Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sonuva part VI

Yeah, so it's been a few days since my last update on this. I had some snags animating Azriel, he called for a lot more attention than the others... mainly because this character is like my baby, so I wanted to take my time with him... I'm not sure that I'm on 100% satisfied with how he turned out yet, but I still need to take some time away from staring at this animation non-stop so I can come back to it with fresh eyes...

You'll notice one major change to his stance position, it's not just wings that flash from time to time while he's idle, you'll see an entire reaper entity intertwined with him. The idea was to have it look like there's a weird ghostly skeleton almost hanging onto his back, but fused with him somehow... If you click on the image to the left, you'll see what I mean... The skeleton's arms are grabbing onto his wrists and its legs are wrapped around Azriel's... Yet they share a ribcage and face... I don't know, I like it... it's not meant to be terribly visible until his finishing move...

You can view his animations below... missing from these animations are his blocks (standing and ducking), his falling and knocked out animations and his second special move... they're finished, but I was too lazy to work them into the overall animation. I'll post something later maybe with those... but probably not... you deal. Azriel's finisher is rather violent, so, again, if that sort of thing bothers you, don't watch this animation.

Azriel going full death reaper for his finisher is also a little homage of mine to Mortal Kombat... specifically the way Scorpion would remove his mask to reveal a skull right before he breathed fire on his opponent...

Anyway, I've been getting some cool character ideas from a few friends of mine, I'm hoping to give y'all the rundown on those pretty soon. I have to refine the designs still and apply them to the style used in this game, but in the meantime, I still have Jack and Nephilim to animate. But if you haven't read the original post, you probably don't have a clue who I'm talking about... but I forgive you.

~ Mark

Creative Commons License
Sonuva by Mark Marianelli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sonuva part V

I had a chance last night to get some of the base work done for Azriel... I think he may end up being my favorite by the time I'm finished animating him. Basically, he's meant to have that "Grim Reaper" appearance. In his description on the original Sonuva post, I mentioned him being more of a vessel for an Angel of Death, so during his "stance" animation, you'll notice that every 3 seconds or so glowing wings appear behind him like a fuzzy television station. I think it's a pretty cool effect... but I suppose you're entitled to your own opinion... which I ignore.

You can view his animations thus far here:

Hey, and guess what?? Kids can watch this one too! Seeing as all he does is stand there for a while, throw a quick punch and teleport across the screen. I think that's kid-friendly, right? Just don't tell the kid it's the grim reaper... come to steal all his toys and swallow his soul. I think that's what reapers do...

I'll swallow your soul!
~ Mark

Creative Commons License
Sonuva by Mark Marianelli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sonuva part IV

So not a ton of changes since yesterday... I've finished the animations for the character, Sonuva. I'm pretty happy with how she turned out, I have to admit I was getting a little worried that she wouldn't come out so great... Shamefully, I regurgitated a ton of her animations for different moves, specifically her finisher. Because she's the game's boss, her moves are a little unbalanced when compared to other fighters... and when you watch the animation below, you'll see I gave her the ability to resurrect herself... though I'm still sorting out how that function will work in the game when the player is controlling her.

The link below features all three characters to date with all their animations (Hunter and Nark share the same animations except for their finishers)... again, this is violent, so don't watch it if you're not in to that sort of thing...

In regards to Sonuva's finisher, it's not remotely what I originally planned it to be. I was thinking of having her force her opponent to perform his/her finisher on themselves... I may explore that again at some point, but for now, this new one works much nicer and was much, much easier to animate... not that I'm above difficult tasks... The spine slipping out at the end is my own little homage to Mortal Kombat's infamous "Spine-Rip"... but to everybody else, it probably just looks like the body grew a tail... c'est la vie.

So next I'll be working on Azriel's animations... if you haven't seen the original post on this game than you probably don't have a clue who that is... but I forgive you, pumpkin. I probably won't resume work on this till' Thursday... I'm almost positive my girlfriend will kill me if I skip out on our plans tomorrow...

Flawless Victory. Fatality.
~ Mark

Creative Commons License
Sonuva by Mark Marianelli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Sonuva part III

As mentioned in the last post, I've been hard at work animating various characters for ma'dear old flash game... Going with a simpler art style has proven itself to be a lot more productive than previous attempt, with it only taking about 2 days tops to fully animate a fighter...

