Tuesday, November 29, 2011

11/29: Mario figuratively but not literally crashes an auto show

My cup runneth over with Mariolatry.

Here's the story of the day: a giant Nintendo promotional stunt, building lifesize replicas of the Mario Kart karts and showing them off at the LA Auto Show. Except take a look at the timestamp: it's from over a week ago. I'm so swamped in Mario news that I'm still wading through week-old product, and finding fresh nuggets to parse out.

During this year-long experiment to see if I can find a new Mario story every day, I've had times of fat and times of lean. This is Yasiin (I was going to say Mos Def, but he changed his name) a time of fat. The fall is when all the new video games drop: and this season has THREE Mario games. They've been generating buzz all year long, "buzz" being news stories I have passed along as if Nintendo paid me, which they do not.

But buzz, like soda bubbles, like fruit pies, like so many of the great things in life but not Twinkies, are only good for so long. Some stories are evergreen: anything involving sneezes or pandas, because awww. Most aren't, and there's no Tupperware burp thorough enough to save these stories. They are like the mighty Aurouch, slaughtered for its abundant meat, and then most of it goes bad because there weren't refrigerators back them, and within a few weeks it's maggotopia.

Not wanting to end this story on the word "maggotopia, I'll add one more thought: just as there are to many stories some day to be reported, so too there are too few stories. I can only pity SportsCenter in the summer: they've got baseball but no hockey, no football, no basketball. Assuming a December SC has stories that rate at least a 6 or 7 on the worthiness scale, that July SC's median worthiness rating most be down below 5. You could watch a whole hour-long episode and see nothing but stuff that would be cut for time if anything actually newsworthy happened that day. Weird.

Monday, November 28, 2011

11/28: A Mario leftover sandwich

As a way to clear the boards of my second week-long absence in a month, I'm running a sort of Crazy Eddie sale on Mario-related links. EVERYTHING MUST GO! YOU'LL NEVER SEE PRICES SO LOW ON VIDEO GAME STORIES EVER AGAIN! I'M SO CRAZY I'M GETTING PLASTIC SURGERY AND FLEEING THE COUNTRY!

11/28: Metacritic's Mario Kart 7 page: No surprise here: they haven't tinkered with the winning formula.

11/27: I could watch Mario's stop-motion adventures all day. Too bad I can only watch them for a minute and twenty-seven seconds.

11/26: Follow a meme long enough, an eventually it will get to Super Mario. Fully 35% of the Internet is devoted to what back in 1995 was three guys making up Chewbacca-Ate-My-Balls jokes. The newest one (already so stale it's bricklike) is the pepper-psray cop, cropped out nonchalantly dosing the eyes of peaceful protesters, and put into ever more ridiculous (and usually innocent) surroundings. Two of those innocent eyes belong to Mario.

11/25: 2011: the year of "TIL." TIL stand for Today I Learned, a shorthand for treating ancient news like latebreaking scoops, because it's news to you! If your TIL is something that hasn't been previously shared on the Internet, which is a game of Googlewhacking nowadays, then you win, and gain attention. A good example is this Mario tidbit: the cover to SMB2 is art reused from the original Japanese SMB. If you're waiting for the "news" portion of this tidbit, there isn't any: it's just some recycled art. Nowhere near as scandalous as the original SMB's cover, which shows Mario falling to his death.

11/24: Everyone who bought a 3DS early has two more reasons to get that mistake rubbed in their faces. Nintendo is launching Zelda and Mario bundle packs for $200 each, whihc is quite kind of them because -- thought experiment -- imagine a person who wants a 3DS but does NOT want to play Mario or Zelda. That person probably exists, but is rarer than the legendary Zapdos.

11/23: Most big Nintendo games launch within a few weeks of each other around the world. Australia is usually one of the last countries to get their slice of the it's-a me pie. So to gain a few weeks on selling, some have turned to the "gray market," where they buy in bulk from a country where the item is already on sale, and thus get to street it a bit early. Take a guess what happens next. Note: if your guess involves Nintendo placing a stick firmly up its butt, you win!

11/22: Is this a thing now? Taking a you-gotta-be-kidding-me touchdown run and scoring it to the Super Mario invincibility music? Don't get me wrong, I like it, but it kind of diminishes the achievement of breaking free of 11 enormous muscular men who can run a 4.5 forty.

