The 'Shroom:Issue 193/Palette Swap

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Director's Notes

Written by: FunkyK38 (talk)

Shroom2017 FunkyK38.png

April is here and so is The 'Shroom! Welcome back, all!

First things first: did everyone go to see The Super Mario Bros. Movie? I won't spoil anything here for you if you haven't, but honestly it was such a delight to sit in the theater at 10 p.m. on release day with a bunch of people who have probably been playing Mario since the SNES days and laugh and gasp at all of the jokes and easter eggs. Mario was great, if I hadn't already known it was Chris Pratt voicing him I probably wouldn't have guessed that it was him. Luigi was just the best, I wish he had gotten more screentime, which I've seen as one of the biggest complaints about the movie. I left the theater feeling much like I did at the end of Super Mario Odyssey: "that was great but I wish there had been a little more story to it". It is a Mario movie, you aren't here for the story anyways. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not the biggest fan of Illumination's work, but they really knocked it out of the park here- the movie looks gorgeous and they did a really good job. I'm interested to see what they'll do next.

This month, MightyMario (talk) has sent in a short story for you all to read, Bed and Butter! It's about, well, beds! Be sure to give him some feedback if you like it! We also have Shoey (talk) (formerly Mustard Machine) returning for yet another Random Image of the Month, and at this point, I don't think there's going to be any shortages of random and weird images anytime soon. Nintendo did some weird stuff in the 90s and early 00s. Either way, I won't keep you from this month's dose of random.

Happy reading!


Section of the Month

Section of the Month has been all tallied up! In first, we have our newcomer- it's Casual Koopa (talk)'s new section It's-a Mii! Congratulations on your first win! Following up, we have our two comic sections, with winstein (talk)'s The ? Panel in second and Waluigi Time (talk)'s Waluigi Time Comic in third. Thank you to everyone who voted, and please keep it up for this month as well!

Place Section Votes % Writer
1st It's-a Mii! 11 30.56% Casual Koopa (talk)
2nd The ? Panel 7 19.44% winstein (talk)
3rd Waluigi Time Comic 5 13.89% Waluigi Time (talk)

It's TIME to go ONLINE!
The lovely sounds of life.
Hey, keep your hands inside the panel at all times!
Shadows on the wall...
Back to cruise ship mishaps!
Let's all go to the mattress store!

Site Seeing

Written by: Lakituthequick (talk)

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 we will be visiting another third-party site that is affiliated with Nintendo, as we will be looking at the TAG Heuer Connected × Super Mario smartwatch webpage, located on TAG Heuer's website.


A screenshot of the topmost part of the TAG Heuer Connected × Super Mario webpage.

This webpage is unique among the ones we've previously visited, as it has more interactive experience elements than those sites. In some ways, this site matches or passes the Super Nintendo World website we saw just over two years ago, which also relies on interaction happening based on scrolling.

This webpage showcases a collaboration between TAG Heuer and Nintendo. TAG Heuer Connected is a collection of smartwatches dedicated to exercise and activity. The result is a Super Mario themed watch, with red elements along the bezel and strap, as well as Mario's emblem on the strap and crown and watchfaces with a Mario theme, while still clearly being a TAG Heuer watch.

To start off, after the site loads, a large, close-up of a 3D model of the smartwatch appears, with on its screen Mario waving at us before looking to the right. The screen also shows the current time, weekday, and day of the month to emulate how it looks on the real device. To the right, a blurb says that the watch has sold out and to check out another, as of writing this available Mario Kart smartwatch in collaboration with Formula 1, but we will not cover that today.
Scrolling down, the smartwatch remains in place as the page scrolls, with the next block showcasing three other smartwatches in the TAG Heuer Connected series, on which the Mario watchface is also available.

A preview of the TAG Heuer Connected × Super Mario smartwatch when the wearer has completed their activity goal for the day, with Mario hanging in a flagpole. The text to the left of it says: "You meet your activity milestones thought the day; mission accomplished!"
*insert firework sounds*

Scrolling past that, the smartwatch, now in the background, spins around and moves a bit back and to the right, with large text appearing in view to highlight the animations that will encourage the wearer to reach activity goals.
Along a few steps as we scroll down, the watchface shows various animations that change as the wearer reaches 25% increments of their day goal, with a Mushroom enlarging Mario at 25%, emerging from a pipe at 50%, getting a Super Star at 75%, and finally fetching a flagpole at 100%. As this happens, small emblems in the watch bezel shaped after a Mushroom, Warp Pipe, Super Star, and the TAG Heuer logo light up.