The latest fighter in the line-up shares the game title's name, "Sonuva"... She's going to be the game's final boss. She'll be playable, but I'm thinking that'll only be the case if you beat her... why not have a goal to aim for, right? I still have a few animations to work on for her, but for the most part she's finished. I may still go back once she's animated and touch up her outfit a little, I'm not 100% pleased with it yet... I think it looked better in the concept art, but I'm generally pretty lazy when it comes to stuff like that, so we'll see what happens...

The second character I worked on is "Nark"... who is my comic book counterpart in "Abundant Life"... I'm planning on making him for of a hidden character to save time... How is that saving time? Well, if you look back on the original Mortal Kombat games, the hidden characters (such as Reptile, Smoke, Noob Siabot and Jade) were just color palette swaps of preexisting character sprites... I've done a similar thing with Nark in that I simply gave "Hunter" an outfit swap. I wasn't totally lazy, however... I had to modify the finisher... if you watched the previous demo for Hunter, you'd remember that his swords lit his opponent on fire... this wouldn't make a whole lot of sense for Nark, seeing has his swords have been replaced with giant pencils. So I provided a new "ending" to his finishing move...

You can view the animations for the new characters with the following link... Just a friendly reminder, however, this game is violent, so if that sort of thing isn't for you, steer clear of these demo animations.

I'm hoping to have all of Sonuva's animations finished sometime tomorrow with the possibility of starting another character... (only four more to go!)

Aaaaaand begin,
~ Mark

... I almost forgot, if you'd like to see Nark's full set of moves (which, again, is just Hunter with a new look), you can check it out here... you also get a full view of his finisher here for all you sickos out there... winky face:

Creative Commons License
Sonuva by Mark Marianelli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sonuva part II

Contrary to popular belief, I do in fact get things done...

A while back I posted a blog titled "Sonuva"... Sonuva is the title of a fighting game I've been working on using Flash. Basically, I haven't touched the project since I posted that blog... and the real reason behind posting that was to make sure I have proof of it being my idea in case a certain unnamed group (who at one point was interested in this project) attempted to steal it. Not that I don't trust them, but... I don't.

But enough about them, let's talk about me... and all the awesome work I've accomplished on this project! No more than a few days ago I decided to pick up work on this project again, being as inspired as I've been lately... but alas, old frustrations resurfaced with the animation portion of the game... i.e. It's really, really hard to animate a character... let alone seven of them. So I spent a day and thought out a simple solution to the animation... what resulted was a much simpler look and feel than originally intended... a look and feel which I love 100 times more.

So, in a nutshell, I've completed all the animations for Hunter... you can view the original attempts on the previous Sonuva blog... But that's old news, here's some new news! I put together a demo animation of the characer fighting... himself... because he's the only character I've finished. You can view it here:

I suppose that I should warn viewers that it's a little violent... which is kind of my own way of paying homage to one of my favorite games ever... "Mortal Kombat". Buuuuut, seeing as the link is already above this paragraph, odds are you've already watched it... sorry.

I'm happy to say those animations only took me about 2 days to finish... with a lot of breaks... and a lot of procrastination... so overall, it didn't take very long to do. The next step is to finish the other characters. I'm not in any rush to put this out, it's already been about 2 years since I started thinking about it, so what's another year, right? My hope is that this can be made into an iPhone app, it just feels like it's made for that.

More to come,
~ Mark

Creative Commons License
Sonuva by Mark Marianelli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lights, Camera, Action Flick!

Movie critics are morons.

Not sure if that was mean to say or not, and if you're a movie critic reading this, then I'm sorry... sort of.

I have another statement to make. Action movies are awesome.

What do these two statements have in common? Critics hate action movies.

If you're a critic, then it's very likely that you have an account on a site devoted to grading films based on an overall percentage of "rotten" and "fresh" votes from critics. 60% or more is a fresh film, any less and your movie is rotten. Which is actually pretty harsh... if half the film critics in the world say a movie is good, and the other half say it sucks... then the half that likes it doesn't count.

