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Look Who's Crawling Back

Yep, no joke. Here I y'am, once again, making my yearly attempt to revitalize my old journal. I can practically feel the dust erupting in my face (or maybe that's because I'm sleeping on the ground of all places... Long story, as I'm sure you can tell, lol).

So what brings me back this time? Well, as is customary every time I try to revive this thing, I have a new motivator to keep me updating. This time I've decided I'm going to spend no more than thirty minutes on every post I make. I have a knack for writing longwinded entries (as I'm sure anyone who has followed me in the past is aware) which are fun to do on occassion, but when every single entry turns into an essay I just simply lose all my drive. Hopefully by condensing the amount of time I spend on each entry I won't burn out anymore. Admittedly I'm probably going to spend next to no time proofreading, so if I make plenty of mistakes or if it all just ends up sounding like a jumble of words with no real purpose, you'll know why.

I also realized that I wasn't using my LiveJournal to its full potential. I mean, what's the purpose of a journal anyway? To talk about video games and anime and what not? I'm not saying I won't talk about those things anymore; they're a huge part of my life. I'm just saying that the purpose of a journal is to record your feelings on your life at that particular time, so you'll never forget. It's basically a time capsule for your thoughts. When I went back and viewed my old entries under that lens, many just didn't hold up. I guess the point I'm trying to make is to expect entries dealing more with my day-to-day thoughts, rather than always about my interests. 

Anyway, that's the jist of it. This would be the part of my entry where I talk about how my birthday went... but time's already up. I'm lovin' this idea already. XD I'll still have plenty of time to talk about it considering I concocted a plan to turn my birthday into a birth'week' instead. Anyhow, you'll see.

Well, that's it. Tomorrow is Nintendo's E3 Press Conference and I couldn't be more excited! Maybe I'll drop by and dole out a few of my predictions before it kicks off. See ya!

The Inside Scoop

...Don't look so surprised to see another update. XD

Actually, it is something of a minor miracle that I'm even able to use my computer at all. Once again (*echo* again, again...), my laptop is having graphical issues. There's about an 85% chance the monitor won't even turn on when I boot it up. Even when I do manage to get lucky, after five minutes the keyboard and touchpad blow a gasket and cease to work. Oh, and it takes the liberty of shutting itself down whenever it feels like, too. Not because the battery dies, not because it overheats (which I thought was the problem, initially). Just... because.

The good news is that I never use the touchpad anyway. I have a really spiffy wireless mouse I got for Christmas. It works through the USB ports; there's a reciever you plug in that enables the wireless (it's a really small one too, which is convenient because those huge recievers are annoying to deal with. They have a tendency to fall off really easily.). The sort of good news is that I'm doing the same thing with my keyboard. Unlike the mouse though, this one I have to wire directly into the USB port itself. I also have to share it with Vickie. She spilled something on her laptop (Clearly we don't have much luck with laptops, hehe) which left a few important keys unusable, and since she's such a grammar freak and can't bare not having access to the letter 'n' when writing her many fanfictions, we're forced to "share" the USB keyboard.  Anyway, the point is, at least my laptop is still usuable for the time being, while I wait for Hewlett-Packard to send a box in mail so I can ship it back to them for repairs.

The grueling, horrible, catastrophic news is that the warranty on my laptop runs out next month. Which means that if my laptop happens to break again, repairs will have to come out of our own wallet. Our sad, moth-ridden wallet that can't possibly cough up enough cash to pay for it. And it will break again. For every single one of the three times they "repaired" my laptop, all they ended up doing was replace the motherboard. I'm no tech wiz by any means, but considering it continues to break on me, common sense tells me that can't be the problem. Hopefully they'll get to the root of the issue this time. That, or finally send me a new laptop. My dad and I are going to go see if we can't return it to the manufacturer tomorrow. Hopefully that goes well.

Anyway, so that's depressing. Now on to some MONDO COOL news: I finally have Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story!!!

