Artwork by Scott Dewitt for Fanboys
Hi, I’m Ryan Bloom, better known to the internet at large as “BlazeHedgehog” since about 1998 or so. Yes, I’ve really had the same username since I was in high school.
I’ve been playing video games for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest hazy memories are on the family’s hand-me-down Atari 2600 playing games like Pitfall, Kaboom and Superman. In 1988, we upgraded to a Nintendo Entertainment System, but my interest in video games didn’t really kick in to full swing until 1991, when I was provided a fleeting opportunity to play my brother’s Sega Genesis exactly one time. The game in question was Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic wasn’t like anything 8 year old brain had ever seen before, and I wanted nothing more than to play the game just one more time - unfortunately, my brother moved out shortly after that, taking the Genesis with him. I spent three formative years chasing down any opportunity I could to play another Sonic game, but it was never for more than a few minutes at a time - it developed in to a full-on obsession with the franchise as I gobbled up any scraps related to the games, comics, or TV shows I could find. By the time I had a Genesis to call my own in 1994, I had a near-encyclopedic knowledge of every other “Mascots with Attitude” platformer on the market at the time. Having access to Sonic the Hedgehog 3 only intensified my interest in games, which eventually evolved in to a desire to make games. On the flip side, if you need to know something about Sega or Sonic the Hedgehog, I might be able to help.
I’ve always had a natural talent for drawing stuff, I guess. I spent most of my time growing up either playing videogames or drawing, and I usually spent more time in school doodling in page margins than actually doing work and getting good grades. Oops. Upon entering high school, kids actually began to pay me comission for drawing things for them - in the weeks leading up to Winter break one year, I made nearly $200 off of these kinds of comissions. Unfortunately, once the internet came in to the picture and I began doing more creative things using the computer, I haven’t felt like drawing as much as I used to these days. But that’s not to say I’ve given up - my skills have gotten rusty, but they’re still there.
- plz draw bacon (4/17/2013)
- Classic Shadow (11/25/2011)
- Funky Monkey (4/8/2008)
- Boxers or Briefs? (12/2/2007)
Not long after getting Sonic the Hedgehog 3, my friends and I wondered if perhaps we could make our own Sonic game. We spent bygone afternoons drawing up new playable characters, level maps, and writing out descriptions of gameplay. They eventually got bored - but I did not. When Freshman Algebra required us to buy our own TI-82 calculators, I discovered its implementation of BASIC and began teaching myself how to program games just by looking at existing code and reverse-engineering it through the calculator’s function glossary. What started as Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style text games evolved in to text-based RPGs and eventually side-scrolling shooters. Once we had a PC worth using, I discovered Clickteam's Click & Create line of software (now known as Multimedia Fusion) and have been using that to make games ever since. In 2005, a fangame I created called “Super Mario Blue Twilight DX" was not only featured on G4’s "Attack of the Show" (see video clip above), but a number of gaming magazines around the world. Recently, I’ve started making more original games, though I still think there’s plenty of merit in making fangames - I liken it to making a Team Fortress 2 map, but you have to recreate the entire game engine on top of it first.
- ORBIT: REVOLVED (Spring 2013)
- Space King (Spring 2013)
- Sonic 2K62D - The Last/Lost Version (2/4/2011)
- Luigi’s Boo Hunt (10/27/2009)
On some level game development also means game analysis, which lead me down the path of writing reviews for games. My first big break was with an article I was slowly writing in 2005 called “Dissecting a Hedgehog”. It was eventually picked up to be published in the inaugral issue of The Gamer’s Quarter, a quarterly fan-zine about videogames with a “new games journalism" slant. I was offered a dedicated position there, but turned it down on the grounds I did not think I could produce articles of similar length and quality on a regular basis. Three years later, I was offered a job as a reviewer at a newly-relaunched TSSZnews.com, a Sega-focused gaming blog. In addition to reviewing more than 30+ games in my tenure at TSSZ, I have also been responsible for breaking a number of the site’s bigger stories, and as the site has grown, I have steadily moved up the ranks to where I am now Managing Editor - one of the highest ranking positions under Tristan, the founder of the site.
- Dissecting a Hedgehog (3/5/2005)
- The Blog Sega Doesn’t Want You to Read (1/5/2009)
- Inside the All-Stars Racing Site (1/13/2010)
- TSSZ’s Reviews Section (Ongoing)
Since a kid, I’ve also had an interest in media. My Mom was always yelling at me for messing with our VCR - she was afraid I’d break it, but I just wanted to know how it worked so I could use it. This lead to crazy contraptions where I would combine various audio splitters and huge daisy chains of cables to record videogame music on to cassette. And once the personal computer came in to the picture, video editing and sound production soon became a passion of mine. This has manifested with other interests of mine in several ways: I have a blip.tv channel where I produce video game reviews, and a Tindeck where I post music. It is important to note that I do not have any composing or sequencing ability, however - I am simply mastering the music I post on my tindeck, and I try to give credit to the original MIDI creators when possible. I also have a Youtube channnel, which as of this writing, has just passed more than 4,000 subscribers and is approaching 10,000,000 total views. Over the years I have parlayed my talents in video editing in to winning various video contests - such as one for Gametrailers in 2006 with my video “The Third Mario Brother”. I’ve also become quite adept at livestreaming - I ran several Shoutcast radio stations in high school, and streaming video over uStream and Twitch.tv is almost second nature at this point. Most notably, I helped set up and participate in a video game charity stream, and was responsible for a complicated audio mixer setup that allowed stream viewers to hear me, the people I was chatting with on Skype, and game audio all together simultaneously.