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4:57 AM on 12.03.2007

Super Mario Bros

(This was written entirely due to boredom, as explained in the final paragraph. It deals with the main Mario series and just some of my general thoughts about it.)

Mario is probably the most iconic video game hero ever conceived, I don't have statistics so I can't say 100%. Of course whenever a Mario game comes out the world rejoices.

No wait, it doesn't really do that anymore does it?

Mario's initial non-platformer games were pretty low-key. Most people didn't really know about them, or just didn't really care. I mean some were probably pissed if they accidently bought Mario is Missing or whatever, but most people were only exposed to the core series. After the N64 was released Mario flooded the market.

Tennis, Party and Golf, the first three major Mario side games. All with at least two sequels , and the Party series just refuses to die. At least it's finally worth a look again now with waggle control thanks to the Wii and apparently the DS version is pretty fun with friends. But this is besides the point.

When Super Mario Bros was released everyone believed that video gaming at home was alive again, it single handedly resurrected a nearly dead practice. Well, not single handedly really, but it was possibly the biggest influence for people to buy an NES before they learned of other awesome games like Zelda and Metroid. The sequel was released and everyone bought that up as quickly as possible. The fan base was split, some liked this new game, others didn't so much. Years later when a thing called the internet came into being people found out that this was really Doki Doki Panic and completely different game and Shigeru Miyamoto decided to turn into a Mario game (He seems to have a fetish with revamping games... at least Doki Doki Panic was released in Japan, Dinosaur Planet never had a chance). When 3 was announced people weren't sure what to expect. Of course when it was released it became the best selling Mario game of all time and is just plain fucking amazing. It added so much to the Mario formula, it reinvented platforming games (Actually the Mario series has done that quite a fucking lot). If you don't know how popular/amazing this game is, you're an idiot. Go play it and you'll understand.

This was quite possibly the "golden age" for the Mario series as 3 and it's successor, World, are in an eternal war between which is the best Mario game. World came out for the SNES and was incredibly well received, being up there with 3 as most popular and amazing Mario game. It also reinvented platforming to a degree. It took was 3 offered and perfected it. The next core Mario game was Super Mario Bros. 64. Now I personally don't like it that much, but without this game 3D would suck, or would have for a long while. Thanks to this game 3D became a conceivable reality (Want proof? Go play Bubsy 3D). Again it reinvented platforming and invented successful 3D platforming.

Sadly 3D had to ditch the old fashion linear level progression or map. They had to add a hub world (Peach's Castle) which linked (via paintings) to other worlds (the meat of the game) where you could gain stars (the things you're looking for). You enter the world and leave once you got the star you were after. Pretty much every 3D platformer has used this system or a similar system to this.

This style of gaming is not really preferable to me. I don't like having to enter and exit over and over again, it just makes it seem like I'm constantly reentering the same world and it makes it really boring. I really liked how Banjo-Kazooie handled it. Basically it's exactly the same, but when you got a Jiggy (the things you were looking for in BK served the same purpose as stars in SM64) you were able to continue searching for the other 9 Jiggy's and you could leave whenever you felt like it. Of course, probably just to spite me, Nintendo has continued to use this same "1-star at a time" system. It's not really a major flaw, but it makes the worlds incredibly boring to me, and I'm sure (read: hoping) I'm not the only one who thinks this.

The next game is the most looked down upon Mario game released in the core set. Super Mario Sunshine for the Nintendo Gamecube. The Gamecube was Nintendo's chance to release whatever the fuck they wanted to pretty much. Sunshine was a major risk, that most people don't like, Wind Waker was a major risk, that most people hated at first but eventually allowed it, Metroid Prime was a major risk, which was very successful, and so on and so forth. This era was basically reestablishing all of Nintendo's franchise's. Sunshine along with all of Mario's side excursions are the main reason's Mario games are not such a joyous moment. Of course games like Galaxy come out and make us feel bad that we were almost not excited for new Mario games.

Super Mario Sunshine was supposed to reinvent platforming again. The bigwigs at Nintendo apparently thought that the FLUDD water mechanic would breath new life into platformers, however it really didn't. They were able to pull off an entire game with the water gimmick, but most people viewed as just that, a pointless gimmick. Many people don't really feel like it's a Mario game, and every fucking world is based on a beach. It gets incredibly old incredibly quickly that way. Even the cliche world progression (forest, ice, lava, swamp, jungle, airship, water, dark, whatever worlds) doesn't get as boring and almost tedious as Sunshine's levels do. Personally I enjoy Sunshine more that 64, but I'm almost alone in this regard.

