Our exclusive editorials about the 3DS and its games, as well as Nintendo as a whole.
With the recent elections and Donald Trump’s ascent to the US presidency, there has been much debate about which candidate offered the best ideas for America. Some said Clinton was more of the same, and that Trump would be a breath of fresh air for America, some thought Trump was Hitler reincarnated and would empower racists. Either way, every possibility was looked at, every argument scrutinised and every little thing a candidate said was blown out of proportion for social media clicks.
All except for one thing.
Gaming. Few people really looked at what the US election would actually mean for video games. Would they be censored? Would the government try and get involved in censorship or diversity discussions? What would happen to the ESRB?
No one really looked into it.
Well, until now that is! So let’s see which of the presidential candidates would have better for gamers, starting with election winner Donald Trump!
Gaming and Donald Trump
So what does Donald Trump think about video games?
Well, he’s not particularly positive about them, that’s for sure. After all, back in 2012 he complained about games ‘glorifying violence’:
Jeez, it’s just like what people said in the 80s or 90s! Except said in 2012, on the heels of his first attempt at running for president.
And that makes Trump’s comments even worse. Why?
Because while games never glorified violence much before, they glorify it even less now. I mean yeah, there may have been a few games based on brainless violence then (among lots where your character was acting in self defence/for a good cause), but said violence focused games are even rarer now. Indeed, with more stealth games, peaceful indie titles and political commentary titles (think Spec Ops: The Line), it seems the gaming industry is moving away from mindless violence in general.
Heck, even Call of Duty gives you messages on the futility of war between missions now!
So Trump’s views on violent in video games are archaic. But how about his other views? Does he have any comments on ‘sexism’ in video games or what not?
Well, no. Trump’s not exactly the kind of guy to care about that stuff. However, he did show sympathy to a popular figure in the GamerGate movement for the treatment he’d been getting from his enemies:
Which makes him a little more gamer ‘friendly’ view than Clinton, who (as I’ll explain later) treats GamerGate as the alt-right and an enemy of progressives.
However, that doesn’t mean you should endorse Trump as a gamer. His attitudes on video games and violence are still ridiculously out of date, and his views on other social issues are not popular with the gaming industry.
Maybe Breitbart will help fix this. After all, they do have a gaming section, and it doesn’t seem to be in their interests (or that of some of their audience) to let Trump go on a gaming banning/censorship spree. Or maybe not. Either way, Trump clearly isn’t the gamer friendly president.
But how about Clinton? Would she have been better if she was elected?
Gaming and Hillary Clinton
Well, no. Here’s her talking about games and violence:
Yeah, it’s an old video. But it’s still relevant, since her views on gaming as encouraging violence haven’t changed one bit since then.
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When it comes to Nintendo, games being family friendly is basically an unwritten rule of the company. Yes, they’re more relaxed about adult games now, and they’re not removing crosses from gravestones or breasts from statues like in the NES era. But as far as Mario, Zelda or Pokemon goes? You’d be pretty unlikely to find one that gets above a T rating, and even that’s usually saved for exceptional cases.
But according to this story on Nintendo Player, it seems that may have been about to change back in the 90s. Why? Because Boss Game Studios were planning to make a ‘different’ type of Mario game, and actually pitched their concept to Nintendo. Here’s one of the storyboards showing a planned scene in the game:
Looks fairly innocuous, right? Well, yeah, though the weird Whomp creature looks a tad more sexualised than the ones in Super Mario 64 ever were.
However, that’s only the start of it. Apparently, there was more concept art for this game, and it shocked Nintendo enough to reject the proposal:
I’m not sure if we were trying to get the license from Nintendo to produce a Mario game, or if they approached us to do one. Either way, I think it died on the vine after they saw the concept art
So what was in the proposal? Well, presumably something a lot darker than you’d expect in a Mario game. Like say, stuff involving demonic possession and self mutilation (both fetishised in the company’s movies). The kind of thing that would get the game more than a T rating.
Above: Probably stuff like in the fan game ‘Panic in the Mushroom Kingdom’. Except… darker.
Still, it does make you wonder. What the world would be like if an unknown studio worked on a ‘darker’ Mario game with demonic themes and sexual content in the 90s, and Nintendo actually published it on their systems. Maybe the ‘kiddy’ image wouldn’t have lasted beyond the early 90s. Maybe Sega would have struggled a bit more with its marketing. In theory, it could have changed the history of gaming quite significantly!
Either way, go and read the story if you haven’t already. It’s got a lot of details about the cancelled game and the guys behind it, as well as some rather… ‘interesting’ details related to certain people at Nintendo!
The Super Mario Original Storyboard Story (Nintendo Player)
In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Nintendo CEO Tatsumi Kimishima revealed how high Nintendo’s expectations were for Super Mario Run. Indeed, said expectations are so high that Nintendo is actually hoping the Mario auto runner will be as popular as Pokemon GO, and just about as quickly to boot:
In terms of expectations, we all saw what happened when we delivered Pokemon Go. And honestly I was quite surprised by it myself. There’s no doubt that more people are using smartphones to play games. And as this time we’re using Mario, that’s a very important intellectual property for us. And that’s what Miyamoto’s team is working on now: making sure it spreads out just as quickly as Pokemon Go
It’s an impressive target.
Unfortunately for Nintendo though, the chances of this happening are slim to none.
Because Pokemon GO wasn’t just popular because it was based on a popular series. Oh no, it was popular because of the ‘social’ aspect and how that helped with its marketing.
