Posts Tagged ‘retro gaming’

mariokart

I love Mario Kart. The series provides multiplayer gaming bliss like no other. Which is why I’m going to devote the entire month of June to Mario Kart! It’s Mario Kart Month, baybay!

mkm

I don’t have a graphics department.

I want to kick off a month of Mario Kart-related articles by ranking all eight Mario Kart games from my least favorite, to my absolute #1. As with any list I do or have done, this isn’t a list to say “this list is fact, your opinion is wrong.” I know my list differs from other people’s (SPOILER: I have Double Dash ranked lower than most other people would). Let’s get this thing started!


#8- Mario Kart: Super Circuit

mkscbox

This was a was a game I didn’t play until well after it was released. When I say “well after” I don’t mean it was a few months or a year. It was over 11 years before I got to really sit down and play this game. I played it for maybe 30 seconds while I was at a Best Buy when I was 14 years old. I received this game for free as a part of the 3DS Ambassador Program (Nintendo’s way of rewarding early 3DS buyers before a rather quick price drop). Maybe it was because I already had several years of more technologically advanced Mario Kart games under my belt, but I never felt the connection with this game that I do any of the others. But, that’s not to say it’s a bad game. This is surprisingly only the 3rd game in the series. This game was released in Sept. 2001 and missed being a Game Boy Advance launch title by only 3 months. It was the first handheld Mario Kart handheld game and really didn’t look bad for being a near-launch title. But the problem is nothing really stands out about it for me aside from being the first handheld Mario Kart. It doesn’t hold any special place in my heart for nostalgic reasons or anything. It’s the only one on this list that’s just kinda “there” for me, which is why I have it ranked last.


#7- Mario Kart DS

mkdsbox

Because I was never REAL big on Double Dash (more on that later) or Super Circuit and was Mario Kart 64 just kind of appeared for me one day, Mario Kart DS was the first Mario Kart game I actually got hyped about before release. 3D-modeled characters, online play, etc. This game was gonna be big! And it was! But it was surpassed by every Mario Kart that came after it and didn’t have the staying power that the classics did. It was super fun at the time and definitely gave you an idea of where Mario Kart was heading in the future (online play, kart and character stats), but by the time the next game in the series, Mario Kart Wii, came out, it seems like this one was forgotten.


#6- Mario Kart: Double Dash

mkddbox

I know this will be THE controversial selection for this spot (if at all). Mario Kart: Double Dash is fun, don’t get wrong. Remember, I like ALL the games on this list. But I know a lot of people who would rank this game, or the game I actually have #1, at #1. Maybe it’s because this was the newest console version of the game when my friends and peer age group were in high school. I really don’t know. But I just don’t see what other people see in this game. It does have the unique feature of two racers per kart allowing for a little bit more strategy when selecting your racer. But later entries would see the strategizing go further with the expansion of stats for karts. For me, I feel like this is the first game that took a turn for the worse. It can get to be a real fustercluck during races with the number of items and characters flying around the course (something that persisted during Mario Kart Wii as well). Playing with friends was alright, because you could share in the misery of getting destroyed by 3 red shells in a row. Single player was a nightmare for me, however. But for whatever reason, it remains the go-to party game if you have a Gamecube laying around. Although my enthusiasm is low going into it, I always end up having a good time by the end.


#5- Mario Kart Wii

mkwiibox

For me, I feel like I hold Mario Kart Wii on the same level as Double Dash, but I think the hype surrounding Double Dash and some features in Mario Kart Wii helped me decide to put this one at #5 and Double Dash at #6. The item and character fusterclucking return for this one, but some gameplay enhancements keep it from dropping lower down the list. I did enjoy the different vehicle types (this game introduced dirtbikes and motorcycles) as well as auto-drift if I was playing with a Wiimote. This seems to be another popular version of the game for get-togethers, but its popularity seems to be waning (at least in my social circle).


#4- Super Mario Kart

smkbox

The game that started it all! This game is quite the challenge and still gives me fits, even today. This is the only game in the series to have 5 laps per race, as well as 5 races per cup. I was only 4 or 5 when this game came out and I didn’t get my first Super Nintendo until Christmas 1995, so I discovered this game a little late. I remember being blown away by the idea of a Mario racing game. Usually Toad is my go-to character, but I usually go with Bowser in this one, only because I love is post-race results screen music. Bottom line: How cool was this game back in the day? Heck, it’s still a cool game to play today even with 7 Mario Kart games building upon what this one started.


