Let’s Talk About Nintendo and the Super Mario Bros

Look here. This guy is a plumber. Red overalls, brown shirt and boots, red hat, fat mustache. Chubby for someone who can more than double his own height at a pounce (I dunno, maybe he’s solid muscle).

I’ve been able to give Super Mario Bros a lot of discernment because I’ve been playing for years and years. Maybe even longer than some of you have been alive. Now, that’s not to say that I have played with obsessive demeanor literally the entire time. I can name a whole host of characters. I know a good number of games under the Nintendo brand. Let’s face it, when you have a guy who can have enough inertia left over to break bricks with his fist by jumping nearly 8 feet in the air, there is much to be said about the entire thing from a third-person view.

He does have a brother named Luigi. He resembles Mario, and wears mostly the same things except for the color of his outfit being nestled somewhere in the color spectrum which occupies the green sector. Somehow, he, like Mario, was granted an innate capacity to shoot fireballs from his fist (maybe that’s the secret that allows them to break bricks and not shoot a fireball if he just jumps beneath an open sky or beneath bricks that are otherwise out of reach of his jump). In the second Super Mario Bros, however, he is a pogo stick who can manipulate air beneath his feet to give him the most bang for his jump, every time. Crazy.

So, let’s talk about the general story line. Mario and his brother Luigi are, quite possibly from an exorbitant pasta-eating competition from the night before, awoken by the screams of some girl who happens to be a princess. In this case, a giant turtle has taken hold of her and is now at large for kidnapping (grand theft royalty?). I guess the Mushroom Kingdom doesn’t exactly have a care in the world for the non-Goomba, non-Koopa Troopa, non-Bullet Bill type. So you start out at the beginning of the level as a small entity. You’re walking on a bricked pathway, with cucumber-esque mountains in the background and apparently very dense clouds floating around. You have a very seemingly low tolerance for this type of atmosphere (which makes you an alien) because you can only breathe it for 400 seconds (which is an insanely long time to hold your breath underwater during very aggressive swimming activity) before you lose a life (you are also a cat).

It sort of makes you wonder how you got the news in the first place. None of the provided enemies seem to have an interest in you except for:

Lakitu– throws two-second-gesatational-period spiny eggs at you, from which hatch equally uninterested Spiny enemies. They simply pretend to wish to attack you by virtue of the fact that they face in your direction upon landing, but they won’t intentionally do anything.

Hammer Brothers– Obviously jealous that they have to share the name “brothers” in the description which composes their name (One of them must have their first initials as “M. C.” It only makes sense. The only remedy for this troublesome truth is to chuck hammers at our protagonist.

Bowser– This guy right here also throws hammers, but in much greater quantity than that seen by the Hammer Bros. Disturbingly enough, the very axe or switch is located RIGHT NEXT TO THE BRIDGE WHICH IT IS INTENDED TO DESTROY. This makes Bowser quite dumb. I would have hidden it in some highly inaccessible vault, or just not had a lava-spanning bridge to begin with.

Bloobers– They chase you very, very slowly. Yawn.

Otherwise, everyone just minds their own business while this guy just slaughters all their buddies. They all seem so two-dimensional. Because of the fact that it was the earliest type of video gaming for myself (since I never thought much of arcades as a kid), I still think this is a great, solid classic. Nostalgia reigns supreme here, folks.

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Let’s Talk About Nintendo and the Legend of Zelda

You wake up Christmas morning, and there it is– a golden aura of a box bigger than your head awaiting its wrapping, ever so perfectly taped into place, to be ripped to shreds within seconds. Within, something great. Something life-changing. Something almost magical. An electronic device, the newest to hit the shelves, with paddles and a firearm to be plugged in to their respective sockets for UP TO TWO PLAYERS! This sounds so great, right?

