The 'Shroom:Issue LXI
Hello fellow readers! There is not much for me to report this month, but I do have a few things to say.
Firstly, I would like to thank Twentytwofiftyseven (talk) for standing in for Edofenrir (talk) this month with the editing of the sections and assisting in preparing the issue for release this month. Edofenrir had some personal things to tend to, and so he asked Twentytwofiftyseven to help out, and he agreed to. So once again, thank you for your help!
Next month, The 'Shroom will be running another Feedback Survey for readers to participate in. For those who do not know, the Feedback Survey is a questionnaire that the Core Staff runs every four months (for a duration of one month) that allows the readers to give input on the way The 'Shroom is being handled, the quality of the sections and the paper, and ideas on how to improve the project. The results of the survey allow the Core Staff to determine what needs to be focused on and how to better serve the readers. So be sure to participate in that survey next month— you can have an influence the course of The 'Shroom for the next few months!
The Core Staff is working on several projects and we hope to introduce them in the following months, so be sure to read next month's issue when it comes out on May 19th, 2012!
Until next month,
Hello beings of various species, sizes and genders! I am your Activity Director, Marioguy1 (talk), bringing you the first installment of my new section - Activity Announcements. Much like the Director's Notes, these announcements will update you on what The 'Shroom is doing, special events, and special issues, as well as give the monthly report on the status of the 'Shroom Spotlight. Make sure to read them so that you can be involved in everything that The 'Shroom is doing!
This month I have a very special announcement to make!
As for the 'Shroom Spotlight, it's been a while so I'll recap what it is. The 'Shroom Spotlight was an idea introduced in Special Issue L exactly one year ago next month to focus the attention of users on a specific set of articles each month. The idea went inactive as it was not updated each month, but I'm bringing it back. Go to this page to sign up as a contributor to the Spotlight, and read The 'Shroom every month to see what game we are focusing on!
This month, as it is a new beginning for the 'Shroom Spotlight, we'll focus on a new beginning for the big N. One where they redesigned, renovated and renewed the Mario series to the series we know and love today. The first true Mario game, Super Mario Bros.! Next month I will reveal which of the current members of the 'Shroom Spotlight did the most for Super Mario Bros. articles over the past month and maybe there will be something in the end-of-year awards for the user who does the most overall...
So, to recap:
Thank you so much for reading, I will see you again next month for the beginning of 'Shroom Mafia and the results of Super Mario Bros.!
Section of the Month
Hey, everyone, welcome again to Fake News! Guaranteed to be more fake than last month - no refunds.
Other than that, enjoy the section, and remember to pay your fee on the way out!
MYSTERIOUS CRIMINAL WREAKS HAVOC IN POSHLEY HEIGHTS AND BEYOND
Just yesterday, we arrived in Poshley Heights to take a look at the mythical treasure that was uncovered a short while ago. However, we saw some of the beautiful town in ruins. Pennington was on the scene for this compelling mystery. He said;
"Now, if only I had my dear Luigi to help me! He was quite the good detective..."
Damage reports have shown that multiple Shine Sprites have gone missing and someone left a giant table in the middle of nowhere. Also, the pasta stand is deep in debt because all their stuff is gone too...
Later, we received reports of a criminal leaving a giant table on top of Whacka. We interviewed multiple witnesses.
Pa-Patch: "Aye, he ripped the Keel Mango tree...It's ridiculous!"
Whacka: "It's another beauuuuuuutiful day on Keelhaul Key, whack-a-do!"
Flavio: "'Stache stomps red-head three times, 'Stache whacks blue four times on his belly, boom-bassa-boom!"
We have no idea what that means.
Pennington and his new assistant, Baby Luigi (although he said "The name's Squirps, squinkle!") are currently chasing the criminal in Rogueport, where he has left a massive amount of tables, most in ridiculous locations (mostly behind things, like a trash can).
Frankie, head of the Pianta Syndicate, claimed that the criminal also left tables on the Pianta Parlor's roof that were labeled "Blimp Ticket". The Safety Association of Glitzville has been informed of this, as Blimp Tickets are needed to get there. The Excess Express is also closed for "refurbishment", but we're pretty sure it was a victim of the table crime too. Chef Shimi has moved temporarily to stay with famous chef Zess T. He has announced that he will "prestair ~ i mean prepare a feast when the criminal is captured".
We will follow Pennington and Baby Luigi's discoveries, and we will report them next month. Goodbye!
First of all, you might be wondering, "who would vacation at a constantly dark place?". Well, there's nice accommodations, a great shop (with a chest that curses you!), and a steeple that is inhabited by a freak in a sheet, known only as ????. Maybe you could guess his name, but don't try to; for some reason, it always comes out as "Dooliss" in front of him.
But then again, there's other things! The Twilight Inn, managed by none other than Darkly's brother, is one of the best inns in the Mushroom Kingdom. The beds are comfy, and you get a free peach that tastes very peachy. Or so they said.
The shop sells stopwatches, which come in handy so you can tell the time if you're lost in the forest. There's also some really thick syrup, and I once dipped my peach in it. It was great! I
The nearby forest is filled with cute Crazee Dayzees and strange green rocks. There's also a lot of Goombas that look like they're covered in moss. After getting through the forest (if you can), you reach the Creepy Steeple. This attraction is popular with kids 4 and under, so get a FastPass. Wait, this isn't Disney World. Never mind. It does feature friendly Boos, and Swoopers lurk here too. Many people come here for the legendary Golden Leaves. They're somehow edible, and DELICIOUS!
So, I've finally run out of things to say. Have a fun time at Twilight Town, and - Oh, what a lovely bell ~ Oink!
Hi everybody! Here’s your hostess, Chivi-chivik! And this is Cooking Guide, where we teach you how to cook excellent dishes!! So, let’s go! ---
--After that hour of mixing...—
Me: Here it is! Now, take ice cream cones and put the mixture in! Et voilà! You have delicious Shroom Cones!!
Thanks for reading. Until next time!!
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, for I say, I am TravixMan, Chief of the Mushroom Police Force, and Boy, I say, Boy, there's not many stories tonight. However, I have one story that is very crude for the Mushroom Kingdom.
1. Mario's Huge Blowout Party
One day, Mario and his friends were sitting outside, doing nothing whatsoever. However, Koopa Troopa and Shy Guy came with Chuckola Cola. Both creatures then gave the plumber and his friends the drinks, and Mario then proceeded to make lists of mini-games, and invited everyone he knew. Luigi was getting out more drinks for the party guests. Toad also helped, and invited Wario and Waluigi. Princess Peach approved of this party, and invited Princess Daisy, Yoshi, and Birdo. Bowser and Bowser Jr. came with Kamek, and also set up boards and mini-games of their own. When everything was complete, they started the party, wrecking property as time passed by. When the party was done, almost everyone left. Then many citizens came out of their homes, looked at their damaged property, and contacted the HQ. Then the Police came to the scene, and put everyone that was there under arrest. Trial for everyone will proceed soon, in the Isle Delfino Court Room, for the Mushroom Kingdom doesn't have a court room since Bowser destroyed it.
And that's all I have to say for tonight. See you all next month, on the Mushroom Kingdom Police Blotter.
'3K didn't receive any questions this month. You can ask him questions by sending him a personal message on the Super Mario Boards.
No news this month… or is there… ?
You can now sign-up for a Non-Mario Crossword puzzle. Just PM me on the forums or drop a line on my talk page.
HI, everyone! I'm your hot-as-always Statistics Manager and Mystery Images writer, Tucayo! In case you're wondering "what the fawful is the Statistics Manager?", let me tell you that I basically manage the statistics (among other stuff). One of my primary jobs is to keep the Shroom's Writer History updated. Take a look at it. If you have any comments about it, please leave a message on my talk page and I'll get back to you.
