kottke.org posts about Super Mario Bros

Super Mario shengFeb 25 2014

The sheng is a free-reed wind instrument dating back to 1100 BCE in China. Using a modern sheng, Li-Jin Lee makes the ancient instrument sound remarkably like Super Mario Bros., including coin and power-up sounds.

And I know the Olympics are over and good riddance and all that, but this Mario Kart speedskating bit is great. Baby Park was one of my favorite tracks on Double Dash.

The lowest possible score in Super Mario BrosFeb 21 2014

If you play carefully by not stomping enemies, not collecting coins, not eating mushrooms or flowers, and hopping on the flagpole at the very last second, you can rescue the princess in Super Mario Bros with only 500 points.

One bit is surprisingly tricky:

How tough is that jump in 8-1? Well, the timing of the liftoff, the duration of holding the jump button, and the timing of the wall jump are all frame perfect. NES games run at 60 frames per second, which means all the necessary inputs need to be timed within 1/60 of a second. In addition, the starting position before running I used not only has to be on the right pixel, but also the x sub-pixel has to fall within a certain range (technical stuff blah blah blah). In short, it's a pretty annoying jump.

When I was a kid, I left my NES on for three straight days to flip the score in SMB, using the 1UP trick and another spot in the game to get many lives and points. Scoring lower would have been a lot quicker.

The politics of Super Mario BrosApr 09 2013

Quora is full of questions college students ask each other while high, except that sometimes they get answered seriously. Case in point: What is the political situation in the Mario universe? The top answer starts out:

Without going into too much detail, Mario generally lives and works in the Mushroom Kingdom, one of the largest geo-political structures on Mushroom World, in the Grand Finale Galaxy in, yes, the Mushroom Universe.

For the purposes of this answer I will deliberately restrict the terms to discussing Mushroom World, as a comprehensive answer on the entire Mushroom Universe would require covering 20-22 (depending on how you count) Galaxies and frankly, I doubt it would be any more fun to read than it would be to write.

Also, Bowser is probably a fascist.

Mario goes berserkSep 22 2012

Mario has had enough of your bullshit.

(via ★robotix)

Super Mario Bros for the Atari 2600Aug 23 2012

This seems like a Soviet version of Mario:

Get the game here. (via bb)

Super Mario Bros, the abridged versionApr 24 2012

A Super Mario Summary is a abbreviated version of the original Super Mario Bros game in which each of the levels has been squeezed into one screen. For instance, here's World 1-1:

Super Mario Summary

(via waxy)

Super Mario Bros as surrealist artMar 16 2012

Eating a flower gives you the power to spit fireballs. Bullets have faces. Stars make you invincible. In addtion to being video game, maybe Super Mario Bros is a surrealist masterpiece.

Super Mario Bros with a Portal gunMar 07 2012

Mari0, the Super Mario Bros + Portal mashup I posted about last August, is now finished and available for download for Windows, OS X, and Linux.

A Super Mario Bros version of Portal?!Aug 29 2011

Wow. Someone is making a video game featuring the original Super Mario Bros worlds but Mario is outfitted with a Portal gun. Watch the demo:

More information on the game's development is here.

Yes, this is an actual game being developed - it is not a mod of any existing one. It's coded with L"ove (info at the bottom of the left menu) and will be released for free (so we don't get stabbed by lawyers)

All the source code of the game will be available after release

The game will have mappacks, which will be downloadable from ingame. Users most likely won't be able to publish maps directly, but will be able to send them in and we'll add them for everyone to use.

The primary maps will have a story and some portaly puzzles. What kind, well, we'll figure that out as we go

Level editor will be embedded in the game so you can edit the level while you play

Original SMB levels and Lost levels will be included

Simultaneous Multiplayer

If Super Mario Bros was designed in 2010Aug 11 2011

If Super Mario Bros was designed more recently, it might look a little different.

Super Mario 2010

(via ★interesting-links)

Infinite Super Mario BrosJul 26 2011

Based on Super Mario 3, this HTML5 Super Mario game goes on forever. Someone bet Billy Mitchell he can't finish this game and we'll never have to hear from him again! (via waxy)

First person Super MarioMar 24 2011

Here's what playing the original Super Mario Bros would look like from a first-person perspective.

(via devour)

Video game footballJan 11 2011

In the Seahawks/Saints game over the weekend, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch made an improbable game-winning touchdown run. So, I can't decide which one of these videos is better. Marshawn Lynch's Tecmo Bowl Run:

Or Marshawn Lynch as Super Mario in star mode:

The Super Mario Bros infinite 1-upOct 28 2010

In a recent interview for the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros., Mario's baby daddy Shigeru Miyamoto revealed that the infinite 1-up trick was included in the game on purpose but that the minus world was a bug.

