So lately, I've had the honor of watching the animated adaptation of Super Mario Bros. 3, a platformer for the NES you may or may not have heard of. Serving as a follow-up to the Super Mario Bros. Super Show, the Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 was animated by DiC, began airing the same year SMB3 released, and lasted for just a little under 4 months. How bad could it be?!
First off, I should mention my experiences were with the N Circle Entertainment COMPLETE SERIES COLLECTOR'S EDITION dvd release, which removes any licensed tracks and some cutting here and there with an episode featuring Milli Vanilli (Who I found out was an actual band! I've honestly never heard of them until this.) So my experience varies from anyone who may have caught it back in the day.
This is my first real foray into the animated Mario universe, being born too late to catch any of it on TV when it originally aired but too young to remember it while it was syndicated (I was born August '93). There was a VHS we used to have with 2 episodes on it that even as a kid, I thought kinda sucked. And that was at a time I thought Sonic Underground was cool as shit. Yep. I thought that fucking show was cool as shit as a kid. Let that sink in for bit. (That'll be another blog for another time!)
With all of that out of the way, onward to adventure!
To start, we've got a great opening here! In merely 33 seconds we've got all the details we need, King Koopa was defeated, he came back, brought his little brats, and we're going to be seeing power-ups and landscapes from Super Mario Bros. 3! Sounds awesome, right?! Nnnoooot quite.
You actually do see a lot of what's promised in the opening, with Mario and friends fighting against King Koopa and brats...just not in the way you're set up to believe. I ask you, after that opening, what would you expect the first episode to be?
Showing how King Koopa returns and his first assault on the kingdom?
Seeing the beginning of a trek through all 8 lands to overthrow him?
A peak into the life of the Mushroom Kingdom about how he's already overthrown the Kingdom and usurped all of the kings?
I hope not, because it's none of the above! It's a TMNT parody! That's right, "Sneaky Lying Cheating Giant Ninja Koopas" is how we kick off the Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3. King Koopa waves his magic wand on 4 of his koopalings to make them grow from fun-sized dick heads to giant-sized dick heads. Who know kung-fu. (Or is it Ninjutsu? Taijutsu? ...Koopjutsu?) The obscenely long title and them knowing some manner of martial arts are about where the similarities to the TMNT ends, but it does come complete with a "I love being a Koopa!" line.
That said...Bob-ombastic Truthful Honorable Mega Kung-Fu Mario could be a great powerup...
It's a weird episode that sets the weird tone for the rest of what's a weird series. Weird encounters around weird, and often not very Super Mario Bros. 3-esque, elements that are just...weird. (Did I mention it's weird yet?) These are stories not about SMB3, so much as whatever shit stuck to the wall with SMB3 elements wrapped around it (With a few exceptions), if that makes sense.
There are episodes about capturing the President by transporting THE ENTIRE WHITE HOUSE into the Mushroom Kingdom, kidnapping Milli Vanilli (They're an actual band!), tourists going through a tunnel just showing up in the kingdom because fuck it why not, a mummy awakening and confusing Mario with her son, and ugly mermaid princess who wants to Mario, and other such classic SMB3 elements.
The most standout to me is the episode "True Colors." It's a racial episode where an entire village of Mushroom people are painted red and blue, and the dickhead Koopa Kids incite a color war. The shock filled cherry on top is the ending when Luigi asks if we'll ever learn to set aside our difference in the real world too. Mario seemingly sarcastically says "Yeah, whenever people become as smart as mushroom!" It seemed like a funny little end note...but then he turns to the camera making THIS FACE. AND IT ENDS WITH THAT FACE. YOU'RE A RACIST AND MARIO HATES YOU.
"The Real World" is something that bugged me throughout the show. Why do they call it that? I mean, obviously to us it's because we know they're from a videogame, but the show never treats it that way, neither says, nor even implies it. Whenever they talk about their world, it's always just "The Mushroom Kingdom," "The Kingdom," or going back "home." Do they just accept they're in some make-believe world despite the fact that it clearly exists and interacts with ours? Again, yes it makes sense to the audience, but it doesn't make any sense in the show. Especially when it's constantly interacting with the "real world" and posing a very real threat to it.