The next section zooms back in towards the screen, and is about the Mario themed watchfaces that are available. At the bottom of the screen, five thumbnails appear that switch out the watchface on the digital device when selected, each displayed with the actual time and date that update in real time as well. Things like watch status and battery indicators are emulated, and a step counter on one of the faces increments at a constant pace as well.
The first face is the one advertised throughout the page, and has the animations that align with exercise goals. The second and third look mostly like traditional mechanical chronographs with Mario elements. The fourth watchface is a reskin of an existing TAG Heuer Connected watchface called Timekeeping, using the same layout, but with 8-bit sprites and Brick Blocks that spell out the numbers of the time and date. The fifth also resembles a pre-existing watchface, Orbital, and is a digital clock with various sprites spiralling in the background. Unlike the existing watchface, however, in which the movement of the background spirals functions as a second hand, these particles only move around without second indication.

Going further down the page zooms out the watch and lights up the background in red, and four buttons appear at places on the smartwatch: straps, features, crown, and bezel. While in this overview, the watch can be dragged around to look at it from all angles. The buttons, when clicked, open a panel that contains information about the element, which may contain an additional image or iconography. The watch is spun around so the selected element is shown up close, blurring the background.

After this, we separate ways from the digital copy of the watch, into a block with five selling points about the collaboration. The last two of these link to articles.
The section beneath shows the packaging and a few physical characteristics of the watch, but also informs us again that it has sold out.


If you only leave out the 3D watch, the site's layout is actually quite simple. As a Mario related webpage, the main colour used is red for the background behind the watch in two sections, but the rest of the time black and very dark grey is used, matching the TAG Heuer brand. White text is used throughout the page, fully in uppercase for selling points, titles, and buttons.

The smartwatch is a 3D model that is rendered directly in the browser, making it fully interactive when the section calls for it. Anywhere on the page, the smartwatch slightly tilts when a mouse cursor is moved across the screen. The watch is lit with studio-like lights that float around a bit, so the watch has a dynamic going on even when it is physically stationary.

A screenrecording, showing the smartwatch being dragged to the right, released, and bouncing back.

When in sections where the watchface can be changed, the watch is centred on screen, and makes a 360 degree turn when swapping faces. In the second half of this section, the camera moves away from it, and in this mode the watch can be dragged around by mouse or touch. Releasing the mouse or touch makes it bounce back to be facing the camera.

Beyond the interactive watch, dark grey blocks are used to highlight a few features of the watch, which feature photos of it being worn and in close-up. The photos have a slight parallax effect when the blocks are being paged through.


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.

Of course, the main gimmick of this site is the 3D model of the TAG Heuer Connected × Super Mario smartwatch. This is powered by WebGL, using the Three.js library. The TAG Heuer site itself is hosted with Akamai Technologies.

Three.js is the most popular JavaScript library to create 3D experiences with. The reason for this is that WebGL, which is the technical part that actually renders 3D content using the graphics processing unit (GPU) of our devices, is very advanced and difficult to work with for even basic scenes. Three.js abstracts all of that away, so the developer can use more tangible concepts like models, cameras, and lights to set up a scene more easily.

This still requires a 3D model to render, of course. The watch model used here was made, or at least exported, using Blender in the glTF format. Despite looking quite detailed, the model uses techniques like normal maps to give it texture. This is an entire subject on its own, and was actually covered in The 'Shroom a little while back in Parallax, so give that a read for more about that.

The website is hosted using services from 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 website is American, the server you are connected to 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.

The smartwatch on an odd angle, with a heavy depth of field effect, white Mario patterns, and a green shadow.
Heavy background blur, green shadows, and white Mario? Sure, why not.

A fun playground is also available within the site. When one adds "#debug" to the URL, a panel will appear in the top right which can be used to tweak various aspects of the 3D scene. This panel, as implied by the bit we just put in the URL, was used to debug the site, but apparently the code for it was left in. For example, it is possible to drag the camera around more freely in the watchface section by going to "camera" and setting "mode" to "debug" (which will persist even when we scroll back to the top), or to show the scrolling Mario background at all times by dragging "alpha" all the way to the right under "wallpaper". Even various texture properties of the watch model itself can be played around with under "watch". Just play around with it and see what happens!


Now this site. This site almost makes me regret not buying this watch when it was available. Almost, because the steep price of the watch itself is not something to just throw money at. But the gimmick is amazing and the live previews of the watchfaces give a great look at what you'd get in the box. You may notice I am sensitive to fancy gimmicks.

And with that, I'll be off again to watch The Super Mario Bros. Movie. Have a good one!

Meta's Poem

Written by: Meta Knight (talk)

The following poem you're about to read was created during Roserade's (talk) Poemtober 2022. For those unaware, during the month of October, every day you feel like, you create a poem! Each day had a prompt that was a singular word and you could write about however you interpreted it. This poem was written for the theme Muse. If you wish to know more about the creative process, or anything like that, you're welcome to read my commentary as well.


Blessed are the eardrums when matched with waves,
Rhythm kept with the pounding of each snare,
Groove flowing as bass sweeps low,
Melodic beats hummed along every measure,
Harmonies synced with synth keys and vocals,
Synergized into a purest expression for all.

