In the last few months, Mario challenge videos have seen an explosion of popularity. Starting as coinless runs of games like New Super Mario Bros Wii and Super Mario Galaxy, these videos have since diversified into all kinds of forms, with some of the challenges people have been setting themselves getting more and more ridiculous by the day. Want to see if Super Mario Odyssey can be beaten without walking?
Feel like Star Bits ruin Mario Galaxy 1 and 2?
Hell, there’s even one where someone tries to beat New Super Mario Bros U without ever heading right, in complete defiance of the very setup the game was built on.
It’s a genre that’s seen a huge explosion in popularity in recent times, and it’s in mostly in part thanks to three major YouTubers: Ceave Gaming, MayroSMM and Nicobbq.
So with the first two having already done interviews with Gaming Reinvented in the past, we thought it was only right to speak the latter as well. Time to see what Nicobbq has to say about list videos and challenges!
1. But before we get there, let’s start with a quick question about his personal background. Who are you Nico?
My name is Nico and I run the YouTube channel Nicobbq, which focuses primarily on Nintendo content.
2. How did you get into gaming?
When I was about 4 or 5 years old, my parents got me a Super Nintendo and I just loved playing Super Mario World and Donkey Kong Country.
3. What about Mario? What was the first Mario title you played?
It was Super Mario World. I got the Super Mario All Stars + Mario World cartridge for the SNES and I played all of the games all the time. But out of all the games included in the All Star cartridge, Super Mario World definitely was the one I spent the most time with.
4. Were you hooked by the series the minute you started playing, or it did it take
until a later title to really get interested in the series?
Since I was very young when I started playing, I don’t actually remember, but I’m pretty sure I was instantly hooked as I remember my parents having to limit the time I spent playing games growing up because I would want to play for hours upon hours.
5. Still, enough about the past for now. What about now? What games are you playing right now?
Funny enough, I am playing tons of different Mario games these past weeks. From Super Mario 3D World to the newest New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe.
6. Onto YouTube now. What inspired you to start a channel anyway?
I come from the French speaking part of Canada, so I don’t have a lot of opportunities to actually speak English with people around me and I wanted to improve my spoken English, so I decided to create a YouTube channel and thought it could actually help with that.
7. And what were your influences anyway? Did you take inspiration from any other popular gaming channels?
At the time, I used to watch Youtubers like The Angry Video Game Nerd, Jontron, PeanutButterGamer as well as a couple of Let’s Players like JoshJepson, AttackingTucans and ChuggaaConroy and it looked pretty fun to create YouTube videos about gaming, so I’d say these guys actually got me to try making videos.
8. What made you decide to talk about games?
Gaming is and always was my main hobby and the thing that I was the most interested in growing up. If I had to start sharing my experiences and talk about something, it had to be something I truly was passionate about, so gaming it was!
9. Or heck, Nintendo in particular?
I grew up in a Nintendo home, having consoles like the SNES and N64 and handhelds like the Gameboy Pocket and Gameboy Color, so I always experienced gaming with Nintendo’s hardware and software. I had friends that had the PSOne and PS2, but I always enjoyed Nintendo games more for some reason.
10. You’ve become quite well known for your list videos, with the likes of the ‘worst Mario bosses’ or ‘best Mario power ups’ lists getting rather popular overall. What got you making these types of list videos anyway?
When I first started doing YouTube videos, I decided to go with Let’s Plays. This was fun and all, but I felt like this didn’t push me to actually learn how to edit videos as I mostly just synced the audio and the video and called it a day. I decided I wanted to try something that involved a little more research and effort so I released my first Top 10 called “Top 10 KONGS!”. The video is now private and it’s so bad I don’t want anyone to actually see this, but as bad as it was, it made me enjoy ranking games and creating lists in a video-format. From this point on, I stopped doing Let’s Plays altogether on my main channel and started focussing on more creative videos.
11. What about challenge videos? What inspired you to do things like take on Mario games without collecting coins?
I’m not going to lie, I saw the “Is it possible to beat New Super Mario Bros. U Without Touching a coin” by Ceave Gaming and I thought it could be super fun to actually try this in one of my favourite Mario game of all time : Super Mario 3D World. The video was super fun to create and it was very well received, so I was pretty happy!