Well here's my problem, only about half the critics on that site enjoy action films, so every action movie that comes out is marked for rotten death before it even gets a chance to reach a broader audience! I say broader audience because a lot of people won't even go out and see a movie if rottentomatoes says it sucks, and how many people actually read the individual reviews on that site anyway? If you did read those reviews, you'd probably read something that sounds like this:

"This movie was a formulaic piece of crap, bad acting, weak plot... and too much action"

That's not an exaggeration either... Most film critics really do use the critique of "too much action" to describe a lot of ACTION films. I'm sorry, but what is wrong with these people? Action films should ALWAYS have lots of action! It's a means to turn your brain off for a few hours and enjoy the senseless violence. I feel the problem is that people don't review a movie based on it's genre. So as a result, you get a bunch of artsy, self-indulgent film freaks looking for drama who instead find a testosterone-driven man-vehicle... and it makes them mad... :( <--- That's a sad film critic, poor little guy. "Where's the conflict? The character development? The intellectually challenging plot??" ... I'll tell you where it is... it's in the drama section ya' beatnik, now drink your latte and shut up! ... for real though, I like lattes. Now just for the record, I don't want to come off as some macho, toolbag stereotype. I'm hardly what you would call, a "Manly man". I don't like sports, I don't like beer, I go to starbucks and I own a mac... which I love... I also don't know anything about cars and I make people sick when I talk to my girlfriend. Yes. I have a horrible girlfriend voice. Really. It's disgusting... I'm so sorry for the people who have to listen to me talk on the phone with her. So yeah, action movies have an average of 59% on said website. Which means that unless the movie has some form of dramatic, intellectual plot device, it's bound for failure... and it's rare that you'll find those in any "guy flick". My purpose is to create a new standard for rating action movies, and hopefully bring some glory back to a mighty genre which has been overshadowed by a pretty pathetic generation of film critics. Let's start with the basics. What makes an action movie: 1.) Action - I imagine this would be pretty important... in an "Action" movie... I've seen a good enough chunk of action flicks to know that when I pop in the summer blockbuster of the year, I better not get 3 hours of dialogue and 10 minutes of killing. A lot of debate goes up about how involved a story should be to make or break a movie... I really could care less, and you can form your own opinion on it, but if that plot can't be laid out before the last 20 minutes of the film, then it's better off being a book. I'm watching a movie because my brain wants to shut down for 2 hours and be dazzled by chaos, destruction and pure, manly awesomeness. This isn't generally a difficult requirement to fill, you should think of action sequences as checkpoints in a film. A situation arises, suspense ensues, and the matter is concluded with a gun fight. Another situation comes up (a little more involved then the last), and before you know it, you're chasing after the solution in a car chase. The final piece of the puzzle comes into play... and you solve that puzzle by blowing it up... then you declare your ultimate victory with a witty one-liner and a fade to credits with a hair-metal anthem of glory. It's so beautiful...

Remember, an action movie's purpose is to blindly entertain. If you're looking to improve your outlook on life, or be challenged philosophically or intellectually, or simply be inspired/moved... then watch a drama. If you want to laugh and just feel good, then watch a comedy. If you enjoy being horrified and disturbed, then watch a horror flick... but if you just feel like turning off your brain, letting out some steam, and being mindlessly dazzled after a long week, day... or life... then you require the Action/Adventure genre.

An action sequence is such a broad concept... a lot of times movies cop out and throw in chase scene, after chase scene, after chase scene... Chase scenes are cool, but they're not really "action" action. I watched "Ong-Bak", which is considered a "Grade A" martial arts film (Yes, martial arts counts as action). I've never been so disappointed in my life. Yeah, it's full of action... but 80% of that action is Tony Jaa jumping over out-of-place obstacles and replaying the same stunt in slow motion 3 times just to make sure you really "Saw what you saw". Does it fill the first requirement? Yes. Does it do so successfully? Absolutely not. That movie is garbage... which I intend to elaborate on someday.

But I digress...

