The 'Shroom:Issue 172/Palette Swap
Hi everybody! Welcome back to our regular programming!
First of all, I'd like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who participated in last month's issue. It was such a fantastic showcase of the community and I'm so happy to be a part of this big crazy place. So THANK YOU, you're all awesome!
As for me, I'm starting a new job soon! I'm so excited to be shifting to this new company, and this time next month, I'll be settled in to my new desk and hard at work training.
I'm still hard at work on Nocturne. I'm getting close to my favorite demon, though, and I hope by this time next month I'll be done with the game. Just in time for a breather before SMT 5 comes out, huh? Either way, my fall and winter are going to be full of RPGs, from SMT to Pokemon, but that's just what I like!
Everyone has worked really hard this month to bring you some great sections, so I'll let you get to it!
Happy reading! ~FunkyK38
Section of the Month
Last month's issue was massive, and you all went through it and voted for your favorites! Leading the pack this month once again is Goombuigi (talk), who discussed five art and music-related levels in Super Mario Maker Showcase. Next up in a four-way tie for second are Kirbyo (talk) with Kirby Music Madness, Stooben Rooben (talk) with 8-Bit Amphitheater, winstein (talk) with Drawn and Pressed, and Magolor04726 (talk) with World of Plight. After that, we have yet another tie, this time between Chester Alan Arthur (talk)'s The Devious Workings of Phineas J. Shoe and Yoshi876 (talk)'s What's on the Box?. Thank you to everyone who voted, and please keep it up for this month, too!
|Palette Swap SECTION OF THE MONTH|
|1st||Super Mario Maker Showcase||6||27.27%||Goombuigi|
|2nd||Kirby Music Madness||3||13.64%||Kirbyo|
|2nd||8-Bit Amphitheater||3||13.64%||Stooben Rooben|
|2nd||Drawn and Pressed||3||13.64%||winstein|
|2nd||World of Plight||3||13.64%||Magolor04726|
|6th||The Devious Workings of Phineas J. Shoe||2||9.09%||Chester Alan Arthur|
|6th||What's on the Box?||2||9.09%||Yoshi876|
Shmaluigi, Private Investigator
Hidden Mansion: Part 1
Being a private investigator is a tough line of work as it is. But when you've got the reputation I do, it's a completely different story. It seems almost everyone here in New Wikisburg recognizes me now. I hear the comments from the people on the sidewalk as I pass by, "there goes Shmaluigi, I wonder what he's been working on". I'm one of the best around, or at least that's what everyone seems to think, but I certainly don't feel that way these days.
It all started not too long ago when I took the case at Fred Pasture. I knew what the risks were, but I certainly never expected things to go that badly... The whole thing was frankly an embarrassment if you ask me. Honestly, I don't really care too much that I ended up dying during the whole thing, that comes with the territory after all. Thank goodness for 1-Up Mushrooms. The thing that really gets my blood boiling though is seeing the scum wreak so much havoc and destruction, and not only completely getting away with it, but actually flourishing! Why, if I ever see that corporate creep again...
Yeesh, I need to stop thinking about this so much. Maybe I'll go for a walk and clear my head.
Walking through the bustling streets of New Wikisburg didn't do a whole lot to get my mind off of things, as it wasn't long before I approached the construction site of the new JojaMart. I almost wanted to rip that stupid "join us, thrive" sign right off of the fence, but I stopped myself. I have a reputation to uphold, after all. That's the last thing I need popping up in News Flush, "EXTRA EXTRA SHMALUIGI GOES BALLISTIC AND DESTROYS PRIVATE PROPERTY".
I kept walking and tried to think of something, ANYTHING else, to no avail. Even though the case was over, it still consumed my thoughts nearly constantly, and today seemed to be no exception.
Eventually the sign for my favorite coffee shop, the Sipping Time Cafe, caught my eye. Wandering around out here didn't seem like it was doing me any good, so I figured I'd drop by.
The door hadn't even closed before I was greeted by the Shy Guy working the counter. "Shmaluigi! How's my favorite customer?"
"Been better. Shmaluigi has a lot on his mind these days," I told him as I walked up to the counter and took a seat.
"Sorry to hear that. The usual?"
I wondered if he was actually sorry to hear about my problems, or if he was just being polite. Shy Guys can be quite hard to read with their lack of visible facial expressions.
"Here you go, one Shmaluigi Special," he said as he handed me my cup of coffee to-go.
"It's not called that..."
"It is now! I told my boss you order it every time you come here so they renamed it to boost sales and increased the price," he replied, seeming a little too enthusiastic about charging me more for my coffee.
I wasn't too sure how I felt about my name being used without permission for a marketing gimmick, but I had bigger fish to fry than getting into a lawsuit right now. Still, I wasn't happy about the price increase.
"If you're going to keep raising prices, Shmaluigi's going to have to take his business over to the Club Sandwich Shop!"
I got up and started walking back to my place. At least that got my mind off of things for a little while - until I remembered I was going to have to pass the JojaMart construction site again. I swear Mr. Morris deliberately put it between my office and my favorite coffee shop just to taunt me...
