Let’s Interview: Retro Gaming YouTube and Modder Snooplax!

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In the last few years, we’ve seen quite a few awesome gaming YouTubers take off on the platform. There’s VideoDojo, the Game Builder Garage expert who’s become the authority in that field. There’s ZXMany, who started off with Paper Mario mods and has become a general gaming channel on par with Boundary Break or Skip the Tutorial popularity wise.

And there’s the focus of today’s interview, Snooplax. Known for his awesome Mario 64 remake in Banjo-Kazooie and LPs of all manner of amazing N64 era ROM hacks, his channel has gone from strength to strength in recent times, having garnered up nearly 45K subs since the beginning.

It’s an impressive record, and one we’re really happy to see.

So in today’s interview, we’re gonna ask him about it all. From YouTube fame to video topics, ROM hacks to surveys, it’s all here.

Let’s get going!

Starting with a bit of personal info. Who are you? Who is Snooplax?

My actual name is Luke and I’m a dude that is fascinated by N64 and N64 rom hacks. I remember before I started youtube I was always trying to keep up with everything that was going on in the Nintendo 64 community. Whether it be every N64 related page on TCRF.net or every rom hack that was being developed.

And where did your username come from? What’s the logic there?

The name Snooplax is something I made up when picking a username for Pokemon Go. I downloaded Pokemon Go when it was in beta so I could get a good username. I originally wanted to get the username Snorlax because I thought it would be cool to have an official Pokemon as my username. Snorlax was taken so I was thinking of a name that was like Snorlax but was different. At the Time I was listening to a Snoop Dog album (Tha Blue Carpet Treatment). I thought of the name Snooplax as a combo of Snoop Dog and Snorlax. I really liked the name so I changed my youtube channel to that name. This was around Sept 2017.

Snorlax
Snorlax was the main inspiration for Snooplax’s name, since its original name was already taken in Pokemon GO

How did you get into gaming? What was your first game?

When I was around 5 my family had a NES. It had 3 games, Tmnt 3, Blaster Master and TaleSpin. I loved to Play TMNT 3, and I ended up getting Mario bros and Mario bros 3 also. I really wanted a N64 though because a lot of my friends had them. I saved up money when I was 7 and finally got a N64 from a garage sale for around $40. The Nintendo 64 was by far my favorite and I was so happy when I finally got one.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 Box Art
TMNT 3 was one of Snooplax’s first games growing up

What ones are you playing at the moment?

I just played through all the entries for the 2021 N64 gameJam made by the N64Brew community and had a lot of fun with those. I was playing through Breath of the Wild again on master mode but lost my save data on the Wii U because of a corrupted flash drive. Now if I play games that arent N64 rom hacks for youtube I mainly just play online chess.

N64brew Game Jam 2021

Regardless, it seems you’re very much into ROM hacks and mods, based on the amount you play on your channel. How did you discover those (and emulation in general)?

I remember finding channels like Kaze and Skelux and seeing the rom hacks that they made and being very intrigued by this whole concept. I would look at all the rom hacking forums to keep up to date with all the hacks that are coming out.

First ever mod/hack that you played?

The first mod I ever played was Super Mario 74 by lugmillord in around 2013. I think I only got around 50 stars but I was still very impressed that this was even possible.

Super Mario 74 Title Screen
Super Mario 74 was Snooplax’s first ROM hack

What’s your history when it comes to making mods? What was your first project?

The first mod that I made was a mod for Super Mario 64. I made it for me and my friends. It was just the original game with changed textures and text boxes that were inside jokes for me and my friends. I made sure it was console compatible and I put it on my everdrive 64 to try to blow my friends mind when we were hanging out with this special custom edition of Mario 64

One of your most well known hacks is a remake of Super Mario 64 in Banjo-Kazooie’s engine, which kinda caused your channel to take off too. What inspired you to make this?

I saw that the Banjo-Kazooie had this new tool called Banjo’s backpack that allowed for Banjo-Kazooie rom hacks. This tool was very impressive but not many people were making hacks for it. It seemed like everyone was still focused on Mario 64 so I thought it be a great opportunity to spend a lot of time making my first public hack and to learn how to 3D model / learn about game design.

Were there any interesting challenges when working on it?

I never used any modeling software before so I had to learn blender from scratch. I had a lot of trouble getting some of the models from Mario 64 also. Looking back the whole thing was a struggle but I learned so much from that project.

How about things you would have done differently if you’d been working on it nowadays?

Pretty much everything. If I were ever to come back to the project I would want to rework every level and area. I am much better at using modeling software now and from playing so many other rom hacks I feel like I learnt a lot that I could use to improve the hack.

Did you expect the mod to be so successful? Or to send your channel’s popularity skyrocketing?

I was hoping for the mod / video to be successful because at the time I put over 50 hours into it. I was surprised how successful the video ended up doing though.

Regardless, it seems like the Banjo-Kazooie community has come a long way since then, with folks like Mark Kurko working on all kinds of crazy hacks of the game. Are you pleased to see how far things have come?

YES! The Banjo-Kazooie community has been amazing! Mark Kurko has been doing a fantastic job with every hack he releases. Bynine and others are also putting out phenomenal hacks. I just played through “Cut-Throat Coast’ made by Retr0 and others in the Banjo-Kazooie community and it’s absolutely ludacris how far the hacking scene has come.

But it’s not just the Banjo-Kazooie community that’s come a long way, the ones for other games like Mario 64 and Smash Bros have too. Are you happy to see how much more advanced hacks of these games are now?