But to give credit where it's due, the show isn't all bad, and really does try in certain areas. The first is that it really feels like a video-game inspired show, even with all of the "real world" nonsense. They'll use the game sfx and bgm (Or a remix of it), follow the game rules of being hit and losing their powerup from time to time, and even the scenery in the mushroom kingdom resembles something you'd see in the game (never quite as close as the opening, but still) complete with those pipes that are just...hanging in the air.
Being made up of 12-minute episode affairs helps too, I think. It keeps the stories from getting long and drawn out and instead opting for stories that are short and sweeeee-...well, short anyways! All of them also end with the final screen in the game (The curtain lowered down saying "THE END") playing the end credits theme, which is a nice touch.
The final episode even ends the show on something of a high note with an awesome idea, the Brothers and King Koopa faceoff in Paris. Most of it is King Koopa giving the brothers the business being able to now use their powerups, but it's still cool to see, and in the final few minutes they even duke it out on an equal playing field using everything they can. But nothing's perfect, and out of all of the episodes to have problems in the release, of course it's this one. Through the episode there'll be a few times where it just cuts out, including the final showdown scene, which is disappointing.
King Koopa and his Koopa Kids are the ones who completely koop the show! (That is to say, they steal the show...they'll randomly throw "koop" around, it's weird.) For once we finally get to see King Koopa try to be a father figure to the kids. Even if it's as a monster father figure. He'll teach his kids to lie, cheat, steal, and apparently they'll go out to trip over old ladies for the hell of it. They're a downright horrible family, but they ARE a family nonetheless!
They also have the most personality to boot! Each of these kids have their trope and they own it.
Bully (Roy) is...well, a bully. Even to his downright horrible family!
Kooky (Ludwig) is an insane evil scientist, with a great maniacal voice.
Cheatsy (Larry) is an underhanded conniving creep. He's also FUCKING HIDEOUS JESUS CHRIST.
Kootie Pie (Wendy O.) is a complete spoiled brat whom I presume has cooties. And may in fact be a pie, the jury's still out on that one. (She's also secretly voiced by Tabitha St. Germain and HNNNNNNNNGGGGGTHATWHINING)[
Big Mouth (Morton) who's a complete motormouth. Kudos to the voiceactor for pulling it off.
Hip and Hop (Lemmy and Iggy) who are twins...eh, they're cute.
Apparently there were talks of a King Koopa show spin-off that never made it anywhere, which is a damn shame. If there's anyone who made the show worth it, it was these guys. Hell this show might have made me like them all even more!
So overall, are the Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 really that bad? Yes. Yes they are. A lot of these stories are just stupid. They made Princess Peach a stinkin' shoebie. There are constant animation and coloring errors littered throughout every episode, and sometimes the animation is just downright shitty. And don't get me started on those songs. BUT, if you can look past all of that the Koopa family will give you one koop of a time.
It's that time of year again! If you haven't spent it all on Steam/GOG/GMG Sales or what have you, or spent it on others for the holidays, prepare to lose the rest of what little money you have left. Or for the broke among us, just sit back and watch some games done quick!
Usually Chris Carter is here for the community when easing into a new game, but I guess he just doesn't have the heart to work up that spark he has so many times before, so playing through the game and having a blast, I thought I'd share some tips, which are story-spoiler free, in his place!
Don't be afraid to explore without renting all equipment! If you ever find yourself making it to a dungeon and you're ill-equipped to handle it, there will ALWAYS be a weathervane at the entrance. Simply activate it and warp back with what you'll need. However, I would recommend to always travel with the Bombs, Hammer, and Hookshot, as these are vital for opening up pathways and the like, which usually lead to finding dungeons, quests, or mad money. (Mostly mad money.)