Now, to the section. After two months of messing around with logos and geography, this month we return to the characters you all love. So yeah, guess them and have fun.
Did you know that...
The recent release of Mario Party 9 marks the release of the first Mario Party in five years. In the same amount of years on the Mario timeline ever since February 1999, a maximum of seven games for the series had been released (2003-2007). This quiz will contain one question about every playable character from the original game, and one question from every Mario Party not played on a handheld system.
Guess that Game
The answer to last month’s word search:
This month’s Word Search is based on the locations of Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga. Are you up to the challenge?
Ahhh... Mario Kart: Double Dash, a classic. This is such a chaotic scene, but I think we all know that Donkey Kong and Luigi will come out on top because of a certain familiar item... (by the way, the koopa is not the paratroopa)
Music & Artwork
Director's Notes (Fawfulfury65)
Hello everyone! We are currently in dire need of new writers, so if you're interesting in writing for the 'Shroom, you can check out the sign up page. For Music & Artwork, we need writers for Box-Art of the Month, Character Artwork of the Month, Photoshopped Image of the Month, and Soundtrack of the Month. If you want to write for one of those, please let me know.
Screenshot of the Month (Fawfulfury65)
This month I've picked a cool screenshot from one of my favorite Gamecube games, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door.
In case you aren't familiar with this game and don't know much about it (which is a shame because it’s a great game), this scene takes place around the beginning of the game, when Mario and his partner Koops reach Hooktail at the top of her castle. Hooktail's been causing a lot of trouble for the neighboring village, so it's up to the pair to stop her. Even though she’s an early boss, she can be quite a challenge if you’re new to the series. I think it's really neat how they designed Hooktail. Most characters in Paper Mario are flat, but Hooktail is more three dimensional and is pretty detailed. You can tell a great battle is about to occur.
Music Factoid (Post-Damage Invincibility)
The musical composer Kazumi Totaka has composed a musical score for many Mario games. He has hidden his short, catchy 19-note tune in almost all of the games he has worked on, including all of the Mario games he has done. The Mario games where his delightful Easter Egg tune can be heard are: Mario Paint, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, Mario Paint, Virtual Boy Wario Land, Yoshi's Story, Luigi's Mansion, and Yoshi Touch & Go. In most cases, it is ingeniously well hidden. Examples include Yoshi's Story (where the player must wait two minutes and ten seconds on the Trial Mode screen), Luigi's Mansion (where the player must wait on one particular screen showing how to work the Poltergust 3000) and perhaps none more obscure than Yoshi's Touch & Go, where the player must pause the screen at one specific point in the game for a whopping 3:45. The game where it is easiest to find is Mario Paint, where it is heard on the Star Screen when the O is pressed. The player is bound to do this sooner or later. Below is an example of the song from Super Mario Land 2. However, if you own the game yourself, either the original cartridge or on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console, I encourage you to ignore the video and go to the Game Over screen and see it for yourself. You'll have to wait on it a couple of minutes. Whatever you do, don't save after checking it, or you'll have to beat all of the bosses again before you can fight Wario! If you want to watch the link here and want to hear his tune right away, click here.
Sprite of the Month (FunkyK38)For this month of April, FunkyK38 has this special sprite for you: Dark Fawful from Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
Er, sorry about that everyone.... that's the last time I let Fawful suggest an image for this column. Although what he picked really is the MUSTARD OF YOUR DOOM!
Sketches Related to Mario (Fawfulfury65)
I didn't get any artwork this month. However, if you have any drawings related to Mario that you think should appear here, send them to me (with a description on them, if you want) and they'll show up in the next issue of the 'Shroom!
Random Image of the Month (Ralphfan)
For over 100 years, films have taught people about nearly everything, from propaganda to the fact that when you leave your room, your toys come alive. Early on, films had no soundtrack or dialogue. Instead, they relied on the actors and a live orchestra to illustrate a story. Silent films, as they were aptly named, gained popularity throughout the first World War. Pioneers on the silent screen such as Charlie Chaplin proved that movies had the ability to combine mass entertainment with artistic accomplishment.
In the 1930s, however, Europe began to emerge with "talkies," or films with recorded dialogue. This brings us to what I have in store for you today. The film I have to present to you is The Artist. This work was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning five; including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor. Directed by Michel Hazanavicius and released in 2011, this true masterpiece of motion pictures takes us back to an era where people, uncertain about the future, desperately looked for a way to understand both themselves and others through mass-escapism.
Hazanavicius's film opens up in the year 1927, where renowned silent film star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) has just premiered his latest film, A Russian Affair. After the premiere, he bumps into a young lady named Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), who quickly becomes famous for kissing him in front of the press. The next day, she auditions at the fictional Kinograph Studios as an extra in Valentin's next film and gets the part. Over the next few months, she begins to make an impression in the film industry as she is given many more roles, eventually starring in her own film.
As the movie progresses, George makes an effort to be understood, which fails as his studio begins to move into films with soundtracks and his self-funded silent films attract hardly any audience. Because of The Great Depression and the popularity of Miller, Valentin loses nearly everything as he plummets into obscurity among the talkies, but in the end is able to find a fitting role for himself in the world of talkies.
Jean Dujardin succeeds in a most fantastic way in his portrayal of the fading star George Valentin. He captivates the audience through his dashing grin, stubborn charm, and sympathetic desperation to be "heard." Without dialogue, he still succeeds in expressing the horror of one who realizes they are quickly falling out of popularity. As a whole, he represents the uncertainty of those who fear change, much like those living through the Age of Uncertainty.
Bérénice Bejo as Peppy Miller captures the personality of a rising star who, in the end, is wracked with guilt for taking the place of her old hero. Symbolically, one could say she marked the end of an era, The Age of Uncertainty (1919-1939) transitioning into The Great Depression (1929-1942). The young actress expresses her naïveté in the film industry, dressing lavishly compared to the older film stars and disrespecting the man who discovered her silent filmography. By the end of the film, however, she has grown from a young dreamer into a sympathetic fanatic of Valentin who tries everything to get him back into Hollywood.
Like many, I believe this film to be a truly fine work of art. It's fresh, sweet, and accurately summarizes the feelings felt by people living in the 1920s and '30s with a dash of modern charm. If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend you do. Unfortunately, that may take a while, as the set DVD release date (in North America) is June 26, 2012. Perhaps a theater or two in your area is still playing it, and if that's the case, then you should certainly take advantage of the opportunity to see this masterful work of art.
Mario Party 9 (New Super Mario)
Mario Party 9 came out this week, so I figured I would review that.
Mario Party 9 is one of my favorite Mario Parties. There are plenty of good modes to keep you entertained for a while. If playing alone, try Solo mode. In Solo mode, you play against the computers in each board. By beating each board, you unlock the two new characters in the game! Solo is good if you are home alone, however once you complete it, it doesn’t have much replay value. You can always go into Party mode and play though instead.
The gameplay is very unique. Instead of the traditional moving style, players now move in a kart, and try to collect the most Mini Stars. Players must also avoid Mini Ztars which subtract from your total. There is some luck involved which can be a downer, but it still provides great fun. Party Mode is pretty fun. You can choose your character, and choose the number of players. Plus you don’t need CPUs which is good if playing with 3 players. Then you choose your board and begin! The addition of bosses is nice also and provides a new challenge.
There are 12 playable characters in MP9. Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Wario, Waluigi, Yoshi, Birdo, and Toad return from past parties. It’s a shame they took out other good characters such as Dry Bones and Toadette. But there are new additions such as Koopa, Shy Guy, and Magikoopa. I like these additions, and enjoy playing as Shy Guy a lot. If they added Dry Bones and Toadette, I feel the roster would be great!