#3- Mario Kart 8

mk8box

This is the most recent game in the series, having only been out just over a year as of this writing. But man, did they do a lot of good things with this game. The anti-gravity, topsy-turvy tracks, the customization, the DLC, everything about this is great. There’s some characters in this game that I’d never thought I’d see in a Mario Kart game (Link!). The DLC is worth every penny and adds plently of neat courses and characters (including one track I’m now including among my all-time favorites). Some of the tracks that go heavy on the anti-gravity stuff are intense! It’s so easy to lose track of your orientation and where you are in the game world, but I feel it just adds to the fun and excitement. I actually, legitimately got dizzy during one race. I haven’t been able to spend too much time with it. It took a while to track down a used copy of it (I’m on a budget, yo!), but I know this will go down in the annals of, not just great Mario Kart games, but great Nintendo games.


#2- Mario Kart 7

mk7box

This game blew me away when I first picked it up. I put so many hours into single-player, unlocking nearly everything. I put a lot of time into the online aspect too, becoming one of the few games I regularly won playing online.The unlock system in this game made me a better Mario Kart player, not just in this game, but in all Mario Kart games. Since you have to collect coins to get unlocks, you had to play the races over and over again. This made me discover better lines, better strategies, and better kart customizations. Online multiplayer matchmaking (especially when playing with friends) could have been better, but that is my only major gripe with this game. As far as I’m concerned, this is EASILY the best handheld Mario Kart game. But not THE best Mario Kart game. That distinction of course goes to…


#1- Mario Kart 64

mk64box

Yes. YESSSSSS! Mario Kart 64 is the DEFINITIVE Mario Kart experience for me. It provides the fun, multiplayer goodness, and action of the others, but it lacks the gimmickyness of games like Double Dash. It’s a pure Mario Kart game. Mario Kart 64 defines the phrase “less is more.” I could talk more about this game, but I have something planned for later this month where I will delve deeper into Mario Kart 64.


So that’s my ranking of the Mario Kart series. How does this list differ from yours? What do you agree or disagree with? Let me know in the comments or on my Facebook page.

As always, thanks for reading, and stay tuned as I continue Mario Kart Month, taking a look at my favorite Mario Kart racetracks!

homealonebox

Home Alone, the movie, is a classic. It’s on TV every year during the holidays. It’s loved by many worldwide. What can I say about Home Alone that hasn’t been said before? Home Alone was one of my favorite movies as a kid, so much so, that I requested the Game Boy version for my 5th birthday. That game is a challenge. Perhaps too much for 5-year-old me (27-year-old me still struggles with it), but it was a good game in my opinion. The NES version, on the other hand, is a challenge because it’s awful. In a bit of shortsightedness, I asked the fans of my Facebook page to request a game for me to play, and in turn I would plug some kind of content for them. I did this once before, and it turned out okay. But what Mike Nedwick had for me was sinister and I think he did it on purpose. He KNEW this game sucked. He could have picked ANY game for me to play. “Hey, play Super Mario Bros. Plug my YouTube channel.” But no. NO! That wouldn’t be funny! “Hey, FiveDollarGamer, play this garbage ass game, then give me free advertising. Kthxbai.” Jokes on you, BUDDY! I’m not that popular! I’m about as popular as the no-name studio that developed this insult to the memory of Macaulay Culkin (Oh, he’s still alive? Yeesh, he sure doesn’t look it). What asshole studio farted out this travesty anyway?

bethesda logo

Oh shit. The same people that would go on to create such classics as The Elder Scrolls and Fallout series cut their teeth making NES games based on licensed properties. I barely want to talk about this game. It’s bad. It’s ugly as that girl you took home from the bar this weekend. You can control it as well as you can control a crying 4-year-old at the mall. It overall just bums me out. Ned wanted me to promote his YouTube gaming series This Level Sucks, where he actually plays this trash game. Go see it in action there. I’m done.

This Level Sucks on YouTube!

Thanks for reading!

