Let’s Interview: Game Analysis YouTuber 2CPhoenix

Let's Interview:



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Let’s Interview: Game Analysis YouTuber 2CPhoenix

In recent years, one game that’s been getting much interest online is Super Mario Sunshine. Whether for its creative level themes or interesting easter eggs, fun speedrun glitches or random engine quirks, the game has inspired many lengthy analyses and essays as a result, with everyone from Skyehoppers to Liam Triforce, Particular Mushroom to AverageTrey giving the game a thorough look.

Yet despite all this, there’s one channel that’s investigated the game in more depth than any of them. One channel which has not only analysed every level but figured out things like the in-game language as well.

That being, 2CPhoenix. Originally known for his Sly Cooper analyses and Hollow Knight guides, his Super Mario Sunshine videos are the best in their league, with all kinds of incredible details being revealed left, right and centre.

YouTube player

So today we’re gonna talk to him and see how it all came to be. To figure out what goes into these Super Mario Sunshine analysis videos, and learn more about the talented creator behind all of them.

Let’s get started.

The Interview

With our first port of call being a bit of background info. So, who are you? Who is 2CPhoenix?

Well, as of right now, I prefer to stay as anonymous as possible online. This is mostly because my employer for my day job frowns upon its employees being recognized while on the clock. A lot of my fans have taken to calling me Phoenix, which I’m actually quite fond of. I’m 26, I was born in Colorado, and I make gaming videos with a bent towards the hyper-observant, looking deep into obscure dialogue, textures, code, and even the development history of games to dredge up as many obscure details as I can.

Where did that name come from?

The name, I chose when I was in middle school, around 13 or 14 years old. That was when I decided I wanted to be a YouTuber. The name is a combination of a few things. 2C was my nickname in middle school, due to a pair of Cs in my name. Phoenix has been my favourite name to assign to myself in videogames since I was maybe 7, and I envision the pair of Cs back-to-back as a pair of wings. Lastly, I was somewhat dedicated to the cadence of a username with 4 syllables, since the same was true of my principle inspiration, Chuggaaconroy, who I mimicked quite a bit at the time.

And how did you get into gaming? What was your first game?

I played quite a few games when I was too young to remember, like DK64, Ocarina of Time, and Frogger. However, the first game I was cognisant of playing was Sly Cooper on the PS2. I was scared of the guards, and called my dad over to take them out for me every time, but I loved the world, I loved Sly acrobatic movement.

Sly Cooper 2002 cover

The original Sly Cooper was the first game 2CPhoenix remembers playing

What about now? What games are you playing at the moment?

Most recently while relaxing I’ve been replaying Pikmin 4. I do a run of Binding of Isaac every so often, and play Pokerogue on my phone when I’m out and need to kill time.

Pikmin 4 Key Art

He’s currently playing Pikmin 4

One series you seem to be a huge fan of is the Sly Cooper series. How did you get into that franchise?

Sorry to have already answered this one, but I am indeed a huge fan. Having it be my first project on YouTube has always been my plan. Kind of my way of giving back to it.

And what’s your favourite game there?

Sly 2’s the obvious favourite, though I’ve replayed the first one quite a bit more, since when it comes down to it it only takes maybe 8 hours to 100%

The latest title has certainly gotten a… poor reception from long-term fans. What are your thoughts on it?

Thieves in Time is a rough time. I don’t like to be too negative, but I don’t think it’d be a stretch to call it my least favourite game of all time. That’s not because it’s an objectively worse game than any of the shovelware out there, but it just feels like such a slap in the face to the franchise, to sucker punch, and to the fanbase. Still there are parts I really like about it. Playing as Tennessee Kid Cooper is a definite highlight, I think it looks great, and the areas are mostly quite fun to traverse. Really it just comes down to the utter mishandling of the character writing. Sly undoing his arc from the trilogy, Carmelita being relegated to jealous ex-girlfriend. and Penelope being… evil and selfish. I could go on, but it’s a rant for another day.

Sly 4 North_America cover

Like with many fans, 2CPhoenix is not a huge fan of this game

Do you think there’s a chance we could see a series revival soon?

The recent success of the first game’s port to PS4 and 5 has certainly given me cause for optimism. If nothing else, Sony knows his fans are out there. Even still, I hope if we do get a new instalment someday, it is not given to Sanzaru.

If so, what would you want to see this time? What would make a good revival, rather than another Thieves in Time?

I really do like the time travel premise, I’d love to play as more ancestors that bring their own spice to the table, Henriette for more piracy, auto von for more dog fights, but I wouldn’t be completely on board if they didn’t find a way to fix Penelope’s character. Of course, I’d be happy if they just retconned Thieves in Time and took the whole concept from scratch, but I’m doubtful.