Yes definitely, the fact that Smash Remix exists is a dream come true for me. I honestly love having friends over and showing them Smash Remix on my everdrive just to blow their minds. The Mario 64 community is absolutely crazy. Kaze’s new hack Return to Yoshi’s Island looks amazing. The fact that it runs on an actual console and he is doing so much to optimize the Mario 64 engine is incredible.

Why do you think hacks are so much more advanced and professional seeming now? Things certainly seemed to have sped up in the last few years or so in that regard…

I think it has to do with the popularity the scene has been getting lately. The community used to be really niche but now you have people in the community like Kaze / Simpleflips that have over 100000 subscribers. A lot more people are joining the community and there are a lot higher incentives to make hacks than there once was.

Are there any hacks or mods you’re looking forward to playing?

Yes, so many the 2 that come to mind first though are Banjo-Kazooie Nostalgia 64 by Mark Kurko and Return to Yoshi’s Island 64 by Kaze.

Either way, onto YouTube now. What made you decide to start a channel?

I started my channel way back in 2007 when I was very young. I just watched a lot of videos and thought it would be cool to make my own. Nothing really note-worthy happened back then except I posted a video of myself playing the AVGN theme song on a xylophone that ended up getting into an episode of the AVGN.

And where did the topic idea come from?

I have always been a huge fan of the AVGN and I had a xylophone around my house and thought it make for a good video.

Did any other YouTubers inspire you there?

Yes, I watch a lot of YouTube. My main inspiration for how my channel is now would be AVGN, Kaze, Simpleflips and a ton of others.

How do you choose what videos to make anyway? With things like Mario Party softlocks being covered, you’ve got a knack for choosing interesting yet seemingly random topics for videos that we’d never expect to see…

I have a notes document on my phone whenever I think of something I put it down on my phone. I am always lurking on twitter and discord looking for interesting things. I often think of my best ideas when I’m doing work that isn’t computer related.

Are there any videos you’re especially proud of?

The 2 series I’m most proud of Are the Mario Party Softlock videos and the videos about the N64 Logo being wrong.
What about ones you’re not happy with? Or that you’d do differently now?

I’m not happy with a lot of my older videos just because of audio quality or other aspects. Any video from before 2018 I’m generally not happy with haha.

Interestingly, it seems your video format has evolved a lot over the years, with facecam becoming a thing in the later ones. What made you decide to use a facecam anyway?

I did my face reveal Jan 2019 for a 2000 subscribers Live stream. I decided to start doing facecam because I felt it would increase the quality of the videos.

Has it had an impact on the popularity of your videos or channel?

It’s hard to say but I think it definitely helps and makes the video more relatable / watchable.

Another recent trend on your channel has been survey videos, where you ask your fans what they think of every character, level or item in a game. Where did the idea for these come from?

I’ve always found statistics to be interesting. I thought I would give a video a try where I asked question about Mario 64. That video turned out good and I plan on doing many more survey related videos in the future.

Are there any results you find particularly surprising there?

The result that surprised me the most was in my DK64 survey where Fungi Forest ended up being the #1 Favorite level. I like Fungi Forest and everything I just never even considered that it could be #1.

What other games do you plan to survey your fans on? We hear there’s a lot of demand for a Super Smash Bros one…

Smash 64 is definitely the one I plan on doing next. I really want to do the Banjo-Kazooie games, Mario Party games & Conker’s bad Fur Day. I could honestly see myself doing over 20 videos on surveys in the near future so I should get to almost everyone’s suggestions eventually.

Super Smash Bros (N64) Box Art
Super Smash Bros for the N64 is the next game Snooplax will survey viewers about

Any other interesting videos you plan to work on? Like collabs with other creators, looks at softlocks in other Nintendo games, etc?

Honestly not really all the videos on my list right now are survey videos and videos playing through rom hacks.

Regardless, it’s impressive how far your channel and community have come, with the former having over 42K subs at the time of writing. Did you expect to do so well there?

No, I never expected this at all. I remember how happy / shocked I was when I hit 1000 subscribers. I think I got extremely lucky that N64 rom hacks exploded in popularity so much in the recent years.

Is YouTube your full time job now? If not, do you have any plans to make it as such?

Yes I am doing Youtube full time now. It is a lot less stressful now that I’m full time. I used to put 38 hours a week at my job then I’d put around 25 hours into youtube a week and still try to see friends twice a week. I barely slept back then. Now that I can just focus on youtube I have so much more spare time now.

Do you worry about YouTube’s future, given some of the questionable changes they’re making? What backup plans do you have if YouTube becomes unsustainable?

I honestly don’t really worry about youtube’s future even though they still make a lot of questionable decisions. I still work 1 day a week at my old job so if anything happens to youtube I can go back to my old job.

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

Have fun with it! Making videos can be fun and learning video editing can be a great skill to learn also. Go into it about something you’re passionate about and don’t expect much going into it

Agreed. It’s a cliche at this point, but passion is needed for success in any field. Whether its game development or YouTube, music or writing, success only comes if you have the passion and patience to succeed in the long term. It’s a marathon not a sprint, and the earlier you realise that, the better off you’ll be.

So find something you’re passionate about, learn to make videos and take your YouTube journey as it comes. You may not be successful immediately (or ever), but you’ll learn a ton of useful skills nonetheless.

Regardless, if you’re interested in checking out Snooplax’s videos for yourself check out his social media links below…

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Snooplax on Social Media