IMAG0208

System: Nintendo 3DS

Price: $2.99

Okay, so you know when you’re at the store, right, and you see this game for a current gen console priced super cheap and you’re all “omg, dis gaem is so cheep, it prolly sux lololol.” Well I’m here to tell you to KNOCK IT OFF! This is my mission. I play the cheap games, so you don’t have to. I want you, in the future, to be all “omg, dis gaem is so cheep, it prolly sux lololol, but I will withhold judgement on this piece of software until I read what Scott over at Five Dollar Gamer says about it. Come along, let us retire to the computing room in my domicile, so that we may peruse the ramblings of a man who so cherishes the games in which we so foolishly ignore so that we may play *scoff* Call of Duty? I bellow a hearty guffaw at my foolhardy gaffe. An aberration like that will not happen again, thanks to Scott and Five Dollar Gamer!”

*checks word count*

Okay, a decent first paragraph.

Centipede Infestation is a re-imagining of the classic 1980s hit Centipede. You play as some guy who was an extra cut from an episode of Captain N: The Game Master. You rudely interrupt a young lady planting a garden by saving her life from the giant mutant bugs surrounding her. You and Miss “All The Bugs Are God’s Creatures What If They’re Attacking You Because You’re Shooting At Them” escape to the city to do God knows what because I skipped a lot of the cutscenes. Once I realized our hero wasn’t going to fart out a “Well excuuuuuuse me, Princess” in response to this chick’s sassyness, I stopped caring.

Get on his level.

Get on his level.

But you don’t buy games on the cheap for award-winning scripts. You want surprisingly fun gameplay! Well… you get surprisingly competent gameplay, at least! The game plays similarly to another classic game, Smash T.V. Each level takes place in an enclosed environment as you mow down waves of insects, with each level culminating with a battle against the classic centipede boss. Your Y/X/B/A buttons serves as directions for your shot (hold two down to shoot diagonally). The circle pad moves the 80s dudebro (I think his name is something cliche, like Max). The touchscreen is used to activate power-ups you collect, like flamethrowers and machine guns. It’s nothing real ground breaking, but if you’re going to borrow ideas, at least do it right, which this game does, but not overwhelmingly. If I had to assign a letter grade to the effort used when applying these borrowed ideas, it’d be like a C+, B- tops. Basically me in high school.

Me in high school. (Photo altered in order to prevent someone from being a known associate of this asshole back in the day)

Me in high school. (Photo altered in order to prevent someone from being a known associate of this asshole back in the day)

Verdict: BARGAIN BIN

I mean, it’s a decent game, but it’s not like it’s some hidden gem waiting to be discovered. The action gets a bit repetitive and the cutscenes try to capitalize on that ironic 80s cheesiness with the voice acting, but the bargain bin script holds it back from being tolerable. This was a game destined to be $2.99. I’m not saying AVOID AT ALL COSTS! But it’s not something I’d necessarily recommend. So the guy who was using all them big fancy words in the opening paragraph is no closer to finding out if this is a game he should play or not. He probably won’t. He doesn’t even have a 3DS because “it’s for children.” He’s a dick. Screw that guy.

Thanks for readin’, y’all!

 

leagueoflegends.com

leagueoflegends.com

About an hour before I started to write this I had just finished up a game of League of Legends. Two weeks ago, I was not playing League of Legends. I was introduced to League of Legends by my girlfriend who had been playing for quite a while. As is likely the case with people first starting off, I was terrible. There were games where I’d die way more than the number of kills I got, sometimes even going without a kill. I’m still only playing against beginner A.I. bots, but I’ve come a ways since two weeks ago. I can’t remember the last game I had where I finished with more deaths than kills. I genuinely felt like I was getting better at the game. As I had this thought I realized if my girlfriend hadn’t prodded me into finally playing the game (after it had been installed on my computer for over a year, I wouldn’t be playing this game that I’m really, really enjoying. Then I thought about other games that I play or played only after being introduced to them at someone’s insistence. I thought about how many of those I enjoyed and how many I didn’t. I also thought about how many games I found on my own and then passed on to someone else.

