Let’s Interview: Miles from Mario Fan Games Galaxy!

Here on Gaming Reinvented, we’ve interviewed a fair few people from Mario Fan Games Galaxy. There was the one we did with Thunder Dragon back in 2015. Another with DJ Coco a bit earlier than that. And well, with almost every staffer from Guinea to VinnyVideo having done interviews here before, some may say we’re almost out of Mario fan game devs to interview!

But that’s today. Because as the title points out, we’ve managed to secure another interesting fan game developer interview! This time, with MFGG staffer and game developer Miles, who has previously created a contest winning game called The Purple Coin.

So sit down, make a cup of tea and get ready to hear what Miles has to say about his history with Mario fan games!

1. Starting with the usual personal background question. So you know the drill now. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What’s your story outside of fan game development?

I don’t find that there’s much to be said about myself; I’m a pretty uninteresting fellow outside of fangaming. I’m a stay-at-home person that helps my dad with his business for work. That’s pretty much it.

2. How about your video game history? What game got you interested in gaming anyway?

One could say that I started life with a Sega Genesis controller in my hand. At as young as age 3 I was playing games on that thing and loving them. The fun I had in my early years with the Sonic series and other classics such as Dynamite Headdy and The Lost Vikings (go play those immediately if you haven’t and can legally do so) got me more or less cemented into gaming. I’ve had stuff from most generations since.

3. And how did you get started in Mario fan games anyway?

My Mario fangaming journey actually sort of began with Sonic fangaming, since that’s where I first learned that I could make things of my own. Sonic Fan Games HQ introduced me to The Games Factory around 2003-2004, which introduced me to game logic. During a conversation on AIM with a fun fellow I’d met elsewhere, I was introduced to Game Maker with a game he was working on at the time.

Not too long later, I wound up at Mario Fan Games Galaxy, though how exactly I came across it is a mystery. By then I’d been doing a lot with both The Games Factory and Game Maker and was able to do a fair bit of what I wanted to with them. I didn’t really become very active at MFGG until many years later, though. In time, probably around 2009 or so, I found that Mario was significantly easier to do solo fangame work with than Sonic, so Mario more or less become my focus at that point.

4. Onto Super Battle Bros now. What gave you the idea to make a Mario fighting game?

In response to my previous fan game not quite working well, I started a new project with the aim to have a better engine. I had formed a huge AI obsession at around that point, so in order for me to scratch that figurative itch I put together a one-screen game where an AI Luigi fought a player Mario on a stage with a ground area and a solid floating platform in the center. The AI Luigi was able to run around the level and eventually reach Mario when there was no line-of-sight beforehand. It just grew into a fighting game from there. It was supposed to also have a story mode with it to be in line with the game I was trying to make before it, but that part of it never quite got anywhere.

5. What about the different art style mechanic? Having the style change to fit the arena is certainly a nifty idea…

I think it came from a small level of necessity. The NES stages I made didn’t work very well without this system, but I wanted them in one way or another. Only one stage used the SMB3 theme, which was rather unfortunate because someone kindly made a SMB3 sprite set for me for that purpose.

6. It also says the game lets you combine power ups and what not. What inspired this idea? Cause it’s quite rare in the Mario series, at least outside of Wario Land on the Virtual Boy…

Huh, I didn’t even know that an official game had done this until now. I don’t quite remember if I came up with the idea in my own head first or straight up took the idea from another game that did it before mine, but I do remember that it made sense to me from a fun perspective. I had made most of a game of the same name before this one that also had that feature, though it was a more adventure-focused game.

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Let’s Interview; DahrkDaiz

If you’ve been in the retro gaming scene for a while, you may have come across Mario Adventure. A massive hack of Super Mario Bros 3 with a ton of new technical additions and a full set of new levels, the game ended up becoming one of the most well known, highly regarded Mario ROM hacks in existence.

And so when it’s creator DahrkDaiz said he’d make a sequel, we knew we needed to get an interview about it. So here it is! Here is our exclusive interview with Mario Adventure creator DahrkDaiz!

1. Let’s start with a quick question about your personal life, shall we? So what’s your background here? Who are you outside of the ROM hacking community?

In my down time I’m a programmer for a house manufacturing company (the largest one in the US!) My family consists of my 5 year old daughter and my wife of 6.. 7… er 5 years? I don’t remember!

My real name is April and outside of rom hacking I like to go hiking, running and play DanceDanceRevolution.