Oh, yes it most certainly was great. That year, my brother, sister, and myself unwrapped the Nintendo Entertainment System. A lot has happened since that year, where my brother and I played more often and with some friends to top each others’ scores in Excitebike, Paperboy, and Skate Or Die 2. Super Mario Bros.’ ubiquitous, albeit exclusively synonymous status, with Nintendo has withstood the test of time by continuing on in various side games to include tennis, MMA-style fighting with magic in Super Smash Bros, golf, and go-kart racing, and introducing a plethora of quests to rescue the princess from Koopa and Bowser, stomping Goombas with reckless abandon. Of course, this is one of several long-running series in the Nintendo name. Playstation has its own, but as I’ve never really played Playstation with as much ferocity and dedication as I have to Nintendo, we won’t really get into that. There are plenty of other places to speak about other consoles.

I must admit, I’ve played games for hours and hours on end within the course of a summer’s day and not regretted it. I’ve played with people, and without people, and I’ve sometimes had the urge to play with provided cheat codes with the Game Shark (I love the big heads you can get in Mission: Impossible). And I have played many games, each good within its own right, some with poor dialogue, some with excellent story lines, RPGs– and I have to tell you that my fandom regarding the Legend Of Zelda began with the Ocarina of Time.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking– that’s a bit late in the running to start being a very strongly-motivated fan for a game. No? Perhaps that’s because, when I graduated 8th grade, instead of a shirt I got a Nintendo 64. I’m sure it made me exponentially happier to have that than a car (because who really wants a car?) because of the amount of entertainment value it meant to me. I had this nice, 64-bit machine that could tolerate the abuses of hours-long pausing, and you could skateboard in a 3D environment, making endless tricks ramp up your scores, hitting glowing chevrons in the road for a speed boost while racing as a time clock, and swinging a sword at walking skeletons from any direction. This was a pinnacle of gaming for me, because it allowed me to experience maps in a way I’d never once had the opportunity to see. (I don’t fully know the history of when 3D maps became available, but for the sake of my own experience, it started in Nintendo 64). It introduced to me a new instrument that I’ve not exactly been able to drop entirely.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is probably my personal favorite on the N64 platform. I spent many hours trying to figure out puzzles galore, tossing the controller and losing my save point, not having enough hearts to complete a volley of energy spheres between my protagonist and the enemy. One of the most memorable things about this game is the ocarina. I can make another post about that in another blog post, but for now, I’ll try to concentrate on the game.

I can say with great confidence that I think playing the game in its entirety from the time you are awoken by a fairy to running your Master sword into the brain of your adversary is one of the greatest rewards for self-achievement in the gaming universe. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy making Link float around Hyrule and trespassing boundaries not intended for that point in the game on purpose, or throwing unlimited Bombchus at cuccos. I just know that playing it in its intended manner is gratifying. And thus, I can explain some of my favorite discussion points in the game, to include characters.

1. Obviously, Navi is your partner throughout the entire quest. Her incessant “Hey! Listen! Hello!” makes you kind of want to trap her in a bottle, but as a false sense of security, you wouldn’t want to mix her up with another popular fairy which revives you upon total loss of heart energy. In fact, the first thing she does is wake you up from a nap, and that’s never pleasant. What I actually like about her is that, for the absolute beginner, she does have a few helpful points which make up the basis of interaction with other characters in the rest of Hyrule. She also points out the locations of certain items based on her color. She turns green whenever it is necessary to play the Scarecrow song, Sun’s song or Song of Storms (well, that just connected the Song of Storms to Make it Rain, now didn’t it?) for a surprise when the staff will not appear. So, her intuition actually helps out a bit more than her screaming at you within the first 30 minutes of game play would have you initially believe.

2. Saria is Link’s best friend. For a long time, though she has not said a word to you about it before you depart the Kokiri forest, she had a feeling that you are different from the others and that you would be destined to leave the forest. Now, leave it to her to have a sweet spirit and an endearment toward you when Mido won’t. All the other Kokiri won’t really give too much ego about themselves, and their conversations are of minimal help anyways– although it is a crucial point that the Know-It-All brothers provide information to you when Saria or Navi won’t go in-depth about anything practical to anything other than the story line. As a Sage, her wisdom and her healing presence are with you in the medallion that you earn after the Forest Temple has been cleared.