Author Comments
In the event that anyone wasn't aware, I like music quite a bit. From listening, to fiddling around on an instrument, to reading books on music theory and stuff like that. That passion was the driving force behind this poem.

Random Image of the Month

Written by: Shoey (talk)

Welcome back to Random Image of the Month, a technically volunteer-based section where we take a look at some of the odder images in the Mario catalog. This month, we got a real treat as we finally leave the dark and lawless time of the 80s and move forward with the equally dark and even more lawless early 2000s. For this month's piece, we have a spooky image from the late 90s (in Japan) and/or early 2000s (everywhere else) hit party game, Mario Party 2

Donkey Kong, wearing a yellow and orange wizard shawl and pointed wizard hat, stands over and points at a coffin. The coffin is emblazoned with the emblem of a Boo.

Like many images we've looked at, this raises more questions than answers. Is Donkey Kong raising the dead here? Is that what's going on? Is this ape performing dark and forbidden magic in this game about getting twenty coins to buy Power Stars? You know, this is right about the time Wrinkly Kong was revived as a ghost. You think this is Donkey Kong puling her spirit from the underworld so that she can give him advice on how to bash Kremlings? Or do you think this is Donkey Kong consorting with evil spirits? Maybe that's how Donkey Kong 64 happened. Maybe the spirits agreed to let Wrinkly leave the spirit realm, but, in return, Donkey Kong had to pay a horrible price. Or perhaps the spirits tricked Donkey Kong and offered him more bananas then he could ever imagine and that's how we got Donkey Kong 64. Whatever the case, I don't think it's smart for an ape to dabble in the dark arts.

I like images like this because I can totally imagine Donkey Kong accidentally using his ape wizard powers to bring evil spirits back. He'd be doing it as someone like Mario looks on, yelling in horror "NO APE! YOU KNOW NOT WHAT YOU DO!", but it's too late, and a powerful curse falls over Donkey Kong and his family, leaving them without any good Donkey Kong games again until 2010. I just love the fact that the obvious implication is that this big dumb ape is messing with dark arts and spooky spirits. It's a perfect image that could only be possible from a game like Mario Party 2, where all the characters wore map-specific costumes. My final thoughts on this image? I love, no, I love, dark wizard ape!

It's-a Mii!

Written by: Casual Koopa (talk)

We're back with our second installment of It's-a-Mii! Today, we're focused on Bowser's Fury, one of my favorite games in the series. As a longtime 3D World and Bowser fan, I was thrilled to hear we were getting more of both! So, I put all my passion for the game into this month's Miis, and I hope you like the results as much as I do.

Main Game Miis

I'll never forget that scene when Bowser Jr. snuck up on Bowser and said "Instance Abreaction"

I'm so pleased with these. Fury Bowser especially is my new pride and joy. There's this delightful 2D art that's criminally overlooked of Fury Bowser and Giga Cat Mario, that you can find in the game's gallery among the My Nintendo rewards. The 2D Artwork style lends itself very well to Miitopia's system of big, colorful parts, so these Miis are based largely on them. Fury Bowser's mouth in particular is on the glasses layer - to any readers interested in making Miis of their own, I can't stress enough how useful the glasses layer is!! You get symmetry handled for you, it appears in 3D space unlike every other layer, *and* you essentially get two parts for one slot. It's great! Giga Cat Mario is much too large to have his entire hood on the glasses layer, but his nose and moustache both are, creating that nice 3D effect between the Mii nose and the editor part nose. In comparison, the Cat Shine is simpler - Big Circles are still troublesome, but by no means impossible - but its design is already simple, so it's very feasible to recreate.

Postgame Miis

There's few creatures that can't be improved by Applying Cat Ears

Barring Bowser himself, there's two characters in the course of the game that might make you say "why don't they get to be a cat?" In fact, they do! But you've got to work to EARN those cats first. Miitopia has a "Cat" class in its main game, complete with ears, but for sake of Precise Color Accuracy I opted to make cat ears myself. These two are comparatively simpler than the previous, but there *is* one sneaky trick i tried for. You see, Jr.'s mouth is largely on the glasses layer, whose virtues I extolled in the last paragraph. But the glasses layer is forced to be both symmetrical and above all other layers - how could the asymmetrical fang possibly exist? Humorously enough, there is a square "cut out" of the glasses layer on both sides, covered up by a matching color part on a lower layer on both sides, just so the fang can go on top of one side. Sometimes a little out-of-the-box thinking can let you work around these restrictions!

That brings an end to the Bowser's Fury installment of It's-a-Mii! Feel free to click the .png of the Cat Shine 50 or 100 times to get the Full Gameplay Experience (user satisfaction may vary.) Bowser's Fury means a lot to me, so I gave these Miis everything I had to make something I could really be proud of. I hope you enjoyed reading about them, and I hope to see you back here next month! Goodbye until then!