2. And how did you get into video games anyway? Was Super Mario Bros 3 one of the first titles you played

At around the mature age of 4, I stumbled upon this weirdly coloured thing at my cousin’s house where a brown man was jumping over a jump rope made out of fire. They asked me if I wanted to jump the rope and handed me the controller. Of course, that game was Super Mario Bros. for the NES. I was so enthralled by this idea of a “videogame” that my dad went to a local flea market and came across an Atari 2600 with 50 games. He bought the set and brought that home. I immediately started ignore chores, back talk my parents and re-enact the scenes I had experienced in Galaga, Donkey Kong and Tanks!

3. What about ROM hacking? How did you get into modding Super Mario Bros 3?

So this one took several years. At some point in my life I ran across an article in a magazine called Electronic Gaming Monthly (or just EGM). I read this religiously, buying every issue and memorizing the prayers and sacrifices I needed to make in order to get the best games. I remember a tiny article talking about “Challenge Games”, a little online group that had somehow edited existing NES games and released them in new, more Challenging versions. It would be years before I got a computer, but once I did, I remember seeing that article and started to hunt for “Challenge Super Mario Bros. 3”. I eventually found it around the second semester of college. I immediately started to ignore homework, back talk my professors and re-enact the scenes I… er, never mind.

4. Mario Adventure stuff now. What inspired you to create that game? And why Mario Adventure as the name?

Ever since I first played Super Mario Bros. 3 at the age of 8, I wanted to make my own video game. It’s actually why I became a programmer in the first place! I even had grid paper at one point that I designed my own Super Mario World levels on. Though, playing them on paper was a bit more difficult and less fun.

5. Mario Adventure is also known for a fancy weather system that changes between levels. How did that come about?

Lol, I wouldn’t call it fancy. More like half-arsed. I actually originally thought the idea of a seasonal Mario game would be amazing, where every level was slightly different based on a season. That idea came from Click Clock Wood from Banjo Kazooie. This level had different areas accessible depending on the season. Well, I couldn’t exactly program a season in SMB3, but random weather seemed like the next best thing.

6. How about the whole Boom Boom at the end of each level thing? Why did you remove the traditional end roulette?

I simply liked the idea of having different Boom Boom fights. I wanted to see how many times I could change up the same boss fight.

7. The world themes are a tad more original here as well. How did those come about?

I love the traditional themes (fire, grass, water, etc) in games. Everything from Whomp ‘Em to Mega Man. So, of course I would come up with some themes that were similar, but center it around some sort of enemy habitat.

8. A few quality questions now. What levels are you most proud of in the game and why?

I honestly can’t remember most of the levels in the game. However, I loved the idea of Desert Dares though. I also liked the complexity some of the last levels in world 8.

9. How about your least favourites? Are there any levels you think could have been designed better?

Most definitely the ice level with the “Warkitu” (Lakitu that through Bob-ombs that exploded quickly). That level was just pure evil.

10. Either way, Mario Adventure has a reputation as being one of the best Mario 3 hacks ever made. How does that make you feel? Did you expect that so many people would love the game?

Shocked, to be honest. I’m surprised by how many people love the crazy challenge and haphazard ideas I came up with. Once I released it, I basically closed the door and moved on to other things. It was pointed out to me about a year later by a fellow rom hacker that my hack was getting noticed, a LOT.

11. So let’s move onto your later works now. What happened to Mario Adventure 2?

Hard drive wipe. Long story short, my brother wiped my hard drive with fresh OS install. I used file recovery programs to try to find it again, but all I could get was a 2 week old version. This version was missing a lot of key features, such as green coins, a new map system and a few new enemies. It was such a devastating loss that I could manage myself to continue working on it.

12. Regardless, it seems the Mario Adventure ‘brand’ has been retired recently, with Mario Adventure 3 renamed to Super Mario: Mushroom Mayhem. Why?

Mostly because I don’t want people to connect Mario Adventure with this. Sure, it has a lot of power behind the name, Mushroom Mayhem is a distant cousin of Mario Adventure. People will no doubt compare the two upon release, but I hope people see Mushroom Mayhem as a fantastic game, not just a rom hack.

13. Onto some game content questions now. Super Mario: Mushroom Mayhem has a ton of custom or customised enemies in it, with new Hammer Bros varieties, Lakitus and Chomps among them. How do you decide what new enemies to make for the game?

A lot of the ideas come from ideas I had for Mario Adventure that I lacked the skill to implement. Some came from the idea that SMB3 hadn’t really implemented the enemies to their fullest potential (such as the Chain Chomp). I also wanted to tap into the often forgotten enemies from Mario’s past (such as Freezies).

14. What about the day and night system? That’s… new for a Mario platformer. Where did that idea come from?

This was a direct rip off from Castlevania II, the first Castlevania I played. I loved that idea so much and I knew there were slight behaviour differences I could include myself depending on time of day.

