Retro/Classic Feed

A First Look At Super Mario Bros. 3

Super Mario Bros. 3Long before the Internet brought us nonstop gaming news and livestreams of the next big thing, we relied on monthly magazines for our information.  We were hungry for information.  At the age of eight years old in 1989, I was starving for all I could get on the Super Mario series of games, so when I was given a free copy of the first issue of GamePro magazine in April 1989 at a Toys R Us, my little heart skipped a beat when, while browsing through the magazine, I came across a full three-page article on the first news on Super Mario Bros. 3.  Though the game was still a year away from launching in North America, those three pages were my bible for the next several months as I dissected as much as possible from them in advance of Nintendo Power starting to ramp up coverage later in the year.  Over on Twitter, VideoGameArt&Tidbits has posted that GamePro article for all to see so that everyone can experience the excitement of Super Mario Bros. 3.

Of course, now we know that GamePro didn't have a spy inside Nintendo.  They bought a copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 from Japan where it had gone on sale in October 1988, but as kids we didn't know anything about staggered release windows.  This article is so comprehensive because the writer played the complete, finished product.  On the first page of the article there's mention of "the Kuppa King" which, properly localized, is of course King Koopa.  Again, as a kid I didn't understand that translation and localization isn't an exact science, so I interpreted this Kuppa as a new character and couldn't understand how he related to Koopa.  I asked my loving grandfather about the difference and he explained that these characters were all fictional and that Nintendo could name them whatever they wanted because they were just making it up as they went along.  I knew that; I wasn't debating realism, but questioning the lore.  There has to be some consistency to the fiction!  Otherwise this nonsense is all for nothing, and who wants that?


OverClocked ReMix Hands Out Candy Corn

Candy CornFamed video game music remix community OverClocked ReMix has released a new album just in time for, er, next Halloween at this point in the form of Candy Corn, a collection of remixes sourced from Castlevania sequels such as Portrait of Ruin and Symphony of the Night, Chrono Trigger, and Pokémon Red as created by YoshiBlade.  It's more than just music though.  There's a spooky throughline happening here.

So this project is the progeny of those anthology-style movies and TV shows, a la Tales from the Crypt, Creepshow, Tales from the Darkside. In that vein, every track I consider a story leading into the next one, with the radio-style dramas serving as the reset button, the point of mental collection, then starting a new section.

It's a free download and an enjoyable listen, so why not rush the Halloween season for 2017 and check it out?


Super Game Boy Borders Frame The Action

Wario Land 2Nintendo's Super Game Boy accessory for the Super NES allowed Game Boy games to play on a proper television screen instead of the native hardware's tiny little viewing window.  Games that supported the SGB featured special colorful borders that surrounded the game action to fill out what would otherwise be a dead zone lacking activity.  The VGMuseum (which recently gave us a gallery of incompatible warning screens for the Game Boy) offers up this collection of Super Game Boy borders spanning favorites like Donkey Kong, Wario Land 2, and Mega Man V to international releases and even secret hidden borders from games such as Tetris 2 and Bomberman Quest.  Gaze knowingly at all kinds of detailed, fun artwork that few have seen in the wild.  It's a shame that the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console service doesn't include support for these borders and other SGB features.  There's some fun stuff locked away in these games.  


Secret Origins: Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge

BelmontHere on Halloween, you get a story about Hanukkah.  By the time 1991 rolled around, I was ten years old and deeply entrenched into the world of Nintendo.  I'd owned a Nintendo Entertainment System for several years, happily played Game Boy, and was dreaming of a Super NES for the holidays.  I was a young man of Mario.  My parents were happy to encourage this, giving me games and Nintendo-related books and media for holiday gifts and allowing me to spend my allowance and other savings on more games.  My father's side of the family, however, was not so understanding.  Ever since I had been bitten by the gaming bug a few years prior, they went out of their way to discourage my gaming interests.  They refused to give me games as gifts and even tried to forbid me from ducking away to a corner chair to play Game Boy when my family would visit them.  The terrible thing was, my grandparents never wanted much to do with me and, from my point of view, did not understand me.  From a very young age, they never wanted to talk to me or were curious about my interests.  Any attempt I made to connect with them was rebuffed.   My grandfather spoke sharply about me or over me, mostly barking to my father why I always had my face in "that damn game".  I did my best to ignore them and go back to Super Mario Land.  "It's a waste of his time!  It'll never get him anywhere!"

Continue reading "Secret Origins: Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge" »


Power Button - Episode 221: My Pet Monster

Power ButtonVideo games and monsters go hand in hand, so on this Halloween episode of the Power Button podcast, Blake Grundman and I spend an our discussing some of our favorite video game monsters.  From Gergoth to gremlins and beyond, we're going to scare the hell out of you.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes and Google Play, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.