There are 7 boards in the game: some good, others not. Toad Road is a basic board, and is good for beginners. But it’s not that fun once you get the hang of the game. It seems more of a tutorial board, and I wish they included more elements in it to make it feel complete. It’s not a bad board, it just could have been better. I do like the design of the board. It gives you a good classic Super Mario Bros. feeling. The two bosses of the board are Lakitu and Wiggler. Lakitu is an ok boss. All you do is go around and hit blocks to fire bullet bills at him. He throws Spinies in defence which loses you a point. It is somewhat luck-, somewhat skill-based. Wiggler is a better boss. In this boss battle, you watch for Wiggler coming out of the forest to ground pound the segments on his body. Purple segments give you one point, while red gives you two. If you hit a Piranha Plant on the ground, you lose a point. This involves more skill and is a pretty decent boss battle.
Bob-omb Factory is a great board. In this board, conveyor belts can move you to different parts of the board, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Bob-ombs occasionally come on to your vehicle too, and the after ten moves, the Captain is exploded and loses half of their Mini Stars. Once again, the scenery is amazing and it’s cool to see all the Bob-omb parts being made in the background. This board is one of my favorite boards in the game. The two bosses in this board are Whomp and King Bob-omb. Whomp’s battle is pretty fun in my opinion. Although there is some luck, there is a small amount of strategy to it. Basically you select to move 1 or 0 moves around a circle, each player standing on a moving section. After everyone chooses, all of the numbers are added and the machine moves around that number. Whoever is left under gets stomped on my Whomp and loses 1 point while the others ground pound his back to earn points. The process repeats until the end. However King Bomb-omb isn’t as good as the Whomp battle. To put it lightly, it’s terrible. All it is, is luck. You just choose a Bomb-omb, the bigger the more points you get, and hope no one else chooses it. If someone does, you run into them and don’t get to use it while the other players throw their Bomb-ombs at the king. You get points for the Bomb-ombs you throw. But it won’t matter much in the end because it’s all luck.
Boo's Horror Castle is an average board with some good parts and some bad parts. The main gimmick is that Boos some and chase you and if they get you, you lose half of your mini stars. If you are in a lighted area, the Boos can’t get you though, so you have to move accordingly. At the end, you have to roll above a 6 or you don’t get through. If you don’t you go back around an annoying circle filled with Bowser spaces until you get there to try and roll a 4. This part is annoying, especially when you’re going around forever with Boos and Bowser Spaces. The two bosses on this board are Dry Bones and King Boo. Dry Bones's battle is ok at the beginning. Until he gets mad, it’s basic memory. Just look at the cards and select the one with the platform Dry Bones is standing on. Once he gets mad though, I get screwed up all the time because he mixes the cards up in a way some people can’t follow them. It’s still a good boss, but there are better. King Boo is a pretty strange boss. I can’t explain it that well, but basically there are different images at the bottom and you have to switch them around to line up three or more of the same kind (Such as Fire Flowers). The more images, the more points. Also getting a lightning bolt can help too. You must also avoid Boos that chase your cursor. I’m really bad at this one, but it’s still pretty good.
Blooper Beach is a pretty good board too, probably as fun as Bob-omb Factory. Dolphins run away from you in this board. If you catch up to them, you get five Mini Stars. Sushis also chase you. If they catch up to you (Like Boos) you lose half of your mini stars. There are also other gimmicks involving the sea such as a whirlpool. Blooper Beach’s bosses are Cheep-Cheep and Blooper. Cheep-Cheep is one of my favorite bosses in the game. You have to swim around and get shells, which you then shoot at Cheep-Cheep to gain points. Cheep-Cheep also charges at you sometimes which will lose you a point. There I no luck involved, which is a plus. Blooper is an ok boss too. All you do is shoot at him as he jumps through the water and avoid incoming Urchins. More shots get you more points.
Magma Mine is my favorite board in the game. In this board you travel in a mine cart trying to escape the rising magma levels. By landing on Magma + spaces, players can make the level rise. Players can also choose different ways at times for the better or for the worse for their opponents. The scenery is very cool. Not sure why I like it, but I bet you’ll enjoy it if you ever get the game. The two bosses for this board are Spike and Chain Chomp. Spike is a very dumb boss. All you do is select a hammer quickly, golden ones giving you more points when you hit him. I feel there should be more gameplay with it besides just clicking a hammer faster so you don’t end up without one. Chain Chomp I enjoy then. In this one you watch the rails that lead to cannons (Gold and regular, or none) and choose the right rail that leads there. It’s very fun and competitive with a group.
The minigames in this game are amazing. They have also added Bowser Jr. minigames, fun games where you and another player work together to beat Jr. I won’t describe the minigames in-depth, but you can read about some of my favorites. Some of my favorites would be: Logger Heads, Skipping Class, Ring Leader, Peak Precision, Twist Ending, Manor of Escape, Magma Mayhem, and Pizza Me, Mario. These are just some of the great minigames Mario Party 9 has to offer.
I saved one of the best modes for last. Choice Challenge. I got addicted to this very quickly. It’s so fun playing with siblings and friends. In it, you choose 3 out of 5 minigames selected and battle other players to get points. It can get really competitive, and is a great way to kill 10 minutes when you’re bored.
Super Mario 3D Land (Nabber)
What is this? Nabber is back to Review Corner with an all new review, in which I review a 3DS game that is just begging to be reviewed! Have I gotten your attention with my multiple utterances of the word “review”? Then good, let’s get to reviewing this god-awful game: Super Mario 3D Land!
Okay, SM3DL is not actually that bad. It plays like a portable version of Super Mario Galaxy, and it borrows a lot of gameplay concepts. It also draws its inspiration from Super Mario Bros. 3 for the SNES – there’s a jump button and a run button, just like the classic games, and there’s also a the return of the Tanooki suit. The Tanooki suit’s flying powers have been reduced to a flutter jump (a la Yoshi) to make the game harder, but it doesn’t really serve its purpose – the flutter jump makes the game infinitely easier than it already is.
And that’s Super Mario 3D Land’s main flaw: it is simply too easy. It takes about half an hour to get through the first few worlds, and that’s if you’re taking time. If you’re speed-running, then the game is a cake walk. There were only a few levels that actually challenged me. The only level that was genuinely hard was the one you unlocked after 100-percenting the game. Really, Nintendo? Is this what you’ve come to?
That’s not to say that the game isn’t fun, though. It may be short, but the time that I spent playing it was entertaining. It does get tiring having to face the same three bosses (four if you count rehashes of Bowser battles in the form of Dry Bowser), however. The levels were well-designed (if not easy) and the new power-ups worked well. I also have to commend the game’s 3D effect. While my friends prefer to play with the 3D off, I find that it adds to the experience. The game world feels deep in the rich 3D, and there are little puzzles and tricks that are meant to mess with your depth-perception.
The graphics work fine with the 3DS's power. There's not really much to say here - it looks like Super Mario Galaxy, but portable.
The music here is catchy, though there aren’t many new songs. There’s the title theme, which I walk around humming often, but other than that most of the music consists of remixes of classic songs. That’s not to say that the music was bad, but it would be nice to hear something worth of Galaxy fame.
Another thing to be noted is that besides the main mode, there aren't any other features in Super Mario 3D Land. While this would be okay normally, SM3DL's main mode isn't anything substantial. Really, there isn't much to say here: the game is short, and there's nothing else to talk about. No multiplayer mode, no mini-games, no side quests. You can replay the game to get Star Medals and get 1-ups on every flag, but they're pointless goals that don't actually do anything other than put a star on your file.
