The Japanese Cultural Significance Of Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros.Much of the lore and visual design out of Super Mario Bros. seems like it was developed during a fever dream or drug trip: a turtle king kidnaps a mushroom princess, leading to a heroic plumber to save the day by jumping on and throwing throwing fireballs at turtles, mushrooms, squid, and beetles.  It's easy to mark this all down as "Games: weird, am I right?", but over at Reddit in the Ask Historians section, the question about whether or not any of the elements from Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2 have any Japanese cultural significance.  The answers provide some interesting information that while seemingly common knowledge to the long-time gaming community is written from a more academic stance than your average list of "didja know?" gaming factoids.  Best of all, it cites sources.

Super Mario Bros. features surly traitor-mushrooms, green and blue turtles, black turtles that can't be hurt by fire, hammer-throwing turtles and giant, spiky dinosaur turtles, along with red-and-orange mushrooms that make you grow, green-and-yellow mushrooms that give you a chance to recover from failure and bouncing stars that make you impervious to damage.

SMB2 has a pink, cross-dressing lizard that spits eggs, and is arguably even weirder than SMB1.

How much of these were riffs on Japanese legends (or perhaps something more contemporary?) and how much was just weird videogame stuff?

The answers touch on Mario's Jumpman origins, Bowser's original ox-like design, the ever-assumed link between Super Mushrooms and psychedelic drugs, how level design trains players, the ever-present tale behind the Lost Levels, and other interesting background elements.  It's definitely worth a read even if you know all of this stuff already.

Power Button - Episode 232: Scratching The Switch Itch

Power ButtonThe Nintendo Switch is finally available and on this week's new episode of the podcast, I take Blake Grundman through my first impressions of the new console and talk about the good, the bad, and the confusing parts of using it.  There's also a little spoiler-free talk about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Bomberman R.   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. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way. Next Week: There will be spoilers abound as we dig deep into Breath of the Wild.

Be The Hero You Want To Be In Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

LinkNintendo's famed hero Link has sported many looks over the past thirty years, but they've all been more or less the same: green pointy hat and a green shirt.  The recently released The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild throws that tradition away by dressing Link in all kinds of clothing from a ratty shirt found at his awakening to warm feather-lined pants for keeping warm in cold places to a revealing outfit popular among vai designed for sneaking into a desert city forbidden to all voe.  Why the change?  The development team felt that the classic look wasn't working anymore.  Chelsea Stark at Polygon reports:

“As the graphic fidelity has increased it becomes more difficult to make that hat look cool,” said Breath of the Wild art director Satoru Takizawa in an interview during the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. “As the game becomes more realistic it's difficult to present it in a way that's appealing.”

However, if you really want to relive the classics and dress this new Link in his old clothes, you have a few options.  Aside from unlocking the modernized take on the classic outfit — here called the Tunic of the Wilda variety of Zelda-related amiibo can unlock Link's famous clothes from past games in the series such as the Tunic of Wind (from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker), the Tunic of Time (as seen in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time), and of course the original fashion that started it all from 1987's The Legend of Zelda.  Unfortunately, these greatest hits of Hyrule fashion are exclusive to their respective amiibo.  I'm still trying to unlock the Tunic of the Hero with my retro 8-bit Link amiibo, but that Ocarina outfit is such an iconic look that it's almost enough to make me want to buy its respective Link amiibo too.  It's a shame that the beloved nostalgia is locked with amiibo, and it's a double shame that I don't own any other Zelda amiibo that will grant me these outfits.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - amiibo Item Guide (Updated: 03/15/17)

Capcom Relaunching Beloved NES Disney Afternoon Classics

032253078a3e2237563d6a5e9fdb14b0Capcom had a knack for turning the cartoons of the Disney Afternoon into fun video games for the Nintendo Entertainment System back in the 1990s, and while the company did revive DuckTales for a modern high definition remake a few years ago, this time it's bringing back the original 8-bit versions of games like Darkwing Duck, DuckTales and its sequel, Tale Spin, and Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers and its sequel in their classic pixel glory for the Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, and PC along with some extra modes and bonus features.  It's developed by the team that worked on the Mega Man Legacy Collection, Digital Eclipse.  Capcom Unity has the details.

REWIND! So it’s probably been a while since you’ve played these games, or maybe it’s your first time diving into them. Either way, some of those jumps and surprise enemy attacks can really throw a wrench into an otherwise perfect run. Enter the Rewind feature: just hold down a button, go back in time, and rewrite history by nailing those sick pogo tricks and crate throws.

TIME ATTACK! Race against the clock and use the online leaderboards to compare your best times with other players across the web. Note you cannot use the Rewind feature here, so make sure you practice beforehand!

BOSS RUSH! Just looking for a quick way to challenge your reflexes? Good news: we have some pretty intense boss battles waiting for you. Just like in Time Attack mode, it’s a true test of your skills, so no help from the Rewind feature here either.

But wait, there’s more! On top of these retro classic games and the new game modes, we also dug really deep and found tons of awesome material from when the original games were still being made back in the 80s and 90s! We’ve got concept art, sketches, music, and other fun extras.

Anything that brings Darkwing Duck back for another round is incredibly appreciated.  These were all great games in their prime and they still hold up today.  The original DuckTales is an outright classic, DuckTales 2 and Rescue Rangers 2 were hard to find even when they were new, and Darkwing Duck is basically a Mega Man game thanks to its shared development lineage.  The Rescue Rangers games even include the original co-op two-player modes.  There should be something here for everyone.  The Disney Afternoon Collection releases digitally on April 18, 2017 for $19.99.  Surprisingly, there are no plans for a release on any Nintendo platform at this time.

