The 'Shroom:Issue 198/Palette Swap

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Director's Notes

Written by: FunkyK38 (talk)

Shroom2017 FunkyK38.png

Happy September, everyone! We're moving closer to the big two-zero-zero! It's The 'Shroom!

Did everyone see that Direct??? It was amazing! I'm thrilled to see Princess Peach Showtime, and seeing as how Funky Kong has returned to Mario Kart, I guess I'll be buying it again. That'll be a lovely expensive purchase. Amiibo announcements, too, I'm so happy to see the Noah and Mio amiibo set, and even happier to actually get a preorder for them, too. Overall, I'm really happy with this Direct- it was packed full of amazing games and what I saw of the upcoming games I'm really excited for! I'm also excited to start The Teal Mask tonight for Scarlet and Violet, so I'll be talking about that next month. I've been dying to jump back into Scarlet for months (considering I pretty much finished it within a couple weeks of it being out...) so having new content to play is perfect!

This month our regulars return from Awards to bring you some fabulous sections, so I won't get in your way of everything below that's made special for you!

Happy reading!


Section of the Month

Section of the Month results are in! In first, we have winstein (talk)'s The ? Panel once again! Congratulations! Following up in second is Walugi Time (talk)'s Shmaluigi, Private Investigator, and then Shoey (talk)'s volunteer section Random Image of the Month. Thank you to everyone who voted!

Place Section Votes % Writer
1st The ? Panel 19 46.34% winstein (talk)
2nd Shmaluigi, Private Investigator 11 26.83% Waluigi Time (talk)
3rd Random Image of the Month 6 14.63% Shoey (talk)

Everyone is here online!
Who plays the fool?
These are some aggressive ghosts!
I prefer the rare chocolate peanut butter ones, myself.
Hmm, you might want to do something about that depth perception.

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're doing another crossover, this time to a franchise covering many different Nintendo series. This can't be anything but the site for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate!


A screenshot of the full Super Smash Bros. Ultimate homepage.

This website is structured a bit more traditionally contentwise, with a homepage with some overview items, and all further info divided among various pages.

Starting on top, we enter upon a hero banner, this time with the Everyone Is Here image scrolling along it. Clicking this banner will take us to the Fighters page.
Overlapping it half on the bottom is the game's logo and the main menu buttons. The buttons feature an icon and are each coloured to the theme the target page has. Underneath the menu is the release date and a button to the main Nintendo site's page about the game.

Underneath the hero and menu is a banner announcing every fighter's reveal to be available. This banner, too, goes to Nintendo's main site. Underneath this banner are two buttons for the two fighter passes, which also go elsewhere.

The next feature of the homepage is the video gallery. This shows several videos in a row, which can be browsed through with small buttons on the bottom. A triangular button on the right can be used to visit the more expansive Videos page of the website.

Finally, recent items of the Super Smash Blog are listed. Blog items are generally short messages with links to internal or external pages with more info. Some messages also have tags.

Now, let's go through the other pages. The first is About the Game. This page gives a short overview and numbers of features in the game, being the playable characters, stages, items, and music. The characters/fighters are shown in a matrix of tiles that cycle through their portraits. The stages have a scrolling gallery of thumbnails. Items are shown in a static grid. Music has a list of track titles scrolling in the background. At the bottom, the claim to be the biggest Smash game is shown with various screenshots floating by in the background.

The fighter page for Joker is displayed, featuring his name, artwork, and a gallery of videos and screenshots near the bottom.
You'll never see it coming.

The next page is Fighters. This page has a hero in which several characters are highlighted at a time, and swap around every couple of seconds. These can be individually clicked on to visit a page about them. Underneath that, all characters are shown in rows of three, categorised by DLC and base game. An alternative view is also available, which lists the characters by series instead.
Each character has their individual page, which shows their name and an image prominently, and has additional videos and screenshots to go along with it, as well as links to other characters from their series if relevant. Clicking on the main art cycles through their alternate colour schemes, changing the displayed name if the palette swap is a different character (as happens for Steve, for example). At the bottom is a carousel with all characters to quickly navigate to another.

A web page laid out like the main menu of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, with the buttons (clockwise from the top) Gameplay Basics, Advanced Techniques, Game Modes, and Spirits.
I like it when sites go out of their way to look unique.

Up next is the How to Smash page. This category is split up into sections on their own pages, and are laid out to resemble the game's menu. Gameplay Basics is a short explanation of the concept of the Smash series. Advanced Techniques shows five more actions with videos of them at display. Game Modes lists all game modes with videos or screenshots. Spirits explains the concepts, differentiations, and a couple of example spirits in a carousel, as well as alluding to the adventure mode in which they mainly appear.

The Stages page, as the name implies, shows all of the stages in the game. These are also arranged in a grid, with the most recently selected stage displayed large in the middle of the grid. Underneath that, rule customisation is quickly laid out, as well as the stage builder the game possesses.

