Tag Archives: Nintendo

All I really want

Man, all I really want to do is sleep in late every day. I don’t want to have any clocks in my bedroom. Nothing but the sun in the sky and that little path it makes across the room as it rises and arcs and eventually hits me right in the face. That’s when I want to get up every day, not because it’s eight or nine or ten, but whenever, eleven, twelve, one, I don’t care. I don’t even want to know what time it is. It’s going to be a clock-free zone, my house.


And when I do wake up, I don’t want to get out of bed right away, not unless I want to. But I don’t want to, trust me, I want to have my phone right next to the bed – again, clock function totally disabled – and I’ll spend a good chunk of time just looking at the web sites that I always look at, flipping back and forth between my stupid web browsing app and my stupid social networking apps.

When I get up, seriously, I need to get one of those doggy doors built in to my front door, so that way I don’t have to put my pants on right away. I can just put my feet into my slippers, they’re right next to the bed, right where I left them when I went to bed the night before. Or, not even the night before, because I really want to evolve past the whole night/day schedule. It’ll just be, when I’m up, I’m up. And when I’m tired, I’ll go to bed, whenever, who cares.

So I’ll just get up and I won’t have to take the dog for a walk, because he’ll have figured it out himself, he’ll know how to use the doggy door when he wants to go to the bathroom, and he’ll know how to clean up after himself so I never have to look at it. Where does it go? How did he learn how to do it? I don’t care. I don’t want to know. I’ll just be content in the knowledge that he’s figured it out, that he only goes outside when he needs to, he doesn’t roam around or chase squirrels or eat garbage, he just comes right back inside and waits for me to give him a little attention.

Breakfast, man, of course I’m going to eat breakfast when I wake up. All I really want is a fully stocked kitchen. I want like a Netflix subscription, right, but instead of paying a monthly fee to have a huge database of movies and TV shows at my fingertips, I want to pay to have that same database available in my kitchen, right in my fridge and my pantry. And instead of movies and TV shows, it’s all fresh ingredients and cool snacks and juices.

And then seriously, all I really want to do is just hang out in my pajamas all day long and play Nintendo. It’s like, come on, I’m not asking for too much, OK, I’m not demanding the latest generation video game consoles, no, just give me a Nintendo Game Cube, all right? Just somebody give me all of their used Game Cube games, because I’ve never really played them, I’ve never played The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. And that came out when I was in high school. What kind of a Zelda fan am I? How did I make it to where I am today without ever having had a Game Cube?

You want to hang out? Let’s just hang out at my place. “Rob, don’t you feel like going out every once in a while? Getting out of the house?” you might try to bait me into something, a restaurant maybe, “Let’s go bowling,” you’ll suggest. But I’ll be like, “Nah, I’m just going to stay in. Come over if you want, we’ll watch movies, we can play Super Smash Bros. Melee. I’ll call for a pizza.”

And even though you’ll make it out to be like I’m not fun anymore, you’ll hang up the phone and say something like, “All right man, I guess I’ll see you when I see you,” I’ll wait like an hour, an hour and a half, and there’s going to be a knock at my door. It’s going to be you. You’ll have a six-pack and big bag of Cooler Ranch Doritos.

“Come on in,” I’ll say as we set up the controllers for some two-player NHL Hitz. Because that’s all I want to do, yeah, that’s all anybody really wants to do. What else could you want in life, huh? What’s better than just hanging out around the house, playing video games and eating Eggo waffles until you’re so full you have to take a nap?

Player two, start

When I was a little kid I always wanted to play Super Mario Bros. as Luigi, but unless you’re playing two-player, that’s never an option, and two-player regular Mario is terrible, each person taking a turn on the same level. It was impossible, trying to sit still, having to wait around for my brother, everything taking forever, just jumping over that hole in the ground such a challenge.


But as the oldest brother, I couldn’t let anybody else be player one. And so we’d start the game up, I’d be Mario in his classic red and brown and I’d have to watch my little brother get to start up as Luigi, classic Luigi, white overalls on top of a green shirt. Was there any difference? Aside from the colors, could Luigi do anything different than Mario?