A chase scene works for what it is; It stimulates the viewer, it is technically action, but it should never be the main source of entertainment in an action movie... not unless people are dying! Think of it as payment... you want action? That's gonna cost ya'. It's probably one of the major elements that separates "Thrillers" from "Action" flicks... A thriller is pretty much suspense and chase sequences... You take those scenes and have the hero killing people, then you've got yourself an action film.

So what am I really getting at here? Have some variety in the action... Mindless is one thing, boring is another.

2.) Violence -
What's the point of all that gun play if someone isn't getting shot?

This might make some legalistic conservatives mad... but whatever, movies aren't real. Deal with it.

I don't care how movie violence happens. It can be sword fights, fist fights, gun fights... heck, the characters can use petrified squirrels for all I care... so long as the rigamortis is strong enough to chop a man's head off and make a kabob with it! If ANYTHING, this is the one quintessential element which can make or break any action film... car chases don't mean a whole lot unless one of those cars blows up... and no parachuting out of the wreckage last minute, if that car crashes, somebody better be ALL over that windshield. I'm not playin', people gotta' die!

Violence is pretty much a given when dealing with the Action genre. But a lot of films use this term loosely. And I really hate that. Not to come off as a sicko or anything, but if you're already shooting people, why not have em' bleed a little. I'm of course talking about "Squibs". Which are little packets of red paint that actors wear which blow up to emulate gun wounds and whatnot... they're pretty cool. With the lines being blurred between PG-13's and R's, I've found what really separates the men from the boys is blood packs. Die Hard is probably the best example of this. In the original films they put those squibs to good use. It's like every bullet hit 20 arteries at once. So when John Mclaine shot someone, you knew they were gonna' die... HARD. The most recent installment probably should have been called "Die Moderately". People died pretty much the same way... shot by Bruce Willis. But there were no more squibs! It was like playing Mortal Kombat on the SNES. Same awesome game... but no awesome violence. :( <--- Sad Critic Face Again. 3.) Heros - Two words. ACTION. HERO. If there isn't a bloodied up, musclebound action hero throwing punches and snapping spines then why on earth is it in my dvd player? Anybody can save the day, but how many people save the day and walk away from a fiery explosion in slow motion? Yeah, that's true heroism. But let's be real for a minute. Fella's. Do you want to watch Shia Labeouf hiding girls from his parents and throwing cubes into giant robots' chests? Or do you want to watch Arnold Swarzenegger shoot a man in the face? Yeah... that's what I thought. Not just any old hero will do. The tougher the antagonist is, the better. Smart heroes are cool to watch, but capable heroes are just so much more action-friendly. I feel that the tougher the hero, the better the film. And really, this doesn't mean that a less built actor won't qualify, but I've got to believe that this character can actually perform the acts necessary to make an action film awesome... all I'm saying is that there's a reason why when you think of "Action Film" you think of Stallone, Willis and Swarzenegger... not Labeouf, Christensen and... Wilson. Behind Enemy Lines? Anyone? ... No?

Oh, and on a side note, Professional Wrestlers are the perfect archetype for any action movie, but for some reason (with the exception of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) they're theatrical suicide. I can't explain it, they're just bad luck for any action film. They suck.

4.) Villains -
Every protagonist needs an even badder antagonist. Whether they're stronger, smarter, faster... or hide behind an endless hoard of henchmen... if there's no true rivalry, you're just clubbing baby seals... and Heroes club Navy Seals. Boo yah.

A villain doesn't have a lot of requirements. He just needs to be doing something bad... You fill that requirement, and you've got yourself a bona-fide bad antagonist. But there's a difference between an antagonist... and a bad guy. In the 80s, a bad guy meant exactly that... a BAD. GUY. They were bad simply because they were in no way good. You didn't sympathize with them, you didn't see their side of the story, you didn't care to know their reasoning... their reasoning was they were not good people. Nowadays you almost find yourself feeling bad for the antagonists... "Oh, don't kill him, he has a daughter", "He's not evil, he's damaged", "He's not our enemy, he's a product of our own society"... ugh. By that point the movie might as well be an E! True Hollywood Story... or a Greek Tragedy. You shouldn't feel bad for the bad guy, you should want the hero to throw him out a window... and onto a rusty pike.

