Tag Archives: super mario bros

Rob’s Rockin’ Retro Reviews: Super Mario Bros!

28 Aug

Hello, and welcome to Rob’s Rockin’ Retro Reviews! In association with the ruddy fantastic Retr0mance, I’m going to be playin’ and reviewin’ through my video game collection, from the NES era through to Xbox 360.

Let’s start with a real classic.

Super Mario Bros was the first game I ever played, and the first game a lot of my generation played. You know, we’re the old bastards who remember floppy disks and booting up DOS, recording songs off the radio onto cassette and having to rewind a VHS tape after we watched a film. Mario was our first look at the world of video games, and it taught us a lot of valuable lessons; that turtles are not to be trusted, that mushrooms are sometimes good and sometimes bad, and that you can survive being shot at by jumping on the bullet as it goes past you.

Neo ain’t got shit on Mario

Hell, without Super Mario Bros there probably wouldn’t be video games. After the video game crash, it picked up the industry, gave it a pat on the back and said “it’s all right, little one. There won’t be any more ET games. Here’s a fat Italian man committing acts of horrible animal cruelty”. And we loved it. I still love it. If it were possible, I would have sex with this game right now.

There are a few things I don’t understand though.

First up, those Goombas. The little evil mushrooms. Those guys apparently betrayed the other fungi sects in the Mushroom Kingdom. They teamed up with the Koopas to take down the princess and all those little brown-nosing mushroom dudes you see in the rest of the game. Toad ain’t called Toad after toadstool, people. He’s a bootlicker.

Anyway, what did they get out of it? Because as far as I can tell, they’re the grunt troops, told to walk in a straight line until they are crushed by a man in dungarees or fall off a cliff. They go at their job with such dogmatic fervour. What exactly did the Koopas promise them? Gold? Power? Fame? Little mushroom women? There are many unanswered questions.

Like these little guys:

Are they conjoined twins? Are they a little Goomba couple holding hands? I don’t know, but I do know that I don’t want to ruin their day. For all I know they’re off to Barcelona for a romantic getaway, or finally having the operation so they can function separately.

Mario, though, is a huge part of my formative childhood. I don’t remember the first time I played it. I don’t remember the first time I found the secret 1-up in the first level. I can’t actually remember a time when I didn’t know where all the Warp Zones were. Seriously. Like how I’ve always known the names of Star Wars characters when they’re not even mentioned in the bloody film.

Bossk is BOSS.

Anyway. As a kid, this game was hard. I’ll always remember getting stuck in the castles because of those goddamn rotating fire skewers of hot hot heat. You go back and play it at any other age though, say from eight and above, and you’ll probably wonder how you had such difficulty. Apart from me, though. I still suck. Damn turtles. Never trust them.

Point is, it was the first game we played. We were getting used to how video games even controlled. It was a long time before we got our mitts on Contra (or as I know, it Probotector – being a Brit is sometimes very silly), and a long, long time before we beat that game without using the Konami Code. Mario helped us adapt to a new form of entertainment, so even if it’s easy by the standards of the time, it’s good that it was easy. It helped bring a whole new mass market into gaming and for that I am eternally grateful.

I wouldn’t be the…erm…upstanding citizen I am today without video games.

Aside from that, what is there to say? The controls are nice and responsive, the game-play is fun, the graphics are iconic and the soundtrack is boss. You know all this already. It’s a great game, and a classic. The NES had a lot of duff games, but when it was good, it was great. Super Mario Bros set a very high benchmark to measure other games against, and for a long time it was unsurpassed in the platformer market. It’s incredible that a game from 1985, three whole years before I was bloody born, can still bring such joy. Super Mario Bros, you have my sword, my bow, and my axe. God speed.

Not only that, but this review is now available in video format!

Up next: some more horror movie-related guff. Until next time!

Why I Love The 90s: The Original Video Game Movies

2 Aug

I have a compulsion to watch every video game film I can find. I know most of them are trash, about 98% of them are directed by Uwe Boll, and they deviate crazily from the source material, but I can’t help but track them down, just to see how bad they are. I can count the number of passable video game movies on one hand. The only video game film that I think of as ‘good’ is Silent Hill.

Pyramid Head is a busy guy.

However, there are still plenty of enjoyable shit movies from the early days. Let’s have a look at the pioneers of the sub-genre and all of their flaws.