As I sat down back at my desk, my thoughts started to wander again. I knew I wouldn't be able to get the Fred Pasture case off of my mind until I managed to redeem myself somehow. I looked around my office for something that might give me any inspiration, until I glanced down at the folder that Toad from the department brought me while I was still working at the pasture, which was now gathering dust. LT-5, a twenty-year old cold case. Not very high on the chief's priority list from what I hear, and frankly, not very high on mine either. That probably wasn't the answer to my problems.
I continued to look around until my eyes became fixed on a photo I had displayed next to my computer. Ms. Ema Skye... Quite a tragic case, really. I think she would have been a brilliant investigator if she didn't get mixed up with the wrong crowd. I'll never forget the last thing she said to me when we worked together in Rogueport.
Thinking about her brought me to a sudden realization - her motivation for becoming an investigator in the first place! She said she wanted to investigate something called the "Killing Games". I was never quite sure what she was talking about, but maybe, just maybe...
"Ms. Skye, it's time to finish what you started. Shmaluigi's on the case."
To be continued...
Thank you for reading the beginning of Shmaluigi's adventures here in The 'Shroom! I hope you enjoyed it because there's plenty more on the way. Special thanks to Magolor04726 for inspiring me to work on this section and helping me out with it, and to all of Shmaluigi's fans for helping to turn a silly joke I came up with on the forums into a beloved icon.
What's on the Box?
Hello readers, and welcome back to What's on the Box.
E3 has been and gone, and while I don't think there were too many big-hitters when it comes to the Mario series, we were able to get news about a new WarioWare game, so what better time to cast an eye over a series that we haven't really covered much before?
I have actually only played a WarioWare series game before and it was this very game on my friend's Nintendo GameCube, but while the microgames in there were fun to do, the same can't really be said for its boxart.
The boxart does do a good job at showing the multitude of characters featured within the game, which includes Wario, who is fittingly in the centre, as well as Jimmy T., Dribble and Spitz, Mona, 9-Volt, Orbulon, Dr. Crygor and Kat and Ana.
Other than Wario, all the characters only appear as blue-coloured portraits, although this does at least mirror the vast majority of Wario's clothing, with the yellow and red of his hat and gloves being the only other colour to feature. As much as I get Wario's biker gear is mostly blue, given how the character is mostly associated with the colour yellow, it perhaps would've been better to have had yellow as the most prominent colour, or we could have even had all the characters in their normal colours.
I also feel that it was a missed opportunity when it came to the boxart to not have the characters mirroring the sort of microgames that the players would be playing with them. So, Jimmy T. could have been in a sports position, Mona could have been doing something strange, Kat and Ana could have been in nature etc.
This boxart, while it does a good job at showing off the game's many many characters, it could have better utilised then and could definitely have better utilised the use of colour, but given how minimalistic other boxarts for the WarioWare series has been, this is certainly an improvement!
Super Mario Maker Showcase
Readers of the 'Shroom, welcome back to Super Mario Maker Showcase, highlighting levels from Super Mario Maker 2 and showing off what elements make them stand out. Since July marks the 40th anniversary of the arcade game Donkey Kong, I decided that for this issue, I would focus on Donkey Kong-themed and jungle-themed levels.
Note: All information here is accurate as of July 10, 2021.
Wondering Whale Waterfalls
|Name:||Wondering Whale Waterfalls|
|Description:||Discover a hidden shore, home to whales and other sea life. Ver.2|
As the name implies, this level takes place partly underwater and partly on dry land, taking advantage of this unique feature in the forest theme. The setting is wonderfully decorated - the terrain is built using a combination of Donut Blocks, P Blocks, Brick Blocks and regular blocks, trees are made with Mushroom platforms and vines, and the main attractions, the whales, are made up of ON/OFF blocks and ice blocks, giving them various shades of blue, as well as Note Blocks for the color white, and frozen coins to simulate glistening eyes. The Twisters on the whales represent the water spout, which not only illustrate the whales better, but also assist Mario with platforming, helping him reach higher platforms to collect power-ups. As for the level itself, it's fairly simple platforming. There are several Goombrats to avoid and whales to jump on before the level transitions underwater, with Cheep Cheeps and Bloopers to avoid there, and a Frog Suit to grab if you explore carefully enough. While the platforming isn't overly challenging or advanced, the level is marvellously decorated, which makes the setting look quite distinct.
|Creator:||shy kid (Kirbyo (talk))|
|Description:||like a normal mario level!|
This level was made by community member Kirbyo (talk), and as its name implies, it focuses primarily on Twisters. The level consists of three sections - the first has Twisters to jump on and Koopa Troopas, as well as Koopa Paratroopas, to avoid. The second section transitions to underwater, where deadly Cheep Cheeps and spikes await. In this section, the Twisters aren't so friendly, because they may push the player into a spike or a Cheep Cheep, and with Mario's floatier underwater controls, it can be more difficult to maneuver around. The final section features more jungle platforming, albeit brief. While the level is quite short, it provides quite an exciting platforming challenge with its use of Twisters.
