Some content might be changed (Including possibly getting someone actually funny to do the chapter Maniak mocked), but for the most part, it's the same mock you know and love of the book you know and do the exact opposite of love.
So sit back, relax, and remember: There's no Gym Badge for Hate.
This book is dedicated to:
For saving my life, more times than he knows.
Hahahahaha Oh Bob you kidder... ohhhhh you're not joking.... oh
We're actually asking "What the hell is wrong with you?" but your assumption is close enough I guess.Introduction
Why write a book about “Super Mario Bros. 3?”
I’m going to assume somebody is asking that question. I am, and I’m the one writing the damn thing.
So you're saying Mario is going to die on the shitter after a long downward spiral of drug abuse? That's harsh, Bob.A book more generally about Mario, the character, would seem to make more sense. He’s an icon – the icon of the video game industry and of the medium itself. A character as entrenched in the minds of Generations X and beyond as Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny. Video games were the rock and roll of my generation, an art form that came into being and grew in tandem with our own lives, embraced by us to the confusion and exasperation of our parents; and though he wasn’t the first icon of the form, Mario was figured at the forefront: our Elvis – or, if you prefer, our Beatles. Which probably makes Pac-Man Chuck Berry in this analogy…
"Iconoclastic"In any case, if this were to be a book of history or of pop-iconography, surely it would be more comprehensive and sensible to cover the full breadth of Mario’s career. At the time of this writing Mario has appeared in nearly 190 individual games covering almost every conceivable gaming genre, two feature films (one live-action, one animated and released only in Japan), four animated series, multiple comic books and in nearly every form of licensed merchandising imaginable. The story of the character’s eminently humble beginnings, of his iconoclastic creator Shigeru Miyamoto, of his endurance through a changing video-game landscape and sweeping cultural shifts… would these not be more logical things to build a book around?
Bob I do not think that word means what you think it does. Miyamoto is more The Beach Boys than The Dead Kennedys.
Spoiler: Bob does not answer any of these questions. Also, he doesn't actually play the game the book is about until page fucking 85. This is going to hurt.And even if one did wish to focus on only the games, why limit the scope to only one out of that one-hundred and ninety; especially when there are other games in the series of greater historical significance? SMB3 isn’t Mario’s first appearance (that would be Donkey Kong) or the game that made him a household name by reviving the previously-dead home gaming industry (that’s the original “Super Mario Bros”) or the birthplace of (functional) open-world 3D platforming (“Super Mario 64”) or any of the franchise’s myriad other big-impact moments. It’s merely the third game in the Nintendo Entertainment System era of the franchise. Where’s the import? Where’s the story? What’s the big deal?
Because a man who films himself playfighting with himself during reviews is qualified to critically assess something.Assuming I was able to gather myself after receiving that withering barrage of queries all at once, I might offer that this book isn’t precisely a book of history (though it will certainly contain its fair share) but rather a book primarily of video-game criticism.
It's always a good sign when the book you're reading argues against being read.…which of course only begs more questions.
Why start with “Super Mario Bros. 3,” then? It’s not exactly crying out for attention – it’s one of the best-selling games in the series (and of all time), already enshrined as an accepted, unassailable classic. Do you intend to challenge that status? Reveal the game as “overrated,” perhaps? No? Then, again, why? “New Super Mario Bros. Wii” is more recent. “Super Mario Sunshine” is the most intriguingly-flawed of the series. “Super Mario Bros.” and “Donkey Kong” are more historically significant. “Super Mario Bros. 2” has the more interesting backstory. What, if anything, are you looking to tell us here? Why should we be reading this, when there are so many tomes of self-help, political fire-breathing and twelve-volume epics of glimmering vampire bow-huntresses attending wizard school just a bookshelf (or a swipe across the touchpad, as it were) away?
There isn't another book exactly like Mein Kampf either, Bob.To be honest, even I didn’t start out with the intent to write a book about “Super Mario Bros. 3.” The format of this project took shape before the subject came into focus for me. You see, at least to my knowledge, at the time of this writing there isn’t another book exactly like this one.
And now game reviewers have settled into the comfortable role of 'prostitute'Video game criticism has existed as long as the medium itself, said medium having come into being in the era of Specialty Publications (read: lifestyle magazines) and reached adolescence in the age of the Internet; times where it became the norm that everything was to be reviewed, critiqued, and Consumer Reported-upon. But the form has always had an erratic evolution: the first game reviewers found themselves in the unique position of having to be both art critics (“What feeling or sensation does this game elicit?”) and product-testers (“Does this device work?”)
