Thursday, March 31, 2011

3/31: Dance Dance Mario Mix

Over a hundred entries. Tens of thousands of dollars in charity to a local children's hospital on the line. A video contest: come up with the best family dance number. Winners also pocket a pretty nice chunk of change for themselves. What would you do, hot shot? What would you do?

If you wanted to win, you did this. Presumably anyone else who just set up a camcorder in their living room and filmed themselves dressed up as Grease now feels really, really outclassed. The Super Phayre family ended up winning third prize: $1500 for them, and ten times that amount for a children's hospital. The Phayres run a video production studio, so odds are they did all the jaw-dropping postproduction work in-house, because man o man what they put on screen was a lot more than $1500.
The contest was held by Primrose Schools, a franchise of educational childcare facilities. The majority of the dance-off proceeds go to the Children's Miracle Network hospitals, based in Salt Lake City.
There is no word on whether Phayres, upon hearing the news that they won, swung their arms from side to side, took one step, and then went ahead and took that step again. Second was a "Beat It" parody -- which means that first prize may still be open to the Belmonts, or Kongs, or Blazkowitzes, or one of the other gaming families.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

3/30: Brothers Mario 2: Kong Country

A few months back, I (and the rest of the world) fell in love with the GTA-FMV stylings of Brothers Mario, which told a gritty video game crime story using the Mario characters. Guns, hooking, gang wars, crime, depravity – all of the things that make Mario Mario, right?
Well one thing that Brothers Mario has in common with regular Mario is SKU flooding. That’s right: there’s already a sequel! Behold: Brothers Mario 2: Kong Country! Just as Godfather 2 works as a prequel and a sequel, BM2 (Ooh, that's unfortunate) brings up Mario's past and future: a dude named Kong.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rumors of My (Black Screen of) Death...

Something usually goes wrong with technology. The 3DS does not appear to be the exception to the rule.

Various dudes have reported something that is Microsoftily being called the Black Screen of Death. But, as fair-minded commenters have noted, having to restart your portable gaming system isn’t the same as rebooting a computer with eight unsaved programs running.

Also on the both-sides scale is that most people just have not experienced this, people like reviewers who have been running their machines for a month straight. But it doesn’t take an unboxer to wonder if this could become a more serious issue (insert WAV file of me coughing and saying “red ring”). Nintendo is reportedly getting quite the deal and a nifty profit from each 3DS. Who wants to be the first to speculate without any other facts about cut-rate parts? THAT’S why they’re all failing, save for the fact that very few are failing, and even then they’re not really failing.

**

Speaking of fails, this is the first post where I haven’t mentioned Mario. That’s not going to happen again. The idea behind this blog – which is ultimately devoted to filthy lucre – is to focus exclusively upon Mario. That’s what I’ve been doing with the #dailymario Twitter feed since the beginning of the year, which was a test to see if there truly was a new Mario meme-ish Internet event every day.

And there is! But sometimes the biggest Mario news of the day isn’t Mario news: like the 3DS’s Black Screen of Death. But I guess I’m talking about Mario now, so this post, through navel-gazing about what it doesn’t contain, now counts. Metaphysical five!

Monday, March 28, 2011

3/28: Tanooki Rebirth

Today's Mario history lesson will be on...the tanuki.

One of the few things we know about the upcoming (date TBA) Super Mario 3DS game is that the logo features a tail. Students of history -- the sort of history they don't teach in school -- will remember this is from Super Mario Bros. 3, where he got a wonderful raccoon suit, with a tail that let him smack enemies, and fly.

Wait, fly? Raccoons don't fly. True, but the suit is technically a Tanooki suit, and Japanese tanuki (a carnivore related to dogs, not raccoons) have the same sort of scampy reputation that foxes have in the States. (The tanuki, in fact, is also a fox relative.)

None of that explains why tanuki can fly. And, um, I have no answer for that, since they're trickster characters in Japanese folklore, but not fliers. They are shapeshifters, though, which explains the rarely used Mario power to turn into a statue.

And now's the time when I ask the kids in the room to leave. For tanuki have one more ability that I'd be concealing if I didn't tell you about. Maybe you want to watch the excellent Studio Ghibli film Pom Poko for more. I'd include a clip, but dang if it ain't the oddest sort of NSFW you've ever seen.

Okay, deep breath: tanuki have the power to grow their testicles enormous, and swing them around at each other like bean bag chairs full of wet sand. This is, to a large degree, what they do all day. You'll notice it's not in SMB3: this is because Nintendo is not stupid. Tom Nook from Animal Crossing doesn't do this either: good for him to have the self-control.

So there's some trivia to spice up the dinner conversation tonight. And now you can add one thing you probably DON'T want to see in the new Mario game, to go along with all the stuff you DO want.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

3/27: We are go for launch, 3DS!

3DS, welcome to the family. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. We're going to try to love you as much as we can.

You're made by Nintendo. You're one of eleven children Nintendo has, not counting some other relatives from earlier marriages, which we won't get into right now: it gets pretty soap opera-y. Suffice to say all eyes are on you right now, with your ability to take 3D photographs, play 3D games, and do all the other DS stuff millions of people do every day.

It's a rough world, and people can be mean. They'll criticize you for your three-hour battery life. They'll ask where Mario is, where Zelda is, where Kid Icarus is. That's okay: you're young, You don't have to be perfect right off the bat. You can learn from these growing-pains mistakes, and in a year or two you'll be in tremendous shape. Don't beat yourself up over no working game store or no Internet connection yet. You have to learn to crawl first.

Let me draw this to a close before I run the analogy into the ground by figuring out which launch game counts as the meconium. (Suggest away at jeffryan1@gmail.com, though.) You're going to do just fine: you've got a feature everyone will want. Within a few years, in fact, everyone probably will have it. So you'll be a trendsetter! Just don't let it go to your head. And seriously, if you could work on upping that battery life to four hours, that'd be swell. Some of us have Nintendogs to pet.

***

Today in Mario also brings up a project I've been working on for months, and which I can't share yet. So I feel like a bit of a secret agent, or perhaps a popped-collar d-bag, when I say that it's not yet ready to show off. But I can tell you it required a trip to the local party store to buy fake handcuffs and spirit gum. I did not get a look when I bought these two items, which tells me a lot about what a clerk there sees on a daily basis.