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!

Sundry Extra: The Comic Bardo Thodol

CW: Not game related, which is why it’s up as a Sundry Extra. Also, has to do with Tibet, so I’m probably now making the Chinese government allergic to this post, yikes.

Some years ago, around the web went this interesting and entertaining comic condensation of the Bardo Thodol, a.k.a. the Tibetan Book of the Dead. It had fallen offline since then, although if one searches for it it might turn up again. (Ah, I see it’s up on ultraculture.org.)

The Bardo Thodol is a guidebook for those who have just died, detailing what worlds (Lokas) a soul will wander through, as well as their ruling entities (Buddhas) as it searches for a place to be reborn, unless it can become liberated from the cycle of rebirth, slipping between the cracks and not having to do it no more.

Well, as web observers may have noticed, different sites have different levels of staying power than others. The original was self-hosted, meaning when its creator Thomas Scoville stopped paying his site’s server bills it evaporated into residual electric charges.

While big tech sites tend to keep things around only for as long as it suits them (witness Geocities), Google tools that have had a substantive presence (other than Google Reader) seem to persist for a little bit. Por ejemplo, Blogger is still up and functioning, at least for now. Another thing within Google’s domain, at least until some bean counter decides the company can be made slightly more profitable by deleting it, is Google Sites.

So, with the permission of Thomas Scoville, I have put up the Comic Bardo Thodol in a corner of my Google Sites space. Please enjoy reading about all the wonders and horrors that await you after you pass away. And in particular notice which pop culture image was chosen for Yama Raja, the Lord of Death!

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?