Warp Drive

Monday, May 31, 2021

Nintendo Rhapsody Notes

A place for my unrestrained thoughts and ideas on the subject of current and future Nintendo Rhapsody chapters.

World 0: The Schoolyard Menace (Prequel Chapter)

World 0-1: Terror of Orchard Dale Elementary
When I was three years of age, I attended preschool at the YMCA. I was accompanied by my maternal grandmother. She would often stay with me during the classes. I was already showing signs of an attention deficit. My preschool teacher, Mary Ray, seemed very concerned with my inability to remain still. She also raised concerns about my delayed motor skills. My grandmother also seemed worried. I would be entering elementary school at Orchard Dale soon enough. A possible recipe for disaster.
When thinking back upon Orchard Dale Elementary's computer lab, two words come to mind. Cold and sterile. It was devoid of the usual classroom writing utensils. Occupied instead by thinking machines. Machines that appeared to have one function only. The output of math equations to a monitor.
A few thoughts on my home life while attending Orchard Dale Elementary in 1989. I used to sit in my room listening to The Beach Boys and I would often compose my own music via a toy piano. One of the songs was entitled simply "Doors." It was just a rudimentary series of increasing and decreasing notes, but it was music to my ears at the time. The Atari 2600 Space Invaders portion of the chapter would be themed around Orson Welles' mischievous War of the Worlds radio play from 1938. I also used to play Dragster with my dad on the big oak television set in the living room. All I seem to remember of that game is burning out the race car over and over again.
My parents owned the original wood grain Atari 2600 game console, but when I was two or three years old, I disassembled it piece by piece. I was more than likely curious how the thing worked. Electronics were like magic to me back then. It was replaced by a second generation Atari 2600 in the years that followed. I still have that second generation console in storage to this day.

Atari 2600 Game Collection

World 0-2: From Rossier with Love
My time at Orchard Dale Elementary had come to an abrupt end. I was placed in a non-public school known as Rossier. It would be the first time in which I rode the little yellow school bus to school.
Rossier School is perhaps the only school I attended in which the class had a nap time. I have memories of laying down underneath the table for a period of time. This may have actually been called "quiet time." I don't seem to recall this activity taking place very often, however. It does eerily remind me of the lockdowns in later schools due to a disturbance on campus.
I remember stretching my arms backward while sitting at my desk one day, pencil in hand, when I managed to stab the teaching assistant. Until this very day, I feel as though it was an accident, but they took it very seriously.
During my return to class from a gathering in the gymnasium, I dropped the center piece of a class project I was asked to carry, and it scattered outward into the field. I quickly raced to retrieve the shattered pieces of the project before the wind carried them away. But it appeared to be a losing battle. I could not hold onto everything. As I entered the field, I was taken by surprise as a group of students jumped down from atop the playground equipment and proceeded to punch and kick me until I fell to the ground. I was unable to fight back. I instead curled desperately into a ball. Eventually, the students grew tired of their attack and dispersed. I mustered the strength to stand and then walked back to class, empty handed. I was very much confused by the incident.
My grandmother accompanied me to the Diagnostic School for a short-term assessment the week of June 24th-29th, 1990. We spent the better part of a week together in the dormitory while I was being evaluated by their staff. It was here in which I first discovered Nintendo. A little grey box that sat underneath a television in their recreation room. It was my saving grace. Through the exploration of worlds within that box, I would eventually overcome certain obstacles in my life.
In January of 1991, I began attending the Diagnostic School in Los Angeles, and thus, the Rossier School chapter came to a close. I still vaguely recall storming out of the principal's office when the final decision was made. I felt as if I had not done anything to deserve the transfer. I never took French in school, but this seems adequate: C'est la vie.
World 0: The Schoolyard Menace - Outline

[Passage 1: A reflection on preschool at the YMCA, my home life watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood and Sesame Street (and Follow That Bird at the drive-in movie theater through the sunroof of our Chevrolet Monte Carlo), and my entrance into Orchard Dale Elementary for kindergarten]

[Passage 2: The story of Dragster for the Atari 2600, among other two player games that I played with dad on our big oak television set]