Travel with a fairy in a bottle when you rent. This is a nice safety net to have since you don't lose the items if you're brought back by a fairy, but since it only recovers 5 hearts, you may want to take it as a warning to get out of there! (Make sure you buy a Scoot Fruit from an item shop!) You'll receive the net from the house with a giant bee on it in Kakariko Village.
DON'T FORGET TO BUY A SHIELD. [s]The game doesn't outright give you one (So far as I've seen)[/s] (It's going to be a while until you can find one!) and it took me 5 dungeons in to even realize something was missing. They're 50 rupees at an item shop, don't forget!
If you see a rock that glitters, DO NOT throw it. Slash it frantically instead and get all of the Rupees from it first. Then you can throw it!
Keep the environment in mind when you're fighting. If you have a swarm of enemies coming at you or there's one of those that just won't die, you can usually always hit them off an edge, or now, you can just escape using the walls (You can't be damaged). A trick I've been finding pretty handy is getting enemies attention, placing a bomb down and then hiding in the wall as they sit there. You've gotta be careful with the timing though, because otherwise you'll only trap and hurt yourself!
And there you go! I may have more to add to this list once since I'm still playing the game (Working on my 3rd dungeon in Lorule now), but hopefully these help a few of you who are playing as well. Feel free to share some tips of your own!
EDIT: Since the listing just shows up as text instead of formatting, I've just taken all of the BB code out. Sorry for the lack of prettiness!
How's it going, D-Toiders! If you haven't read my bio (Or I've actually stayed active enough to change it and you're reading this from the future), I'm just some guy who's been lurking around for years and finally decided maybe I'll try and get involved with the place. And between A Link Between Worlds coming soon, me finally playing and completing the original Legend of Zelda, AND finally finding the time, I thought I'd write a c-blog!
If the title of this blog is lost on you, lemme explain. About 2 years ago Egoraptor started uploading some videos to Youtube analyzing games and their sequels, called Sequelitis. They're an extremely in-depth look at what made a game and how its sequel either improved upon it or dropped the ball. They got a little popular and then just stopped coming out and that sucks. This C-Blog is gonna be in spirit of that, going over how A Link to the Past (aLttP) improved over the original Legend of Zelda (LoZ).
To start, let's go over the original LoZ real quick. You start out equipped with nothing but a shield, which can deflect some attacks sure, but you can't defend yourself if you go out into the wild you're probably going to die. Fortunately for you, the starting screen is one free of enemies or any obstacles, and only has a cave, so hey, let's check it out! Inside you'll find an old man warning us "It's dangerous to go alone! Take This." (like it says in the image up there!) Now not only are you equipped with a wooden sword and ready to fight those creatures from Ganon that are pretty bad, you've also learned that if you go into caves you can get equipment to aid in your quest, which is really rad.
And more or less, this is really the only lesson the game needs to teach you to get you started on getting the Triforce, saving the town, and [s]Mr. Krabs[/s] Princess Zelda! You're going to explore Hyrule, find some caves and shops along the way, get some more items to help you, and maybe find some secret rupee stashes (Or piss someone off by busting their door down.) Leaving you with an open world to explore, discover and collect items to get stronger, and not dictating every facet of your level order, the original LoZ succeeds in its goal of being non-linear. Whether you wanna be super buff before starting any dungeons or go crazy and beat the game without picking up a sword, you're absolutely free to do that.
However, while this non-linearity is the game's greatest strength, it's also leads to the game's greatest detractor, having next to no guidance in the world. Almost all of the caves you will find are merely shops for the same items you see at every other shop, a quest to open another store, or to receive an item. Nothing is marked on your map (It only shows where you are in the world) and without any unique landmarks to go by, you'll find yourself running around in circles while this plays on a loop inside your head. It's an experience that's fun at first, but can very quickly become frustrating because you're not making any progress.
So what does aLttP improve from this? Everything!
