Monday, June 16, 2008


M is also for Monday...A day that I don't like one bit. I completely forgot how taxing Daily Blogging would be, I had never done it before.

M is a favorite letter of mine, and it's also a letter already done by someone else. Let's see what I have to say about it, hmm?

Mario Kart: One of the best and well-known of the Mario spin-off series of games. I've played each and every version of it except for the DS version (but I really should pick it up). I'm currently playing the Wii version and I must say, it's probably the best one they've ever done. Not only do we get the great racing and 16 new kickass tracks, but they've also brought back 16 retro stages from every past game including the infamous N64 Bowser Castle. It's long regarded as one of the best tracks in the entire series, and it deserves to be on more than one platform. There's a total of 3 Bowser Castle tracks in the game, including the 3rd version from the SNES version as well as a new, more insane version for the Wii game. Rainbow Road is back too, and just when I thought they couldn't make it more insane, amazing and annoying: they did.

Another great improvement that was brought over from Double Dash is the availability of different Karts. Unlike in past games, where the racers' weight depended on your stats, its the Kart that does it, which makes the other character's weight equal to their respective weight classes. That also means no easy balloon popping whenever Bowser slams into Toad. I loved doing that, and now it's gone! Not only are there Karts, there's bikes as well, which also have their own individual stats and whatnot. Unlike the Karts, which are more suited for the Wii Wheel, the Bikes seem to have better handling on Gamecube controllers, where the analog sticks control the steering.

Battle Mode is back too, either in classic Balloon Battle or Coin Runner, where you must collect the most coins. A plus for the Wii version is that you're split up into teams with the other available racers, meaning that friendless schlubs like me don't have to play one-sided battles anymore! Did I also mention that WiFi is here for both battle and race modes, and is actually smooth? Definitely an improvement over Brawl's "WiFi" that makes battles last 10 seconds.

Then there's the roster. It has the largest one in the series' history, with 24 characters (25 if you count both Mii costumes). There are some newcomers like Baby Daisy, Funky Kong, Princess Rosalina, Dry Bowser (a skeletal Bowser), and your own Mii, as well as two characters who were left out but were in Double Dash: Petey Piranha and Paratoopa. It's a shame that they never brought back Donkey Kong Jr, or even considered including Magikoopa, who was scheduled to be in the N64 version before being bumped by Wario at the last minute. As I mentioned in the K blog, the Koopa Troopa is back and is now a lightweight, and is currently my favorite racer (it used to be Toad).

Mario Party: Another great spin-off Mario game series. It's where you play as various Nintendo characters (my favorite was Wario), move around a board game to collect Stars and coins. You played minigames after every round, and the person with the most stars won. Frankly, the series achieved perfection at Mario Party 2. The third one was decent, but it forever holds the distinction of being "Not Mario Party 2." After that, it went downhill and I gave up after the Fifth one. Seriously, why the hell did we need to be able to play as THREE Baby Bowsers and no Donkey Kong?!

As I was saying, the Second one was perfect. Despite doing away with the weight classes (which made Wario & DK the best characters), it fixed all of the problems the first one had. It got rid of those annoying 1-player minigames (that Limbo one was a total bitch), the loss of coins during 2-on-2 games if you lost them, and, most important, no more of those "rotate the control stick" games! Damn, I hated those. It got to the point where people's hands were being blistered and cut open due to spinning it so many times, so Nintendo offered Mario Party Gloves to cover up injured hands. Several of the better minigames from the first game returned or were slightly rehashed, such as Bumper Balls, Slot Car Derby, Hexagon Heat, Balloon Burst and Grab Bag. There was also the addition of items (and Item Minigames), the Bank, Duel minigames, and Battle Minigames. The Item & battle minigames were awesome and slightly difficult, while the Duel Games were unique to the stage you played on. The duel aspect would later be perfected and have a unique Duel Mode exclusive to Mario Party 3.

The most unique aspect about this one is that all of the boards are themed, and every character is dressed in a costume to match it. Then there's the reveal of the winner. There's no elimination of the people who didn't win, but before the placing is revealed, a short scene begins involving Bowser. The character who steps in to save the day is revealed to be the winner once and for all. My favorite one was the one for Bowser Land, where Bowser transforms into Metal Bowser and the player defeats him by spinning & tossing him a la Mario 64. Sadly, this was the only one out of the eight or so games in the series to actually have these traits.

