Sundry Sunday: The People’s Mario

Content warning: cartoon blood, violence against Goombas.

This one goes back a ways. I wonder how many people have viewed this in the past decade? It was popular enough once to get up to nearly half a million views, but who knows how many since its original upload in 2007?

A reference to the website of an ancient meme (it seems to have died in 2007), itself riffing on the white flag with a red star that goes up when Mario reaches a castle. This realistically-proportioned Mario ruthlessly smashes and crunches Goombas in a variety of ways, armed with the People’s Hammer, while stirring Russian choral music plays in the background. The video is a rendering of a Newgrounds flash animation, that seems to still be up, and even playable (I assume they’re just using a recording of a higher-quality rendering of the Flash file).

While Russia’s actions as of late are not a laughing matter (except perhaps in the sense of laughing at incompetence at war), we can separate the action in a 2007 meme from their current misadventures, right? Freedom for Ukraine!

Investigating Bootleg Battletoads

The Youtube channel of chirinea mostly hosts cover songs, but they just posted an interesting short video (about 13 minutes), both explaining the Brazilian NES game scene and figuring out why the author’s Battletoads cart skips level 2.

During much of the NES’s life, Nintendo has no distribution deal to release consoles or games in Brazil, leaving the market open for a legion of bootleg cartridge manufacturers. The video author had some of these games, which were usually straight dumps of the originals, but their version of Battletoads was not.

It had been slightly localized, with its intro text translated into Portuguese. But there were some other minor changes too. Players started with an extra life, and had infinite continues. But also, for an unknown reason, the game completely skipped the second level, the one right before the game’s infamous Turbo Tunnel.

Was it a change in the game’s code, or a malfunction caused by his NES hardware? chirinea had a bit of an adventure in figuring out how to get the code off of his cartridge into an emulator so it could be compared with the official release, and ultimately found out that yes, the code was different, and it was probably done to avoid problems with Brazilian bootleg NESes crashing on level two.

It’s an interesting journey, and worth the fairly brief runtime to find out how he did it.

What’s wrong with this Brazilian bootleg Battletoads? (Youtube, 13 minutes)

EDIT: Pronoiac offers this logo for the post and video, from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Logo Generator! You see, the internet is still full of things!

Nintendo Direct 2/8/23

Thursdays here at the moment are the domain of Edit the Frog, so we put off our overview of the Nintendo Direct until today.

While most sites have already regurgitated the news into your waiting beaks, this time we’re recounting the release dates chronologically, so you’ll know what order to expect everything. Specific games of possible interest to a hazy mirage that I imagine to be our readers are in bold:

8th: Nintendo Switch Online Gameboy & GBA Support, Fire Emblem Engage Expansion Pass, Metroid Prime Remastered
15th: Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Expansion Pass DLC volume 3
22nd: Metroid Prime Remastered on cartridge
24th: Octopath Traveler II, Kirby’s Return to Dreamland Deluxe

6th: Dead Cells Return to Castlevania DLC
17th: Bayonetta Origins: Cereza and the Lost Demon
20th: Spring begins. Releases for Spring: Splatoon 3 Expansion Pass, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC Wave 4,

11th: Tron: Identity
21st: Advance Wars 1+2 Re-Boot Camp
27th: Omega Strike

12th: The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Some time in June: Harmony: Fall of Reverie
1st: Etrian Odyssey Origins Collection
2nd: We Love Katamari REROLL + Royal Reverie (what is it with the word “reverie” this month?)
21st: Summer begins. Releases for Summer: New Samba de Amigo, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, Baten Kaitos I & II HD Remaster

21st: Pikmin 4
28th: Disney Illusion Island

29th: Sea of Stars

Some time in 2023: Fashion Dreamer, Decapolice, Fantasy Life i: The Girl Who Steals Time, Professor Layton and the New World of Steam

Josh’s Favorite Games of 2022 – Best Metroidvanias

The Metroidvania category continues to be an indie staple and this year saw some very interesting ones getting released and hopefully a good sign for 2023.

#3: Haak

The first of several metroidvanias that came out after being on early access, Haak delivers a combination of combat, platforming, and exploration through a stylized destroyed world. The game starts out simple enough, but it does get quite difficult near the end. There are multiple endings, secrets, lots of collectibles, and bonus quests to find in it.

