Monday, February 15, 2016

Doin' some thangs. Makin' some Marios.

No--not at all. Perish the thought, you Ginetta, you. 

It's just that I'm currently preoccupied with other projects and have found myself lacking for the inspiration needed to write about games. I'd planned to kick it into high gear following the holidays and plow through my remaining memory-based pieces, but suddenly the thought of meticulously snapping dozens of screenshots and spending 6-plus hours typing away at a computer makes me feel emotionally exhausted. Throw in some family-health issues, uncertainty about the future, and a prolonged infection of love-sickness I can barely explain, and you've got a recipe for serious detachment.

In short: What started out as something fun has turned into work, and I know that continuing on this road unabated is going to lead me to a bad place. So I've had to step back and reevaluate what it is I'm trying to do here. What I'd like to do--what I plan to do--is break from the format, whereby I've been forcing myself to write about whatever game just happens to be next on my list, and mix things up a bit. It's likely, then, that I'll focus more on talking about new or recently discovered games and save the chronicling of my past for when I'm feeling appropriately nostalgic--when my heart is into it and I don't have to spend days in advance manufacturing enthusiasm.

I don't know when I'll get back into writing or what game I'll be discussing, but keep your eyes open. "Don't you forget about me," as that song says.

Oh, but while I'm here, I should note that one of those aforementioned projects has been making courses in Super Mario Maker. It's interesting how this came to be, really. Five months ago, the game wasn't anywhere on my radar, and I wasn't particularly excited when my brother gave it to me as a random Christmas gift. "I have no use for a creation kit," I thought. "The user-generated modes of Wrecking CrewExcitebike, and the like have taught me that I just don't have the aptitude for it."

But it turns out that I actually do OK when I apply myself, my obsessive-compulsive tendencies not as much an anchor as I originally thought. I've been hooked on Mario Maker for months, both as a creator and as a player.

And since this is my video-game-based blog, I might as well use this space for something game-related and provide you a list of my creations. Here are the names and course IDs:
  • Transport the Three Items
  • ID#: 36B8-0000-018A-79BC
The title is self-explanatory. Mario can of course only carry one item at a time (at least in this version of Super Mario World), so you'll want to find a way to transport three necessary items to finish line. 

If anything, this level illustrates why Mario Maker's sprite-memory kind of sucks. The on-rails menagerie found mid-stage is supposed to have the enemies spaced evenly apart, but they're always bunched up by the time the player arrives; I originally had the invincibility star traveling in their same direction, but I had to change it because the pile-ups would often render the star unobtainable. 

It's listed as an "Expert" level, but it's certainly not (none of my stages are super-difficult).
  • Donkey Kong Jr.: Stage 4+
  • ID#: B114-0000-018C-93F4
Most of my levels are personalized recreations of classic arcade-game stages. This is the final stage of Donkey Kong Jr. with a twist. Here you'll want to use Mario's helmeted noggin to bounce Bob-omb-hoisting Munchers upward to destroy some pesky partitions.

Use the reset doors if one of the Bob-ombs decides to elope with a flying enemy.
  • Rescue, Infiltrate, Assassinate
  • ID#: 5881-0000-018A-3EDC
Oh boy--this is a long one, though it wasn't intended to be. What happened is that I wound up stuffing too much content into one course where I probably should have shown restraint--let some of my ideas spill over.

The first half of the level features basic platforming, while the second is puzzle-based (mostly Rube Goldberg-style). The latter areas might suck up a whole lot of your time if you choose to engage them. Keep in mind that the world record for the course is 41 minutes.
  • Donkey Kong 75M+
  • ID#: 8502-0000-0187-7A3E
This is of course a recreation of the lift-based level of Donkey Kong. Super Mario Bros. 3's was the only style that worked to capture what I was going for, but it comes with a trade-off in that its version of Bowser (who I use as a stand-in for Donkey Kong) has that annoying ground-pound maneuver that leaves a grounded Mario paralyzed. It serves to make the level's upper portions more unnavigable than intended.

For an easier time, scroll up far enough to spawn the Magikoopas and manipulate them downward to the lower platforms. Also, mind my horrible attempt at recreating the Donkey Kong victory music. Music-creation certainly isn't my forte.
  • Donkey Kong 100M+
  • ID#: 68D9-0000-0174-7BC4
This is the final level of Donkey Kong and one in which I had to get crafty in order to replicate the effect of the stage collapsing. Sadly, it, too, suffers from aforementioned issues--bad sprite-memory and Bowser's constant screen-shaking.
  • Mario's Besieged Battle Cruisers
  • ID#: D195-0000-0172-E521
Now this baby, my first creation, is a clear example of a designer's ambition far outpacing the tool's actual capabilities. Basically, you're on Mario's item-loaded aircraft and must use the, um, "ordnance" as directed. However, since the game doesn't provide nearly enough space (one of its biggest shortcomings) to pull off epic creations--at least not what I had in mind--the whole thing turned out to be a giant mess. Play it at your own risk.

Here's a link to my "Maker Profile" if you're interested in visual accompaniment.

And those are my courses. Check 'em out, give me some pity stars, and provide me any feedback you might have (either here or in the game).

Failing that, I'll see you some other time. 

Until then, stay cool.

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