Could You Realistically Survive in Super Mario 64?

It’s a fun idea, to determine if you, as a physical human being person, with all your physical human being person needs, could survive in the world of Super Mario 64, were you somehow to be transported there permanently.

The video embedded and linked below, from a Youtuber named Pretzel, is the projected beginning of a series about whether you could survive in different game worlds. Games are abstractions, and play life in them often leaves out details like drinking, eating, or (let’s face it) pooping. By ignoring that and trying to look at them as if they were actual places you are, by definition, engaging in pedantry, ignoring the essential nature of these places. But it’s fun to think about somewhat. At least we know this world has cake!

Could You SURVIVE in Super Mario 64? (Youtube, 14 minutes)

Paper Mario: Thousand Year Door Obscurities

It’s been some time since we had one of these obsessive quirk videos. I’d been feeling a bit self-conscious about using them a lot I suppose, plus none of them struck my brain the right way. Well, here’s one that’s pretty good, from Youtuber Bringles (21 minutes):

I won’t like this will be mostly interesting to people who are familiar with the game, but I should explain a few things in case you aren’t but still want to watch.

A “superguard” is a special mechanic in TYD. After the concept was pioneered with Super Mario RPG, the first Paper Mario also included a timed reaction move, often a button press, you can do in response to enemy attacks to reduce damage. But singe the first two Paper Mario games purposely keep their battle numbers pretty low, with most attacks doing single digit damage, sometimes even just one or two points, any reduction to that ends up being significant.

Those moves are called guards. Thousand Year Door goes a step further, with superguards. If your reactive button press happens within a three frame window of the attack’s impact, your character will often take no damage. That’s really strong, which is why both the frame window is so slight and way some enemies play cagey timing games with their attacks to try to trick you into guarding early or late.

One of the things the video reveals is that, in Western releases of the game, nearly every non-item attack in the game can be superguarded. The Japanese version, which was released first, has a lot more attacks that can’t be superguarded, making this a mechanic that was un-nerfed.

Another interesting mechanic revealed by the game is how a lottery in the game works. Players draw a ticket and try to match a four-digit number. You might expect that to work randomly, but it’s much less random than you’d think. Instead it decides how many real-world game days (using the Gamecube’s real-time clock) it’ll be before each of the four tiers of prices will be won. The number of days is random, but only by a bit: it’ll still be a while before the wins happen, but within a limited range. The highest prize won’t be won until at least 335 days since the game was started. There is no chance of winning it before then! That might sound unfair, but since it’d be a 1-in-10,000 chance of winning it fairly, it’s more bending the odds in the player’s favor. Although honestly, who would even be playing the same game of PM:TYD nearly a year after beginning it?

One more thing you should know is that TYD has this stageplay aesthetic in its battle sequences, which take place on a wooden stage in front of an audience of Mario characters. Some enemies play around with the stage (like hanging from the ceiling), but the audience also can play a role in the fights. The video reveals that two particular kinds of audience members don’t trigger randomly as one might expect, but react to certain failures of the player’s behalf during combat. X-Nauts throw rocks if an attack hits but does zero damage (like if the target is invulnerable or guarding), and Hammer Bros. throw hammers at you if Mario misses with a Hammer attack, in something like a display of hammerer pride.

It’s an interesting video all in all, concerning a game that’s much deeper than it may seem at first.

Obscure Mechanics in Thousand Year Door (Youtube, 21 minutes)

Sundry Sunday: Medieval Cover of Super Mario Bros.

Sundry Sunday is our weekly feature of fun gaming culture finds and videos, from across the years and even decades.

It’s a cover of the theme to Super Mario Bros. played in a medieval style (1 1/2 minutes). That’s all for today. This video has lurked in my files for months, I figured I’d go ahead and get it posted. Remixes of the SMB music are one of the oldest genres of internet meme music there is, so here it is in a really old mode. The channel it’s from does medieval covers of a variety of music, so if that sounds entertaining, please ambulate towards that vestibule.