What keeps it from getting higher is that the game tended to rely a bit too much on having to find secrets and hidden stuff to stand a chance, especially at two bosses near the end that spike in difficulty. If you’re looking for a challenging metroidvania, this is a very solid example.

#2: Dungeon Munchies

Even longer on early access and finally out, Dungeon Munchies comes with a lot of variety and charm. What starts out as you coming back to life to learn to cook food from a master necromancer/chef, turns into an ever-escalating journey into this strange world with a lot of heart, soul, and food to uncover. The game takes a lot of interesting turns that no one will really expect where it all leads, and still manages to keep its heart until the very end. Using your food items as a source of customizable buff lists is a different take. What stops it from getting higher is that it did feel janky in spots, and some of the metroidvania progression felt forced.

I hope we see more from the universe as there is a lot more stories to tell and food to make.

#1: Haiku the Robot

Haiku the Robot is a solid metroidvania with inspiration heavily from Hollow Knight while still carving out its own unique take. In a world where humanity is gone and there are nothing but robots around, when a strange corruption starts spreading, it’s up to Haiku to figure out what’s going on.

This is just an all-around great take on the design — controls feel solid, upgrades substantial, and there are plenty of secrets and collectibles to find. If you’re someone who is itching for Silksong and that style of metroidvania, don’t sleep on Haiku.

Romhack Thursday: Simon Belmont in 8 Eyes

On Romhack Thursdays, we bring you interesting finds from the world of game modifications.

There aren’t many game series with the reputation that Castlevania has. While it’s always been very popular, the stature of the original game has only grown over the years, and it’s now seen as one of the very best games on the NES. We’ve talked about it here before, and about how badly the creator of one of the best-designed games ever made was treated by his company, but we’re not here to talk about sad things today.

You’d think Castlevania would have more imitators, but there aren’t as many as you’d think there would be? It has specific and definite ideas, some of them not obvious to a random player. Simon moves slowly and jumps stiffly, but it’s clear with repeated play that not only is the game designed around this, it’s even a better game for it! It’s a good example of how reducing a player’s abilities, relative to Mario-standard, can actually result in better play.

Some of the enemies were changed too. I don’t think this enemy was a skeleton in the original?

One of the few definite Castlevania clones that come to mind is Thinking Rabbit’s 8 Eyes. It could not be more obvious while playing it that its designer played a lot of Castlevania; its hero Orin’s movement is nearly an exact match for Simon Belmont, and it even has staircases that he can climb and hidden items buried in the walls.

It’s not as good a game as Castlevania, definitely, but it has its own ideas, and I respect it for adding some unique features. The player can determine what order the first eight levels are played in, and every time they finish one their attack power is upgraded. It has devious level designs that don’t always map cleanly on paper. It has a player-controlled drone character in the form of a falcon that can be deployed, and then flies around on its own, and can be commanded to attack and return and even has its own health. Most interesting of all, every level has hidden with it a clue, a piece of text that must be found and used at the end of the game to solve a logic puzzle to finally win.

Here’s one of those clues! Unlike the clue books in Castlevania II, every one of these is essential to solving the final puzzle.

There’s a lot of cool ideas in 8 Eyes. If it had some more design and development work put into it it could have been seen as a later highlight of the system. elbobelo has, for over fourteen years, been at work on a huge hack to put Simon Belmont into the game. In a forum thread they started long ago they mentioned that, while work has slowed, it’s still going. They haven’t issued a public release since an old beta in 2008, but there’s enough present in it to make one wonder how it’ll play when it’s finally released.

Here’s one of those clues. BTW, it’s not well known that 8 Eyes actually has eight quests. The game is mostly the same each time, but the logic puzzle is different!

Fortunately, the 2008 version of the hack keeps the cool ideas that 8 Eyes contributed, and it just adds features from Castlevania I and II. It keeps the falcon, the diabolical levels, and the clues and game-ending logic puzzle. Gone, however, is the player’s sword, replaced with Simon’s whip, which is a vast improvement. In addition to the falcon, Simon can find his usual subweapons, which don’t replace each other but can be switched between with the Select button. It doesn’t make the game too easy because 8 Eyes was a very difficult game. It just makes the challenge more reasonable.

Most levels have at least one puzzle that requires you to release the falcon somewhere on screen to fly around while you run to the door, so you can attack the switch with the bird then run in the door before it closes.