Most people just assume that enemies are tougher at night, but not always. For example, during the day, a Goomba will move towards you once it falls from a platform. The idea is that their eyes aren’t so good, so in the dark they continue to march in the direction they were going, but in the day they can make out Mario enough to turn in the right direction.

15. An EXP system seems to be included here, and it changes Mario’s abilities. What made you decide to include this in game?

This comes from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The badge system comes from Paper Mario. I originally was going to make the game a gigantic level that you just traversed in one go, but the requirements in design for this type of game is immense and beyond my time.

16. Either way, it seems like there’s more of an ‘RPG’ feel to this title. Was that intentional?

A little bit. One of the things I wanted to avoid was making the game too hard, so I figured some of the RPG elements could make the game get progressively easier. All levels are designed without the need for any of the extra abilities. This way players can find the game get a little easier even if the design gets progressively more difficult.

17. So recently, it seems custom boss fights made their way into Super Mario Bros 3 hacks, with Super Mario Bros 3Mix having all custom battles rather than the default Koopaling ones. Are similar custom boss battles going to be a thing in Super Mario: Mushroom Mayhem?

Absolutely! Every world will have a custom boss battle. The first boss, Colossal Cheep, is already coded!

18. And what do you expect the world themes might be like here? I know the videos show grass, desert, snow and water levels. Are those all themes that’ll get worlds dedicated them?

The themes actually are a mix of several.

  • Grass/Water (Cheep Cheep Everglades)
  • Ice/Mountain/Forest (Piranha Forest)
  • Rock/Fire/Explosions (Bob-omb Quarry)
  • Water/Artillery/Tropical (Blooper Bay)
  • Sky/Castle (Chomp Castle)
  • Desert/Scary (Boo Desert)

This has created some very interesting level designs by mixing these elements together. Every world also contains a “one-off” level that doesn’t fit the theme (such as the rhythm level)

19. One thing which has been heavily customised since the original Mario Adventure is the graphics, with almost all of the levels in your hacks having fantastic looking original tilesets. Do you draw those all yourself?

Yep! I painstakingly do it all myself. The sprites don’t always get redone, but all new sprites I do have to do (including the new Mario sprites for the new power-ups)

20. On a related note, is custom music intended for this title? It wasn’t in the original Mario Adventure for the most part, but it seems to have gradually started making its way into Super Mario Bros 3 hacks recently…

The issue with custom music is that it almost always requires a new engine and the ability to, you know, write music. My ears are open to anyone out there they may be able to lend a few tunes…

21. Moving away from questions about the game content for now though, how did you decide where to promote the game? Because I’ve noticed most of the updates here seem to be on social media sites like Facebook and YouTube rather than forums or ROM hacking sites. Is this to get more people interested in ROM hacks?

There’s a lot of rom hacking forums. I originally tried to keep up with six different threads at one point. I tried Tumblr and I think another blog site. Facebook had everything I needed and it was easier to keep up to date considering I’m always on Facebook as it is.

22. What about Patreon? Have you considered using that to get support for the hack? Cause it’s been catching on a bit within the Mario 64 and Zelda ROM hacking scenes…

I had to look that up! I honestly don’t want to make any kind of money from this. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, I have a full time job as it is, so I’m not really hurting for cash. I’ve had others contact me about getting exclusive access to making physical copies first, which, I thought was super cool, but I really want every to get the entire game at the same time.

23. There have also been a few unfortunate cases of fan projects getting shut down by Nintendo recently, like AM2R and Pokemon Uranium. Are you worried that something similar could happen to Super Mario: Mushroom Mayhem?

A little, but honestly, if they were to come after me, I may just go quiet and have it “leak” later on.

24. On a more positive note however, have you ever considered hacking any games other than Super Mario Bros 3? You hacked Ms Pac Man before SMB 3, so have you considered modding any other games afterwards? Like Super Mario Bros 1/World/New Super Mario Bros/whatever?

I’ve actually done a few prototype hacks of Super Mario Bros 1 (look up Mario Seasons and Super Mario R), Mega Man 3 (Mega Man 3 Challenge) and Kid Icarus. Most of these never turned out to be full fledged releasable projects, but Super Mario R was finished. As for any other games? To be honest, I have a full time software development job and a kid, so free time comes at a premium.

25. Finally, what advice would you give people wanting to get started in ROM hacking, or game making in general?

First – dive right in! Do what you can with the existing tools out there at first. Once you want to expand, rather than just learn ASM or programming in general, try to think of simple things you want to do but break it down into much simpler problems. Take adding a brand new enemy to a game. That enemy requires drawing, integrated in the existing enemy engine, hit detection with the tiles, the player, and it needs to move. This seems like a lot of work, until you focus solely on getting a new enemy added to the enemy engine (value wise) and getting it on screen. This can be for programming one from scratch to rom hacking – you have to break the challenges down into smaller problems that you can build your way up.