I guess because they were identical, I always assumed they were twins, the Super Mario twin brothers. But then in subsequent games, Luigi developed his own distinct personality, character traits that set him apart from Mario. He was taller, I could definitely identify with that, because I was always the tall one in my family. He could jump really high, I guess to go along with the whole tall thing. He seemed like a natural older brother, and thanks to Super Mario World 2, I was given the option to start as Luigi.

Unfortunately he’s way too slow, and that high jump, it takes forever to land back on the ground. Not that Mario’s any better. He’s just regular, as regular as he was in regular Mario One. But I hesitate to draw any significant conclusions based on that sequel, because it was a really terrible game, and everyone always wound up opting to play as Princess Peach, whatever, not for any stylistic reason, none that I’m aware of anyway. No, the Princess could fly, or float, it was a huge in-game advantage.

Mario 3, Mario 4, it’s back to basics, the focus squarely on Mario, Luigi never mentioned, not featured on the box artwork at all. He’s merely a placeholder, “Player two, start!” I’d go through the whole Super Mario Land alternating between player-one and player-two just so I could have a chance to beat King Koopa as Luigi. When I finally did it, I was disappointed to see the game scroll through the victory credits as if Luigi didn’t even exist.

“Thanks Mario! You’ve saved the Princess!” even though Luigi would be standing right there, holding the Princess. I think it was Luigi anyway. But it was probably just Mario, no height difference at all, just a Mario twin, a clone, I don’t know, maybe they were short on cash for those third and forth games and they were like, all right Mario, you’ve got to play Mario and Luigi’s parts for this one. Here, put on this green cap and overalls, it’s almost player-two’s turn.

Mario 64, Luigi doesn’t exist. Jesus, even Yoshi gets a cameo at the very end. Spare no expense for Mario’s trusty dinosaur sidekick, but what about his brother? His own sometimes-identical-twin brother, absolutely no respect. And then they’d release Mario Kart or Mario Tennis and fine, Luigi would be there, but strictly as a filler character. They don’t even give Luigi a proper villain. Where Mario has Wario, which is cool, they play on the whole upside-down M for Wario, when it came time to give Luigi his own doppelganger, they created Waluigi, like it was just, whatever, through Wa in front of Luigi and turn the L upside-down on his hat, nobody cares, nobody’s going to pick him, make him really slow and useless so that nobody wants anything to do with him.

He just gets a bad rap, Luigi, I always feel bad for him, like he’s the more relatable of the Mario Brothers. They give him his own game, finally, for the Game Cube, and it’s like purposely unplayable. He can’t jump, he can’t do anything, he’s stuck in a haunted mansion and his avatar is onscreen trembling every time he has to do anything.

I remember when I was a little kid we’d go to the skating rink or bowling alley and there’d always be a small arcade section set up somewhere by the lockers. A few places had this Superman arcade game, a pretty standard side-scrolling beat-‘em-up single player. But this being a big arcade machine, there was a second joystick, and if you somehow successfully begged your mom for a quarter, and someone else also happened to procure twenty-five cents at the same time, you’d both deposit your money and Superman would be joined by a second player.

Who was it, Batman? Green Lantern? No, it was another Superman, the exact same graphic as player-one, but they just filled in the entire costume red so as to differentiate from the original. It’s a pretty basic arcade game, you’d fly to the right and zap a bad guy, eventually the computer would be too much to outsmart, and your mom refused to give you another coin for an extra life or two.

red superman

That second Superman wasn’t meant to be anything, it was just a way to accommodate two quarters in the machine at the same time. But I always thought, man, who is this guy? Does he ever get pissed that red-and-blue Superman gets all the fame, the publicity, comic books, movies, everything, and here he is, this guy decked out in solid red spandex, he’s apparently got all the same powers and abilities as regular Superman, but that’s it. That’s all he gets, this maybe cameo on some shitty arcade stand. Is he from Krypton? Does he have his own secret identity? Doesn’t matter. He gets nothing. Not even a name. He just nominally exists. Wouldn’t that drive you crazy? Doesn’t he deserve at least a little backstory?