Waluigi Time Comic

Drawn by: Waluigi Time (talk)


The ? Panel

Drawn by: winstein (talk)

Q Panel 4- Silhouette.png

Shmaluigi, Private Investigator

Written by: Waluigi Time (talk) and Hooded Pitohui (talk)


Cruise Control: Part 1

A fresh spring breeze blew through New Wikisburg, pushing away what was left of the winter chill. For me, it was more than a welcome change. I finally got to crack open the windows in my office, allowing months of stale air to escape into the ether. After a brisk walk over to the Sipping Time Cafe for a cup of coffee to-go, I returned to do some cleaning of my office. Turns out things have gotten a little bit disorganized and messy in here.

As I tried to make some sense out of what my past self was thinking when he put these files away, I heard a knock at the door.

"Come in," I shouted as I shuffled folders around.

"Well hello there, Shmaluigi!"

I turned around to see the most eccentric Whittle I'd ever met - Woodrow Oakley. Best described as a collector of the weird. Strange trinkets, artifacts with odd powers, that sort of thing. He'd hired me for an investigation once before, but that's a story for another time.

"Ah, Mr. Oakley, we meet again. What can Shmaluigi do for you?" I said, shutting the door on my filing cabinet.

"I require your services once again, old bean! You see, I find myself intertwined in a most perplexing mystery! I recently received an invitation in the mail for an exclusive cruise. Quite a smashing opportunity if it's all on the up and up, eh wot?"

I involuntarily cringed. Cruises weren't something I cared for much anymore...

"So, what's the problem?" I asked.

"You see dear boy, this invitation was completely unsolicited! It seemed rather off to me, so I was hoping you could do some digging and tell me if everything's alright with this, hm?"

"Oh, of course, Mr. Oakley. Do you happen to have the invitation on you?"

"Smashing, old chap! Yes, I have it right here," he said, handing me the invitation.

"Hm, 'Scarlet Rose Cruises'..." I read aloud. Not a cruise line I'd ever heard of before. I snapped a picture of it with my phone and handed the invitation back to Mr. Oakley. "Well, if you'll excuse Shmaluigi..."

"Yes of course, I shan't delay you from your work any longer! I will be anticipating the results with all eagerness, eh wot?"

Whenever I'm not sure where to go in an investigation, I usually turn to the Despair Pub. Every good detective has a reliable seedy place for getting info from, and this was mine... Though I couldn't help but feel like someone was going to try and lift my wallet whenever I was here. I was curious if anyone else had heard anything about this alleged cruise, and if people were getting invitations in the mail out of nowhere, that seemed like a decent possibility.

Head down, collar up. I probably couldn't look more suspicious if I tried, but it seems like suspicious types are the only ones here anyway.

I sat down and preemptively slid some coins across the bar. That quickly caught the bartender's eye.

"Oh, it's you again," the Hammer Bro. said, turning his attention from the glass he was cleaning.

"Yeah. Shmaluigi's looking for information again. Has anyone here been talking about any upcoming cruises of some sort?"

"No, I haven't heard anything about that. You see those guys over there, though?" he said, nodding over to one of the tables. "You might have some luck with them. Haven't shut their mouths since they walked in the door."

I tried to discretely look over there. They were certainly a rowdy, unscrupulous looking bunch. I recognized one of them as Crawford, one of Monty Brando's goons. Well, if there was any possibility of just going over to talk to them, that just flew out the window.

"Thanks. Shmaluigi's just going to stay here..."

I went over to the closest barstool to their table I could get, and got ready to do a little eavesdropping.

"Read 'em and weep, boys!" one of them said. No one else at the table reacted too well.

"Oh, come on! You're cheating..."

"Am not."

"Okay chumps, new game, deal 'em up."

I waited around for a while as they chatted about trivial matters and things I wished I hadn't heard about. I was about ready to give up and go home when one of them finally piped up.

"So, you boys hear about that big cruise comin' up?"

"Yes yes yes, sounds like quite the high class bash. A buddy of mine told me that one girl got an invite, ah... what's her name... Renne, that's it."

"You hear Carpaccio and Count Cannoli got invites too? And uh, that Haltmann guy- aw shoot, we're out of pretzels."

"And the rat who got all that oil outta Dry Dry Desert, even. Bumpy or, uh, Clumpy, whatever. That fancy Bob-omb from Poshley Heights, too. You figure that's real gold?"

"Dunno. Bob-ombs are weird, man."

"Hey! Shut up!" I figured that voice probably belonged to a Bob-omb.

"Oh, don't be so short-fused."

"Man, I wish I could go. All those loaded people going, imagine how much you'd get picking pockets."

"Yeah, even my boss is goin', I heard. But ya didn't hear dat from me," Crawford said.

"Brando's leaving his little mole hole, huh? Thought all he did was play puppeteer from the shadows."

"Look, you don't get to where da boss is without connections in high places."

"I heard even Don Pianta got an invite. What I'd give to be a Fighter Fly on the wall if those two run into each other."

"You know, my connections on DK Isle told me they invited Bluster Kong too!"

