Today being the thirtieth anniversary of Nintendo's landmark Super Mario Bros. 3's release in North America, I cannot let the day pass without looking back on one of the defining games of the 8-bit era. I first became enamored with the adventures of Mario and Luigi in 1986 and over the next several years, Nintendo became my childhood religion with the pair of plumbers at the top of the holy ladder. I watched the Super Mario Bros. Super Show cartoon while eating Mario fruit snacks and wearing my Mario t-shirt, scribbling in my Mario notebook with a Mario pencil (with flag topper!) and checking the time on my Mario wristwatch. In May 1989 I picked up a free first issue of GamePro at a Toys R Us while out shopping with my mother and flipping through the pages make my young heart skip a beat. There was a Super Mario Bros. 3 coming and it looked fantastic. The two-page preview spread of the Famicom title (already available in Japan) showcased the best visuals I'd seen for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and I scoured the piece for clues about what was ahead for Mario. This time around, according to the preview article, Princess Peach (who? Where's Princess Toadstool??) has been captured by the Kuppa King (any relation to the Koopa King?) and it's up to Mario and Luigi to defeat the Kuppa guardians (not kids?) and save the day. I asked my grandfather about the odd names, comparing Kuppa to Koopa and being unaware of localization, and he told me that since these are made-up names, they can be whatever the creators want them to be. I just wanted to understand the continuity between the different games.
Here 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!"
Hey, you! Yeah, you, the person reading this. You wanna listen to a video game podcast? This week on Power Button, we're talking about games that reach out to break the fourth wall and directly address or interact with the player rather than the protagonist. Eternal Darkness, Sonic the Hedgehog, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Super Mario 64, Deadpool, Metal Gear Solid, The Simpsons Game, and other favorite games are brought up and discussed all for the benefit of you, the audience. We hope you enjoy this dive through the fourth wall. 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. Next Time: We celebrate gaming's best relationships on our Valentine's Day special.
I'd been pushing my iPhone 4S long past its expiration date. Purchased in June 2012 after my iPhone 4 did a spinning flip off of a countertop and smashed screen-first into a cabinet handle, my trusty 4S had been showing signs of wear and tear for a while. No cracks, scratches, or cosmetic damage, thankfully, but instead I'd noticed little things like ongoing decreased battery life, apps frequently crashing, apps forgetting data, settings not staying set, and the ballooning of "Other" data that iTunes was unable to recognize, delete, or handle that had filled up the gadget's meager 16 GB of storage. The phone even refused to be wiped for a fresh install from a backup. I keep my technology around until I've clearly worn it out, so the 4S's time had clearly come. It was time to upgrade. Like all technology transitions though, nothing is ever as easy as it sounds.
I never thought I'd get involved with the Wii Fit program, but here I am about three weeks into wearing the Fit Meter, playing the balance board games, and working on a training regimen in Wii Fit U. Most surprisingly to me, I'm really enjoying it. How did I end up here? Exercise has never been a priority for me because of my traditionally poor health and my love of being stationary, but following my medical drama this year I've found myself in a unique position. I lost over 140 lbs in 2013 and the start of 2014 due to serious illness and ended up having to gain weight back over the summer to reach a healthy size. I'm a point now where I don't need to lose weight, but I don't need to gain any either. I need a light exercise program that encourages toning up and rebuilding lost muscle. Since I'm still healing from surgeries, I also need a program that doesn't end with me sweating or doing too much vigorous movement. Wii Fit U seemed like the answer, so I bought the whole starter kit: game, balance board, and Fit Meter pedometer on sale at a Best Buy four days before my July surgery, then put it aside until I was healthy enough to start on it.
Being a life-long Nintendo fan, I really wanted a Wii U when it launched in 2012. The high price tag, lackluster Nintendo Land pack-in game, and impending new release drought put me off picking one up, and since I was about to become engaged to a woman I loved very much at the time, I knew my free gaming hours would be on the decline (plus I had a ring to buy around the same time as the console's release). So I vowed to wait for a price cut, a new major 3D Super Mario game, or some other factor that would turn the console into a must-own item for me. I'm nothing if not both patient and optimistic.