GameFAQs

GameFAQs

I think a lot of us have at one time or another only played a game because someone told them they should. Why should they play it? Usually because they found it fun and they want to share the fun they’re having with other people. As compared to the majority of my peer group, I have an eclectic taste in games. If I play and/or enjoy a game in a genre I’m not known to usually play and/or enjoy, I get some quizzical looks and told “but you don’t usually play [insert genre here].” I think that’s why I don’t get invited to try new games by friends that I’ve known since middle school. They know me as a Mario/Nintendo fan. This is fair, because it’s true. If someone suggests I try a game, it’s likely by someone that hasn’t known me for too long. When my current girlfriend suggested League of Legends, she had only known me for 5 months. When my boss at GameStop suggested then-new release Bioshock, I had only been there a month. When an ex-girlfriend suggested Minecraft, it was mere weeks. These games all represent genres that were outside of my norm. But they didn’t really know how my gaming taste profile was configured. With League of Legends, I had never played a MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) before, but I’m enjoying it so far. With Bioshock, I wasn’t a huge fan of first-person shooters, I’m still not, but I enjoyed this game immensely. As far as Minecraft goes, well, I should have tried it before I bought it, because I dropped $26.99 on a game I thought was really boring and couldn’t return (darn you, digital downloads!). But it was the insistence of others that led me to discovering these games and if I liked them or not. It’s why I’ll give any game a look, even if it’s a genre I don’t typically play, because I never know what will strike a chord with me. I think everyone should be receptive of suggestions. Don’t close off any opportunities to play a new game because “historically, you haven’t enjoyed [insert genre here].” I’m proof positive you can enjoy games outside of your comfort zone!

GameFAQs

GameFAQs

Of course there are games out there that I took a chance on without prompting from someone else. A lot of these have been covered on this very blog. But nobody when I was 2 years old suggested I play Super Mario Bros. There was no one who told me NBA 2K5 is really good, you should play it too. When I saw Evolution Worlds for GameCube on a GameStop shelf one day, I picked it up, not because someone told me to, but because it looked fun and I took a chance on it. That’s what discovering new games is all about, taking chances. Super Mario Bros. was just there as a kid, NBA 2K5, the first basketball game I ever bought, was a steal at $20 brand new, and Evolution Worlds didn’t work out for me. But I never would have known if I never took that chance. I’m sure whoever is reading this has at one point turned down the opportunity to play a game because it looked boring, whether suggested to you or not. But what is the worst that can happen? Either you take a chance and discover a game that could go down in your personal annals of gaming history or you reaffirm your assumptions and move on to something else. This is something I’m guilty of, we all are.

8-Bit Central

8-Bit Central

It’s an idea that transcends mediums. Movies, TV shows, music, books, you name it. We are always suggesting to others that they should watch, listen, read, or play something. I think a big problem though, is that we are not jumping on these suggestions enough. I suggest stuff to people all the time and they never try it. Don’t worry; I’m just as guilty of this as well. We feel like our free time is so precious, especially in adult life, so we’re afraid to step out of our comfort zones when we get some down time. But then think about what you do in your down time. Is your favorite downtime activity something you discovered yourself or at the insistence of someone else? Here’s something you should do: The next time someone suggests a game that they enjoy, even if it’s something you don’t think you’ll enjoy, just try it. You never know if it’s going to become the latest game in your repertoire unless you go for it. I close this with a relevant quote:

 

“Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” ~Ms. Frizzle, The Magic School Bus (The Magic School Bus Wiki)

“Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” ~Ms. Frizzle, The Magic School Bus (The Magic School Bus Wiki)

 

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

When I moved to a new school to start off 1st Grade, my teacher had me fill out a new student worksheet so they could hang it in the hallway to introduce me to the rest of the school. One of the questions was “what do you want to be when you grow up?” No one had ever asked me that. I was only 6 years old. I chose something on the spot: race car driver. It seemed relatively normal for a 6-year-old to pick. Some other the other new kids said army guy or princess. Race car driver was a safe choice. But I knew in my heart I had a greater destiny. I wanted to be the 3rd Mario Brother. My (totally platonic) love affair the mustachioed Italian plumber runs deep. At 27 years old, Mario and I have been maintaining a gamemance for nearly 25 years and counting. I get geeked about new Mario game releases just as much as a kid. Girlfriends have had to deal with my irrational exuberance when E3 rolls around and Shigeru Miyamoto via translator Bill Trinen debuts Nintendo’s hot new ware. When said hot new ware releases and I get my hands on it… it’s, well… good. But for about the last 8 to 10 years, something has felt missing from the core Mario releases. New Super Mario Bros. certainly feels new, but I think therein lies the problem. It’s new, not old, which is what this retro gamer is used to.