I picked it up from Gamestop a few days ago, but I've yet to rip into it (for reasons I'll explain in just a minute). I think I've made it abundantly clear to you guys just how much I adore Mario RPG titles (and yet to my knowledge, you guys haven't tried one yet. Why is this, lol...?) But this opportunity doesn't come around every day, so I'll go ahead and gush some more. XD
One of the biggest things about these games that make them so special in my mind, is that they're a bit of a rarity in the RPG genre. Rather than focusing themselves around the epic stories or complex gameplay that are more commonly associated with RPG titles, they choose to take the path in the opposite direction: reasonably simple, acessible gameplay, and a plot more concerned with coaxing a chuckle out of you as opposed to trying to send a poignant message. It makes them unique, and the perfect antidote for anyone, like myself, who loves these traditional RPGs, but every once in a while crave something other than angsty, spikey-haired teenagers and their over-sized swords (and the zippers. Merciful heavens--the zippers. XD). More important than that though--and FYI this reason is more born out of my own personal taste in games, so don't take it as fact--I honestly believe most RPGs can learn a thing or two from them in the basics on how to craft a rewarding gameplay system. 

2006 was the year I finally swallowed my pride as an eternal Nintendo Fun Club member and bought a PS2. I did it mostly for Kingdom Hearts... but since I was already stabbing Nintendo in the back, I figured I might as well stick that sucker in as far as it'll go. XD I took the opportunity to play Shadow of the Colossus (which was awe-inspiring), Okami (which was a feast for the senses) and We Love Katamari (which was extremely strange... but was equally as engaging as the other two, lol) as well. They were all excellent games and my purchase of the system was quickly justified. But there was one other franchise that called the Playstation home I wanted to take for a spin almost as much as KH itself. The face of Square Enix: Final Fantasy. I had never tried the series up until that point (and apparently it was a good thing I didn't go flaunting myself as the RPG expert I thought I was, or else I would've had disgruntled Cloud Strife cosplayers--wearing their official cloud cologne--banging on my door, demanding a word. XD) but I had always been curious. Now that I had my mitts on a Playstation, I was eager to give them a chance. Final Fantasy XII was coming out in a short while and it was getting excellent reviews, so I thought that would be the perfect jumping point to finally join the Final Fantasy bandwagon. So I bought it.

Long story short: never before have I disagreed so much with the opinion of professional reviewers. Oh, it looks pretty enough. And the music is very well done too (I have the game's soundtrack on my Zune if that tells you anything). It's obvious Square Enix put a lot of effort into making the experience as aesthetically pleasing as possible. The dull characters and politically-driven tale didn't strike my fancy quite so much, but that isn't the game's biggest blunder. No, the reason the game failed to capture my attention is that it essentially plays itself.

FFXII has a battle system that highly encourages--or practically demands--the use of what are called Gambits. Think the Tales of series, how you're able to set the behavior of your computer-controlled party members--only they're much, much more extensive. For example: you can make a gambit, that tells your healer to use a healing spell of your choice, on a particular party member of your choice, when their health gets below, say, 40%. Let's add a wrinkle to that situation: what if your healer doesn't have enough mana to cast any spells? You can make another gambit telling your healer to throw that party member a health potion instead... but make that second priority, only to be used when your healer lacks mana. Of course, you could also make another gambit instructing your healer to give themself a mana potion when they get below a certain mana range, so you'll only have to rely on the health potion gambit in extreme cases. I could make a gambit, asking my mom to make me a pastrami sandwich on wheat bread--without pickles or mayonnaise--but only if I've already taken the garbage out. ...I hope that drives my point home. XD They do absolutely everything for you, until the only real interactivity you make with the game becomes moving your lead character around the field. That's it. There aren't even any environmental puzzles to solve, like RPGs such as Golden Sun and--whaddaya know--the Mario RPGs employ to break up the monotony of constant fights. So much for video game.

