Tag Archives: Mario 64

Goofing Around (In Video Games) Sucks

In my last post I mentioned that I 100%ed Super Mario 64. This is a heavily nostalgic game for me and countless others and while it hasn’t aged magnificently over the years it still remains a classic. It retains its charm and is still an enjoyable game to play if you can look past the shitty grafix from the late 90s. But I realized something upon completing the game that I didn’t realize before: Mario 64 is a really short game. Surely part of this is due to me having played it before, but I don’t think this has much to do with why it feels so short. It’s been so long since I played Mario 64 to completion I had almost forgotten where most of the stars were and had to “rediscover them” even if I had a vague hint of a memory where the star was. (I still remember the Turok master cheat code though: nthgthdgdcrtdtrk. Looks like something out of a Lovecraft story.) So while the game was easier than it was when I first played it, it wasn’t just a feat in repetition; I really had to discover the game all over again.

I found myself wondering how, as a kid, I was able to pour so much time into this game as I did. I was able to knock out all 120 stars within a week as an adult, and even if I had played the game before, I assume a new player could still beat the game quickly. It’s just not a long or complicated game. How did my childhood-self find this game so massive and consuming that I could literally play it for hours after school, day-after-day for months on end? Bowser had his ass kicked and I had all 120 stars, so what was I doing endlessly playing the game?

Outside of a few other minor things (being a bored kid, no internet, etc.), I assume it was because I dicked around in the game. I should explain that a bit more. This means that outside of the actual game-dictated challenges I would find other bullshit challenges to set for myself. It was total immersion in the world where you’re just playing around and having fun with the game itself. Grabbing the stars is what you’re supposed to do but dicking around is ignoring what you’re supposed to do to do random bullshit. Somehow kid-me excelled at this while adult-me is pretty terrible at it.

Bob-omb Battlefield

The first level, the iconic Bob-omb Battlefield, had a turtle whose shell you could ride like a skateboard. It was fun as hell to grab his shell and challenge yourself to do stupid shit with it: could you surf up to the top of the mountain without hitting anything and losing his shell? Could you use the shell to race Koopa the Quick? You could also grab the Wing Cap, jump into cannons, and fly around for the hell of it. Each level offered so much to do but only if you’re creative enough to play around with the game. This was even better if you had friends to play with. You could all take turns having races to the top of the Bob-omb mountain, or see who could get Baby Penguin to his mom is the fastest time possible (or who could drop him off the cliff in the most cruel/hilarious way). Your imagination was the only limit to the fun you could have in Mario 64 as well as any other game.

Shell surfin’. I crashed a few seconds after this attempting to make it to the top of the mountain.

Something changed because now I don’t have the time or patience to fuck around in video games. I don’t know if it’s adulthood itself or aspects of adulthood like having a job and a tighter schedule that changed things, but I find myself being very “goal oriented” when I play video games. It does take all the fun out of them too. I view the game as just that: a game. Games are now just a big and sometimes complex puzzle: you figure out what you need to do to achieve a goal and you do that. Find key, go to the next room. Kill enemies, get to the end of the level. Find enough moons to fight Bowser. Etc. It’s basic problem solving now: discover problem, research the problem, conquer the problem. Complete the quest and beat the game. And then onto the next game. It’s depressing.

Flyin’.

As I was writing this post, the word playing popped into my head. Dicking around in video games, as I’ve been explaining it, sounds a lot like playing. Kids will grab toys and play with them not for a purpose but just because. I even looked up the definition of the word play and guess what it is?

Engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.”

-The Damn Dictionary

So, fuck, it’s not that adult-me is overly goal-oriented or that kid-me was better at making up random shit to do, kid me was better at playing while adult me fucking sucks at it. Making this even worse is that when adult-me is “playing” video games, I’m probably not actually playing them. I’m always chasing a set of goals or in-game challenges and am not playing for the pure enjoyment or recreation of it. Or my personal enjoyment and recreation while playing a video game is in beating the game and not playing the game. Holy fuck, I didn’t think there’d be an epiphany in this post, but there it is. Kid-me played video games and adult-me beats video games.