"Everything? Sir, you're being far too hyperbolic!" But hear me out, because aLttP starts showing off all of its improvements from the moment you start the game, fool!
And with that bold ass claim I've made, I'll start with the very moment you start the game after naming Link! It's a dark and stormy night, and you receive a call for help from Zelda telepathically, mentioning she is a "prisoner in the dungeon of the castle." You wake up immediately after to your uncle telling you "don't leave the house." Obviously this means you SHOULD leave the house, and we should head out to the castle because Zelda needs help over there. So we haven't even gotten movement of Link yet and we've already fixed the original game's biggest detractor, lack of guidance.
Better yet? You start out with a world map, clearly marking where you need to be going, and where you're at. And while it may show you where the dungeons are, it never spoils what you'll have to do to get inside of them or to get there. So you'll always have an idea of what has to be done and where you need to go, but exploration is still encouraged and rewarded for finding out how to get in there, while finding more equipment to help along the way. The structuring of the game may be different, and is admittedly more linear at the start, but the original's greatest strength remains intact.
Our next improvement lurks within the Dungeons, which have evolved exponentially. In the original LoZ as you'll see in the image above, they're only one floor (Though they do start to get pathways to switch between rooms) and consist only of rectangle shaped rooms. Often, you'll see the same room patterns repeated throughout dungeons, sometimes repeated over in the SAME dungeon. (You'll see the room with two blocks in the middle A LOT) Now look at the aLttP maps. Do you see the different shapes going on there, along with the multiple floors? Each dungeon is now free to do its own thing, and while sporting unique gimmicks that you'll have to learn in order to get to the boss.
Every dungeon in the original LoZ was pretty straightforward, walk around collecting some keys, kill every enemy to unlock the door, maybe push a block to get an item, and later on, check the map like mad and bomb walls. For aLttP you'll being doing all of this while discovering alternate entrances to dungeons, use switches to open up pathways while blocking others, manipulate water levels to overcome obstacles, and more!
Giving enemies consistent placement and some AI to work with helps add to the variety as well. In the original LoZ, most enemies were just randomly dumped around the room to wander like mindless zombies, that depending on the room you didn't even have to kill any of them. It wasn't the most engaging experience. aLttP on the other hand mixes it up with enemies who will chase you if they see you, back off so they can get a shot with their arrows, dodge your attacks, punish you for attacking directly, and again, more! All of it comes together to form an actual involved experience for the player, and is hella fun as a result.
Now let's talk about the most interactive upgrade, what we can do as a player. Look at the image above, that's a pic showing all of the basic actions you can do in both games. As you can see, aLttP adds a lot for combat. In the original, without using any special items, the only thing you can do is stab your sword out in front of you (If you picked up the sword). Simple enough, but rather stiff, and not always as effective as it needs to be when you're surrounded by enemies, because unlike Castlevania, your special items aren't going to cover extra arcs that your basic weapon can't.
aLttP on the other hand upgrades that stab into a swipe covering what's in front of him directly, and to the sides a bit, so just swarming you with enemies isn't going to cut it anymore. Then we have the spinning slash, perfect to start defending yourself when an ambush drops down on you. You can even hold the charge for the spinning slash out while moving, so if anything tries to charge you, you've got a safety net in place to get some distance between you both and ready for battle. ...And then there's still lifting! Get a little interactive and use your surroundings in your combat by picking up bushes or pots to toss at enemies, or by knocking them off a ledge. (Early on those pots are your best weapon!) There are now tons of different combat situations to find yourself in, and even more ways to handle all of them when they come!
And that about wraps it up for what I wanted to cover here, because while there's still fucking TONS I could go on about from here, I only wanted to touch up on the foundations, going over what the original LoZ started, and how aLttP made it all even stronger. I could go over the different series staples that were introduced, rave about its soundtrack, or ask why Link never got his pink hair back, but that'd make this blog even longer than it needs to be, and I'd say it's probably already too long.
So thanks for reading, and hopefully it was worthwhile!