Tag Archives: Nintendo

Of Spinach and Shrooms

The secret to Popeye’s strength is not a well-kept one. Everyone knows that he’s “strong to the finish ‘cos he eats his spinach”. But the reason for his affection for this leafy green is more obscured. One popular myth claims he’s in it for the iron.

The myth goes like this: a 19th century German chemist misplaced a decimal point on a nutritional table, prompting the iron content of spinach to be grossly over-rated. This putative ferric potency of Spinach then convinced cartoonist E. C. Segar to make it the go-to food for his character Popeye.

This story has been promoted by many well-respected journalist and scientists as an example of the influence small mistakes can have, and the importance of checking your facts. Ironically, the story itself is spurious. It has proliferated because none of it’s promoters bothered to fact-check their allegory about fact-checking. James Sutton has the full story here.

Vitamin A, Exhibit A!

Vitamin A, Exhibit A!

But there’s another popular working man with a vegetable super food. It’s a-Mario, and he always eats his mushrooms. While not as widely cited as the Spinach story, Mario’s penchant for fungi does come with its own popular myth. Like Carroll’s Alice, people seem to think that Mario is on drugs. Continue reading


Survival of the Fleetest: Mario vs Sonic

One of the biggest playground debates of the 90’s was Sonic versus Mario. The old plumber had finally met his match. Even though Sonic games were buggy as all hell, they were fresh, fast-paced, and on the cutting edge of graphics and sound. It didn’t help that Mario looked like somebody’s fuddy-duddy old uncle, while Sonic’s outfit, attitude and spiky hair channeled Michael Jackson or Bart Simpson.

Although Bart himself was more into Bonestorm.

Although Bart himself was more into Bonestorm.

Granted, this argument usually boiled down to whether the kid owned a Sega or a SNES. But nonetheless, for the first time Mario was losing his monopoly on quality platforming. The times kept a changin’, and soon enough the march of technology forced a clear winner to emerge.

The technology I speak of is the advent of 3D platforming. Sure, both had isometric games – Sonic 3D Blast and Super Mario RPG – but those are only pseudo-3D. I’m talking about the real deal. Fully 3D platformer action, with sprawling stages and a rotating camera. Continue reading

Harry Pottermon and the Massive Waste of Potential

If you were born or raised in the 90’s, then it’s nigh-certain that you are intimately acquainted with either Pokemon, Harry Potter or both. Even if you aren’t, there’s no way you haven’t at least heard of them. So other than their popularity and timing, what do these two multi-media multi-billion-dollar franchises have in common? And what is the secret to their success?

Other than that JK Rowling is a Legilimens and split her soul into 7 Horcruxes, of course.

Other than that J.K. Rowling is a Legilimens who split her soul into 7 Horcruxes, of course.

Beginning with the obvious, they both began with the same demographic. Kids aged 6-12, with a slant towards males but not exclusively so. The Harry Potter books attempted to grow up with their readership, ending with material more suitable for 14-20 year-olds. On the other hand, Pokemon has kept its kiddie tone. Despite this, many aged Pokefans maintain an interest in the franchise. Continue reading

Lego Mech-Battles: The Crucible of Gameplay

I didn’t have any Lego growing up. No, this is not some confession as to justify bitterness or a obsession with reviving childhood. I know it sounds like something you’d tell a psychiatrist, but I actually was content with my Kinex and my Nintendo. Lego was a novelty for me when visiting relatives or friends. Something I was familiar with, but by no means proficient. And so it follows that the first time I got into a Lego Mech-Battle, I had my 11-year old buns handed to me on a plastic platter.

Lego Mech-Battles are not an official thing, so if you never heard of them, don’t worry. In fact, I’m not even sure if that’s what we called it. But my friends and I used to build robots out of a shared wealth of Lego and then make them battle. Not a pretend battle, like you might have with action figures. No, the only way these robots ‘took damage’ was by having their bricks physically beaten off them.

Though we controlled the robots, the actual contact of the hits had to be done lego a lego. It wasn’t a free-for-all either, instead we took turns to do ‘moves’ on each others’ robot. We were very civil in this regard, like the musket men or duelists of old. The first robot to be reduced to a clump of less than five bricks was declared the loser.


Our mechs looked nothing like this… don’t kids today get the coolest toys?.

Continue reading