From A to Wii: The Weigh-Intendo

Word association: what’s the first thing you think of when I say “Mario”?

If you said Lemieux, then you’re one of the few people actually upset with the NHL lockout.

If you said Andretti, then can you teach me why car racing is so exciting?

If you said Lopez, then do you consider “The College Years” as part of the real Saved by the Bell?

But knowing my audience, the majority of you likely thought of Nintendo’s mustachioed hero of the Mushroom Kingdom. He’s easily the most recognizable video game mascot there is. Well, assuming you’re not a complete bro.

You rang?

As your standard boy turned manboy, I’ve played on my fair share of Nintendo consoles. As that child, it was my job. As an adult, it is my privilege. I figured it would be worthwhile to review my experience through the ages on every Nintendo system I’ve ever touched.

But where’s the fun in talking about Mario, Link/Zelda, Samus, Kirby, and their respective series? You’re aware of how fun Super Mario World was and how utterly laughable Wind Waker turned out not to be (shame on you for judging strictly by early screenshots). No, today’s review from past ’til still-past is obscurity-laden.

Note: No DS and no Wii reviews. I’ve played them (hell, I camped out for the latter, because I am awesome), but the current gen doesn’t offer the nostalgia I experienced throughout, so I left those off the table.

To the 8-bit!

NES Game of Choice: Marble Madness

Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and Dead Space are all series that elicit fear from the player; they’re intended to play that way. Marble Madness was not, but this game may be the most frightening interaction I’ve encountered.

Scene: Chicago, late 1980s, living room. This chilling music plays throughout.

You’ll notice the start screen music is hopeful and inviting. It doesn’t warn you about the nightmares to follow.

The horror…the horror!

Okay, so this is overly dramatic, but those were genuine feelings as a kid playing this for the first time at my cousins’ house. Without the proper reflexes, I had no chance to keep that marble from flying off the edge. The tiniest unintentional fall would turn your sphere into dust. The race against the clock turned into a battle for my sanity, and I hadn’t even dealt with the stress of kindergarten yet!

Just like any NES game, Marble Madness had its formula. Once you memorized all the levels, you were going to be square with your turn-timing and speed-tempering. Playing it as an adult, I’ve come to enjoy my time with the game, but it’s like watching Pet Semetary when you’re 6 and 26: it will always come back to haunt you.

Fun: 7.8 of 10

Fear: 10 of 10

Actual Favorite NES Game: Duck Hunt

Reason for Moving On: Never have, never will.

Payback’s a bitch.

From Old NES to…still oldness.

Game Boy Game of Choice: Kwirk

A tomato and a pun. Is this what kids want?

Let me also mention what Kwirk’s Wikipedia starts with: “Kwirk and his girlfriend Tammy, a tomato herself, were both out ‘painting the town red'”…

DONE. OUT.

Scene: Friend’s den, 1991, portable console as big and heavy as a brick in a 6-year-old’s hands.

Why is Kwirk a tomato? You can’t even tell on the tiny B&W Game Boy screen. All you see  is a miniature sphere with sunglasses. I suppose the graphics couldn’t ketchup to the box art. And why sunglasses on produce? Did he think he was cool as a cucumber?

Sorry for all the puns! No need to get saucy with me.

As a game, it was forgettable. The only reason I recall it at all is because I have a memory for random and trivial parts of my life. I can picture the room, the friends, the couch I was lying on, and the screen. I can’t picture the fun of the game. I have a heavy love for puzzle games, but Kwirk brought nothing unique to the table. Well, except that he was a tomato, and we apparently didn’t have enough food-based characters to interact with since VeggieTales hadn’t come out yet.

Fun: 4.3 of 10

Pun: Tom-8-to out of Nin10do

Actual Favorite Game Boy Game: Yoshi’s Cookie. Yeah, I loved that game, and it’s also a food-based puzzler. But…cookies! And Yoshi! What more needs to be said?

Did you expect Pokémon?

Reason for Moving On: Batteries are expensive.

What happens when your Nintendo puts on a cape?

Super Nintendo Game of Choice: Lion King

What, a boy can’t like Disney?

Scene: Party Shop, Spring of 1996, upstairs.