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

I make no bones about saying my favorite game of all-time is Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES. It’s a fun game and still incredibly challenging after all these years. I still get an incredible sense of satisfaction after beating it because of the trials and tribulations of taking Mario through World 8 (especially the latter half of it, woof). I have great memories of playing this game as a child and watching others play it. But it makes me wonder, is Super Mario Bros. 3 my favorite game because it’s such a great game? Or is my undying love for it because I have such treasured memories of days past? I mean, it’s not exactly a stretch for someone to choose SMB3 as their favorite game. It is one of the best-selling games of all-time after all. But one of my earliest memories is watching my dad play it. My dad these days is absolutely NOT a gamer. I’m not even sure he’s touched a video game since I tried to get him to play NASCAR Thunder 2003. Even then, he probably hadn’t played a game since the early 90s. But I have such a vivid memory of watching him go through the second fortress on World 5 (the one that connects to the sky portion of that particular map). Maybe I’m looking into this too much, but could my love of Super Mario 3 be a result of it being, as far as I’m concerned, one of two video games I’ve ever seen my dad play? My dad and I never had a really close relationship. Could I be involuntarily holding on to this cherished memory by continually playing this game in the hopes of one day tossing my dad the second controller because I desire a closer relationship with my father? Yikes, this is getting a little deep for me. But this is only an explanation for one game, my favorite game. What about the other oldies?

Moby Games

Moby Games

Everyone has their reasons for being a retro gamer. Some may be hard pressed to find a reason for being a retro gamer other than “because it’s fun.” Well, of course it’s fun. You enjoy things that you find fun. But I want to go deeper. It may seem a bit self-serving, but I’m doing this introspective into my own head because I want to learn more about me. Maybe by doing this I can learn about others, but for now, I want to share my results with the world. One theory I came up with is how my post-high school life has been treating me. Adulthood has definitely had its share of ups and downs for me. I’ve faced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. It perfectly matches my senior yearbook quote of “Life is like a rollercoaster. It’s scary.” Perhaps because my adult life has been less than desirable for the majority of my 20s, I’ve been holding on to childhood memories to remind myself of happier times. What better way to relive those memories than with the one constant in my life?

GameFAQs

GameFAQs

When I was living with an emotionally and mentally abusive girlfriend, my gaming room was my escape. For a small block of time, I was able to block her out and go back to a time where my feet didn’t touch the floor when I sat on the couch. I could sit in the basement and pretend I was 9 years old all over again. When a different girlfriend left me and I sat alone in an empty apartment, I picked up my 3DS and started speedruns on the copy of Super Mario Bros. I downloaded from the eShop. I didn’t have much, but I had the pure unadulterated elation of beating Super Mario Bros. without not just dying, but not even getting hit by an enemy. When I had a bad day at work and just wanted to yell and scream and ask whatever supreme being is in the sky “why?” I would go home, fire up my Nintendo, and take it out on the pixilated baddies. Ha! Take that goomba-who-is-an-8-bit-representation-of-that-customer-that-really-pissed-me-off-today! Okay, this seems to me that all I’m talking about is Mario. I mean, I played a lot of Mario as a kid as well as other series, but how does that account for my collection and love of retro games that I’ve only recently discovered?

GameFAQs

GameFAQs

When I originally started Five Dollar Gamer, I had not really started my retro gaming collection. I was mostly collecting games that I had as a kid, recovering what had been stolen from me in what I refer to as “The Great Nintendo Heist of 2000.” I managed to build that collection back up and then some, but Five Dollar Gamer started when my curiosity was piqued by a $2.99 Super Nintendo game. As a result of this almost 2-year venture, I have amassed nearly 100 “new” games to add to my collection. But what do I find so appealing about these games? These are not games that were a part of my childhood. But a lot of the time, these games hit the right mental notes. I had so much fun playing Solar Striker on the Game Boy, a game I only found out existed hours before the first time I ever played it. I feel it’s because of the similarities of the games I’m used to playing. The race for the high score, the simplicity, and the imagination required to craft your own story. Today’s games have the story spelled out for you. While sometimes that’s pulled of masterfully like in Bioshock or Grand Theft Auto V, for me, the kid who wanted to be the third Mario Brother, a little imagination goes a long way when enjoying an older game.

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

I don’t want this to come off as I only play old video games when my life is being shitty and I need it as a crutch to not fall further or a ladder to try to climb out. I play it during the happy times too. Everyone loves reminiscing and telling stories from the past. It’s just something that people do when they get together after not seeing each other for a while. We tell old stories. “Hey, remember that one time…?” For some social circles, “Hey, remember that one time…?” could mean “Hey, remember that one time we played 4-player Mario Kart 64 at your mom’s house?” Next thing you know, you and friend are huddled around the TV playing Mario Kart 64 and bringing up more stories. As a result of Five Dollar Gamer, I’ve got to hear from many readers who will suggest a game for me and tell me a story about how awesome it was as a kid, or someone will leave a comment on a game I wrote about sharing a story. It’s awesome.