12. Were these types of challenges something you did a lot as a kid?
I do not recall doing any special challenges in Mario games as a kid. I used to play the games the intended boring way!
13. Let’s talk specifically about coinless now. Why is it so popular anyway? What’s so enticing about trying to complete a Mario game without collecting any money?
I’d say Ceave has a lot to do with how popular this type of challenge got as his video kept getting recommended by the YouTube algorithm and for good reason; it was a pretty good video.
When I tried to beat Super Mario 3D World without collecting a coin, I soon realized that it was a new way of playing a Mario game. I mean, when you play Mario, you don’t really think about it, you grab the coins, the power-ups and you jump on every enemies and the games are not very difficult. But when you try to avoid all of the coins, you realize that it actually makes the quest way more difficult. Those games really want you to collect coins as they put them everywhere!
14. Do you ever feel Nintendo seem to be trying to make that harder overall? Cause based on your Super Mario Bros 3 videos, it feels like Mario games used to contain a lot less coins in general…
I do not think Nintendo is actually trying to make it harder to complete their games without any coins, but they are actively trying to make their games more accessible and easier, thus, putting way more coins in the newer titles. I can definitely say that I have way more trouble doing this challenge with new games like New Super Mario Bros. U than I had with, let’s say, Super Mario World. I just think Nintendo is making newer games easier by adding more coins, thus making my quest more difficult.
15. Still, do you prefer doing your coinless runs for 2D Mario games or 3D Mario games? Both seem challenging in their own unique ways…
I’d say every Mario game has their unique challenges, whether it’s a 2D or a 3D Mario game. For example, you can jump on enemies without any fear in a game like Super Mario World, but do the same in Super Mario 3D World and you’ll receive a coin automatically. You can grab the end flag pole in New Super Mario Bros. U without any fear of collecting coins, but do the same in Super Mario 3 and if there’s an enemy on screen, it turns into a coin that you automatically collect. The rules change from game to game, so I’d say figuring out what gives you a coin in what doesn’t truly is the fun and challenging part of any run!
16. Moving away from coinless now, what other interesting challenges do you like seeing people attempt in Mario games?
I really like the many challenges that have appeared after the coinless videos got popular. For example, Mayro started completing games without touching left, and then people started trying them without touching right. The opportunities to create challenges are endless, and this is a great thing for the challenge community!
17. Any you’re planning to do in one of your own upcoming videos?
Right now, I have a (long) list of challenge videos I want to make, but my main focus still is the “Without a coin” series. But of course, I have ideas for other challenges and other non-Mario games!
18. Speaking of your own videos, have you ever tried a challenge that… didn’t work out for some reason? Perhaps to the point you didn’t finish the video?
Yes, it happened. I tried to complete Super Mario Land for the original Gameboy without touching a single coin, but I soon realized that I wasn’t possible. At one point, you have to grab so many coins in this game that I decided to just scrap the idea for now. I might come back to this game later down the line, but for now, the project is cancelled, even though I still have footage from my attempts.
19. And which of the challenges you’ve taken on did you find the most enjoyable and why?
Being the first challenge I ever attempted, Super Mario 3D World will always be special to me. I’ll always remember the feeling I got when I finally managed to complete World 2-Tank! I was filled with adrenaline and joy and it was the best feeling ever. But of course, the easier Super Mario World was also pretty enjoyable because I didn’t have to reset so much!
20. What about videos overall? Got any personal favourites on your channel?
I really like the Top 10 Mario Power-ups video I did a long time ago, it was really fun to make and I still think it’s a pretty solid list. I also enjoy the original “Mario is NOT A HERO” video I made, even though it kinda made a lot of people angry. To be fair, I only do these “NOT A HERO” videos for fun and I am aware they’re not solid game theories of anything. They’re joke/memes videos. But right now, my main focus and enjoyment definitely comes from the challenge videos, so you can except way more of those in the upcoming months.