Items is yet another page that fancily lists all available items that can appear in-game. This page is also subdivided in main items, Pokémon, and Assist Trophies. Especially the last two also feature a gallery at the top of the page in which several are highlighted with a few screenshots.

An overview of music tracks, listing Lifelight (in Japanese, English, and the version from E3), Spirit Mountain from Banjo-Kazooie, How to Play from Super Smash Bros. Melee, Nintendo Switch Presentation 2017 Trailer BGM from The Legend of Zelda, and King Bowser from Super Mario Bros. 3.
Fun fact: if you click the slightly pulsing star above the words "Main Theme", a pop-up opens with the song lyrics.

The Music page is a relatively simply laid out playlist of select tracks from the game. Of course, the game's main theme, Lifelight, is shown in larger fashion, while the other tracks are listed with the series icon and arranger. All of these have play buttons as well to listen to.

Circling around to the Videos page, this one has a relatively standard layout for videos, with a thumbnail and a title for each. The same goes for the blog page, which also follows a simple layout, although it also features a panel to select tags to filter posts.


A tutorial describing how Smash works at its core, showing screenshots of Mario fighting seven other characters.
Dynamic angles to make the angles more dynamic.

This site switches around a bit with which design elements it uses, but mainly appears to mirror design used in video presentations, with some elements also raised from the game. There is no real colour scheme other than black elements and white backgrounds, though many elements are accented with diagonal grey lines.
The subpages each have their own colour associated with them, which are then used as accents for a couple of elements, although black still comes out on top.
Elements are consistently sharp edged, but regularly those edges are diagonal to make it feel less boxy.

A portion of a grid listing regular items.
List all the things!

A main trend along the pages is that they list everything. Characters, items, stages, everyone is here, and this causes a lot of grids to be used to do so. Each type uses its own kind of grid, but are consistent among them. Characters use strips featuring their portrait, name, number, and series icon. Stages use a simple grid of tiles that have the stage icons on them. Items are on a raster background, with the items themselves having thicker lines around them, reminiscing of a catalogue. Music, which doesn't list all of the tracks that are in the game, uses a media player layout with track title, source, and arrangement credits.

The site makes use of the Roboto and Roboto Condensed typefaces for text rendered locally. Many texts are also displayed as images instead of as plain text, with diagonal grey lines superimposed on them.


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.

This site doesn't necessarily use a lot of fancy techniques. It uses a pinch of Handlebars, and is hosted on Amazon Web Services.

Handlebars is used for a few interactive elements like the video gallery and blog posts on the front page, and the character overview on the Fighters page. It is a templating engine, which means that a developer can write how a page should be displayed while leaving slots open for data, which can be inserted at a later time. This can be useful for lists or elements that only need to show when a certain condition is true.

Amazon Web Services, which we have covered quite a few times before in this section, iis a commercial platform that provides web services, among which is the simple option to host small sites efficiently.


This is a neat site. It combines form and function neatly, and it manages to show well how much content there is. Laying out several pages to feel less like a website and more like a video game screen greatly sets it apart. It doesn't get me personally to buy the game, but I'm not really into the series to begin with, so that figures.

And that concludes this edition of Site Seeing! This is also the last regular edition of this section, as with the 200th issue of The 'Shroom in November, I will have a look back at some past sites, and that will then conclude this section from my pen. I've had a lot of fun writing it, but after a while it is time to give it a rest, see?

Thank you for reading, and I'll see you another time, next November. Cheerio!

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 Clown. If you wish to know more about the creative process, or anything like that, you're welcome to read my commentary as well.


Content in a comforting lifestyle,
Kings call upon the court jester.
The fool's to entertain at their expense,
Misguided speech will add a body to the rotten cell.

Flashing forward to a modern solace,
Cyber-stalkers constantly eye the performer.
Experiencing the media the ancestral serfs could not,
We should realize that everyone is still a clown.

Author Comments
This poem starts off with exploring the idea that a court jester's literal title was a Fool, and their job was to entertain the royalty. In this context it's unlikely the average person would be aware of what was happening, if they cared at all. This notion is contrasted with how celebrities today are the modern equivalent of a court jester. From there it's a bit of a critique on how some people are hyper-obsessive over some celebrities.

Random Image of the Month

By: Shoey (talk)

Hello, and welcome back to Random Image of the Month, a section that, at this point, can only be loosely called voluntary. Last month, we went back into the 80s and looked at the boxart of one of the premier games in the "well, it's technically a Mario game" series. This month, we move on back into the early 90s as we look at an image from one of the greatest games of all time, Super Mario World.

Two Eeries, ghostly stylized dinsoaur creatures, whoosh past Mario, heading to the left. On the right side of the image, the whooshing Eerie is colliding with Mario, seemingly unbothered and maintaining the same pose and demeanor of the Eerie on the left. A large cartoonish yellow impact star is partially overlaid over the Eerie and Mario. Mario appears to be falling backwards onto his rear, wincing in pain, and his hat is falling off his head.