DKC: Jungle Hijinx
|Name:||DKC: Jungle Hijinx|
|Description:||Remake of Donkey Kong Country: Jungle Hijinx|
As the title implies, this level is a recreation of the first level of Donkey Kong Country, Jungle Hijinxs. The level opens with a recreation of the classic Donkeys Kong theme, then transitions to the level itself. While many elements of the original level are replicated here (for example, Key Coins replace the KONG letters, 1-Ups represent Red Balloons, and Rambi the rhino is replicated with a Stiletto Goomba), there are some gameplay changes (such as the fact that collecting the Key Coins is mandatory). Most of the secret areas are present as well. The level itself is about the same difficulty as the one it's based on, since while it does have quite a few enemies, including Goombrats, Koopa Troopas, and Hammer Bros., there are also a fair few Super Mushrooms (which substitute the DK Barrels from the original game), and the area is wide open with plenty of space to platform through.
Into the Jungle
|Name:||Into the Jungle|
|Description:||Very Basic Traditional. Made And Uploaded For Fun. :) GLHF :D Enjoy!|
|Tags:||Standard, Short and sweet|
"Into the Jungle" is a traditional platforming level, and it provides a fair amount of difficulty as well. There are many enemies throughout the level - Goombas, Koopa Troopas, and most notably, Piranha Plants. The Piranha Plants can be tricky to avoid, especially since some of them are present on the ceiling as well as the floor. Although there are some power-ups in the level, they don't make it significantly easier, forcing the player to rely much more on their skill. Like with the other forest levels featured so far, this one does make use of water, however it only appears briefly at the beginning, with a few Cheeps Cheeps swimming in it. If you're looking for a fun, decently challenging but forgiving platforming level, I'd recommend this one.
Donkey Kong ◆ All 4 levels
|Name:||Donkey Kong ◆ All 4 levels|
|Description:||Every level from the classic arcade game, remade in Super Mario Maker 2!|
Ending this month's string of levels is a recreation of the four levels from the arcade version of Donkey Kong. The level commences with Mario entering an arcade machine featuring Boom Boom, who represents Donkey Kong, and afterwards the four recreated levels follow. They are quite accurate, both in style (for example, they have a space background, replicating the pitch black background from the original game), and in gameplay (such as with the enemies, with Buzzy Shells and Lava Bubbles replicating the enemies). There are a few changes however, for example, the final stage has five red coins rather than eight, due to there being a limit of five red coins per area in Super Mario Maker 2. While the level is easier due to Mario's better jumping physics, and due to the checkpoint after the second stage, there is a fair amount of platforming challenge due to the narrow passages that Mario has to traverse and avoid enemies in. The ending also recreates the original ending cutscenes, with Boom Boom falling down defeated. Overall, this level is a decently accurate recreation of the original arcade game.
As usual, I hope you enjoyed reading. If you'd like to submit a level to be 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 and it may appear in a future issue. I'll see you next month with more Super Mario Maker 2 levels to showcase!
World of Plight
I’ve been to some suspicious streets in South Town, but none of them could top that passage in the alley. We finally got a group organized to properly sweep through there and see what we could find, headed by Magolor. It took the good part of the weekend, but we did find something really, really… weird.
We went through all the rooms and found all sorts of broken boards, random slips of paper, and the occasional box content. (Donkey Kong found a banana, ate it and is now in the Emergency Room.) When we got to the large room at the bottom, everyone was wiped out from the search, but Wario had a literal wipeout. A small green puddle was on the floor and when he stepped on it, it sent him spiraling to the floor. He shouted something I can’t repeat, (Mags’ note: It’s not that it was bad, you understand. It was incomprehensible) and then got on all fours. He sniffed the puddle and before any of us could stop him, he dipped his finger in and licked it. Suddenly, there was a green flash. He was glowing green, got up, and flexed. “Wa! My garlic has never felt better!” He exclaimed. He started running around the room faster than he normally could and he jumped higher too. But after a few seconds, midway through a jump, the glow vanished and he hit the floor harder than Geese. Nobody dared touch the puddle until R.O.B. came down with a vial and collected it before passing it to Sakurai. I can’t help but wonder what that puddle was, but Dr. Wily’s lab isn’t bringing up anything from his data. Maybe I should see if I could get some of that before the next King of Fighters tournament.
Smash is unlike any World Warrior tournament I have ever competed in. For one, it tests my skills in ways unlike any other tournament could. The contenders are so diverse, it hones my abilities in incredible fashion. But beyond that, there was an overwhelming sense of community before Fighter’s started going missing. No one was here attempting to prove themselves or to avenge their family. They were only here to meet others, put on a show, and have a good time. Suspicion began to take root once the purple one was known to be a traitor. Everyone was expecting each other to turn on them, but no one has gone missing for some time. Fighters are beginning to trust one another again. It started in the cafeteria.