Six kids and one Nintendo

Growing up it was always this battle to play video games, to get some quality time with the Nintendo without one of my brothers or sisters spoiling my fun. I’m the oldest of six, we’re all really close in age, it wasn’t like I was in charge of the Nintendo, and so everybody wanted to play. We had one TV, one console, and they were shared property.


There was really only one rule that governed our video game play, and that was the principle of mutually assured destruction. Regardless of who happened to be using the Nintendo, if one of us started complaining to my mom or dad, the result was always as swift as it was consistent: “That’s it. Turn off the TV. Turn off the Nintendo.”

And if I was playing, I’d maybe start in on a defense, like, “But mom! Come on! I was playing first! I had the controller! I was playing a one-player game! Come on mom! That’s not fair! Mo-om! Come on!”

I’m talking here as if I was the victim. More than likely I was the one who got bored, decided to see what was going on in the living room, I’d find one of my brothers playing some video game, and just because of the fact that I was a huge asshole, I’d start being a jerk. “Move over, we’re playing two player.”

It was a cheap move, yeah, but that was the system by which we self-governed our Nintendo use. The rule was, as laid down by our parents, if you want to play Nintendo, and someone else wants to play Nintendo, then move over and play something that’s two-player, because it’s not your Nintendo, and if you resist, if you have to get mom and dad involved, that’s going to be the end of it.

My mom would be like, “Look, if you kids are going to fight about the Nintendo, nobody’s going to play. You want to keep fighting? I’ll throw that Nintendo in the trash. You want to try me?”

That always shut any of us up. Because even though I kind of doubted my parents’ willingness to trash something that they bought, a piece of electronics that they spent over a hundred dollars for, I never wanted to take the chance. There was always this story that my dad told about how when he was a little kid, one time he and his brothers and sisters, had so annoyed my grandmother that she cut the chord to the TV with a pair of scissors.

I mean, no, I was never really afraid that the TV would get trashed. Take away the Nintendo, maybe, but no TV? That would have been hell for my mom, having us all cooped up inside the house, no Saved By the Bell to keep us somewhat quiet.

Because that’s what we did, we watched TV and played Nintendo. We had several games, we’d get them for Christmas or, sometimes at the end of the school year we’d be surprised with a new one. I remember when I convinced my mom to buy us The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. It was awesome. For months I had read in Nintendo Power magazine about all of the different dungeons that I’d have to explore, all of the various weaponry at my disposal.

This Zelda game though, it was a double-edged sword. As a one-player game, one that I really, really wanted to play, like all of the time, it meant that the rest of my brothers and sisters now wielded an inordinate amount of power over me. Any time I sat there playing Zelda, all one of them had to do was open his or her mouth and say loud enough for my mom to hear, “Hey Robbie, can I play?”

To make matters worse, this game came with only three save files. Granted, only three of us barely had the hand-eye coordination necessary to actually play this game, but try being a ten year old kid and attempting to explain this argument to your mom and dad. Halfway through the first sentence, I can already imagine my parents shaking their heads, saying to themselves, I knew we shouldn’t have bought that Zelda. Maybe there’s still time to return it for one of those baby educational Fisher-Price two-player games. We actually had one of those for regular Nintendo. It was the equivalent of Barney & Friends for video games.

And so yeah, I complain about never really getting much quality time alone with the Nintendo, but if I really take a look in the mirror, I know that it was mostly my own fault. I’m the oldest, and I had a hand in crafting the tactic of mutually assured destruction. I’d be doing something else, I’d get bored, and I’d walk into the TV room to find one of my brothers minding his own business playing a video game.

“All right,” I’d say with a shit-eating smile, “Let’s play two-player.” And if my brother started to object, I’d say in a really low voice, “Moo-oom.” Then we’d both be sitting there playing two-player Tetris, neither one of us really interested in falling bricks, but both of us too stubborn to leave the TV alone. So we’d sit like that for hours, every time I scored a line I’d do this overblown celebration, “Yes!” just to rub it in his face.

Man, I was such an asshole.