Right off the bat, I love how cartoony this image is. The dead-eyed Eeries slamming themselves into Mario is great. I love how indifferent the Eeries look, almost as if this ghostly dinosaur isn't even registering that it has hit Mario at all. Instead it's just going on it's way, as if Mario was just a speed bump on it's infinite stroll. This style of official artwork is one of my favorite kinds, because I love whenever Nintendo predominantly promotes some random little-used enemy. Like, think about it; Eeries got their own artwork? Eeries? The little ghost dinosaurs only found in the game's Ghost Houses? Eeries are an especially interesting choice, because, unlike a lot of the weirder enemies featured in artwork, they, as of this writing, have never returned! Despite the fact that Ghost Houses are a mainstay of the Mario series, they don't even appear in Super Princess Peach, a game whose enemy list was basically the Island of Misfit Super Mario World Enemies. Now I guess in this specific circumstance you could argue that, since Super Mario World takes place in Dinosaur Land, it makes sense that the artwork would promote the game's various dinosaur-themed enemies. And Eeries are pretty cute, just a bunch of little dead-eyed dinosaur ghosts floating around trying to kick an ass. I might think it's a little random, but I'm totally okay with an officially licensed images of Eeries owning Mario.

That brings me to my next point. I miss the days when Nintendo would make images of Mario getting owned. Nowadays, artwork featuring Mario usually either has him competently defeating whatever foes he's facing or cheerfully exploring whatever new land he's in. I miss the charm of something like this, where it's just Mario getting chest bumped by an Eerie. Or something like the official artwork for the Twin Bridges, which is just Mario running for his life from a chainsaw. There's just so much character in these old artworks, art that wasn't afraid to show Mario getting owned or frantically avoiding enemies. Nowadays Mario is just too competent and Nintendo is too proud to show their big hero getting beat up by a ghost dinosaur! It's something the new games art lacks, showing just how difficult of a journey Mario has to undertake! Something that this and many other 80s and 90s artworks excel at.

Waluigi Time Comic

Drawn by: Waluigi Time (talk)


The ? Panel

Drawn by: winstein (talk)

Q Panel 9 - Unforeseen Obstacle.png
[Mailtoad runs towards Rosalina at the Comet Observatory]

Mailtoad: You've got mail!

Rosalina: Why, thank you!

[Rosalina holds and envelope and moves to her right]

Rosalina: Your timing is fortuitous: Let me get the mail for you to send.

[Rosalina bumps into a star post on her right not noticing that it is there, causing her to flinch. Mailtoad looks in shock. Luma slowly approaches from the right]

[Rosalina is dazed and frustrated as she goes in the bedroom]

Luma: She gets that a lot.

Shmaluigi, Private Investigator

Written by: Waluigi Time (talk)


The Wildflower: Part 3

"You did WHAT?!" Shmaisy shouted.

Okay, time for a little catch-up.

After we closed the case on the Golden Phanto, Shmaisy, Shmwario and I made arrangements to travel to Port Montague for the second half of our investigation, digging into the origins of a peculiar platypus costume. I had no idea if I was even looking in the right place, but all I knew was that I got saddled with the thing somewhere between the port and a tunnel, so I didn't have any better ideas. It just so happened that Shmaisy was a resident of Port Montague, so she offered up her apartment to use as a home base for the rest of the investigation.

That would've been great, except for one tiny little detail. Landlords aren't too forgiving when their tenants up and vanish for months without payment. And today was the day that Mr. Landlord came in making his rounds, a sleazy-looking man by the name of Norris. Something about him really rubbed me the wrong way. When Shmaisy found out what happened, her usual cool demeanor completely shattered.

"Ms. Shmaisy, surely you must understand my position," he said, maintaining calmness despite Shmaisy's shouting. "It would simply be unsustainable for me to retain a tenant who hadn't turned in rent for several months and was absent without any prior notice."

"Come on Norris, it's me! How many times have I turned rent in late? Once, twice?"

"Five times."

"Five times! That's not terrible, right?"

I couldn't help but comment on the familiar situation. "Hm. Relatable."

"You guys remember to pay your rent on time?!" Shmwario asked.

"Tell me, how long did you wait before giving me the boot, huh?"

"Apartment policy is to begin the eviction process two weeks after failure to produce payment, barring extreme documented circumstances."

"Apartment policy, sure. So what you're saying but not saying is you tossed my stuff as soon as you had the chance."

Mr. Norris went silent, which may as well have confirmed what she said. To be honest, not that I wanted to side with the guy - and I certainly wasn't going to say this in earshot of Shmaisy - but I couldn't exactly blame him. I mean, if Shmwario hadn't kept up the payments on my place while I was stranded in another dimension, I wouldn't have faulted Ms. Broxy for looking for a new tenant.

Okay, maybe I would have. In fact, there's a strong possibility. But since I was never actually in that situation, I had plausible deniability.

"Did you even think to contact the authorities when one of your tenants went missing?" Shmaisy asked.