From Supper Mario Broth: Luigi Concept Art & Mario Strikers Banners

From the “Small Findings” sub-blog of Mario obscurities site Supper Mario Broth comes this collection of concept art for Luigi, from last year’s Super Mario Bros. Movie. Here is the original post.

Here’s another image, from the main Supper Mario Broth site. Several spinoff Mario titles have promotional images for fake Mario universe companies used as background art elements. Most of the time these are used in the Mario Kart games. There were a few made for the original Mario Strikers, that went unused in the final game. This one appears to be for some kind of Bowser Support Hotline. Original post.

Project To Completely Finish Super Mario Maker 1 Enters Home Stretch

Super Mario Maker. Not the one for Switch, with the Master Sword power up and Superball Flower and the like. The one for WiiU, with all the Amibo characters and that formerly had the website listing all the levels, that Nintendo took down because it is a company of good and bad, and for them software preservation is among the worst.

Super Mario Maker survives, for now, but its online services will be shut down in April, removing the vast swath of levels that players made for the software, because Nintendo can’t be assèd to preserve it. That sucks epically, gigantically, humongously, brobdingnagianly. But it’s Nintendo. They always do what they want, heedless of the opinion of others, and as I said, that’s both good and bad.

Remember Super Mario Maker? Most players used it to construct hyper-lethal deathtraps, literal abattoirs of Marios. (Tip: don’t Google image search the word “abattoir.”) Sure, I tried constructing reasonable levels of fair situations, but saying that online is like claiming I don’t watch television: it sounds pretentious. In practice everyone made at least one Smiling Hellscape, and yes I did make at least a couple.

But on the other hand there is speedrun culture, who attempts to overcome any challenge in a game no matter how ridiculous. In order to upload your level to the SMM servers, you have to complete it. That means it must be completable, even if it’s ludicrously unfair. In addition to the usual kaizo gauntlets, some players created levels that rely on prior knowledge to finish, and tackling one of those if you don’t have that information can be Promethean exercise in trial and error, emphasis on the trial.

That brings us to the Discord server of Team 0% (invite link). There mission: to show every level created for Super Mario Maker some love, and by love I mean, at least one completion, before the servers go dark for bad in a month’s time. SMM helps out by offering to give players uncompleted levels. And so they play on, no challenge to great, no gimmick too obscure. Recently they finished every level made in the year 2019. And they’re down to their last 1,000 levels overall!

One month to go. 1,000 levels to finish. Can they do it? They finished 1,000 levels back in the first week of their project, so it’s definitely possible. We’re watching them on their epic quest, and wish them luck. The good kind!

Super Mario Sunshine’s Substitution Cipher

Are you surprised by that title? It isn’t obvious that there even is one, but Youtuber 2CPhoenix makes a strong case that there is, that’s (mostly) consistent across the game’s signage! Here’s their video on it (9 1/2 minutes):

These kinds of ciphers aren’t to common in games, but they’re not unheard-of either. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker uses one for the Hylian language, which it even translates for you if you play through the game a second time, and there’s at least one other such language that’s used in Breath of the Wild for Shiekah artifacts. And of course, working out a cipher that’s used in many locations is a major late-game puzzle in Fez.

The “language” of what are possibly the Noki in Sunshine Mario Sunshine is one of those things where, like Bubble Bobble’s Bubble Alphabet, the letters are actually heavily stylized versions of our familiar Latin alphabet, meaning, if you kind of take your brain off the hook slightly and just try to read the glyphs like they were words, you can get a bit of a sense of what they’re saying. Or at least I can. A little.

It’s enough to make one want to take a second look at the fakey-letters in some other Nintendo games, such as the Splatoon and Pokemon series….

Mario Paint Data Overflow Error

There is a subtle flaw in SNES art creation tool Mario Paint. It has 32K of Save RAM, which is not technically enough to save an entire project, normal and animation canvases included. The program uses data compression to get everything to fit, and the compression is good enough that most of the time everything can be squeezed in, but such is the nature of data compression that it is not guaranteed to work on all possible data.