5.) Showdown -
Any action movie that doesn't end with a climactic battle to the death... epically fails in the action department. The hero can't simply walk up to the bad guy, shoot him in the face, and ride off into the rolling credits... He's got to get bloodied up, he has to fight... he needs... a showdown. Whether it's a classic western gun draw, a martial arts kung fu fight, brutal slugfest, or just your average shoot em' up finale, nothing is over until the hero and the villain duke it out MAN STYLE.

Showdowns are going to be the main thing any movie goer will remember about an action flick. It's the last thing they see before they leave the theater (or turn off the tv), and it's the one thing they've been waiting for the entire movie. It has to be awesome. You can't have a climax of any less than 10 minutes. This might seem to be overdoing it, but I'm serious. An action movie deserves a nice, built out finale with lots of fighting, lots of killing and lots of testosterone. Bad Boys 2 nailed this. It didn't just give you one awesome finale... it gave you TWO.

Actually, Bad Boys II is the reason I'm writing all this in the first place. It's the ultimate action movie, but every stuck up artsy critic on the planet gave it crap reviews... basically because it was too actiony. Is the movie some kind of Shakespearian masterpiece? Of course not... but it wasn't meant to be that, it was meant to be a summer blockbuster; A testosterone-heavy action flick. And for what it was, it was incredible. Not to mention it was hilarious. I'm not saying it's the best movie in the world, but rottentomatoes has this film at a overall approval rating of 23%... it's top critics gave it 17%... say what you will about it, but it wasn't THAT bad. What it was was a really good action film. I'd just like to point out that those same critics on rottentomatoes are the ones who gave Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull a 77% approval rating... apparently their idea of theatrical gold Shia Labeouf swinging from vines in a jungle with a bunch of monkeys...

I got distracted...

6.) Villain Death -
If your villain has succeeded at being a bad guy, then by the end of the movie, every viewer is just ACHING for that dude to get offed.

In Action Land, bad people die... In real life, bad people go to prison... but this isn't real life... cause real life sucks, the justice system sucks, and bad people getting three meals a day and raping other inmates sucks. That's why we watch movies, cause we don't care about real life, we want to be engulfed in that which can never truly happen... And that my friends... is True Justice. If your villain doesn't get his head chopped off, or get impaled, or get shot to death... or explode... then as far as I'm concerned, your action film has failed... You're an evil dictator? You get gutted. Oh, you're a jerk? No jugular for you! What's that? You're a Nazi? You get your face melted!

This element of a film is also what can truly mean the difference between a PG-13 and a hard R. In PG-13's, bad guys generally die in some fiery explosion. Or get impaled, but don't bleed, shot but you don't see the entry wound (or the exit wound), fall off buildings but you don't see them land. That's fine for what it is, but I find it to be a little unoriginal at this point... and not very satisfying. R-rated movies kill off their baddies with a little pizzaz. Arms getting ripped off, or their eyes getting gouged out, chemicals melting their faces off... and when they get shot, you see that bullet rip them a new one with ZERO censorship. oh, that was a good one...

7.) Gloating -
This last one's sort of a bonus... but every hero should express their dominance over evil with a quick wit.

I'm of course talking about Arnold Swarzenegger's speciality... the One-Liner. Yeah, nothing says victory like gloating. And these come in all shapes and sizes, Grunting, laughing, dancing... But nothing beats tradition when it comes to victory, just make fun of the jack-hole. Not like he's alive enough to hear it anyway.

So in conclusion, next time you watch an action film, just keep a general awareness of the genre and keep your expectations neutral. Don't think, just watch.

Yippee Kai Yay- okay, that's not appropriate,
~ Mark

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Taking a breather from Video Game tributes... and I'm sure that will be a delight to most people who read this blog. I thought I'd write about a movie I saw recently at Ye Old Theater... which I'm sure you've already deducted from the title of this particular post... Avatar.

The truth is, I went into this film with incredibly skeptical eyes. The first time I saw the trailer, I really assumed the worst about this film. Fluorescent colors and massive amounts of CGI... I thought I was watching a teaser for a new Joel Schumacher film... in addition to this, I had just heard they were making a film based off the cartoon "Avatar" from Nickelodeon, so I was annoyed that THIS movie was titled Avatar and the other was titled... something I don't remember... Maybe something like "Fuzzy Giant Cat People in Space"... wouldn't that be ironic though?

