Why Super Mario 3 Is Still the Bee’s Knees

Everyone’s favorite 8-bit platformer has aged remarkably well since its release some 25 years ago and continues to inspire shocking and glowing remarks from many corners … a few of which are illuminated in the excerpts below, nearly all of which are contemporaneous. Tim Rogers’ super-long “Sticky Friction” post at Kotaku is also relevant to the discussion and worth wading through, as is his 10,000-word Mario 3 review, which is linked below. “Much of SMB 3’s uniqueness comes from conditioning the player, and then pulling the rug out from underneath him. This isn’t as bad as it sounds as these…

O Hallowed Hall of Gaming

The Brookfield Sheraton is jammed today with thousands of gamers and almost as many video game systems, pinball machines and arcade cabinets rattling with the pings and ker-pows of joy. It’s truly a sight to behold. A morning rain and a brief power outage threatened to dampen the mood, but a few curious souls gravitated toward the board game demonstrations (“No power required here!”) until We Energies had finished re-routing enough juice to meet the demands of approximately 13,000 8-bit microprocessors. The hotel is a fever dream of free arcade gaming, Quake 1 LAN games, stationary bicycles that double as…

Don’t Starve

I stumbled into a game of Nethack earlier this week, after a long hiatus, and darn it if the rogue-like didn’t hand me my hat. The dungeon crawler includes a critter called the “cockatrice” (also the “chickatrice”) that turns you to stone if you touch it. With this being a proper rogue-like, with perma-death and all, this would normally mean giving these malevolent chickens a wide berth, or hurling pointy objects at them until they died. Players of some exposure to the game know, however, that if you manage to kill a ‘trice, you can wield it while wearing gloves,…

This Magic Moment

The Games blog embedded briefly with the Last Hope LARP (Live Action Roleplaying) crew this weekend at the Midwinter Gaming Convention, where the club, normally based in a shadowy forest somewhere in Southern Wisconsin, was passing the time, running a tabletop game and answering the questions of whoever happened to wander confusedly into the room. Last Hope follows a model for LARPing that’s more common in Europe and can sometimes fool these confused wanderers into thinking they’ve wandered onto the set of a movie. The werewolves next door and the Vampire masquerade downstairs were competing for attention on Friday night, but…

794 Demolition Looks Like the Apocalypse

Workers were busy today demolishing sections of 794 near the Milwaukee Public Market, making way for the redesigned Lake Interchange. Some sections have already been completed (see far below), meaning the days of walking beneath 794 and looking up to see crumbling concrete and exposed rebar are almost over.

Quiz- Are You a Cold Weather Contrarian?

S/he refuses to buy an air conditioner. S/he does her taxes by paper. S/he says the generic spaghetti sauce is better and doesn’t own an Apple product. Who? Why, it’s the Contrarian, the same person who goes jogging when it’s five degrees, Fahrenheit, swimming when it’s 45 and never takes a front-row parking space (because some people need it more than s/he). Also, s/he uses gender-nonspecific pronouns. Annoying as that may be, sociologists agree that the Cold Weather Denier is the most widely loathed of all the Contrarians, followed by the Birthday Deniers (those jerks who don’t inform their friends…

Top Ten Gaming Moments of 2013

Not all of the below are new releases, and not all defy common sense. A few may have belonged better in a list from 2012 or even 2011, but here’s hoping you won’t notice the difference. Star Citizen’s inexorable, ceiling-smashing Kickstarter campaign What is it up to now, $35 million? I believe it because Eurogamer is telling me, and because the space-sim shall rise again. First, the adventure game re-birthed itself, and now it’s the turn of Chris Roberts, the Wing Commander mastermind-turned-crap movie producer. The project still seems a little duct tape and bubble gum, and it’ll be mighty…

Vendetta and the Life and Hard Times of the Space Sim

  Wing Commander 1, flying the Rapier. Wing Commander 1 got too many things right. You could talk to the enemies. The friendly NPCs fighting alongside you had personalities that weren’t cartoonish or repellent. Your actions mattered, first in the debriefings delivered by your commanding officer guy and then in the branching campaign that even affected what ships you got to fly. If your wingman died during a mission, the commander guy would look crestfallen yet so tough. We have to defeat those Kilrathi bastards, because a future ruled by ruthless lion men is unacceptable. This game released in 1990…

You’ve Seen the Movies Now Play a Game

Rather fortunately, today, Halloween, has turned into one of the better days of the year for video game sales. Rather unfortunately, and rather predictably, I’ve played most of the more interesting software on discount. Lucky for you, that means I’m eminently qualified to suggest which to spring (out of a cobwebby closet) for. /// Steam Halloween Sale 2013 The mother-lode. ··· Penumbra Collector Pack $2.49 ··· These are fantastically atmospheric and scarier, in my humble opinion, than Frictional’s followup Amnesia games. The developer originally intended the first Penumbra as a tech demo, but it took on a life of its own. If you can’t take any…