What happens when Mario Paint can’t fit everything into its save file? This:

A comment on the video gives purpose to the numbers the robot displays as it counts down. 100-25 is compressing the image; 25-12 is erasing the save RAM, and 12-0 is copying the data into save RAM.

On Super Mario World’s Score Display

Awesome Mario trivia blog Supper Mario Broth noted on Mastodon that Super Mario World is extremely inefficient in displaying Mario’s score.

There is more information on, but in brief, SMW stores the player’s score as a 24-bit value as hexadecimal digits, and converts that value to decimal when it’s time to display it. There is no good way to do that that doesn’t involve figuring out the entire arithmetic, but Super Mario World does it particularly slowly: it starts with a copy of the score, then sees if it’s over 1,000,000. If it is, it increases the millions digit of the displayed score by 1, subtracts a million from the work value, then repeats. When it runs out of millions it repeats with the hundred-thousands, and repeats until it finishes with the tens. At least it doesn’t try it with the 1s, seeing as how nothing in the game awards single points!

In a worse-case scenario, with a score of 9,999,990, the code goes through this whole process every frame, consuming up to 8% of the time available for game logic.

What could the game have done to accomplish this better? It could have found out how many of each digit there was once instead of looping and incrementing. It could only figure out the score when the value changes. Or it could save the value as the digits themselves in decimal, just increment them by the right values when its needed, and then copy that figure to the screen. That’s largely what 8-bit games would do.

Even worse, if Luigi is the active character, the game does this twice: it figures out and prints Mario’s score, then it does it again for Luigi’s score, placing it onscreen in the same place.

While printing the score is just one thing the game does each frame, the effect is great enough that complex scores can lag the game, enough that speedrunners take the score into account to avoid it.

This adds to the evidence that Super Mario World development was rushed. It’s already known that a lot of the code in SMW is buggy, allowing for some truly heroic exploits like programming a text editor in SRAM purely by manipulating objects in an early level.

Sundry Sunday: Our Standards

Sundry Sunday is our weekly feature of fun gaming culture finds and videos, from across the years and even decades.

Welcome to a different sort of Sundry Sunday! This week, I’d figure I’d explain to you how weirdly seriously I find this section to do!

You might think just finding a random funny or weird game-related video on Youtube is the easiest cyberthing in the compuworld. It’s only been one of the most popular form of videos on Youtube since it started up. Newgrounds has been around for how long again?

Well, you see, that’s kind of the problem. Newgrounds is part of what I’m going to euphemistically call gamer culture, and that tends to be what I’m going to understatedly call extra. Surely I don’t need to go into the many excesses of gamerdom, at this late date.

So I have to choose carefully. And it’s not just gamer culture I have to carefully circumnavigate, but some other examples of the excesses of fandom.

I figured I’d illustrate by showing a couple of videos that I would not otherwise present in this forum, and note why I wouldn’t. Let us away!

The Ultimate “Super Mario Bros Wonder” Recap Cartoon

3 minutes:

The word “Ultimate” is in the title. It doesn’t reflect my feelings.

This one’s borderline. The opening gag of Bowser turning into a salaryman is a good one. But then a flower starts cussing Mario out, and Luigi slaps the ass of Elephant Daisy. And British hunters poach Elephant Mario, and Mario gets cussed at some more and gets squished to paste inside an inchworm pipe. And there’s a Lion King parody that is just a reference without a point. And then Peach grabs a Wonder Flower, making an enemy bulk up like on steroids, and reacts with anticipation as it then approaches her. You know. “Adult” humor.

“Adult” humor is a difficult thing to apply well. Just having kids’ characters react in such untoward ways is not a positive or negative on its own, but that is my point, just that isn’t enough for me to recommend a video. It feels like I’m recommending a Family Guy sketch, a style of animated comedy of which I’ll litotically say I’m not a fan.

