Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Yes, the game it certainly ain't.

FamiComplex takes another break from game reviews to review one of the controversial films in human history.

But, but... only one video this month?  Well, it's almost twenty minutes long, so there!  Block out some time in your schedule, sit back and enjoy!

EDIT:  This review got the attention of the Super Mario Bros. The Movie Archive, who've sent a response clearing some things up.


Nice to hear from you. We appreciate you being so forthright in responding to us in regards to the film. Considering how controversial the film is within both the gaming and film communities it's always a relief when people are open-minded to discussion on it.

While we enjoyed the review and felt it to be fairly extensive, there were still several points you raised that were not entirely accurate or fair. Those points don't particularly contribute towards either enjoying or disliking the film, but they're still worth commenting on if only to make things more clear.

Firstly, Mario and Luigi are brothers. While the double-date scene may seem to indicate that Mario adopted Luigi or that Luigi was adopted into Mario's family that really wasn't the implication. According to writer Parker Bennett in an interview we conducted, Luigi was simply a much younger brother who Mario had to raise once their parents died in an accident. He said:

"[...]what we decided is, “Okay, Mario has a big chip on his shoulder about being a plumber. He’s inherited his dad’s business [and] it’s not what he wants to do;” it’s sort of a “It’s A Wonderful Life” thing with Jimmy Stewart at the bank when he wants to be traveling the world.
[Mario’s] dad and mom died and then he’s forced to look after Luigi and so he’s stuck with all this responsibility that he never asked for."

This was, of course, much more clear in the early scripts, particularly their initial draft which focused on their relationship much more.

Secondly, the dino-humans actually do have "cave drawings" depicting the split of the dimensions, so it is entirely feasible that they would know this as part of their history. For the most part it is largely considered as more of a legend or even a creation myth, people like Toad are more aware of the truth behind it.

The rationale behind this is that a sect of people heavily mutated by the meteorite's radiation guarded the portal between worlds as well as studied ours to better preserve their own. This group of "Portal-Keepers" ruled the dino society, but were overthrown by Koopa. Only Daisy's mother and Daisy survived. This was all left unstated in the film, of course, but was very much a subplot within the early scripts that explained just why Daisy was capable of withstanding the power of the dimensions.

The King being de-evolved into fungus was not meant to imply that dinosaurs evolved into fungus so much as that fungus is a baser stage in life. The scripts state that it is not so much fungus as a sort of sentient primordial "slime." The scripts also make a point that the de-evolution technology is not truly "de-evolving" organisms; rather, it is mutating them into creatures reminiscent of their genetic ancestry. Hence, why Koopa doesn't turn into a true T. rex.

Finally, the sequel  will happen at some point... just not as a film. After nearly 20 years and growing cult status, the adventure is planned to be continued in a series of comics. Should be cool.

Anyways, glad to see you so open to this response. Hopefully this rather long message clarifies several of your points and helps you understand what they were doing with the story a little more, even if you still won't fully enjoy it. I look forward to hearing back from you.
- Sincerely,

Steven Applebaum

The site, at http://www.smbmovie.com, has a ton of videos, images and information about the production of this movie that shine a light on why it came out the way it did, and is an excellent counterbalance to my highly negative review.  Getting such a polite and well-written response makes me regret not having given the movie a fair shake - after all, I set out to tear it apart, and that's exactly what I did.

So, enjoy my review for the comedic value, then go check out the archive for more information!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

At Last, I Finally Have A Famicom.

Sometimes, I don't save my pennies and jump on the best deal available. Sometimes, I want something, and I want it right now.  Sometimes, you name your site after something and don't actually own it.

All this overtime I've been working at my day job - coupled with the research I did for an article on the subject - led me to decide that it was finally time for me to have a Famicom.

So, rather than grab a cheap, beat up console with no AC adapter and a third-party RF switch, I decided to go all out for the real deal.

Hello there, you beautiful piece of history.

A boxed Family Computer, missing only the manuals and inserts.  The box is in fairly great condition when you consider that it's probably from 1983-1985.  It is nearing its thirties, you'd think it'd be in as bad of shape as I am.

This is the most exciting thing I've seen all year. No, really.

The box contains the system and an original RF switch and AC adapter.  I haven't been seriously looking for very long, but nearly every one I've found has one or both of these replaced with a Hori third-party equivalent.

Old, but still gorgeous.

It'll need some cleaning to get that white look back - it's old and quite dirty.  The original protective film is still over the front label, but as you can see, it's starting to peel off.

I'm sure she'll clean up beautifully.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Why I Collect Old Games

My parents were never this excited about it.  Well, maybe my dad.

Warning: This is going to get depressing.

When someone asks me why I'd collect something as strange as old video games, I usually ask them, "well, did you ever have a Nintendo?"  Their response is almost always a "Yes".  When asked about their favorite game, they can never seem to hold back the smile as they describe taking out Bowser, defeating Ganon, or finishing Contra without the Konami code.