"Oh man, there goes the ship."

"Alright, well, now I'm not disappointed I can't go anymore."

"Absolute BUFFOON!"

At that point, the conversation shifted to them sharing embarrassing anecdotes about Bluster Kong, so I decided it was time to leave. I thought I had what I needed, anyway. Seemed like a lot of influential high society types going, and plenty of dubious connections, apparently...

The next order of business was to look into the cruise line itself. I figured if I wanted to learn more about their business dealings, the journalistic route was the best way to go. To that end, I found myself in The 'Shroom's Fake News offices, talking to Waluigi Time.

"Well, Shmaluigi," Mr. Time said, adjusting his bowtie, "what can I do for you today?"

"Shmaluigi needs a favor, actually."

"No problem, I still owe you one for that business with Coolidge last year."

"Mmm, you paid Shmaluigi for that, so not really..." I said. "We're square."

"Square shmuare!" Mr. Time exclaimed, casually putting his feet on top of his desk. He looked awfully confident for a man that appeared as if he could topple backwards in his chair at any moment. "What've you got?"

"Well, Shmaluigi's investigating a fishy cruise invitation at the moment. Say, you didn't happen to get one yourself, did you?"

"A cruise invitation? Nah. I did get an email about an exciting business partnership, though! Shbig says it's spam, but I think he's just a pessimist," he explained, as he began to fidget with the Super Arrow bobblehead on his desk.

I figured. Maybe he's the CEO of a cereal company - admittedly one that's usually floundering - but Waluigi Time is probably one of the last people these high society types would want to associate with.

"Anyway, Shmaluigi was wondering if you could use your journalistic privileges to look into the cruise line."

"Oh," he said, planting his feet back on the floor. He leaned in closer. "Well, I can't. I mean, I don't know how to use the system."

I narrowed my eyes at the statement. "You can't be serious."

"What, it's not like I'm an actual news reporter! But it's fine, I've got people for that stuff. Although, um, unfortunate timing, all my News Flushers are out of the office right now. Shoelow's off writing a story about the rising underground Meowmaid battle circuit, that's a good one. Timeson's investigating an alleged big sale of dangerous AI-compatible software by Black Shell Software, Tidings is doing a piece about some leaks that Sigil Securities is developing morphing cloaks for naval vessels, and uh... Oh, get this one! I sent Gripstofferson to do a story about illegal modifications to the Strikers League's electric fence technology!" he seemed excited as he rattled off the stories his reporters were working on. But of course, nothing can be easy.

"It's kind of time-sensitive... Is there anyone else who could do it?"

"Wellll... The only other person in the office right now is ClawgripFan. He's our sports reporter, just finished up his work for the next issue. He probably knows how to use it. Maybe."

Having to ask the sports columnist to do this didn't seem ideal, but I didn't have any other options. "Alright, thanks."


I left Mr. Time to do whatever it was he does, and went back out into the main office. There I found a large Sidestepper, sitting at his desk and resting his pinchers on top of each other.

"Hey, are you Mr. ClawgripFan?" I called out.

"Yar, that'd be me, laddie. Who might ye be, an' what do ye need from me?" Mr. ClawgripFan asked.

"Shmaluigi, private investigator," I said, with a tip of my fedora. "Listen, Mr. Time said you might be able to help with looking up some information? Shmaluigi's trying to look into Scarlet Rose Cruises."

"Aye, I can help ye with that, laddie. Gimme a second an' I'll see what I can do fer ye," Mr. ClawgripFan nodded. He scuttled over to one of the computers and got to work, mashing away at the buttons.

"Yar, pluck me pirate flags, I never thought I'd find meself helpin' a private investigator with a case he be workin' on... But there be a first time fer everythin', I suppose... Now lemme see if there be anythin' on this Scarlet Rose Cruises stuff that could be o' use to this 'ere investigator..." Mr. ClawgripFan muttered to himself as he tapped away on his computer.

A few minutes later, everything was right at our fingertips. Or clawtips, as the case may be.

"Yar, this should be what ye be lookin' fer, laddie. Accordin' to me quick research, the Scarlet Rose Cruises line be formed recently, an' it be managed by Place Holdin's Company, which be said ta be a shell company that alluva sudden bought a ship from 'nother cruise line that went defunct not too long ago," Mr. ClawgripFan explained, turning back to face me.

"Interesting..." That definitely seemed a bit off. What cruise line springs out of nowhere and invites a bunch of rich people on a cruise? Real winning a mansion in a contest you never entered vibes there.

...Then again, maybe the whole thing was a publicity stunt for a new cruise line? I'd have to dig a little deeper on this one.

"Well, thank you for your time," I said, "this has been a big help."

"Aye, it was me pleasure ta 'elp ye with this case, laddie. 'Opefully me assistance 'as given ye a new lead in it," Mr. ClawgripFan nodded in acknowledgement.

I smiled at the crustacean and hurried off, eager to continue the investigation.