Think about it. To get Pokemon in Pokemon GO, you have to explore the world. You have to go out on the streets or in the fields and actually look for them in real life. You have to hit up popular landmarks for Pokestops. Battling against others takes place in gyms, and requires you to be physically present near the gym,
Basically, the game is designed to get you outside. Which then basically becomes free marketing for the game. People see others hanging around, and they wonder what the fuss is. Shops and businesses see a huge surge in traffic and wonder where it’s coming from/how to capitalise on it. The press write about the new phenomenon and tons of stories popping up regarding people getting into accidents or trouble because of it.
Give it a bit more time and then everyone knows about it and has downloaded it to try the game out.
But Super Mario Run (by definition) can’t really have this.
It’s got multiplayer yes. It’s likely going to be released in China (which provides a massive audience for the title that Pokemon GO couldn’t tap into), true. And with the Mario brand, it’ll get a ton of downloads.
But there’s no social side to it. No free advertising due to seeing people playing the game. There’s limited interaction with others (aka time attack mode). And it’s a paid app with a free demo built in.
So because of that, it just won’t capture the same audience or level of interest. It’s not the kind of app that’s set up for Pokemon GO level success.
Still, the game will do well overall. It’ll attract a ton of downloads, print money for Nintendo and give legions of smartphone gamers a nice little Mario platformer they can pay for a very low price. And at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.
When it comes to Super Mario 64 hacks, two names tend to be the first that come to mind. One is Super Mario 64: Last Impact, whose developer we interviewed about a week ago. And then there’s Super Mario Star Road.
Aka the most well known Super Mario 64 ever made. Released in 2011 by a hacker named Skelux, it featured 130 new stars across a wide range of interesting levels, as well as numerous ASM additions and custom mechanics years before most hacks had anything to match.
In fact, the game became so popular and well known that it was featured on mainstream news sites, unofficially referred to as a Super Mario 64 sequel and even got some people claiming that it was the best Super Mario 64 ROM hack of all time.
So to commemorate it and bring a bit more attention to its 3DS sequel, here’s our exclusive interview with Skelux himself!
As is the norm, let’s start with a personal question. Can you tell us a bit about yourself in general?
I’m some kangaroo Australian weirdo who has been ROM hacking as a hobby for nearly a decade. I’ve spent quite a lot of this time refining various skills for this such as coding, 3d-modelling, musical composition, and image manipulation among others. In present times I also work as a waiter which I’ve been doing for a couple of years, and moving into teaching IT by the end of the year.
What got you interested in the Mario series?
I’ve been playing Mario games since I was a kid, and found interest in modifying SM64 when I stumbled upon Toad’s Tool 64. After that I collaborated with someone in making the first major SM64 hack, The Missing Stars. He did most of it, I just made a couple of areas, most notably The Secret Woods level.
So why Super Mario 64 in particular? Any reason you got into hacking that game rather than say, Super Mario Bros 1, 3 or World?
Hacking 2D games has never really interested me much since there are more creative limitations, but every now and then I make something, i.e. the Legend of Zelda (NES) hack I made several years ago, or the Super Mario Land 2 (GB) hack I’m currently working on which will be released probably by the end of the month.
Onto the original Super Mario Star Road now. What inspired you to make the game?
I made Star Road because no one else had really made a full custom-model SM64 hack yet. I’m not too proud of most of the level models and game content these days, as they are extremely dated compared to my current standards and abilities. The DS port I’m making serves to correct that.
And what inspired the level design here? Because it’s pretty different from the original Super Mario 64 in feel, and seems a lot more focusing on precision platforming…
The main point I make with my level designs is never to use the same theme twice. Other than that I just tried to be very creative and make the levels fun to explore.
It was also a very technically advanced hack for its time, with stuff like custom enemies and blocks being present in later levels. How did you learn to program for the N64 to make this stuff possible?
There were a few documents to get me started, and the rest I figured out myself. A lot of the functionality of current SM64 hacking is only possible because of the extensive updates I have made to the level-editing software. Many of the issues with the software at the time lead to limitations in the original Star Road, such as levels with small boundaries and a low polygon count, and buggy music importation. This especially affected the music level, ghost level and lava level, since the game would crash if there were more than about 1500 polygons.
People’s reactions to Star Road have generally been pretty positive over the years, with some people calling it the ‘best Mario 64 hack ever’. Did you expect this amount of popularity or acclaim?
Above: Star Road actually got a magazine feature about it in Nintendo Gamer
I wasn’t expecting it to be quite this popular, no. I’m hoping my DS port can receive the same level of attention.
Do you ever think you made some of the levels too easy or too hard though?
The difficulty was somewhat inconsistent, I didn’t put a lot of thought into it really.
A few general questions now. What’s your favourite level in the original Star Road, and why?
My favourite might be the toy level, I just feel there are a lot of creative ideas in it.
And your least favourite?
My least favourite is probably Mad Musical Mess, it was pretty bad compared to what I had originally envisioned – again, this was a result of buggy software.
So it seems you’re remaking the game as a Mario 64 DS hack. What’s the reason for this? Did you just want to try out a different game engine?
I like playing around with a variety of different game engines, plus I want to make a version of the game which doesn’t have all the drawbacks of the original – including being able to play it on real hardware.
I also hear it makes some fundamental game design changes, like toning down Gloomy Garden or removing those bee enemies. Is that true? And what other changes do you have in mind for the DS version of the game?
Yes, it is extremely different. If you’ve played the original Star Road, the DS port won’t just feel like a port. The level designs are very much improved, matching my current standards for game design.
What about Yoshi, Luigi and Wario? How does the game accommodate them?
I haven’t entirely figured that one out yet, I might be replacing Wario and/or Yoshi with different characters.
They have new Power Flower abilities too. Does the level design now incorporate those?
And they’re also usually locked up. Do you plan new levels to unlock them as playable characters? Are Goomboss, King Boo and Chief Chilly still the bosses in said levels?
Yes, there are new levels where you unlock the characters, and some cool new bosses, none of the originals.