For the past 9 months or so, I've been looking for inspiration to work on building my own game again. While I have been spending unhealthy amount of times playing anything and everything in sight trying to figure out what game development lessons I could learn (sure, let's call it that), I needed to find the motivation to put my now very dusty coding hat back on and start building my own worlds. Finally, back in February I went to visit my sister and her family to celebrate the birth of my newest nephew, Q. During this trip, his older brother, Bash, and I had the ultimate gaming sleepover playing NES Classic and SNES Classic until 1 A.M. which was far far past my bed time but not his since he was absolutely entranced by the old school action unfolding before him. With his sixth birthday fast approaching and his love of video games growing by the day, the path to my next game was clear. I'd spend the next several months building him his own personal Super Mario and hopefully ruin all future birthday presents.
I am stuck in a time loop. Katana Zero, the hyper-stylized new Indie for Switch and PC that can best be described as a glorious amalgamation of the punishing insta-death mayhem of Super Meat Boy, samurais, and, oddly enough, the movie Drive, has somehow enveloped me in its central mechanic even when I'm not playing it.
The early 90’s were a fraught time in video game history. Advancements in hardware were leading developers away from cute 2D platformers like Mario and into more mature fare like the bloody Mortal Kombat and Doom. Congress and parents took notice, and in an effort to protect the future of our children, a now infamous Senate hearing was held on December 9, 1993 zeroing in on one game in particular – the Full Motion Video vampires vs coeds game Night Trap.
My personal athletic accomplishments can best be described as relatively limited. One of the first things I wanted to be when I grew up was a basketball player (after I moved on from hoping to be a sewer worker, so I could meet the ninja turtles). While I was quite good at stealing the ball and would eventually develop into an extremely effective trick shooter, I quickly realized my genetic disposition to being short as hell and inability to dribble probably meant NBA fans would be forever deprived of the next Muggsy Bogues.
I had one major goal in mind this past weekend. After over 3 weeks and several hundred deaths, it was time to finally beat Dark Souls and earn my important and totally not made-up Badge of Gaming Courage that surviving the brutal punishment nets you.
Dying 10,000 times in Dark Souls is a gaming rite of passage that I somehow missed out on when it first came out 8 years ago, so I made sure to subject myself to its horrors with the recently released remaster. Despite having never set foot in the world of Dark Souls, there was one place that I was already well aware of thanks to its infamy, Blighttown. I had heard countless stories of how this was the area that broke people either forcing them to quit the game completely or smash a controller in frustration.
Since I'm currently in the midst of a crushing run through Dark Souls, I decided I needed something to level my gaming mood out. Inspired by my recent ode to Luigi, watching a speed-run in person, and my undying love of Fred Savage's 1989 opus, The Wizard, I opted to revisit perhaps the greatest 2D Mario of all time - Super Mario Bros. 3.