I will never doubt Sir James Cameron again.

I have to be honest, the movie blew me away... But not on any real deep level... more so on the level of a baby being brought into the world and seeing color for the first time. I haven't seen a movie in 3D since Michael Jackson's Captain EO at Disney World when I was 4 years old... and there's a good chance that I may have suppressed that memory until now... so needless to say, I've been seriously missing out on some good cinema over the years. There were moments in this movie where I felt like I was there... One scene in particular comes to mind... The main character is on his way to catch his own Banshee (basically a big flying dragon... and I'm not even going to pretend to remember it's Cat-Person name), and there's a moment where he's climbing these vines high up in the air on floating mountains and I felt like I was going to fall off a cliff... it's eerie how well 3D glasses pull you into that atmosphere. I still check myself for arrow wounds at night...

But I should be real for a moment... Avatar was a 3 hour piece of eye candy. To expect anything more than this would be a disappointing preconception going into this film. I went in with zero expectations and left feeling like I had traveled through space, lived on a beautiful foreign planet... then blew it up and came home. It was that awesome an experience... but I have to emphasize the word "experience"... This movie is pure beauty. This film, I don't believe, was ever meant to inspire great thinking... only great art.

The concepts here are basic at best:

Save the planet, respect nature, don't give in to greed... and never pull on a cat's tail, because there's creepy tentacle things inside of it which connect to nature... and nature is good. Yeah, the film is pretty New-Agey, it'd be a good film to watch on Earth Day...

I should also mention there's a pretty odd emphasis on interracial/inter species dating... eHarmony may need to rethink their strategies... For $49.99 a month, get your own free Avatar and mingle with hundreds of Na'Li singles today!

So overall, this movie is a real experience that you need to see in theaters to really appreciate... To simply rent it and watch it expecting something like Braveheart or Dark Knight would be a mild disappointment... Get your hide to the theaters and watch this movie... and be nice to cats, you may fall in love with one some day...

I see you,
~ Mark

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Video Game Tribute #11: Soul Reaver

Two words. Soul. Reaver. Every time I hear those words I get tingles. I remember playing Soul Reaver for the first time on my Dreamcast and being blown away. The visuals were amazing, the story was original, the music was atmospheric and the gameplay was simple yet involved.

I imagine a lot of people don't know much about this game... well, gamers do, but this isn't really a gamer blog, so I doubt the majority of people reading this (i.e. all 10 of em') know what I'm talking about... and have probably already lost interest... I'm a little bored myself. The basic plot of the game has to do with Vampires (which is hot right now, so maybe I just upped my numbers) elder gods, time travel, um... swords? Well, it won't make much sense if I explain it... it's the second game in a series titled "Legacy of Kain" and it follows a vampire named Raziel who was sentenced to death for out-evolving his master by growing wings... after being thrown into a vortex of some kind, he wakes up practically decomposed as a Wraith who has to devour souls to live... from here you go on a quest to kill your master and all of your Vampire brethren... the plot actually becomes incredibly complicated as you go through the series, but this game is pretty much about revenge...

The main character, Raziel, is what drew me to this game... he's just a bad looking dude. So when I started playing the game, I came to realize just how awesome an anti-hero he really was. He kills vampires, taunts them, then swallows there souls! Yeah, Mario never did anything that awesome... What I found interesting though is that despite how cool the action was, there was a huge emphasis on puzzles... more specifically, moving blocks. Like, Raziel has all the bad-man power in the world... and he's walking around pushing and pulling large blocks to solve puzzles. If you ask me, Ancient Egypt could have used someone like him to build the pyramids... He seems to excel in that area more than he does killing things. I think by the time you finish playing this game you will have pushed enough blocks to build the Pyramids of Giza about 3 times over... now that's efficiency you can't buy! We seriously need to consider a half-decayed vampiric soul-eater army to get this economy back on its feet! Hard work for dirst cheap, you just... I don't know... pay them with souls? We got enough of those floating around... like, in China.