So yeah, I think that wraps up everything up for now. I mean, we’ve gotta leave some secrets for the actual game here folks! People need to have an incentive to actually play Super Mario: Mushroom Mayhem instead of merely reading about it!

But hey, what do you think of the interview? Did you find DahrkDaiz’s answers about his ROM hacks interesting? Did any of them make you want to play his new ROM hack when it’s released?

Post your thoughts on the matter here in the comments or on social media today! And while you’re at it, follow DahrkDaiz on Facebook and YouTube today!

Let’s Interview; Eyes in Everything!

It’s interview time again on Gaming Reinvented! Yeah, it’s happening already. Bet you didn’t expect that so soon after Guru Larry’s interview did you?

Nah, nor did we. But the Eyes in Everything team had their answers ready a tad ahead of schedule, so we decided to hurry up the interview and get it posted as a result.

But hang on, what is Eyes in Everything?

Well, basically it’s the dev team behind a game called Psycutlery.

Which in turn is basically a spiritual successor to a beloved Mario fan game called Psycho Waluigi. Complete with Psycho Waluigi developer Thunder Dragon as the main dev.

Either way, here’s a trailer for Psycutlery, in case you don’t already know of it:

But hey, enough waffling for a minute! Let’s get on with the interview!

1. So let’s start with a simple company question. How did you guys meet for the first time? What made you want to set up Eyes in Everything?

LUKE: The two of us go back since, well, practically forever! Nearly 17 years is practically forever in internet years, uh, right? It was the year 2000 when I made public a little fangame site called “Bowser Technologies,” which soon led to our meeting.

As far as setting up Eyes in Everything goes, it was not formed as a team initially. I came up with the label as a sort of brand identity for myself. The label was to be applied to all my creative endeavors, from art to game development. Likewise, the game Psycutlery was meant to be a solo project. I could have easily done everything myself… except for two crucial elements: the music, and the marketing. I wasn’t nearly experienced enough in either field to pass a professional-grade project, so to speak.

Jon found me at a great time. He is a passionate musician, and is now researching indie game marketing. Perfect!

JON: Way back in 2000, I was known as Yoshiman. I had only made possibly 4 or 5 posts on the not-so-active forum until he switched it up to MFGG. At that time, I was just a lowly member while he was the big guy, top-notch administrator. Down the road, I worked on up to administrator, which I think helped acknowledge a more equal-level friendship than before. Eventually, I offered to make some songs for Psycho Waluigi, and then afterwards left the website for some time. I got wind on Twitter that he had finally broke away from creating fangames and begun an indie game. I wanted to create the whole soundtrack for Toadette Strikes Back (I still have two songs I was working on for it) before I left, so I felt it was my personal duty to offer it now for Psycutlery.

2. And hey, how about the name? Where did that come from?

LUKE: I fretted long and hard coming up with a brand label, and sketching out logos for many potential brand identities. Whatever I did, I just couldn’t come up with a decent name! When I looked back at some of the logos I scribbled out, I noticed one common trend amongst the lot of them: eyeballs. And then I looked back at some of my other random drawings. Eyes everywhere, and in everything! That was when it dawned on me. Eyes in Everything! It also carries something of a double meaning about finding eye-opening inspiration in, well, everything, which is a philosophy we seek to carry across our work.

3. Were you planning on making any other games before Psycutlery? Or is this your first ever idea for a game?

LUKE: I actually didn’t really have an “idea” to make Psycutlery. It was something that just… sort of happened! It began as an open-ended experiment that, by some series of contrived coincidences, ended up becoming something of an actual game. But to answer your question, since I don’t consider Psycutlery an idea so much as happenstance, yes, I did have other ideas for games. Two, to be precise: an underwater action-adventure, and an action-RPG platformer hybrid involving ghosts and necromancy. But considering both of those are considerably more complex ideas, it’s probably better to start off with a simple platformer, huh?

4. As we know, one of your team previously made a Mario fan game called Psycho Waluigi. So, how much did that inspire Psycutlery as a game? Because it definitely seems to have some similarities to the fan project…

JON: It was pretty much all Luke that made Psycho Waluigi, with some testing help, a few other’s sprites here and there, and MIDI to MP3 music for the songs not created by me. We’ve said on Twitter and many other places that Psycutlery is the spiritual successor to Psycho Waluigi, so it has many similarities.