This entire post reflects back on the last post about 100%ing Nintendo games. In that post I argued that Nintendo is kinda badass by not giving you any real rewards for going above-and-beyond in your video gaming duties. They rely on your own self-motivation to accomplish all of the extra bullshit you need to 100% one of their games. They’re going to give you the shit to do but not reward you for it. This post is sort of the same thing: to properly play a video game you also need to go outside of what the game itself gives you for goals/accomplishments and find your own way towards fun. This is the essence of playing — doing something for your own enjoyment with zero practical reason to motivate you — and is a huge reason why I enjoyed video games and could pour hours into them as a kid. I was playing and not simply trying to chase goals. As adult gamers we might become overly “goal-oriented” and miss the whole reason for playing a game: to have fun! But to have fun you need to be creative and do something for the sake of doing it, just like 100% video games entails. So the next time I play a video game I’m going to try to sit back, relax, and actually enjoy the experience instead of checking off a list of items that the game wants me to do. Being an adult is kinda shitty in case you didn’t know that yet.

100%ing Nintendo Games Sucks

“Thanks for playing Super Mario 64! This is the end of the game, but not the end of the fun.”

-Yoshi

I said in this post how Nintendo games have a deep and rich history of having “collectible” items that tempt the dedicated/addicted/completionist player to obsessively play the game until they find everything there is to find. This is always after the main game/quest has been beaten and is always optional to do. For me this started with Super Mario 64 with its 120 total collectible stars (with only 70 needed to complete the game) and seemed to hit its absurd peak with Wind Waker’s picture figurine quest. Famously, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild turned it up even more by giving you its own picture quest (Hyrule Compendium: 350+ entries), beating all 120 shrines, and — heaven forbid — getting all the Korok seeds (of which there are 900 of!) which is probably the worst and most anticlimactic completionist quest in any video game ever.

You have to admit this is really cute.

The “problem” with these 100% quests is that they occur after beating the game where there is no real incentive for doing them. Nintendo doesn’t wave shiny rewards, fancy weapons, new endings, or even shitty achievement badges in front of you. Even if Nintendo has started to plop “rewards” into their games for 100% completion, they’re pretty shitty.

Let’s give some examples of these “rewards.” Mario Odyssey puts a hat on top of Peach’s Castle and gives you a firework display! Breath of the Wild’s shrine completion quest gives you Link’s classical tunic (which doesn’t offer anything unique and is a bitch to upgrade). BotW’s compendium gives you…uh…idk? Pride? And the Korok seeds? Fuck that: you are rewarded with literally a piece of shit for finding each seed. It has no use or purpose and is, well, a piece of shit.

Yay. 999 moons.

No one can plead ignorance of these shitty rewards because it’s 2019. The internet exists. Before any sane person actually attempts any 100% challenge they’ve certainly researched what they were about to get themselves into. They’re undertaking the quest all on their own knowing well there is no actual reward. But there is some reward because people still 100% these games: the reward is accomplishing something you’ve set out to do, with zero outside influence or persuasion, with no rewards or shiny things dangled in front of you. Nintendo 100% completions are something to note because, outside of there being shitty “rewards,” there is nothing to actually motivate you. You know that you’re doing something for zero reward outside of your own fulfillment, you do it, and that’s the end of the story. You get a star next to your save file. You get a speech by Cappy. You get a shitty suit of armor. You get a golden piece of poop. You get a gold-colored sail. Or a fucking hat on top of a castle. Nintendo 100% completions are kinda admirable in a way because of how anticlimactic they are and how people still chase after them.

100%ing Mario 64 was one of the highlights of my childhood (yeah, no joke). I’ve kept that memory and accomplishment with me over the past 20 years! I’ve also sort of 100%’d Goldeneye but this achievement is tarnished by cheating. That game was fucking difficult to 100%. (Go check the par time for the Facility level to unlock the cheat: 2 minutes on the hardest difficulty. Fuck you.) But the Mario 64 100% was 100% legit and 11 or 12-year-old me pulled that shit off with no guide, no cheats, no internet, or anything. It was pure dedication and skill, a genuine display of video gaming prowess, even if there wasn’t much else to do after school.