Overall, Super Mario 3D Land is a good game, but falls short of Nintendo’s standards. It looks and plays great, but it isn’t anything that we haven’t seen before. I’ll rate this a 7/10 - it’s worth getting, but if you’re on a budget then you might want to skip over it.
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (Nabber)
This month I’ve been replaying Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, the Gamecube RPG that is considered by many to be one of the greatest Mario games. Hopefully most of you have played this, but if you haven’t it’s not too late to buy it! Now let’s get rid of my lethargy and start this review.
Paper Mario: TTYD starts off with Mario receiving a letter from - big surprise - Princess Peach. This time she gives him a treasure map and invites him to come to the town of Rogueport. Yeah, nice name. So Mario heads off to this place and of course it turns out that Peach has been kidnapped bla bla bla. Mario discovers that his map leads to a series of Crystal Stars, which, when gathered, will open a mysterious door underneath Rogueport leading to fabulous treasure.
The game is set up like its prequel: you move Mario around the overworld, and when he touches an enemy, gameplay transitions into a turn-based battle. Here he can attack, use special moves and items, and choose a partner to fight alongside him. Each partner has unique abilities that must be used strategically, and they can also be powered up by collecting Shine Sprites hidden around the world. Partners are used continuously throughout the game - unlike Zelda, you’ll be using these characters in more than one dungeon. Their uses are clever, from Vivian, who can hide you in the world of shadows to Flurrie, who can blow away layers of paper to reveal hidden chests and doors.
TTYD has a limited item system, which does hinder gameplay a bit but also forces players to be more economical with their money and items. You can only carry a maximum of 10 items at a time, so you must choose whether to stock up on health-restoring power-ups or damage-dealing attacks.
We’re still not done with the gameplay yet. Mario also gets “cursed” a total of four times in this game, exploiting his paper abilities. He can turn into an airplane and a boat that can glide on water. Mario also can turn sideways to slip through cracks and roll into a tube to go through small spaces. It makes for some neat puzzles and helps to keep many of Rogueport’s secrets hidden until you unlock these abilities.
The soundtrack is also incredibly catchy. Some of the tunes may be a bit repetitive, but you’ll find yourself humming along nevertheless. It’s a great addition to a great game.
That being said, The Thousand Year Door isn’t perfect. The badge system, which powers up your characters and allows them to use new moves, can easily be exploited to win otherwise tough boss battles in a matter of turns. Other times, you’ll face enemies who have insanely high stats and are nearly impossible to conquer. Side quests are accessed from one place, which is helpful. Unfortunately, the side quests themselves are bland jaunts across the land doing menial errands for people. This is never fun, but the reward is usually only a bit of pocket change - definitely not worth the trip that some of the missions force you to take. Another thing? Many of the badges are in hidden blocks, which are impossible to find without a guide or random jumping.
Something that I want to talk more (minor spoiler alert) about is Nintendo’s attempt at putting in backstories. Each place you visit - and each partner you get - all have a story to find out about. Most of these are rather shallow, but it’s a nice touch anyway that one wouldn’t usually expect from a Mario game. In one place, you find a fighting arena full of fame and glory - but underneath the exciting cover is a conspiracy involving a greedy fighter who is abusing his power to benefit himself. Then there is Admiral Bobbery, a sailor who has literally locked himself away from the world after a traumatic loss. This is something I hope Nintendo improves upon in the future, because it really helped set the mood of the game.
While it may have flaws, the positive aspects of Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door greatly outshine the bad parts. Its great gameplay and wacky characters make it a truly memorable game. It deserves a 9/10. Hopefully, Nintendo’s next RPG outing will be as great as this one was.
Hello, once again, valued customers! ...Or...uh...'Shroom readers... (Y'all should have to pay to read a newspaper.) I'm back once again this month to bring you an interview with some of the most interesting members of our community. This month, I'll only be interviewing one person instead of two (as I did last month). So, you won't have as huge of a wall of text to read through. : - ) Hope you enjoy this section as always!
I had a bit of a struggle figuring out who would be an interesting choice to interview this month, after the massive amount of information we received from two of our most-retro, yet still-active users. But
Superchao joined way back in the day when HK-47 and Son of Suns were still active Sysops, Max2 had yet to become a massive troll, long-lost users such as Kelt were active members, and even before the first MarioWiki awards ceremony! Most of you probably don't even recognize those usernames, but the point is it was a long time ago. However, Superchao hasn't been active here non-stop since he created an account. He's gone on some very lengthy hiatuses, never to be seen by one or two generations of MarioWiki users. Unlike some of us, he apparently has things to do...!
Back when Superchao was originally active in the wiki, he was one of the most active contributors in what was a very small version of the site you see today. Most of his contributions went to Paper Mario item and badge pages, but he also took part in a small handful of PipeProjects, wrote for The 'Shroom, and helped combat a troll or two. A few users around the site at the time even felt Superchao should have been a Sysop because of all this. However, due to Wayoshi's...er...fickle nature, and Superchao's eventual hiatuses, this was never seen through.
Several years later, Superchao is an active member of the community again, though not so much on the wiki. He participates largely on the forum, particularly in our many Mafia games, while actively posting around the forum as a whole as well. In addition, he's taken on the responsibility of being an Awards Committee member this year, and has become one of the largest contributors to the project. He's helped out quite a lot, and we're all grateful for it. ...Or at least, we all should be! But for now, since my knowledge on his past is unfortunately very limited, I'll let the interview commence so you can get a better idea of who Superchao is.
For someone who's been a part of the community for over half a decade, Superchao has always kept his cool. He's never turned troll, hasn't really made any enemies, and has always managed to keep up a good demeanor that pretty much anyone could get along with. There's probably quite a bit more to be found out about his past on this site, but unfortunately, his tenure here is a bit too long for one interview to cover (even with hiatuses). Like Dippy from last issue, Superchao is also a pretty cultured guy. Between being a resident of New York City - the most culturally diverse city in the country, period - and owning (and having read) enough books to open up a small library, his knowledge on various issues is pretty extensive. In addition, he's easiliy one of the best Mafia players to grace the MW forum ever; more people should pay attention to his playstyle and strategies if they want to learn to be better. Even with all that aside, Superchao is still a downright boss person to hang out with. I know I've never seen a bit of trouble arise from him or anyone around him when the associate with him. Luckily, more people are noticing that now, so all his coolness doesn't go unnoticed.
I wish I could write more, but I'd sound redundant if I did. I think I've made my point, so I'll wrap things up here. I hope you enjoyed this interivew, and I'll see you around next month with a new face or two to discover fun facts about. Ciao!
Today, I am going to be making a character comparison between two Nintendo characters that I doubt many would have ever even thought about comparing. Those two are Chunky Kong and Wario. There are several ways they are very similar, and there are other areas where they differ drastically.
First off, they are both incredibly strong and powerful. For example, in Donkey Kong 64, only Chunky could lift certain metallic barrels and punch away certain boulders to clear a path for himself or other Kongs. Hopping into a Hunky Chunky Barrel makes him even bigger. As he tips the scales at 2000 pounds at his normal size, God only knows what his Hunky Chunky form weighs! In a like manner, in Super Mario 64 DS, Wario is by far the strongest of the four heros. He can smash apart black bricks that other enemies could not dream of doing. He also does the most damage to Bowser’s army with his attacks. His power to needed to fully complete the game. The Toad nearest to the entrance of the castle, while frightened and a little suspicious of Wario, admits that the heroes need his strength help prevail.
