All Geek To Me

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Archive for the tag “Mario”

ALL GEEK TO ME’S CELEBRATION OF MARIO

By @hmsbeefnuts

Oh Mario, you have been around seemingly all my life, providing some of the greatest games known to man, inventing numerous genres and sub-genres and killing literally thousands of turtles and mushrooms by jumping on their heads. I love Mario, I love Mario games, and it occurred to me that I haven’t really written a great deal on plumbing in general, and Italian Plumbers specifically. Now it must be said, in recent times I haven’t kept up with the adventures of Mario. I don’t own a 3DS, although I really want one, and thanks to the fact I fell out of love with the Wii, the last Mario game I played was New Super Mario Bros, which I absolutely loved. Time then to write a little something something about Mario, and what better way than a Top 5 Mario games? Before we start, how about we step back in time with a look at the intro to the Mario cartoon, good times…

SUPER MARIO BROS

Not the first Mario game, Donkey Kong and Mario Bros had come before, but this was the game that revolutionised platforming as we knew it. A magical world, of pipes, killer mushrooms, turtles, toadstool people, a beautiful Princess, and dangerous fire breathing monsters, and of course, a portly Italian Plumber called Mario Mario. Created by the great Shigeru Miyamoto, Super Mario Bros is a stone cold classic and is the first game I played on a Nintendo Console, and put every game I had thus played in the shade.

Jumping, running, smashing turtles heads in with your feet, or burning mushrooms to death with the fire flower power up, Mario is fun for all ages, and is still fun, the first, or thousandth time you play. Do you know where the warp pipes were? Where the secret extra life was in the World 1-1? Then there was the music, what amazingly catchy tunes, it is no surprise my message and email tones on my phone are all Mario sounds. This game established Nintendo as place where dreams and adventures could come true, in your living room or bedroom, and you could play them, and it was awesome. Save the Princess, win the day, oh what’s that? Your Princess is in another castle? Good, more levels to explore and turtles to smash.

SUPER MARIO BROS 3

The first Mario was genius. Read about it above, but what started as a fine idea, and a fine game, was perfected in this sequel. Super Mario 2 was a bit of a departure for the series, as it was based on a game called Doki Doki Panic with altered sprites. SMB3 was a return to form and a game so bursting with ideas I can barely conceive of a way they managed to cram it all on to the humble NES. For the first time, Mario was able to fly, unaided by transport, by use of a leaf, which obviously turned Mario into a part plumber, part raccoon hybrid, that could obviously fly by running fast and wagging his tail, perfectly sensible.

The fire flowers and mushrooms were back, but now we had frog suits, that made swimming a breeze, or the hammer suit, that turned Mario into a hammer throwing maniac, dealing death to all enemies that dared defy him. Also, Mario could ride around in a gigantic green clockwork boot, mental, but in a way that was genius, like Batman. This game was simply the best thing on the NES, and that is saying something. It defined Mario as the leader and innovator for all video games, and proved that blue hedgehogs absolutely suck, no matte how fast they can go. The finest 8-bit platformer there will ever be, and one of the finest games committed to cartridge, you must play it.

SUPER MARIO WORLD

With the dawn of a new console generation, a new era of Mario began. How could Nintendo top the amazing success and quality of SMB3? Well, make everything bigger and better, with better graphics and sound, with more power ups, secrets and surprises, and one more thing… you can ride a bloody dinosaur, that can eat all enemies. Yoshi was a stroke of genius. The sexually ambiguous green dinosaur was a whole host of fun, gulping enemies, spitting fireballs, or even growing wings like some sort of lizardy pegasus.

Bowser was back, and once again had taken Peach, and that son of a bitch was going down, if it was the last thing Mario did. The game was a whole lot bigger and better, with genius level design, fiendish secrets and a map world that was almost as fun as the actual levels. The power ups were down significantly in this game, however, al the favourites reappear. Leaves are out, feathers are in, and this time, Mario has a cape, like Superman, but yellow. SMW is one of the best games ever made, and is as fun to play now as it was back in the day.

SUPER MARIO KART

Mario has appeared in countless different genres in his time, but this game was the one that convinced me that he could do far more than just murder mushrooms mercilessly. Mario Kart on the SNES is one of the greatest multi-player games ever made. Countless hours, and days, and probably weeks have been spent playing Battle Mode, or trying to beat a time trial time, or racing the Grand Prix a few hundred times. This game brought the good guys and bad guys together for a few races around the mushroom kingdom, or a friendly game of battle mode.

