Warp Drive

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Nintendo Rhapsody (World 8: Pros and Cons WIP + Cliffnotes)

With my unceremonious departure from Cerritos College, and the apparent end of my school career, I fell back on that which I loved. My ongoing endeavors with Goalsoft. In January of 2001, I launched my first ever online magazine dedicated to Goalsoft. It was no doubt inspired in part by Nintendo Power. The Goalsoft MAG featured monthly interviews with the web staff, release dates for upcoming game projects, short stories, poems and one very controversial comedy column. The latter of which was hosted by Dave Smith. Goalsoft's resident comedy writer and beta tester. In the span of time between January and April of that year, I released Sword Quest III: Dimensional Drift, Super Israel World 2 and Swashblood Isle. I had originally intended to develop Swashblood Isle in Glumol, but the tools were unfortunately not made available until much later. I would instead use Clickteam's The Games Factory. Much like Klik & Play, it left something to be desired when developing traditional adventure games. Everything, as usual, had to be created from scratch. That included an inventory screen and dialogue prompt for every possible scenario in the game. Timers were used to tell the game whether or not an event could be triggered, and when and where to display an item. As a result of these limitations and improvisations, Swashblood Isle was more than a little rough around the edges. Clearly, I had an awful lot of free time on my hands. It certainly felt strange being out of school, but I still had a teacher or two in my life. I became rather hooked on TechTV, a cable network focused primarily on the computer industry. Leo Laporte and Patrick Norton hosted a late afternoon show known as The Screen Savers. They covered every computer topic one could imagine, but my favorite segments were the ones where they built custom machines for gaming and whatnot. It would be several years before I attempted such a thing of my own. With 2001 rapidly drawing to a close, I had just one thing on my mind. Nintendo's brand new disc-based console. For the longest time, it was known simply by a codename. Project Dolphin. A name that left quite a bit to the imagination.

My dad had taken an early retirement from The Boeing Company due to a back injury he sustained while on the job. He would come to find more time for hobbyist projects around the house, and just maybe a little time to play Nintendo. [A discussion of Ready 2 Rumble Boxing, Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2 and a few other multiplayer Nintendo 64 games]

It 'twas that most joyful time of the year again.

[Christmas 2001 and the four GameCube games that defined it: Luigi's Mansion, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II and Wave Race: Blue Storm]

[The summer of 2002 and the story of Super Mario Sunshine]

[An introduction for Mark Gillie and the storied history of agigames.com]

In the process of forging new friendships, we sometimes have to say goodbye to old ones. Goodbye can be a complicated word. It sometimes means until we meet again, and other times, it means forever. Forever is a mighty long time. What do we do with the pain we feel deep inside? Sometimes, we retreat into the world of make believe. Do you like trains? Because we are about to go on a trip. I have my sights set on a small village far from the hustle and bustle of every day life. I like to call it Wenfork. It is a name that just happened to come to me. It seemed nice enough. Wenfork was a village with infinite possibility. It just needed the right kind of touch. I brought a few of my make believe friends from home. One of them is named Bill Grig. His portrait will adorn the door of my new house. Wenfork needs its own anthem. I have that covered as well. And what is a village without villagers? Wenfork is filled with townsfolk, and each and every one of them is a unique individual. But Sven was my favorite among them. He lived just one square to the left of my house. We swapped stories and exchanged rare gifts. On occasion, we even wrote letters to one another. He was my next door neighbor, but more than that, he was my friend. A friend who was always there for me rain or shine. Until one day, that is, when he finally said goodbye and moved away to another village. I could hardly believe my eyes. I went back to where his house should be, but found an empty lot in its place. Goodbyes are never easy, but we can always cherish the memories we had together. "If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” -Fred Rogers

Animal Crossing was a rare gem for its time. Utilizing the internal clock of the Nintendo GameCube, it became possible to experience new activities and events with each passing day. Likewise, the ability to forge long-term friendships with in-game characters. Sven was but one of many possible villagers. All of which featured unique personalities. However, to be perfectly honest, I wanted Animal Crossing for one reason and one reason alone. The inclusion of playable Nintendo Entertainment System games. These could be received through certain villagers, and sometimes as birthday gifts. I created a rather snazzy game room in the basement of the house and arranged the NES games there. On that particular New Year's Eve, I skipped Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve to be with my make believe village. A reward was promised for sticking around until midnight. Wenfork would live on for many years to come. With every installment in the Animal Crossing series that followed, I maintained the name. The adornments and anthems would vary somewhat, but the spirit remained the same. Sadly, Sven would remain a cherished memory.