I don't mean to harp on Final Fantasy so much, because it certainly isn't the sole offender, but it's the most vivid memory I have of the point I'm trying to make: too often RPGs focus so much on graphics and audio, that gameplay almost becomes--heh!--a second priority gambit. Granted, I eventually came to find out that Final Fantasy XII is considered hit-or-miss even among the series' faithful. So I was willing to take the benefit of the doubt and have another crack at the series. I also tried Final Fantasy IV (the DS remake) and thought it was better, but it was still very much about watching the action play out, rather than really participate in it. And I'm not about to choose it over modern RPGs like The World Ends With You. Or Kingdom Hearts (...to an extent, lol). Or Mario RPGs. They may not have the depth that those titles have but, gosh darn it, at least they remember that they're games. And thus, their number one priority is fun.                

Anyway... what was I taking about again before I went on that huge spiel? Oh yes. Mario RPGs. XD But more than even their fun gameplay, I want to reiterate just how incredibly funny these games are. They're the reason Vickie enjoys watching me play them (when she's not playing them herself!) In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, there's a a sort of underhanded Mafia-esque group called the Pianta Syndicate. They're piantas in tuxedos wearing dark sunglasses. I think you need to read that sentence again.

They're Piantas...

...in tuxedos...

...wearing sunglasses...

...making you offers you can't refuse.


Another nice thing about them is that they don't use voice acting. Meaning Vickie and I get to go into total dork mode and make up accents that fit all these bizarre characters. The Godfather's voice isn't easy to replicate, but I try my best, lol. The dialogue is usually hilarious as well, and we're constantly buffeting each other with quotes at random times that send the both of us reeling. I'll go as far as to say that they're part of the reason the two of us are so close. I honestly can't think of another RPG series that's this fun, not just for the one playing, but for those watching too. They're the video game equivalent of a feel good movie.

Now to finally get to the reason why I'm explaining all this: I mentioned a couple of updates ago about a new feature I wanted to do for every new game I get, and I'm going to kick it off with Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. I'm going to start up the game for the first time, right now, and play it for the next hour; all the while, I'll be giving my minute-by-minute impressions of things that happen in the game. Hopefully this'll give you guys a good idea as to what Mario RPGs are like... and maybe spark some interest, hopefullly, lol. 

So without further ado, grab a blanket, a chocolately beverage of your choosing, and LET'S DO THIS THANG! :D

(Geez louise this thing is insanely long. To save our collective sanities, after the break it goes. XP)

Title Screen. :D Peach's castle and Bowser's castle are shown, each reflecting the other. Ooh, the bottom screen--the one with Bowser's castle--has a ripple effect, reminiscent of the file select screen from Super Mario 64. 

Yes. It really is called 'Mario & Luigi 3!!!' in Japanese.

0:01: A peaceful day in Toad Town... OR IS IT!?

0:01: A Toad kid cut class because his teacher--Ms. Ingletoad--wouldn't stop rambling. I can see the lawsuits coming already...

0:02: Mom duly reprimands kid. Way to cover your rear, Nintendo. XD

0:02: Kid calls his dad for dinner. Dad wouldn't respond right away. One second later, the dad busts through the wall, big and round as a blimp.

"THE BLORBS! Mushroom Kingdom Marred by Mystery Malady!"

0:04: The cause is unknown. Princess Peach calls for an emergency meeting...

0:04: "I have absolutely no idea what to do!" says a Toad. "I suggest we panic!"

0:04: "My son.... he also has the blorbs..." says another Toad.

0:04: Toad begins to cry. Surprisingly sad looking. 
0:04: Princess Peach has asked the Star Sprites for help, but they haven't answered.

0:05: Starlow, respresenting the Star Sprites, has arrived.

0:05: "HELLO YELLO!" D'awww....
Adorable celestial entity... or lemon drop? The choice is yours.

A cure for the blorbs is even beyond the power of the Star Sprites. Oh dear...

0:05: Wow, this premise is strangely timely. (See: Swine Flu)

0:07: OK. So Star Sprites and doctors can't find a solution. All hope now rests with Mario... A plumber.

0:07: Mario jumps into the castle, and calls after Luigi. Luigi hops on one foot into the castle, overalls falling, trips, and loses a shoe. Yep. That pretty much sums up both of their personalities in these Mario & Luigi games. XD
The Bros. are back for another rip-snortin' good time.