[Passage 3: My personal take on the events of first grade at Orchard Dale Elementary that ultimately led to my expulsion]

[Passage 4: A review of Space Invaders for the Atari 2600 in the style of a mischievous Orson Welles radio play]

[Passage 5: My arrival at Rossier School in the Fall of 1989, covering a few incidents in which I was on the receiving end of other students' behavior]

[Passage 6: My grandmother accompanied me to the Diagnostic Center for a week long short-term assessment. It was here that I was first introduced to Nintendo. More specifically, the NES]

[Passage 7: A review of Pac-Man for the Atari 2600. The Atari 2600's swan song]

[Passage 8: My time at Rossier School comes to an end. I was transferred to the Diagnostic Center in East Los Angeles]

[Various notes by Orchard Dale and Rossier staff goes here]
World 2: Back in the Cradle (Extended Cut)

World 2-1: Home Sweet Home
A few additional thoughts on Murphy Ranch Elementary that I am tinkering with for the opening passage of Chapter 2: My feelings about Murphy Ranch Elementary are difficult to explain. On one hand, it felt good to be rid of The Diagnostic School, but on the other hand, it felt somewhat eerie to be returning to a normal school again. I remember walking into the school from Janine Drive. My mom would drop me off there by car every morning. It was one of the few times I did not take a bus to school while growing up. From the moment I set foot on the campus, I had a sense of not belonging. But that was of course a feeling I initially had with every school that came before. I could only imagine what this chapter would hold in store for me.
When I first played Dr. Mario as a kid, I often wondered how to unlock the platforming stages. It had to be Super Mario Bros. 4 in disguise!
World 4: Trial Separation (Extended Cut)

World 4-1: He's Got an Attitude
Mrs. Leary was my math teacher at Hillview Middle School, and due to my sometimes strange behavior, she was also my company for science, quest, art and keyboard class. While attending her math classes, I would often drift away from the problem at hand and begin writing down ideas for my own math system. I called this system Mothvision. In multiplication, one number is typically multiplied by another number. For example, two times two equals four. In Mothvision, those very same numbers would be doubled, resulting in this peculiar equation; 2m2=8. At least, that is how the system worked to the best of my memory. Needless to say, Mrs. Leary was not amused. I would still have to complete the original math problems as instructed.
World 4-2: Live and Learn
My counselor at Barbara Dawson Educational Center, Dana Minovitz, knew more about game design than anyone else I had the pleasure of meeting while growing up. She was engaged to a developer from Interplay Productions. A developer who would later work as a producer on the Fallout series. During one of our counseling sessions, Dana questioned my use of cheat codes in games - everything from "19, 65, 9, 17" to "IDDQD." She wondered just how the game could be engaging for me if I was always taking the easiest route. For the fun of a video game should be in overcoming certain challenges. That oh-so rewarding sensation one has once they finally succeed after sometimes hours of practice. In other words, there is nothing gained by cheating. We learn from our experiences, both good and bad, and to cheat would be to take nothing away from the lesson.
I went into some detail about my struggles with authority figures throughout Nintendo Rhapsody, but I think I omitted some of the scariest experiences due to other stories taking precedence. One particularly nasty example involves a chain smoking staff member at B.D.E.C. that would often shove students (myself included) up against a wall in his office. The scent of cigarettes was so strong, I can still smell it today. The Vice Principle of that school, the husband of the school's founder, was also a major dickhead with students. I have this one memory of being escorted to the office by a teacher's aide. The aide grabbed my hands behind my back in such a way that I accidentally kicked her from behind. The Vice Principle took this VERY seriously. I was pushed up against that very same wall while being yelled at. I tried to explain to him that it was an accident, but he wouldn't listen to reason.
During my 1994-1995 school year at Barbara Dawson Educational Center, I was picked to be on the softball team. It was one of the highlights of my time at that school. We played a number of away games on other campuses, and at one point, I managed to hit a home run with a player on first and third. I remember how excited everyone was to hear about that. Especially Melissa.
World 5: Nintendo Strikes Back (Extended Cut)