Both Wario and Chunky move slow and can’t jump high. But their Herculean strength makes them… two hell of a guys! Chunky of course, has far greater strength than Wario, but he is a gorilla, and Wario is a man. Therefore, their power is incredible for their own respective kinds. Despite his powerful arms, Wario is soft in the stomach. It is quite likely he hears the word “morbidly” a lot. He is the king of gluttons. He loves his Italian food, his rare steaks, his chicken, his garlic, and all variation of good culinary he has a taste for. And he is super-fat as a result. Chunky, on the other hand, is buff and ripped all around. He has huge abs.
Another thing they have in common is their sense of adventure. The instruction manual for DK64 says that Chunky loves smashing up and mangling Kremlings as a hobby. Wario, though lazy, is a treasure hunter by occupation. Due to his love of indolence and loafing around, Wario may not love adventuring. If he could find a way to get gold, gems, diamonds, and pearls a simpler way, then he would do precisely that, allowing him more time to stick to his junk food and his creature comforts. Alas, he must go adventuring for the treasures he adds to his castle halls, so much so he is willing to do so without fear. However, despite acts of bravery and courage from both Chunky and Wario, they have both shown fear and cowardice at times.
Neither one of them are very smart. Not in the least. In the instruction manual for DK64, the incursive Cranky describes Chunky as “not the sharpest knife in the drawer’’. But one needs only to play to game to infer that. And Wario is not exactly known for his intelligence either. They are both slow in every possible meaning of the word. However, all of the things aforementioned by me are where the similarities end.
Chunky is kind and humble and kind, plus gently inclined. Although not graceful when dancing while playing a triangle, he is meek and warm of heart (unless you are his enemy). Wario is full of avarice and greed. He is, at times, rotten to the core. I envision Chunky as being generous and selfless, while Wario I see as being self-centered, greedy and selfish. Wario is out for one person: Wario. Chunky is out for himself and his friends. I hope you all enjoyed my character comparison. See-a you next time!
What should have been in this game?Mario Party game, never mind if the game itself would be good. Actually, I really enjoyed playing it. The Minigames were very good, and the car worked fine. However, I don't think the game is the perfect Mario Party game...
Starting off, what I probably dislike most about the game is that Minigames are no longer played at the end of every turn. Minigames are, in my opinion, a very big part of the Mario Party series, and now they're just activated by landing on spaces, or in a few other ways.
Bosses and Mini-Bosses on the boards, but I'm pretty sure they could have fitted those in if there wasn't an end to the board. I don't think being linear is what the Mario Party games are about, so I think the boards shouldn't have had an end, and the game should've just ended after a certain amount of turns. I think the car probably also contributed to this problem. The car was a pretty nice innovation, but I much prefer characters moving singularly, rather than just cramped together in a vehicle.
Next, I don't really like how Green Spaces do nothing. To be honest, I think this was just lazy on the part of the designers. Why couldn't they have been like Blue Spaces in the older games? If they gave out Mini-Stars, I don't feel it would be too much of a change, and wouldn't take long to program at
A lot of the game, to me, seems to be based on luck, and hitting Dice Blocks, mostly. I don't really like things based on luck - I mean, just one low roll and you could potentially be losing a lot of Mini-Stars. For example, on Boo's Horror Castle, I felt the Boos were pretty unfair, especially since there were a lot of them, and every one took away half of your Mini-Stars. You could only escape them by rolling high enough on the dice (or by using a Special Dice Block), which, if they're just behind you, means that you have about 1/2 a chance of losing half of your Mini-Stars. Again, I think they could have been more fair with this, and not just made you lose Mini-Stars for rolling a bad number on a dice.
For the most part, I loved the Minigames in this game. But there were a few that I didn't like:
I guess I'm being a bit picky with the second and third, though. Finally, I feel the Captain Events were all too similar, and, again, too luck based. Well, I guess I haven't got too much more to say, so, in conclusion, it's a good game, but it relies too much on luck, and just feels a bit too different. I hope there isn't another game in the series like this. That doesn't mean it's a bad game, it's still a heck of a lot better than Mario Party 8.
Beta elementsFort. In an even earlier version, it was extremely simple - entirely green, no forest, no water, three mountains; some Stonehenge-like area. At the end, there was the Super Mario World artwork of Wiggler, who's the Boss of the stage in Solo Mode.
Princess Peach can be seen taking an Unlucky Space, but going on a route that can't be found in the final game. The only spaces there were Green Spaces. There was an unused Bowser Jr Minigame, where two players attempted to catch him in a mountain-like maze.
So, I guess that's all. Thanks for reading, and, if you want me to talk about a certain game for this, be sure to send off a message to me!
What's up, Brawlers? Brawl Tactics turns up the heat this month as I look at the Metroid stage Norfair!
Norfair is a medium-sized stage with deep sides. It's made up of five floating panels that are also fall-through panels, so be careful when you're coming down. Oh, yes, and the whole thing hovers above a sea of lava. No pressure.
The panels are the enemy of Pokemon everywhere. It's almost impossible to throw a Pokeball and land it successfully. Throw it up, down, or go to the edge of the top set and try it. Pokemon that don't need much room do well here. Assist trophies will also struggle if they aren't characters smart enough to move around, like Knuckle Joe or especially the Metroid. You can get the panels and the stage to work for you, however, if you get your opponent down to a low health level so you can launch them easily. If you can knock them off the top panel as far as you can, it will often be enough to send them falling to a KO in the lava below. If they try to make a grab for the bottom panel, knock them off for good. The size also makes this stage favorable for screen-clearing Final Smashes like Mario or Samus's. The stage really gives you no place to hide, so pick a side that you like, fire away, and watch your opponent scamble to get back on after taking so much damage.
The lava can be hard to maneuver around. Besides being a river flowing below the stage, it will also rise up periodically on either side of the stage, sometimes on the left, sometimes on the right. Sending an opponent flying into either of these is a good idea, since they do a good bit of damage and pack a wallop of launch power. There's no going through these either, so when they engulf half the stage, don't try to touch them.
Besides the twin waterfalls on either side, there is also a huge waterfall that comes in from the back of the stage. This is the big one that's almost impossible to avoid. There will be one hatch that you can hide in, so keep your opponent out of it and keep yourself inside! I usually find that some type of power up hits whoever's in this hatch. Whether it is food or a Mushroom, it will help you out. So take advantage of it! Getting out of a beating while your opponent takes it. Who wouldn't like this option?
That's all for me this month, Brawlers! Good luck surfing the lava, and see you next month on Brawl Tactics!
(can I have the charge now, herr doktor?)
OK I think I should probably explain this bizarre double-up; I had intended to review Asura's Wrath this month and Kid Icarus: Uprising for the May issue, but then Journey came out unexpectedly early and I just couldn't pass up an opportunity to advertise one of my favourite independent developers, me being the tremendous hipster I am. This would've backed up my schedule really badly, so rather than do the sensible, level-headed thing and just give up one, I decided to go for the least practical and budget-friendly solution to this conflict by reviewing them together. Which makes perfect sense from an aesthetic perspective because they both tackle obnoxiously loose reinterpretations of traditional mythologies within a ludicrous science fiction framework, Kid Icarus being a childish take on the gruesome Greek mythology, and Asura's Wrath based on the relatively tame Hindu and Buddhist mythos, with a degree of gratuitous aggression and violence that calls into question the studio's religious studies credentials and sanity.