LUKE: Originally, it had nothing to do with Psycho Waluigi. But remember how I said that Psycutlery was a thing that kind of just… happened? In its experimental stages, it was something of a straight-up Yoshi clone, albeit with original characters. However, having decided around the time that I wanted to distance myself from fangames forever, I didn’t want a character with an extendable tongue. So in a haste, I covered up all ties to Yoshi with a spork. A floating spork. That happened to be controlled with what appeared to be psychic powers. So, ironically, in my urge to distance myself from fangames, the project wound up playing awfully similar to one! Thankfully, it was one of the few fangames that had potential to pass as something original with a few audible and graphical swaps – so, hey, may as well act on that.

5. Why Psycutlery? Seems like a very weird name for a game about a character with psychic powers…

LUKE: But did you notice exactly what the character was controlling with said psychic powers? It’s a piece of cutlery, is it not? As for the pronunciation, think of it as something like “psychiatry” or “psychology,” only with tableware.

6. Heck, what’s with the kitchen utensil motifs anyway? Because everything from the logo to the end of level goals seem to involve forks…

LUKE: It’s a SPORK. It’s like a fork. But it’s also like spoon. It’s the jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none in the world of silverware! As such, sporks are inherently comical, so the idea of a game that places emphasis on one is bound to raise a few laughs. It’s all to set the decidedly bizarre tone of the game, and the wonderful absurdity of saving the galaxy with such an impractical eating utensil… there’s something of an underdog story there.

7. What about the graphics style? To me, it reminds me of a fair few GBA games (in a good way). Was that the generation you were inspired by?

JON: The Progressive Era – the first spork to be manufactured was available in 1890. Huge inspiration.

LUKE: Indeed! Actually, the original patent for the implement that would become known as the spork – Dr. Samuel W. Francis’s “runcible spoon” – was issued as far back as 1874. So one could say this is a graphical style over 140 years in the making!

Ehhhh, but seriously, there was no specific console generation that inspired the graphics. I was merely going for what one would call “simple pixel art,” for the sake of convenience and ease of animation. See, I have long been a traditional illustrator, so everything in both the digital realm and the realm of animation is something of a new experience to me (although I have previously dabbled lightly in both). One of the coolest things about game development is learning all sorts of new things, really! Like, you know, the history of the spork. Wild.

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Let’s Interview; Guru Larry!

Well, it’s interview time here on Gaming Reinvented! And this time, we have an even more interesting choice of interviewee. Namely, a YouTube creator and video game journalist with a fair bit of experience under the belt.

Yep, it’s Guru Larry! Aka Larry Bundy Jr from YouTube, or the guy that creates those awesome Fact Hunt videos every week or so! He’s a bit of an old hand at this media thing, being on TV as a presenter and having been part of Channel Awesome for a while, so there’s bound to be some good stories here too.

So let’s get to it shall we? Here is our exclusive interview with Guru Larry, starting with a quick question about his personal life…

1. Well, it’s become a bit of a cliché to ask this, but I’ll ask it anyway. What’s your personal background like outside of video games? Who are you as a person?

Well I’ve done quite a few jobs if that’s what you mean, from being a post-mortician, doing manga/anime art for various companies to playing Tangoman in several TV commercials in the ‘90s, so I’ve been all over the place, but currently I’m just some random asshole on the internet 😀

2. And how did you get interested in video games? Based on your videos over this year, I’m assuming it was somehow connected to the microcomputer era or something, right?

I’ve got two older brothers and one day when I was about 2, one of them, Colin bought an Atari VCS from WHSmith with his wages and I got addicted from that. We were too poor to buy games back then so we used to rent them from a local TV repair shop, so that lead to quite a large choice of games I wouldn’t normally have experienced. but I can remember having long matches of Combat with my brother Shaun and renting Frogger over and over, also I LOVED Pitfall II, played it with a wonky Quickshot joystick.

3. Still, what games did you enjoy back in your childhood? Any obscure classics few people remember now?

I was really into the Master System as a kid and loved the Alex Kidd and Wonder Boy games, but when the Mega Drive rolled around I was nabbing Japanese games just from looking at the artwork, most of them were a bit arse in all honesty, but I sometimes came across gems like Ringside Angel Etc.

I had an Amstrad CPC464 too, and that had loads of obscure budget games, in fact I keep re-experiencing them as distant memories, when I stumble across random screenshots of videos of them.