I'd like to see those Twilight Vampires build a pyramid,
~ Mark

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Video Game Tribute #10: Mario

I suppose it was almost inevitable... when you're doing video game tribute, it'd practically be a sin to not include video gaming's most recognizable face... Mario. Or his more underplayed birth name: Mario Mario... someone in that lineage must have been pretty awesome to have named the same kid after him twice... either that or Little Caesar fathered the Mario Brothers...

I had hoped to avoid a lot of the more well known video game franchises, but seeing as I've already done Metroid, I guess it couldn't hurt to be a little generic and write about Mario. But really, what can one write about one of the most successful franchises in the world? If I'm correct, nobody reading this really needs an explanation of what the game is or how it's played... but just for kicks... You control a little fat Italian Plumber (and his brother) and the goal is to jump on killer fungi and turtles in an attempt to save a princess and a bunch of little midgets (who wear giant mushrooms on their heads) from an evil dragon/turtle hybrid who lives in a castle full of lava.


What, that doesn't make sense? Well, guess what... Nothing about these games makes sense! We're talking about a series of video games based on 2 Brooklyn Plumbers who shrink, grow, throw fire and kill turtles... and the occasional gorilla. Over the years these games have evolved and expanded upon the magical land of the "Mushroom Kingdom"... but it's still a drug trip and a half...

Trippy as it is, this game practically defined the side-scrolling genre for years to come... But there's a few oddities to it nonetheless...

First of all, most of the enemies in this game don't "attack" as much as they just... touch you. Why does that hurt Mario?? Maybe it'd make a little sense with a more detailed back story... like, all the villains in Mushroom Kingdom wear wool socks and you might get shocked if they touch you. Or everybody has Leprosy... so step on their heads. Maybe even the less popular, "Mario in the Land of Sexual Harassment"... where everyone wants to touch you inappropriately! That would actually make sense; Mario feels belittled and small by the unwanted advancements of the Mushroom people... so he metaphorically shrinks. Mario... you're just not using all your assets.

I don't know, it just seems to me like there's a huge emphasis on touching things in this game. Mario never really EATS the super mushrooms as much as he just TAPS them with his hands... You touch a flower, you throw fire balls. You touch a leaf, you grow a tail... The last time I touched a leaf it was Poison Ivy...

That reminds me, why does Mario have to play dress-up every time he goes on an adventure? Capes, Frog Suits, Rabbit Ears, Penguin suits... the only one that's made sense up to now has been the Hammer Bro's suit... because he threw a hammer for a change instead of trying to jump on everything's head! Maybe we've got the wrong idea with our war on terror... let's just dress up like raccoons and whack the Al Quaeda with our tails... Mario's been doing it for years and it seems to work.

Secondly, when Mario dies, where the heck is he falling? Is he going to hell? I mean, he falls right through the ground! And what makes it even weirder is that he looks at YOU when it happens... like it's your fault! Which... it kind of is...

Lastly, I'm fairly convinced that the people of Mushroom Kingdom suffer from a slight retardation... It's been over 20 years now and these people STILL can't keep the Princess from being kidnapped by Bowser! Seriously, every couple years the exact same thing happens: Bowser rolls up to the Castle in his flying boat, grabs the Princess with almost NO resistance, then flies away to the same stinking castle he's been taking her to since 1985... All I'm saying is, build a watch tower! If you see a flying boat, hide the Princess! Cause' you already know that's who Bowser's coming for... Or even better, build a cannon. When you see the Bowser's ship, shoot it with the cannon!

On a side note, next time you defeat Bowser, don't leave him passed out on the floor. Why? Because he is going to wake up... and guess who he's coming for once he comes to? Imagine how easy life would be for Mario and his neglected brother if they simply killed the Koopa King. Yeah, it'd be pretty darn easy. Too barbaric? Fine. Throw his turtle butt in prison! These people DO live in a castle right? There's bound to be a dungeon somewhere...

Speaking of the Princess, I've got two words: NEEDY. GIRLFRIEND. I'm just sayin'. At least ten of Mario's adventures have involved saving that woman. Mario, nobody will hold it against you if you take a very convenient "vacation" when you see that stupid pirate ship coming...

Exactly which castle was the Princess in anyway?
~ Mark