World 5-1: A Whole New World
The Controller Pak was an add-on that attached itself to the Nintendo 64 controller and allowed the player to save replay data in Mario Kart 64. Otherwise known as ghost data. This permitted the player to race against themselves in an effort to better their own times. The Controller Pak was also required for certain games to save game progress in general. I still remember going to Sears with my dad and brother to pick it up in the early spring of 1997. I was so excited while holding the box in my hands. The woman at the cash register just gave me a blind stare and said, "It's just a memory card." It was my first memory card.
I found and added a brief message from Michael Berry to the end of chapter five. The nickname I added is probably only going to make sense to anyone that knew him around campus. Michael Berry had an affection for cowboy hats and boots and he lived and breathed country music. "Have fun this summer. Cal Hi is all yours." -Michael Berry (Rhinestone Cowboy)
World 5-2: The Man Behind the Curtain
Near the end of junior year, Ms. Davis informed me that another student from Barbara Dawson Educational Center would be transferring over to California High School in the coming 1999-2000 school year. They would be enrolled in her first period English class. I initially wondered if, or perhaps hoped, this student might be Melissa. But as it would turn out, this student was Israel. A name unfamiliar to me at the time. I had the whole summer to think about what Israel and I would talk about. Surely, he must have a lot of interesting stories of his own from Barbara Dawson. Or as he himself would later call it, Hell.
World 6: It's About Time

World 6-1: To Far Away Times
Hybrid Heaven for the Nintendo 64 was the very first RPG that I owned myself. Before I played Chrono Trigger in the early spring of 2000, I was not the biggest fan of the genre, but there was just something about Hybrid Heaven that drew me to it. Maybe it was the stealth mechanics, the alien invasion-type story or perhaps even the setting. It was set in and under the streets of New York City. Hybrid Heaven even featured a two player versus mode. The game was developed by Konami.
World 7: The End of the Beginning (Extended Cut)

World 7-1: Uncharted Territory
Someone sat in the row directly behind me in Mr. Davis' computer class who prided himself on creating domains with slightly different spellings. A popular search engine at the time, Scour, being one of them. He would thereby draw in people who misspelled a domain and use this to generate ad revenue. To this day, I cannot say whether that was evil or pure genius.
Near the start of my fall semester, I talked to a counselor about my plans for the future. It was decided that I would attend Cerritos College for two years and then transfer to a four year college.
World 7-2: Man in the Moon
I happened to come across the complete Fall 2000 semester schedule for my Math 20 class, as well as the name of the instructor (I had long since forgotten her name). I had to retype the schedule line by line since my scanner is having problems again. I will be adding this information to Nintendo Rhapsody's seventh chapter, The End of the Beginning.
I never felt as if I was truly connecting with the math teacher, Pilar Mata, during my Math 20 class sessions. Most of the classtime consisted of the teacher jotting math equations down on the chalkboard in a face forward position. I would then copy the equations onto ruled paper. I imagine this process is meant to help students retain knowledge, but it always made me feel uninspired by the work.
The week of September 26th, 2000, I was tasked with reading the sixth chapter, Storage, of Discovering Computers 2001 in the Shelly Cashman Series for Mr. Davis' computer class. I would then have to write down the definitions of various terms, such as access time, hard disk controller and data transfer rate, for my chapter six assignment due on October 2nd. Meanwhile, in my math class, I was about to embark on the fifth chapter of Essential Mathematics. A chapter dedicated to decimal numbers.
A public meeting for Goalsoft was held on September 30th, 2000 at Parnell Park. My high school friends and colleagues Marlon and Israel were both in attendance that day. We discussed, among other things, the state of Space Ruckus 6: Return of the Grigs, Quest for Zendar and my recent endeavors with RPG Maker 2000.
The group I was originally assigned to in my Career Guidance 200 course (business class) removed me for being the "weak link." They were likely afraid of not passing the course themselves. I never found another group to join and therefore could not complete the final presentations. It's not something I generally like to reminisce about for projects like Nintendo Rhapsody as it might appear as though I were blaming them for what happened next, so I don't know if it is something I should amend to the college chapter or not.
With my college class schedule extending to 4:00 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays (Career Guidance 200 and Math 20), I would often stop at McDonald's on the way home for a burger, fries and a shake. Mathematics always seemed to give me the munchies.
I recreated a portion of my college campus in RPG Maker 2000 for an animated version of Nintendo Rhapsody's seventh chapter. The mathematics building, lecture hall and parking lot is included here. The computer science building is over to the left.
As much as I tried to stay focused on my homework assignments, I could not help but lose my train of thought on occasion. One might say that I sometimes had my head in the clouds. On this particular occasion, the train appeared to be bound for a depot in Sector 1. I was a member of an eco-warrior organization known as Avalanche and our target was the the mako reactor there. It was slowly killing the planet. My brother had a copy of Final Fantasy VII on his PlayStation. It was yet another JRPG that I had never played before. Unlike Chrono Trigger or Chrono Cross, the battles did not happen when you encountered an enemy on-screen. The battles occurred entirely at random. This was something that took me a long time to get used to. I played through the opening bombing mission of Final Fantasy VII the first time I tried the game, but would not finish it for many years to come. Indeed, it would be many years before I discovered the joys of The Gold Saucer, what was lurking in the depths of Gaia's ocean, and just how much of a prick Sephiroth was. "You gotta understand, there ain't no getting offa this train we on till we get to the end of the line." -Barret Wallace
I finally rediscovered the complete schedule for Romero's Career Guidance (C.G. 20) class. I found it among a stack of old stapled papers. This is the class I have sometimes referred to simply as business class. I now have all three classes from that Fall of 2000 semester documented and included with the seventh chapter of Nintendo Rhapsody.
Here's a little something from my Career Guidance class from the week of September 26th, 2000. It's a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It deals with the way in which I used my perception and judgement, and how I gathered information and made decisions.