Today I 100%’d Mario 64 on a PC emulator and was looking forward to the moment greatly. This was what 12-year-old me experienced years ago as my first 100% Nintendo completion, so how would it hold up? It was even worse than I remembered! The last star I got was the infernal Rainbow Ride 100-coin star: the level branches like a tree and has no obvious route that is better to find coins on (outside of the group of blue coins that is). If you fuck up and fall you need to start over. There is no saving mid-level in the game. Making this even more fitting is, while I don’t remember certainly, I’m confident this was the last star I got back in the late 90s as well. It’s such a bullshit star to get that I know 12-year-old me also procrastinated the star as long as possible.

Once you get the 120th star, you’ve beaten the game 100%. There isn’t anything left to do. What surprised me was how nothing actually happened in the game to signal the Grand Feat: no notifications popped up, no music played, and the unknowing player wouldn’t even realize that they’ve just found every star in the game. Nothing obvious changes at all. Since I’ve done this before I knew where to go: outside the castle and near the pond is a cannon that is now accessible. You naturally shoot yourself to the top of the castle (there’s nowhere else to shoot Mario to) and find a very low-polygon Yoshi. You talk to him and he says some uplifting shit and jumps of the castle. I screencapped some of the moment, grabbed the wing cap, triple-jumped off the castle, and flew around the castle. And that was it: game complete. Mission Accomplished! You’ve won.

“Hey, Yoshi! So, uh, is this it? Not that I’m complaining or anything, but it was a lot of work to get all of these 120 stars…”

So now what? As a kid I would make up shit to do and just dick around in the game, playing for hours and hours doing nothing, but as a goal-oriented adult my goal was to get 120 stars. I did that and I’m done with the game. It’s nice to see Nintendo being consistent with the existential crises that arise anytime you 100% one of their games. You get no reward outside of the pride of accomplishing it, and while that’s good because you only have yourself to motivate you, it still is a hollow sort of victory. What’s surprising is how Nintendo has even improved the rewards over the past few decades as Mario 64 gave you almost no pat-on-the-back for completing the game. It was pretty shitty and I’m surprised my 12-year-old self kept the pride of 100%ing the game in his mind as long as he did.

So as stupid as 100%ing Nintendo games is as there is no reward, you gotta give Nintendo credit. They don’t give a fuck if you want to complete their games or not: that’s up for you to decide. They’re not going to give you a reward or a participation trophy to plop on your xXxGamerDood69xXx profile so your friends can see. No, Nintendo gives you jack shit to show for it except pride in accomplishing something without being forced to do it. It’s fucking free will. While it sucks, it’s kinda badass in the way. Like Nintendo, the friendly kiddy video game company, is trying to teach you some deep life lesson about goals, rewards, achievements, and enjoying life.

The Mario Jump Rope Challenge Sucks: The Hardest Moon in the Game

I played Super Mario 64 when it was released in like 1996 or something. Yeah, I’m kinda old. In case you didn’t know, the main plot of the game involves you collecting power stars to open up locked areas of the castle in an effort to — wait for it — save Princess Peach from Bowser. The thing is you only need 70 moons to actually beat the game while the game offers a total of 120 stars. This might be the first Mario game where there is this idea of collectable items. It’s a natural tendency for us OCD-prone people to need all 120 of those damn stars to finally 100% complete the game. The leads directly to my current problem…

Super Mario Odyssey — the newest and possibly greatest game in the Mario series — has the very same DNA as Mario 64 except things are turned up to 11 this time. Instead of needing 70 stars to beat the game you need like 120 stars moons. There’s a second ending and more levels that are unlocked when you obtain 500 stars moons while the game holds a total of an amazing 880 unique stars moons! (Really it’s like 830 unique moons as some of these are “multi-moons” that count as three.) Compare this to Mario 64 where you need about 60% of the moons to beat the game. Odyssey requires only 124 moons — or about 15% of the total moons — to beat the game. More levels are unlocked at 250 and 500 moons: 30% and 60% of the total, respectively. My point is Odyssey requires a smaller percentage of moons to actually progress the game leaving a goddamn mountain of moons to find if you want to 100% it.

And of course you want to 100% the game because you have such fond memories of meeting Yoshi on top of Peach’s Castle after getting the 120 stars in Mario 64. It was the crowning achievement of your elementary school days so, naturally, wouldn’t it be cool to 100% Mario Odyssey as well? Mario 64 ingrained us with that drive to 100% Mario games and it isn’t any different in Odyssey. There’s only one problem with that: Odyssey is hard.