I was eating alone, allowing myself time to think, when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and found Ken standing over me. He was in a battle stance and said, “You owe me a rematch!” At first, I was uncertain, but then I decided to throw caution to the wind. We sparred in between tables and accidentally overturned a few food trays as we went. The others seemed surprised with our duel at first, but they soon were enjoying it, cheering for Ken or myself, urging us to bring the other down. We fought with intensity and I could feel my headband collecting beads of sweat. We clashed with ferocity, but Ken got the best of me with Shippu Jinraikyaku and sent me sailing through the air. I landed on a table and admitted defeat. He helped me up as the other Fighters applauded and cheered. It seemed to have lifted everyone’s spirits and I saw friends talking to each other like they did when I first arrived. “You planned this, didn’t you?” I asked. Ken only gave me a coy smile.
Welcome Kazuya! I hope you’ll have a great time in Smash! (Somebody keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn’t find the missing Fighters, he might throw them off a cliff.)
I hope you guys enjoyed this month’s entry of World of Plight and will stay tuned for more!
Fighting across the world,
King of Fighters.
The Devious Workings of Phineas J. Shoe
WHEN WE LAST LEFT OFF, THAT MISERABLE CRETIN DR. PHINEAS J. SHOE AND HIS IGORIAN ASSISTANT ROSE DISCOVERED THEY WERE BROKE. ACTING QUICKLY, PHINEAS J. SHOE RESOLVED TO SELL HIS INVENTIONS AND HAD ROSE SEND A MESSAGE TO ALL THE BAD GUYS IN THE LAND. WILL THEY GET ANY CUSTOMERS? WILL THEY GET OUT OF THE RED AND INTO THE BLACK? AND WILL THEY EVER RETURN TO MUSHROOM KINGDOM SMACKDOWN?
FIND OUT ALL THIS AND MORE IN THIS MONTH'S EPISODE: A NIGHTMARE IN DREAMLAND/WAKEY WAKEY TIME FOR DOOM
We pan in two weeks later to Dr. Phineas J. Shoe, who is impatiently pacing back and forth waiting for the mailman.
"Rooooooose, I've been checking the mail all week and we haven't had any customers! What's taking so long?" asks the doctor.
"Calm down, sir. All this worrying is bad for your blood pressure," replies an unconcerned Rose.
"But Rose, I've offered up my brilliant services to all the bad guys in the land, and so far we haven't had any takers. I mean, we even paid for expedited shipping, so it's not like they haven't gotten my letter," bitterly complained Phineas.
Rose goes silent for a minute before saying quietly "sir, we couldn't, uh, afford the expedited shipping... We had to do regular shipping".
Upon hearing this, Dr. Phineas J. Shoe goes into a rage, yelling "YOU FOOL! YOU ADVERTISED MY GENIUS USING REGULAR SHIPPING LIKE SOME SORT OF COMMONER?! I OUGHTA WRING YOUR NECK!"
Just then, a letter slips through the door, marked "To Dr. Phineas J. Shoe".
"Rose! Quick! Read what it says!" Phineas J. Shoe says excitedly.
Dearest Dr. Phineas J. Shoe,
I, the great Count Wart, Lord of Trycldes, Baron of Clawgrip, and Duke of Subcon's icy fields, am wishing to enlist your brilliant services. I have grown quite tired of being ruled by these pathetic fairies, and have decided to plan my own coup. For your part, I am asking you if it would be possible to create something that would harness the power of nightmares and turn that into minions for myself. If you manage to do this, I will reward you with 1,000 Subcon coins.
Sincerely yours, Count Wart, Lord of Trycldes, Baron of Clawgrip, and Duke of Subcon's icy fields
(P.S. Please refrain from using any vegetables, for I am allergic.)
"HA! A MACHINE THAT TURNS NIGHTMARES INTO MINIONS? WHY, THAT'S CHILD'S PLAY!" boasts the doctor.
"So you'll do it, boss?" asks Rose.
"Of course I'll do it. Now, Rose, I'll need you to fetch me a record player, three tubas, and an alarm clock from the 80s," demands Phineas.
"Why do we need all that weird stuff?" asks Rose.
"DO NOT QUESTION ME, FOOL. JUST GET WHAT I TELL YOU AND BRING IT TO THE LAB," angrily snaps the doctor.
A few hours later, Rose returns with the requested material, and he and Dr. Phineas J. Shoe quickly get to work constructing the machine.
"Now Rose, you're probably wondering why we needed a record player, right?" Phineas J. Shoe smugly asks.
"To be honest, sir I don't really understand why we needed half of this stuff," the confused Rose responds.
"It's really quite simple, Rose, my dear. The record player acts as a power source as well as a control mechanism. You see, while the machine absorbs nightmares, the machine uses the power of the most evil kind of music to convert that energy into mindless creatures born to serve," explains Phineas J. Shoe.
"Polka, sir?" Rose asks.
"Yes, of course it's Polka! Here, allow me to give you an demonstration," the mad doctor says as he grabs an album off his shelf. Phineas plays multiple songs. each creating different monsters. Track one creates little masked men, track two creates little masked men who shoot bullets out of their mouths, and track three also creates little masked men, but these ones can fly.
"Sir, this is brilliant! You can create an entire army with just one Polka album! You've really outdone yourself," beams an impressed Rose.