Furthermore, the whole video is just a series of vignettes like that. A single funny joke in a video has to carry the weight of the whole rest of it. I’m not going to say this video is sloppy because obvious effort went into animating it, and there’s even some good ideas in there. But there’s always going to be reasons not to link to something, all it takes is one, and I knew it wasn’t going to be right for Sundry Sunday (outside this context) the moment Luigi slapped Daisy’s butt. Sometimes I despair of finding something good to put in on Sunday, but I’d rather not present a culture find that week at all than one that crosses a grossness line. That’s just me, but then, I’m me, and I’m writing this.

Early on in Mario and Luigi’s Plumbing Career…

1 minute:

This video has the opposite problem. And it’s not really a problem, I’d say, it’s fine, it’s not intended as a value judgement against it, except that, by rejecting it for here (again, outside of this context), I am unavoidably judging it by a value, the value of being right for Sundry Sunday. What I mean to say is, it isn’t bad. I just can’t quite bring myself to say it’s good.

What causes me to reject this one is two things: it’s not funny, and on top of that, it’s kind of glurgy.

In summary: in the universe of the recent Super Mario Bros. movie, Mario and Luigi’s old boss, Foreman Spike, comes into a room to find them messing up on a job, and at first berates them for poor work, but then eases up and has a bonding moment with his two employees, fixing the leak himself while telling him a story of his own early career. And that’s really it. It’s supposed to be heartwarming, but it comes off as ingratiating.

It might work better if there was more at stake. If we had a bit more prior insight into Spike’s character (he’s not a big part of the movie). I’m not as concerned with the fact that the video is just a voiceover of a dramatic presentation of a fancomic, I’ve presented things like that here before.

I don’t dislike it, but I think the bar for inclusion here is a little higher.

Identifying Luck in Mario Party 8

ZoomZike’s back with another epic-length exhaustive examination of the hidden mechanics and math behind a Mario Party title, this time the Wii game Mario Party 8. At three hours and 34 minutes it’s not as long as the nearly five-and-a-half hour video on Mario Party 7, but it’s not any less detailed.

I can’t think of any more detailed descriptions of the hidden mechanics of such a complex game as these. The time and effort it takes to make them suggests mania on the part of the creator, but I’m still glad they do! It’s fascinating the care that these apparently-chaotic games were made with, and how their secrets were discovered by attentive players. I suggest not watching it all in one sitting, but in segments over several days. If you care about the subject at all, that is. But as should be evident, I do care, and I think you might as well if you’re interested in game design and give it a chance.

Identifying Luck in Mario Party 8 (Youtube, 3h 34m)

The Complete Script of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Not only is it everything in the game, including unused dialogue, but it’s not a text file on Pastebin, GameFAQs or Github, but on its own website, at! This means, when its domain expires, it’ll be gone from the web. Maybe the Internet Archive can rescue it….

If you’re not familiar with it, Thousand-Year Door is widely regarded as the best of the Paper Mario games. Not only does it update the game system of the original Paper Mario with all kinds of new ideas, but it has a fairly brilliant story given its having to work with Mario lore, and it has hilarious writing and memorable characters. Super Paper Mario, that followed it, has its charms, but a somewhat lesser story. And after SPM, it seems Nintendo decided that they weren’t fond of the branching-off of Mario lore that the Paper Mario games was doing, so games after that didn’t have as much of their own continuity.

This is the game where Mario joins a pro wrestling federation as “The Great Gonzales,” where he solves a murder mystery on a train (with a particular NPC who is slightly menacing somehow!), and has one of the best uses of Luigi from among all the Mario games: while you’re on your journey to rescue Peach, it turns out that Luigi is on his own weird adventure, in the “Waffle Kingdom,” that you only find out about from talking with him. Luigi his own crazy partners that accompany him, who have their own opinions about his adventure. Here is the page on that lists that part of the script–needless to say, it is spoilers, and if you plan on playing TYD you probably should experience it there first.

Dialogue Tree, Home of Game Scripts (although so far only Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door)