"Nice to know how much you care."

Judging by the look in her eyes, Shmaisy was about ready to knock Mr. Norris' block off. Criminal charges on one of my colleagues would've really dampened the investigation, and I wondered if I would have to restrain her, or if I even could. I had the sense that she was one of those freakishly strong but doesn't look it types.

"Ahem, Ms. Shmaisy, I should inform you that I took the time to have someone else put your property into storage. We have the space in our facility for them for the time being. I suggest you take a look through them and recover what you wish."

"Well, I appreciate that you didn't toss it all into the dumpster, at least. And here I thought you didn't have a conscience whatsoever. I'll be back for it soon."

Clearly not wanting to interact with Mr. Norris any further, Shmaisy walked away. I got the message and followed her, with Shmwario close behind.

"So, what are we gonna do now?" Shmwario asked.

"I suppose it's time to visit the savior of this investigation, the public library," I replied.

"Aw, great. Nerdsville 2."

Shmaisy led us through town to the Port Montague Public Library. It was nothing of note, to be honest, just your typical library. It was certainly newer than the one back in Monstropolis, or at least had been recently renovated, and was browsed by less eccentric individuals and hopefully staffed by a much less scary librarian. I got to work on the computers while Shmwario ran off to find something to entertain himself with. Hopefully it wouldn't end with us being kicked out prematurely.

"Okay, where to start," I mumbled to myself, "I remember the platypus costume came with some spy gadgets too, so 'secret agent platypus', maybe?"

I probably should've seen this coming, but searching for 'secret agent platypus' resulted in having to wade through a bunch of results about cartoons.

"Skip ahead a bunch of pages, that's where you find the weird stuff," Shmaisy suggested.

I figured it couldn't hurt, and deeper within the search results, I found one of those conspiracy sites with people talking about a mysterious secret agent dressed like a platypus, even accompanied with pictures of various sightings. Their quality was terrible enough to make those creepy ghost-tree-whatever sightings look HD, but even then, it was unmistakably the same...

I skimmed through some of the posts, and found that the sightings stopped not too long before the S.S. Circinus set sail, go figure. Based on the disappearance, some of them had connected the platypus to one Jim Adhesive, a freelance spy-for-hire who died around the same time. It certainly wasn't a link strong enough to fly in my profession, but in situations like this, they have to take what they can get, I suppose.

Well, I have to follow any leads I can get, no matter how strange, and this whole thing was strange as-is anyway. Some quick research on Jim Adhesive brought up obituaries and... an online resume.

"What kind of spy puts their resume online?!" I wondered.

"Yeesh. No wonder he bit the dust," Shmaisy commented.

I wondered if any of his former employers knew he was posting this. If they did, I can't imagine they would have hired him, or maybe they just didn't care. Speaking of former employers, the last time this was updated, he was working for a Dr. Ulysses Rika. That seemed like the next place to look, assuming this wasn't a colossal red herring.

And it just so happened that this Dr. Rika was living right here in Port Montague. Knowing that there was at least some platypus-related activity in this area, the odds of this being a red herring were looking less likely. 9297 Criminy Parkway...

"Alright, we have our next destination. Now we just have to find wherever Shmwario went off to..."

The address led us to a property on the edge of the water, not a house or even a lab facility, but a relatively small skyscraper with bizarre-looking architecture. It seemed far too big for one person, and about as subtle as my brother. We steeled ourselves and went inside, finding... a very unassuming man sitting at what appeared to be a receptionist's desk.

"Could you tell us where we could find a Dr. Ulysses Rika?" I asked.

"Oh, I'm afraid the doctor is, um, uh, well, that is to say, he is, um, busy, so to speak," the man replied. Hm. Convincing.

"All that and the best you can come up is 'busy'?!" Shmwario said.

"Do you want to try that again, or would you rather find out what having your arm in a sling feels like?" Shmaisy asked.

"No, you see, you can't, he's, um..."

The man's stammering was interrupted by a short little man entering from the hall leading farther inside. He wore a lab coat and thick glasses that obscured his eyes, and had crazy white hair.

"Oh, Billy, you worry too much. I don't mind if the public takes an interest in my... work. I presume you came here looking for me, Dr. U. Rika. Now then, what can I do for you people?"

"We're looking into a Jim Adhesive, and based on our research, it seems you were his last employer," I said. "Care to explain the connection between the two of you?"

"Ah, yes, Jim. That's a name I haven't heard for a while. Come, follow me while I explain."

We cautiously followed him in. I was suspicious, but I doubted it would be anything the three of us couldn't handle.

