Monday, August 31, 2015

Old School Lane Casual Chats Episode 45: Interview with Will Nguyen from Willvolution

In this episode of Casual Chats, Patricia interviews Will Nguyen, the founder of the video game tournament site Willvolution discussing about his influences in playing video games, his start in running tournaments, and the origins of Willvolution.

Check out Will's links below

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Old School Lane's Mario Tribute: Super Mario Bros. 2 (Doki Doki Panic)

Despite Super Mario Bros. 2 (Japan) getting some decent reviews from both critics and fans, it was decided not to release the game in America due to detracting casual gamers from being frustrated with its difficulty. With that said, the Nintendo Mario developers were working on a prototype game consisting of a two player co-op vertical strolling game that eventually formed into Yume Kojo Doki Doki Panic which debuted in Japan on July 10, 1987 in partnered with Fuji TV. The game was remade into Super Mario Bros. 2 that debuted in America on September 9, 1988, which was almost 3 years after Super Mario Bros. came out.

An image of a jumping man with red overalls and a red hat, a blue shirt, and a beet in his right hand

For the sake of focus on the main tribute, I'll be focusing on the American port of the game. If I am going to be discussing about Doki Doki Panic, it will only be for comparison's sake. 

The game with Mario, Princess Peach, Luigi, and Toad working together to defeat the evil frog Wart and his minions such as Birdo and Mouser. There are seven different worlds in the game that showcases different enemies such as Pokeys, Shy Guys, Bob-Ombs, and the Phanto masks. There are bottles that reveal secret rooms that has the mushroom power up, decorative vases that work as warp pipes to advance to the later levels, and a mixture of vertical and horizontal levels. Each of the characters play differently from one another: Mario is the average character that runs, jumps, and picks up objects normally. Luigi runs a bit faster and jumps a bit higher while scuttling his legs, but is a little hard to control. Princess Peach runs and picks up items slower, but has the longest range in jumping. Toad runs and picks up items the fastest, but has the shortest jumping range.

When the game came out in America, it receives mixed to positive reviews from fans and critics saying about how different it was from the original Super Mario Bros. Over the years, it has been considered to be the black sheep of the franchise and people dismiss it from being an actual Mario game. While it's true that it was Doki Doki Panic with just the Mario characters slapped into it, Super Mario Bros 2. is very important to the franchise. Most of the enemies from this game would continue on to be showcased throughout the rest of the series such as Birdo, the Shy Guys, and Bob-Ombs, there would be an animated series based on Super Mario Bros. 2, it featured more playable characters with different playing styles that wouldn't be featured in the other games until New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Super Mario 3D World over 20 years later, it would be the first Mario game that didn't take place in the Mushroom Kingdom and would be the starting point of Mario games taking place in different locations, and some of the music is some of the best in the series such as 1st world song and the ending credits. If we had gotten the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2, I don't know how regarded it would have been due to being a rehash of the original as well as being very difficult. Critics would've discarded it as not taking any risks. So, in a way, the American Super Mario Bros 2. was a blessing in disguise that wouldn't be appreciated until much later. Overall, in my opinion, I understand why people regard it as the weakest of the original NES trilogy and not as memorable as the first game, but it must be looked at and appreciated for what it is. While I wouldn't seek Super Mario Bros. 2 as much as I would compared to the first game or even Super Mario Bros. 3, it's still a fun game that you should give a chance to play.

That's all for now. Tune in next time as we'll be looking at the last game in the NES Mario trilogy: Super Mario Bros. 3. 

Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Top 15 Absurd Figure it Out! Talents

In this countdown, Patricia discusses about the most ridiculous, pointless, or disgusting talents featured on the 1997 Nickelodeon game show Figure it Out! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Old School Lane's Mario Tribute: Super Mario Bros. 2 (Japan)

After the release of Super Mario Bros., video games became massively popular again thanks to the genius of creator Shigeru Miyamoto alongside with Donkey Kong and The Legend of Zelda. As time went on, gamers became more and more skilled with the levels and gameplay of Super Mario Bros., almost at the point in which it was no longer a challenge anymore. Takashi Tezuka, the assistant director of Super Mario Bros. joined alongside Miyamoto to do a followup to the game, but make it much more difficult. It was titled Super Mario Bros. 2, which released in Japan on June 3, 1986, a few months after the original game's release.


It's more or less like an addition to the first game, but with  new redesigned levels, more levels consisting of eight worlds and five bonus worlds, new hazards, and new challenges. There are three notable things added into Super Mario Bros. 2 that made the game notoriously hard. The first was the new "power up" known as the poison mushroom which, when touched, shrinks Mario at full size or kills Mario when at his small size. The second are the warp pipes. In the original Super Mario Bros., when you discover the warp pipes at the secret zones, it'll send you to the later levels. However in Super Mario Bros. 2, when you discover a secret warp pipe, it'll take you back in the earlier levels you have previously beaten. The third and final thing added to the game was the random gusts of wind. The wind makes you go further or pushes you back making your jumps far or short.