Mario Kart: Q & A

I found this link online of a little animation. It’s from Mario Kart. Specifically, it’s of a Koopa Trooper about to get hit by a blue shell, but right at the last second he uses a mushroom and barely escapes the detonation. I kept watching it over and over again. Which was actually easy, because it’s a gif, and it was only like five seconds long, so it just plays over and over and over again.

Q: What’s a blue shell?

A: Blue shells are really rare weapons in Mario Kart. They look like a blue turtle shell with spikes and wings coming out of it.

Q: What’s Mario Kart?

A: Mario Kart is a series of Nintendo games. All of the Nintendo characters drive around in cars and you … you know, you race and stuff. But it’s not just a racing game. I mean, it is, because the whole goal is to cross the finish line first. But there are little floating question mark boxes all around the courses that, when you crash into them, you get items, like shells or …

Q: You crash into the floating question marks? Isn’t crashing bad in racing games?

A: Yeah, but the boxes are translucent. And floating. So maybe crash wasn’t the best word. Or maybe it was. When you drive through one, the box crashes open. Well, it dissolves really, and then …

Q: So you can get these blue shells just by crashing into them? I thought you said they were really rare.

A: Well, you can get any shell really, blue, red, green. When you drive through a question mark box, a little box pops up on the screen and all of the items start blinking. After a second or two you are given an item somewhat randomly.

Q: I’m confused. Is this new box the same box as the question mark box that, how did you describe it, dissolved?

A: No, that was an actual box, like part of the course. These boxes that pop up aren’t part of anything, they’re just for the viewer to see, like to see what item you get. There are a lot of things on the screen that aren’t part of the course. There’s a speedometer. There’s a map, like a little map with little characters that show where you are on the …

Q: What’s the difference between a green shell and a blue shell?

A: The question should really be, “What’s the difference between a green shell and a red shell,” because, like I was trying to say, the blue shells are super rare. Well, they used to be even rarer when Mario Kart 64 came out sixteen years ago. Some of the newer games just give out blue shells to whoever happens to be in last place. Basically, a green shell fires in a linear direction, either straight ahead or behind. A red shell is more like a homing missile, knocking out whoever happens to be closest.

Q: Maybe I should play the game. You’re not doing a great job of describing it.

A: First of all, who hasn’t played Mario Kart? What are you Amish? Secondly, that was a perfectly descriptive description. Green shells, straight. Red shells, homing missiles.

Q: Yeah but you started off talking about blue shells, you still haven’t told me what they do, and I’m watching that little graphic and I don’t get why you think you’d write a whole blog post based off of a weird little video game joke.

A: All right, listen, when I allowed some Q & A, I expected maybe some actual questions. That wasn’t a question, it was just you stating that you don’t get it, and then making a very thinly veiled criticism about my whole writing process.

Q: Thinly veiled? What was thin about it? I think it was a bad decision for you to base a whole essay based on a blue shell.

A: It’s not just about the blue shell, I was trying to explain …

Q: How about a question? Why are you spending so much time on the Internet looking at stupid little video game cartoons? Shouldn’t you be writing more?

A: Yeah, well, I am writing, I was just blowing off some steam and I …

Q: And what are all of these open tabs on your browser? What’s a Super Mario wiki?

A: Listen, you know how the Internet is. One click leads to another. The Super Mario wiki is like Wikipedia but only dedicated to Mario. It’s like …

Q: You see what I mean? What’s this tab here? Who’s Tatanga?

A: Tatanga. He’s the bad guy from the Super Mario Land, you remember, that original Game Boy game?

Q: You know what? You lost me. I’m done.

A: Come on, you never played Game Boy? You don’t know what Mario Kart is? How did you get to this blog in the first place? Hello? Hello?

I’m the best at video games

I get on these kicks every once in a while where I get totally and completely addicted to a video game. It doesn’t happen all the time, and it always eventually passes, but when I’m in the grip of a game, it’s just takes me over so completely that I can’t think of or do anything else.