Reported Type: INFJ (Introverted Intuition with Feeling)

Preference Scores:
Introversion - 15 (Moderate)
Intuition - 23 (Moderate-Clear)
Feeling - 9 (Slight-Moderate)
Judging - 3 (Slight)
World 8: Pros and Cons (Extended Cut)

World 8-1: Lost at Sea
It 'twas that most joyful time of the year again. A time of merry; a time of cheer. Dad had strung lights abound with great care, the stockings were nestled gently beside the tree rich with marvelous decorations, while simply enchanting melodies played on the disc player. One could only sit and wonder about that which lied beneath the tree. (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)
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). 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.
World 8-2: Looking Back, Looking Forward
Space Ruckus 6: Return of the Grigs proved to be more of a challenge than I first thought. I produced a number of 3D models and animations for the project, but it ultimately fell short of becoming an actual game. With the aim of creating a somewhat professional game all around, I began to wonder if it might just be better to reboot the whole series. I grew increasingly worried about players going back to Space Ruckus 1-5 after playing Space Ruckus 6. It would be an understatement to say they had not aged well. Thus, I shifted my time and resources over to Space Ruckus: The Great Invasion, a remake of the first game with the help of a few other up-and-coming developers.
Space Ruckus 6 ultimately never materialized, but a few assets from pre-production were shared on the Goalsoft site.
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. While dropping Israel off at his apartment complex after filming the first Low Income episode, he gave me a glimpse of the FMV sequences present in the Sony PlayStation version of Chrono Trigger. I would not come into possession of that version of the game for at least a few more years.
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 Anthony. *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. This section could actually serve as an emotional farewell to Marlon (as he departed Goalsoft shortly afterward). I never went into detail about the original Quest for Zendar project in Chapter 6, after all. It might also be a good idea to restore Marlon's original script and game title (Tunchiza). I changed the story so much over the years to suit game design needs that Marlon's original vision has become somewhat lost to time. "A hundred years ago in the Korak era there was a magician who believed that there was another dimension. This man is known as Enelsos. He wrote, that in order to find the other side of the world, you must find a man that is capable of such power. His name is Zendar." -Marlon Castillo - Tunchiza, Chapter 1
A few thoughts about the state of Goalsoft near the end of 2002: Goalsoft appeared to be in a period of hypernation for the time being. The last "game" to be released was Swashblood Isle II's demo in January of 2002 with no more releases that year. Web updates continued throughout the year, but they focused on lesser projects.
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.
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.
I prepared to set sail for a new adventure in computing. My first truly professional game project. Space Ruckus: The Great Invasion.
World 9: Reboot