A great racing game, with great power ups, who hasn’t thrilled to a brilliant bank shot from a green shell? Or a last second shot from a red homing shell, separating first and second? Tactical and fun, Mario Kart is a great way to pass an afternoon, or a morning, or all night. There have been other iterations, but this is perhaps the purest and as the first, it deserves its place in the annuls of history.

SUPER MARIO 64

I simply could not believe that Nintendo was going to allow me to play as Mario in a 3D environment. Until I played it. Then I couldn’t believe how amazing the game was. This is in my top 10 games of all time, no doubt. Everything that made Mario games so awesome and magical in 2D, was transferred perfectly into 3D worlds that, although a bit blocky now, were amazing back then. From the first few minutes running around Peaches’ Castle, to the last epic showdown with Bowser, this game was one of the most fun games out there.

I still enjoy a little run around every now and then through my favourite worlds, shell surfing, cannon firing, riding on the back of gigantic plesiosaurs, this game has a little something for everyone. Still, in my view, the greatest 3D platformer ever, you must play this game.

So there we are, 5 of my most favourite Mario games, that everyone should have a go at, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Geek Olympics: Round 2: Events of an Aquatic Nature

By @hmsbeefnuts

 

It was with some trepidation that I decided to start writing a second Geek Olympics article, for the first one was a bit of a marathon in its own right. However, I thought a more slimmed down version would a) not be so arduous to write, and b) be a hell of a lot easier to read. As such then, I will present a few events per article, and not go into such details, because as with sport, the only real information anyone needs is the result. On with the sports.

 

FISHING

 

I don’t know if fishing is a sport or not, seems really boring to me, but then, that’s how I feel about most sports, so I guess it could be. It is included here as an added event to an aquatic themed round of our Geek Olympics. The field of competition is quite sparse for this event as there are only 3 competitors, Bubba, from Forrest Gump, Quint, from JAWS, and Link from The Legend of Zelda series. As this is an exciting event, the fish species chosen for the fishing is Megaladon, an ancient and gigantic species of Great White Shark.

This obviously puts Link and Bubba at an extreme disadvantage, and Bubba is almost instantly killed by the great monster. Link lasts a little longer, in part thanks to his skilled use of a hook-shot and boomerang, but in the end, experience and obsession wins the day. Quint sticks seventeen barrels in the leviathan and starts to tow the beast in, the taxidermy man is going to have a heart attack when he sees what Quint brought him. Gold Medal Winner Quint. Link lives to fight another day. Bubba is buried at sea. On to the next event!!

 

SAILING

 

My games, my rules, and this means that any competitor who has previously died, can come back to life (from the use of Ras Al Ghul’s Lazarus Pits or something). Thus in the sailing, Cpt. Jack Sparrow is back, alongside Link, Argus (the Argonaut), and The Dread Pirate Roberts. The sailing takes place on a course filled with shrieking eels, sea monsters, and of course, the mighty Kraken. Sails are set, and a mighty conch shell is sounded, it’s time to race! The Black Pearl, The Argo, The King of Red Lions and The Revenge take it in turns to trade the lead back and forth. Link, once again at a disadvantage due to his smaller boat, gets taken out early by a swarm of shrieking eels, better luck next time little guy. The Black Pearl and The Revenge take a strong lead, due mainly to the fact they have more sails than The Argo, however, the race is not done yet.

 

As they reach the half way point, The Argo is suddenly lifted into the air by mighty hands, it seems Posiedon has taken pity on the crew of the Argo, and sweeping both The Pearl and The Revenge away with his other hand, he places The Argo firmly in the lead. With a mighty blow of wind, The Argo crosses the finish line first, The Pearl, a close second is hampered by some Kraken trouble, Whilst The Revenge cuts its losses and makes it’s way back to Florin for repairs. Gold Medal Winner, The Argo!!! NEXT!!

 

SWIMMING

The big one, in aquatic terms anyway.  A straight up freestyle swimming race in a standard Olympic pool, nothing fancy here, except the competitors of course. The line up looks spectacular, Aquaman, Namor The Submariner, Tarzan, Merman (from He-Man), Super Mario, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Excitement is at a fever pitch as the race is about to begin, that is until Aquaman and Namor have a bit of a disagreement about who is the real King of Atlantis. A fist fight breaks out, Green Lantern Corps security is called in, and both are disqualified. This leaves the field, or pool, very much open.