Meet Bobson Dugnutt And The Other Players Of Fighting Baseball

Bobson DugnuttThe 16-bit glory days offered many sports titles from the world of baseball, some of which licensed the names of actual Major League Baseball players to add realism and authenticity to the experience.   1994's MLBPA Baseball from Electronic Arts, for instance, uses the names of players based on the 1993 season's major league players.  The game's Japanese version, released in 1995 as Fighting Baseball for the Super Famicom, is not one of those games.  You see, the team behind Fighting Baseball did not have any arrangements with the Major League Baseball Players Association or Major League Baseball or pretty much anyone related to baseball at all and had to come up with their own original player names, but it would seem that staff wasn't up to speed on what makes an North American name a proper name and not nonsense that almost sounds like it could be a proper North American name if only you turned it sideways.  And that's how we end up with hilarious names like Bobson Dugnutt taking the field.  Enjoy this little slice of absurdism.

Power Button - Episode 231: No Sir, I Don't Like It

Power ButtonFor as much as we love video games, admittedly there are some very famous and popular franchises that, for one reason or another, just do not appeal to me or Blake Grundman.  On this week's episode of the Power Button podcast, we shine a light on our antipathy for games like Final Fantasy, Tekken, Metal Gear Solid, and Resident Evil.  We want to like them, but they just make it so difficult for us!  Find out why in an hour of conversation.   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. We also have a tip jar if you'd like to kick a dollar or two of support our way.

Musings From The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

I've been enjoying Nintendo's new The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild over the past few days and have been using the Switch's built-in social media posting and captioning tools to share some of the more memorable sights and thoughts as I've set out to explore Hyrule.  From the Great Plateau to Kakariko Village out to the eastern coast and parts north, I'm clearing out shrines and climbing towers and giving Bokoblins the business.  Here are some of my favorite tweets from the past few days worth of exploration.

Continue reading "Musings From The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild" »

How To Future-proof Your New Nintendo Switch

Nintendo SwitchSo you just brought home your brand new Nintendo Switch and probably a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.  Congratulations!  I know you're ready to play with power, but before you do, you should think about the future.  There are lots of young children who are getting their first taste of Nintendo products today (well, hopefully not literally) who will, in thirty years or so, feel the nostalgic draw of the Switch experience.  When those kids have some disposable income in 2047, they'll be eager to revisit the Switch memories of their youth and will want to buy a used system to recapture the magic.  The used system they buy could be yours, so do yourself and that child a favor and future-proof your Switch for posterity (and to raise the resale value).  It's easy!  Here's how you do it.

  1. Save all of the packaging!  The box, the inserts, the wrappings, everything!  You'll be able to list your Switch on the eBay-of-the-future as COMPLETE IN BOX AAA+++ and really mean it.  Video games that include all of the original packaging always sell for a higher price than just a loose cartridge or console.
  2. The Switch is made to be taken around with you and played at midnight basketball games and rooftop parties, but you can't risk scuffing, scratching, or damaging it.  Never take it out of the house.  Your Switch is an indoor animal from now on.
  3. If you have children of your own, do not let them play the Switch.  Giving it to them now risks breaking it and then they won't be able to appreciate it thirty years from now.
  4. Say, do you take good care of your possessions?  You're not going to accidentally damage the Switch yourself, are you?  Can you be trusted?  Remember what happened to your Nintendo DSi?  Yeah, I thought so.  Perhaps you should just seal the Switch inside one of those acrylic collector cases.  It'll be safer that way.  It's the only way to guarantee the integrity of the system.  Glue it shut.
  5. Come to think about it, leaving your Switch laying around the house is a bad idea if you have kids or pets of your own.  They could knock it over, pounce on it, throw it against the wall, or any other kind of punishing activity while trying to break it out of the acrylic case.  Never leave your Switch lying around! Don't you have a safe?  No, you don't have a safe. Get a safe! Keep the Switch locked up when you're not admiring it.  The combination to the lock should be a secret to everybody (including yourself!).

That should cover things for now.  Join me again in thirty years when it's time to cash out and we'll discuss the criteria for determining who is worthy of buying your Switch on the retro gaming market.  Spoiler: there are background checks involved.  Happy gaming!

The Many Faces Of Weird Mario

weird Mario

The legend of Super Mario Maker's Weird Mario speaks of a deformed version of Mario that, when powered-up with a Weird Mushroom as opposed to a Super Mushroom, reinterprets his proportions to match that of a real human and augments his jumping ability appropriately.  We don't get to see what Weird Mario would look like riding Yoshi or turned into a Tanooki Suit statue during normal gameplay, but in the game's Edit Mode it's possible to knock on a placed door with the stylus which causes a differently powered-up Weird Mario to answer.  It is in these moments we get a glimpse of Weird Mario wearing such power-ups such as a Frog Suit or a Flying Squirrel Suit.  Supper Mario Broth has collected all of these alternate Weird Mario appearances for your gawking pleasure.  It's rather unsettling, but a necessary step in the ongoing field of Weird Mario research.

Never Forget Wii U Splash Screens

NES Remix

As we effectively bid farewell to Nintendo's Wii U console this week as its Switch successor arrives in stores, it's only fitting that we take a look back at some of the best loading screens that the console's first-party game library had to offer.  Only visible for a moment after selecting a game to play from the main system menu, these screens gave us unique high quality promotional artwork meant to draw us into the detailed world we were about to visit.  Spanning all the way from the Wii U's first releases such as New Super Mario Bros. U through to the end with the final Wii U game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, these images remind us of all the fun we had with the Nintendo console that never quite found its place in the world.

All Wii U Splash/Loading Screens of Nintendo Games

(via Reddit)