Best of all, it also keeps 8 Eyes’ weirdest aspect: after you beat each boss, you sit down and have tea with them! In the original the tea was brought by one of the boss’s flunkies, but in this hack one of the skeleton enemies brings it in. It’s surprisingly adorable!

8 Eyes – Playing as Simon Belmont (

Many more games should show you having tea with the level boss after you beat them!


Another LUA-based game hack from 10yard! This one’s a mashup of two perennial arcade favorites, Galaga and Donkey Kong. Each level has a chevron powerup somewhere in it. When Jumpman picks it up, he’s joined by the spaceship from Galaga. The jump button is also the fire button! Further, the ship’s shots are piercing, and can destroy more than one enemy with a single blast.

You’d think it’d make the game much easier, but the difficulty of the game has been subtly increased to make up for it, plus controlling the ship as well as ol’ Jumpy is a distraction, so it’s still pretty challenging.

In addition to Donkey Kong, the hack’s github page notes that it works in Donkey Kong Jr. as well!

Galakong (github)

Josh’s Favorite Games of 2022 – Bullet Heavens

In a surprising twist from 2022, a new sub-genre found its way to dominate the landscape with the Vampire Survivor likes, Bullet Heaven, auto shooter, whatever we want to call it. With so many games being released, I had no choice but to add the category to the list this year.

#3: 20 Minutes til Dawn

20 Minutes til Dawn was the first of the many VS-likes to show up with a more active-style game. While it may not have the same potential for crazy combos like Vampire Survivors, there is certainly a lot of room for it to grow. What keeps the game from getting higher at the moment is that there isn’t as much of an escalation in terms of power and the situation that we see from the other games. Once you get control, it’s very hard to lose it in this game, and a lot of runs are almost decided before the halfway point. There is potential here for more of a skill-driven take on the design that I hope we see more of.

#2: Brotato

Part of the problem with trying to compare to Vampire Survivors is that a lot of the games tend to avoid both the spectacle and the snowballing of a play. Brotato is one of the best ones that come the closest thanks to its focus on builds and roguelike design. Each run plays out over 20 waves, and you need to match your weapons and items to the character you’re using. While it’s not as skill intensive as 20 Minutes Til Dawn, there is more going on with the items and planning you’re doing.

Of the other VS-Likes I’ve played, this is the one I’ve spent the most time with that isn’t Vampire Survivors, and I hope we see more to it in the future.

#1: Vampire Survivors

Was there really any doubt here? Vampire Survivors, love it or hate it, is one of the most influential games of 2022, and the entire reason for this category. One of the best examples of how much a simple gameplay loop can be elevated. It is one of those lighting in the bottle kind of games that has obliviously been copied, but not one other game has managed to reach the same heights. It is the Slay the SpireDwarf Fortress, or Factorio, of its genre.

The aspects that make Vampire Survivors work are that it is easy to play, the feel of the different weapons and builds, and the escalation. The game perfectly encapsulates an enjoyable 30 minute (or less) gameplay loop that can be repeated again and again. It is a game where essentially “stuff” is all it needs from a content point of view. I honestly don’t know where else the developer can go with it, or if we ever see another game like it at this level of recognition, but Vampire Survivors takes the award for “nuclear bomb dropped on the game industry for 2022”.

AGDQ 2023 Selections #2: Tuesday & Wednesday

Some more selections possibly of interest from AGDQ 2023. Note that times given in the text are not the length of the run, but as according to our usual policy the run length of the video itself.

Ape Escape 2 (1:04):

Goat Simulator (34m):

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow Any% No 0HP race (42m) – at 19:40 in begins an extra Julius Any% run:

Super Mario Galaxy 2 four-player Any% race (3:27):

Jak II Any% (1:19):

Outer Wilds (53m):

Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (1:35):

FEZ (35m):

Stardew Valley (58m):

Pokemon Yellow (2:24):

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (48m):

Stray (1:16):

Vector Kong

Please pardon the stuttering, evidently capturing the game at high resolution was a bit much for OBS to bear.

Vector Kong is not a romhack of Donkey Kong. Instead, it’s a LUA script, run through MAME’s plugin support, that makes the graphics display as if they were on a vector monitor.

It doesn’t leave the game unaltered otherwise: the only boards playable are Girders, and it also skips over the scene at the opening. Still though, it definitely looks sharp! Here’s hoping creator 10yard applies this treatment to the rest of it someday!

Vector Kong (github)