Mostly a generic convenience store, the Party Shop used to have a video & game rental on its second floor. The SNES was still going strong despite the upcoming emergence of the Nintendo 64. A chubby, bespectacled baseball fan has enough money to rent a game as he walks home from school on a gorgeous Friday afternoon.

But why Lion King? Because Aladdin was reeeeeally hard.

Haukna Matata, jerks.

I liked Disney. Hell, I like Disney. I don’t mind that they purchased Lucasfilm, and I definitely didn’t mind spending my hard-earned (or mooched-for) cash on one of its games for a few days.

Regarding the gameplay, I actually loathed being Young Simba. His scheme was pretty dull. We’ve all played games where you defeat an enemy by jumping on it. Remember that whole spiel about Mario? Yeah.

But Adult Simba? Bad Ass Cat. BOOM. POW. SLASH. ROAR. THROW. CRASH. Sure, it played akin to Double Dragon, but you were a lion, not some piddly-ass street punk. You were the king of the jungle, and you were voiced by Matthew Broderick. That’s right- you were Feral Mewler.

I’m not sorry for that one.

This is the last time I remember using cheat codes to skip levels. I didn’t mind eating/collecting bugs as Timon & Pumba, but I really wanted to avoid being the underpowered lion cub. Pause-B-A-A-B-A-A a few times, and BAM! All grown up.

Fun: 8.9 of 10

In Terms of Disney Songs: “When You Wish Upon a Star”

Actual Favorite SNES Game: Super Mario RPG

Reason for Moving On: Rattlin’ controller.

Let’s move on to the Virtual Boy.

Hmm. Okay, next!

How’s about an enjoyable 3D experience?

Nintendo 64 Game of Choice: Wave Race 64.

Don’t you just love that Nintendo would just slap “64” at the end of their titles to differentiate the games from the predecessors? Kept things simple. Which Mario Kart do you want to play? Super? 64? GBA? DS? Wii?

Scene: Living room, January 1996, planted right in front of the TV with my one game.

Can’t believe Mario 64 is STILL sold out!

Wave Race 64 was my only N64 game for the longest time. If I had received any additional games for Christmas, Wave Race 64 (have to differentiate!) would’ve likely been left to gather dust. I’m glad it didn’t, because I lived for this game.

Well, until Super Mario 64 came out.

This was Tony Hawk without the painful looking wipeouts. Sure, there were still crashes (and I experienced them at an alarming rate), but you landed in the water after doing irresponsible tricks on your Jet Ski. Handstands? Riding backwards while sitting on the front? Backflips?

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t attempt these on my bike. I’d also be fibbing if I claimed I didn’t come away with permanent brain djasimge.

Never won many races, nor did I ever become an expert at the game, but that game engaged me with just its practice mode for months and months.

Then, of course, Mario. Never looked back.

Fun: 7.5 of 10

Brain Bruises: Can’t count that high anymore.

Actual Favorite N64 Game: Ocarina of Time. Duh.

Reason for Moving On: Screen-Lookers. You know who you are, jerks. You ruined Goldeneye for EVERYONE.

Hey! Remember when you held the console in your hands? Let’s do that again!

Game Boy Advance Game of Choice: Earthworm Jim

Scene: School Bus, Fall of 2001, stuck in a toasty wool band uniform.

Didja know: Earthworm Jim’s initials of EWJ have more syllables than his actual name? And that he’s an earthworm? Enjoy that trivia.

The Earthworm Jim series (originating on SNES and Sega Genesis) was just about as weird as you could get without being completely avant-garde.

That little green guy on EWJ’s shoulder is called Snott. Yeeeup.

Though this game is a port from older consoles, I still enjoyed it on the GBA. Loads of weapons (including your own wormy self), strange enemies, and cows-a-plenty populate the series. Have you ever watched Rocko’s Modern Life as an adult? This game falls along the same lines; it’s a child’s game that definitely has some adult themes that you wouldn’t have caught as a youngster.

I think I ended growing my hair out so I could grab my ponytail and pretend to pull my head out of my supersuit (which was admittedly less buff and more flabby than EWJ’s) and use it as a whip.