"I'm a lifelong scientist, you see. Answering questions about existence itself, it's such a thrilling profession. I ask - and answer - the questions the other scientists are too afraid to. Look, look in here. Interdimensional travel!" he gestured into a room with what looked like an unfinished portal frame. It was much nicer than the one Fordley had. "Few are willing to fund the research, you see. They say there's no solid evidence to support it, but I know better! I've been studying it for years! And last year, I found it. I had kept my machines attuned to extradimensional anomalies, and then something came here, an interloper from another world, a celestial body, a comet! Can you believe such a thing? However it happened, the transport of such a large object through dimensions weakened the barriers between them. There were aftershocks in the months that followed, little blips comparatively, but things were still being transported between our two worlds. I've remained locked onto it ever since, I've even built this portal, but alas, the time to finish it..."

I couldn't tell if he had just gone off-topic on a tangent or was trying to distract from the issue, but whatever the case may be, this was very interesting information to have. I presumed he was referring to the Sargasso Vermelha comet, and those aftershocks would certainly explain all that flip-flopping that happened to me, and what happened to Shmaisy. Who knows, maybe there were others out there, both here and back home...

"Okay, sure, that's real cool and all, but what's it gotta do with whatshisface?" Shmwario asked.

"Ah, yes, about Jim. Well... nothing, as a matter of fact. He was part of another project altogether. My SYMBIOTES!" he exclaimed.

"Symbiotes?" I asked.

"Yes! One day, I discovered an alien capsule. The creature within, he taught me how to make more like him... Delightful creations of polyester, influencing the mind and actions of the wearer... Isn't it fascinating? Never been done before by anyone, no no no. They can act autonomously, but they are so much more effective when the host is compliant. That's where Jim came in, he was an ideal host for my Agent P symbiote. He wanted to take down evil scientists, Agent P was quite fond of the same, and it suited my interests. Such a shame about the toaster accident, but that's life for you. And then I lost Agent P too on the Circinus mission... Since Jim was already gone, I had Billy sneak him in with the luggage of some poor fool who didn't even have a ticket, thankfully I had the foresight to obtain one for Agent P myself. But Coyle never returned either, so I suppose it was a rather pyrrhic victory."

So he was responsible for the platypus, and even more like it. I was disgusted. What's more, I wouldn't have even been on that cruise if it wasn't for him, and I don't even know if that's a good thing or a bad thing... "So what, you're hijacking other people's minds and bodies just to further your own goals?! Why didn't you just have your assistant do your dirty work?!"

"I couldn't have given Agent P to Billy! He would have been a woefully inadequate host for the mission. Besides, he's too well attuned to the Wazowski symbiote by now. Once you try to mix a host with multiple symbiotes, things get... messy. Trust me."

"That's crazy!" Shmaisy exclaimed. "You're here going on about taking out 'evil' scientists and you're one of them!"

"Not evil, my dear. I prefer morally gray. Perhaps... very very dark gray," Dr. Rika replied. "Science is held back by ethics! I've never asked if I should, only if I could! So many questions that could be answered but my pathetic cohorts are too cowardly to research! If I eliminate the evil ones who sully the field with a black eye, and the 'good' ones who hold it back, then all that's left is... me."

"Man, you're a real nutjob, you know that?" Shmwario said.

"It's becoming evident to me that you clearly don't share my vision, and it's really starting to aggravate me. I think it's time you three made acquaintance with Experiment 626!"

In the blink of an eye, Dr. Rika put on a blue onesie of some sort of cartoonish alien creature. It may not sound intimidating, but you kind of had to be there. I couldn't help but wonder if this was a man twisted to this point by his parasitic companion, or if they just fed off of each other...

"No problem, I can take an old man in alien PJs! Watch and learn, it's Shmwario time!"

Shmwario charged forward, his shoulder leading the way, while Dr. Rika - or maybe 626 was more accurate at this point - stood there like a deer in headlights... then grabbed Shmwario with ease and tossing him across the room.


The doctor turned back toward Shmaisy and I, not saying a word. By now, I thought we were done for. Maybe Shmaisy had some unexpected tricks up her sleeve, but if he could effortlessly throw Shmwario around like that, I was toast.

"You can't just brute force him!" Shmaisy yelled. "You gotta- GAH!"

Shmaisy was stopped mid-sentence by a green energy blast to the shoulder and knocked to the ground. I looked back to the doctor to see him holding two laser blasters. Yep. Toast.

Well, I wasn't going to go down without a fight. I charged forward, fists clenched and swinging in desperation, and... I was crumpled on the floor just like Shmaisy before I even got close to him.

The doctor still didn't speak, but let out a triumphant laugh, no longer in his own voice, but bizarre alien laughter. Whatever happened next wouldn't be good, but then I heard it.


I looked up to see Shmwario had snuck up behind the doctor while he was preoccupied with the two of us, grabbed him by the back, and then proceeded to hurl him backwards toward an open balcony.

"Looks like I saved you again, bro! Bwahaha!"

"Let's not celebrate yet. Come on!" Shmaisy said.

The three of us ran towards the balcony to find the doctor clinging onto the edge for dear life. A key flaw of the 626 symbiote was exposed here, as it turns out. It had no coverage for the wearer's hands, providing no gripping benefit whatsoever.