4. Heck, what games are you enjoying now? Were there any really enjoyable ones you started playing in 2016 or so?

2016 was rather anaemic for me in regards to actually playing games to be honest, I spent more time writing about then than playing, but I got some time playing the usual, OverWatch, Battlefield 1 Etc., but I’m really enjoying Let it Die right now, probably my fave game of the year and it was free, who’d have thunk? 😀

5. Onto video making now. How did you get started there? What was the first gaming video you ever created?

It started when Wez and I left Game Network, we came up with an idea where we would do video reviews for mobile phones, which pretty much didn’t exist back then, which could be viewed by scanning the bar code or a QR code on the game box, we pitched it to GAME (which I ended up doing something similar with their sister site Gameplay.co.uk) but a mobile phone company was super keen on the idea, but stood us up for meetings twice (one in a restaurant that sole £10 burger, always remember that :D) But we gave up and stuck what we had made onto this new site called YouTube and it carried on from there!

First actual video though? It was either a video of Wez laughing while playing FEAR or a review of Shadow of the Colossus. It’s so long ago.

6. How about ScrewAttack Europe? What was that all about?

That was really from ScrewAttack branching out and wanting some UK/European stuff on their site, Wez really got us that gig by doing a video on the UK midnight launch of the Nintendo Wii, but Stuttering Craig suggesting we make videos on European only games is really what got us noticed with Games Yanks Can’t Wank, Even though Craig didn’t know what “wank” meant 😀

7. And for that matter, how did you originally meet Wez and decide to make videos together?

It was Game Network again 😀 They were looking for more presenters as they wanted to expand the show and Wez and Janice (Wez’s now wife) auditioned, (Wez thought she had a better chance of getting the job) she did, mainly as the producer fancied her! but her first day no one wanted to help her set up, so I volunteered, and at the end of the Skype chat Wez came on and thanked me, so we became friends there, mostly playing Halo 2, and I got him a job at Game Network a few months later.

But we decided to do videos together to hopefully get a job back on TV again (which we eventually did with Xleague), But YouTube was long out of our minds then. Hell, GameVideos.com was the hip place to put up gaming videos back then.

8. So what made you decide to move on from that anyway?

We were let go ultimately, not because we did anything bad, The bosses were awesome and Game Network was really successful, the company saw Psychic Interactive as more profitable media than video games, so took us off so they had more air space for that. We left on great terms and we’re still good friends with everyone there!

9. You also seem to be on Channel Awesome. How did that come about anyway?

Ha, that was down to ScrewAttack giving us a hard time back then, and a lot of ScrewAttack’s rather disgruntled ex-staff now working there to, so put in a good word for us with Channel Awesome’s owners, and with the rivalry between the two sites, they were more than happy to pick us up for some strange reason XD

10. Heck, what’s it like being a creator there? How does the ‘business’ side of things work over on Channel Awesome?

It’s alright, I book videos to go up on their site and that’s about it really, they don’t really bother with me too much. I chat with a couple of their other contributors every so often, but that’s about it.

11. You’ve also been on a fair few TV shows about games in the past. So what was that like? Was it fun being involved with Game Network or XLeague.tv?

It was great fun doing television, It’s quite exhausting as there’s often super tight deadlines, also the pay isn’t great, but it is nice seeing your stuff on the box. Not so much when they’ve repeated it for the 100th time that day.

12. You’ve also been doing a fair few collaborations with Slopes Game Room recently. How did that come about?

He messaged me on Twitter one day asking to watch his videos and noticed one of his was a history on the Roland games, which was something I wanted to do for years. So, we got talking from there. Actually, he stopped talking to me for about six months so he could have his first child, the selfish bastard!!! XD Dan’s an absolutely amazing editor, who is also incredibly quick, so when I was ill in the summer I asked him to edit some of my videos, I also posted up a couple of his to help fill in my rather large gaps and my fanbase really took to him.

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Let’s Interview: Top Hat Gaming Man

It’s been a while since we’ve posted an interview, hasn’t it? After all, the previous one (with Slopes Game Room) was back in late November. What happened?

Well, personal life and stress happened I guess. But that’s all irrelevant now, since we’ve now got another interview with a popular YouTuber! This time, the ever so British gaming wrestler Top Hat Gaming Man!

Yeah, you heard that last bit right. In addition to touring the world and making video game videos, he’s also been involved as in pro wrestling under the name Rich Parliament! It’s… quite an interesting backstory really, and very different to that of other internet game critics I’ve seen online.

But hey, enough of that for now. Let’s begin the interview!

1. Namely, with the standard personal background question these things always have. Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?

Well my name is Richard, I am 30 years old and hail from London England. I own copious amounts of video games in which I have been collecting for many years. I am currently enjoying the finer things in life which consists of drinking fine wines, travelling the globe, all whilst playing some of the finest handheld games history has to offer. I document my bizarre life through my YouTube channel known as ‘Top Hat Gaming Man’.