11/21: Metacritic's Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games page: There were two Robin Hood movies that came out awhile back: one had a big budget, Kevin Costner's quasiaccent, and the other had the bad guy from Sleeping With the Enemy, and a pre-wowsa Uma Thurman. This Mario and Sonic game is that Patrick Bergen version: forgotten, rather justly swept under the rug because there are not only better Mario and Sonic games out, there are better Mario and Sonic games out this week.

11/20: Metacritic's Super Mario 3D Land page: There's a fairness to collective ratings: assuming each is from a critic of equal weight, you total them up and divide by the asymptote, holding the coefficient to probablize the matrix algorithm, and at the end you've shown that you were not paying attention in math class. Or statistics. But you don't have to: this is an A game, both by importance and by rating. (Luckily, it's not AO.)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

11/19: Mario gets some sweet air...hockey

I shouldn't know this, but I think hockey was Mario's first sport. Before he got into the boxing game (asa  referee), before Tennis and Golf and Baseball, before soccer and basketball and the Brobdignagianer-every-installment Olympics Games, there was Donkey Kong Hockey, where Mario and Dk went at it via some Blades of Steel fu.

So I'm not entirely drinking the Gingold soda -- that is one sterling-silver reference that no one is going to get, but alas -- when I say that this Mario-branded air hockey set is not just an overreach but actually quite appropos. You bang a turtle shell around instead of a normal air hockey puck. And, since it looks like the Koopa Shell has its own battery supply and thus its own air cushion, you don't need an actual air hockey table to play air hockey. Just, you know, a regular tables with raised edges all around and two bilateral portholes to use as goals.

As with so many of the finer things in life that involve spending money on ridiculous cartoon-charatcer merchandise, this is only in Japan.

Friday, November 18, 2011

11/18: (Insert piano pun here)

There are about 200 Italian words for different ways to play the piano, and I know none of them, save for "Condoleezza," which isn't even a real word. So my spacefiller joke above is partly because I am reaching and reaching into my bag of puns for musical or piano-based jokes, and I'm not even finding straws to grasp at. I'm grasping at empty straw wrappers.

So, with no ability to deliver puns, I'm afraid I'll have to rely on straight reportage: it's going to be much easier for people who know how to read music to play Mario tunes on the piano or guitar. Thanks to Alfred, which I'll assume is a company and not Batman's butler, Koji Kondo's scores for a variety of games and levels will now be in sheet-music form, the winner of the great sheet-music-vs-player-piano format war of 1907.

People who know about this more than I think this may even displace Czerny. Whoa! Wow! CZERNY. WHO'D HAVE EVER THOUGHT GOOD OLD CZERNY WOULD EVER BE DISPLACED! MY MIND IS AGHAST! Well will soon be living in a post-Czerny world. Children will ask "Who is this Czerny," and we will have to explain.

I have no idea who or what Czerny is.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

11/17: DING DING DING: PETA vs. Mario, Round THREE

Welcome back to the Garden folks, you're in for a very puzzling boxing match. In one corner, wearing faux fur trunks but doing so ironically and they're drenched in blood, is PETA. In the other, wearing blue overalls and no shirt, displaying way more chest hair than even Dan Hedaya thought possible, is Super Mario.

Round One began when Nintendo was trying to hype its new Super Mario 3D Land game, and PETA used that Mario-looking cameras to launch its new ad campaign,a bloody evil Mario. This is because Mario, who is not real, wears a magical tanooki suit in the game -- magical tanookis are two levels of not real, being both just as fake as Mario and also fictional, in that they don't have flying superpowers.

We called PETA the winner of round one, because it took Nintendo and the world by complete surprise. Part of that surprise had to due with the virulence of the campaign, and part with the fact that Nintendo, as a technology company, really is divorced from any kind of use of animals. But a haymaker is a haymaker.

Round Two features Nintendo's response to PETA's ad campaign, which had the approximate popularity of GWAR performing at an oncology convention. You'd think Nintendo would be able to hammer back -- Mario has been well-versed in hammers for three decades now. But no, it whiffed mightily in its uh-okay-sure-whatever response. Actually, "uh-sure-okay-whatever" would actually have been preferable to this.

Now, Round three. PETA fires back at Nintendo for firing back at Peta for firing back at Nintendo for dressing Mario in a flying raccoon costume. Interest in this round is pretty low: ironically for PETA, who champions cows so they're not factory-farmed for dairy products, they're milking this to the last drop.