The game was never released in the U.S. due to worrying the American gamers being intimidated on how difficult it was. It wasn't until years later until it was released as Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels on Super Mario All-Stars for the Super Nintendo and eventually the original Japanese copy was out on the Wii's Virtual Console. Critics gave it mixed to positive reviews calling it an "expansion copy" of the original adding nothing new as well as being extremely frustrating. Many people consider this game to be the black sheep of the NES Mario games. However, some critics praise it for being clever and fun testing your gaming skills after beating the original Super Mario Bros. 

As for me, I don't care about it. I agree with the critics that Super Mario Bros. 2 isn't as groundbreaking or innovative as the original. Also, it's the only NES Mario game that I still haven't beaten yet. The earlier levels were easy enough that I was able to learn to complete them with trial and error. However, it's too frustrating for me to consider it fun similar to how I feel about Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link. I can recommend it to hardcore gamers who love a challenge, but for casual gamers, it's hard to convince them to check it out. In fact, if you really want to see how difficult it is, check out my Manic Expression colleague Decker Shado play Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels. 

That's all for now. Tune in next time as we take a look at the sequel to Super Mario Bros. that was released in America known as Super Mario Bros. 2. 

An image of a jumping man with red overalls and a red hat, a blue shirt, and a beet in his right hand

Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Old School Lane Presents: What Willvolution Means to Patricia

In this video, Patricia discusses about her "humble" roots of one of the first Internet communities she's joined: a competitive video game tournament group in South Florida called Willvolution and what they mean to her.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Old School Lane's Mario Tribute: Super Mario Bros

In the next month, the Super Mario series will be celebrating its 30th anniversary. For many people my generation, it was one of the first games we've ever played. It was the our entry into the vast world of video games. It was family friendly with a simple premise, a classic style of gameplay, and colorful characters with quirky personalities. In honor of this occasion, I'll be looking back on the Super Mario franchise and see how big of a legacy they left in video games as well as how well they hold up today. Afterwards, there will be a Casual Chats podcast on the Mario franchise.

Now there are hundreds and hundreds of Mario games from the main games and the spin-off titles like the Mario RPG series, the Mario Kart series, the Mario Party series, the sports games involving the Mario characters, and the Super Smash Bros series. For this tribute, we'll be focusing on the main platforming games from Super Mario Bros to Super Mario 3D World. With introductions out of the way, let's-a-go to Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros. debuted in Japan on September 13, 1985 on the Nintendo Famicon and later on in the U.S.A. and Europe. In the land of the Mushroom Kingdom, King Koopa (known as Bowser in the U.S.A.) kidnaps Princess Peach (kidnaps Princess Toadstool in the U.S.A. until the debut on Super Mario 64) and turns the majority of the Toads into blocks. It's up to a plumber named Mario to rescue her by going into 8 worlds to defeat the false Bowsers and free the Toads from the castle. The game was a side strolling platformer that had Mario run towards the end of the level while defeating Bowser's minions that consists of Goombas, Koopa Troopas, Lakitus, Hammer Bros, and Piranha Plants. Mario can stomp on most of his enemies with one hit to defeat them. But he also has the ability to gain powerups to make defeating them easier. One is the now iconic mushroom that makes him grow bigger. The other is the fire flower that can make him shoot fireballs from his hand. The final one is the star that can make Mario invincible for a short period of time. There's also the 1-Up mushroom that gives an additional life for Mario to continue the game and prolong the game being over after losing.

For today's standards, the plot is practically nonexistent. But back then, gameplay was the most important thing about video games. Stories were either left for the manuals, on the intro and ending of a game, or wasn't there at all. But here at Super Mario Bros., the story doesn't matter. If a game didn't play very well or wasn't fun to play, then it there was no point of playing it all. But what makes this game still relevant were the secrets. The most well known of them were jumping on the Koopa shell on the block to gain unlimited 1-Ups, running on top of the platforms on the underground levels to gain access to the hidden room with the 3 pipes to the later levels, and the minus world involving with doing a specific jump towards the 1st underground level and entering in the first pipe. Interesting to note that if you go a glitch involving with playing Super Mario Bros. and Tennis for the Famicon, then you can access over 250 minus worlds. To learn more about this, check out GameTrailers' video on the subject.

In my opinion, Super Mario Bros. is one of the most important games ever released and one that I highly recommend that you play. It was this game that brought gaming back after the crash of 1983 in which there was an abundance of mediocre video games released by Atari and their competitors. Without this portly plumber, video games wouldn't be the same. Heck, they may have not existed. But just because it's important to gaming doesn't mean much if the game doesn't hold up. So does Super Mario Bros. hold up? Fairly well. Even after 30 years later, Super Mario Bros. is still fun to play. Its simplicity makes it easy for anyone to get into, both young kids and casual gamers. But there are challenges for the more experience gamers such the neatly placed enemies, the pits, or being defeated by Bowser. Even the hardcore gamers who can beat Super Mario Bros. in their sleep, they have found ways to make the game fresh in their minds from speed running it to playing the game blindfolded. It's a timeless video game that's still relevant to gamers today and for good reason. Check it out, but most likely you've played it in someway, shape, or form.

That's all for now. Tune in next time as we take a look at the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2. 

Hope to see you at Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading.