The 'Shroom:Issue 170/Palette Swap
Hi everyone! Welcome to the May issue of The 'Shroom!
New Pokemon Snap is finally here! After some shipping snafus, I've gotten my copy and I've gotten through the main campaign fully and am now working on completing my photo-dex. The game is so much fun, it's pretty much exactly what I was hoping it would be. It's not perfect, but it gave me the same rush of childlike wonder and excitement I got the first time I stepped into the Wild Area in Sword and Shield, and that gets big points in my book. I would highly recommend it even if you don't like Pokemon- it's a relaxing game that can really help you slip away from the real world for a little bit. Next up of the schedule for me is SMT: Nocturne, so I'll be able to use the real world as escapism, because that game is difficult AND depressing! A two-fer!
Big roundup of great sections for you this time! I know everyone is gearing up from next month's special issue, but they really put their all into this month's issue, so go check it all out!
Section of the Month
Last month's issue was chock full of great sections, and you all chose your favorites! Coming in first is Goombuigi (talk)'s first Super Mario Maker Showcase section, where he looked at some novelty mini-game-themed levels. Next up is Site Seeing from Lakituthequick (talk), which went over the website design of Nintendo's Super Mario Party website. In third is the latest update of World of Plight by Magolor04726 (talk) featuring Mags himself! Finally, we have winstein (talk)'s Drawn and Pressed, which discussed the comic On a Claire Day. Thank you so much to everyone who voted, we really appreciate it! Please keep it up for this issue as well!
|Palette Swap SECTION OF THE MONTH|
|1st||Super Mario Maker Showcase||10||40.00%||Goombuigi|
|3rd||World of Plight||6||24.00%||Magolor04726|
|4th||Drawn and Pressed||2||8.00%||winstein|
What's on the Box?
Hello readers, and welcome back to What's on the Box.
Nintendo has released several consoles over the years, but I'm not sure any have bombed quite as hard as the Nintendo 64DD – no, not even the Wii U. In fact, the only Mario games to make the transition to the 64DD were a series of Mario Artist games, and given this is Palette Swap, we probably should've covered at least one of them by now. But, we have done Mario Paint in the past, so we're not too bad!
Mario Artist: Paint Studio is a serviceable boxart, I guess. I mean, there's nothing too interesting about it and red happens to be one of my least favourite colours, so I guess I am somewhat biased against the background colour, but I think it'd grab your attention in a store.
Sadly, the boxart doesn't go much further than that. We do manage to get Mario in an artist's get-up with a beret, and there is a paintbrush in the lower left corner, but that's really where this ends. Although, I must say I love that the M in Mario is plastered onto his beret and forms part of the logo, and I quite like the detailing on his face, his hair and moustache look great! That said, his nose does appear to be somewhat off of his face, so perhaps this is why he got into medicine.
Mario Paint excelled as a boxart because it really did explain the game on the tin, this one although you have Mario in an artist's get-up, there is still a bit of leeway and an easel would certainly not have gone amiss.
This isn't the greatest boxart I've ever looked at, but parts of me really can't go over how nicely done the hair on the side of Mario's face is. I'll be honest, that's a lot more detail than a game for one of the most failed consoles in history deserves.
Super Mario Maker Showcase
Welcome back, 'Shroom readers, to Super Mario Maker Showcase, the section where I showcase levels from Super Mario Maker 2 and analyse their structure and mechanics to show what makes them stand out among the bunch. Like last time, I have five levels to show, and I will give information about them, such as the creator and ID, so that you can play these levels on your own if you wish.
Note: All information here is accurate as of May 2021.
|Tags:||Short and sweet, Technical|
The main mechanic in this level is switching between different-sized environments using pipes, similar to Tiny-Huge Island in Super Mario 64. Not only that, but the sub-areas are day- and night-themed respectively, resulting in visual contrast - the smaller area is the forest day theme, and the bigger environment takes place during the night. The level consists of very few elements - Munchers, Goombas, and above all, pipes - which keeps the level focused. It also makes clever use of the small pipes used as terrain in the Super Mario Bros. 3 style, further demonstrating the contrast between the two areas. As you might expect, the player has to switch between these areas frequently to progress through the level, with blue pipes being an indicator for the player that they can be used, while green pipes are merely used for terrain. While this level is quite short and easy, it's an interesting puzzle revolving around a well-used mechanic.