World 9-1: Little Boy Blue
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.
As the name implies, the subject of World 9: Reboot is Space Ruckus: The Great Invasion, the reboot to my Space Ruckus series. It might be fun to begin the chapter with a retelling and expansion of the first chapter introduction to Nintendo Rhapsody. Similar to how World 3: Genesis began with "In the beginning, there was the Magnavox Odyssey." It was ultimately a chapter about Sega Genesis, but it had a bit of a twist.
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.
World 9-2: Palpitations
One of Goalsoft's slogans was "we make making games fun." Fun was something that I felt a good game company needed to thrive. Without it, work would just be work, and developers would never find that special spark of creativity. In the years that followed, I seemed to lose sight of that. Space Ruckus: The Great Invasion was lacking that "fun" factor. It felt more like a grind most of the time. We had milestones to reach and deadlines to meet. Sadly, it was never fulfilling in any truly meaningful way.
A section dedicated to my early experiences with the original Psychonauts in 2005. It may even be fun to write a passage set in my own mental realm. A realm that could consist of things from childhood school experiences.
World 10: The Telltale Heart

World 10-1: Rock, Paper, Scissors
Nintendo Wii and Dad's brief return to gaming with Wii Sports (Bowling) and Wii Sports Resort (Bowling).
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.
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.
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.
A brief introduction to social media. The latest revolution sweeping the Internet at the time (2008). I started out on MySpace before also creating Facebook and Twitter accounts. The latter of which (Twitter) was due in large part to Telltale Games using Twitter that July to promote their Comic-Con events. I wanted to seem as cool as they were.
With the Super Mario RPG remake on its way to Switch, I should probably flesh out a section on the original game for Nintendo Rhapsody. I was reluctant to talk about it for the sixth chapter because the first time I played the game, it was via SNES emulation on a PC.
From a very young age, I remember crafting paper airplanes, and much to my elementary school teachers' dismay, tossing them freely around the classroom. My understanding of aerodynamics was virtually nonexistent, but the planes were still more than capable of putting someone's eye out. It would be many years before a video game captured the spirit of this prepubescent activity. That game was none other than Paper Mario.
A section on Kita/Fawful/MC that begins with a poetic passage about art and how therapeutic it can be. "An artist's canvas is like a window into another world. A world free from the sorrow we often find in this one."
World 10-2: Player Two
I had a dream shortly after my dad's passing in 2009 in which he suddenly stopped our car, walked around to the driver's side door, kneeled before me and said something to the effect of, "I can't drive anymore. You'll have to take over from here." I then tried to ask him where he was going, but I couldn't seem to get a straight answer from him. I thought this might work perfectly at the end of Chapter 10.
World 11: Going Home

World 11: Going Home (Cover Art)