Muppet Babies: I mentioned the Muppet Show in previous entries, but haven't really commented on this show. In the same vein as Flintstone Kids and A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, this show took the familiar Muppet characters and made them precocious youngsters. Unlike those other shows, this one did it right. Kermit, Scooter, Rowlf, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie and Animal were the main familiar Muppets in the show, and were joined by newcomer Skeeter (Scooter's unknown-until-that-point sister) and their Nanny, who was always seen from the neck down and voiced by Barbara Billingsly. Baby versions of Bunsen, Beaker, Bean Bunny, Robin, and even Janice also appeared now and then, along with Statler & Waldorf (as adults).

Besides teaching standard children's show fare like "Sharing," "Don't be afraid of the dark," and "Don't shiv Gonzo," the show mostly focused on utilizing the Power of Imagination™. Since the show was always contained in a nursery, the Muppet friends used their minds to create complex environments and scenarios such as creating their own Amusement Park, imagining a Zoo, journeying inside Scooter's body to cure his cold, creating a 60 Minutes-esque newscast, attempt to pass Scooter off as Maverick, and even pulling off their own version of Star Wars. There's also the running gag of Gonzo opening up the closet to find stock footage waiting for him on the other side, like a train barrelling towards him or scenes from the 1930's Dracula movie. I dare you to see if I'm kidding about any of those, that's what made the show so awesome.

I watched it to the point of obsession as a child, with my dad wondering why I always watch it. When I saw some footage a few years back...I came to realize that it's a show that does NOT stand the test of time. It was originally produced in 1984, and it shows. Computers were clunky and primitive, MTV actually showed music videos (even parodying it's tagline "I Want My MTV!"), Snowboarding was a "Hip! New! Thing!", the various references to Star Wars (the original one), Micheal J. Fox being among Baby Miss Piggy's many crushes, and there was even an episode revolving around now-Old School video games. It was one of my favorite episodes, and one that I remember vividly. They managed to parody Tetris, Frogger, Super Mario Bros, Paperboy, The Legend of Zelda, even showing actual in-game footage of Donkey Kong Jr.

Also, it seems that all of their voices are really, really, really, fucking annoying and grating to the ears. I used to enjoy these voices, now they irritate the hell out of me for some reason. It's probably due to the voice cast: Howie Mandel, Dave Coulier, Russi Taylor, and Frank Welker were among the high-pitched voice cast.

Mountain Dew: Unlike most of you, I hate this drink. Don't like it one bit. But I shall be honest: I have not tried it in a long time, so I am unfamiliar with the taste. I act like Homer Simpson with this drink, as I will choose a mountain of Crab Juice over a single can of this stuff. The only thing that may turn my taste buds around are the fact that three new flavors have been released and have all been given positive reviews.

Mr. Bogus: From the "Does Anyone Else Besides Me Remember This?" File, we have this short-lived 1990 children's show. It was about a small yellow Gremlin named Mr. Bogus who lived in the walls of an average boy's home causing trouble, or sometimes solving it. Sometimes the boy would discover him, only to have his parents not believe him. That's pretty much it about the entire premise of the series. It was shown in syndication for a while (I think it was on UPN or something in my region), and then briefly shown again on the then-Fox Family Channel. Many old Late 80's/Early-90s' cartoons went there to die, like the Heathcliff cartoon and the one based on Creepy Crawlers.

In between the animated segments, there were more well-known short vignettes made with stop-motion animation shown. Below is a video comprising about 5 1/2 minutes worth of these:

Let's see if it jars any memory banks.

"Mmm...Free Goo."


DC said...

The letter 'M' and nothing on Mac and Me??? Shame!

I remember really enjoying the Muppet Babies as a kid too. But, yes, the voices really grate on you now.

Galileo said...

I never saw Mac & Me, so why would I comment on it?

Frankly, I think Matt's review of it is about 100x better than mine would ever be.

JoshC said...

This post is quite Mario heavy, I am pleased.

I used to love Muppet Babies too, haven't seen it in a long time but I might look into changing that.

I am not a fan of mountain dew either, and it could be that I'm just crazy, but I've noticed that it goes flat long before any other soda does.

Dan said...

You really should pick up Mario Kart DS, it's pretty good for a Kart game.
And Mario Party is always a good time but I agree it did lose some of it's charm when they stopped doing the story ending and just did the elimination thing.
I used to watch Muppet Babies at one time but the voices wore on me long before now, especially Ms Piggy.
As for Mountain Dew I alternate between that and Pepsi, although lately Dew has just seemed overly sweet to me.