Sundry Sunday: Commercial for Atari Mario Bros.

We love weird old game commercials from before (or in this case during) the crash, before games and game ads began skew quite so much towards the stereotypical tastes of teenage males, and before companies like Nintendo became such jealous guardians of their products.

And just look at all the effort that must have gone into this commercial! This isn’t just people sitting in front of a TV raving about a game, these actors are wearing costumes and running from puppet creatures on an actual set! And this may well be the first human actor to ever portray Luigi in front of a camera (he may look like Mario with his color scheme, but his hat says Luigi, and he’s calling Mario for help). It even calls back to the theme song of Car 54 Where Are You. It’s a shame that the game couldn’t possibly have moved enough units to justify this production.

Sundry Sunday: The “Music” of Crazy Bus

Remember Crazy Taxi? How they got licensed punk music from Bad Religion and The Offspring for it? Remember how awesome that was? I’m not even a music person mostly, but I could still recognize that the soundtrack of those games was special. (I’m talking about the arcade and Dreamcast versions-other versions may or may not have that soundtrack, probably due to licensing issues.)

You want to know what game doesn’t have a great sound track? Crazy Bus.

Crazy Bus is a homebrew Sega Genesis/Mega Drive game that was created as a test for the programmer’s BASIC compiler. It wasn’t meant to be a real game. As a result, its soundtrack is almost a masterpiece in cacaphony. Listen for yourself… but you’re going to want to turn the volume down for this one.

It’s awe-ful-some. I encourage you to play it for for friends, family, co-workers, prospective employers, random strangers and household pets. I’m certain nothing bad will come of it!

Sundry Sunday: Animal World Soccer

Oh no! As a New Year’s Day “treat,” today’s weird game video is Animal World Soccer! Despair and dismay!

A “game” for the Playstation 2, this amazingly cheap production has no Soccer-based play. Instead, it’s a collection of simple puzzles and activities bundled along with a 43-minute video file of some of the worst animation that this spectator has ever seen, and I’ve seen Paddy the Pelican!

How and why this was made is unknown to me. It’s an inexplicable artifact of an unknown process. Why is the entire video under-laid with that tension-filled drumbeat? Why are character designs so inconsistent? Why does it look like they outright stole the designs for Simba and Mufasa from The Lion King for their lions? Why do some animals go about on all-fours while others stand upright and wear clothes? None of these questions are answered. None of these questions have answers! You see folks, they just didn’t care.

Okay, there is a bit of an explanation….

This animation was produced by a company called Dingo Pictures. The game, which Destructoid called “the worst game ever made,” (which is a big claim, there’s lots of awful games), was produced by Phoenix Games, which only distributed to the European market.

There is certainly more to this story. But I can’t bring myself to dig into it.

Sundry Sunday: Mort Strudel’s Tales of Dwarf Fortress

It doesn’t feel like that long ago that Dwarf Fortress tales were the toast of the internet. They made the viral rounds in a way few things had before, or since for that matter, partly because of the downfall of community sites, especially Something Awful, that had gathered them together. That energy seems to largely gone into social media, and we’re all poorer for it.

But there are people who are still doing Dwarf Fortress stories, and that game is still as wonderfully deep and weird as it has ever been. Youtuber Mort Strudel does video playthroughs, and while he doesn’t release them quickly or often, he is consistent, and his work is interesting.

In particular I’d like to point out the saga of Chantedfins, over three-and-a-half hours of dwarven weirdness in nine videos.

If you’d like to jump to specific chapters, here’s direct links to all nine, with general descriptions of what each contains:

Part 1 (30m), founding, undead siege
Part 2 (31m), underground caverns, necromancy
Part 3 (32m), undead werellama
Part 4 (31m), tantrum, forgotten beasts
Part 5 (31m), the Observatory
Part 6 (15m), the Cursed Year
Part 7 (16m), forays against the goblins
Part 8 (14m), the mayor’s backstory
Part 9 (14m), the new age

Sundry Sunday: Christmas Nights Into Dreams

The Sega Saturn was one of the first consoles to feature a built-in real-time clock. Most systems now have one, so I’m kind of surprised that very few games make use of it. Animal Crossing does, sure, and some Pokemon titles have time-of-day features (which they had to include their own clocks in the cartridge hardware to support), but few other games bother reading the date.

One prominent example of a game that did was the Christmas demo version of Nights Into Dreams. Ordinarily just a single-level of the full game, the disk had a number of special modes that would crop up at different times. December was one of them, which triggered Christmas Nights mode, with special cutscenes and graphics. But it also had special events for playing during November or January (“Winter Nights”), New Year’s Day, and April Fools’ Day. Especially notable was an unlockable mode that allowed playing as Sonic the Hedgehog, in what is his first true 3D outing!

This video shows off all of Christmas Nights Into Dreams’ special modes, and you don’t have to fiddle with your computer’s clock to see them!