"Oh great, moral dilemmas," Shmaisy groaned. "Do we save the guy?"

"I vote no!" Shmwario said.

I didn't have time to give an answer, as Dr. Rika slipped just as we arrived and plunged several stories into the waters below. I couldn't see anything, but I had to wonder if he survived...

"That solves that dilemma, I suppose," I said. "Everyone okay?"

"My shoulder's felt a lot better, but I think I'll live," Shmaisy said.

"'Course I'm okay! I'm Shmwario!"

Despite what my brother wanted us to think, I saw him start to hold his back in pain just as we turned around.

"Well, I've got all the answers I came here for, I suppose. I think it's obvious that Fordley left us high and dry as far as a return trip goes, but if we could get Dr. Rika's portal working, that's probably our ticket home."

"What are we waitin' for? Let's get a move on!" Shmwario exclaimed.

We returned to the room where the portal frame was stored, and the climb down those stairs was much more painful than the one up, let me tell you. I searched the room and was able to find the schematics for the completed portal.

"Hey, look, the plans," I said. "We could use this to finish assembling the portal ourselves with these. How hard can it be?"

"My guess is pretty hard," Shmwario replied.

Well, he was right. Even with the specifications, doing so quickly proved to be a hopeless endeavor for the three of us.

"What screwdriver am I supposed to use for this?" Shmwario grumbled, looking at an assortment of screwdrivers too vast for any one person to reasonably own. "You know what, forget it. Anyone got chewing gum?"

"Oh, yeah, let's hold dimensional travel technology together with gum. That's not going to end horribly at all," I replied sarcastically.

"I hate to say it, but I think we're in over our heads here," Shmaisy said.

I had to concede that she was almost definitely right. "Well, we can't just give up. There has to be someone who can help, umm... Maybe Mr. Greenwood?"

"What? Didn't you say Fern was the ship's nature guy?" Shmwario asked.

"Yeah, he was."

"Look, I may have only gone to college for one year and spent that entire time partyin' before they kicked me out, but isn't that the exact opposite of what we're lookin' for?"

"Well... yes. But he was Starline crew, and I can't imagine a cruise line getting very far without engineers. Maybe he knows a former employee who would have some idea of how to get this operational?"

It seemed worth a shot, anyway.

I was able to track Mr. Greenwood's current residence to a farm a few miles away, so we caught a ride out to the countryside. Shmaisy covered the fare - again - on account of Shmwario and I not carrying any currency valid in this world.

"I think you're secretly getting a kick out of bleeding my bank account," Shmaisy said.

"Hey, I had to pay for the portal, and Fordley's price wasn't cheap..."

As we walked along the dirt path up the property, I took in the scenery. It was a quaint country farm, largely untouched by modern technology and conveniences. Farm animals populated the grounds, and fields of crops had been planted. I didn't usually see the likes of this back home, but that's city living for you. It was certainly a refreshing change of pace, though.

I wasn't as concerned about seeing Mr. Greenwood again as I would have thought. Probably because the encounter with Ms. Geist went so well, or maybe because I had finally managed to sort out the platypus nonsense. Either way, perhaps the survivors were more forgiving than I expected, or maybe they just went through so much they didn't really care anymore.

"Y'know, if I wasn't livin' in the big city, I think I'd like to be a farmer," Shmwario commented.

"What? You?" I said, surprised. "You don't have the temperament for it."

"C'mon, how hard can it be? Once you get your automatic sprinklers set up you work like two days outta the year."

I was about to comment on how little Shmwario clearly knew about farming, but then he ran off trying to catch a chicken that had wandered from the coop. Letting him antagonize Mr. Greenwood's animals didn't seem like the best idea, but I decided to just leave him be for now and continued walking. As we got closer to the house, I spotted a muscular fellow working in the field, donning a familiar straw hat.

"Mr. Greenwood!" I shouted. He turned to look at us, and even from here I could tell he was surprised.

Shmaisy and I hopped the fence and ran toward him, taking care not to trample the crops.

"Hello Mr. Greenwood, it's been a while," I said. "Shmaluigi's not dead, long story."

"Well, howdy! I s'pose not reaching out could seem a mite rude of me. Last I remembered spottin' you, you weren't in good way, so I reckoned there wasn't much a chance I could get ahold of you. You bring along a friend for the visit?"

"This is Shmaisy, and um-"

I looked back and saw Shmwario yelling and fleeing from an entire flock of chickens. I contemplated if I should admit we were related.

"That's Shmaluigi's brother, Shmwario... Sorry about the chickens."

"Pleased to meet you," Shmaisy said.

"...well, I reckon a bit of exercise won't go hurting them." Mr. Greenwood's concern wasn't fading away as he watched his flock chase Shmwario in the distance.

"You'll want to take a bend around the coop!" he called out. I wasn't sure if Shmwario could hear him or not. "The feed'll get them settled down! Just don't go leading them over the crops!?