21. How about ones you don’t agree with anymore? Any videos or lists you think are a bit disappointing now?
Well, my older videos definitely are not as polished as my newer videos, so I’d like to go back in time and actually improve those. And a lot of those do not include entries from games that were not released back then, so they definitely are not accurate anymore.
22. How do you think your channel has improved in the years since you started it? What lessons did you learn about making YouTube videos?
I started from zero. I do not have a background in video editing or anything related so I learned everything by myself. Obviously, that means my older videos are really lame compared to my newer ones and I privated a lot of those, because I think they’re just so bad!
I always create videos I want to create and I try not to care too much about “dislikes” or “negative comments” and I think this is the biggest lesson I learned from making videos. Just create what you want to create, you cannot please everyone. Some people will enjoy, other will hate and that’s the way it is. Just focus on what makes you happy.
23. Did you ever expect the channel to reach 338,000+ subscribers?
No. Not at all. I only started making videos to improve my spoken English and for fun. I never actually wanted nor intended to become “popular”.
24. What are your thoughts knowing your channel is one of the most popular Nintendo channels on the site?
It’s pretty cool but also really stressful. It feels like you actually HAVE to make people happy with your videos and you cannot create what you want anymore. But I have to stick with creating videos that makes me happy, even if making other types of videos could mean a faster and bigger growth down the line.
25. What other YouTube channels do you like watching?
I enjoy watching Nathaniel Bandy, Ceave Gaming, Mayro, PewDiePie, Linus Tech Tips, MrBeast, Kitchen Nightmare (Gordon Ramsay), videogamedunkey and countless more. I really watch a lot of different types of videos!
26. Any you consider underrated, or that really need more subscribers and views overall?
Well, MayroSMM is one of the original Youtubers making challenge videos, so obviously he needs to get that 100K plaque soon! I think “Skip the tutorial” also needs way more subs, he makes very cool challenges on non-Mario games!
27. Talking about YouTube, do you ever worry about the site’s future? It’s gotten harder to make money from videos recently, and things like content ID and claims seem to have gotten a tad out of hand…
I’m not really worried about the future of the website, because even if YouTube would start to fail, it would obviously be replaced by a newer and better alternative and every Youtuber would move there. But I do agree that the website has a lot of issues that need fixing, but I’m sure the YouTube crew is working hard to make it better.
28. So have you looked into any alternatives there? Like other video hosting services, Twitch, etc?
No. It doesn’t worry me right now.
29. What about Patreon for monetisation? You don’t seem to have one of those, unlike many YouTube channels I watch…
I have been contacted by the folks at Patreon many times to create one, but I decided not to. I am satisfied with what I make from the ad revenue and I don’t really feel the need to ask my viewers for additional money. I do know some viewers actually ask me how they can help, but watching my videos is the best way of supporting me. I did activate the “Join/Sponsor” button on my channel 2 months ago, but I don’t really advertise it. If viewers want to support me, they can, but I will never force them to.
30. Nearly done now. What other plans do you have for your channel in future? Anything original you’ve got in mind for a future video series?
I’m not a guy that plans too far in the future, so I do have a list of videos I want to make, but I don’t have any big plans for the year. I’ll just keep on creating what I feel like creating.
Well, I guess going to E3 is in my plans this year, so that’s something.
31. Finally, what advice would you give someone who wants to start up a popular YouTube channel, or maybe cover challenges in Nintendo games?
Do what you enjoy doing. Do it for fun, do it for you. If you just start a YouTube channel because you want to be rich like PewDiePie, this is a really bad reason to do it. Start making YouTube videos because you want to make YouTube videos, that’s it.
It’s a view we can help but agree with. As much as people have talked about it as a money earner, YouTube is a game of unknowns, and it’s very difficult to know exactly what’s going to work or where the next big channel will come from.
So if you’re interested in getting involved with it, don’t bet the farm on the channel. Don’t assume you’ll be successful, don’t treat it like a lottery ticket that’s sure to win you fame and fortune, and instead focus on what you like and can deliver better than anyone else.
That way, even if your channel doesn’t become the next PewDiePie, you’ll still have had fun running it none the less, and won’t be stuck panicking about YouTube ads aren’t paying for your mortgage.
Thanks for reading!