Behold the passive-aggressive douchebaggery: "Mario fans: Relax! PETA's game was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, a fun way to call attention to a serious issue, that raccoon dogs are skinned alive for their fur," a PETA spokesperson told Kotaku. "We wish real-life tanukis could fly or swat enemies away with their tails and escape from those who profit from their skins. You can help them by never buying real fur."

First, it was more of a tongue-severed-from-mouth than tongue-in-cheek. Second, if you want to really tackle the skins in video games, Googling "nude mod" is a good start. Third, it's just tacky to pretend that you're shocked -- shocked -- that people were offended by you turning a beloved game character into a reject from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. You cna do that, yes, and people can get offended, yes, and then you say "gotcha," not oops.

To paraphrase an animal rights activist who's only hurt Adam Sandler, please remember to have you pets spayed or neutered. And for PETA, someone please reverse that operation, because they apparently need a pair.

11/16: President Mario? Italy, no! No, no!

Silvio Berlusconi is the sort of person my journalism professor would call "unlibelable." Certain culturual figures attain so much fame, and the concomitant rumors and innuendos and microscopic examinations of your actions, that there doesn't exist anything you can say about them that isn't a repeat fo someone else's baldfaced claim.

That's one type of unlibelable. OJ Simpson has another type, where EVERYONE says the same ONE THING over and over, despite that one thing being something you can't legally say about him, because a court decided otherwise.

And then there's Berlusconi's type of unlibelable, where you can't seem to come up with anything negative to say about the guy that's not already true. You don't need to read Italian to find a wealth of examples of how this guy, who owns a massive majority of Italian media, found ways to not so much blur the lines of conduct between the media and government as expose then to antimatter.

As of today, Berlusconi is no longer running Italy. The incumbent prime minister is Mario Monte. As with Mario Draghi before him, because he is a grown-up over 30 years of age, he had no idea his name would become the easiest go-to nickname since Chris Moneymaker started playing cards. People are already calling him Super Mario.

Please no.

Please.

I know it's a harmless nickname, but let's decide, as a society, that just because someone is named Mario that they don't automatically get that nickname. That it's fine for an athlete or that guy at the cafeteria who gives you an extra dollop of mashed potatoes, but not for THE LEADER OF ONE OF THE GREATEST COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD.
He's gone.

11/14: Mario's money for nothing

Do you work at an advertising agency? probably not. Do you do freelance volunteer for for some of their clients? Yes you do.

I am presuming that you own a t-shirt or hat. It's probably got something on it: a team logo, a movie quote, something like that. You probably paid quite a premium to have that logo included on the clothing: plain t-shirts are $10 for a five-pack. And when you wear it it's a conversation piece. It says to the world I AM A PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS FAN, or I AM ON COORS LIGHT BEACH PATROL or HEY REMEMBER VANDELAY INDUSTRIES? IT'S FROM SEINFELD. EVEN IF YOU WATCHED THE SHOW IT'S NOT THAT FUNNY.

I own a bunch, mostly video game novelty t-shirts. (Don't act so surprised!) I didn't buy them from Nintendo. But they advertise Nintendo, even though Nintendo and its various PR branches had nothing to do with it. And, probably, are a mite peeved that others are selling their characters and not paying them for it. That mite peeved is offset by the free publicity they receive.

Think of Coke: you've heard of it, yes. You would have heard of it even if they completely ceased any and all advertising spend last year. That would have saved them a lot of money. But they keep on spending, hammering home new "stories" about their brand. Because otherwise it's sweet brown water, a few cents of high-fructose corn syrup mixed in with seltzer. Coke's advertising isn't the spotlights around  a movie premiere: it's the lasers at a laser lightshow. That's all there is to it.

Nintendo is in a different boat, since they make a more tangible product with qualities that don't have to be spun out of gossamer imagination. They make games. But even they still would like to coast on free publicity. So HMV's holiday display is a welcome boon, I'm sure. Every HMV will have pcitures of (there's no picture with the article, but I'll take an educated guess here) Mario wearing a Santa hat posing with presents. Next to Lady Gaga and Adele and Kung Fu Panda.