The latest game to be released in the core series of Mario platformers is Galaxy. This game is fucking amazing, a current gen 3 or World. The gravity mechanic and wondrous worlds they shoved into the game is really awesome and beautiful, almost serene. Really it's a game that demands to be played by all. The only detractor for me is the same sort of "1-star per world" design. I understand that by doing this they can specially tailor the world so that it fits the mission you're currently on, but it just makes me feel like I'm being forced to revisit the same world I just beat. It again drains the wonder out of the worlds I encounter, but when the first couple of times I visit I'm in awe.

But wait! There's more!

I didn't cover the sports games (Tennis, Baseball, Soccer, Basketball, Golf, Kart and Party) nor the RPG's (the excellent Legend of the Seven Stars and the brilliant Paper Mario series which sadly lost a bit of luster with each installment and the clever Mario and Luigi game with the most boring sequel ever) nor the educational games, I even skipped over some of the platformers (Yoshi's Island and it's sequels, Super Mario Land 1-3 and the Wario Land series which spawned from that) but I just wanted to take a look at the core series.

I don't really know the point of this, it's just basic, general, not deep at all video gaming knowledge. If you know anything about games you probably know at least half of the information I put in this. I just wanted to write and I just got done playing Sunshine. Oddly enough, I like Sunshine a lot, but it leaves a sour taste in my mouth, and shine gathering seems to take forever compared to Galaxy's and 64's relatively quick pace. I might add on to this later, or write another little... erm... article(?) about the Mario series... I left a lot out. The difficulty of the series overall, the games I didn't talk about, the general effect of Mario outside of video games, and the movie which I personally love. I feel I've written enough, so if you read all of this, thanks and I hope you enjoyed your time.   read

9:42 PM on 10.15.2007

Majora's Mask

BBCode is used here too? I'm used to HTML dammit! Anyway, god's apparantely yelling at me to start a blog here and after listening to the amazing retroforcego podcasts on Zelda I thought I might as well make it about Majora's Mask. This is my favorite Zelda game and if you don't agree well, you're a conformist! Not really, I can see why a lot of the Zelda faithful hated this, but I just liked it's weird spin on the whole Zelda formula. I wrote this about a month ago and it's some of my thoughts on it. If it sucks oh well, you wasted your time reading it. If you enjoyed it tell me and I'll write more video game related crap here for all y'all to enjoy. I'mma shut up now and copy it now! Yay!

Majora's Mask is an experience unlike anything else I had ever experienced before. It was the first truly "dark" game I ever played. Knowing that I had only three days to stop the end of the world was a very scary task to fulfill for a nine year old kid. When I first played it, I never really went anywhere with it. The furthest I got was to the second dungeon and had to return it soon after to Hollywood Video. Upon venturing back to the rental store I cautiously grabbed it once more instead of a new game. I had to restart as it wasn't the copy I had played before. I got to roughly the same area as before and had to return it. About a year later I bought it, finally I was able to surpass that damn dungeon and move forth. I got to the end of the third dungeon, but didn't understand the gear puzzle; I was young and thought that I needed a guide book to beat any game. But the book made the puzzle sound overly confusing so I didn't even attempt it. I moved on to the fourth dungeon and completed. All that was left was that gear puzzle. It was too daunting a taste for my little kid mind to grasp so I sold the game, only to buy it back a few years later along with most of the games I had sold.

My first exposure to The Legend of Zelda lies with A Link to the Past. It's far from my favorite, but it was still my first taste of what would become a favorite series of mine. I only beat this once on my first play through; even after taking the GBA port from my cousin I still never beat the game again. In fact, I've beaten every Zelda game from Ocarina of Time and beyond multiple times, none of the Pre-OoT games; I think I'll have to remedy this soon. Anyway, this game opened my eyes to a whole new world of gaming. Before this I pretty much only knew of platforming, puzzle games and Mortal Kombat. It's kind of shocking, I'm incredibly knowledgeable about games and their history and pretty much everything gaming, but I only gained this knowledge as of two years ago (2005). Most people met me after I was this incredibly well informed geek, so it's kind of odd to hear me say I didn't know anything besides Mario, Donkey Kong, Tetris and Mortal Kombat. Regardless, I played it all the way through to the final epic encounter with Ganon. I didn't understand what was really going on. I was this little guy who had a sword and when I had full hearts I didn't have to be next to an enemy to hurt them. I had a whole slew of equipment to deal with challenges, it was a very different game than what I was used to. I loved every moment of it.