"Oh Rose, I haven't even shown you the best part," Dr. Phineas J. Shoe says as the machine starts spitting out vegetables.
"BEHOLD, ROSE! TRUE GENIUS! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" exclaims the doctor.
"Sir, wait, what? Why? He's allergic to vegetables, sir. Why is this thing shooting his one weakness?" asks a very confused Rose.
"DON'T YOU GET IT, ROSE? WHAT WILL BE MORE INTIMIDATING THAN GIVING YOUR ENEMY THE ONE THING THAT CAN DEFEAT YOU WHILE DEFEATING THEM ANYWAYS? I TELL YOU, IT'S BRILLIANT!" the doctor yells.
"Sir, I really think you should-" Rose begins to say before being cut off.
"DO NOT QUESTION ME, ROSE. SHIP THIS TO LORD WART AND LET US COLLECT OUR PAYMENT," the doctor demands.
TWO WEEKS LATER
We cut into a peaceful scene of Dr. Phineas J. Shoe and Rose having breakfast, with Rose reading a newspaper. "Huh, sir, it says here that our client Wart has been overthrown... It says something about vegetables being his downfall," Rose says, flipping through the pages.
"Who cares, Rose? He already paid us," Dr. Phineas J. Shoe says, ignoring the role he played in Wart's demise while shaking a bag that sounds suspiciously empty.
"WAIT! WHAT?" Phineas J. Shoe says, noticing the bag that was once filled with Subcon coins is now empty. "ROSE, WHERE DID THE MONEY GO?!"
"Hmmm... Perhaps because those were Subcon coins and Subcon is a world of dreams, when Wart's dream ended after being defeated, the coins he gave us disappeared with him," hypothesizes Rose.
"WAIT! WHAT? THAT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE! WHY WOULD MONEY WORK LIKE THAT!?" Dr. Phineas J. Shoe yells out as he continues to rant about what happened as we fade to black.
TWO WEEKS LATER
We pan in on an again on an impatient Dr. Phineas J. Shoe, who is again pacing back and forth. "This is ridiculous, Rose. Two weeks with no work!" the upset doctor says.
"Well, sir, maybe they're scared since your last invention kind of... backfired," Rose says, trying to calm down the doctor.
"BACKFIRED? WHAT DO YOU MEAN? MY MACHINE WORKED PERFECTLY! IT MADE MINIONS AND SHOT VEGETABLES, EXACTLY WHAT IT WAS MEANT TO DO!" Phineas shouts, ignoring the fact that Wart specifically said no vegetables.
"Well, actually, sir" Rose says, beginning to try and explain why Dr. Phineas J. Shoe is wrong before being interrupted by the loud sound of boats.
"What is that, Rose?" a startled Phineas J. Shoe says.
"I don't know, sir, but it sounds like it's coming from the back entrance," Rose replies.
"WAIT?! WE HAVE A BACK ENTRANCE?!?!" shouts Phineas J. Shoe.
Rose opens his mouth before deciding that it isn't worth it, and simply walks to the back entrance to see what is going on.
The back entrance leads to a large body of water that flows around the underground lab. Seeing no boats, Rose's eyes instead catch a bottle floating in the water. Picking it up, Rose heads back into the lab.
"Sir, there's a bottle with a message in it," Rose says opening the bottle before reading the note inside.
AVAST YE MATEYS, IT BE I, GIANT SPEAR MAN, FIRST MATE OF THE BLACK SUGAR PIRATES, CAPTAINED BY THE ILLUSTRIOUS CAPTAIN SYRUP. WE BE LOOKING TO GET REVENGE ON THAT DAMN THIEF WARIO AND BE LOOKING TO HIRE THE BRILLIANT DR. PHINEAS J. SHOE TO CREATE SOMETHING THAT WILL HELP IN THIS STEALTH MISSION. IN RETURN, WE ARE OFFERING PAYMENT IN THE FORM OF 500 MUSHROOM KINGDOM COINS AND A BAG OF SAPPHIRES.
SIGNED GIANT SPEAR MAN ACTING ON BEHALF OF CAPTAIN SYRUP OF THE BLACK SUGAR PIRATES.
Dr. Phineas J. Shoe scratches his chin for a second, pondering the request before calling out, "THAT'S IT ROSE! I'VE GOT IT! WE'LL NEED THREE POUNDS OF COPPER WIRE, TWO SHEETS OF BLACK PLASTIC, THE WINDUP KEY FROM A TOY CAR, AND A POTATO."
"A potato, sir?" a confused Rose asks.
"YES, A POTATO, YOU FOOL! DON'T QUESTION THE METHOD, JUST WAIT FOR THE RESULTS! NOW, GET ME WHAT I ASKED FOR!" Phineas angrily yells out.
Three hours later, Rose returns to the lab and the two begin to get to work.
"Tell me, sir. What's the plan with all of this stuff?" a curious Rose asks.
"I'm glad you asked, my dear Rose. You see, I was asking myself 'What would be the best thing to have on a stealth mission?' and I decided the best thing would be something that would remove the stealth altogether, so I decided to come up with something to do just that," An excited Phineas says, pulling out some blueprints.
