Sundry Sunday: Nintendo Reminds “You Cannot Beat Us”

It’s Sunday again! The weeks have been hard and they’re only getting harder, so as a reward for making it this far, please enjoy this entertainingly oppressive commercial from 1986!

Back in the NES days Nintendo of Australia sponsored this commercial to put players in their place. I especially like the voice of the Duck Hunt Dog, and the Mario castle music used as a background soundtrack.

Sundry Sunday: Remembering Unskippable

It’s Sunday again! Congratulations for making it to this late day and week.

Since you survived to this point, let’s relax and look at a couple of episodes of Unskippable, venerable web comedy group LoadingReadyRun’s riff project of video game cutscenes, formerly published on The Escapist.

There are 198 of these in the playlist, so let’s just do a couple for now. Above is the opening of everyone’s favorite embodiment of suffering, Dark Souls.

Probably because of the litigious propensities of gigantic megalithic corporations, their mocking of the cutscenes of the Kingdom Hearts games are not on the list. Since Unskippable is no longer hosted from The Escapist’s site itself, these are survived only by the random uploads of fans. One of those is here, for the HD release of Kingdom Hearts, in all of its manifest ridiculousness:

Sundry Sunday: MST3K & Rifftrax Gaming Clips

You’ve made it another Sunday! For making it this far, why not take a break with some fun things? The whole point of Sundry Sunday is to be a low effort thing for the end of the week, but to be honest I couldn’t resist putting in a little extra work on this one.

It might not be evident on the surface, but the classic riffing show Mystery Science Theater 3000 has roots deeply entwined with video games. The show’s staff were known to spend off hours playing Doom against each other on a company LAN they had made for that purpose. During the show, they produced a clip that was distributed on the PlayStation Underground magazine CDs in which they riffed on some of Sony’s artsy commercials from that time (above).

After the original run of the show ended, some of the cast and crew drifted for a bit, doing various projects. One was a short-lived web comedy magazine called Timmy Big Hands, which we might look at some day. Show leads Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett did a couple of other things together, like a four episode movie riffing project called The Film Crew, before they eventually settled into doing Rifftrax, a project the three of them work on to this day.

While at Rifftrax, they’ve produced at least two game riffing clips. The first was made for sadly-departed gaming site Joystiq, and riffs on Mega Man, Final Fantasy X, Sonic the Hedgehog and, especially, something from the Metal Gear Solid series, which I would think is the perfect fodder for such video merrymaking:

Afterward they made another short clip for IGN riffing on Gears of War 3:

Rifftrax makes their living producing and selling clips making fun of shorts and movies, and one of those is the 1993 schlockfest Super Mario Bros. I call it schlock, but it’s one of those movies that critical opinion has slowly been coming around on over the years since its release. More and more it’s being seen as a competently-made and entertaining kids’ sci-fi fantasy movie perfectly of a piece with the era in which it was made-it’s just not a very good adaptation of the games with which it shares a title.

Rifftrax sells the whole Super Mario Bros. riff, complete with the movie on which it’s based, on their site. I highly recommend it, but IGN presents a nine-minute clip teaser from it on YouTube:

Sundry Sunday: Lore Sjöberg Rates Legend of Zelda Weapons

It’s Sunday! Time to slide another bead on the survival abacus over from the left side to the right. You don’t have a survival abacus? How do you know how many weeks you’ve lived?

As a reward for making it this far in life, I present a fourteen-year-old comedy video from internet funnyperson Lore Sjöberg, one of the two founders of earlyweb gigglesite Brunching Shuttlecocks and sole maintainer of currentday chuckleplace Bad Gods, in which he rates elfyhero actionguy Link’s various weapons in videogame adventurething The Legend of Zelda. Being 14 years old, the specific game in question is The Wind Waker, that one with the cartoon art style that most of us love now but hated back then, because most of us are bad.

This was during a short period after Brunching closed up, back in that ancient year 2008, during which he wrote and made occasional videos for WIRED Magazine, which is as surprised as anyone that it still exists.

Having to do with an old The Legend of Zelda game this fits easily within the site’s sphere of subject matter, but the secret reason I post this is I’ve been a great fan of Lore since Brunching Shuttlecocks, and more people need to see the things he’s done. Certainly a whole lot of my own allegedly-humorous writing style can be directly traced back to him.

Sundry Sunday: The Gradius Morning Music

Hey everybody, WAKE UP!

We’re back for another Sundry Sunday! Congratulations for making it another week into our technological hellscape! Your reward is another catchy tune and some information from the old days of arcades.

Gradius is a long-lived and storied series of shooters, full of interesting details and traditions, but my favorite part of it all is something not a lot of English-speaking fans may be familiar with.

The first arcade releases of Konami’s Twinbee and Gradius were produced using “bubble memory,” a type of storage that had to warm up, literally, to be read reliably.