Wikitroid

Wikitroid

Retro gaming unites us. It’s so easy to hop online nowadays and connect with a faceless gamer on the other side of the world. But where’s the camaraderie in that? How many people honestly wax nostalgically while sitting in a lobby while waiting for the next Call of Duty deathmatch to start? Hell, how many people are even sharing a laugh when they’re playing against nothing but strangers? Can you imagine if you took four strangers from a deathmatch lobby, sat them on a couch, and had them play Mario Kart? There would be a lot less swearing, name calling, and insult flinging. Sure, there’d likely be some, but not to the degree that you hear when hiding behind the wall of anonymity, and I bet it’d be a hell of a lot more light-hearted. There would be more sharing of stories and of good times past. Get four strangers on a couch. Put a controller in their hands. They’ll find common ground.

Giant Bomb

Giant Bomb

I think the notion that older games aren’t fun is silly. Everyone, one way or another, is nostalgic about the past. Nostalgia transcends different mediums. It’s why your parents listen to classic rock and oldies. It’s why your neighbor takes his ‘67 Ford Mustang to the car show every summer. It’s why you just bought that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt from TeeFury. It’s not necessarily because it’s better. It’s what you grew up with, it’s what you know. When two 10-year-old kids walked into a GameStop I was working at once, a coworker and I happened to be testing a Nintendo Wii. We were playing the NES version of Punch-Out!! that someone had downloaded from the Virtual Console. One kid asked us how it could be possible that this game could be fun. I asked him to clarify. He says “Well, look at the graphics! They’re horrible!” 21-year-old me was angered by his statement. How dare this snot-nosed brat shit on my childhood with his naïve statement! But 27-year-old me can look back at this incident with wiser eyes. All this child knew was realistic 3D graphics. His line of questioning wasn’t malicious in nature. He was just curious why I was riding a bike when I have a car in the garage. He wasn’t old enough to be nostalgic. Maybe when he’s 21 he’ll be feeling nostalgic about Spyro the Dragon (or more likely Grand Theft Auto IV) in the same way I’m nostalgic about Punch-Out.

Video Disc Things/Tumblr

Video Disc Things/Tumblr

In writing this, I’ve learned so much about myself in regards to my treasured hobby. I desire to be a happy person. I desire to make those in my life happy. Retro gaming makes me happy, so naturally it’s something I want to share with others. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not something I like because I’m trying to desperately cling to my youth as I continue to climb in age. It’s just fun. It’s a hobby. It’s partly nostalgia, but not fully. I can have just as much fun with a Super Nintendo game I discovered just recently as I can with one I played when I was 10. I can also have as much fun with a AAA Xbox title from 2013 as I can with an obscure Game Boy game from 1990. Right now, NES Kirby’s Adventure is getting equal attention with Fire Emblem: Awakening on my 3DS. For me gaming transcends the decades. It’s a timeless hobby. The question remains: am I, or anyone else, retro gamers because we play mostly retro games or our collections are mostly retro games? Or are we just gamers?

smrpgbox

Wikipedia

I’ve had a lot of time on my hands lately. Being that I’m between jobs and without a car, I have plenty of time to kill when I’m not filling out job applications. While watching a speedrun of Super Mario RPG on YouTube one day, I thought to myself “Why don’t I just play it instead of just watching someone?” Not owning a physical copy anymore (thanks to childhood thievery), I fired up the ol’ emulator and set to work recovering the Seven Stars once again.

My history with Super Mario RPG goes way back to 1996, the year the game was released. I was only 9 years old. I was visiting my mom in California that summer. I read in an issue of Nintendo Power about this new Mario game I had never heard of, Super Mario RPG. I was blown away. I had no idea this game existed and it looked WAY different from any Mario game I was familiar with. I also didn’t know what”RPG” stood for. When my mom asked me what “RPG” was, I responded “I don’t know, but it’s Mario, so it has to be good!”

smrpg1

We went on a veritable tour of Los Angeles while I was there, getting to see the sights and theme parks, and other points of interest. Unbeknownst to me, a trip to Chinatown would introduce me to this wondrous new Mario adventure. Taking in the scenery while in the famed area of town, my mom approaches me holding a bag. “Hope I got the right one!” she says. I open the bag and there it is, Super Mario RPG. The game I only found out about mere days before in my hands. Unfortunately, I had not brought my Super Nintendo to California with me, so it would be nearly 2 weeks before I would set off what would be nearly 18 years of endless replaying and wondering why a proper sequel was never made.