I'll start with the one more people here would be familiar with because I can't keep your interest as well otherwise; Kid Icarus: Uprising! the long-awaited sequel to the 1986 NES release (because who honestly ever gave a shit about the GameBoy sequel?), which managed to attain a great deal of popularity and recognition among gamers and critics alike despite controlling like a walrus driving a double-decker bus, and possessing quite possibly the most obtuse difficulty curve in gaming history. Let it be known that just like the first game, Uprising has a rather flimsy start as well; as soon as you hit the 'Solo' tab, you're thrown into the middle of the sky from what I can only assume is a door in the fourth wall for some good ol' fashioned on-rails arcade shooting, gameplay so archaic it wouldn't be out-of-place in a museum. There's just something wrong in my eyes with packing enough firepower to level the entirety of New England and yet being restricted to where the game thinks you should go, the only freedom being move along a tiny 2D plane that offers very little dodging area from the abundance of transparent lasers and other assorted shiny things, not helped by the rather limited screen resolution, speeding scenery and Pit's alarmingly large models making it difficult to see exactly what it is you're shooting at.
Kid Icarus is at its best when it takes you off the rails allowing you to go do your own thing, with a surprisingly rich variety of unique weapons that offer a wide assortment of different stats perks and strategic approaches. It's just a shame you only have one weapon slot for both the ranged and melee combat, which limits the customization somewhat and makes it very awkward when Pit starts smacking giant noses with his large arm cannon thing. Actually, why the hell are there hoverbikes, laser cannons, a goddamned mecha and alien mechanical floating islands in this game? The setting still appears to be ancient Greece, and the contrast is not particularly clever or amusing... but I'm getting sidetracked there. Even if there are a lot of weapons to choose from, there rarely seems to be any moments in the game where one type of weapon is preferable over another, and your choice is essentially just aesthetic based on what looks coolest to you; the power-ups carry a bit more substance, but they have the same problem as most free-to-customize skill systems in that you'll find a few skills that suit you and never use anything else. The actual controls are kind of ass, movement feeling awkward and sticky with a really stunted means to run and a bloody stamina metre arbitrarily slowing down the pace; and the circle pad always misinterpreted my slight nudge as a wild flail which would send Pit running or side-strafing directly into an enemy attack or off a bottomless pit. Moving the camera requires you to flick the stylus in the direction you want it to scroll, and I cannot stress how unintuitive this is since moving the stylus around is used for targeting as well, and so half the time it misread my aiming motions as Pit wanting to rotate 120 degrees to the side to look at a fluffy cloud in the horizon. And I want to slap whoever decided it was a good idea to only allow you to throw bombs immediately after collecting them; being able to stow them away for a rainy day would've been nice!
The story... well, it's not terrible, but it certainly isn't going to blow anyone away; it concerns the standard "gods want to save mortals from the underworld" angle, because I quite distinctly remember Greek gods giving all the shits in the world about human safety, but considering there's only one human ever shown in the entire game and everyone keeps painting them as assholes, the only real way to feel sympathy for them is by realizing that SHIT, you're a human too! Really, the whole thing is a bit of a mess, getting really bizarre by the mid-way point when Pit is not only fighting the underworld and the goddess of nature, but also robot aliens too, which makes it all seem like a clusterfuck. Some people call this clever variety; I call it an inconsistency in tone. The last two levels really phone it in, forcing you to re-fight several of the previous bosses again and scripting the hell out of the final boss fight, which made me feel like the game was doing all the work and I was just giving it the go-ahead. And not meaning to spoil too much for you, but Medusa is not the real villain; here's a hint – the real villain is the one deity every bloody safe for work version of Greek myth shoehorns into the villain role, in this game sounding disturbingly like Tim Curry. I'd probably be more engaged in the story if the characters weren't all dipshits; Pit is a whingy, dependant little bitch, many of the villains are unnecessarily flamboyant as a message to all children that gays are evil, and everyone else are condescending assholes, which wouldn't have been so bad had they all just stopped yabbering on for five seconds.
That reminds me, the voice acting and writing in particular are embarrassing, to the point where I can't tell if they're meant to be ironic or just indicative of what Nintendo thinks of their fans. I won't reiterate any of the lines here because they're too humiliating; just go on Youtube if you want to hear them that badly. It almost seems like they're trying to abide by clichés and display a sloppy thematic design solely for the sake of forcing humour, as displayed by Pit's commentary on the first boss in which he jokingly exclaims the title of 'dark lord' has been done to death in other media; why yes game, it is done to death, so why the fuck are you doing it? And good job Nintendo, going out of your way to call attention to your unoriginality by explicitly stating you just lifted Metroids over with a slight recolour. The reuse and glorification of an alarming amount of content, as well as the fourth-wall breaking call-backs, are recurring themes and I really don't like it; it all reads out like a deliberate nostalgia trip to appeal to the income of long-time fans and no one else, which makes it feel really exclusive and limited in its appeal. But even the new content is still unspectacular, especially for those looking for something brand new in the genre, and I feel like the only people who will treat this like anything special are those who are already fans of the series. And if that was Nintendo's intention all along, then pat yourselves on the back, mates, for displaying everything wrong with franchising!
Kid Icarus has made me depressed now, so let's take a jump over into the realm of third-party development for something a little more exciting with Asura's Wrath, which comes to us from CyberConnect2, most well-known for their Naruto: Ultimate Cash-In series. I say "exciting" because everything it does seems to be designed specifically to make all my sensory organs bleed, which naturally makes it the sort of game that I have the most fun reviewing. Asura's Wrath is an utterly ridiculous sci-fi "reimagining" of south Asian mythology in that there are Buddha statues, a bunch of references to mantras and devas, and absolutely nothing else referencing the actual myths and theology. You play as one of the eight fictitious demigods of the world named Asura – not to be confused with the malevolent demon-like deities of actual Hindu myth, although I'm wondering how "accidental" that choice was – who is betrayed by his brethren and banished to hell because he was the unfortunate bugger to have fathered a priestess packing enough holy juice to power a huge space cannon that uses human souls as ammunition. Uhhh... these are supposed to be benevolent gods, right? Not that Asura himself is much better, spending much of his dialogue either gargling or telling everyone very rudely to shut up like he has Tourette’s syndrome from hell, and expressing time and time again that he doesn't care at all for the safety of the world; he just wants to rescue his daughter and seek revenge for his murdered wife, the selfish cunt.
So the story is complete bollocks, but it's not like that's what Capcom were hoping to sell this game on. No, we're here for the pre-rendered cinematics as displayed by five of the six and a half hours I spent “playing” this game being entirely pre-rendered cutscenes with quick time events, the worst gameplay mechanic ever invented. It's like the original plan was to make Asura's Wrath an anime but the lead director realized late into development that no one actually buys anime legally so decided to hastily convert it into a video game instead based on about 15 minutes of God of War he happened to see his son playing. This is reinforced by all the levels being split up as insultingly short "episodes", the staff credits rolling at the beginning and end of each of these "episodes", still-image cut-ins in the middle of each "episode" to alert the player of the beginning and end of commercial breaks that obviously and thankfully never happen, detailed expository previews preceding each "episode" in an astonishing misunderstanding of how video game storytelling works, and a whole lot of screaming. The boxart blurb claims the game "seamlessly blends gameplay and story", a bold claim on its own, but their idea of gameplay/story marriage is throwing in random button prompts in the middle of every buggering cutscene, many of which you will have no hope of pressing on time because they come completely out of left field and tend to be a crapshoot based on whether your finger was over the correct button that the game randomly chooses each event. Although the cutscenes continue anyway even if you miss the prompt, so they're only really there to both keep you from dozing off from the sheer monotony of the game's cinematic excess, and to give the game an excuse to grade you poorly at the end of every level.