After giving Shmwario some instructions, he turned around and extended a hand to Shmaisy. "Pleasure to meet you! Fern Greenwood, though I reckon you knew that."

"So, how have you been since... you know? It looks like you've got a nice place set up for yourself here."

"I've been doing mighty fine! Wouldn't say it's been easy putting what happened out there behind me... but I'm doing my best to move forward. A forest springs back up from little sprouts after a fire! Or that's what I've been telling myself. It's not glitzy, but I've been turning this old plot of land into a farm bit by bit."

"Could we talk for a bit? We kind of need some help with something."

"Well... Shucks, truth be told, Shmaluigi, I'm not sure now's the best time. I don't mean to turn you away when you've made it all the way out here, but..."

Something had Mr. Greenwood on edge, and it wasn't the chickens. That wary look wasn't the look of the naturalist I had met. Slipping a glove off his hand, he put his hand on the back of his neck and carried on. "Now, I don't want to lie to you. Last I had seen of you, you transformed into this vengeful platypus-like critter that rose as a vengeful spirit. Care to tell how you made it back in one piece?"

"Oh, yeah, the platypus in the room, so to speak... To be honest, that was quite a mystery to Shmaluigi for some time. We tracked down the creator of that abomination, and as crazy as this sounds, the platypus costume was a sort of parasite with a mind of its own, and it can strongly influence the actions of its host. Not exactly the greatest thing that could happen, as we both know. Oh, and not to alarm you, there also may or may not be more of them out there, so um... don't put on weird polyester onesies designed like cartoon characters if you find them.

The two of us must have been separated after the Circinus sank, thankfully... Then there was a whole thing where Shmaluigi was a zombie for a little bit and some hopping between worlds happened, and, you know, this is all probably really overwhelming for you so Shmaluigi's just going to stop now. Long story short, things worked out, more or less. Thankfully with no further platypus involvement."

"...well, Shmaluigi, that's a mighty strange story, but I've seen stranger with my own two eyes. All kinds of parasites out in the wild, who's to say there isn't a magical transforming parasite making tracks out there between worlds as a platypus' skin? Gives me a chill thinking about what ol' DeMorge Sr. could've done if..."

While Mr. Greenwood seemed to shake his head clear of some kind of foul thoughts, he also seemed to relax. He was looking more like the man I knew, gesturing as he spoke again and motioning for us to come along. "Out here's no place for chatting about that cruise. Follow behind me and we'll get you to the house for a sit."

Shmaisy and I followed him inside and sat down. We talked for a bit, catching up on how things had gone since we last met. Although Ms. Geist had pretty much gotten me up to speed on everything already, it was good to chat with Mr. Greenwood again. While we were talking, Shmwario burst through the door and slammed it behind him. "Man, those chickens are scary!"

Now it was time to get down to business. "We were wondering if you could do us a small favor. We ran into a bit of a technological hurdle-"

"Hurdle? Try massive brick wall," Shmaisy interrupted.

"Yes, fair enough. Anyway, we were hoping that maybe you knew someone who was an engineer that could help us? Ex-Starline crew, maybe?"

"You need an engineer? You're luckier than an otter on an urchin pile! I can put you in touch with the best engineer on this side of Fabafa - and the other side of it! Let me fetch a pen and I'll jot down her number for you."

Mr. Greenwood grabbed a pen and wrote on a piece of paper, then handed it to me. A phone number was written on it with the name Cel Winters.

"Hm, this certainly seems promising. Well, thank you for your time Mr. Greenwood, this has been a big help."

"You'll be in good hands with Cel. Let her do what she does, and you'll have your tech problems fixed in a wink. I don't s'pose you'll be coming often, but whenever you're in the area and in need a hand or a place to bed down, you're welcome to stop by again, you hear?"

"Certainly. Be sure to take care of yourself."

"Aw crud, we gotta go back out there again, don't we?" Shmwario asked.

"How about since you were the one that ticked them off, you go ahead as a distraction while we make a run for it?" Shmaisy suggested.


We returned to Dr. Rika's laboratory, and I rang up the number that Mr. Greenwood had given me. Only now did it occur to me that maybe we should have called from Mr. Greenwood's house, I wasn't sure if she would answer a strange number...

Thankfully, someone picked up, and a woman's voice came over the phone. "Hello, who is this?"

"The name's Shmaluigi. Are you Cel Winters?"

"That would be me, love."

"Oh, good. Mr. Greenwood told us that you could help with a little engineering problem we're having."

"Well, any friend of Fern's is a friend of mine. What can I do for you?"

"Okay, this is going to sound kind of crazy, but... we need help finishing an interdimensional portal? We had a little scuffle with a mad scientist, and it's our only way back home that we know of. We have the schematics for it, but even with those trying to finish it on our own is clearly a fool's errand."

"Ahaha, after what I've seen, there's very little that seems crazy anymore. Should be an easy job if you've already got the specs and parts for it, I've gotten more done with less."