Okay, so that’s not true at all, but I had you going, right?

Fun: 8.1 of 10

Worm Measurement Scale: From 1cm to 4m, let’s say 3.3m.

Actual Favorite GBA Game: Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga.

Reason for Moving On: Gave away the GBA. Yeah, you’re thinking “what a philanthropist,” but I’m just a normal guy. No need to praise, people.

And now we’ve reached the final (and most underrated) system we’ll touch on today.

Gamecube Game of Choice: Soulcalibur II

Scene: Dorm room, late 2005, the aroma of cheap beer permeating throughout the hall.

“Eau de Keystone” was the cologne of choice.

I generally avoid getting serious or intense when playing video games, sports, or anything meant for fun. What’s the point? I’m not big on bragging or rubbing a win in someone’s face. Sure, I will silently go nuts in my head after winning a game of dodgeball or Mario Kart, but I keep it inside.

But when it came to SCII? Ohhh, man, all bets were off in that room. I wasn’t the best (the man who was would’ve power-bombed me through a table if I had ever beaten him), but that was the competition. As geeky as it could all be, many of us went at it nonstop. When certain people walked in the room, you knew just to toss them the controller and start up the Gamecube.

Aware that the previous video is from SC3, but that is a prime example of how our games went.

Plus Link from the Zelda series was in there. I had to play it.

A variety of characters (all with their large array of weaponry) and adjustable gameplay kept this game lodged into the Gamecube disk tray. I was never bored with this game. Even when Soul Calibur III came out, I’d still go back to the GC version and relive the intensity.

Fun: 9.2 of 10

Fear of Real-life Physical Destruction from Opponent: Marble Madness of 10

Actual Favorite GC Game: Super Smash Bros. Melee

Reason for Moving On: Wii is backwards compatible. 

The further I get into adulthood, the more I realize just how little I get to sit down in front of the TV and play an actual console game. Sure, I putz around on some PC games, but a keyboard is not a controller. Sometimes you need to go back and try out childhood again.

 

 

Anyone up for some co-op Kirby Superstar Saga?

 

 

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Anxiety: A ReviAHHHHHHH

Note: Let me clarify that I’m not writing for pity. I’m seeing a therapist, which is neat, and that’s what I need to get over this nonsense. Nor do I believe that what I deal with is the end of the world or bigger than any other problem out there. In fact, I don’t think it is at all, but I wanted to share my experience with my peculiar brand of humor. Enjoy!

“Old habits die hard.” How much do you want to bet that will the sixth movie about rugged, bald, nigh-60 John McClane? As sure as I am that I’ll shell out $10 to see that at the cinema, that’s not why I quoted Jeremy Belknap.

What a wise and…handsome chap.

No, the reason that I brought up that hottie’s idiom was due to self-realization just moments ago. We all have old habits, new habits, and religious habits, but I’m not a stylish nun, so I just have the initial two.

Some of my habits (e.g. chewing gum, peeling the label off of my beer bottle, compulsively checking social media for a half hour while already in bed) are benign or just barely annoying. Some (e.g. chewing someone else’s gum, peeling the label off of my 17 soon-to-be emptied beer bottles, posting hateful remarks on all social media, especially Friendster) are more malicious or awful. One snuck up on me and is the one old habit I wish I could’ve avoided forever.

Anxiety. Is. Balls.

Quick background: I was your standard shy kid – I hid from relatives, other adults, and girls. When you hit middle school with that sudden twinge that you want to have a girlfriend (man, did I want to pass some notes), nothing hurts more than the jealousy toward other guys who are stepping it up. Hell, I was jealous of myself; I had a galpal from kindergarten through second grade. What happened to The Junior Pimp? Also, why didn’t I ever call myself that then?

After I hit high school and found myself doing theatre, I declared myself a new Ian. I even went so far as to call myself “Ian 2.0” in my AIM profile. Y’know, when AIM was a thing and buddy icons RULED.

Aw, yeah…topical.

So I thought I was good to go. If I ever had a shy moment, I would brush it off or label it as something else. I was Ian 2.0, man! I could be anyone as long as I was an Ian with a patch number.