Looking to find out more about this Place Holdings Company, my next stop was the offices of the Mushroom Market Monitors. I hoped the Koopa Troopa at the front desk would be able to help.

"Hello," I said. No response, not even any acknowledgment. "Erm... Shmaluigi, private investigator. Do you have any information about the Place Holdings Company?"

"Another one? You're the second person to come in here asking about them," he grumbled, still looking away.

Interesting. Well, if a lot of invitations were going out, it didn't seem out of the realm of possibility that someone else was looking into it.

"Look, I'll just tell you what I told the other lady," he said, finally making eye contact. "It's a new company, we don't really have anything on them. Have a nice day."

I could see this guy wasn't all that interested in being helpful, unfortunately.

"Um... Could you give Shmaluigi her contact info?"

"Fine... She left her card and asked us to call if anything new came in," he said, fishing the card out of a waste basket. Somehow I had the feeling he had no intention of calling back... "Now take it and get out of here."

I took the card and made a mental note to wash my gloves later. I had to do a double take on reading the name. Lana Skye...

Way back when we met in Rogueport, I remember that Ms. Skye mentioned her sister who was an investigator... Talking about how she wanted to prove herself to her, before she met an unfortunate end, that is.

Could this Lana Skye, somehow, be her? I figured that was probably the case, but only one way to find out for sure.

I arrived at Lana's office, and I had to admit, I was a bit nervous. I don't normally get the jitters when encountering new people on my investigations, but this was different. I actually had a past connection here, and I wasn't sure what to expect... I was probably just overthinking it. She might not even know who I am. After all, it's not like Ms. Skye would've had the opportunity to talk with anyone about what happened in Rogueport...

Suddenly, I realized I'd been pacing outside for a few minutes. Just do it already!

I knocked on the door and waited for an answer.

No response. No call through the door, no sounds of anyone moving inside. I looked into the window in the hopes that I could see some activity inside, but the blinds were all shut tight.

Just as I was starting to think it was possible nobody was in, the door opened. A woman stood off to the side, presumably Lana Skye herself. She stepped into the doorway after she got a good look at me.

"Detective Shmaluigi," she said. She could keep her voice level, but she couldn't keep her expression from betraying how she felt. Her eyes weren't on me. She was looking past me, into the distance.

"I'm familiar with your previous investigations," she added quickly, though it didn't feel like she was explaining how she knew who I was. There was a sharpness to her words. It was almost like she was trying to blindside me, like she wanted me to wonder just how much she knew. "What business do you have here?"

"Ah, Shmaluigi's been investigating Scarlet Rose Cruises. It would seem we're working toward the same goal," I said.

She kept quiet, but, for whatever reason, that caught her attention. She had kept her gaze fixed on some point beyond me until now, but as I spoke, I caught her eyes dart towards me, staying on me for only a half a second.

"You've never been one to remain oblivious to strange activity in this city," she admitted, again speaking like she was too familiar with me. "Follow me in, please."

I followed her as she led me further inside. The place was... bizarre. For a building of this size, the hallway seemed awfully long with way too many twists and turns. What's more, there was nothing decorating it at all. It was a monotonous, almost surreal experience, like I'd stepped into an alternate dimension or been taken to some off-limit facility.

Eventually, we came to Lana's office. It was very organized and tidy - leagues ahead of how my own looked. Thick books lined the shelves on the back wall, not one of them appearing to be even a little out of place. The filing cabinets were all neatly labeled. A world map hung near the door with thumbtacks in various locations. I wondered what they were supposed to correspond to... Perhaps I'd have to ask about that one. My eyes moved over to her desk, where a few files had been set down. Judging by everything else, those were all strictly related to her own Scarlet Rose Cruises investigation, no doubt. The only thing that could be considered remotely "out of place" were two picture frames, conspicuously face-down on the desk.

It didn't feel as strange as the rest of the building, but even in here things seemed off. Besides what I presumed were photos, it was, once again, a very barren office. Not one personal touch to be seen. You could give this place to a robot detective and no one would bat an eye.

I was quickly brought back into the moment by the sound of Lana shutting the door behind me. She took a seat behind her desk, pulling the files closer. I followed suit and took a seat as well.

"Well then, detective, you named Scarlet Rose Cruises as the primary target of your investigation. Why don't you begin by telling me what you know about the company, and what about the company warrants your interest?"

Normally I'd be a bit more wary giving everything I'd dug up to someone I just met, but, despite everything, I wanted to trust her.

"Well, one of Shmaluigi's clients came to him with an unsolicited cruise invitation from them," I began to explain. "It seems like they've invited a bunch of prominent high society types, some dubious connections, ties to magic and strange artifacts, that sort of thing. They just recently got started, and they're being ran by a shell company that bought a ship from another defunct cruise line. And... well, that's about it, so far. Shmaluigi was hoping you'd know more about it."