Rose looks at the blueprints, confused. "It looks like a giant alarm clock, sir," he says.
"That's because it is a giant alarm clock! You see, we'll form the plastic into the shell, then we'll put the potato in the center, connect the copper wire to the potato with the potato being used as a power source, and finally the wind-up key will allow them to set when it goes off," Dr. Phineas J. Shoe explains.
"And the skull face is for what exactly?" a skeptical Rose asks.
"BRANDING PURPOSES OF COURSE, ROSE. THERE'S NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT THAN MAKING SURE YOUR BRAND GETS OUT THERE," Phineas shills.
The two continue to work for the next few hours before putting on the finishing touches to their invention. As they are finishing, Rose asks "so how exactly is this going to help the Black Sugar Pirates?"
"Oh, yes, well you see, Rose, this alarm clock is going to emit frequencies so loud that it will paralyze all those who hear it," boasts a confident Phineas.
"But, sir, won't that, uh, paralyze the Black Sugar Pirates as well?" Rose asks.
Phineas J. Shoe stops in his tracks "Hmmm... I suppose that's true," he concedes.
"Rose, hand me that socket wrench," he says, making a few turns of it. "There we go. With that minor adjustment, I've switched it to a frequency that can only be heard by Warios," he says triumphantly.
"That's great, sir, but we haven't actually tested it yet and since we can't hear it, how do you know it will actually paralyze Wario and not just wake him up?" Rose asks, concerned about the project.
Hearing the skepticism of his assistant, Dr. Phineas J. Shoe flies into a rage. "ROSE, YOU FOOL! WHEN HAVE YOU EVER KNOWN ME TO MAKE A MISTAKE? I TELL YOU, THIS INVENTION IS PERFECT! NOW SHIP IT AND LET'S COLLECT OUR PAY!" he screams as a reluctant Rose wheels away the giant clock.
A Few Weeks Later
Dr. Phineas J. Shoe and his assistant are again enjoying a nice breakfast. Rose is relaxing, reading the paper before coming to a halt upon seeing an article titled "Wario defeats Black Sugar Pirates; credits mysterious Big Alarm Clock." "Uh, sir," he begins to say, before seeing a note rolled under the door.
PHINEAS, THE MACHINE YOU SOLD US SCREWED US. RETURN OUR MONEY OR ELSE - CAPTAIN SYRUP.
"HA! PIRATES! CAN YOU BELIEVE THEY THINK THEY CAN INTIMIDATE THE GREAT DR. PHINEAS J. SHOE?" Phineas boasts as Rose looks out the window, seeing an entire pirate armada.
"Uh, sir, maybe we should just give them back their money?" Rose says nervously in the face of the threats.
"NONSENSE, ROSE! WE EARNED THAT MONEY FAIR AND SQUARE! CAVEAT EMPTOR, THAT'S WHAT I ALWAYS SAY! AND IF THOSE DIRTY PIRATES HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT, THEY CAN VERY WELL TRY IT!" Phineas shouts in defiance.
"That's, uh, great boss... Well, I think I'm gonna take a half day..." Rose says, hurrying away.
As he does that, a loud banging begins on the back entrance. "Rose, where are you going!? Get back here! Rose? Rose? ROSEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE?!" a panicked Phineas shouts as the pirates break down the door and we fade to black.
Drawn and Pressed
Comic strips that put dogs as the focus are quite plentiful, as Jim Davis identified when he decided to design his comic strip around a cat. Around that time there were classics like Peanuts (starring Snoopy), Marmaduke and Footrot Flats, and throughout the years more dog-focused comic strips were created, as since then we have Ask Shagg, Buckles and Citizen Dog, as well as Red and Rover and Dog eat Doug. The proliferation of dog comic strips could be attributed to the ease of writing about dogs since dogs are popular pets and so it is simpler to write about them from life experiences. What is interesting is that most of the dog comic strips have something to differentiate from one another, so despite sharing the same focus on dogs, there is still quite a variety. The comic strip that I am focusing on today is Pooch Café, although I probably might cover another dog comic strip in the future.
Pooch Café made its debut on the 3rd of January 2000, which would make it one of the first comic strips in the turn of the millennium, although finding comic strips from the first few years might be difficult since it was owned by a different press until they sold off the comic strip to Universal Press Syndicate at 2003, which is at that point the archives could be found starting from. One thing that makes Pooch Café different from most of the comic strips about dogs is the main character Poncho, a white dog with black markings. While most dog characters are characterised usually by loyalty or unconditional love (with a bit of mischief), Poncho is characterised by flaws like being cynical, paranoid, sadistic, greedy, and insecure, although he has his nice moments. In other words, Poncho is very much an anti-hero, which is rarely seen in a dog character. One thing about Poncho that gets brought up every now and then is how Poncho is neutered, which I don't believe is a common confirmation for cartoon dogs. Given Poncho's personality, he would probably have worse behaviour if he weren't. Despite Poncho's distinctive character design, I don't believe Poncho (and his friend Boomer) are of a specific dog breed, so they're assumed to be mixed.