The thing about Asura's Wrath in terms of gameplay is that there isn't really much of anything; occasionally you're invited to a rousing round of "beat up the glowing viral fauna" as a reward for putting up with the game's gaudy bullshit for so long, which is at least functional although it's clear the game begrudges you for interrupting its precious cinematography and thus does its utmost best to fuck up the combat. Despite resembling something that could very well be a barrel of fun, it only serves to degrade the game further with just how insubstantial it is; there are absolutely no extra weapons or even any upgrades to maintain intrigue and variety, since the game is stuck so far up its own ass that the only prizes for accomplishing anything are concept art and cutscene videos, so all you'll do is just spam the same dull attacks over and over. And it is beyond awkward having to stand still in the middle of a fast-paced action sequence to fire projectile attacks at flying enemies or missiles.
But even if I were to forgive all that, I challenge any fans to defend this rationally; fights cannot be won the traditional way of "kill everyone in the room, then move to the next room to kill a bunch more dudes, repeat", but only by beating up the constantly respawning enemies enough to fill up Asura's "rage" metre – which behaves as an all-purpose Green Lantern ring that bends the plot to Asura's will in a good display of what happens when dickheads write stories – which once full can be used to launch a pre-rendered plot-advancing hadouken attack by way of, you guessed it!; another goddamned pissing quick time event! As if the game is scared that letting the player control the outcome of a fight will well and truly stuff up their carefully crafted story and choreography. There are also rail shooting segments, although their only practical purpose is to further justify reviewing this alongside Kid Icarus; they also have the same problem as the hack and slash in that they're very brief and there isn't any variety beyond hold the rapid fire and auto-aim buttons down until the game grows bored of this nonsense and prods you in the head to move on to the next cutscene with another QTE. The game doesn't even trust you enough to let you move from one area to another without the aid of cutscenes or on-rails shooting, having to keep a tight leash on you at all times less you actually start displaying free will and having fun.
Final thoughts; Kid Icarus: Uprising is presented well and will offer its fair share of fun, but it's a physical chore to play and really doesn't offer much new to the medium that other shooters haven't already covered, even kid-friendly ones like Ratchet and Clank or Metroid Prime, both of which I would sooner recommend as an introduction to the genre. It doesn't even end with any real closure; the threat of the genocidal nature goddess is never resolved and the characters spend the ending cutscene reiterating how humans are wastes of carbon, but choose to ignore all of that because yay the underworld is defeated! But that doesn't even come close to the bullshit of Asura's Wrath's finale. Look, the canonical ending should only ever be positioned right at the end of the main story as a tasty reward for all the player's efforts and devotion, to close everything off in a coherent and consistent manner; forcing us to jump through extra hoops to find the true ending hidden somewhere behind a default false one just breaks the flow of the story's progression and throws a massive spanner in the player's immersion. It's not clever storytelling, it's not giving the player more reason to continue playing; it's just needless padding that cheats us out of the well-earned closure a good story is supposed to have. Being the pseudo-professional I am, I did jump through those infuriatingly tedious hoops in Asura's Wrath, only to find that the bonus level isn't even anything new, it's literally just the final level copy pasted wholesale with another bloody cutscene attached to the end; no bosses or even gameplay to justify the time wasted trying to press the shiny buttons at just the right moment to get a completely arbitrary high grade. And if that waste of time wasn't bad enough, it ends on a fucking cliffhanger, as if one game of this bullshit wasn't already bad enough! Presumably the sequel will have you doing nothing but watch Asura screaming at his comrades; occasionally giving you dialogue options to decide which way he punches something.
Hey you, yes you,
Hellooo, it’s Toad85. I don’t remember it, so you have to.
It is now 1981. Reagan has just been sworn in as president. The space shuttle program is now underway. The Pope has been shot. And Nintendo, perhaps most importantly, is trying to make it big in the video game market in North America.
However, Nintendo was not the video game colossus it is today, with people buying their consoles and games simply because they made it. Nope, Nintendo products were a hard sell, especially in the saturated market of the early 80’s (see my “Video Game Crash of 1983” article from December). Nintendo had already tried to break into the American market, but had ultimately failed. Multiple times. But this article is not about their failures.
Instead, we shall speak of the man who pretty much saved Nintendo’s butt, and his industry-changing game.
PART THREE: SHIGERU MIYAMOTO AND DONKEY KONG
Not all Japanese video game companies, mind you, were a flop in America. Japanese companies like Taito and Namco successfully broke the American video game market, and arcade games as a whole tended to be hits on both sides of the Pacific. OK, so then why couldn’t Nintendo do the same?
For one thing, Nintendo didn’t really have a ground-breaking game to build off of. Namco had Pac-Man, and Atari had Pong, but Nintendo had… Radar Scope?
Yes, Radar Scope. An early cabinet arcade game, Nintendo thought that this would be their ride to the top. It was similar in a way to Galaga, in that you shot little rectangles at weird-looking alien ships. However, probably because the U.S. market was already saturated with space shooters, Radar Scope never made a dent overseas. Only 1,000 or so cabinets were sold in total, and Nintendo failed to make any kind of profit.
Enter Shigeru Miyamoto. A young college student, Shigeru had just graduated with a degree in industrial design. Hiroshi Yamauchi (remember him?) brought in the student to convert the unsold Radar Scope cabinets into a new game. This new game would be geared towards American audiences, and hopefully put Nintendo on the map, but would need to stay under Nintendo’s budget of $100,000 (Roughly $250,500 in today’s currency.) This was not a lot of money to work with, but Miyamoto was up to the task.
At first, Nintendo pursued a license from the “Popeye” comic strip. However, the license fell through, and Nintendo decided to continue making the game with its own characters. This provided Miyamoto with an interesting situation, and he became the first developer to craft a story for his game.
The story went something like this. Jumpman, whose name derives from his primary defensive move, as well as the suffix -man (Miyamoto wanted something to the effect of “Pac-Man”), owns a pet gorilla named Donkey Kong (whose name stems from synonyms for “stubborn” and “ape”). However, Donkey Kong grows resentful of his master and kidnaps his girlfriend, taking her to the top of a construction site. The carpenter Jumpman must scale the 100-meter tall building in order to rescue Pauline.
Okay, it’s no masterpiece. But it did set a standard for storytelling in a video game. This was the first time a story had been played out onscreen, you know.
Hiroto Yamauchi could not have been more thrilled with Miyamoto’s work, entitled after the villain, and had high hopes for the product. The game had four screens, compared with the typical arcade game’s one, and used about 20,000 lines of code. Gunpei Yokoi came up with an idea to make seesaws in certain levels that would catapult Jumpman across the screen; these would become springs instead. At first, there were some concerns that Donkey Kong deviated too much from the traditional maze and shooter arcade games, but Miyamoto, Yamauchi, and President of Nintendo of America Minoru Arakawa quickly quelled these queries. Donkey Kong was ready for export.
During export, though, there were a few changes. Mario Segale was upset with Arakawa, who could not keep up with the rent, but was promised that the money would come soon. Segale became the namesake for Jumpman in America; partly out of compensation, partly because he looked so much like the character. Jumpman’s girlfriend would be named Pauline, after the wife of warehouse manager Don James. The new names were to be printed on the cabinet instead of “Jumpman” and “Lady.”
Arakawa decided to sell the new game to two bars in Seattle, coincidentally mirroring Pong’s first sale to bars in California. The managers initially showed reluctance, but soon flipped their opinions when they saw Donkey Kong raking in 120 plays a day. The owners ended up asking for more machines. This was a big outcome for a company that couldn’t afford their own warehouse, and Donkey Kong soon went national.