The race starts and the remaining competitors leap into the water. Creature and Merman take an early lead with Tarzan in third and portly Mario bringing up the rear. That is, and perhaps unsurprisingly by the way all these other races etc. have gone, Mario, in last place does something that we can not condone here at All Geek To Me. Mario reaches into his pocket, pulls out a power star, and the rest, as they say, is history. He speeds to the front, flashing all the way, and wins easily. Gold Medal Winner Mario!! In the drug testing afterwards however, Mario is disqualified as his urine is found to have copious amounts of illegal mushrooms in it. When added to the Star Man, it is clear that Mario is a dirty drug cheat. Stripped of the title, the Gold Medal goes to second place The Creature From The Black Lagoon. It is a dark day for the Geek Olympics…

 

On that note, this round comes to a close, see you next time sports fans.

WEDNESDAY WHIMSY

By @hmsbeefnuts

 

Welcome to another weekly dose of whimsy, prescribed every Wednesday by yours truly. This week, I shall only deliver a small dose, as I am rather busy with work commitments. But we shall see how far we get. This week has been a sad one for the Geek community as a whole, and the Batman Geek community in particular. I refuse to give any publicity to anyone who commits an atrocity such as the one that happened last Friday, and it sickens me that the news agencies are seeking to exaggerate matters by referring to this sick individual as ‘The Batman Killer’ or ‘The Joker’. Please refrain from using such phrases, it only adds to this guys infamy.

There was of course very happy news in the world of Batman too. The Dark Knight Rises is a fantastic end to Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. I will not review it here, at least not in any detail, until a few more people get to see it. I know Geeky Gem has yet to watch it, as soon as she does, I will write up some more detailed thoughts. I’m happy to say I thought it was fantastic, all the cast were amazing, the storyline was strong, and thankfully I avoided spoilers, which I urge you to do, as at times I was on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next. A very satisfying end to a very satisfying trilogy. I do not envy the guy who has to reboot the Bat now, but I am looking forward to the results. My vote would be to go for a less realistic universe, one in which Superman, Green Lantern, Flash and Wonder Woman can co-exist with Batman, because I want a Justice League Movie.

The Olympics starts on Friday, and to be honest I couldn’t give less of a shit. However, look out for a special series of Geek Olympics that we will be featuring on All Geek To Me, as soon as I can find the time to write them. Time is becoming a real problem at the moment and I am struggling to fit everything in. I had to quit my regular Sunday article at GameNTrain.com due to time constraints, a shame, as I did enjoy writing solely about video games, even if I was having trouble thinking of stuff to write about. I honestly considered The Top 5 Shoes in Gaming. Yeah, I was scraping the barrel. I would like to say thanks to everyone for giving me the opportunity over at GameNTrain, and Eric in particular. Always helpful, always supportive, good people.

I am currently reading Batman : No Man’s Land, which I am enjoying very much, I really need to make a dent in my comics pile, it is getting stupidly huge. I am also still reading Hunting The American Werewolf by Linda S. Godfrey, and yes I have been reading it for far too long. Once again, time is a factor here.

Games wise, I have been having a go at playing Lego Batman 2, and although I enjoy it in parts, it shares the problems that all the Lego games do, i.e., it has an awful camera system, it is very frustrating, and at times down right unfathomable, there are parts that are so obtuse as to be ridiculous. It is all made worthwhile however, by the fact that when you play as Superman, the John Williams theme plays when you fly, and you can shoot down baddies with your laser eyes!!

August is almost here, and we seem to have hit a bit of a movie low point. Most of the big action blockbusters are already out, and there seems like there is nothing really spectacular out  until The Hobbit in December. Of course, I will always find something to watch, practically every week, but all but one of the films I was really looking forward too this year have come out, roll on December.

Well that’s going to have to be it for one week, I have work to do.

Unsung Geek Heroes

By Hmsbeefnuts

Now we all know who Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson and James Cameron are. Likewise, we have all heard of Christian Bale, Harrison Ford and Jason Statham. Over the years, these people have provided us geeks with hundreds of hours of quality geek entertainment, and as a result, they are rightly rewarded with being known by the general populace, and of course, huge pay cheques. However, the films they are in are usually special effect extravaganzas, or based on characters that have a long standing in the geek community.