Onto YouTube now. What made you decide to start a channel?

I daydreamed about being a YouTuber after I first started watching Let’s Plays around 2010, the actual decision happened only days before my first upload on this channel though. I was at Karaoke one night and suffering from a perfectionism-based bout of apprehension when I suddenly realized that I really liked karaoke, and no matter how unprepared I felt, it shouldn’t matter if it was something I was doing for myself. I realized that the same was true of YouTube, so I went home, installed the software I needed, and just started.

Did any other creators inspire you here?

Tons, Chuggaaconroy as I already mentioned, most everyone he introduced me to via The Runaway Guys, so ProtonJon, NintendoCaprisun, JoshJepson. More recently though, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the work of a few smaller creators, and their DNA is all over my videos. Overanalysing Avatar breaks down television episodes the way I break down games, and B-Mask organizes his thoughts and criticisms so well. He has a great eye for catching thematic throughlines and other underlying elements of games that I hope to rival someday.

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And what inspired you to change your content over time? Seems like you started out doing Let’s Plays before making analysis videos…

Let’s plays really are just the lowest barrier to entry. Anyone who plays games on a PC probably has everything they need to make a decent Let’s Play, which is why there are SO many on YouTube. Still, it wasn’t until a video of mine suddenly got 10s of thousands of views that I realized I wanted to create something more compelling. That video was a guide on how to get the speedrun achievements in Hollow Knight. I didn’t think it would get any more views than the rest of the series had gotten. I.E. 20 at most. Instead, it got 30,000 because it was well-made, well-edited, and did something no one else had done to that level of quality yet. I decided, then, that I wanted that to be the case for all my videos, and came up with the Game Break Down formula I use today.

You also made guides for a bit too, especially for Hollow Knight. What made you decide to get into that sort of content?

The guides are a weird instance. All except the speedrun guide came directly from the Let’s Play itself. I spent many hours per video creating guides to the bosses within, and it was recommended to me I repackage them as standalone videos. I still think that decision was for the best, but it’s never been indicative of the content I want to make.

Either way, it was the Sly Cooper analysis videos that really seemed to kick things off. What inspired you to go in that direction?

But yes, the Sly 2 breakdown was my bold new take on the Let’s Play formula. I basically decided to boil down what I liked about Let’s Plays, cut everything I didn’t like, and amplified the best parts as much as I could. I love learning new things, guides for challenges, humour, getting the game’s story, everything else went.

What made you choose that series to start with?

Sly 2 is a game I have memorized inside and out. It seemed a safe place to start, but it was also a bit of a thematic choice. In my eyes, there was something appealingly symbolic about making a Let’s Play, (A traditional, but simple and overdone format) on a 3D Platformer (A traditional, but simple and overdone genre), then taking a radical approach to its sequel, using the fundamentals that worked about Let’s Plays to make something unique and excellent, all while Sly 2 did the same with its genre.

After that though, it was the Mario Sunshine series. What got you interested in making content about that game?

Sunshine is another game I adore and have practically memorized. But a large part of why I chose it was also somewhat symbolic. The very first Let’s Play I watched was on Mario Sunshine, and almost all the Let’s Players I’ve ever watched have covered it at some point. To me, it was almost like a rite of passage. In addition, I felt that I’d proven the formula with Sly 2, and was ready to take on something with a larger profile.

Have you watched any other popular channels analysing this game? I know Particular Mushroom seems to cover the game in quite some detail too…

I didn’t actually know about Particular Mushroom when I started on Sunshine, but after I was told about his videos, I did watch them to learn as much as I could. AverageTrey makes a lot in-depth sunshine content as well, his videos were a major help. Other than that, a great deal of the information came from The Cutting Room Floor, and SupperMarioBroth. Not YouTubers, but excellent websites.

What’s your favourite find so far? The language one was definitely interesting to us, but we’re curious what you found most interesting to cover here…

The hidden shine pattern on the flooded beach in Delfino Plaza. My jaw hit the floor when I first found it. It was clearly never intended to be found, so the fact it still gives a coin just brings a smile to my face.

YouTube player

How about your favourite episode? What’s your favourite one so far?

Sirena Beach was probably my strongest. I think the humour was really on point, with the 45-step joke being my favourite I’ve made so far. There weren’t too many interesting finds in it, but even still, it ended up being the most entertaining in my eyes.

YouTube player

Any you feel you could have done better with?

I think the episode on the game’s tutorial could have been better, it suffers from some pacing issues surrounding the plethora of cutscenes early on. I wish I’d been more thorough in examining them so as to better intersperse the game’s dialogue with my own, but you live and learn.