And for this, video games have never been forgiven.The rapidly expanding technology of the medium and scope of the consumer base created fissures and divisions as different groups of gamers demanded different approaches from critics: Aesthetic critique. Technical details. “Does it have a good story?” “Forget the story, how does it PLAY??” “Give me detailed analysis!” “Give me a numbered score!” The internet age turned game criticism into one of digital journalism’s fastest-growing fields with even more diversity: detailed write-ups and cultural commentary from websites like The Escapist, Polygon, Destructoid, etc. Video reviews, often (but not always) comedic in nature, became the rage with the dawn of high-speed streaming, making unlikely superstars of folks like Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw of Zero Punctuation and James Rolfe a.k.a. “The Angry Video Game Nerd.”
Nothing is more seriously critical than Shitpickle.James’s focus on older and more obscure titles was part of a growing interest in giving serious critical attention in hindsight to classic or “retro” games.
Eggs of Steel. Your call, BobToday, sites ranging from professional outlets to amateur free-for-alls like YouTube and Blip are packed to the gills with an ever-growing supply of not only game criticism but walkthroughs, strategies and longform chronicles called “let’s plays.” Name any game that has ever existed, no matter how obscure, and chances are you can find multiple reviews, videos and full-length play-throughs of it.
And instead of something that actually was designed to have depth, like Silent Hill or Metal Gear Solid 2; you picked a Mario game. Good going, you intellectual you.And yet… amid all that, I felt like there was something missing. An empty niche. Maybe not a large niche, but a niche all the same. In my primary career I’m a film critic, so I get to see how criticism differs in the two mediums. And while I won’t let this turn into some missive about what game journalism can learn from film I’m inclined to note that the one type of critical attention gaming appears to be most (though not wholly) deficient of is analysis – in particular deep analysis.
Except most movies are one or two hours, explicitly have an artistic message, and have decades of film culture and film making as a craft to draw from. This isn't even an apples and oranges thing. It's more apples and sea cucumbers.Specifically, in film writing there is such a thing as the “shot-by-shot analysis,” which is exactly what it sounds like: A book (or, more often, academic paper or presentation) that pours over a single film piece-by-piece, scene-by-scene, detail-by-detail.
Because video games are a relatively new medium and it hasn't developed the sort of cultural depth and heritage that film and novels have. Also, most gamers are children or manchildren. Spelling and grammar is too hard for them most of the time.The lines, the compositions, the shots, the score and the actors, directors, writers and production history that informed it all. Not just an aesthetic criticism or a history or a production report but a fusion of all three and more – the complete picture of a film.
Why didn’t this exist for video games?
A lot of strategy guides already do that. Bethesda games have huge ass guides with lots of extra story and lore shit and the Final Fantasy guides are the only way you could possibly understand the storyline half the time.My first thought, upon not finding much that lined up with what I was now looking for (especially not available to consumers outside the industry or academia) was that it may have been tried and found impossible; but that didn’t make any sense. Games are tangible things, at least as much as digitized information can be. Most of them have beginnings and endings or at least a point where nothing else can be done within them. Whole books, called Strategy Guides, had been written with the purpose of guiding one through a game step-by-step; so why not go the extra mile and gives a reader the background or an aesthetic observation about whatever level or boss you’re helping them to conquer?
Because you are a bloated, self important dullard with nothing new or interesting to say.And, if I couldn’t find such a book… why not write it myself?
So basically this is going to be a text-only let's play along with the thoughts of a developmentally awkward fat man.The idea began to take shape: Pick a game. Play through it from beginning to end. Catalogue everything you did – even the places where you did something wrong or had to start over. Describe, in detail, not just the function but the form… the why’s and how’s and who’s behind what was happening in the game. For good measure, include what was going on for you during the playing – player-input is key to the experience, after all, so it’s only fair to analyze the background of the player along with the background of the product.
I got high hopes for this book yes sir
Notice how Bob leaves out the notion that it should be a game or series that the analyzer isn't so emotionally invested in that it colors the analysis. Moviebob has a big Nintendo boner and he is going to rub it all up in our faces for eighty pages. This is less like a critical assessment and more of a reallly long blowjob.Yes. That might work…
But which game?
It would have to be an older game, for one. Not so much out of nostalgia or sentiment, but because an older game would have its stature already secure. Preferably it should be a popular game, one that a lot of people would have played or at least know of – a work that has affected the culture in a big, visible way simply offers more to write about. It should have a certain degree of variety; if for no other reason than to keep me consistently engaged so that boredom doesn’t inappropriately color the analysis (even though I wouldn’t be primarily playing for fun, I’d have to endeavor to maintain the sense of enjoyment that “regular” game-playing is supposed to engender).
"I should be a game that I loved" ~ Bob Chipman.Finally… I felt like it should be a game I was already intimately familiar with. A game I could not just approach, but return to in the writing. Aside from (likely) making the project that much less difficult, it would be appropriate to the intended tone. Not just some dry, academic deconstruction but an involved, emotive journey. I should be a game I loved.
And, thus, there could be no other choice.
And after that rambling wreck of a preamble, we move onto part 1...