"Great, thank you. We're at 9297 Criminy Parkway in Port Montague. There's no hurry, we don't really have anywhere else to be."

"I'll be there as soon as I can, hang tight."

I hung up and turned to the others. "Alright, she's in. Now we just have to play the waiting game."

"Well, as long as we have some time to kill, I'm going to head over to the apartments and grab my things before Norris decides to have a dumpster party," Shmaisy said.

Ms. Winters arrived a while later, and Shmwario and I greeted her outside the building. She was strongly built, and could probably give Shmwario a run for his money in arm wrestling. Speaking of arms, her right arm was missing, with a robotic substitute in its place, and she carried a hefty toolbox.

"Thanks for coming, Ms. Winters, we really owe you one," I said, then I remembered that I should probably introduce my brother. "Oh, this is Shmwario."


"Happy to help, loves. If you'll point me to the worksite, I'm ready to get started."

We led her inside and up the flights of stairs until we reached the room housing the portal frame. "Everything should be around here somewhere, but worst case scenario, the other thingamajigs in the building could probably be disassembled for parts," I said. "That's Shmaisy over there, by the way."

Shmaisy briefly looked up from the boxes she was rifling through. "Oh, hi."

I grabbed the schematics off of the table and handed it over to Ms. Winters. She'd certainly know what to do with it more than any of us did.

"Hmm... No wonder you had trouble with these blueprints, it looks like a madman scrawled these. It shouldn't be much trouble to get it operational, though," she said, setting her toolbox on the floor and equipping a welding mask. "MAINTENANCE MODE ENGAGED."

It took the rest of the night, but Ms. Winters was able to finish assembling the portal frame. I can only imagine how much longer it would've taken for the three of us to do it, if we ever even got there. "I made a few modifications of my own from the original plans, but it should still work as intended," she said, "The designer clearly wasn't too concerned with proper safety protocols."

Now for the moment of truth. Ms. Winters activated the machine and it roared to life, producing a swirling red portal. After finally wrapping up a lot of loose ends, it was time to head back home.

"Well, this is it, then," I said. "Thanks for everything, both of you. Shmaisy, er, if you wouldn't mind paying her..."

"Don't worry about payment, loves. It's on the house."

"No, it's fine. It won't be much use to me now anyway."

I raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"

"Look, my white whale is dead, I got kicked out of my place, I'm thinking it's time for a fresh start. I'm coming with you two. I've got everything I need right here," she said, tapping a large purse she had slung over her shoulder.

"Well, if that's what you want," I replied, then turned to Ms. Winters. "You should probably shut this thing down after we're through, and um... probably don't let it get into the wrong hands? Who knows what will be happening to this place now."

"No problem, everything's in good hands."

"Anyone have any last minute business before we head back?" I asked.

"Oh shoot, I gotta use the bathroom, hang on!" Shmwario said before dashing out of the room. I couldn't help but sigh.

While we waited for Shmwario get back, I turned to Shmaisy. "Are you sure about this?"

"Yeah, there's nothing keeping me here. And if I ever did want to come back, there's clearly ways to do that."

"Fair enough."

Shmwario returned just about as quickly as he left. "Okay, I'm ready now. C'mon, let's go!"

I took a deep breath and hoped that Dr. Rika's design actually worked properly, then stepped in. Everything around me disappeared in a flash of light.

The next thing I knew, I was just standing on a city sidewalk, no hurtling through the air or anything. Apparently vertical orientation is much more effective for portals. I guess that's why magical paintings are always hung on walls.

Even with the sun long below the horizon, the still-bustling city streets filled with Toads, Goombas, Koopa Troopas, Shy Guys, and the like told me all I needed to know. I was home.

"Well, that was definitely something I'll remember for a long time," Shmaisy said. "For now, I think I need to go make my own way, but I'm sure I'll be seeing you two again."

As she began to walk away, I stopped her. "Ahem, before you go, I think there's the matter of payment for the case..."

"Wh- Are you serious? After I paid for-"

I started laughing before she could even finish talking. "Okay, I'm, I'm kidding... We're definitely even, if I don't owe you."

"Very funny, detective." She tried to act like she wasn't amused, but I could see her smirk as she turned around and walked off into the night.

"So... Now what?" Shmwario asked.

"Now I'm going home. I've spent too many nights away from my own bed."

"Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. You know how long it's been since I watched anything on TV?"

We parted ways after that and each headed home. After all this, I figured I definitely deserved a break. At least now that I got closure on last summer and untangled nagging questions left unanswered, I could probably sleep better.

The End

That's a wrap, thank you for reading! With the conclusion of this arc, I've finally tied up all the loose ends from Awards Killing Game: Odyssey that I was hoping to, so if you've been hopelessly lost, well, I can't promise that it won't happen again, but it'll most likely be in relation to something else if it does at least. Special thanks to Hooded Pitohui for writing the dialogue for Fern, and to GBA for signing off on the writing for Cel! Next month, things get spooky again for Halloween. I hope to see you then!

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