Super Mario Bros

Awww yeah! Super Mario Bros is the one that started it all. It’s a horrible, horrible mess of a film: part kid’s comedy, part action, part Blade Runner-esque cyberpunk nightmare. Bob Hoskins puts on a brilliant Brooklyn accent as Mario and John Leguizamo plays a snotty teenage Luigi. In spite of all its problems, I still love this movie. Dennis Hopper is brilliant as King Koopa, there are about ten billion quotable lines and some really fun set pieces. Hell, it starts with a couple of dinosaurs talking in New Yoik accents. Sure, it’s a bad film, and has nothing to do with the games, but it sits comfortably – and brilliantly – in the so-bad-it’s-good section of my movie library.


Double Dragon

We’ve all played Double Dragon, right? A kidnapped girl leads two brothers to go kick the crap out of a gang and generally be total badasses. The obvious choice for such a simple, dumb story, then is to add a bunch of jargon about a magical amulet and evil overlords. Throw the bad guy from Terminator 2 and Alyssa Milano into the mix and you’re sure to win an Oscar, right? Well, not quite. But you do get an awful movie full of 90s clichés and some awful performances. Kudos to them for making Marian, the girlfriend from the game, into an active character though.


Street Fighter

This film can be summed up entirely in a single casting choice: the lead character is Guile, a man so American he has the star-spangled banner tattooed on his arm. Who’s the best person to play this all-USA dude? Why, the Belgian actor and roundhouse-kicker Jean Claude Van Damme, of course! The movie-makers managed to squeeze a load of the characters from Street Fighter 2 in, which certainly deserves credit, but it means that the plot is completely insane. It all looks incredibly tacky, too. What saves it? Why, a brilliant performance from the late, great Raul Julia as M. Bison of course! It was his last movie role and it’s worth the cost of the DVD alone. Well, that and seeing Kylie Minogue acting. Yup.


Mortal Kombat

Aside from Silent Hill, I actually think Mortal Kombat is the best video game movie. It’s trashy and dumb, but it’s just so much darn fun. It’s also got a plot that kind of makes sense (well, in comparison to the likes of Super Mario Bros and Street Fighter), and who needs acting talent when you’ve got wise-cracking, shades-wearing kung fu heroes punching four-armed monsters in the bollocks? Great fight scenes, awesome special effects, awful one-liners: this movie has it all. Unfortunately, the sequel Mortal Kombat: Annihilation isn’t quite as good.


Wing Commander

Last and possibly least is 1999’s Wing Commander. The games had a great cast – with Mark Hamill and Malcolm McDowell in the brilliant Wing Commander III – and what better way to continue that trend than with the magnificent Freddie Prinze Jr. Ahem. The movie follows the usual plot of the plucky young rookies who manage to save humanity whilst being very cool and relatable for the film’s target demographic.


After these trendsetting films, the video game film adaptation trend really kicked off, particularly after the big success of the Resident Evil franchise. But for me, these 90s films are very interesting to watch back. In fact, I would rather watch Super Mario or Mortal Kombat than the likes of Max Payne or Hitman any day of the week.

Seriously, how can you ever beat scenes like this?

Money, Money, Money: Ten Box Office Flops You Need to See

30 Jul

It seems as though every year there are big-budget movies that fall through the cracks. This summer alone we’ve had Battleship, John Carter, Rock of Ages, and potentially The Watch failing to deliver when it comes to earnings. But being a financial flop is not always indicative of being a bad-quality film. Not every film that fails is a Pluto Nash or Battlefield Earth. Here are ten box office flops that are still worth a viewing.


Death to Smoochy

Danny De Vito’s 2002 black comedy about corruption in children’s television was a huge financial failure, making only $8 million from US box office. It was hit-and-miss with the critics and even received a Razzy nomination. In spite of that, it’s still one of the funniest films I have ever seen. The film follows Sheldon Mopes (Edward Norton) when his Barney-a-like character Smoochy replaces the corrupt entertainer Rainbow Randolph, brilliantly performed by Robin Williams. Along the way Mopes encounters the Irish mob, children’s charity gangsters and bung-taking agents. It’s a hilarious and smart comedy, with a unique style, brilliant script and a number of great performances.



Gattaca put Ethan Hawke, Jude Law, and Uma Thurman together in 1997 and came out with $12 million from a $36 million budget.  It was a big hit with the critics and even had an Oscar nomination. Audiences chose to miss out on one of the most intelligent science fiction films ever made, creating a realistic future world where employability is entirely decided upon a person’s pre-determined life expectancy. Asking big questions about genetic engineering and the power of the health industry, Gattaca was perhaps a little too high-concept for its own good.