Sundry Sunday: SIMPSONS PIXELS

It’s Sunday again! This time we have for you a seven-year-old fan-made pixel art version of the Simpsons opening. It’s gotten 27 million views since it was uploaded, but some of you must have missed it, right?

It’s loaded with jokes and in-jokes, and is so pitch-perfect that it got used on an actual episode of The Simpsons! It really needs to be paused frequently to catch every reference.

SIMPSONS PIXELS (Youtube, 1:52)

Sundry Sunday: Mortal Kombat 11’s Friendship Moves

You remember Mortal Kombat from the 90s, right? The dark grim grimdarkness, the gore, the Congress-dismaying Fatality moves. Maybe you’re too young for that, but I’m sure you had to have absorbed it from (airy gesture) the culture. Midway may be long gone but they’re still making Mortal Kombat games, after all.

A lesser known aspect to the series is, starting with MK2, in addition to the gory over-the-top Fatality moves, they included alternate forms of them. There were Animality (where the character turns into an animal), Babality (where the opponent is turned into an infant) and, most entertainingly, Friendship moves, where the victorious character does something endearingly silly for the player’s amusement.

Because Friendship moves are humorous and whimsical, many thought they didn’t fit in with all the, you know, grimness of the Mortal Kombat series. But the Friendship moves are back in Mortal Kombat 11’s “Aftermath” expansion! deathmule posted a compilation video of all of them, and every one of them is terrific. See for yourself!

Sundry Sunday: “Everything You Need To Know” About Five Nights At Freddy’s

Oy. There are few lorebombs of niche gaming more intricate, and as utterly impenetrable to the uninitiated, as the Five Nights At Freddy’s superseries. What started mostly as a jumpscare delivery mechanism turned out to have backstory, and sequels, and prequels, and novels, and side games, and more.

The “Everything You Need To Know” series takes properties with sizable amounts of lore and tries to condense them to make them generally understandable. By no means do they cover all of the details, choosing to get the gist across simply rather than to explain everything that’s going on. It’s a bit humorous, but the point here isn’t a comedy and/or snarky retelling, as with the So This Is Basically series, but to give you a good rundown with some leavening humor along the way.

So, what will you do with your newfound knowledge? Impress kids? Write fanfiction? Perform exorcisms? Seek to create knockoffs?

Sundry Sunday: The first episode of Saturday Supercade

This is a real rarity. Saturday Supercade has, to my knowledge, never been officially released on any media format. All of the tapes of this show date back to their original broadcasts in 1983-5. I’m sorry for the poor quality, but this is from a tape almost certainly recorded off of live television nearly 40 years ago.

The year 1983 was such a weird time in media history. Take for instance the movie Joysticks. A cheaply-made culture cash-in, essentially the Supervan of its decade, it was a teen sex comedy themed around arcades, and it could only have been released in 1983. In 1982 games were big, but it takes time for a movie to be made. In 1984, US arcades and consoles had crashed calamitously, and any projects in production would have been cancelled. Saturday Supercade also dates from 1983.

Saturday Supercade was a Saturday morning cartoon show that hosted a variety of different game characters and universes. By no means a classic of animation, there’s still a lot of interesting things about it. Donkey Kong gives Mario and Pauline their modern names (decided on around the time of Donkey Kong Jr’s arcade release), and Donkey Kong is voiced by legendary early TV children’s entertainer Soupy Sales.

Frogger is depicted by the show as a reporter for a swamp’s newspaper. Q*Bert is a student in a 50s-styled high school, and other characters (including a girl Q*Bert, “Q*Tee,” not seen in the game) are imagined as his friends and rivals. Donkey Kong Jr has the young ape searching for his father, while assisted by a greaser. Pitfall’s cartoon is not only the sole home-original game to be featured on the show, but also lent two of its characters, Pitfall Harry’s niece Rhonda and mountain lion pet Quickclaw, to cameo roles in the game’s sequel Pitfall II: Lost Caverns. Kangaroo and Space Ace were introduced in the show’s second season. Yes, somehow, it got a second season.

The Wikipedia page of the show notes that episodes of Space Ace were once shown late at night on Cartoon Network, and once in a while can be spotted between shows on Boomerang, while “The Best of Q*Bert” is available as a print-on-demand DVD from Amazon. Other than that, many episodes are lost outside of master reels held by whatever company owns Ruby-Spears’ output these days, which I expect is Warner Media. There’s tons of Saturday Morning shows that are lost; this one only survives to us in any form because classic video games have oddly persisted in this weird cultural cul-de-sac, the same one that made Wreck-It-Ralph an improbably hit for Disney.

So please, enjoy, or else, experience whatever substitute for enjoyment you can bring yourself to feel while watching an old old kids cartoon from the classic arcade era. Queasiness? Unease? Existential dread?