In conversation, sparking that feeling of nostalgia is generally all it takes for someone to understand why I'd spend so much time and money on this stuff.  But, as with most things that compel us, there's a lot more to it than that.

I was practically born in front of a computer.  I don't personally recall, of course, but there are photos of me as early as 2 years old playing with a Commodore 64.  My parents had an Atari 2600 that I have vague memories of, as well, but I have no idea what happened to it.  My dad is a programmer, so there was always a computer in the house.  I'd ask him questions incessantly about how things work, what they do, etc.  If he didn't know, we'd look it up together.

Computers were always there, but it was the NES that would captivate me the most.

Christmas morning, 1988, I woke to find an NES Action Set under the tree.  It was everything I'd imagined it would be.  The games were so far beyond anything on the Commodore 64 or the CGA 8086 PC - it was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen.

As much as I loved it, I didn't truly bond to gaming until much later.

I was always a pretty friendly and outgoing kid, until around the fifth grade, when my school days became a nightmare.

There's always a hierarchy in public schools, and there's usually some weird kids and nerds on the bottom.  The abuse trickles down, with those on the top making fun of those below them, et cetera on down the totem pole.

Somehow, at that time, I discovered an entirely new sub-basement of this hierarchy, and I was alone there.  Even the weird kids and the nerds would mock me to make themselves feel better.  It didn't stop there, of course.  I'd get spit on by the girls at recess, I'd be kicked, punched and attacked for no reason without provocation.  Once, at an assembly, I was punched in the nose by a kid who, I swear, was no higher than my waist.  I was kicked between the legs at least 3 times for no reason, a girl even threw my glasses in the garbage when I left them on my desk at recess.

Any time I'd make friends, they'd call any group I was in "The Nerd Herd".  Keep in mind, back then being a "nerd" was not a socially acceptable thing.  Computers were unpopular, and enjoying computers was social suicide.  I didn't mind the name so much, until all the "friends" ditched me.  One of them would come up to me one day and say, "Oh look, if it isn't The Nerd Herd".  Holding back tears, I replied under my breath, "It can't be a herd if it's just one person."

Of course, my family was there for me, but I didn't retreat there when I needed to get away.  I'd rush off to my room, turn on the Commodore monitor, blow on a cartridge and slam it into my NES.  I'd forget the kids and their verbal and physical attacks.  It was just me and my friends - Link, Mario, the Belmonts.

It was an escape.  I wasn't a scared child; I wasn't running away anymore.  I was a hero.  I was rescuing princesses, saving the world, stopping the bad guys, and all before dinner.  I could choose any game, and be anything I wanted to be.  Anything but me.

Now, whenever I pick up that familiar 2-button controller, whenever I see a cluster of pixels on screen that vaguely resembles a person, I become that kid again.  Not the scared, confused, hurt child; the gaming god, the story's hero.  The good times always flow back in - the 2-player games with my sisters or my dad, my personal victories - but the pain never comes back with it.  My wife tells me I get a look on my face when playing old video games - the kind of honest smile that comes from deep inside you.

I never let go of all those old games - they'd sit in a bin in the closet, occasionally coming out to be played.  I wasn't an active collector, I just simply couldn't let go of all that old stuff.  It actually wasn't until the release of the Wii that the collector's bug bit me.  I hooked up my brand new Wii and jumped on the store, and just had to buy Super Mario Bros.  Then I had to buy Castlevania IV.  Then Solomon's Key.

It was then that I realized that this was silly.  I already had a copy of Super Mario Bros. in the closet!  I had a Super Nintendo, why couldn't I just buy a Castlevania IV cartridge and play it on the real thing?

Right then and there, it clicked into place.  Now I had a mission - one which, after a reboot, continues in this blog today.

Why do I collect old games?  Well, why aren't you collecting the things that make you smile?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

GameStop's New Incentive Program: Retro Game Vault

Try harder, GameStop.

If you haven't heard, the generally anti-retro game retailer GameStop is now trying their best to steal their own little piece of the nostalgia pie.

Through GameStop's PowerUp Rewards program, you earn points for each purchase, which can then be exchanged for rewards, similar to Best Buy's Reward Zone membership.  But what's this?  You can now use these points towards classic games through GameStop's "Retro Game Vault".

Sounds great, doesn't it?  Well, yeah, until you check the values.

Super Mario Bros., a pretty common cartridge, has a current value of around $4 (the SMB/Duck Hunt cartridges are easier to find and much cheaper).  Through the GameStop Rewards program, the game is 43,250 points!