But her real purpose is that she gives you an ocarina to sort of act as a cell phone of sorts. You dial her song, and she answers. Don’t play Saria’s Song right next to her because she will get you for charging her magic minutes (don’t text me when I’m in the same room, stupid). It creates the foundation for one of the most important aspects in the game– music. (Read the italicized text for more information not directly related to the game.)

[And here, the ocarina makes its debut as an instrument not just found in a game, but can actually be found in real life. There are several ocarina makers, one of whom makes an official replica ocarina for the budget-minded (there is also a ceramic version which I would really like to add to my collection), who actually makes these instruments for people to play. There were a couple of forums I used to frequent (Ocarinas United and The Ocarina Network) where awareness was spread around for those seeking to play these awesome little things.]

3. Kaepora Gaebora is an owl whose purpose appears to help you enlighten yourself about your strengths and courage, while not actually doing much more than providing some very insightful advice. He’ll fly you to Kakariko village, but that’s the extent of your personal contact with Kaepora. Although it would be pretty cool to have him fly you around Hyrule, you really don’t need him for that purpose, since the ocarina helps you transport to different areas anyways. There’s not much more to say, at least from me. You, reader, may not even give a hoot about it.

4. Zelda seems to not really be in too much distress, initially. You meet her spying on her father the King’s loyal subject (not) who obviously does not look like a typical Hylian or Gerudo. Or Zora. But I suppose she had this inkling that she would meet a green-clothed someone being dropped off in a cloud followed by a harmless speaking wasp, because she just so happens to be right there on the same day you break into the castle. Suddenly, someone she has never met before is now her confidante about extremely personal matters about which no one but Impa will hear. You somehow manage to survive a cutscene regarding the Goddesses creating Hyrule and the land’s law and inhabitants (not like when you nearly fell asleep in front of the Deku tree before he died).

Soon enough, you go to get the Spiritual stones which she requests from you. And she JUST so happens to be riding a horse in rapid pace and she tosses a blue thing into the moat. Shortly thereafter, you meet the lowest form of Ganondorf in all his dark-robed glory upon an equally dark and demented horse. He hits you with an energy sphere, knocks you on the grass, and basically sets the scene for a tough-to-beat enemy. The very grounds upon which you stand are now the entrance to what will be a ruined castle town in seven years’ time for the final battle. But, you still have to swim and pick up a sunken flute.

5. I actually like fighting against Koume and Kotake. You know for a fact that they’re dead by the presence of halos above their heads when floating away, and they seem to bicker a lot. It’s of interesting note that they’ll sit down and try to kill you with fire and ice repeatedly, since forgetting that their method getting backfired by a mirror shield shows that at least they’re realistically in the cognitive decline of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Not that I support such a disease in the real world, but when a nemesis is obviously being suffered upon by something uncontrollable, no matter how many potions are made to the contrary, you sort of want to take advantage of that. I don’t know if it was in the game designers’ intention to include this feature, but that’s what I get out of it.

6. Roaming around Hyrule on a horse is quite awesome, but it never actually shows Link feeding those carrots to Epona. I’m just making an observation that if he really is feeding her carrots, then those are some carrots with a deafening crunch that scares her into running faster…

I like the speed at which you travel on horse with much appreciation, since rolling around in a field all day would cause some sore bones after a few miles (for me personally, probably once is enough– ever), with particular attention to the shield and sword hilt and quiver being on your back each and every time. Now I can’t say for sure if that would be a faster way to travel compared to jogging, but we will have to test this out on some paved roads and plenty of able-bodied volunteers… And perhaps the Myth Busters?

I don’t know about you guys, but Ocarina of Time was a turning point in gaming for me. The battles, the introductory cut scenes for the bosses (and the appearance of the bosses!), and multiple number of items you can access at any given point in the game were all great features. I’ve beaten the game at least 15 times since high school, and I never really get tired of playing it when I do go on a playing spree. Those of you who might have more points on your favorite points of the game, feel free to post your thoughts below. It was through this game also that I began to actually make (and sell) ocarinas on my own. Due to a lack of a kiln, however, I had to stop what I was doing. I’m thinking of accumulating some fire bricks over time to try again, using propane. I hope you enjoyed this post, and I apologize if I have an erratic style of writing. That’s my ADHD kicking in.