Poncho lives with his owner Chazz, who has an affinity for dogs, though he is married to Carmen, who has several cats as pets so by definition she is a cat lady. Due to Carmen's affinity to cats, Poncho developed an antagonistic relationship with her and her cats, and he's constantly at odds with her. Poncho's antics are not only to the frustrations of Carmen but Chazz could also get frustrated with them despite being more tolerant. Another character living in the same household is a goldfish named Fish, who is quite wise and articulate and so would often be the voice of reason to Poncho. Poncho's dog friends include Poncho's friend Boomer who is the head of the pack, a naive beagle named Hudson, a (male) Bichon Frise named Poo Poo who is mistaken for female, a (female) Bullmastiff named Droolia who is known for drooling, and a bartender of the titular Pooch Café where the dogs gather.
The comic strip is mainly about dogs but in a more fantastical and exaggerated manner. Some typical habits for dogs are explored such as the fetching of a thrown object or eating from the garbage, but it's played up comedically. While many strips prefer to maintain a communication barrier between dogs and humans (usually one-sided where the dogs understand humans but not the other way around), this comic strip doesn't have such a barrier, as not only do dogs and humans can talk and understand each other, the dogs have some form of intelligence. The fact that dogs basically act like funny animals adds to the fun of this comic strip. One particular running theme is the dogs' prejudices against cats and squirrels, where the former is manifested in Poncho's paranoia with the cats he lives with as well as a desire by the main characters to catapult the cats into the sun. Squirrels appear to be more of the subject of grief to the dogs, however, due to outsmarting them more often.
The comic strip can get rather fantastical at times, where at one time the characters travel to a different world within Droolia's armpits in a similar vein to Narnia's cupboard, as well as when Poncho switched bodies with a squirrel due to knocking on each other's heads. One interesting thing this comic strip does is to have a very long arc (end of May 2010 to the first week of September 2011) that spans for many months that explains the origins of Poncho and the various facets of his life. Visiting a character's past is certainly a better approach when done once the characters are established, as opposed to what US Acres did where the first year is spent slowly introducing the colourful characters rather than starting with characters to kickstart the comedy. Even though comic strip arcs can be as long as several weeks, it didn't felt like it dragged on even if it did feel like it, since there's a comedic moment every day to keep the arc fresh and interesting.
Paul Gilligan, the author of this comic strip (who is also a Canadian), got his start in cartooning at grade two (likely 7 years old) as an alternative activity due to a lack of skill in football (soccer for the Americans). His inspirations include the Don Martin cartoons from MAD magazine, Peanuts, Richie Rich, Casper and Archie, though the inspiration that changed his life comes from when he discovered one The Incredible Hulk comic book. The main reason he decided to start doing syndicate cartooning is because of the ending of The Far Side (in my opinion, Bizarro was there first). His single-panel cartooning didn't work out, but he did give syndicate cartooning another go with a few ideas before he settled with dogs, which is due to having more ideas for it compared to something about office life or a female lawyer (both subjects of which he is not familiar with). His superhero influences show up in Pooch Café every now and then, which goes to show how inspirations can give a work a unique touch.
What makes Pooch Café a unique type of dog strip is how different it is from how dogs are normally portrayed, where they are shown to do dog-like things with a comedic twist. It is helped by a strongly-characterised main character who is the biggest source of jokes by subverting many things stereotypical to cartoon dog characters.
Pooch Café (since May 2003) can be read at https://www.gocomics.com/poochcafe
Thank you for reading.
Hello dear readers and welcome to Site Seeing, in which I'll go over some of the websites Nintendo releases to inform the public about their games and series!
Today's site is brand new, having been released just on 12 June! It could also be qualified as not being by Nintendo, but we'll count it anyways; it's the website for Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope!
This is a onepager website, meaning there is just the one page you enter, and no subpages. As such, there is not as much content to explore, but considering the game was literally just announced and won't release for at least half a year, this is not too surprising.
When we enter the site, the most prominent thing we see is the group art featuring Mario, Peach, Luigi, and several rabbids, and Bowser and Cursa in the background. The logo is right above it, fairly small in comparison, and below it is an opening sentence to hype up the game, with a button to watch the trailer and one to sign up for updates. This is followed by a banner with the release year, platform, and a button to pre-order.
Following this are a few sections that inform us of the game's story and characters. The first of these tells us about the main evil, Cursa, as a mysterious entity that threatens the galaxy. The second section introduces the main characters, telling about the Mario and Rabbids team-up.
The third section is a direct follow-up of the second, featuring a carousel to show off the individual heroes, although there are only five items, of which only three are also available: Mario, Rabbid Peach, and Rabbid Rosalina. Each character has an associated artwork, a few adjectives, video (except Rabbid Rosalina), and description.
The fourth section returns to the style of the first two, now introducing the Sparks and what they do.
The fifth section is similar to the third, but shows two gameplay elements instead: the combat system and planet exploration. These feature a video and description each.
The page then ends in a smaller section that simply invites us to pre-order the game or subscribe to updates.