But it really did blindside me recently. Instead of coming to terms with anxiety, I made excuses and rationalizations. It transformed into irrational outbursts towards those near and dear, caused me to close myself off from the same people, and made me believe that I was worthless and a detriment to society.

This picture hasn’t disproved that last point.

I finagled my way out of going to the new casino because I was too anxious about driving downtown on a Friday night. It took a while to join a new gym as I came up with “reason” after “reason” to not have to deal with a new set of faces. There’s no concrete trigger, but it doesn’t seem to take much for me to curl up and dive into a pool of self-deprecation and hopelessness. Like Woody Allen but with fewer Oscars.

But no one wants to read about some pustule on the internet whining about how life’s hard for him (it really isn’t).

But people DO want to read a review on a disorder wherein the person doesn’t realize he’s affected? …You don’t? Too bad, so sad. That’s what we do here.

Effect: On a scale of italicized to boldly italicized with an underline, I would put it at a mildly bold. Like Gill Sans Ultra Bold, but without the Ultra.

As I mentioned, it’s sometimes hard for me to see people who I’ve known for years because it means leaving the house and trying to make conversation without seeming like a tool. For as good as I believe I am at reading other people’s tone and body language, my social anxiety completely clouds my judgment. I wouldn’t go to my parents’ house when my cousin and her kids visited(the place home I lived from 0-18, 22-23, and 24-25.5) because I hadn’t seen them since May, and I felt like I wouldn’t know what to say, or that I would rumble, stumble, and bumble throughout the entire visit.

This guy knows what’s up.

This is someone I’ve known my entire life. I had no problem, minus some general nervousness, hopping on OKCupid and meeting my galpal for the first time, so why couldn’t I go see my cousin? But it applies to my newborn nephew. My first nephew. I saw him in the hospital, and I’ve seen him at family functions following that, but why can’t I bring myself to visit my brother’s house and hang out with the little fart?

While I would never think to label this disorder’s effect as one stronger than many other maladies and defects (I’m a fully functioning adult who likes to function on his ass), it is definitely stronger than I anticipated.

Ooh! That brings me to my next measure:

Perception of Disorder: 9 out of 10 on the Ridiculosometer.

For someone who considers himself open-minded (still waiting for that black, gay, Muslim, blind, mute, transgender presidential candidate), I somehow barred myself from believing that anxiety was anything more than common trepidation.

“It’s poppycock,” I said. “That’s a weird word for a 20’s-something American guy to use,” I replied. I retorted with the notion that it seems like the wuss of disorders, and that it’s not even a real reason for my actions. “I see your point, but many people seek therapy for such a condition,” I mentioned. “But you never hear anyone discuss it!” I claimed.

“Doesn’t it make sense that people who have anxiety don’t bring it up?” he clarified.

“Ah…I see. You’re a good conversationalist,” I complimented.

Despite the recent and logical discovery that anxiety (in whatever form) is a legitimate problem for many people, part of me refuses to believe that it is. Instead of using it as a reason, I consider it an excuse. My brain would much rather declare myself an abject piece of garbage with a massive forehead.

Mt. Rushmore called me to concede in the race of Most Gigantic Dome. I was touched.

Which in no way leads me to my final criterion for critiquing.

Confusion: OASdkmwpeEd@$ out of ^54sj0*—+f~.

This anxiety is my own personal Tim Wakefield. Example: work stresses everyone out even if you love what you do, right? Something there will gnaw at you on certain days.

For someone in sales that consists of driving to a dozen counties and trying to introduce yourself to people you’ve never met who don’t necessarily want your product? Well, that makes for a particularly upsetting car ride. It takes roughly two hours to get from my house to Marion, OH, which is one of the longer drives. That’s two hours of me yelling at the radio for its asinine jocks, scolding drivers who can’t hear me, and being stuck in my own head. It’s emotional pinball.

M-m-m-multi ball!

But I avoid being in the office, too. Why? Because there are simultaneously too many and not enough people. I want to be social! I really do! I want to be an environment filled with conversation, movement, action, and life. Being in the car for the majority of the day doesn’t yield that feeling. But being in the office doesn’t, either. And what would happen if I were to imagine chatting in the building? I’d freeze up! But it’s inherently not a loquacious place, so why would I want to spend my time there when I can be in the car and not talk to anyone?