"We did code the game so that a trick like that would be possible," Miyamoto revealed. "We tested it out extensively to figure out how possible pulling the trick off should be and came up with how it is now, but people turned out to be a lot better at pulling the trick off for ages on end than we thought." What about the famed Minus World? "That's a bug, yes, but it's not like it crashes the game, so it's really kind of a feature, too!"

Super Mario Bros, 2010 versionMay 05 2010

What if Super Mario Bros had been designed as a typical circa-2010 networked game? It might look a little something like this:

Super Mario Bros 2010

The site's a little slow right now...check back later if you can't get the page to load. (via waxy)

Super Mario Bros remixedApr 28 2010

Oh, man. Now you can play the original Super Mario Bros game as Link from Zelda, Mega Man, Samus Aran, and others. Really really fun. The only thing that could make this better is if you could play as NHL94's Jeremy Roenick or Tecmo Bowl's Bo Jackson. (thx, will)

Tuper Tario TrosDec 30 2009

Super Mario Bros + Tetris = Tuper Tario Tros. (via waxy)

New Super Mario Bros. WiiAug 21 2009

Might have to dust off the Wii for this one: New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

Features include four-player collaborative play (!!) and something called "demo play".

The game will also be the first game on the Wii to feature "demo play", where players will be able to pause the game, let the game complete the level for them, and resume play at any time by unpausing.

In my house, this was called the "give the controller to my 11-year-old cousin and let him show you how it's done" feature. I both hated and loved that feature. (via object of my obsession)

Video game physicsJan 16 2009

An examination of gravity in the Super Mario Bros series.

We determined that, generally speaking, the gravity in each Mario game, as game hardware has increased, is getting closer to the true value of gravity on earth of 9.8 m/s^2. However, gravity, even on the newest consoles, is still extreme.

In Super Mario 2, Mario experiences a g-force of 11 each time he falls from a ledge, a force that would cause mere humans to black out. In Madden 2006, the game's fastest cornerbacks can run the 40 in 2.6 seconds. (via waxy)

Bowser's MinionsJul 30 2008

The minions of Bowser get together for a little chat about their frustrations.

The Mario jumps over me every time. I don't know why Bowser put this goddamn chain on my body.

Moving MarioJun 12 2008

Moving Mario: imagine Super Mario Bros as created by Michel Gondry. Check out the video to get the gist.

Time merge mediaFeb 05 2008

Someone made a video overlay of the 134 times it took him to get through one level of hacked version of Mario World.

Oh, and how that relates to quantum mechanics:

But, we can kind of think of the multi-playthrough Kaizo Mario World video as a silly, sci-fi style demonstration of the Quantum Suicide experiment. At each moment of the playthrough there's a lot of different things Mario could have done, and almost all of them lead to horrible death. The anthropic principle, in the form of the emulator's save/restore feature, postselects for the possibilities where Mario actually survives and ensures that although a lot of possible paths have to get discarded, the camera remains fixed on the one path where after one minute and fifty-six seconds some observer still exists.

Some of my favorite art and media deals with the display of multiple time periods at once. Here are some other examples, many of which I've featured on kottke.org in the past.

Averaging Gradius predates the Mario World video by a couple years; it's 15 games of Gradius layered over one another.

Averaging Gradius

I found even the more pointless things incredibly interesting (and telling), like seeing when each person pressed the start button to skip the title screen from scrolling in, or watching as each Vic Viper, in sequence, would take out the red ships flying in a wave pattern, to leave behind power-ups in an almost perfect sine wave sequence. I love how the little mech-like gunpods together emerge from off screen, as a bright, white mass, and slowly break apart into a rainbow of mech clones.

According to the start screen, Cursor*10 invites the you to "cooperate by oneself". The game applies the lessons of Averaging Gradius and multiple-playthrough Kaizo Mario World to create a playable game. The first time through, you're on your own. On subsequent plays, the game overlays your previous attempts on the screen to help you avoid mistakes, get through faster, and collaborate on the tougher puzzles.

Moving away from games, several artists are experimenting with the compression of multiple photographs made over time into one view. Jason Salavon's averaged Playboy centerfolds and other amalgamations, Atta Kim's long exposures, Michael Wesley's Open Shutter Projekt and others. I'm quite sure there are many more.

Dozens of frames of Run Lola Run racing across the giant video screen in the lobby of the IAC building.