 A toad urges Mario to hurry on to the conference hall.

0:07: "...Oh. Luigi came too. Super."

0:09: Hmm. The Mario and Luigi sprites are a lot like the ones from Partners in Time. Mario kind of moves his arms outstretched as he walks, while Luigi has his arms tucked in.

0:09: Just running through yer castle courtyards... hittin' yer yellow coin blockz.

0:09: I come across a neon-colored block majiger. It's a save block.

0:09: XD "Save often, save your sanity" says another random toad. Tru dat.

0:09: (The little fireworks effect that happens when you save is pretty kewl...)

0:10: Blorbed toad is blocking the way to a part of the castle, like a partition. Wat.

0:10: Arrived at the meeting. The blorbs may be caused by some strange mushroom.
0:10: Luigi falls asleep at the meeting. Typical...

0:11: Apparently some fellow in a cape is selling these mushrooms. "Rapscallion!" Toadsworth calls him. Gotta start saying that more often.

0:11: "Mario! Go stomp on this guy as if he were Bowser!" Wait for it...

0:11: "Did someone just page the king of awesome?" Thought so, lol.

0:11: Bowser's miffed he wasn't invited to the meeting. 

0:11: (...Luigi is still sleeping. XD)

0:12: Mario saves Peach from Bowser's attack, and the first tutorial battle begins.

0:12: Yessssss the battle music in this game is cool-sounding. I think I still might like the one in Supersar Saga the most, but this is definitely a notch above that of Partners in Time.

0:13: Er, huh. I turned down all of Toadsworth's offers to teach me action commands, but getting them right seems more difficult than it was in the previous games. The space for error seems much smaller.

0:13: And now Bowser actually hit me with his fire attack. Vickie didn't seem to have any trouble... maybe I'm just rusty, lol?

0:14: Luigi turns over and a snot bubble inflates and deflates as the battle continues.

0:15: The animation is much improved over Partners in Time, actually. The sprites look somewhat identical in quality (which was already very impressive-looking 2D) but there seems to be more frames of animation for different movements this time around.

0:15: I land the finishing blow, and Bowser collapses.

0:15: "Where are my skills?" Bowser muses. "That was not my "A" game..." 'Cause yer up against me, pal! UNH!

0:15: ...Oh wait, apparently it was Starlow's star power and Peach's wish power that weakened him. *grumbles*

0:16: Oh schnap. Peach uses the Force or something and tosses Bowser out of her castle with the wave of a hand. Since when did Peach have magical powers?

0:16: Peach actually says--a la voice acting--"Thank you, Mario!" and gives him a kiss on the cheek. Mario rubs the back of his head sheepishly. Lucky dog, heh.
Peach. Damsel in distress and bane of plumbers and over-sized turtles alike since 1982.

0:16: Bowser is seen lying face down in the middle of some forest (It's name is unbeknownest to me). A Magikoopa tries to coax him awake with magic and cries of "Wake up!"

0:17: Bowser... wakes up. And swears vengeance on Mario for defeating him once again.

0:17: The Magikoopa tells him to "chill out", but Bowser responds with "I'll chill nothing!" The Magikoopa gets on his broom and flies away.

0:17: Time to play as Bowser! Rad! :D

0:17: Bowser can throw a punch with X and breath fire with Y. I walk into the next area.  

0:18: There are a bunch of boulders blocking my way. "Your Surliness!" Magikoopa shows up again, and says I can break 'em with a punch. Very good, my minion...

0:18: Hehe, breaking boulders with your fists is as neat as it sounds.

0:19: Now trees block my way. The answer is obvious already, but the Magikoopa comes back with "Your Grouchiness!" and says I can get rid of them with, yep, my fire breath.

0:19: I walk into the next area and suddenly, "A WINNER IS YOU!" blares across my screen. Could it be...?

0:19: There's a shop built into the side of a wall. A little robed guy says Bowser wins a mushroom. Bowser questions why, but the imp-like fellow responds: "Do not have worries for details! No, do not have the worries!" Now, where have I heard something about mushrooms before...