She had to be familiar with the basics of the case. She had been asking around for information herself, after all. She even knew about the shell company, I knew that for sure. But even as I gave her nothing but basics, she pulled out what looked to be a blank page from a file and took notes the whole time I spoke.

"Thank you, detective," she said when I finished. "I'm sure that gathering all of this information has been taxing for you, and I appreciate your cooperation. It must be a relief for you to be able to hand off the case. I'm certain that you'll be able to much more effectively address other local activity in need of investigation, now that you no longer need to dedicate your resources to the cruise line."

"Wait, what? No, you misunderstood, Shmaluigi's not dropping the case," I tried to explain. I'd better not have just been double-crossed...

"Detective." Her tone was sharp, commanding. "I need you to understand that no considerations of your past investigations are influencing my decision. You did what was necessary in Rogueport. We owe our allegiance to the law before all else."

She was looking away from me again. I could see her eyes settling on the photo frames as she paused.

"I am asking that you divest yourself of this case because of the danger it presents to the integrity of the investigation. This is a sensitive investigation, and any misstep will endanger it. Please," she continued, stowing away the notes she had taken, "leave the investigation to me. Your cooperation and non-interference are, again, appreciated."

"Look, Shmaluigi doesn't leave a case behind without good reason. It's a cruise line, and you didn't even seem to have basic facts of the case. How sensitive can this possibly be?" I asked, starting to get frustrated. I wasn't about to be pushed around on vague statements.

"I have the necessary facts, detective," came a rebuke. "You, however, were a new source of information. To be thorough in my work, I'll need to compare your statements against additional information that I possess. I do not discard information immediately."

Her voice had a sharp edge to it, but she kept her emotions under control... on the surface. I could see how she was starting to sweat, and how she curled her fingers in.

"I know you aren't faint-hearted, detective, but this case requires a steady hand. I'll reiterate. One mistake will jeopardize this entire investigation. Are you prepared to take-?" she abruptly cut herself off as her voice finally wavered.

"Ahem. Detective, I can't give you any other information. I am handling this case, and you will respect that it is under my purview. You have nothing to be concerned about. You are aware of my credentials. I know that you've been informed of them. You're a principled man, and I would prefer to see you leave at your own discretion, Detective Shmaluigi," she set a hand near the phone on her desk. "I assure you. I will do what needs to be done, all that needs to be done."

I pulled myself up from the chair. I could see I clearly wasn't wanted here anymore, and I wasn't managing to break through to her. Of course, I had no intention of dropping the case. I was hired for this, and I was going to do everything I could to see it through to the end. I didn't see a need to argue things further, though...

"If that's the way it has to be... Farewell, Ms. Skye."

I turned around and left, making my way back through the twisting, barren corridors. I couldn't help but continue to think about what had just happened. None of it made any sense! Lana wasn't incompetent, I knew that much from the way Ms. Skye spoke of her all that time ago. For her to not know anything about what I had told her, yet be convinced that this was incredibly sensitive... Either she was trying to bluff me out of the case, or she was coming at it from a completely different angle than I was.

I kept thinking about it the entire drive home, racking my brain for anything that would connect the dots in my mind. And I thought about it even more as I sat there in the parking garage.

It's too bad Ms. Skye wasn't here. If anyone could've shed some light on the situation or help me break through, it would've been Lana's own sister, surely.

Great, now I was thinking about her again...

She was a good kid, despite everything. If only she hadn't been so focused on trying to investigate the Killing Games, who knows where she'd be now. Those twisted things will get you, one way or another...

Wait a minute.

She knew.

If I'd tried to investigate the Killing Games to continue Ms. Skye's work... Lana doing the same certainly wasn't farfetched.

Ohhhh no. Oh no, oh no, oh no.

The sudden realization made my heart go fast enough to win a 200cc kart race. I whipped out my phone and hastily scrolled through my contacts.

"Come on, come on, pick up..."

"Expecting someone else? TOO BAD. WALUIGI TIME."

I didn't have time for the cereal magnate's shenanigans. "Yeah yeah, Time, listen, that software sale you mentioned before, where can Shmaluigi find that place?"

"Black Shell? Umm... 1010 Roja Street, Pipe Path."


"You know if you're curious you can read about it in the next issue of The 'Shroo-"

Had there not been enough adrenaline for two people coursing through my veins at the moment, I may have felt bad about hanging up on him. But no time for that now. I started my car up again and sped over there as fast as the speed limit would allow.

Okay, maybe just a little faster than that...

I finally made it to Black Shell's building and rushed inside. By all appearances, it seemed like your average tech store. The sales floor seemed a bit on the smaller side, but it was probably bigger in the back. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but from what I've heard, appearances can be deceiving.

I approached the Whomp at the customer service desk. I tried to be assertive, but inside I was hoping I wouldn't be turned into a pancake.

"Welcome to Black Shell. How can I help you?"

"Shmaluigi, private investigator. What's this about AI-compatible software you guys are up to?"

