Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Biweekly Music Wednesday! No. 40 ~Have a Nice Talk~ (Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story)

OriginMario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
Plays In: Various scenes
Status: Original Composition
Composed by: Yoko Shimomura

One of the joys of the Mario & Luigi games--and while I'm at it, Super Mario RPG--is affirming how much Yoko Shimomura gets the Mario universe. Her use of xylophones and the like don't just perfectly complement their respective games' playful, comedic nature: they bear the as Koji Kondo's original source material.

Bowser's Inside Story remains the pinnacle of the series, so it's no surprise its soundtrack remains Mario & Luigi's finest. Above is what's perhaps my favorite selection from the franchise: Have a Nice Talk, which is one of many names it's gone through no other apparent source but YouTube (aside from the fact that it's my personal favorite, we'll stick with that one for convenience). Often reserved for Bowser's overworld portions of the game, the Koopa overlord encounters  a number of curious characters to this tune, not the least of which is Broque Monsieur and his horde of Blitties.

While short in length, this is probably my favorite Mario and Luigi song for more personal reasons. Back when Bowser's Inside Story landed in my hands during Christmas 2009, my life was in the dumps. My senior high school year was a bust in both social interaction and IEP management, my inability to speak up with my feelings set the course for a rather nasty online fallout, and the truth behind my disappearing video games would unravel an unspeakable betrayal...

My only solace, my one escape from the cruel world around me, was latest Mario & Luigi game and its antics.The return of Fawful meant NOA Treehouse's script-writing was at its finest, and the presence of Bowser --always the bratty showstopper in nearly every Mario RPG--was the icing on the cake. To this day, it still remains one of my favorite Nintendo localizations.

But it was Yoko Shimomura's score that captivated me most. From the treacherous winds of Cavi Cape to the funky Bowser's Insides rendition of Plack Beach, the music never failed to lift my spirits in the worst of times, even if it was only momentarily. Have a Nice Talk in particular was the most earwormy of the lot, and I was always turned to its respective YouTube uploads whenever I was sour. It was if  it was saying "we know things with your brother are tough again, but Mario, Luigi and Bowser are still here to make you laugh, so please don't feel lonely."

To be fair, it took me a long time to believe that; overall, it took three different files in all to play through the game in its entirety, and it was soon only after my brother's death that I found the courage to complete it. It wasn't necessarily done in his memory, but rather as a means to once again escape from the pain (that fall's revisit of Mario Kart DS was far more relevant in regards to Michael). To my surprise, there was a finality to it all; for instance, I found the music's quality and message to be completely unfiltered, and not once were they ebbed away by imminent sadness.

It's undeniable that game music forges a strong, emotional people with gamers, but it never ceases to amaze me that even the tiniest of jingles resonate such evocative nostalgia. Much as people praise the final boss theme, the simple NPC conversation theme still remains my favorite. Not simply because it helped me through a dark time, but because now even now, I still have a future. Because even now, even when my social life is still in the gutter...

I'm still laughing.

Final Thoughts: Man, I can't wait to replay this next year!!

Friday, August 26, 2016

A Lesson in Patience

Wh..what is that?

It couldn't possibly be..!

It is! My very own Famicom. Wow.

Easily my most expensive purchase at Otakon (about $99, plus tax), obtaining the Japanese NES has been a goal of mine for a while. As an aspiring Nintendo archivist, it's a dream of mine to obtain every piece of Nintendo hardware and software out there, and what better place to start than the original home console that started it all? Having studied Japanese over the past year, I was also eager to put my studies to the test.

Alas, but I've already hit a snag. While the Otakon vendor was kind enough to include the required power adapter/AV cable, I'd forgotten the Famicom requires certain channel frequencies to display the game on American televisions...all of which aren't available on the only CRT in the house! Agh!

To make matters worse...well, take a look below.

What? Is that a crack?!? And is the red casing loose? Was I sold a faulty Famicom?!? Bring me the one responsible, now!