Fast forward to about a week ago. I find myself mindlessly grinding through the game, nary a smile gracing my face. Since I rarely engage in marathon gaming sessions, it takes me a few days to make it to Nimbus Land, home town of one-off sidekick, Mallow. This area is roughly ¾ of the way through the game. This is where I stopped. I couldn’t continue. I wasn’t having fun anymore.

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I was initially confused when I came to the realization that I wasn’t having fun. But I thought back to when I first started this current playthrough and realized I wasn’t having fun from the get go. What could possibly be the reasoning behind this? Had I become jaded by the complexities of modern gaming? I don’t think so. I enjoy retro gaming just the same, if not more than modern day gaming. I had thought about this over the past few days as I prepared to write this. I settled on a couple reasons why I was no longer having fun with Super Mario RPG.

Super Mario RPG is no longer challenging for me. This may come with the territory of playing a game on a semi-consistent basis for the better part of 18 years, but I don’t think is the sole reason. I play Super Mario Bros. on the NES way more consistently and have done so for much longer than 18 years. Yet I still feel Super Mario Bros is a much more challenging game, especially if I play through the entire game, not using warps. This is not meant to be a knock on Super Mario RPG. The game was not designed to be a hardcore RPG like Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger. The game was meant to be a sort of introduction to RPG for players like 9-year-old me who had likely never played, or in my case, heard of an RPG before. I made it to Nimbus Land dying exactly once. I don’t mean entire party. I mean one party member and it was because of an instant KO move I failed to block. I did intentionally game over once, but it was to exploit a known invincibility star trick. This brings me to my next point: I’ve seen all the game has to offer.

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Over the course of the years I’ve picked up on many tricks. Whether it was through reading the Official Nintendo Strategy Guide and memorizing enemy weaknesses and total hit points or finding about exploitable tricks like the aforementioned invincibility star trick through the Internet, I have run out of things to explore in this game. I haven’t “100 percented” the game, though. I haven’t collected every single item or found every hidden block on a single playthrough, but it’s not something the game keeps track of anyway, so viewing progress on that would be difficult. It’s also something I don’t have interest in doing. So with that said, there are outside challenges that some may create to add a layer of challenge to the game that aren’t presented in the forefront.

I have absolutely no interest in speedrunning this game. Like I mentioned before, I’m not a marathon gamer. Unless a game truly sucks me in, I usually take a break after an hour or so. The top speedruns on this game clock in at ~3 hours. I really don’t have much of an interest in speedrunning games in general. I enjoy watching them. But outside of seeing how fast I can beat Super Mario Bros., which is only a 10-minutes or less commitment, I don’t like speedrunning games.

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There are only so many ways you can play Super Mario RPG. Using a different combination of party members, making different choices when choosing level-up bonuses, and utilizing different equipment, were just some of the ways I tried to jazz up my latest playthrough. But ultimately, it fell short for me. There’s just not a lot of variation you can create when playing through again. Maybe I’m not imaginative enough, I don’t know. I think this may be the biggest problem I have for why I wasn’t having fun. Aside from nostalgia purposes, Super Mario RPG does not have a lot of replay value, for me at least. It hurts me to say that as a gamer that loves the feeling of nostalgia while playing Super Mario Bros. 3 every now and then. Super Mario RPG doesn’t give you a real good reason to jump back into the game for another adventure. There is no New Game+ mode like Chrono Trigger (also developed by Square), and there is nothing that unlocks after beating the game. For the average player, replaying the game entails nothing more than doing it again.

In a weird way I feel kind of guilty for feeling the way I feel now about Super Mario RPG. I don’t think it’s a bad game. In fact, I feel just the opposite. Super Mario RPG is an absolutely fantastic game! I implore anyone that has not played it to give it a look. It’s not as deep in story and features as some other Super Nintendo RPGs, but it’s a unique game and experience in the Super Mario universe, one that hasn’t been replicated by “spiritual successors” like the Mario & Luigi games or the Paper Mario games. For me, the shiny veneer of nostalgia has washed off. It’s not a good feeling. I hope I don’t continue replaying old games only to realize it’s not as good as it once was. I still have very positive memories of Super Mario RPG to hold on to, whether it was through gameplay, or even when I first got the game at 9-years old. In a trip to California that included visits to Disneyland, Universal Studios, a giant water park, and a dip in the Pacific Ocean, I hold receiving Super Mario RPG that day in Chinatown in just as high regard as those other events.