The same kind of thing happens in this Call and Response video; 9 frames display at the same time (with audio), each a moment ahead of the previous frame.

Related, but not exactly in the same spirit, are projects like Noah Kalina's Noah K. Everyday in which several photos of the same person (or persons) taken over time are displayed on one page, like frames of a very slow moving film. More examples: JK Keller's The Adaption to my Generation, Nicholas Nixon's portraits of the Brown sisters, John Stone's fitness progress, Diego Golberg's 32 years of family portraits, and many more.

Update: Another video game one: 1000 cars racing at the same time. (thx, matt)

Update: More games: Super Earth Defense Game, Time Raider, and Timebot. (thx, jon)

Update: Recreating Movement is a method for making time merge photos (thx, boris):

With the help of various filters and settings Recreating Movement makes it possible to extract single frames of any given film sequence and arranges them behind each other in a three-dimensional space. This creates a tube-like set of frames that "freezes" a particular time span in a film.

How You See It overlays three TV news programs covering the same story. (via waxy)

Update: James Seo's White Glove Tracking visualizations. The Slinky one is mesmerizing once you figure out what to look for. Seo also keeps a blog on spilt-screen media.

Wailing Pull Stars of Super Mario GalaxyDec 03 2007

The latest installment of Super Mario has received plenty of notice for its revolutionary style of gameplay. But just as striking is the intricacy of its sound design. One convention of the game is a Pull Star, a floating anchor that Mario can grab with some sort of magical, musical force which, when activated emits a creepy, almost theremin-like wail, wavering just a bit before solemnly sliding down in pitch. This sound is one of those elemental formulas for touching an emotional soft spot. The other day I was playing a level with a series of Pull Stars in succession and my girlfriend implored me to stop, as it was making her sad, and not only because I'm a grown man playing a child's video game. Here is an example of the Wailing Pull Star (and a taste of the very Vangelis-like score scattered throughout the game).

Also: via Boing Boing Gadgets, footage from a live orchestra scoring session for the game. Mario's creator, Shigeru Miyamoto sits aside and supervises.

Also also: I noticed that the menu for selecting levels to play is a musical instrument in its own right, allowing the player to create melody with chord changes and everything. It's a subtle touch.

Nice interview with Nintendo game designer YoshiakiNov 28 2007

Nice interview with Nintendo game designer Yoshiaki Koizumi, particularly the bits about shifting from 2-D to 3-D Mario games and Mario Galaxy. The bulk of the gameplay in Galaxy takes place on spherical surfaces:

He explained that no matter how large you make the playing field, if you walk long enough you will run into a wall, and that will make you turn around, which makes the camera turn around and runs the risk of making the player lost. With a sphere, Mario can run all he wants without falling or hitting a wall... a useful concept for getting players totally absorbed in the moment. Koizumi added that the best thing about spherical worlds is the "unity of surface," and the "connectedness." Neither will the player get lost easily, or need to adjust the camera - by using spheres, Koizumi said, they had created a game field that never ended.

They also talk about the Galaxy's two-player (well, 1.5-player really) feature, which is a really nice way of getting a second passive player involved in what is essentially a one-player game. (via snarkmarket)

An appreciation of the Real Super MarioNov 12 2007

An appreciation of the Real Super Mario Bros 2. The game was released in Japan in 1986 but was considered too difficult/weird for US gamers and a different Mario 2 (based on a Japanese game called Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic) was released to the US.

In most games, you trust that the designer is guiding you, through the usual signposts and landmarks, in the direction that you ought to go. In the Real Super Mario Bros. 2, you have no such faith. Here, Miyamoto is not God but the devil. Maybe he really was depressed while making it -- I kept wanting to ask him, Why have you forsaken me? The online reviewer who sizes up the game as "a giant puzzle and practical joke" isn't far off.

The whole upshot is that RSMB2 is now available on the Wii Virtual Console as Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels. And for the record, I loved SMB2.

I'm a light Etsy user, but LostSep 05 2007

I'm a light Etsy user, but Lost Mitten has a great store: Super Mario Bros drink coasters, Katamari Damacy buttons, Bob-omb needlepoint patch, etc. I'm a proud owner of a set of Bubble Bobble coasters. She takes custom orders, will reissue sold items, and all her stuff is 20% off until Thu. (Know of any good Etsy stores? Share them in the comments.)

Strange musical machinesJun 26 2007

Who knew you could play the theme song from Super Mario Brothers with a Tesla coil?