 In many cases, the thing you most like about a film etc, has been the work of a team of people who have worked for months and years on making the film/game look as good as it does, or working on the character, or even acting in the film, but being under heavy make up or CGI. Here I will discuss my personal unsung heroes, and even as I do so, I realise that thousands of people are being left out, so next time you enjoy a film etc., stay for the credits, and look at how many people were involved in making that film, game, or TV show.

Shigeru Miyamoto

 

If I told you that one man practically saved video games at a time when people thought they would be a passing fad, and helped turn them in to a world wide phenomenon that makes more money per year than Hollywood, you would be confused that most people don’t know his name. The fact that this man invented Mario, a character more well known globally than Mickey Mouse, but not only Mario, but The Legend of Zelda, and had a hand in Metroid, Poke’mon, Star Fox, Pikmin, Pilot Wings, F-Zero, Donkey Kong and a hundred more, is testament both to his creative talent, and the shame that the world should bare for not erecting a colossal statue to the man. Miyamoto is the dictionary definition of legend. He has given more children more hours of fun than any man on this planet, and lets be honest, more than a few adults too.

 

The Super Mario games alone would be enough to secure this man legendary status, but when added to his other accomplishments, especially The Legend of Zelda, have produced what many people agree are the greatest video games ever created. My personal favourite of his games include, The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, Super Mario Brothers, Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, Super Mario World, and Star Fox 64, (Lylat Wars in the UK). The figure head of Nintendo, every time Miyamato appears at a press conference or trade show fun and hijinks are sure to follow. Please people, remember the name, he may not have had anything physical to do with Call of Duty or Halo, but in his own way, it is because of the trail blazing role he played as the creator of the modern video game, that video games were such a large part of all our childhoods. I challenge you not to smile whilst playing Mario or Zelda, or when beating a friend at Mario Kart Battle Mode.

Jack Pierce

 

Universal Horror make up master, and creator of the iconic looks of many of our beloved movie monsters. Ask a child to describe Frankenstein, Dracula or the wolfman, and inevitably they will describe a creature incredibly similar to Jack Pierces’ work. This guy is such a legend that other people on this list think he is legend, yeah he’s that good. Working in the early days of film, Pierce had to use all his gifts to create these wonderful effects. The Wolfman for example must have taken hours each day to apply to actor Lon Chaney Jnr. Each yack hair glued individually and painstakingly to the actors face, it’s no wonder that the two argued frequently.

 

The Frankenstein monster make up is now the established look of the monster, in reality an eerie green, in black and white, the fearsome creature, with it’s scars, square head and electric nodes on his neck (not bolts as is commonly assumed) the creature is a marvellous combination of actor and make up. Now I understand that the technicalities of the make up technician probably do not interest the average man, or woman on the street, but in my mind, Pierces’ make up kit should be placed in a museum and treated with as high esteem as any Renaissance era scrawling.

Richard Taylor

 

I don’t know if you have watched the special features on the Lord of the Rings Extended Edition DVD’s or Blu-rays, but you should. If you have, you can’t have failed to notice the squeaky voiced bespectacled geek genius that is Richard Taylor. Creative powerhouse of the greatest effects company working today, WETA Workshop, this Kiwi man marvel has, with Peter Jackson, and hundreds of their underlings, created the impossible. LOTR was a book that most people assumed would be un-filmable, and whilst it is due to Jacksons tight direction and vision that the film was completed, it was thanks to Taylor and the fine people at WETA that the film looked so damn good, authentic and lived in, every prop, miniature, creature and weapon were created from scratch with loving care and attention to detail. It all looks so good because it all makes sense, items have a common inception and a story behind them, really watch the documentaries on the DVD’s, it’s like a few years in film school, but far more entertaining.

 

Taylor has also been heavily involved in King Kong, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Avatar, films that I think you will agree were stunning, at least visually, and in my opinion, stunning all round. Taylor is a major reason that WETA is now seen as the premier effects company in the world, and when you look at their innovations in the world of mo-cap, or their stunning work with their so called bigatures and their pioneering mass army programme MASSIVE, Taylor has helped shape the modern cinematic experience, and from humble beginnings, working in a shed on Jacksons early films Braindead, Meet The Feebles and Bad Taste. The guy deserves a haka.