Strange days

Kathryn Bigalow directed this James Cameron-scribed cyberpunk thriller. In it, Ralph Fiennes plays an ex-cop who makes a living selling memories – memories that can be played and recorded via a device that hooks into the cerebral cortex. One of these memories, though, contains a horrifying secret, which leads Fiennes deeper and deeper into a dangerous conspiracy. In spite of a cast including Tom Sizemore, Juliette Lewis and Angela Bassett, and plenty of critical acclaim, Strange Days didn’t come close to making back its $42 million budget.


The Cable Guy

I think we’ve all come across this one at some point or another. A film that ‘nearly wrecked Jim Carrey’s career’ according to Homer Simpson, in fact this Ben Stiller-directed movie wasn’t a flop at all and made $60 million in America alone. Then why is it on this list? Well, because people often give it a swerve due to its notoriety. If you give it a chance you’ll find a great black comedy with some hilarious jokes, an intelligent message and a strangely prophetic vision of the future:

Not bad for a film from 1996, eh?


Cool World

Ever imagine what would happen if Who Framed Roger Rabbit had an older, weirder brother? Well, if you did, Cool World is the film for you. Gabriel Byrne is a comic book artist who is sucked into the universe he created. Unfortunately, some of the ‘toons he created want to get out. The film was plagued by rewrites that took it away from director Ralph Bashki’s original idea (the original plot involved a half-‘toon, half-human hybrid escaping from a comic book to seek revenge on its human father – awesome, I know). Although Cool World is a bit of a bloated mess, and isn’t necessarily a good movie, it’s still got lots of interesting ideas and is worth watching.


The King of Comedy

A lot of the time, you can see why a film failed, even if you don’t agree. Maybe Gattaca was too intelligent for most movie-goers; maybe Death to Smoochy was too dark given the very cartoony surface layer; maybe Strange Days was a bit too geek-friendly. I can see no reason why The King of Comedy flopped, though. It’s directed brilliantly by Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro gives possibly his best performance, and the film has a brutal, chilling quality throughout. Throw in the critique of media idols that the film presents and you’ve got a movie that, by all rights, should have been a classic. Unfortunately, only the critics seemed to see it.


Last Action Hero

Another one of the big historical failures, 1993’s Last Action Hero declared a financial loss of $26 million. In spite of this, the movie still did fairly well at the box office – but not enough to offset the whopping budget that was reported to be over $70 million. Panned by the critics at the time, the film has actually stood up to the test of time very well, giving an incisive, satirical critique of the world of action movies whilst delivering plenty of fun action set pieces.


Deep Rising

What happens if you combine Aliens with Titanic and throw Die Hard into the mix? Deep Rising, that’s what! A team of mercenaries attempt to hijack the most expensive cruise ship in the world. When they get there, they discover that evil aquatic monsters have got there before they have. An action-comedy-horror hybrid, the film is full of quotable lines and memorable (sometimes gory) scenes. Unfortunately critics and movie-goers alike didn’t agree.


Titan A.E.

This animated film, directed by Don Bluth, with Joss Whedon on the writing team and Matt Damon, Bill Pullman and Drew Barrymore in the cast, did so badly that it closed Fox Animation Studios. The movie created a wonderful setting – a humanity spread across a vibrant universe after the destruction of Earth – and gave an epic plot reminiscent of Star Wars. Unfortunately, the film fell between a younger and older demographic and a lot of people missed out on a great sci-fi movie.


Cutthroat Island

Cutthroat Island is part of one of the biggest disasters in movie history – between this and Showgirls, it forced the fantastic Carolco Pictures to close. What makes Carolco Pictures so special?  Well, only that they were responsible for the Rambo movies, Total Recall, and Terminator 2. But is Cutthroat Island really that bad? No, not really. In fact, it shares a striking number of similarities to the massive hit Pirates of the Caribbean. Geena Davis is fantastic, the plot is fun, but most importantly, it is a wonderfully entertaining adventure movie. If it had been made a few years later, with a decent marketing push behind it, I’m sure that Cutthroat Island would have been a hit.


Hopefully, this will have made you think to look beyond whether a film did well at the box office before passing judgement on its quality. Of course, some films are awful and not worth buying, but some of them are genuinely fantastic movies.


And, ahem, some of them are so awful they need to be seen.