World 11-1: Bread and Butter
Diagnostic School Flashback: When I was eight years of age, I lived away from home five out of seven days a week for a period of six months in East Los Angeles at a facility known simply as The Diagnostic School. On Friday afternoons, I would be released to spend the weekends at home with family. Every Sunday at 5:00 PM, I would have to return to The Diagnostic School for the forthcoming week. Once there, I had to eat cafeteria food. I grew to loathe cafeteria food. On those particular nights, however, I would often choose a bag of Skittles. I hated Skittles. I greatly preferred M&Ms, but Skittles was all that they seemed to have. I would sit on the far corner of the cafeteria, my back to the window, eating my bag of Skittles. All the while, dreading the days and week ahead. I peered out into the darkness of the night every so often. Every night, I slept in a room with other children such as myself. It was arranged somewhat like a dormitory. When I was bored and could not sleep, I would make funny sounds to pass the time. This often garnered the attention of a staff member monitoring from just outside the room. I would then be asked to stand in the hallway with my face to the wall for a few minutes. A friend of mine slept in the bed nearest the hall, and I would sometimes attempt to talk with him during these periods of discipline. On a few rare occasions, the staff member on duty that night would forgo this penalty and instead drag me down to the padded room at the end of the hall. Once inside, the staff member would lock the door and turn out the light, leaving me in pitch blackness. It was a frightening experience unlike any other. Desperate to see light of any kind, I tried to peer through the small viewing window in the door. My friendly chaperone for the night became wise to this activity most of the time, and also shut out the light in the corridor just outside the darkened room. It was for my own good, I was told. If I learned to behave, I would be allowed to return to the bedroom. Each day, I attended classes per usual. These were one-on-one experiences. An assistant was always present during hours of study. There were no windows in this room. More than likely to prevent unnecessary distractions. A star system was used to reward students for hard work. I used these stars to purchase items from the school store. More often than not, I chose a can of Welch's Grape Soda. It was one of the few saving graces of The Diagnostic School. Soon, it would be time to eat from the cafeteria again. I braced myself for the sludge mine. I was escorted back to the bedroom to wash up before lunch. I was all set to head for the cafeteria when I was told that I had a visitor waiting for me out in the hall. I rarely received visitors in the middle of the week, so this came as a legitimate surprise. My eyes lit up wide when I realized who it was. On leave from a jury summons in Los Angeles, my dad had stopped by to surprise me. With a smile planted firmly across my face, I quickly rushed out to greet him. Dad had arranged to take me out to lunch that day. There would be no cafeteria food on this day. No, on this day, we were to eat like kings. We were going to McDonald's for a burger and fries. It was the sweetest burger and fries I ever ate in my life. And I am not just saying that because of the sludge I had to endure at The Diagnostic School. It was because I was spending time with my dad. It was truly one of those rare whisked away on a magic carpet ride moments. One which I will never forget. The only thing that made me feel sad was that it had to come to an end. I would have to return to The Diagnostic School at the end of our little field trip. And I could tell that my dad was as broken up about this as I was. We would have to part ways. It was almost too much for either of us to bear. "Bread and butter," my dad often said aloud when our locked hands met a pole. It meant I have to let go now, but it won't be forever. It won't be forever.
I came back from a bicycle trek one afternoon to find my two brothers conversing in the living room. I knew not about what at first.
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, as it would seem, had other plans.
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.
World 11-2: I Love All Y'all
"Remember him how he was, not how he is." -Paul Haley
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.
It's not always about where we are. It's about who we are, and who we're with. (while thinking back upon experiences at such places as Barbara Dawson Educational Center)
World 12: Happier Trails

World 12-1: Lean on Me
If I should ever write as far as the twelfth chapter of Nintendo Rhapsody, I imagine it will focus primarily on the Nintendo DS. I brought it with me on numerous nature treks and other outdoor adventures beginning in March of 2010. It was a difficult time not long after my dad passed away. I feel as though I was trying to find myself again.
The Nintendo DS feels just old enough now to be considered nostalgic. I picked up the XL in March of 2010, and for about a year or so, it was my primary camera. I brought it with me to the filming locations for Back to the Future, to Comic-Con and various bicycle treks along the San Gabriel River. For those longer treks along the San Gabriel, I loaded up the Nintendo DS with music converted into AAC format via my PC. Queen's Bicycle Race comes to mind. I think I had Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) albums on there too. I owned only a handful of games for the Nintendo DS. Those games being Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy III, New Super Mario Bros. and Sonic Chronicles. Game & Watch Collection was a freebie via Club Nintendo. There were also two Brain Age Express games packed into the system, alongside Photo Clock. Photo Dojo was another Nintendo DS freebie I had fun with for awhile. It was not easy trying to coordinate friends to pose for the character movesets, but it certainly made for some laughs. I seem to have lost those pictures when everything transferred over to the Nintendo 3DS.
Is this Tomodachi Life? Is this just Final Fantasy? Caught in a penguin's slide. No escape from virtual reality.

Nintendo Rhapsody Chapters
World 0: The Schoolyard Menace
World 1: Far From Home
World 2: Back in the Cradle
World 3: Genesis
World 4: Trial Separation
World 5: Nintendo Strikes Back
World 6: It's About Time
World 7: The End of the Beginning
World 8: Pros and Cons
World 9: Reboot
World 10: The Telltale Heart
World 11: Going Home
World 1: Far From Home Redux

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