The way most (most, not all: again, I know nutt-hink!) deals like this work, HMV asks Nintendo if it can borrow Mario for this campaign, and Mario says yes, and no money changes hands. Because whose hands should be doing the receiving? Mario benefits from the exposure. HMV benefits from ancillary whuffie spilling around the plumber's aura. It's that 21st century line between product placement and synergy, between buying in and selling out, between being seen and ... and...

Wow, that's sad. Can't find a counterbalance statement for that.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

11/15: Mario vs PETA, Round 2

Eurogamer got the official Nintendo response about PETA protesting it, but not really "protesting." Peta PETAed Nintendo, basically coattailing its draft (like this!) in its inimitable (read: jerkface) way because that's what it does. And for those who say that offering a video game where you get to play a skinned zombie Tanooki chasing a bloody Mario wont make you stop eating chicken, well, that's not the point. The point is to make you read about their most recent PR stunt, and talk about it. Success!
Onto the news: here's what Eurogamer got from Nintendo. 
"Mario often takes the appearance of certain animals and objects in his games." 
"These have included a frog, a penguin, a balloon and even a metallic version of himself. These lighthearted and whimsical transformations give Mario different abilities and make his games fun to play.
"The different forms that Mario takes make no statement beyond the games themselves."
In other words...58 words of no comment.

Monday, November 14, 2011

11/13: PETA's dumb-smart war with Mario

PETA has succeeded again.

PETA's thing is to draw attention to animal suffering and cruelty. By doing this they hope that you will get off your butt and stop it. You, individually, are probably not hurting many animals right now. But our collective lifestyle -- eating meat, wearing fur, consuming dairy and basically anything with more than two ingredients -- involves animals dying. We're blessed with not having to decapitate a chicken if we want chicken in this part of the world, but that doesn't mean that the chicken keeps its head. And spend enough days not cutting chicken heads off, we begin to forget that meat really is dead animal flesh, and we're eating the severed leg of an evolved dinosaur because we like the way it tastes.

I say this as an omnivore. I appreciate being made to think about my choices, and I know it's not PETA's intention to have me do the exact same thing I always do except wiser, but maybe that's a small victory. Maybe enough PETA campaigns, and my daughters refusing chicken nuggets once they find out it's not just named after chicken but is ground-up bird muscle, and a heart attack or two, will unite to make me vegan.

Their newest target is Mario, and his 3D land Tanooki suit. Which, if it were real, would require the killing of a tanooki. Or, you know, fake fur. But in PETA's book, fake/digital fur encourages actual fur wearing, so Mario is guilty.

He's also playable, in a minigame that redefines meat-is-murder by being murderously hard, and that turns you into instant meat. Autoscrolling? Blind jumps? At least they, uh, homaged Mario with a pretty accurate (albeit bloody) SNES Super Mario World sprite.
Super Tanooki Skin 2D Flash Game -- PETA Takes A Stand

An animal rights group (not PETA, a -- believe it or not -- more extreme group) targeted me for a letterwriting campaign. In a former job the magazine I was working for was going to attend a conference with a trade show. One of the attendees at the trade show was a pharmaceutical company, and thus was involved in animal testing for its preclinical trials. This group apparently struck out trying to change the company, so they were using the same pressures on people tangentally related to the company, ie, us. My name, email, and phone number, along with my coworkers' were listed as being in the thrall of big pharma. We must be stopped, they said: action is required.

So I got emails. And phone calls. And, possibly, a bomb threat -- it was more of a "you know, one of the other people who refused to change his ways had his car blown up" statement. The author was warning me of others with malicious intent. Except what they wanted from my magazine was that we boycott this trade show unless a company we had no ties to other than sharing a convention hall was booted out. We didn't. My car stayed unbombed. No animals were harmed.

But just because you dislike some of the tactic of some of the people making an argument doesn't mean you can discount the entire argument. I'm still torn about animals, as I probably should be so long as I still eat meat. And as manipulative as PETA is, their tactics may be the only way to confront people who live life with blinders on.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

11/23: The Mario Fail

We are an imperfect people. We make mistakes. One such imperfect person was riding a motorscooter and plowed into approximately 20 traffic pylons before wiping out. Another such imperfect person was recording that. Presumably a third imperfect person thought it would be funny to add Mario sound effects and post int online.

I am the fourth imperfect person, passing it onto you. You will be the fifth, Whoever you show is the sixth. And so on.