It would work effectively if it had been running for at least a couple of minutes. So, to prevent anyone from playing the game too soon after the machine had been turned on in the morning, it would display a countdown on the screen. It would also emit a digitized voice, saying “Getting ready!” and then after a few seconds, it would play the MORNING MUSIC, while the computer warmed up, as in the video embedded above. I kind of think of it as the national anthem of arcadeland.

One of the quirks of Gradius‘s bubble storage is that it was read sequentially, from a starting point. Its stage layouts were stored in this memory. Dealing with this hardware quirk required the game, when the player lost a life, to return back to the last starting point they had passed. This was the source of one of the Gradius series’s major characteristics, having to return to a previous part of the level, which could then be read into memory going forward once again.

I forget where I heard this factoid, but I think I saw it in the supplemental material in the Gradius Arcade Collection, out on Steam and Switch, and no doubt other platforms. Hey, it’s Sunday, I’m not supposed to be stressing out about these details!

Sundry Sunday: Strong Bad Plays Marzipan’s Beef Reverser

You made it through another week of life in 2022! Here is some video silliness to congratulate you, and encourage you to keep on keepin’ on!

I’m always down for an excuse to link new Homestar Runner content, but this here’s a gaming blog! It’s gotta be about games Mr. Strong Man.

What’s that you say? It is a game? Well fine then, I will gladly accept that flimsy excuse! It’s Marzipan’s Beef Reverser, and it’s on itch.io. You play Only Girl in the Homestarniverse Marzipan as she whips mobile steaks with her Shantae-like hair in a Game Boy setting, sending them careening into a cow skeleton, helping to reconstitute it back into a cow. I’m sure it works that way in real life too. And notice, it’s not a Flash game, it’s an actual Game Boy rom file, playable in your favorite homebrew-capable Game Boyish setting.

And as a special extra, they recorded Strong Bad, in VTuber style, playing through it and unlocking all the bonus extras. It’s a bit slight, but in the grim darkness of the far future, we accept all the H*R stuff we can staff.

Sundry Sunday: Neil Voss, and The New Tetris, Africa theme

“Dah da di da dah move to Canada!”

It’s Sunday again, so it’s time to let down our various hair and relax! So now, a little tidbit from the PS1 era.

Back in the days of the Nintendo 64, two competing versions of Tetris were being developed, one for the N64, the other for the Sony PlayStation*. Even through (or, perhaps, because) they were published by different companies, they were given confusingly similar names. PlayStation got “The Next Tetris,” while the N64 got “The New Tetris.” I still have to check to make sure I haven’t confused them.

The internet was a much younger place then, and a lot of Nintendo fandom at the time was centered on IGN’s N64 site. So, the things their writers and editors liked tended to get outside representation, resulting in some weird early memes like “Eye Tat boy.” (“A GoldenEye is an eye tat is golden.”) Wow, I’m really dating myself with that one.

Well, one of the things that IGN liked was the musical work of Neil Voss, who composed the excellent soundtrack to early N64 puzzler Tetrisphere, from H2O Entertainment. The success of Tetrisphere got H2O the license to make The New Tetris, and Neil Voss the job of composing its excellent music. IGN did a two-part interview with Voss way back then: Part 1Part 2.

The above title is a particularly memorable tune from The New Tetris. Me and my roommates back in college would play TNT for hours (generally it’s a good rendition), and every time the Africa theme came up, we couldn’t resist, when the music reached the refrain, singing along with our best English approximation: “Move to Canada!” No actual moving to Canada was intended or implied, it’s just what it sounded like, to us.

* To this day, I rebel every time I’m asked to capitalize the S in PlayStation. I also twitch every time I’m asked to write Xbox instead of X-box. I have an English degree, dammit.

Sundry Sunday Extra: Pringus McDingus and Bunny Day

I don’t intend to make it a habit to post two Sundry posts in a day, but it’s Easter after all, so the subject of this one has an expiration date. This video is from a couple of years ago, when the meme that Isabelle somehow knew Doomguy was still fresh, and Nintendo was still balancing how often eggs would generate in the week before Bunny Day. There is some slight language in text, but we’re all adults here, right?

You may have already seen this, depending on who and what you are. The video has over two million views after all, but it’s important to remember the classics.

Sundry Sunday: “What’s Your Name”

It’s Sunday! You made it through another week. Your reward is this wonderful bit of ephemera from San Francisco Rush. With the death of Midway and Atari Games, arcade aesthetics have largely been ceded to Japanese studios which, nothing against them, but sometimes it feels like we’ve lost something fundamental.

What’s Your Name, the high-score name entry music from San Francisco Rush, is a favorite example of this. In the twenty-six years since the game was released to arcades, I find it shocking that this catchy little ditty isn’t remembered by more people. It makes me happy just to hear it. “Starts with a C… starts with a G… starts with a Z… nothing nasty now!”

Sundry Sunday is a little feature I’m doing to post something silly and fun, related to the world of gaming, once a week. I hope you’re ready for some weird….