The next game to be released was, as you all know, Ocarina of Time. I bought this as soon as I could and played it through multiple times. I was old enough to understand the story know and know what I was doing. It blew my mind. It was the first 3D game I ever played and once again changed how I thought about gaming. I loved Ocarina of Time when I played through it over and over again, but then a new challenger approached, the semi-sequel Majora's Mask. I didn't understand all the new story arc's and side story's going on, but I knew that this game was epic. Every chance I got I rented it, and never made it any further. I secretly fell in love with this game, though I wouldn't beat it for another four years. Eventually though, the game sort of faded away, after I sold it I moved on from gaming overall for a year or so, luckily I got back into before my life devolved into a spiral of meaninglessness.

One day while cleaning my room I found my old N64 my mum convinced me not to sell, one of the best decisions I ever made. I quickly started going back and buying games that I loved and other gems I missed. Eventually Majora's Mask came back to me. This time though I managed to pull through. I beat it and loved every minute of it. After I beat it, I beat it again and again, getting everything all three times. The game was something else, the atmosphere, the characterization, the plot, Ganon wasn't involved, Link was looking for his lost partner Navi. All of it just collided in the end to form a game that once again changed how I looked at gaming. This would also be the last time a Zelda game thoroughly impressed me save for Wind Waker and earlier entries I had yet to discover.

Whenever someone asks what my favorite game is and I reply by saying Majora's Mask they don't understand. Truthfully, I don't understand how they couldn't love this game. Sure it's different than Zelda, but why would you just want to play A Link to the Past or Ocarina of Time over and over again? I personally loved the change, I wanted (and still crave) a sequel for this game so badly, (luckily my second favorite Zelda installment is getting one). Of course, my wish well never be granted. Link saved Termina. He righted all the wrongs, he collected all the masks, he unlocked the power of an ancient Deity, he destroyed the mask of evil…

But he also destroys Ganon each and every game too, but I digress. This isn't about Majora's Mask 2, it's about why I love the game so damn much. All the characters serve a purpose. Even if it's not directly tied to the central plot they exist to prove something. To prove Termina is a true to god, breathing world. It accomplishes this. The long, but rewarding Anju and Kafei quest is quite possibly the most touching that an N64 title can get. Saving the ranch, and thusly the lives of all the ranchers is simply epic (of course the fact that they used the Malon model doesn't hurt since I luff me some Malon). The Deku Palace proving that, at least in this alternative universe, Deku weren't just crazed seed spitting enemies, or cowardly business men. They have their own history and their own government. As do the Gorons and Zoras, though, both of those have been explored prior to this game. Needless to say, this game adds a lot to the Zelda universe that no one really takes notice to. It added a lot of emotion that you'd be hard pressed to find in Twilight Princess (which, while an average game, was a major let down in my opinion).

The overall plot in Majora's Mask is huge and seemingly an actual threat. In other Zelda games you don't really witness Ganon's influence spread as time passes, only after certain parts of the game are passed. In Majora's Mask the threat was right above you, staring at you, the whole game. You knew you only had a precious little amount of time and it constantly reminded you of it. The designers added a lot to this game as well that well probably, and sadly, never be explored again. Who is this Fierce Deity? What exactly is Majora's Mask or Majora for that matter? Who are the Four Giants? Why did they befriend a Skull Kid of all things? The mysterious aspect of this game easily beats out all the other Zelda games. As does the feeling of a tight-knit world, government and other such things that shouldn't really be important in a game about a fairy boy I suppose.

I really don't know how to end this, I could ramble on and on endlessly about how much I just love Majora's Mask, but anyone reading this would probably get annoyed right quick by that, so I guess I'll just end it with… Why all the hate?   read

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