He tells me in his bedroom voice

Starting this weekend, I'll be back to imposing on a friend for the roof over my head. It's been real having a place of my own, but I can't afford the rent they charge (in exchange for no deposit or "key money" or being-employed requirement), but I'm looking forward to being able to leech off someone else's routine again. Being completely adrift here means that I have to space out my few meagre errands even though I could easily finish them all in a single morning, because otherwise I would have one day of activity and then a long line of Nonedays in which I actually seriously consider the question of whether I should use the same tone for Cio-Cio-San's voice in my two Puccini Nintendo music files.

Speaking of Nintendo, yesterday was Mario's 20th birthday. That is, if you assume he was born on the day that Super Mario Brothers came out, which seems to be how Nintendo sees it. This view, mind you, has the unfortunate side effect of casting our pleasant childhood memories in a new, chilling light: who knew that our incompetence and poorly timed dash-jumps were driving an infant to endless, ignoble deaths? How were we to know? He had a moustache!

And if Mario wasn't born until SMB, who was that in Donkey Kong?! Not to mention the game-and-watches.

The best thing about the 20th anniversary site, as of press time, is the big collection of wigged-out, not-for-sale Micro designs, some apparently contributed by those famous and beautiful people we all love to love. Click on "Vol. 3" on this page, and then click on the top-left tiny micro (the Shiseido Uno one) to start a step-by-step journey through them. (The Web CMs here are also pretty cute.)

Egotism, thy name is Mario Mario. That's right, baby! It's not just fanon (and creatornon) any more! First name/Last name OTP! The Harmonians are just going to die.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the gaming industry, the 100-yen superstore Daiso has quietly launched a new line of cellphone games. The physical item you buy is a folded piece of paper in a polythelane sleeve. Once you've paid, you can tear open the plastic, unfold the paper, and enter the "User ID" and "Password"* to download the game you chose. There are quite a few available; this guy bought the dating simulator and wasn't all that impressed, but still -- it's 100 yen.

This, of course, is genius. After paying the programmers for the finished product -- and I think we can assume that the development process wasn't exactly Metal Gear-level intense -- Daiso own the rights to something that they can distribute for virtually no money as many times as they want, and at a cost to the consumer so low that even if the game didn't work they'd probably just laugh it off. (What are you going to do, march into Daiso and demand your dollar back?)

Of course this pattern applies to a lot of cheap cellphone games that are available these days, but Daiso have the big advantage of being able to put their games where throngs of people walk past them every day. I imagine the impulse purchase count is much higher when it doesn't have to be negotiated via a fussy miniaturised web browser and a half-interested publishing company's ill-designed homepage.

My phone, incidentally, is not supported. This doesn't surprise me. My phone is so badly designed that it doesn't even support its own OS.

* Since both are single-use it's really just a long access code broken in two, but whatever.

Popularity factor: 4


For that matter, what about Mario Bros. (1983)? They can't claim that's just a similar-looking character. Are video game characters only "born" when they appear on a Nintendo home console?

I'm slightly disturbed by the level of detail in which Wikipedia describes retro arcade games, given its gaps in other areas. Irrational, really - it's not as if the effort of the people writing strategy guides for Mario Bros. could be diverted into articles on the Aztec monarchy and Papuan guerrilla movements.


Odd... testing...


Well, that seems to have fixed it... Several hours after making my first post, it didn't show up except in the Post a Comment page.


Blogger has been wonky lately.

I remember reading a criticism of Wikipedia sometime last year, written by (IIRC) some guy from somewhere in Africa, saying "there's more information about fictional plants from Lord in the Rings than there is about the capital city of my home country". Just a function of the interests of the maintainers, I guess.

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