New Donkey Kong Development Tales Revealed

Donkey KongYou'd think we'd know all there is to know about Nintendo's smash hit Donkey Kong by now, but the stories keep coming thanks to developer Shigeru Miyamoto and the re-release of the pared-down Nintendo Entertainment System version of the game via the NES Classic MiniChris Kohler at Wired has the translated details of an interview in Japanese from Nintendo's website in which Miyamoto discusses his nude creative process, his devotion to the early days of NES development, and that the arcade version of Donkey Kong was supposed to include voice clips.

“The lady stolen away by Donkey Kong was supposed to yell out, ‘Help, Help!’ And when Mario jumped over a barrel, she was supposed to yell, ‘Nice!,’ complimenting him. But some people within the company said, ‘Doesn’t the pronunciation sound a little weird?’ So we tested it on a native English speaker, a professor. They said it sounded like she was talking about seaweed: ‘Kelp, Kelp!'”

“At that point in development, we couldn’t fix it,” Miyamoto said. “So we took out all of the voices. “Help!” was replaced with Donkey Kong’s growl, and “Nice!” was replaced with the pi-ro-po-pon-pon! sound. It’s really good that we went with pi-ro-po-pon-pon. When you walk past an arcade and hear that sound, it’s really catchy. So even though we took out the voices, it still had great results. From this experience, I learned the importance of having good sound effects.”

I can't say that I miss the voice clips (you can hear them for yourself at The Cutting Room Floor), although my primary exposure to Donkey Kong was the 1994 Game Boy version which built upon the original arcade game.  The Super Game Boy version of that game includes voice clips, but in my mind I always hear the Game Boy version's take on Pauline's screams for help as a tinny soprano warble.  I suppose it all depends on which version you knew first.  On a related note, I am glad that Miyamoto is still telling these kinds of development stories about his earliest creations.  If he's held back new Donkey Kong tales, what are we still missing regarding Super Mario Bros. 3 or Zelda II: The Adventure Of Link?   


Power Button - Episode 219: An Appointment With Disappointment

Power ButtonNot every video game can be a solid, fun experience that lives up to the pre-release hype.  On this week's episode of Power Button, Blake Grundman and I discuss some of our most glaring gaming disappointments from over the years spanning Mario Is Missing, SimCity (2013), Ren & Stimpy games such as Space Cadet Adventures and Fire Dogs, Destiny, and many more.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.


The Incompatible Gallery

Donkey Kong CountryChances are that if you're purchasing a game for a particular console, you won't try to jam it into a different console with the expectation that it'll work.  Sometimes backwards compatibility comes into play though, and on occassion you can take a game from an older generation and play it in a newer generation machine.  It doesn't work the other way around.  Nothing good will come of slipping a Wii U disc into a Wii, for instance, nor does playing a PC Engine Super CD game with the wrong system card inserted.  The lines used to be a little blurrier though.  Consider the Game Boy Color, a handheld system that played both classic Game Boy games, fancy Game Boy Color games, and games designed for both pieces of hardware.  It could be confusing to remember which kinds of games worked in which versions of the hardware, so games that only worked on the Color model could be inserted into the original Game Boy despite the fact that those games would not play.  What's a developer to do?  Include an error screen that tells the player to try the game again on a Game Boy Color.  Now there's a full visual catalog of these error screens over at VGMuseum in which you can experience the thrill of incompatibility for yourself for the Game Boy, Neo Geo Pocket, and WonderSwan.  Most of the images are plain text, some include the stylish game logo, and a few go above and beyond with comical little scenes.


Pickin' Colors With Mario Paint

Mario PaintSpend enough time with Mario Paint for the Super NES and the game's title theme song will become lodged in your brain.  It happens so easily since the song is happy, catchy, and toe-tappingly perky.  Video game music site OverClocked Remix strikes again with "Pickin' Colors": Steve Snider's live performance of the Mario Paint theme done in a bluegrass style with actual mandolins, banjo, guitar, and bass.  Here's OCR's David Lloyd commenting on the performance:

The source lends itself surprisingly well to the rhythm & feel of such "old time" music, and while the arrangement repeats itself a bit & judges had some minor recording gripes, the unanimous feeling was that this revised version represents a creative, expressive, and most of all FUN take on the theme.


Power Button - Episode 218: Experience Gaps

Power ButtonWith so many video games out there and more releasing all the time, it's to be expected that nobody can play them all.  We all miss out on titles, sometimes with regret.  On this week's new episode of Power Button, Blake Grundman and I discuss the games that we've always wanted to play, but for one reason for another just never have.  Join us as we have not played games such as Metal Gear Solid, Kingdom Hearts, Mother 3, and Actraiser.  Maybe we'll get around to them some day.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.