0:20: "Eat this this and your luck will power up to super luck!" the fellow says. "Luck enough to beat Mario." Whuh-oh. Magic words.

0:20: Bowser questions again. "I say to you YES!" says the imp. "With every attack, lucky hits will shower in a happy waterfall!"

0:20: "You will have such fury!" Fawful confirmed! And so is his fury! XP

Fawful is a man of few words. The most notable of which are--I HAVE FURY!

0:20: "Your strongest enemies will fold like napkins who are crying!" Ugh, why does everything Fawful say have to be so gosh darm quotable? I'll try and pick and choose between all his various quips to type down... but it'll pain me so. *weeps*

0:21: "Your Beefiness! Dude is WEIRD" says the Magikoopa. Bowser ignores these words of wisdom and goes ahead and grabs the "Lucky" Mushroom.

0:22: Bowser scarfs down the mushroom like no tomorra', and his face immediately goes red. Magikoopa implicates Fawful--now in his proper outfit--who proclaims his victory with "such easiness!" And scooters off on a flying saucer thing like those gliders from Spider-Man.

0:22: The scene switches back to the castle. Everyone (except Luigi, of course, lol) is still talking about Bowser's disturbance, and Peach deems the Blorbs a more pressing problem than Bowser at the moment.

0:24: Or not. Bowser bursts into the castle, mouth wide open, inhaling everyone and everything in sight like some kinda typhoon. He even sucks up Luigi, who wakes up just in time to watch himself being vacumned
up like a ghost (irony?). Bowser then immediately collapses again.

0:24: Fawful shows up. "I HAVE VICTORY! Easy as bread sandwiches!" He then calls for his minion, Midbus, (Midbus... Mid-buss... Midboss?) and they begin their plan to do evil stuff. Probably involving bread sandwiches.

0:24: Mario falls down through Bowser's insides in this cool two-screen moment, and lands in... well, Bowser's guts somewhere.

0:25: Back in control of Mario, but Bowser can be seen unconcious on the top screen. Huh. The game plays a little more like those classic 2D Mario platformers. Mario has to jump from platform to platform to get to the right side of the screen, and avoid this yellowish, foaming stuff on the bottom of the screen. Not gonna start pondering what that is...

0:25: I hit some yellow-ish block that comes to life and calls itself an emoglobin. (hemoglobin... I get it, hehe) He says globin pretty much every five words or so, in place of another word. "Want to save your globin?" So he's the save block, as long as you're in Bowser.

0:26: I go into the next area and find Starlow stuck at the top of the room in some strange bubble thing, being tickled to tears. An emoglobin flies up next to this pipe-looking doohicky and explains that it actually is a pipe.
0:27: I take the pipe which launches me upward, bonking Mario's head on an exclamation block (seriously, how can Mario continuously smash these blocks with his skull without suffering some kind of unpleasant result?). Another pipe rises up. I take that one, hit another block, and one last one rises, which launches Mario right into Starlow's bubble, bursting it.

0:27: Starlow thanks Mario for saving her, but then this strange enemy that looks like raw egg yolk attacks.

0:28: Kind of a tutoral fight. A constant stream of enemy egg yolks attack Mario as Starlow runs through the basic mechanics of fights. No different than any other Mario & Luigi game, really.

0:29: Starlow explains how to run away. You'd think that'd be self-explanatory, lol. Battle ends and the victory screen pops up. Instead of showing the amount of experience you need to level up, there's a flag on a pole that slowly raises the more EXP you get. Neato! 

0:30: Starlow and Mario decide to search the surrounding areas inside Bowser for the others. Mario talks in that garbled, Italian-esque gibberish that cracks me up every time. XD Definitely one of the best things about the Mario & Luigi series. Mario & Luigi never actually have any dialogue; just little voice clips here and there.

0:32: Just wandering around Bowser's insides, picking fights with egg yolks. And it's not anywhere near as disgusting as that sentence must've sounded. XD The scenery is very vibrant and cartoony, so it's not like anyone should get squeamish. Kinda wondering what all the cobwebs are supposed to be, though.