I laugh when people think Mario is a kids game. Mario is a kids game but it’s also a cruel and harsh Nintendo game and sometimes Nintendo simply doesn’t fuck around. Sometimes Nintendo makes a game that’s very cute and friendly towards kids but totally fucks people up that push the game to its limit. And that’s exactly what happens when you want to 100% the game. The game asks — no requires — a precise level of platforming if you want that 100%.

There are certain stars moons in this game that are total bullshit to obtain. Some final levels are basically repeats of earlier levels where the devs take out (or insert) some really cruel mechanic. One level requires you to dodge poison plants (as you’ve done previously) but they make the walkway above the poison lake invisible (“Invisible Road: Rush!” moon). In one final level you repeat a timed level that features the motor scooter except they remove the scooter and you have to roll as fast as possible (“Vanishing Road Rush”). The margin of error on that level is only like a second or so. Another level requires you to do like 12 perfectly timed long jumps in a row (“Breakdown Road” moons) where a single mistake or slightly mistimed jump means you fail the level.

There’s also the volleyball challenge where you must hit a ball 100 times (“Hero of the Beach!”). This sounds really trivial except you get to start over at the beginning if you fuck up. Making it up to 50 isn’t hard so replaying the entire first half is torture. I think it took me 2 or 3 tries so it wasn’t too bad I guess. It was one of those challenges that is kinda a cheap sort of challenge. It just takes time smacking a ball back and forth. It’s monotonous.

But the crowning achievement of Odyssey’s bullshit-moons is the infernal jump rope challenge moon (“Jump Rope Genius”). The first moon of this challenge in New Donk City is easy enough and triggers after only 20 jumps; it’s the second moon that is impossible to get. You need 100 perfectly timed jumps to unlock this moon and it seems to be nearly impossible even if it does seem stupidly trivial at first.

A good example of the rope moving fast enough to display individual frames with Cappy looking kinda surprised.

As with the volleyball challenge, as you progress the speed of the rope increases to insane levels. I’ve personally made it up to about 60 jumps and by this time the rope is moving so fast I can’t physically hit the jump button fast enough. Mario doesn’t make it down to the ground quickly enough to start another jump! Gravity isn’t strong enough for me to make these jumps! The A button physically cant be hit fast enough by my finger to jump over the rope! You can literally see the single frames of the rope as it flashes across the screen as quickly as it does: it ceases to be a smooth motion at that rate. 30 frames-per-second doesn’t even survive the jump rope challenge. But Nintendo, a friendly game company that makes easy kid bullshit, forces this onto you if you’re crazy enough to 100% Mario Odyssey. It’s insane and I suppose I’m insaner by trying to 100% a Nintendo game in the first place. Remember taking pictures in Wind Waker? That is what purgatory would be like.

I’m pretty sure this will be the last thing I do in the game as I just can’t make any progress on it and quickly give up to find other moons. The bullshit challenges I mentioned earlier are easier (mostly because they’re real challenges) and I think I’ve beaten the invisible plant poison level already. Hell, I even think the marathon Darker Side of the Moon level will be easier (and more cheeseable) than the stupid jump rope moon is; at least you can use Assist Mode it if you really want to. But Rope? Rope isn’t having none of that shit.

The real technique to getting this goddamn moon.

In all honesty there is a way to glitch the game by using the MARIO letters in New Donk City, but even that appears to be quite a challenge. What you do is clip a letter outside of its boundary and simply sit on it while the rope clips through the letter. With you on top of the letter or hanging on the side the game registers you “jumping over” the rope and this is why all the high scores for the jump rope challenge are all 99999: people cheesed the game with a glitch. But in all honesty getting the moon via glitch seems more rewarding and satisfying than trying to jump that fucking rope 100 times. Let’s just pretend the moon jump rope champion really is titled “MARIO Letters Out-of-Bounds CLIP CHAMPION!” because that’s much more fitting. Fuck jump rope.

Mario basking in the glory of his newly-acquired moon as the rope clips through his foot.

Note: If you read the post on my birthday you know that I actually beat this horrible challenge via the MARIO letter glitch. Truthfully, I don’t even feel guilty about it because glitching the letters out of bounds was way more fun and fulfilling than tapping a perfectly 100+ times would’ve been. I have no guilt and you shouldn’t either if you try to 100% the game.