As the game takes place in outer space, where it tends to be dark, the site uses mostly dark colours, primarily dark blue, but it also uses cyan-line accents on several texts, buttons, and banners. Fitting the space theme, the site has a dark blue-ish starry background, which is 'fixed', which means that when you scroll, it doesn't scroll with the rest of the page.
The page doesn't like straight lines. Nearly all elements, be it text, boxes, or section borders, are tilted in some way. Boxes and buttons go further by having entirely uneven edges, which adds some dynamic to them and makes them less 'tidy', fitting in with the wacky nature of the series.
The first, second, and fourth sections use roughly the same design. They are big blocks that contain a big all-caps title and tagline, coloured white and cyan-lime respectively, a white not-entirely-rectangular block of text describing the subject, and a large background image setting the scene. The first and second also have fixed backgrounds, the fourth behaves like a normal background. In all cases, the image is large, doubling for a desktop wallpaper, and covers the entire block, cropping it to fill the area. Lastly, they each have one, two, or three Sparks floating in them (or more, if you want to count the background).
The third and fifth use a light theme with dark blue titles, taglines, and description blocks. On the side, a diagonally cut area has a coloured and tiled background, while the main area has a white solar system schematic as a background.
Both sections have carousels, but are laid out slightly differently. The character carousel is horizontal, with the characters in circles. Clicking them or the arrows opens them up larger, the coloured area changing to match that of the character. The gameplay section has a vertical carousel that scrolls on its own when not interacted with, and only uses blue for the side.
Buttons are multilayered and have moving parts to them, hovering over them move three parts. As the site otherwise doesn't have many moving parts, this adds a bit of extra life to it. This same effect is also used on video previews, which open a larger video when clicked.
Finally, the site uses a font called Rabbids Black Italic, which appears to be an exclusive font specifically for the Rabbids series, as the name implies. The site footer, which appears more generic for Ubisoft as a whole, uses Ubisoft Sans.
On small screens such as phones, all content that was side-to-side is stacked instead.
This part may not be of interest to everyone, or may you even understand any of it. But it can be interesting to some people who are curious about some of the technology used to create this site.
In short, this site makes use of React for the interactive bits, and uses an Express/nginx server on Amazon Web Services combined with serving files from with Akamai Technologies.
React is one of the most popular and used single-page application frameworks, if not the most popular. React makes it easy for a web developer to write pages and (reusable) components, and uses an internal state mechanism that updates the page when something changes without the developer having to think about it too much.
Nginx is used as a proxy and/or load balancer. This means that when a user sends a request, it will go to the nginx server first. Nginx then forwards that to an underlying server and/or service, of which there can be one of many, to ease the load. You can imagine the Ubisoft website being visited by many people simultaneously.
If all that was used for just this single webpage, I would consider it overkill. However, this page is just one of many, as the entire Ubisoft website is built on this stack.
The Ubisoft website is hosted on Amazon Web Services, which is a large and much used platform for hosting various types of web services. In this case, there are likely several moving parts, such as aforementioned nginx and Express servers, as well as account services.
Some static files such as stylesheets, images, and videos are hosted with Akamai Technologies. Akamai is a cloud hosting company, and has among others a content delivery network, with servers all across the world. This means that while the dynamic bits of the site are hosted in the United States, the server you are getting those static files from is probably in your country or just a few over. This increases the speed with which the site loads, as the distance is smaller. Besides simple hosting, they offer security, performance and media hosting.
Now that the hosting stack is out of the way, I want to highlight one CSS technique used on this site that I like. This is the use of clipping paths, which is used abundantly on this site. Clipping means that any element on a web page can have a shape applied to them, which hides anything outside of that shape. This is used to make various banners go diagonally, and to create the uneven blocks. Before clip-path became a thing that could be reasonably used across browsers (there are still some technical inconsistencies between them and the standards here and there), developers had to rely on transparent images, or rotating or skewing blocks (blending those into others as needed). And then, you still couldn't clip the contents of a block such as text and images.
Finally, there are a few glitches going on. Following up on the clip-path point, for some reason the path itself is quite choppy, instead of being smooth.
Secondly, the carousels cause the page itself to jump by changing the description of the characters or gameplay items, which have varying lengths. Not too much an issue if the user interacted with it themselves, but as the latter carousel moves automatically, this is less forgivable. You see this flaw on some websites with big sliders at the very top of the site. A few browsers have mitigated this issue a bit by transparently scrolling the page up and down if elements further up grow or shrink, but this still requires some processing which can make a page feel slower than it needs to be.
A small site, being one page, and not very informative (which can be forgiven for now considering how recent the game's announcement is), but aesthetically pleasing and modern. A bit rough around the edges at points.
An okay website, and I am curious as for how it will evolve as more is revealed about Sparks of Hope. Only time will tell.
I hope you enjoyed this read, and I'll see you again next month!
|The 'Shroom: Issue 172|
|Staff sections||Staff Notes • The 'Shroom Spotlight • 'Shroomfest Highlights|
|Features||Fake News • Fun Stuff • Palette Swap • Pipe Plaza • Critic Corner • Strategy Wing|
|Specials||Ultimate Location Battle|