Stan Lee

You might think that Stan Lee gets enough recognition for his work on Marvel comics, after all he has a cameo in basically every marvel film there has ever been, and I can understand this, but we have to remember people, we are geeks. We delight in the now standard Stan Lee cameo, whether being saved from an automotive death by a young Matt Murdoch, being confused for Hugh Heffner by Tony Stark, drinking a bottle of soft drink infused with Bruce Banners’ blood or trying to move Moljnir with a pick up truck, Stan Lee it would seem gets enough geek recognition. But I wonder, does the average person who just goes to see these films know who the hell the crazy old man is in these films? Well they should, for this man has had a hand in more modern myths than almost any other, the man deserves an Oscar for most important cameo in superhero films for a man who actually created the character, except that he would be the only nominee, and would win every year.

 

Stan the Man has had a hand in Spider-man, The X Men, Thor, Iron Man, The Hulk, The Avengers, Daredevil and many many more characters, the guy is Marvel. OK so in recent years, his creative output has been, well, not so good Stripperella anyone? But the guy deserves a break, and should get one. So the next time your in a Cinema, or at home with friends watching a Marvel movie, and Stan Lee shows up, cheer, and whisper (at the cinema) or shout (if at home) the name of the great man, and spread the word, Excelsior!!

Andy Serkis

The worlds most underrated actor in my opinion, Andy Serkis has given birth to some of modern cinemas most remarkable characters. Caesar the chimpanzee from the latest instalment of the Planet of the Apes franchise will no doubt be over looked come awards season, but the performance, mo-capped by Serkis and WETA, is outstanding. The subtlety of Serkis’ work helps create a living breathing character that holds his own with the human characters. Serkis himself has described the mo-cap process as basically digital make up, the actor is still very much acting, and emoting, but instead of make up, a CG character mirrors the actors motions and emotions. His work as Kong in King Kong was again a work of genius. Playing the character as very much a gorilla, not some monster, Kong exhibited a wide range of emotions and character traits, and it is a cold heart indeed who does not shed a tear when the big ape hits the pavement, after that horrendous fall.

 

It is however, Serkis’ work as Gollum, the evil Hobbit ring bearer in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, that will always be his master work. Quite simply CG characters could be described as living in B.G. (Before Gollum) and A.G. (Anno Gollumai). B.G. Characters, hello Jar Jar Binks, are quite simply, the Homo Erectus cousins to Gollums Homo Sapien. The performance on Serkis is infused in every asset of Gollum, not just the voice. Gollum was one of the most complicated characters put on screen in the last few years, and thanks to Serkis, was 100% believable. Deserving of numerous Oscar credits, Serkis’ work in the advancement of acting is unparalleled.

Rick Baker

 

Our second make up man on the list, and another veteran of the mighty werewolf. Baker is a master of his craft. His practical special effects and make ups are really unrivalled in the cinematic world. He has worked on Hellboy, The Howling, An American Werewolf in London and even Cursed!! But every genius has the odd misstep. His work on the werewolf transformation in An American Werewolf in London alone is worthy of his inclusion in any list of geek heroes. The scene is an amazing example of what practical effects can achieve, worth watching on its own even if you have no desire to watch the movie, you should though its really good. His work on other werewolf movies is equally as good, and this guy has worked on a fair few in his time.

 

The variety in his work shows the man’s range and depth. The werewolves of The Howling, are very different to the American werewolf, which in turn is very different to my favourite make up/effect of his, in the remake of The Wolfman. This film got a lot of hate, but I loved it, and most of all, I loved the design of The Wolfman. Big, hairy, be-fanged and be-clawed, a killing machine and a superb movie monster. I know he got stiffed during the filming as he had designed a practical transformation that by all accounts was going to outmatch the one in American Werewolf, and it is a shame that the film makers decided to go with CGI effects in the end, but never the less, his work in the movie is still outstanding. A master of a sadly slowly disappearing art, the practical effect is being steam rolled by the CGI effect, and people of Hollywood, I implore you, there is room for both!

So there we have it, a small selection of people who need more recognition for the amazing work they do, or have done, in the geek realm. Of course, I would also like the thank all the stunt men, fight choreographers, design teams, sfx teams, writers, best boys, camera operators, concept designers, weapon specialists, miniature departments, practical effects teams….

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