a pet project. At this point don’t care how many years of spare time it takes to complete, as long as i get it right. This works for me, part because it helps creativity, and part because i have more pressing project to finish up first!

Going to set up a new project page for it when i can. Meanwhile, here’s a forum thread about it where i go into more detail.


Some older assets for the same project; all pending a bit of brush-up: