The demise of ‘Jumpman’ leads to the meteoric rise of ‘MAR10’ – Happy #NationalMarioDay

MAR10 – #NationalMarioDay

Today marks the celebration of one of the gaming world’s most iconic legends, MARIO the Italian Plumber.

It's a me... Mario!
It’s a me… Mario!

March the 10th was chosen as the best day to celebrate this legend, as some of you may have already guessed, because of the fact that the abbreviated date, Mar 10, looks like the name Mario.

Personally I have always loved all things Nintendo ever since I first played Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and my fascination with the loveable plumber has continued ever since, although he wasn’t always a plumber and originally he wasn’t called Mario, either.

Nintendo Playing Card Company
Nintendo Playing Card Company

Nintendo, a playing card company founded in 1889, moved into the arcade video game arena in 1975 and sought to increase their share of the American market with the launch of the arcade game Radar Scope in 1980. However, although initial market feedback on the arcade cabinets was encouraging, things didn’t go as expected. Due to the logistical error in building the cabinets in Japan, rather than in the US, delays and higher prices due to shipping costs resulted in Radar Scope almost crippling the company. Rivals such as Taito, Namco and SEGA in Japan and Atari, Midway and Williams in the US were cornering the market with their successful and cheaper games. The introduction of horizontal scrolling in Defender (Williams, 1980) aged all other vertical ‘space shooter’ games overnight and for Nintendo of America, a fledgling company with very little clout in the gaming market at the time, it was disastrous.

Radar ScopeNintendo had to ‘send another game to replace the motherboards in each of the 2,000 unsold [Radar Scope] cabinets; that way, they would only have to be redecorated with the colours of the new title’ (Audureau, W., 2014). This saw the start of Nintendo’s ‘Popeye Project’ as the replacement game, designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, was originally based around the characters, Popeye, Olive Oyl and Bluto (as the brute dispatching the barrels at the hapless sailor). Nintendo hoped this new game would tie into the popularity of Popeye after the 1980 release of the film starring the late, great Robin Williams. Unfortunately, due to Nintendo failing to secure the rights to use the Popeye characters, Miyamoto and the team had to re-think the game and design it using their own unique characters. Continue reading

Surviving School

Apart from messing about with Bunsen burners, what else did you play around with at school to annoy your classmates or, if you were brave, the teacher?

Bunsen Burner
Bunsen Burner

Me? Well, I went through comprehensive school in Wales during the 80s, and there was that annoying green slime putty (which you could set ‘time delay’ charges on the ceiling and wait for them to lose their grip and splat onto someone’s head during the lesson), spud guns (if you could nick the potatoes without annoying your Mam too much), IMG_3693cap guns and cap rockets (into which you’d try and squeeze as many caps as possible in order to get the loudest possible ‘explosion’ when you threw it, although probably not in the confines of the classroom!), wet paper balls fired from out of Bic pen cases or pencil toppers launched at people’s heads.

Pencil Toppers
Pencil Toppers

The odd stink bomb strategically placed under the teachers desk or chair leg was guaranteed to clear the classroom and undoubtedly get you detention and/or lines. Whoopee cushions and fart spray, from the joke shop in Porthcawl, were also good for a few laughs but they’d get confiscated if you were caught, and that was just a waste of your pocket money. Continue reading

Happy Saint David’s Day – Where the hell is Wales, anyway?

That’s the question that most Americans will ask as the inhabitants of Wales and all of its expatriates celebrate St David’s Day, today.

The answer, if you were to ask most Americans, would probably be, ‘isn’t that part of England?’ well, no, it certainly isn’t.

Many of my ancestors emigrated to America and it’s a shame that the majority of their descendants may not know of the beautiful land that their ancestors once came from.

Wales, or Cymru as it is in Welsh, is a country bordering with England and is part of the United Kingdom (or the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to give it its proper title) along with England, Scotland and Northern Ireland and today, the 1st of March is St David’s Day.  Continue reading