So just to explain a little further, yes, it is the actual high voltage sparks that are making the noise. Every cycle of the music is a burst of sparks at 41 KHz, triggered by digital circuitry at the end of a "long" piece of fiber optics. What's not immediately obvious in this video is how loud this is. Many people were covering their ears, dogs were barking. In the sections where the crowd is cheering and the coils is starting and stopping, you can hear the the crowd is drowned out by the coil when it's firing.

More about Tesla coils at Wikipedia. (thx, mike)

And I don't know what rock I've been hiding under for the past 33 years, but this Gnarls Barkley cover is the first I've heard of the theremin music machine:

In a great illustration of the sometimes odd path that innovation takes, Robert Moog found inspiration in the theremin after it had fallen out of favor in serious musical circles:

After a flurry of interest in America following the end of the Second World War, the theremin soon fell into disuse with serious musicians, mainly because newer electronic instruments were introduced that were easier to play. However, a niche interest in the theremin persisted, mostly among electronics enthusiasts and kit-building hobbyists. One of these electronics enthusiasts, Robert Moog, began building theremins in the 1950s, while he was a high-school student. Moog subsequently published a number of articles about building theremins, and sold theremin kits which were intended to be assembled by the customer. Moog credited what he learned from the experience as leading directly to his groundbreaking synthesizer, the Minimoog.

Update: Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey is a 1994 documentary about the theremin and its inventor. Here's a trailer, a review by Roger Ebert, and the DVD from Amazon. (thx, jeb & mark)

The Line Rider version of the firstMay 23 2007

The Line Rider version of the first level of Super Mario Bros...in case you need to know what having way too much time on your hands looks like.

Amusing Super Mario Bros mod. Like theApr 16 2007

Amusing Super Mario Bros mod. Like the post says, the invisible coin blocks are surprisingly funny. (via waxy)

A group of people who are interestedMar 12 2007

A group of people who are interested in preserving video games as culturally and historically important artifacts has chosen their list of the top 10 most important video games of all time: Spacewar!, Star Raiders, Zork, Tetris, SimCity, Super Mario Bros. 3, Civilization I/II, Doom, Warcraft series and Sensible World of Soccer. Sensible World of Soccer?

Slang suggestion: "bang the bricks" as aMar 01 2007

Slang suggestion: "bang the bricks" as a euphemism for getting money from an ATM. "Everybody knows how Mario from the Super Mario Brothers is getting money: He bangs against a brick with his head."

Beatboxing flautist + Super Mario theme song = YouTube gold.Feb 22 2007

Beatboxing flautist + Super Mario theme song = YouTube gold.

Artist Bob Dob has some nice videoNov 13 2006

Artist Bob Dob has some nice video game-related oil paintings, including mugshots of Mario & Luigi and Mario & Donkey Kong hanging out, having a beer. (thx, chris)

Grand Theft Mario = Super Mario Bros + Grand Theft Auto.Nov 07 2006

Grand Theft Mario = Super Mario Bros + Grand Theft Auto.

Artist Jeremiah Palecek has recently been paintingMay 18 2006

Artist Jeremiah Palecek has recently been painting pieces inspired by video games, including Super Mario Bros.

"What would your ideal fantasy-baseball lineup beMar 14 2006

"What would your ideal fantasy-baseball lineup be if you had to create it using only characters from classic Nintendo video games?" Toad and Mario from Super Mario Bros make the starting lineup.

David argues for more variation and serendipityFeb 28 2006

David argues for more variation and serendipity in video games. "...games overcompensate for their lack of variance in game play with over-the-top psychedelic graphics and sound effects. This is not a new problem of course with Pac-man and Super Mario Brothers often held up as classic examples."

Super Mario sound effects. (via alice)Feb 03 2006

Super Mario sound effects. (via alice)

Ian Albert collects really large digital images (100Jan 24 2006

Ian Albert collects really large digital images (100-900 megapixels) and constructs maps of video game worlds, including Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda. (via lia)

Fascinating and disturbing realistic drawings of MarioSep 23 2005

Fascinating and disturbing realistic drawings of Mario and Luigi. Some things you can't unsee. (via alice)

As near as I can tell, SuperAug 23 2005

As near as I can tell, Super Mario Bros will be 20 years old on 9/13/05. Happy! Mario 20th.

Mariopedia is "an illustrated listing of virtuallyJul 06 2005

Mariopedia is "an illustrated listing of virtually every character, item, and enemy from the 'Super Mario Universe'".

Pickup Lines Used by Mario [of Mario Bros. fame]May 31 2005

Pickup Lines Used by Mario [of Mario Bros. fame]. "Are you a magic flower? Because you are burning me up."

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