2. And for that matter, how did you get interested in video games? What was the first game you ever played?

I was born into it, moulded by it, whilst many may not have ever played a game until they was already a man. It is hard for me to pin point my first game as I have literally been playing them for as long as I can remember. I have memories of my Father taking me to play the Arcades on holiday in the Mediterranean on holidays in the likes of Spain and Greece, whilst I also remember playing them in the local pubs in London on Sunday afternoons. From the moment I was born there was also an Amstrad CPC464 in my house hold, so I use to play with that a lot at home too.

3. Onto a bit of a personal question now. What’s the whole deal with your wrestling career? Cause from what I see, it seems your YouTube character is based on your wrestling alias in some sense…

Ah Yes, my ring name is Richard Parliament. I am well known for being the UKs only wrestling politician. I competed up and down my fine country for nearly a decade. Whilst many may not necessarily agree with some of my practices in the ring, there is nothing better than giving an uncouth ruffian, a bloody good thrashing! I have competed for the likes of TNA, don’t you know!

4. And where did the ‘archetypical’ British gentleman theme come from? It’s carried through into your gaming video persona as well…

You see here in England in my opinion there is nothing more important than keeping up appearances young man. If you can dress the part, can talk the part, you will be the part.

5. It also seems you’ve been wrestling less and less recently. Do you have any intentions to return to that field?

If you was to follow British Wrestling, you would have seen that my key agenda was to use it as a political platform to help get Britain removed from the European Union. After many years of campaigning, the moment I achieved my goal, I felt it was time for my own Brexit. Ever since the referendum back in July, I have been travelling around the globe enjoying a well earned break.

However in the short five months I have been gone the entire British Wrestling landscape has been changing. You see now the country has its sovereignty returning, British Wrestling is about to have the biggest boom period since the 1980s.

Indy Promotions are now drawing huge gates and a YouTube promotion known as What Culture Wrestling is now drawing huge houses and getting big views on Youtube. Now combined with all of this on New years day World of Sport Wrestling is returning to ITV, which is forecast by some to receive viewing figures seven times higher than Raw will get in the United Kingdom.

With all of this going on WWE have noticed how lucrative our current market is and are launching their own exclusively British Promotion WWE:UK. A great wrestling war is upon and it will be interesting to watch them all fire shots at each other from afar. As for myself, I will wrestle full time again, as and when I am ready. Lets see who is still standing at the end of this. Then I will choose which of these promotions to sign for….Yeaaaahhhhhh!!!!!!!

6. Finally on that note, do any of your fans from your wrestling days also watch your gaming videos?

There has recently been some cross over as I have now started marketing my channel on Facebook. However I am sure to garner more cross over appeal soon as I am set to release a video about exclusive British Wrestling games over on a much bigger channel than the one I operate.

7. Onto gaming stuff and YouTube now. What inspired you to start a YouTube channel?

This is quite a tough question as there are so many factors that lead me to doing this. Firstly I have always been into gaming and always been into production since I was very young. I even studied video production in college when I was a teenager. Back then things were much more difficult, we use to edit on mixer boards and use computers with very limited space. It was always fun creating content back then, but there were no platforms to show it off on like the likes of YouTube today and it was a laborious task even managing to make anything with the more limited technology. Today I feel anyone can make content, now that computers are so powerful and that editing is so bloody easy. There are so many online tutorial videos about, that everything is easy and accessible.

I was a big fan of a lot of YouTube gaming channels, however as much as I was a fan. I noticed there was a massive hole within the YouTube retro gaming community. There were not enough strong characters and instead the scene filled with prototypical nerds, mostly American, on the whole, all talking about the same sort of stuff. After watching a lot of creators, the whole thing all sort of started to look rather sycophantic to me and I just began seeing the same opinion and information regurgitated time and time again.

So I started a YouTube channel to try and bring something new to the table, whilst at the same time I think I just wanted to flex my production skills for the first time in a long time.
On top of all of this, YouTube has given me something productive to do, whilst I have been away from the wrestling ring.

8. And why the whole ‘travel round the world’ aspect? It’s certainly a unique idea to record video game reviews in every country you travel to…

I am 30 years old, I realised I wasn’t getting any younger and there were still things I wanted to do in which I was yet to achieve. So I put the necessary things in motion to allow me to quit working for a year and pursue more leisurely goals. I do not feel anyone lies on there deathbed then looks back and thinks to themselves ‘you know what, I really wish I spent more time at work’. I want to lay on that death bed and think ‘what a ride that was’.

9. So on your journeys, what are the best new games you’ve been buying/playing? Have you reviewed them yet?

I’ve played so many games on this journey many of which I have talked about on my channel, so a tough question to answer. I did play through both the Yokai Watch Games which were great fun, I have yet to talk about those on my channel, however I am sure I will.