Sales of Donkey Kong grew like wildfire, and because Nintendo was making them out of the unsold Radar Scope machines, Nintendo was making much more money than they were spending. Eventually, Donkey Kong was selling so well that Nintendo had to build its own machines to keep up with demand. All in all, over 67,000 Donkey Kong machines were sold in the U.S., Japan, and Canada. Nintendo had gone from penniless to filthy rich in just a matter of months. Lawyer Howard Lincoln, expecting to hear a call from Nintendo about filing for bankruptcy, instead got a call asking him to “protect Nintendo’s newfound fortunes.”
But not all was well in the world of Nintendo. In 1982, Nintendo was sued by film giant Universal Studios, who claimed that the name “Donkey Kong” infringed on their copyright holding of “King Kong.” So what did Nintendo do in response? Well, I’m kinda out of room here, so tune in next time, please!
Again, I’m Toad85; I don’t remember it, so you have to!
Hey guys, good to be writing something relaxed for a change. If you've come here expecting to see a big, scary monster spout vulgar nonsense and harsh criticism, then don't worry; this is my serious face room, and I'm more than happy to hear feedback about what you do and don't agree on, any counter arguments you might have, inquiries, or just general chat, maybe about other issues you'd like me to discuss somewhere down the track. So not to stretch the intro on for too long, let's get started.
In case you weren't able to tell from my review this month, I don't like cutscenes, at least as a means to deliver narrative. I know some people really like them and think of them in the most positive light, but the way most games approach cutscenes, and by extension narrative and player engagement, is just… wrong. While I don't see the complete removal of cutscenes to be necessarily a good thing, the way they're currently used is definitely taking the medium in a very bad and harmful direction. So for my first entry into this section, I'd like to observe why the current usage of cutscenes is detrimental to the overall interactive experience of games, how the relation between story and gameplay is supposed to work, and when cutscenes are beneficial.
I can understand why from a marketing perspective developers would want to continue using pre-rendered cutscenes; they look good. Marketing relies entirely on making the product look as fancy and high-quality as possible, and it's just not possible to make real-time models look as sophisticated or good-looking as pre-rendered models; thus many developers employ them as a quick and easy promotional tool, regardless of whether those cutscenes tell the audience anything about the actual game or not. This links into another issue of why developers shouldn't just rely on trailers to advertise their games and should start looking into using demos more frequently, but I'll talk about that some other day. It's also a good chance for the art designers to truly bring out their artistic visions without having to sacrifice the quality to the monster of hardware limitations. I'm not sure what the appeal is for the average gamer, but I'm willing to take a very loose guess that they simply enjoy films and probably get excited from the novelty of a game they're enjoying displaying something akin to movies. Correct me if I'm wrong, I'm just making wild and stupid assumptions there.
The thing is, video games are an inherently interactive medium which means we play them, not watch them. While I don't think any gamer will ever argue this, there still seems to be a big debate both on how much gameplay is actually necessary to constitute an interactive experience, and how story and narrative is to be presented in games. Some argue that the only way to present a good story is taking control away from the player, while others argue that the player should be involved in the story and their actions should push the events along. The former argument strikes me as counterproductive, since excluding the player denigrates the very purpose of the medium; to directly involve and engage the player. Once you've lost focus of that central element of video games, your entire game falls apart, and we wind up with predicaments such as games that are both a half-assed video game and a half-assed movie. Delegating narrative to cutscenes cordons off story and gameplay as two entirely separate experiences, when ideally they should be one and the same; this segregation will more often than not turn the game into a string of disjointed and unconnected gameplay segments loosely bridged by a story that's not really integral to the player's gaming experience. While it would be foolish of me to say that it's impossible to get immersed in a story told primarily through cutscenes, it's still not ideal to exclude the player from the direct progression of the story, even a fully linear one; otherwise they're essentially just waiting for the plot to wake up and stop blocking the road to the next interactive moment. It feels like an interruption, even if you've found yourself absorbed in the story, and it seems to me that the industry can do a lot better than this to make all factors flow perfectly as one.
The goal is for gameplay and story to support and enrich – not oppose – one another, and it's hard for them to back each other up when they're separated by a thick wall. Contradictions have always been one of the most blatantly harmful results of relying on cutscenes to tell the story; we've all seen it before, a character has been killed or near-mortally wounded by a bullet in a cutscene when they've been soaking them up in the actual gameplay, or the characters are displaying acrobatics and skills that you're never actually able to use in the game itself. Games like Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, Devil May Cry, and now Asura's Wrath are representative of these sorts of discrepancies. Huh… a lot of these games are Japanese, aren't they? But uhh, these inconsistencies will usually break immersion for most, or at the very least disappoint the player since the developers have squandered potentially good gameplay mechanics in favour of gaudy pre-rendered presentation.
Expanding on my hypothesis earlier, I'm sure many people like cutscenes because they give the game a cinematic tone, but there is a significant difference between feeling like a movie and being like a movie. The former is just an aesthetic choice that can add a lot to the atmosphere of a game provided it's still within the interactive confines of actual gameplay – see Left 4 Dead or Prince of Persia: Sands of Time for examples – while the latter is applying strict storytelling rules from a non-interactive medium to an interactive one which has different rules for presenting narrative. Some people are going as far as to label them “movie games”, a title I find incredibly disturbing since people should not be playing games to watch movies; films will always be better at being films than games will ever be, and the desire to see games replicate movies would be like someone going to the movie theatre to see text scroll by as if it were a book. As I keep pushing, games are about outstanding gameplay experiences, not cinematic experiences; the story should be core to the game, not the cutscenes. Maybe there's some insecurity present here, that perhaps replicating a long-standing and accepted medium will get video games the same sort of respect; but certainly the goal of video games as a serious medium and especially as an art form is to establish their own identity and gain approval on those merits. There is plenty we can learn from other mediums, and plenty they can learn from us, but that doesn't mean copying; that means analysing what they do to approach narrative and artistic expression, and working out how to apply those methods to the far more interactive gaming medium.
Having said all that, cutscenes aren't an inherent evil; most developers just haven't figured out what they're best suited for. Every weapon in the developer's arsenal has some use, even if it's for something small and aesthetic. In my eyes, the best use for cutscenes in gaming is to give the player a contextual framing for the story, atmosphere and even gameplay, and even then they shouldn't be overused or too long. This is why we always expect an opening cinematic in video games; to show us the general tone and atmosphere of the world we're about to jump into and experience. Panoramas of environments, introducing and establishing important or vital characters, and putting the player in a position of hopelessness that’s outside their control; these all fall under the use of cutscenes to establish context. Think of how much more amazing the world of Ocarina of Time and Okami felt when the game took five seconds of your playtime every now and then to show you the mere face of the gorgeous environments you were about to explore, or how much greater the impact of the meeting with Andrew Ryan was in BioShock with control taken away from you. Think of how the opening cinematics of FallOut or Call of Duty 4 established the mood, atmosphere and context of the experience ahead of you, and how much emptier that experience would've been had the developers not used cutscenes to set that tone. I don't think any of these could have quite the same impact if they were exclusively in the player's control.
Now of course I don't purport to have all the answers about narration and story in games, and the topic only got brought up so much here since it's at the centre of the cutscenes argument; I'll probably dedicate another section later on to my views on how to make a good video game story. But it seems to me that if developers do wish to pursue narrative seriously, if they do want to make the player's experience in the game just that much richer with a brilliant story and clever writing, then they have to learn that games are about interactivity and not about being cinematic. If we can properly assess where cutscenes fit best and how best to apply them to a game, then we can perfectly frame and enrich a great gameplay and story experience without bogging the player down and taking them out of that experience with overdone cutscenes. Perhaps I'm not articulating myself particularly well here, but hopefully I've still managed to convey my general thoughts on the matter. Hopefully this section will inspire some pondering and conversation about the place of cutscenes in games; I'd love to hear your own opinions on the subject. See you blokes next month.