"That's perfectly legal! It doesn't do anything on its own. Ha ha ha!"

Mm, a gray area, I see. "Look, Shmaluigi's not here about that, per se. He just needs to know what it does and who you sold to."

"Well, you could technically use it to lock a place down, jam communications, monitor everything that goes on and track people... But like I said it's totally harmless and legal on its own! Doesn't do a thing if you don't have AI and we don't sell that!"

"And the buyer?"

"Right, right. Some guy from... Place Holdings or whatever."

My stomach dropped - my worst fears were all but confirmed at this point.

This was no cruise. This was a Killing Game in the making.

I left the store without another word and called Mr. Oakley.

"Shmaluigi, old chap! How are you?"

"Mr. Oakley, listen, you- you can't go on that cruise. It's incredibly dangerous. If you could just give Shmaluigi your ticket-"

"Oh, sorry dear boy, another investigator approached me already. She said she was collaborating with you and told me all about the horrors! I surrendered my ticket to her, didn't she tell you?"


To be continued...

Thanks for reading the first part of this new arc! Shmaluigi's back in the thick of things after Shmwario got his time in the spotlight the last few months. I'd like to give an extra special thanks to my co-writer for this arc, Hooded Pitohui! (And it just so happens that he provided the dialogue for Lana Skye as well.) The foundations of this story go back quite a while so I'm excited that we're finally getting to work through it. I'd also like to thank ClawgripFan9001 for writing the dialogue as himself! Anyway, this was a long edition so I'll wrap things up here. Stay tuned!

Bed and Butter

Written by: MightyMario (talk)

After a long day at the Car Wash, Cayde was ready to get some rest. She had started to fall asleep on the couch while she passed her attention between Zerris and Larry Koopa: Zombie Heartbreaker. Shuffling slowly to her bed like a Dry Bones, Cayde yawned and rubbed her right eye. She sat down and fell over backwards onto her pillows.


A fully alert Cayde found herself in her bed frame, laying on the fallen mattress surrounded by halved wooden bed slats. Swiping some pieces of broken wood off her chest, she climbed out of the frame and looked over the damage.

It was time to get a new bed.

“Man, you really did a number to your bed. What happened?” Zerris proclaimed as he helped disassemble the bed. He pulled the remaining slats out and laid them next to the desk.

“I just fell backwards and the whole thing collapsed like a house of cards. Not the way I wanted to start my weekend...” Cayde took a quick sip of coffee before sitting down in her desk’s swivel chair. She watched as Zerris took apart the bed with careful hands and set it into a neat stack adjacent to Cayde’s closet.

“There we go, should make for some nice firewood. Or a mini treehouse.” Zerris clapped his hands together and put the tools away in the closet.

Cayde set down her coffee and grabbed her coat, for they were going to go find a new bed. Linking their arms, Cayde and Zerris walked the five flights of stairs to the apartment’s parking lot. Cayde’s car, a red 2019 Ford Fusion, sat near the entrance and had a couple inches of snow on its hood.

“Ugh, they didn’t clean the roof again.” Cayde chided as she brushed the heavy pile of ice off.

“I mean, I wouldn’t want to slip and fall five stories to my doom, would you?” Zerris got into the passenger’s seat and Cayde the driver’s.

“If it meant people didn’t have to sweep snow off their car hoods, then I would do it with honor. You have control of the radio, this time... but NO rap! I don’t want the world to feel the vibrations of Biggie ‘Shroom’s bass.”

Cayde pushed down on a bed and developed a frown.

“Not soft enough.”

She moved to a bed with blue sheets and pushed down on it. Her hand made it two inches into the mattress.

“This one’s too firm.”

Zerris sat on a bed with green and yellow covers and was immediately overjoyed.

“Hey, this one’s pretty good! It’s very fluffy and soft, like you.”

Cayde did a playful laugh and held Zerris’ hand as they tried more beds. Finally, they happened upon a twin size bed. It seemed if the world had fallen away, leaving only her and the bed. Cayde sat down and sunk into the mattress, exploring the inside of a dream.

This was the one.

The best one.

It was absolutely perfect.

“$2,500.” the Toad salesman stated. Cayde opened her eyes and came back into the harsh reality of the real world. She didn’t even make four digits, nor did Zerris. Suddenly, it was as if Cayde’s credit card was engulfed in flames and the two took home the bed.

“Ah, I can’t wait to sleep on my new bed! Man, this thing may have burned a fortune in my pocket, but it’s sure going to be the best sleep I ever-“



Zerris looked at Cayde and her bed, now sharing the same fate as her previous one, Cayde crawled from the bed frame and onto the floor, making her way to Zerris’ feet. She looked up at him and then dropped her face to the floor.

Cayde now slept on the couch cuddled in her boyfriend’s arms. Zerris did snore, however, but this didn’t bother her.

It was certainly better than any bed she had ever been in.

The 'Shroom: Issue 193
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