10. How about the worst? Any you bought recently that you regret paying for?

I do not buy a great deal of brand new games, so I cannot regret buying any games really as on older stuff it is hard to lose any value on a purchase anyway. I got Mario Maker 3DS the other day, I couldn’t bring myself to play that for more than 15 minutes for some reason. So Mario Maker?

11. Generally, you seem to stick to older games more often that not. Are there any current generations you’re enjoying at the moment?

The 3DS has seen a fantastic life over the last few years, I think the library for that thing could be as good as that for any handheld system previously and to be honest I have found myself enjoying more games on that over the likes of the PS4, Xbox One and Wii U.

12. How about in the future? You’ve made a video about the Nintendo Switch and what not. Are there any games for those consoles you’re really excited for?

Indeed the obvious ones really. Zelda, another 3D Mario and most exciting of all the almost guaranteed first ever big screen full Pokemon game down the line.

13. With the recent comments about the NES Classic and ‘fake’ nostalgia, you seem to believe that the US ‘canon’ has basically taken over the gaming world. So, have you considered making a few more reviews for classic games not released in the US to counter this? Like the ones you might find on the ZX Spectrum?

You have read my mind, now I am back in the UK for a short break, that is going to be the main theme of the channel for a few weeks, at least until I resume my travels. I will reveal to you now the name of my next big video is ‘Why the NES Flopped in Europe’. It will tell our side of the story from that era.

14. Let’s talk YouTube in general now. Which of your videos are you most proud of so far?

I like my one about Xenoblade Chronicles, I just love that game so bloody much and I felt Bryce Canyon in Utah was the perfect back drop for it as it looks like the landscape from the game itself. I had a lot of fun making that one.

15. How about the other end of the spectrum? Any reviews you don’t feel too proud of? Or even games you just couldn’t make an interesting video about?

I hate my Bootleg Pokemon Go Cards Video. It was meant to be pointless filler and after I made it, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to upload it or not. I just showed off some crap trading cards I found and for some bloody reason it is my most watched video! 13,000 views and counting. It just shows the mentality of most people on YouTube if they want to watch crap like that. The whole thing makes me feel sad about humanity and how low brow there taste must be compared to mine.

16. What about other people’s channels? What other YouTube channels do you follow or think make interesting videos? Why?

There are loads of Americans ones but everyone hears about them all the time, so I will talk to you about some of the British Channels I like. Check out Slopes Game Room, a fantastic channel in which makes documentary style videos about entire game franchises. Guru Larry, who covers videos about more obscure game facts, and Kim Justice a channel which has a big focus on the old micro computers. All these channels are great viewing as they do not feature the old youtube regurgitation problem too much.

17. A quick YouTube business question now. How have you monetised your channel? And is the pay now good enough to live on? Because I remember watching a video where you said that you spent a lot of your life savings on traveling and filming costs…

To monetise a YouTube channel you simply click the monetisation button. In terms of earnings I have had a positive start. I have only been on YouTube 10 months thus far and to already be earning anything at this stage is a miracle in itself. It is a long road ahead yet, but its a start.

18. And have you considered any other ways of monetising your videos? Like say, in case YouTube encounters any issues?

Sure, I have some donations coming in thus far from my Patrons over on Patreon. The help and encouragement they are giving me to build the channel is very humbling.

19. How about other video platforms? I know a few (like Slopes Game Room and the Lonely Goomba) are considering VidMe at one point… so have you considered anything like that?

If I get some free time, I may dabble with it. It is always worth experimenting.

20. Either way, your channel is getting surprisingly popular now. Did you expect it to? What are your hopes for the channel in 2017?

It is hard to say, I would say I never ‘expect’ to achieve anything, however no matter what I do I try to work hard to get results. I am trying to fill a niche, however it is a case of whether I can successfully combat the YouTube algorithm and be able to fully do so. In 2017 I would just like to continue to grow my channel. I have a few collaborations lined up with various YouTubers who are much bigger names than myself, so hopefully that should give me some decent exposure too.

21. Finally, if someone is interested in starting their own YouTube gaming channel, what advice would you give them?

It depends on the reasons why they want to start a gaming channel, however to be successful the overall arching themes appears to be consistency, quality content, regular uploads, decent thumbnails and making your videos a decent length whilst at the same time trying to keep the audience engaged.

And that wraps up another interview! Did you learn anything interesting here? Do you want to see more of Top Hat Gaming Man’s work (gaming related or otherwise)? If so, check out his channel on YouTube and follow him on Twitter today!