Animal Crossing: My Man Cave/NES Collection


Animal Crossing: Portrait of Bill Grig (Space Ruckus)

[The continuing adventures of Mark Gillie, and how for but a brief moment in time, we had the whole adventure game community turning heads with a persona named Conrad Sheldon. A grammar challenged character who, ironically, made me realize that my own grammar was in serious need of improvement]

[Zelda's GameCube debut in the form of The Wind Waker, a visually different looking game]


The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker Collection

[The birth of Space Ruckus: The Great Invasion, first hinted at in the concluding passage of Nintendo Rhapsody's World 5]

[A flashback to the earliest memory of the Nintendo Entertainment System]
"I can still remember when Goal Soft was first starting out. We were just one little site with very few games. Now we have multiple sites and tons of games. We are expanding faster than ever before and have a vast community of visitors. In the future we will grow and grow and someday make professional games. I would like to thank all the visitors that made this possible." -Marlon Castillo



Worlds To Come
World 9: Reboot
World 10: The Telltale Heart
World Flower: Going Home
Nintendo Rhapsody: The Later Years
World 12: The Family Saga
World 13: Just Another Day
World 14: The Rise of Switch
World 21: No More Continues

[Moving from the analog world to the digital world for Chapter 8. With the dismissal from Cerritos College, my life became increasingly digital. Most of my friends thereafter were met online, and my Goalsoft projects were coordinated through the web only]

[A brief mention for Sword Quest III: Dimensional Drift, Super Israel World 2 and Swashblood Isle]

[Swashblood Isle began life as a Glumol project. Or at least, it would have if Glumol had released on schedule. I moved development over to Clickteam's The Games Factory and considering the limited options for adventure game development, it was rough at best]

[Space Ruckus VI ultimately never materialized, but a few assets from pre-production were shared on the Goalsoft site]

[A passage about dad's retirement from Rockwell (now Boeing)]

[I played through Luigi's Mansion twice because I wanted to get the perfect mansion. You have to collect EVERYTHING. Leave no stone unturned] [When the ghouls come out at night, and everyone is filled with fright, who are you gonna call? Why, Luigi of course]

[My first thoughts on Super Mario Sunshine (as a title) were not so great. I thought "Sunshine" was a bit bizarre at the time, and couldn't quite picture myself walking into Toys"R"Us to ask for it. Obviously, I overcame that feeling]

[An introduction for Mark Gillie (meelWORM) at the mid-point of World 8. An online colleague with whom I shared a number of antics and hijinx. From the moment he first entered into the agigames.com chat, I could tell that our brains operated on the same frequency. We shared the same spark of creativity, and more than that, a common interest in mischief. Our brains were so alike, we often finished each others' sentences. We were, in short, diabolical together]

[The story of Legend Fighter, a movie adapted from an unused game idea of mine that I worked on alongside Israel. Also, the story of Low Income, a series of low-budget mockumentary videos starring Israel]

[The story of Grand Theft Auto 3: I first played this on my brother's PlayStation 2 (which itself was a Christmas gift from the year earlier). It reminded me of high school friend Tony. *nostalgic flashback plays here*]

[A passage about the PC versions of Grand Theft Auto 3, Vice City and San Andreas (possibly for World 9: Reboot)]

[A brief mention of Marlon's rebooted Quest for Zendar, which I worked on for a few weeks in the summer of 2003. It ultimately didn't get very far. I spent most of my time building a rather complex menu system]

[A brief inclusion for my nephews and nieces, who I would entertain on Christmas Eve with games like Mario Party 4 and 5 and Super Smash Bros. Melee]

[Nintendo Wii and Dad's brief return to gaming with Wii Sports Bowling]

[Game Over: The tragic events of late 2009]

[Retrospective and conclusion]

[I should note: I am not sorry for having had said experiences. I learned a lot from them. It made the defining moments that much more special. And again, I am writing this for a potential Nintendo article. I could write what everyone else has been writing in the wake of Iwata-san's passing, but I would like to add a personal touch. Please understand!]

[Is this Tomodachi Life? Is this just Final Fantasy? Caught in a penguin's slide. No escape from virtual reality]

I am still trying to wrap my head around more ideas for Nintendo Rhapsody. Somehow, it's not easy finding the words for the introduction to the GameCube, Luigi's Mansion, etc. I still need to write up a nice passage about Space Ruckus colleague Mark/meelWORM for that very same chapter too. I've been wrestling with how to end that chapter. I thought about a flashback to how I first received the Nintendo Entertainment System, but I honestly don't remember the specifics, so it would feel a bit forced to be honest.

For Nintendo Rhapsody's Chapter 9: Reboot: I'd like to begin the chapter with a fresh retrospective on my school years. Perhaps a bit of remorse for the way things ended at Cerritos College (a continuation of what I wrote at the start of Chapter 8). It would also touch on a few friends over the years and such.

Chapter 10: Exploring Fry's Electronics and assembling my first custom built PC. Fry's was like a candy store for geeks. Every computer part you could possibly imagine was sold there.

Chapter 10: This chapter will begin and end with Wii Sports Bowling (in November of 2006 with the original Wii Sports and in August of 2009 with Wii Sports Resort). A game that I played exclusively with my dad.