Super Metroid Bros.
|Name:||Super Metroid Bros.|
|Description:||New power-ups grands new possibilities in this atmospheric Metroid level.|
|Tags:||Puzzle-solving, Short and sweet|
Say, are you tired of waiting for Metroid Prime 4? In the meantime, you can try out "Super Metroid Bros."! I haven't played anything from the Metroid series, but I've heard that it's a series about exploration and progression, specifically gaining certain items to progress through the game, and that's what this level is about. The player will begin as Small Mario, but they'll be tasked with searching for a Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, Super Leaf, and more items, to progress through and eventually complete the stage. Despite the "short and sweet" tag, I found this level to be decently long, but a significant portion is spent searching for the items, and once you've figured out how to obtain the items, progressing is very simple. While most of the challenge comes from the mystery of finding the items, there are a few enemies to be careful of. One thing in particular that I like about this level is that there's usually an obstacle of some sort to indicate what item the player needs. For example, at the beginning there are Brick Blocks that Mario needs to destroy to pass, therefore he needs to get a Super Mushroom. Another thing that I appreciate about the level is how it loops back around a couple of times, it helps to sell the "metroidvania" style.
|Description:||Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.|
This level revolves around blue platforms, which fall instantly when Mario lands on them. Because of that, the player will need to move quickly through the level to survive. This level is focused on pure platforming, and Munchers and Skewers are the only enemies present. If a player misses a jump to the next blue platform, there's usually solid ground underneath, which allows for the player to try again, making the level more forgiving, and helpful for practicing platforming skills. Overall, while this level requires more advanced platforming skills, it's forgiving enough that players with rougher platforming skills will be able to grasp it as well.
|Description:||Think fast, everything crumbles beneath you in this platforming challenge!|
Another level revolving around falling blue platforms… However, this level is fairly different from the last one. Firstly, it's more difficult, because there isn't as much ground to land on if you happen to slip up. The first platforming section with the blue platforms features a philosophy that I like to follow when making my own levels - introduce an obstacle in an area without any risks for the player, so that they aren't punished with death when they make a mistake. In a way, this first obstacle is like training wheels on a bike, because while there isn't a real challenge to it, when the obstacle is repeated later, the player will understand how to overcome it and be prepared for the actual challenge. Like with the previous level, quick, snappy movement is required here to beat it. After the checkpoint, the player will need to use Dry Bowls to "double jump" to reach other blue platforms, and I like how the difficulty of this element is ramped up as well - first, the player can hop into the Dry Bowl on safe ground, then, they'll need to do it on the blue platforms, and finally, the Dry Bowls will be on moving tracks in midair. Overall, the level is intricately designed to be fun and challenging, but also forgiving, and with a solid difficulty curve.
Flight of the Bullet Bill
|Name:||Flight of the Bullet Bill|
|Creator:||FireyYoshi (MightyMario (talk))|
|Description:||Soar through the sky like a speeding bullet!|
"Flight of the Bullet Bill" is a level made by community member MightyMario (talk), and while it revolves primarily around the Bullet Bill mask, the Propeller Box and the Cannon Box are also utilized. This level requires skillful platforming with the Bullet Bill mask and quick reactions to make it through, for most of it takes place in the air. Because of that, the path for the player may not be clear at first, but there are coins to guide the player along. The first half of the level has a fair amount of breathing room between the platforming sections, but after the checkpoint, the difficulty picks up considerably, and the player will have to perform consecutive moves to make it through, since there is a bigger gap between areas with safe ground. The second half of the level also introduces a few elements, such as Dash Panels and Banzai Bills, to further ramp up the difficulty. In general, this is an intense level that will likely require a decent amount of tries, as well as skillful aerial movement, to complete.