If you’re on the same page, congratulations. I feel some people might be so off the page that they’re in an e-reader.

Aren’t reviews supposed to recommend a product or deter the customer away from it? Okay, then.

If you’re out at Discount Disorders this Black Friday, I would strongly suggest avoiding Anxiety™ if you can help it. Look, I know the prices are going to be INSANE, even if the affliction isn’t. If you really want to shop there, then I’d purchase the Sociopath™. Make sure you spring for the “Highly Functioning” package.

He’ll only insult your intelligence 100% of the time.

Spinterest: Twisting One Man into a ScrapSchnook?

Gender equality. The idea behind these two words is wonderful – every man and woman has the same abilities and potential and are only limited by his or her skills and ambition in life. Both should be able to vote, have all laws applied to them, and get paid equally. This should apply to everyone, no matter the race, creed, gender, or sexuality.

But not age. That means you, kids. Scoot. Go do your homework. No, I will not help you. No, I’m NOT doing your project for you. I don’t even like the solar system.

Fine. FINE. But I get to make Saturn!

Still, despite the idea behind equality, there are some areas that don’t apply to both genders (or more than the two standard genders, if that’s your thing). For example, I can’t give birth while a woman is unable to urinate as she stands feet away from the urinal. And if there are exceptions to those rules, then I imagine it’s in some corner of the internet I wish to avoid.

The more apparent societal differences between men and women manifest in the places we can or can’t go and the groups that only accept a certain sex. Generally, women are barred from playing in the NBA, so you add a “W” to the front, and voila! Mothers Against Drunk Driving won’t allow me to be a part of their group as I am neither a mother or a woman.

Actually, I’m not sure that they’d reject me, but they sure are slow in responding to my letter.

Which is actually short for Paddington. Not an acronym; British bears just hate drunk driving, too.

Then there are places that accept both men and women but with one gender clearly dominating. Men go to yoga, but it’s clearly a woman’s world. Women play football, but often this is in high school and a rare affair. Even when you get to the internet where you can be anything you want behind a screen name, it still has areas where either men or women trounce the other in population. That’s assuming men aren’t posing and posting as women.

The Huffington Post posted a story in June about population difference in social media. If  you go there and check out the info, you’ll notice some glaring differences. According to the infographic, women like talking to people and playing Farmville more than men, while men are the only ones allowed to enjoy music and jobs. Also, I assume the Twitter imbalance stems from all those sex-site spammers. Do those count as people?

Okay, so those are awful generalizations, but take notice of the most unbalanced sites: Pinterest and Reddit. According to Gizmodo, Pinterest is “Tumblr for Ladiez,” though you can also say that Tumblr is “Pinterest for Ladiez and Bronies,” so it’s somewhat of a moot point. Now, as we’ve all had our fair share of memes in our short lives on the internet, I decided to delve into Pinterest to get an idea of what women dig about it. Or, more imperatively, what does Pinterest offer men, if anything?

Like the thought-provoking John Howard Griffin, let me first get transmogrify myself in hopes of acceptance on the site.

The idea behind Pinterest, according to the site, is to be a virtual pinboard. Users can have oodles of “boards” dedicated to certain categories (e.g. weddings, outdoors, film) wherein they will “pin” items shared on the social media site that were posted by themselves or other users. Hence, y’know…pinboard.

Pinterest currently has 33 main categories which pins can fall under, but I’m not sure how intriguing it would be for me to write about the Architecture boards, so here’s a sample of me perusing through certain topics.

Let’s be fair: Pinterest’s categories could be condensed much more easily.

