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Monday, March 22, 2021

Mario Game Tier List

Feel free to disagree with my tier list, except I'm right, so you'll just have to deal with it.

 


Monday, July 27, 2020

NES Replay: Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: July 1987
Most people agree that Super Mario Bros. 2 is a weird outlier. It doesn’t play at all like a Mario game. There are no Mario enemies and no powerups. The boss is some guy named Wart. Half of the stuff in the game never showed up in a Mario game again. It’s all strange.

If you follow video game history, you likely know that Mario 2 was originally released in Japan as a different game entirely. Today we’re going to spend some time today learning about that game: Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic.

Normally when we discuss a game, we talk about how it plays. Today we won’t. The fact of the matter is, if you’ve played Mario 2, you’ve played Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic. The music is a little different in some minor places and the graphics are different, but the levels and enemies are all the same. What’s interesting isn’t how Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic plays, but where it came from in the first place.

Monday, July 20, 2020

NES Replay: Solomon's Key

Developer: Tecmo
Publisher: Tecmo
Released: July 1987
So anyway, as I was saying.

Tecmo was one of the first third-party developers for the NES. and they were actually innovating pretty heavily. In contrast to companies like Data East or Capcom, they weren’t content to just transfer their arcade hits wholesale onto a console, either.

Solomon’s Key is probably the closest thing they did to an arcade-to-console port in those days. It’s also the kind of game that makes you want to rip your hair out in wet chunks. I’ll explain why shortly.

First, puzzle games have an interesting history. They weren’t very common early on. Remember, the history of video games began in the arcades, where the whole goal was to separate a player from his money as often as possible. You certainly couldn’t have someone being smarter than the puzzle game and playing indefinitely on a machine.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

On Conspiracy Theories

I'm tired of conspiracy theories, I really am.

I thought of this because of the latest faux scandal involving some company and child trafficking. I'm not going to get too in-depth on the conspiracy itself because I'm not interested in giving it more credence than it deserves. Suffice to say, people have seized upon typos and prices and concocted an elaborate fantasy land where a company is involved in terrible, terrible things.

What gets me about this specific conspiracy is that companies do bad things all the time. Union Carbide killed thousands of people in Bhopal, India. Nestle steals drinking water from people and has led directly to deaths of newborns by pushing formula on unsuspecting mothers who don't have access to clean drinking water.

Those aren't the things people fixate on. They're not interested in these very real, very documented problems. They'd rather think about basements of pizza places and shadowy cabals who cover up evil misdoings. It's become more concerning as of late. Conspiracies abound, especially since Facebook is the WORST and allows just about anyone to propagate a conspiracy, whether it's about COVID, or 5G, or masks.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Some Thoughts On Hamilton

I've been grappling with Hamilton over the last few days.

Back in 2016 during Hamilton Fever, two performances of the Broadway smash were filmed with the original cast. There were plans to show it with a theatrical release, but since the world is now a living nightmare from which we will never awaken, those plans had to be postponed indefinitely. Instead, our friendly corporate overlords have beamed it into our homes via Disney+.

There's a good reason why Hamilton received all the awards. It's very, very good. For someone like myself who listened to the cast album frequently, I didn't expect to be surprised by the play, but I was. There are so many small touches that I really appreciate, and seeing the original cast perform it is an absolute joy.

There are a few legitimate criticisms that can be leveled at Hamilton. For example, it touches on slavery but doesn't really dig into the fact that the founding fathers tacitly approved of it and wrote it into the founding documents. Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote a few songs about it, but wasn't able to squeeze them into the play.

That's not what's bothering me, though. I'm bothered by the tiny complaints that I see from people who don't understand what they're watching.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Parasite is Great: Massive Spoilers

MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE “PARASITE” FOLLOW.

It’s been said that human civilization is only nine meals away from anarchy. That sounds like a thesis statement for Parasite.

Parasite is ostensibly the story of how a poor family gloms onto a rich family, and in one reading of the story, bleeds them dry. There’s another family that’s living in the rich family’s house, and this family too bleeds the rich family dry, right? The poor are the parasites, QED.

Except that’s not what really happens. Bong Joon-ho doesn’t seem to like capitalism or the ultra-wealthy, and he draws a very clear distinction between normal, everyday people and the ultra-wealthy.

The Park family has a beautiful home, seemingly happy family, and servants to meet their needs. It’s not that they’re more hardworking than other families, as the wife does nothing. The daughter doesn’t get good grades. The son is a wild child. They’re nothing special, but because the husband has a company, they have a lot of money and can live a life of complete leisure.

The son’s big “trauma,” for example, is that he saw a ghost when he was small and then had a seizure. The daughter’s big problem is that she’s not good at English. These are not big problems. Everyday people run into these problems all the time, but they have very little in the way of support to solve them.

The Park family, however, has money for drivers and money for tutors and limitless resources for art therapy. Even with two families under their roof, they never worry about not having enough food or wonder why their electric bill is so high.

Meanwhile, the Kim family actually does work hard. The daughter is an accomplished artist who’s so good that she can forge documents and teach art therapy without being licensed. The son is smart enough to pass as a university student and English teacher. The mother is gifted enough to throw together a meal on eight minutes notice that she’s never heard of. The father is skilled enough as a driver to look at a BMW at a dealership and understand how it works. He knows the roads and can corner with ease.

Meanwhile, the previous driver and housekeeper all have skills of their own. They’re respectful and good at their jobs. They’re the kind of hard worker you would be proud of. Even the housekeeper’s husband who’s trapped in the basement of the home works, acting as the “sensor” that turns the lights on and off for the house.

Yet, they’re all fighting over scraps. They’re fighting over the same couple of jobs, the same food resources and even the same living space while the Parks have an overabundance.

For the Kims and the housekeeper, just one chance to momentarily bask in having a nice house and a moment of peace in the sun is a moment they’ll cherish. For the Parks, it’s just another day.

Much will be made of the shocking ending of Parasite, with its bloody, horrifying end, but we see that for the home, nothing really changes. Another ultra-wealthy family moves in, the world keeps turning, and the poor are still on the rim, hoping for a big break.

Especially heartbreaking is the end. The father sends a letter out, hoping that his son will see it. If we recall, the last time he saw his son he was lying on the floor in a pool of his own blood. The father’s gesture is so futile-seeming that it’s a miracle the son has seen it. The letter he writes back will never reach his father. He will never be able to buy that house and rescue his father. For people on the bottom, class mobility is fleeting and comes at great sacrifice.

For the Park family, they’ll be fine. Yes, the father is dead, but they have money. They have power. They have the ability to get better and move past this awful, awful tragedy. They’ll never understand what they did to these people because they simply can’t. This is just what they do, and they can’t understand why people would be upset.

A parasite is something that comes to a host, draining its resources of every drop of strength that it has, then moves on to the next host and repeats the process. They’re not evil, they just are.

Bong’s argument isn’t that the poor are the parasite, it’s that the wealthy are. They take the resources that could go towards making things better. They have so, so much and the people on the bottom live in shit-covered basement apartments. The wealthy use those people, spit them out and find another few bottom-dwellers to use. Rinse and repeat.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Five Years

It's been five years since I last wrote anything on this site.

It's time to get moving again.