I hope you enjoyed this section! As you may know, the next issue will be themed around art and music, so I will be featuring levels with the "Art" and "Music" tags. If you'd like to submit a level that you'd like to see featured in this section, whether it is your own or one that you've played, you can submit the name and ID in this thread. Keep in mind that if you'd like to see it featured in Issue 170, it has to be themed around art and music in some way, else I won't put the level for consideration until Issue 171. I hope you enjoyed, and come back next month for some art- and music-themed levels.
World of Plight
Hey guys! I hope you enjoyed this month’s entry of World of Plight! Steve doesn’t seem very happy (I mean, he lost his girlfriend, I wouldn’t be happy in his situation either), but something is sure to come up from our search.
In the meantime, if you have any leads for me to follow, contact me on the Mario Boards!
Reporting from The End,
Dragon Slayer Extraordinaire
Drawn and Pressed
Many of the comic strips that are available in newspapers should generally be able to be enjoyed by all ages, since it can be read by anybody. This is especially the case for those comic strips that focuses on animals (e.g.: Garfield) or children (e.g: Peanuts), but even those that focus on older people can be enjoyed by anybody because of the subject matter, such as B.C.'s cavemen. Monty, on the other hand, is a strange beast. In the beginning, this strip fits the all-ages bracket but much later on it became a more adult-oriented strip (but doesn't veer too much there, unlike The Boondocks or Doonesbury), which fits into the comic strip author's (Jim Meddick) style of humour which is why it became the norm.
The story on how Monty came to be is somewhat eventful. In the beginning of this strip's history, a British musician by the name of Peter Shelley conceived a character called Robotman (no relation to DC's Doom Patrol character) as part of his music album, which according to Meddick are basically Beatles-like except it's more attuned to children. He eventually showed it to the United Media Syndicate for the purpose of heavy merchandising, with whom they would create a comic strip out of in order to extend the mindshare of the character. A comic strip obviously require an artist to which will create the cartoon every day, and the task was initially assigned to Bill Watterson to incorporate into his comic about a boy and his stuffed tiger (which wasn't released back then). As Watterson refused to do so, the task instead fell onto another fresh cartoonist Jim Meddick, who started it back in 18th February 1985. It should be noted that comic strips were still widely read, so it wasn't a bad idea, since there were popular characters who started as comic strip like Peanuts and Garfield. It's very popular to rag on Garfield for the focus on merchandising because of the combination of Garfield's success and the creator admitting to the character's ease of being merchandised, but to me, Robotman is a much more appropriate example of a character made for the purpose of merchandising since Robotman pretty much had that going for it.
Meddick took on the task on drawing Robotman, to whom he would develop an original cast and setting to which Robotman would call home. The comic strip was purportedly a success (200+ newspapers in the first run), yet the merchandising of the character was far less successful, probably because a character that goes by Robotman is not an easy sell. Because of how well-received the comic strip was, Meddick was emboldened to pursue his style of humour, and this was basically how Monty (who wasn't intended to stick as a character) was introduced, to whom Robotman lived with. Given how the author was promised creative freedom when he took on the task only to be required by the publisher to have consistency with the other forms of media, it only felt appropriate that he eventually got his wish. The comic strip even got marketed to include Monty (Robotman & Monty) because the more adult-oriented style of humour is far different from the assumption from the name that it would be a child or a superhero-themed comic strip. Eventually Robotman was dropped because the cartoonist never owned him to begin with, despite the cartoonist not minding Robotman staying since his characterization had an overhaul to suit the cartoonist's needs. After Robotman was written out, the strip had completed its transition to Monty, to which the cartoonist has full ownership of. I really like this story of how a cartoonist basically took a licensed property and evolve it in such a way that he can call his own, which is unique since many comic strip cartoons had to be designed and created from scratch.