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I think it takes a lot for someone to admit when they no longer get the “warm-n-fuzzies” from engaging in a favorite childhood activity. Especially for me when it comes to Mario. This doesn’t mean I like retro gaming any less. I feel that possibly, as I get older and my tastes continue to change, that I’m starting to weed out what I actually still like and what I only think I feel nostalgic about because I continue to look at it through rose-colored glasses. I challenge anyone that reads this: if there is a game you enjoyed in your more youthful days, and you haven’t played it for a while, go ahead and fire it up and see if you still feel the same about it afterwards. This experience has made me realize I can’t be afraid to lose nostalgic feelings about a certain game. The Super Mario franchise is my hands-down #1 favorite, and realizing Super Mario RPG wasn’t fun for me anymore hurt, but I learned a lot about myself through this, and writing this and sharing it with the world is kind of cathartic in a way. Just before I finished typing this up, I redeemed some coins on Club Nintendo for a free download of NES Kirby’s Adventure on the 3DS. I’m going to be very interested to see from here on out if other retro games hold up with the memories I have of them.

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(All screenshots used are from GameFAQs.com)

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Source: GameFAQs

System: Game Boy

Release Date: February 1990

Rarity: 21%

Price: $3.99

I’ve passed this game up numerous times when shopping around for games to play. For some reason Solar Striker was never very eye-catching to me. I just imagined it as some cruddy space-shooter game that probably sold for $20 brand new upon release. But I recently discovered that Solar Striker was a 1st-party game developed by Nintendo R&D1. What other classically legendary games was Nintendo R&D1 responsible for? Go ahead and take a look at the Wikipedia page for Nintendo R&D1 and see for yourself. There’s too many to list here.

They also developed and created the Game Boy itself. Whoa. (Source: giantbomb.com)

They also developed and created the Game Boy itself. Whoa. (Image source: giantbomb.com)

Learning that, I had high hopes for this game. This was the only shooter of its kind developed in-house by Nintendo, so I was excited to experience their one-and-only take on a classic genre. I hoped to find out if there was a reason Nintendo never made another game like this. Was it was so great that no follow-up could ever top it? Or was it so bad it was doomed to live in the obscurity that I rescued it from. Well… this is Nintendo we’re talking about here. If it was good, they WOULD have made a sequel to it. My hopes have slightly diminished.

Seeing "Nintendo" next to that copyright date gives me the warm 'n' fuzzies.

Seeing “Nintendo” next to that copyright date gives me the warm ‘n’ fuzzies.

As soon as the start button is pressed, the game begins. No backstory to learn, no opening cutscene, nothing. This was the (almost) 80’s! That’s what the instruction manuals are for!

30 seconds of reading and some imagination in 1990. 15 minutes of opening cutscenes in 2014. (image source: eBay)

30 seconds of reading and some imagination in 1990. 15 minutes of opening cutscenes in 2014. (image source: eBay)

The game plays like your everyday basic vertically-scrolling shooter. Both A and B fire your lasers and the control pad moves your ship up/down/left/right. Nothing complicated here. That said, that’s the only real issue with this game. It’s not very complicated. It’s a very simple game. Scroll up, shoot enemy ships, and rack up points. That’s what games in this era were all about! Forget the backstory! Let me blow stuff up! I’m like a kid playing Grand Theft Auto for the first time! Pew, pew, pew!

Don't forget getting that double laser. Double lasers rule!

Don’t forget getting that double laser. Double lasers rule!

Verdict: HIGH FIVE

It helps that, despite its simplicity, it does what it does well. The controls are great, the framerate and speed are good, and even the music is fun. Just like Mole Mania, this game is an overlooked gem in the 1st party Nintendo library. I think for $3.99, this is the maximum you should pay for this game. It’s relatively common and there’s not a whole lot to it, but it’s amazing nonetheless.

Not all things that are simple are bad. (image source: quickmeme)

Not all things that are simple are bad. (image source: quickmeme)

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