August 2012

Neil’s last  post reminded me of something:  How fantastic the older-generation video games were. (Original Mario, Zelda, etc.)  It also reminded me of how difficult they were.  You know what I’m talking about when I mean difficult, right?  I’m talking about getting only 27 coins TOTAL through World-1 in the original Mario Bros. game.  I’m talking about playing through a game hundreds upon hundreds of times just so you can figure out how to make it to the last stage, only to be killed in one hit by the final boss, starting you all the way back to the beginning of the game.  Games back then were nothing but trial and error, but the thing was is that we didn’t have a problem with that.  We just kept going at it like a bunch of spider monkeys jacked-up on Mountain Dew.  (Take a look at the recent release New Super Mario Bros. 2.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to make it through the first level with less than 30 coins.  You will have full 99 lives half-way through the game.  Where is the challenge?  In fact, if you die enough times the game gives you an invincibility suit so you can move on to the next level!)

When was the last time you played a game on your shiny Xbox 360 or PS3 that you just absolutely could not beat.  Not because you got bored with it, but because of the high level of difficulty.  They’re few and far between, correct?  It’s because video games now are more like playable movies than they are actual video games.  I’m not saying they’re bad, I’m just saying they are less like video games than those that released through the late 80’s and early 90’s.  When you die in a video game today, you don’t have to start all the way back at the very beginning.  In fact, if they made a game that actually did that no one would buy it.  Why?  Because we are spoiled.

Hey look! He only has one coin! Why? Because there might be a total of ten in this entire level.

Now I’m not saying that games today aren’t challenging.  I mean take a look at freakin’ Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls.  There is a special place in hell for developers that make such insanely challenging games.  Challenging they are, but they are NOT unbeatable.  There is a way to play through every single one of these games without having to start over.

There is no punishment nowadays.  Our character dies, and then at the absolute worst and red screen will pop-up that reads “Game Over”  or “You Have Died” and two seconds after that you have the option to either “Restart Mission”  or “Restart Last Checkpoint”.  Well gee-whiz I wonder what I’m going to do?

Games “back then” kept a high-score for you in one of the four corners of the screen.  This gave you a reason to pick the controller back up to see if you can beat that number into the ground.  When you died “back then” you threw your controller to the ground in frustration (notice how they didn’t break then like they do now?  Man what sturdy systems they were!) and thought to yourself: “I know I can get it this time.  Just one more time.  I know I can do this.”  And so on, and so on…Where is the “Hi-Score” meter nowadays?

This is what made games addicting.  The re-playability.  “Whoa!” You may be saying to yourself.  “What in the heck is re-playability?”  That’s a good question.  You see, good games had this.  As soon as you’re done with your Call of Duty Modern AssPoop you will go trade it in at your nearest video-game retailer, correct?  Yeah…that’s what I thought.

Now do you understand what I mean when I say video games are like playable movies now?  All video games now have and end-game, or and end cutscene to provide closure, much like a movie.  You may call yourself a “collector” and keep your copy in case you ever felt like playing through it one more time, but let’s face it: You probably won’t.  It’s just like buying a DVD.  You will watch it maybe 2-3 times within the first week that you own it, but it will never see the light of day again after that.

The reason I’m talking about all this is because, if you were listening to our NerdTakeout Podcast you would know this already, I pulled out my original Nintendo Entertainment System.  And guess what.  The thing is still in perfect working condition.  Just give the game cartridges a quick blast of air to clean out the dust and you are good to go.  Bingo.  Have fun.

If you still have a video game system that came out in the late 80’s/early 90’s I encourage to pull it out of your attic and stop treating it like a worthless piece of trash.  I promise you you will get so much joy out of doing this.  In fact, if you have an NES still sitting around, and a copy of the original Mario Bros. or Galaga, go play them and post your high-score from either game and how many coins you collected in World-1.  But, most importantly, quit acting so spoiled and enjoy yourself.


This is what we call “Nerdstalgia”.

I’d say somewhere in the Mushroom Kingdom squeezed into a little cartridge called Super Mario Brothers 3.  It’s bright, colorful, pixel perfect palette slaps a stupid childlike grin across my face as the red curtain lifts and the title drops onto the screen. It’s fantastic. And it gets me giddy every time. This is both 50% nostalgia and 50% 80’s Nintendo-can-do-no-wrong magic.

I mentioned on the podcast that growing up even my mother would select Luigi and co-op her way through the worlds of SMB3 with me. Which is to say, ANYONE could play this game. You didn’t need to put them through some lengthy tutorial or watch them fumble hopelessly trying to figure out which button does what. People just knew. People just got it. People just played.

The best. Bring the back, please?

Every bit of this two dimensional wonderland screamed polish. It blew past expectations of what an original NES game could do graphically, rivaling even games on much better 16-bit hardware. Each overworld map was animated and vibrant, laying out a distinct mood to separate itself from the ones before it.

In the levels themselves you’ll find yourself running away from an angry 8-bit swooping sun one minute and then jumping around in a flying green boot the next. The variety of gameplay mechanics and tightness of the controls make the game a simple joy that I love going back to every chance that I get. Sure I love Super Mario 64, the Super Mario Galaxy games, and every bit of Super Mario 3D Land…but there’s something about the retro old school whimsy to Super Mario Bros. 3 that sets it apart from the rest.

This sun is no fun.

Do you have a particular game you go to when you need a little pick-me-up?


Twitter: @neilporche

Amidst all the glories and heart-wrenching victories coming out of the XXX 2012 London Olympics, I am drawn more to the fact that Snoop Dogg changed his name to Snoop Lion.  Yeah.  Snoop Lion.  Here’s the story:

This is not a prank.  This is a real thing.  Apparently he had some sort of spiritual epiphany while in Jamaica, so now he says he is tired of hip-hop and is now making a reggae album titled “Reincarnated”. I know you guys want to hear a reggae version of Gin & Juice.  (Rollin’ down the street, mon.)

I personally think he got a hold of the wrong stuff on his vacation. (If anyone seen a leprechaun say “YEEAHHH!!!”)

The Transformizzle

I’m not sure if I’m shocked more by the fact that he is making a Reggae album than him changing his name.  We all know how booming the Reggae business is doing…*pffft*  But it is Snoop “Dogg” Lion, so it will definitely sell copies (or at least be downloaded for free by a lot of people).

When I heard the phrase “Snoop Lion” for the first time, I thought it was a new OS from Apple.  You know, like if they combined Snow Leopard with Lion?  In fact I think Apple SHOULD make an OSx Snoop Lion, that rolls up a joint for you every time iTunes is playing reggae or something.

Then it also reminded me of The Lion King, which I watched immediately.  I can just see Snoop bending down to his son saying, “Look here, lil Simbizzle.   Everything the light touches is our kingdomizzle.”  Right?  Anyone?..anyone?  Okay a bad joke, I know.

So I guess my point in all of this is that our media is filled with so much garbage (not saying Snoop is garbage, I love his music, but this is NOT news).  Can’t we just get some Olympics coverage instead?  As a matter of fact I’m going to take a hammer to my hand, “Casino” style, for even blogging about this.  I should be talking, instead, about how awesome all of the athletes are doing over there in Jolly-Old-England.  What a world we live in, huh?

Snoop Lion has given me an idea, though.  I wonder if I changed my name to Andrew Duck-Billed Platypus how that would come across to my friends.  If you got to change your name to your spirit animal, what would it be?  Sound off in the comments section.  The best name gets a high-five and ten internet points.