The main character, Monty, is a middle-aged man that can be described as eccentric and optimistic, but also socially awkward and has poor dress skills. He is also able to invent a lot of things, and would occasionally take on various jobs and activities for humorous results. He has a cat named Fleshy, who is as the name suggests, a hairless and skinny cat. Although Fleshy does not display readable thoughts like many cartoon animals, he displays remarkable intelligence and has a penchant for doing odd activities, so in other words, he is a funny animal. The third character who is living with Monty is a cyborg named EB3, but calling it a cyborg is a huge stretch since the only biological part it has is the pancreas (jokingly referred to as the "P-word"). In essence, EB3 is the substitute robot character for Robotman, even displaying a few things in common such as a romantic interest in appliances (a vacuum cleaner in EB3's case), which goes to show that the cartoonist is still interested in giving Monty a robotic companion. Monty's only true friend is Moondog, and he has a pet parrot named Pilsner who has overall more intelligence than the owner (except he doesn't recognise his own reflection) but is cynical. Monty's other friend is Dehlia who seems to be his steady girlfriend, where previously he was attracted to Gretchen, who despite being a woman and single, did not return Monty's affection.
The name Monty is derived from Monty Python's Flying Circus, because the idea is that anything could happen, like in that series. Indeed, this is what Monty operates on due to how scenarios are practically never reused during the strip's run. Sometimes it could revolve around parodies of pop culture things like Invisible Man or The Fly (with no attempt to rename them into something else), but it could also revolve around a different hobby or activity such as one time where Monty decided to try to be a ninja. At other times, the scenarios revolves around everyday activities but with a comedic twist. Some activities do get engaged occasionally, such as a puppet show of Monty trying out a new invention. When a time traveler called Professor Xemit shows up, there may be even times when Monty engaged in a bit of time travelling. If there's one thing that is clear about this comic strip, is that the author is content with going into different territories in order to keep the comic fresh, which is something I can admire.
Later on in the strip's history, there are a couple of characters who live different lives from the titular character in that when they appear, Monty and friends are usually out of the picture. In fact, their appearances are akin to a different segment in a show even though it's within the same universe. The characters are named Sedgwick and Jarvis, who live in the same neighborhood. The former is a son of a rich couple and as such very privileged and has a superiority complex, while Jarvis is his butler who is polite but sarcastic, and is occasionally abused by Sedgwick. Despite Sedgwick being a child, he displays a lot of behaviour or ideas that are unchildlike, including having an interest in functional spy gadgets or having a political affinity. Even with the separate lives of the two groups of characters, there were occasions where they met each other, such as one time when Monty was commissioned to write a book for Sedgwick by his father.
As previously mentioned, the comic strip is adult-oriented. To elaborate, the characters engage in grown-up activities such as drinking beer, although I imagine that there's nothing that younger audience would be dissuaded by since the comic is built on strangeness, which is something that many can enjoy. It should be noted that even though this is an adult-oriented strip, it still had to abide to some mandates to make it OK to be printed, such as the usage of symbol swearing and the exclusion of explicit nudity. Jokes were even made regarding this, where characters lampshaded the nature of the comic strip, so for example, one cat leaving a mark is represented by leaving flags instead of the common assumption. Think of it as something like Animaniacs, a show that at first glance is kid-friendly, but the characters and settings tend to touch on topics that interest adults like politicians or references to adult media, and in fact can lean on the fourth wall when things appear to cross the border on what's acceptable to be shown.
All in all, I really liked the comic strip's indulgence in the unpredictable and the strange, because it keeps this comic interesting even after a while in not reading it. The way this comic strip started is also quite fascinating even if its origins are poorly archived, but even more is how the cartoonist weaved his personality into a licensed comic that evolved into something that can be his personal work.
Monty can be read at https://www.gocomics.com/monty
Thank you for reading.
|The 'Shroom: Issue 170|
|Staff sections||Staff Notes • The 'Shroom Spotlight|
|Features||Fake News • Fun Stuff • Palette Swap • Pipe Plaza • Critic Corner• Strategy Wing|
|Specials||Ultimate Location Battle|