I remember being maybe two or three years old – I know this sounds like a bullshit story, but it’s true – and being over my grandparents’ house. My dad’s the second oldest of eleven kids, so when I was two or three, all of my uncles were in their teens and early twenties. And I remember one time being over there and everyone was huddled around a brand new Nintendo, the first console. They were taking turns playing Super Mario and Duck Hunt. I wanted to play so badly, but nothing sucks the fun out of something more than letting a little kid without any developed motor functions taking a turn and getting his snot-covered fingers all over the controller.

So I didn’t get to play, but I’d still pinpoint that memory as my first moment of video game addiction. Because I can remember it so clearly. And I was only two or three. I don’t have any other memories from that early in life, except for watching them play Mario I. A couple of years later, my dad came home from a business trip really late at night. At least, I thought it was pretty late at night. It could have been ten. I don’t know, I was a little kid and I was asleep and my dad came home with a Super Nintendo, set it up, woke us up out of bed, and sat us in front of the TV to play.

Little kids go to bed early and they stay asleep for like twelve hours. That’s how it must have been, because my exact memory of what went down had me waking up, regaining consciousness right in front of the television, holding the controller and playing Super Mario. I’ve never had a better waking up experience to this day. I beat that game so fast, I remember sending a photo of the end credits to Nintendo Power magazine, who asked readers to send in their photos, to determine who was the first person in the world to beat it. And it was me. I was the first person in the world to beat Super Mario World.

Then I remember reading Nintendo Power later on and seeing a whole article about The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. It showed all of the enemies you’d get to face, all of the items you’d get to collect and use along the way. Reading that article and looking at those pictures, I remember that I wanted that game more than I wanted anything else in the entire world. But I had to play it exactly right. I couldn’t just beg for it, because then I’d never get it. I had to casually mention that I wanted it, all while presenting little opportunities for my parents to buy it for me as a reward for something. So I’d pretend that an upcoming math test was really hard and that I’d be studying for it even more than I normally would. And I wouldn’t really be studying, I’d just be looking at that copy of Nintendo Power underneath the math textbook.

There were so many cool video games that came out when I was a kid that I didn’t really get a lot of time in between games to let the individual addictions die down. There was Zombies Ate my Neighbors. There was Donkey Kong Country and Mario Kart. After Super Nintendo got old, the Nintendo 64 debuted, with Mario 64 eating up whole chunks of my seventh and eighth grade life. Then there were two great Zelda games for that console. There was Mario Kart 64. There was Super Smash Brothers.

Somehow this blog post has just turned into me listing titles of video games which, if you’re not too familiar with video games, you must find this incredibly boring. I was going to say so much more than just the titles, but all I’d be doing is describing the games. This is the problem with video games, for me, they absorb me so completely, so fully, that I don’t have any other room in my mind for anything else. I didn’t write as a little kid. I liked to draw, but I never really gave it the attention it deserved because I was too busy playing Goldeneye.

So that was the majority of my childhood, Nintendo. Now it’s gotten to the point where most of the time I never play video games, except for like one or two months every two years or so, when the video game bug bites hard and I can’t resist. It happened when Halo 2 came out for Xbox. I would play it for entire days while I should have been going to class and writing papers. It happened right after the Wii came out while I spent entire days trying to get a 300 in Wii Bowling while I should have been going to work. It happened when Doodle Jump came out for the iPhone. That was especially infuriating, because after just one day I really didn’t even like the game anymore. Playing it was more than just this compulsion, it was like I hated myself for wasting my time holding my phone in front of my face, moving it side to side, feeling it grow hotter and hotter in my hands. Most recently, it happened last year with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, where I spent a solid hundred hours playing Team Deathmatch on Xbox Live.

I’ve been good for a while. It comes and goes. It probably has to. If I didn’t let it happen, whatever it is that’s inside of me that compels me to play video games would bubble up inside of me and warp and grow twisted and, well, I don’t know what exactly. Maybe it wouldn’t. Maybe I would spend more time doing other stuff. But at this point I can’t fight it. I can’t predict it either. I don’t know which game is going to lay claim to my soul next.

Whatever, they’re just video games. I guess if you have to be addicted to something, video games aren’t that bad. It’s much better than gambling. Or crystal meth. Right? You ever see pictures of long-term meth users? Gross.