If you've been reading PTB this year on a regular basis, then it's no surprise to you when I say that I've had a rough time. When 2014 goes down in the history books for me, it'll record two major abdominal surgeries, complications from those surgeries, massive weight loss that reduced me to skeletal proportions for a while, and my engagement ending. It's been hell. Right in the middle of all of that, I decided to stop putting off that purchase. Faced with spending several months at home recovering between surgeries and regaining weight to bring me back up to a normal healthy size, I stopped holding out and bought a Wii U along with Super Mario World 3D in late April. With all that had happened and was still happening at the time, I needed an escape and, moreover, I needed to do something fun for myself. After all that had happened already, what was I waiting for now? Nothing. So I ordered and Amazon brought it right to my door two days later.
How I wound up with Nintendo's Paper Mario: Sticker Star for the Nintendo 3DS is rather unremarkable. My family asked me to put together an Amazon.com wish list for the 2012 holidays, I wanted Paper Mario, I put it on the aforementioned list, my parents bought it and sent it to me as a gift, the end. The real story here is not so much how I acquired the game, but what I did with it once I had it and when I finally found the time to play it. See, while I received the game in early December, I didn't have the chance to finally open the box and play the game until the middle of January. I had been planning a long weekend getaway with my girlfriend Nicole after the holidays, and since every good vacation needs a game to go with it, I made it a point to finally start playing the game just prior to the trip. Our destination? Historic St. Augustine, Florida for four days of relaxation. Paper Mario was along for the ride, but this trip was secretly about more than just getting away for a few days and certainly about more than saving the Mushroom Kingdom.
This was the weekend that I asked Nicole to marry me.
When the Nintendo GameCube hit North America, I hesitated. Rather than buy the new console, I sat back and watched as launch titles that weren't Super Mario titles came and went, so by the time I did purchase a GameCube the following year in 2002, I had some catching up to do. I bought Super Smash Bros. Melee without hesitation, but decided to rent a few of the games of which I wasn't sure about buying. With plenty of time to kill over the long July 4 holiday that year, I stopped by the Blockbuster Video a few blocks from my apartment and picked up Luigi's Mansion and Sonic Adventure 2 Battle to take for test drives. I cleared the mansion over the course of a few days and wound up returning the game a day overdue (bringing Blockbuster's wrath down on me in the form of a late fee that equaled the original rental price), so I didn't have a chance to explore the hidden unlockable mansion that revealed itself following the game's conclusion. I decided to hold on to my memory card save data and vowed to pick up the game on the used market before too much time passed in order to completely finish it.
Then a decade passed.
Friday, June 10, 2011: I've spent the week in Los Angeles covering the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo, and for the first time I've covered it largely as a solo act. It was my seventh time out to the big show and the first one I've covered without Kombo's brand name and clout backing me up. It was not an easy job. I checked out of the hotel room before dawn and made my way to the airport, then caught the long five-hour flight home. Exhausted, I staggered off of the plane and into the jetway. Last year I had to take a cab home, but this year I'd made better arrangements.
On the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of the release of the Nintendo 64 and the groundbreaking Super Mario 64, it's time to share the story of how I wound up with the oft-misunderstood console and smash hit game. I was fifteen years old when the system debuted in 1996 and, like everyone else in my generation, was extremely curious as to what Nintendo had planned for Mario in his latest adventure. I'd been following the Nintendo Power coverage for months ahead of release (even if the coverage was vague and cryptic as the magazine was famous for at the time) and finally found a demo unit showcasing both the system and the flagship title at the local Blockbuster Video one September afternoon. While my parents picked out a video to rent, I held the trident controller and realized that all of the previews hadn't prepared me to play Super Mario 64. Not that I was blown away by what I saw or overwhelmed by the moment, mind you (though I was), but I honestly had no idea how to hold the controller. I ended up trying to maneuver my way through the Bowser In The Underground level by pinching the control stick with my thumb and pointer finger as if it were an old fashioned joystick. That didn't work so well, and by the time I figured out how to actually play the game it was time to leave, so I had to walk away unsatisfied. I wanted more! I knew I had to have a Nintendo 64 and Super Mario 64 of my own.