Here's the point breakdown for the program, per their website:
  • 10 points per dollar spent on all new games and consoles 
  • 20 points per dollar spent on pre-owned games, accessories and consoles 
  • 20 points per dollar on traded-in games or consoles
Assuming you're smart enough to stay away from trading in games for less than a quarter of their value, and also assuming you avoid buying "new" (It's not used if GameStop removes the seal and plays it, only if you do) copies, you'll get 20 points per dollar on used games.  Okay, cool.

So, 43250 / 20 = 2162.5.

Spend $2,162.50 on used games, and you'll take home a game that was free with the NES.  One that you can find at any given garage sale or flea market for 25 cents.

What a deal!  Clearly you've changed your stance on retro games, GameStop.  The retro community salutes you!

Only a single finger in the salute, though.  The rest of them just weren't feeling it.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Another Trip, More Goodies

I figured that, since I've still got my car this weekend, I'd take a trip to Salem for another tour of the numerous thrift stores down there.

As with most of my long thrifting day trips, I wasn't disappointed.

That's some serious hardware.

At the very first Goodwill I checked on the way down, I ran into this: A boxed Super Scope 6.  The box was hiding under a stack of other random boxes next to the register - seriously, guys, check every inch of your thrift stores, you really never know.

All parts for the gun are included as well as the sensor, but the Super Scope 6 cartridge isn't... but I've actually seen people giving the cartridge away, so it shouldn't be hard to track one down.  $24.99, and they go for around $30-40.  Also purchased here but not pictured: a new N64 memory card (or controller pak) for $4.99.  Off to a good start!

Can never have too many of these.  Why?  Bomberman, that's why.

At a Value Village, I picked up another Sega Saturn controller for $2.99.  This is a version one controller, and you can usually pick these up for $10 or so.

Where do these keep coming from?

Lastly, at the same Goodwill where I bought a bunch of 2600 games a few months ago, I found yet another stack.  Where are these coming from?  Is there an infinitely renewing fountain of Atari 2600 games nearby?  If so, where can I find this fountain?

The games are Space Invaders, Cosmic Ark, Demons to Diamonds, Warlords (finally!), Breakaway IV, and Riddle of the Sphinx.  These were $2.99 each, so yes, I grossly overpaid for almost all of them.  Breakaway IV, however, is worth around $5, so there was one decent deal.  I have no problem overpaying for a stack of 2600 games when, on the same trip, I massively underpaid for something else.  It all balances out, you see.

As it turns out, I already had a copy of Space Invaders.  I love overpaying for something I already own.  I can't wait until my Verizon service contract ends so I can activate this Virgin Mobile smartphone.  It'd be so nice to have access to my RF Generation collection list on the go.  There is actually an app for that.

Also, in this same trip, I picked up a Gamecube for $9.99... but that's a discussion for a few years in the future.  Happy hunting, everyone!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Finally, a good hunt.

It was bound to happen eventually, right?  Today I finally took the chance to go out and hit up my favorite thrifting haunts, and while it's not all top-shelf stuff, I feel pretty good getting back in the game.

Too expensive?  Yep.  Do I care?  Nope.

First off, two complete Genesis games, NBA Jam and Eternal Champions for $2.99 each.  I overpaid by quite a lot on both of these super-common titles, but y'know what?  That's fine, sometimes.  Especially when you've been out of the game for a while.

My N64 collection's starting to get somewhere.

Next, three N64 titles at $2.99 each - Blast Corps, Star Fox 64 and Mario Party.  Blast Corps is worth just slightly more than I paid, but with Star Fox 64 worth around $10 and Mario Party at around $19, they really made this trip.  See that Mario Party label, though?  It's covered by the single most vile, horrible and evil thing ever conceived by man - Blockbuster's security stickers.

These stickers are designed so that if you try to remove them, they will literally rip the game's label right off the cartridge.  There's no way to remove them without destroying the label, and this one's got permanent marker all over it.   It just had to be on the biggest prize of the day, didn't it?

There's one of these on my Pokemon Puzzle League, too.  If I ever meet the person who invented these, I'll... have strong words for him.

I'm unashamed to say I love these old Capcom Disney games.

Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers for the NES, $4.99 at Value Village.  This one's also just under the estimated value, but that's okay.  It's Chip 'n Dale.

If you're not excited by this, you're clearly not a part of my generation.

Another good, cheap-ish game.

Vectorman 2 for the Genesis for $1.99 at my local Goodwill.  It's worth about what I paid for it, but if I remember correctly, these were pretty good games.  Now I just need to find the first.

There is no way to look cool in 3D glasses.

So, where have I been?  Aside from the the fact that I don't have access to my car as often as I'd like, I've also dropped around $1300 on building a new killer gaming PC, with a Playstation 3D Display as the monitor.  It's a thing of great beauty, and has kept me occupied for a few days now.

Yeah, the real-world Jerry does play modern games.  Not that guy in the videos, though.  He's been stuck in a time loop since 1999.

Talk to him about the Playstation 3, and he'll tell you, "Yeah, I DO have three Playstations."