11/12: Fan Service Mario

I took about two weeks off from posting, which was not voluntary. At first I just didn't have time that day, then it snowballed into a couple, then the no-posting time grew so big I felt like I'd never be able to post so many stories to make up the backlog. Then that became a sort of freedom to simply restart it one day, without having to backtrack on the side quest of completion, to use a relevant metaphor from gaming.

If I HAD been psoting in late October, I'd absolutely have passed on this video to all y'alls. As it is, i'm passing it on a bit stale. But if you haven't seen it, then there's one more Mario fan video out there. In this case "fan" means a bit more than "guy who saved $20 by purchasing his Mario costume in November."

The fan service here is pretty robust. If that's your thing -- and when I started this Mario project lo thee many moons ago, it was -- then this is a critical hit. But I think I've overdosed on ironic "gritty" Mario spoofs. All I see is what might otherwise be an interesting story, and then they pretend their handsome brooding Maroon 5-y in-shape leading man is Mario, and no. Nope. Gimme the chub, gimme the no plot, gimme the total lack of real-world connection.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11/11: Infinite Marios are back, baby!

A sonnet, by me:

Up.
Up.
Down.
Down.
Left.
Right.
Left.
Right. 
B.
A.
Start.

If you enjoyed that poem, you'll really like the fact that Super Mario 3D Land will let you have infinite lives, thanks to the jumping-on-and-off-a-Koopa-shell trick. This video shows an (I think) French-speaking gamer putting M. Mario through the paces.

Watch it to the end for a paradox: if you're a skilled enough gamer to acquire TWO HUNDRED LIVES, do you really need all two hundred of them? Aren't you the sort of person who quits and restarts because you missed a single coin, and thus your run isn't perfect? Just pondering.

Update: Link fixed. Thanks, Smart People!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

11/10: Times Square Mario

Times Square is going to get its question block on.

Nintendo usually throws fairly big promotional stunts to launch its games -- for Super Mario Galaxy, that means sending "Mario" and Buzz Aldrin into zero-G via the Vomit Comet. They've going for quantity this time, transforming all of Times Square -- which you can't drive through anymore -- into the Mushroom Kingdom.

I may have to get off my butt and experience this in person.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

11/9: Niedermeyer: DEAD! Dean Wormer: DEAD! Nintendo instruction booklets:...

The headline, for those too young or too discriminating in their viewing habits, comes from the Daily Show. Not the one that's been on for the last decade, but the one hosted by ESPN anchor Craig Kilborn before that. Kilby wasn't political, and didn't have much of an ideological axe to grind. (One of the things that Jon Stewart did when he took over was decide that satire was a weapon best aimed at those in power doing badly, instead of Carol Canning for being old.)

Kilby had a regular bit leading into the death coverage of a notabel figure: playing a clip from Animal House where John Belushi rallied his troops into trying to destroy a parade, calling out the names of all the enemies they were going to ruin in one fell swoop. Naturally, it was so staggeringly distasteful to have that sort of lead-in for, say the death of John F Kennedy Jr., that they kept it running for years and years and years.

The death I'm using it to allude to is that of the stories Nintendo instruction manual. Looks like the new Super Mario game won't have it: instead all the instructions will be accessible in-game. Provided you can figure out how to turn the system on and navigate to the game, you'll find the button map and all that.

Dollars to donuts this is a cost-cutting move: Even if it only costs 25 cents to print a manual, multiply that by the millions of games they put out per year, and you're saving a fair number of trees. Plus, when was the last time you actually flipped through one of those. "Aha, so Mario can run fast when I hold down the B button...? Wow, 20 years of playing and I never picked that up!" Sign of the time.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

11/8: Super Mario cubed...Rubik Cubed

I used to wonder what my purpose in life was. Getting good grades, falling in love, raising a family, being a good work guy. Recently it's been to share with the world new ways to portray Super Mario in mixed media. Okay. I can do that.

Here is a new way to display Super Mario in mixed media: The mixed media of Rubiks' Cube!
I now must, HIghlander style, fight all others who share Mario art until the death. THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!

11/7: 100 Marios...in real life!

The weird thing is, they all have tails. That's a lot of leaves to make so many tails!

11/6: Halloween(s) round-up

Catching up on a few days' worth of entries. Each day I tell myself I'll get enough time by the computer with no responsibilities where I can find and hare some Mario news. And then each day that time either doesn't arrive, or it does but I'm bone tired.