  • Weddings
  • Food
  • Cute Cats and Dogs
  • Doctor Who
  • Tom Hiddleston
  • Crafts
  • Fashion
  • Engagement Rings (Yes, it must be separate from Weddings.)
  • Unfunny E-Cards
  • Other Male Celebrities Without Shirts
  • More Wedding Stuff

As a guy pretending to pose as a woman, I have no time for such nonsense. I need to find any purpose for men to even be on this website. I like cute cats as much as the next person, but I can find those clumped together anywhere on the internet. No, my purpose for infiltration has landed on two categories:

Geek

& Men’s Fashion

Besides Doctor Who (which I’m totally cool with, even if “cool” doesn’t ever apply to me), there are reoccurring themes on the Geek board; Harry Potter, Avengers, Lord of the Rings, The Big Bang Theory (Community’s arch-nemesis), Sherlock (the BBC one, not the silly CBS Elementary), and hating on Twilight. Actually, so many Twilight jokes are reused and recycled that it’s gotten to the point that I almost feel bad for fans of the series. Almost.

There have been some neat findings on the Geek board. I’ve stumbled upon several facts of book, TV, film, and video game series that I hadn’t known before. Some pins actually introduced me to new nerdy worlds (Sherlock, for example) that I would’ve likely never come across otherwise.

But the Geek board’s use is countered by its massive downfall: spoilers. As a well-read and geek-savvy gent, there are many fandoms I’d like to be a part of but haven’t found the time to engross myself in them. I’ve yet to read/watch The Walking Dead, A Song of Ice and Fire series, Doctor Who (before I caught up), and Sherlock (while I’m still catching up). If this site was around when the Harry Potter books were still being written, you would’ve never been able to dodge Dumbledore’s death if you had clicked anywhere on Pinterest.

The Men’s Fashion board seemed to have more promise than the Geek one, if you can believe it. While I’m a man of many genres, I’m also a man who likes to get gussied up. So let’s just click and see what we find.

What.

Is this fashion? This is what you would call that? If I were prepping for a WWE audition as a white man heavily into gladiators and kimonos, sure, but I’m not. Yet.

While this picture and plenty of guys in briefs (not the lawyer kind, unfortunately) are strewn about the Men’s Fashion board, they aren’t THAT prominent. Even so, you can tell that the board is still dominated by women. Too much Joseph Gordon-Levitt, not enough actual clothing.

When you find a suit, messenger bag, watch, or pair of boots that catch your eye, you have the option of clicking on the image a few times to get to the source website. Of course, you can do this on all pins; a nice offering of conciseness on a website with loads of information. Regarding clothing, this seems to be a great tool. All I need to do is click on the picture, and I’ll be able to purchase….

Wait. Okay, maybe not. It took me to Tumblr. Alright, lemme click the Tumblr this user linked to…and another link to another Tumblr. And on and on and on and on and on.

Tumblr.

This is how it goes for the majority of items I’m actually interested in. When I’m not being linked to someone’s entirely useless Tumblr (unlike this completely valuable blog you’re reading right now…right?), I’m sent to a company’s site that charges an insane amount for an article of clothing. Are $400 jeans really something people want to pin for future use? While I admit that a tie made purely out of dodo bird silk would be comfortable, I’m also aware that the tie doesn’t touch your body, so why would I care if it was that material? I just want affordable clothes that look expensive and not expensive clothes that look fresh off the rack at Goodwill.

In summation:

Use: A+ for women, D for men. I can definitely see the purpose for women. While men can post memes, boobs, and more memes on Reddit, women can keep track of useful items: recipes, wedding ideas, cute things, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Hmm. I think the last two are a bit redundant.

Frustration: 7.8 out of 7.9. We get it: it’s fun to hate Twlight, people want to bone the guy who played Loki, and nothing makes a more fashionable picture than the view of a guy’s elbow patch’d blazer. It would be swell if there was some algorithm that blocked constantly-pinned memes and ideas for a week before they were seen on the standard boards again, but that’ll come with time. Or maybe Pinterest likes it. Maybe they really are trying to keep me away.

Room for MenOn a scale from 1 to 10, I would give it a solid “sitting between two offensive linemen on a bus where seats only allow for two.” Nice and cozy, but I don’t think Pinterest truly has breathing room for the male population.

Addiction: Heroin out of Heroin. I can’t stay off the damn site! I don’t care if I’ve seen so many of the things before. Maybe there will be something new or useful that will pop up.

Just one. More. Click.

Now, if you don’t mind, I have to go share this post on Pinterest. Just look between the pictures of a lolcat and Katniss. LolKatniss? Hmm.