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Regardless, it seems to have struck a chord with people, since the jump in views has been insane. How does it feel to see a series take off like this?

The response has been absolutely amazing. I work extremely hard on each video, each one taking about a month to create. I’d do it regardless of the viewership because I really do love the games I’m playing that much, but getting so much positivity sent my way has been incredible. Not to mention, it’s allowed me to work fewer hours at my day job and spend more time doing what I love, so there’s no end to the gratitude I feel to my audience for that.

How about seeing the language video get picked up by the media? How did it feel knowing that lots of news sites were sharing your video?

THAT was indescribable. I never would have imagined I’d make… actual news. It gave me a mad case of imposter syndrome, I can tell you, especially since I got my fair share of messages from people who assured me they’d discovered it first. But I accepted that even though I wasn’t the first person to make the connection, I was the first person to widely share it, which is no less of an achievement, that’s the point of knowledge, after all. It was also hugely responsible for the jump in views on the rest of my sunshine content, so I certainly can’t complain about that.

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What do you think struck a chord with this game/series in particular?

I think Sunshine’s just been an extremely important part of people’s lives. So many people who grew up with GameCubes played it every year, because it really did make it feel like summer. Yet it has so much hidden, so much people don’t know. People praise my videos for being such an obvious passion project, the love is evident. So, in a way, I think it’d be odd if someone loved Sunshine, but didn’t find my videos enjoyable, ya know?

Regardless, what plans do you have for it after the next video? Seems like we’re at Corona Mountain now…

Corona Mountain will be the series finale for Sunshine. At this time, I’m staying tight-lipped about the next game to get a deep dive, though I have scattered several hints throughout the sunshine videos.

Will there be things like tier lists, like there were during the Sly Cooper analysis series?

The tier list was really just a silly way to celebrate the 1,000-subscriber landmark. I’m not gonna say I’ll never make anything like it again, but simpler, more casual videos like that one will probably only pop up for other celebrations, like anniversaries and future milestones.

What sort of games could be next on the agenda? Will it be another Mario game (like Galaxy or Odyssey), or something new entirely?

I have a massive list of games I feel confident in giving the Game Break Down treatment, but more than anything, I hope not to pigeonhole myself in any one category. I plan on switching things up with every project, whether I play a Mario game, a Zelda game, an indie game, or a PlayStation exclusive!

And what other plans do you have for content in general? Any other interesting content ideas here?

I think the deep analysis is gonna remain my bread and butter, but if I have any ideas for a video I want to make, I’m not gonna limit myself. That’s how the Tears of the Kingdom video came to be, and that’s become my most-watched video.

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What are your long-term plans for your channel? Do you hope to run it full-time in future?

Being full-time would be the dream, though as it stands, we’re a long way from that. I’d like to have multiple safety nets in place before making that leap. A more actionable goal I have is to pursue the streaming side of things, but I need to figure out quite a few logistics before I can make a serious go at that.

Are there any other creators you want to collaborate with on future videos?

Any of my inspirations would be amazing. Particular Mushroom is still around, despite the fact he hasn’t posted to his main channel in a while. If he does resurface, I think it’s safe to say at this point we share a lot of the same fans, so a collaboration could be really cool.

Finally, what advice would you give someone wanting to start a YouTube channel?

The only way to start is to start. Your first video’s not gonna be too good, and that’s a good thing. You’ll have the freedom of obscurity to learn and experiment. As long as you’re having fun, YouTube is an amazing place to be.

Makes sense to us! Yeah, YouTube’s definitely something you learn by doing, not by excessive research. Just like with every other form of art and content creation, you only develop the skills needed to succeed by trying (and likely failing) thousands of times before that.

And of course, having fun is essential too. Running a YouTube channel can be a thankless task (especially at the beginning), and it’s an absolute slog to get through if you’re interest fades away. That’s why so many creators burned out on the platform a few years ago, and why almost everyone who tries to run a channel for monetary purposes alone gives up almost immediately.

So, if you’re dying to say something or share your work with the world, get started with that YouTube channel! You’ll never know how it’ll go until you try it.

Either way, thanks for agreeing the interview 2CPhoenix. Your analysis videos have been amazing all around, with the Super Mario Sunshine ones being some of our favourite videos of 2024. So, we’re super excited to see what you’ll work on next, and what the future will bring for your channel as a whole.

And we’re also interested in your thoughts on the interview too! Did you enjoy this chat with 2CPhoenix about their work? What do you think of the questions we asked, the answers they gave, or the work as a whole?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below, on social media, or on our Discord server today!

2CPhoenix on Social Media