...actually, I'm pretty sure it was an accident on my part. While carrying it around in a bag at the convention, the console's weight was too much and it ripped through, slamming onto the floor with a loud CLACK! Naturally, I was scared, but a quick inspection showed nothing I shoved it in my backpack.

"Well, why didn't you put it in your backpack in the first place," you may ask. Well, a while back I learned that filling backpacks with game cases isn't a swell idea, as they get punctured with holes and the like, so I guess that fear spread to any and all valuable game merch. Anyway, it wasn't until I got home that I noticed the crack, and the casing was actually a lot looser; in fact, you actually see the wires inside. Thankfully, I shifted it around the above plug's casing insert, and it's currently as you see it now.

The question is...does it work? In my inspection and testing, I've noticed the Famicom has two flaws in comparison to the NES, bhe first one being there is no LED light to signal whether it's off or on. I was frequently shifting through channels to see whether or not it'd come on, but due to the lack of an LED, I had no idea whether or not it was actually, well, on.

The other flaw? Well, both of the console's controllers are hooked to the console, meaning you can't replace them. When considering my bad luck, take a closer look at my two controllers and guess which one is Player One.

Why, the scratched-up one with the rough surface, of course! Boy, am I screwed.

Scuffs, scratches and cracks are the shame of any collector, and it seems I'm inexorably drawn to such blemishes. My game cases keep getting punctures, my Nendoroid stands break with little to no hope of replacement, my cats like knocking down my One Piece I'm clumsy by nature, it weighs heavily on me, and I beat myself up for it constantly.

In regards to the actual games, it's an even tougher subject. It's not like they're making anymore Famicoms, y'know? Forget the possibility of wasted money: a broken Famicom would mean one less functioning legend in the world that someone else could've enjoyed...and yet, don't all physical products break down eventually? Just ask my SNES and N64 cartrdiges: in a phenomenon that, to my surprise, has yet to be cataloged over the internet, they're riddled with graphical glitches from meshed-together 3D polygons to a morphing white square in the corner of Kirby Super Star. If it sounds confusing, I'm honestly just as much at a loss as you are. Regardless, it's a very cynical outlook, especially when considering Nintendo's Virtual Console filters.

It extends outside my hobbies, too. I frequently miss cues to do chores around the house,, I speak too fast when I don't mean's something I can't escape. Just another trait of being an Aspie, I suppose.

I do wonder if it's a sign not to rush into things too fast? Maybe my Japanese just isn't ready yet, and I lack a steady job, so I need to discipline myself and save money. Furthermore, my computer is quite outdated, and I'm starting to lack space for display and archive purposes: as I'm branching out to study books for future writing endeavors, I lack a proper bookcase to store them all in, as well as a table and containers for future statues, Nendoroids. and the like. Should I hold off on that all until I move out into my dream home?

Probably, but I wonder how long I'll be able to hold out. The Otakon vendor I purchased the Famicom from happens to be based in New York City, and I just so happen to be heading down down there this November for my birthday, so maybe they can help me with my Famicom (and provide some more info on hooking it up).

Regardless, what's most important is that I further work on pushing myself forward with my writing and Leave Luck to Heaven's future. If it takes broken products and a lesson in patience to express that, so be it.

Oh, and on a semi-related note: the Detective Conan figure I also purchased got a weird scuff on his hat, too.

why does this keep happening to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Checking In/Apologies

First off, my goodness, I hadn't recognized it'd been three weeks since the last post! Long story short, I've been scrambling for a new job while vacaying, juggling my GameSkinny output and writing out the next Kirby Reverie; in the midst of it all, August somehow sped-up in the blink of an eye. Sorry about that!

I would've had Biweekly Music Wednesday! up today, but I unexpectedly picked up a new job as of yesterday and was, naturally, busy with that today. The next song's already been decided upon so I'll be working on that first thing next Wednesday morning.

