#250: The Saga

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Today, I’ll be discussing one of my favorite games of all time, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. This is a classic for the Gameboy Advance, and I remember playing it so much back in the day. I never beat it as a kid, but I went back and beat it later as an adult so I guess that amounts to something. If you can’t beat it as a kid, that means it’s probably too hard.

The reason I bring this game up is because, at the con over this past weekend, Alex picked up the most recent, remastered edition of Superstar Saga for the 3DS. It’s a special game with a special place in my heart, honestly. I remember playing it on my Gameboy Advance like it was this newfangled piece of hardware. It felt so unique. Just hearing the music again brought joy and glee to my face. It’s something special when you hear a familiar song and it brings back memories all on its own. She was in the middle of the Popple battle, for example, and that has an amazing, recognizable theme that I can hear in my head as I’m even typing these words out. I’m going to the gym soon, and I might have to play it just to fill that space in my head! Usually, Alex doesn’t play with sound on, but I explained that this is an important game in which sound cues are essential to timing your attacks and defenses right. It’s not just an option to turn off or on; it’s relevant to all facets of the game’s design.

I also told her recently that there were four more additions to the series, so she got excited when that news was unveiled. There’s so much to do in this series, and it’s all so fantastic!

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#245: The Maker, Part 2

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But let’s switch topics to something a bit more in-the-news: Mario Maker 2, a game that recently released for the Nintendo Switch. This is what I originally wanted to write about, before I was distracted by the Bionicles and LEGOs discussion.

Mario Maker 2 is an otherwise fantastic game with some glaring flaws in its online multiplayer design. Though I didn’t spend much time playing that particular mode, I did enjoy the other modes quite a lot. Being able to play endless level challenges, over and over, with similarly endless replayability thanks to its user-generated level system. You pick a difficulty mode, such as Normal, Easy, Expert, or Super Expert, and the game throws user-generated levels at you to complete. I’ve been spending a lot of time on the Normal mode, as I’m not skilled enough to get past level 6 or so without running out of lives, usually. Some of these levels are tricky, and I’m used to using my intuition as a gamer to figure out what’s coming next in a level. When it comes to user-generated levels from people all over the world, there’s no way of knowing what to expect and what a specific person is thinking when they created a particular level. They’re more unpredictable, basically.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the level editor, too. I created one level that requires you to use the cape from Super Mario World to traverse some deadly flame traps and cannonballs. And then I created and published a second level, with a bit more seriousness to it, that featured loads and loads of cannonball traps and a rising tide underneath the character. I felt especially proud of that second one because it used a few new features offered just in Mario Maker 2, such as the rising tide and the music blocks.

#244: The Maker, Part 1

shallow focus photography of blue alpine car

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Another two part blog post! Recently, I’ve had fewer ideas but more to say about those ideas, so instead of dragging myself through lots of ideas at once, I figured this is a more appropriate way of publishing consistent blogs.

The Maker. Making things was a part of my childhood. I grew up with LEGOs, Kinects, Bionicles, the works. Whatever you can imagine, I probably tried creating at some point. My dad took it as an early sign that I would be an excellent contractor like him some day, but that didn’t necessarily turn out to be true. I can see why he would think that, though, considering I loved using my hands to build things as a kid. One would assume from that that I would also be interested in that as a future career. It just makes sense that way, and people did it for fun mostly. I remember building a massive Bionicle figure, I think it was Makuta/Teridax/whatever his name is, and it turned out to be one of my biggest accomplishments as a kid. Seeing that figure, and seeing that I had a part in actualizing it, felt amazing. Words couldn’t capture my enthusiasm and excitement. Bionicles truly had a great hold on my childhood creativity. I think they were one of the first times I was offered the opportunity to create something myself. Although directions were given to you, I’d go off the beaten path sometimes to create monster or figures that didn’t resemble the original creation at all.

Being creative isn’t an inherent trait, I think. You can be taught to be creative, and the best way is to model it after your own intuition. Sometimes small things have a large effect on your standing as an adult. I’m glad these toys had an effect on my life.