So I'll try to be brief. I live in New Jersey, and thanks to the coldsnap/precipitation, we had ice and snow and slush and downed trees and branches everywhere and sporadic power all over the place: it was a terrible time to have lots of kids obscure their eyesight and go walking around in the dark to strangers' houses. So Halloween was cancelled in our town.

But not every town, so I took our kids to a neighboring town, where it was in full swing. The kids slipped and fell and it was colder than we would have liked, but that was our exact same experience last Halloween as well. And then on Friday the kids got to have a second Halloween, so we had one, then zero, then two Halloweens.

My Mario count: four Marios. Three Luigis. At least three Princesses Peach. Two Warios. One Toad One Waliugi -- seriously. picked the short straw in the group costume contest there, huh? I saw one Luigi without a Mario. That signifies either devastatingly levels of low self-esteem, or his friend was standing out of eyesight or something.

And me, of course.
Jeff Ryan as Mario  - photo by Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide
Still weird to think that my costume went viral. I'd have blown up the fake gut and strapped it on if I knew people were going to pay attention.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

11/5: From plumber to ...delivery boy?

Take a wild guess who is delivering copies of Super Mario 3D Land to New York game reviewers.

Yup.

It is also your chance to see Stephen Totillo wearing a Taooki suit. So, for those of you with that on your bucket list...

11/4: Installing Super Mario 3D Land...installing...installing...

I have put off buying a flatscreen television for years. I'm still using a 25-inch CRT model I bought in 1999. Works fine. I don't have the four or five grand it would cost to upgrade. "But Jeff," you hypothetically say, "have you not seen a Best Buy circular in the last, oh, five years? Flatscreens are only a few hundred bucks."

Yes, they are. But I'm not finished buying once I buy the flatscreen. It'll need a $60 mount, plus a service call for a guy to install it. I'll have to get a new satellite dish to receive HD channels. I'll have to upgrade my DirecTV service. I'll need a new DVR, with more capacity. I'll need a Blu-Ray player, which means a PS3. And THAT means I will no longer be able to coats with a cheap-but-serves-my-current-needs DSL connection, so I'll have to upgrade to high-speed internet. Which means either another satellite dish, or a cable bill. Plus the energy bill to pay for the vampire appliance I've now invited into my house. And there's the matter of completely redecorating the living room, since my current TV is in an entertainment unit, and I'll need a new one of those to replace all the stuff I keep in there besides the TV I'll need new housing for. And then all the DVDs have to be swapped out for Blu-Rays. It's really more like ten grand, with another four-digit figure added per year in new fees.

I always figured something would happen to necessitate getting a new TV. I have two small kids: kids break things. I got a new TV in college because my roommate's in-the-process-of-becoming-ex-girlfriend threw a Snapple bottle, and it hit the screen of the old one. At some point I'll turn it on and it will contract its vertical and horizontal down into a tiny dot, which will then float up to Zenith heaven along with all the other Lion Kings to guide me in my journeys.

I've got another one of those like-it-or-not occasions coming up. Super Mario 3D Land will come with a firmware update for the 3DS. Features I may not have had access to because I haven't been rigorous in updating my 3DS -- seriously, it's not a Tamigotchi, it's not even Adobe Reader -- I'll now get whether I like it or not. For the 3DS this is perfect, I get the newest 3DS OS kernel (or whatever it's called) installed, and don't have to go through the rigamarole of installing it. And at no extra cost.

Note: I am also terrified that the plasma/LCD debate is like VHS/Betamax, and the one I choose will become obsolete and the only thing I'll be able to watch are old Babylon 5 episodes. This is an irrational fear. This is also a bone-deep fear.

Friday, November 4, 2011

11/3: Calling Uwe Boll

I'm going to say this as a person who has voluntarily watched most every Uwe Boll movie out there. Bloodrayne? House of the Dead? Alone in the Dark? Heck, I've even seen him punching people in that Heckling documentary. In interviews he appears to be quite smart, albeit in a Keith-Olbermann the-proof-is-in-the-pudding sort of way. But  there's naught but lye and pickle brine in these puddings.

A teensy example: in that Dungeon Siege film, Jason Statham has to cross a dangerous bridge. Well, we'll assume it's supposed to be dangerous, since there's no actual danger felt on screen. I'm not going to complain about the CG or the greenscreening: lots of much better shows and movies also have nonperfect special effects. Everyone has budgets, even those blessed by the German Tax Code.

Anyway, his two friends have jumped down into the river, and Statham stands there grinning like an idiot, them jumps in. Here's where the bad-director rap comes into play: the crucial shot of his friends actually landing int he river is missing. You have to convey that there two guys didn't bash their brains out on the rocks. If you don't have the budget for rigging stuntmen at the location -- or even visiting the location, which may have just been virtual -- fine. There's an easy fix: film Statham watching them fall. The camera's on him, so it doesn't have to be on them.

But Boll doesn't get that shot. He probably realized it was missing when he was in the editing room. And I have to think one of the reasons he stays employed is that he doesn't go over budget on reshoots, so he wasn't ever going to get that shot. All this is because he doesn't have the movie in his head. he's just shooting coverage, and assembling it later.

Robert Rodriguez has his movies in his head. he can cut tens of millions off of a budget by knowing which sets he needs to build, since they'll be seen often, and which can be virtual. His movies are really hit or miss, but they're demonstrably his movies, what he intended to make. Boll's films are assembly line products. They're the car crash that happens not when a bad driver is behind the wheel, but when no one is.

I realize it's easier to just say "Uwe Boll sucks" than explain why. But I can learn a lot more from a task done badly than one done well. And maybe there's a lesson for us in there: work hard, stay within the lines, and you, too can be hated by the world for your horrendous actions.

All of this is tangental preface to the news that these two fake trailers are up. One is a romantic comedy about put-upon office drone Don K. Kong, the other is a horror-movie adaptation of Luigi's Mansion. Uwe Boll, I beg you, please stay far away from the Mario franchise. It's one film was bad enough.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

11/2: Dance, Mario! (shoots gun at Mario's feet) Dance, plumber!

If you happen to be in Japan right now, and are looking for not so much a new Mario game as a new game that featured a schmear of Mariolatry in it, and also like dancing, well yu, sir or Ma'am, are in luck.

Check this out!

For those who did not check that out: Hey. Hey now. I slaved...SLAVED...over a hot keyboard for about nine second cutting and pasting that Kotaku link. The least you could do is click on it and pretend to be interested.

You know what? Fine, never mind. Don't click on it. DONT. CLICK. It's obviously not worth your OH-SO-IMPORTANT-TIME! You have some sort of Battlefield patch to install, don't you? Mario and his G-rated antics just aren't mature enough for you. You're making yourself perfectly clear.

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Why do I feel like a Final Fantasy character? I think it's the asterisks and line breaks.


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Yep, that's definitely it.

11/1: Is Rovio reading this...right NOW?!

There's a web guru I won't cite by name, because his name is unimportant in this particular story. he put out an annual list of things he did and didn't like with Web design. And one year he really tore into a company's corporate site. Why? Because this guru has said that particular style of site was last year's model. And he was personally offended that they hadn't listened to him. Him, a huffy guy on the internet.

The Jacob Nielson Story (uh...oops?) illustrates the fallacy that just because you say or think or write something doesn't mean that it has any connection to how others react if they do what you suggested. Just because you want to see Hangover 2 on DVD and then it's in stores on day does not make it your idea. Lots of other people had that idea. In fact, long before you even knew a sequel was being made the DVD release date was already pencilled in.

I bring this up as preface, to explain why this piece I wrote a few weeks back seems prescient: Rovio listened to me! They're planning a new Angry Birds games unrelated to the original concept! In an attempt to make their own Mario where so many others have failed! Actually, no. It's simultaneously short-sighted and bigheaded to think I was a) the only person in the world to think "spinoff", b) the first person to think it in OCTOBER OF TWO THOUSAND AND ELEVEN, c) being read by anyone at Rovio.

This news has gotten me interested in where they take the Birds franchise next. That they haven't slapped the most popular Cardinals since Albert Pujols et al into a series of hamfisted knockoffs already show that they're paying attention to quality, not quantity. Maybe they're thinking first-person? Ramming beakfirst into objects? Same gameplay idea, new execution. Maybe a card game for the kids. Maybe Battletoads, with each level a new game. Maybe...I got nothing. Nothing over here.

Some actual game designers would probably be better at this.