The good news is that there's something AWESOME I picked up the other week at Otakon that I'd like to show off, so to make up for my absence, I'll be discussing that this Friday with...a rather sobering lesson regarding it. Look forward to it!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Biweekly Music Wednesday! No. 39 ~Labyrinth of a Dream~ (EarthBound)

Origin: EarthBound
Plays In: Magicant
Status: Original Composition
Composed by: Hirokazu Tanaka

When I used the term " hippies" in my EarthBound review, I wondered just how accurate that term was. Believe it or not, a self-described hippie did wander onto the forums during my initial time there back in 2002. He stumbled upon the General Discussion one day and seemed genuinely confused as to where he ended up: he always wanted to shift discussions towards his herbs and continually affirm his identity as a hippie (was he perhaps attracted due to EarthBound's beloved New Age Retro Hippie?). The forum archives don't contain his antics, but he lasted for maybe a week or two, declaring his moving onto a site/forum dedicated to hippiedom.

Today's internet population would deem him as some sort of bizarre troll, but when you're ten years old and attempting to fit in with an older crowd, anything on the internet can, and will, seem real.

Did my brief anecdote come across as vague? During my English Major studies at college, I once read about how autobiographers and memoirists are often confronted with gaps in their memory, and one writer shared a childhood story where she highlighted corrections to faulty memory: a new name here, a made-up exchange of dialogue there, and so on. It sounds shady, but it's mainly done to reflect the themes and morals of the story involved. So long as it's not overdone or performed with malicious intent, what matters is that your story touches your readers the same way it did to you.

I could have filled in such gaps if I wanted to, but that it's one of many fractured memories is so fascinating to me. Childhood recollections are funny like that: you remember clear as day when Spongebob Squarepants and the Nintendo 64 arrived in your life, yet entities like Rugrats and Dragon Ball Z were either always there or just suddenly pop in, like a new chapter in a book. I can't get over it.

My early experiences on online message boards are especially funny in how fondly I look upon them despite them ranking among the more embarrassing moments in my life. I raised my Nintendo fanboy banner high, could hardly formulate sentences, and often abused all-caps, emoticons and exclamation points; in other words, I was your typical noob. I knew I was out of my element, but this was something you'd never encounter in the schoolyard; it was an organic, ever-expanding world with people well beyond my years, both literally and figuratively. (And there were jerks, too, but you can never escape those.)

As mentioned in my aforementioned review, was electrifying in spite of all this. My topics were frequently locked and my attempts at humor often fell flat, but I was still part of a loving cult that worshiped a forgotten masterpiece. Maybe others felt I was another annoying kid, but I was just proud to have left a mark. I signed the Mother 3 petition that had 30,000 signatures and was sent to Nintendo and Mr. Itoi, even if my comment was awkwardly-phrased ("I just got interested in this game yesterday!!"). I participated in the Apple of Enlightenment comic contests with embarrassing garbage (really, guess which one is mine). Some of my entries for both that and the Flukes section were so terrible that they never made it through.

I remember some of these vividly; others, not so much.

The original still exists, functioning much as it did in the internet yesteryear...except for two relevant sections: the links and the forums. Most, if not all, of the former are dead and the forums don't lead to the archives I posted earlier (and as said earlier, not every post and topic are archived). I guess I could visit the old links via if I wanted to, bless that site's heart, but that they're dead and gone forever in the public eye sends me on a mournful nostalgia trip.

I still remember the likes of GeoCities and Tripod, which hosted sprite comics like Mega Mario World Comix and Third Attempt. I remember scanning Google for troves upon troves of Dragon Ball Z pictures, notably a bunch that were hosted on a site with "otaku" in the URL. I remember Pupkin, the webcomic with nebulous quality and how a high school honors student wrote to the artist not to stop the strip. I remember how the official Pikmin site had some sort of online game involving teams. I remember when the likes of Neglected Mario Characters, That's My Sonic! and Homestar Runner were relevant and not swamped with poker ads, cheating/abuse scandals or simply left to languish. I remember being sent a Yoshi fangame over PM on the VGF forum, and the game was credited to someone named Will. I remember the fanfiction on SmashBoards, where Creative Minds was secretly the best board and I made friends with people I still know today.

And so long as I remember...they're still alive.

Final Thoughts: I want to spend the rest of the night remembering.