Chapter 10: Regarding Telltale: I, like many others, was regarded as a superfan of sorts. I was always trying to become involved in the projects being worked on at Telltale. Looking back, I think I was an overzealous fan; perhaps even rabid. But, more than anything else, I just wanted to be a part of something, and my heart was with Telltale.

Seeing as I never used the Counselor Dana memory in Nintendo Rhapsody proper (see "The Lost Archives"), I could possibly use it in World 11 (as a thought provoking flashback that seemingly ties into later events): "My counselor, Dana, was engaged to an employee from Interplay. I forget just who for the moment, but she knew a lot more about game design than anyone else I had the pleasure of meeting while growing up. She questioned my use of cheat codes, whether it be "19, 65, 9, 17" or "IDDQD." For the fun of a video game should be in the learning curve, not the easy route." In other words, there is nothing gained by cheating in life. We learn from our experiences, and to cheat would be to take nothing away from the lesson. Those lessons are sadly sometimes quite brutal, leaving us with a number of unanswered questions, but still we persevere. And in doing so, we grow stronger.

Death; the proverbial reset button. My life counter read zero and those terrifying words appeared before me: Game Over. I had only just begun my adventure, but now, it looked as though it were at an end. Untimely as it may be. Peace would eventually come to the lands I fought for. Of that much I was certain. However, it would be without my guiding hand. Just as everything went dark, I knew the final hour had arrived. I pressed the reset button on the Nintendo Wii and congratulated Dad on a good game of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Next, I would challenge him to a round of bowling in my newly purchased Wii Sports Resort. He had not lost his magic touch in the three years since the original Wii Sports. Dad still possessed the upper hand when it came to the game's motion controls. As usual, Dad was a master bowler. As we finished our final round, I made him promise we would give this a try more often, but time, it would seem, had other plans.

[WIP!]

Life is the biggest adventure. Mine began most unusually. I glimpsed a wondrous light at the end of a tunnel, but could not follow as a result of my umbilical cord. It had become wrapped around my neck and the more I struggled to free myself, the tighter it became. My time in the womb flashed before my eyes. Soon, I began to lose consciousness. A strange tingling sensation was followed by a strong shift in vibration. I then felt myself go limp. I had died. My heart had stopped and my adventure had seemingly come to an end. Yet I could still hear the melody I enjoyed listening to in the womb. I may not have known what a boat was or just how to row it, but I could almost picture them in my mind. Just like that, I found myself in a majestic place. I was sitting beside a beautiful body of water. Numerous living organisms were rooted into the ground. They had bright colored tips growing from their arms. Some of the tips brushed away and fell into the water below. The water carried them to shore. It was simply astonishing. I was suddenly filled with overwhelming joy as a magnificent being appeared, as if from nowhere, and sat beside me. She asked in a loving voice, "Do you come here often?" I replied with a smile, "Actually, this is my first time." She smiled back and said, "You couldn't have picked a better time. The cherry blossoms are in full bloom." I looked her in the eyes and said, "It really is quite lovely. I wish it were like this every day." She glanced down at the palm of my hand and said, "Is that a fortune cookie?" I was, at first, hesitant to reveal its contents, but I finally budged and said, "Why, yes. I ate lunch over there and this was in my order. It reads: Today will be a very good day. Today you will find your destiny." She gave me a blind stare and said, "Well?" Confused, I replied, "Well... what?" She said with a smile across her face, "Did you find your destiny?" I replied with butterflies in my stomach, "I believe so, yes." With a certain gleam in her eyes, she said, "My name is Noemi. What's yours?" I said with a happy heart, "Aratana Hajimari, but you can call me Mike." Noemi smiled and said, "Well, it's nice to meet you, Mike." She stood up, and as magnificently as she appeared, was set to leave. I said in a frantic hurry, "Wait, will I ever see you again?" Noemi chuckled and said, "I come here every day at the same time, so there's a pretty good chance." It was a very good day. I found Noemi and was filled with indescribable feelings. It must have been like riding a bicycle. Once I learned, I never truly forgot. I had not died. I had merely graduated. No longer did I need Nintendo to soothe my aching heart. I could finally spread my wings and fly away. I was suddenly surrounded in light. I felt a great sense of joy and peace, but more than anything, an overwhelming sense of love. It was a state of being not unlike nirvana. I slowly began to regain consciousness and found myself to be in a room full of caring beings. They seemed very concerned with my condition. I was injected with a saline solution while my head was covered in a warm cap. One of the beings approached me and said while trying his best to contain a tear, "We thought we had lost you, Mikey!" He appeared to possess a brighter glow than the rest. I remained in intensive care for quite sometime thereafter, but I was eventually allowed to leave. Dad was waiting for me. It was time to go home.

It was time to enter the third dimension.

"Remember him how he was, not how he is." -Paul Haley