0:33: Lol, found Luigi. His head is stuck in a bubble, like Starlow. I love that sound byte of him groaning: "Oooghh".

0:33: Starlow asks, "Luigi, what are you doing up there?" Luigi responds, "OOOOGHH".

0:33: Mario jumps up and pulls him down. Luigi sheds tears of joy at being reunited with Mario.



0:34: Again, like the other games in the series, all of Mario's actions are managed with the A button, while Luigi is assigned to the B button.

0:34: The return of dancing mid-battle! Yaaaay! :D I missed that in Partners in Time. Mario & Luigi were too busy carrying their baby selves (*shudders* Ugh. Sorry, but whoever came up with the concept of 'baby Mario bros.' out to take an extended vacation... to the Bermuda Triangle!!!) to bust any moves. The animation in this game is smoother than ever, so it's enjoyable to just put the game down and watch them dance to the music.

0:34: Hey, Vickie likes doing it too, so at least I have someone to watch with. XD And Luigi's pulling a John Travolta!

0:35: Fight ends. Starlow asks Luigi if he's seen Princess Peach, but he responds with a negative in the gibberish that I love. The search continues!

0:36: Starlow asks if I want a tutorial on the Star Menu. Sounds intriguing!

0:36: Oh. It's just the status screen. Skip, skip, skip...

0:38: Back to wandering Bowser, now with Luigi in tow. I fry up some more egg yolks, and Mario goes up a level. Aside from all his stats beefing up, I get to choose one stat I want to personally put points into (another M&L hallmark). I choose defense, since he's a little lacking there. A little roullette pops up, with a bunch of 4's, 3's, 2's, and 1's. I get a 1. This game is officially rigged.

Yeah yeah, Mario and Luigi braving the many perils of Bowser's guts. What I wouldn't give to have a spiny plush doll. 

0:39: I come to an area with a bunch of platforms that need to be traversed, vertically and horizontally. I hit a nearby emoglobin, who explains that I need to press A and B one after the other in quick succession to cross these gaps, because Mario (remember, Mario is always the A button) is in front, and Luigi (the B button) is in the rear. "It's not globin science", it taunts.

0:40: I jump over the gaps and the emoglobin gets emotional. "You've achieved... success. Huh? What madness is this? Sweat comes... from my eyes..." Yes, they're certainly called emoglobins for a reason, lol.

0:40: I do this elevator mini-game thingy. Well that was fun.

0:41: I come to a room that has a crate in the middle, marked with an image that looks like hammer. Hamma' time!

0:41: But it looks like I can't bust the crates open with a jump. I'm going to need a hammer to get these hammers out of this crate.

0:41: I go on to the next area, and hit this multi-colored block. A jigsaw piece pops out (Banjo...?). Apparently it's called an attack piece. If I collect ten of these I learn a special attack! I wonder where the rest of them are.


0:42: OK, the next room is filled with 'em. This should be pretty simple. They're ripe for the picken'!

0:43: The last attack piece is in another room. I got... green shells? Heeeeey, these aren't new! They were in Partners in Time also. A demo pops up, visually showing how the attack is done, and allowing you to practice the move without wasting SP (special points, I presume). Now that's a new feature. Eh, I'll just skip it since it looks eerily similar to PiT's shell attacks.

0:44: Some wacked out looking egg yolks fall from the ceiling just as I exit the tutorial. They appear to be wearing helmets, so jumps are probably ineffective. Starlow suggests I should try out the special move. That settles that.


0:45: Yep, shells work the same as in PiT. Not the most flashy special attack, but I suppose it is only the first out of, I'm positive, a plethora of them.

0:45: We made a 360, and now we're back in the hammer room, only on an upper level. Mario and Luigi approach an exclamation block and whack it. The floor falls beneath them, and they crash down on the hammer crate, breaking it open and exposing two monkey wrenches.

0:45: That was a joke. XD

 I go around, smashing some crates. You get hammers surprisingly early in this game. 

0:46: There's a boil-like thing sticking out of the wall, begging to be smashed, and I oblige. A current runs alongside the wall opening a wall of flesh, allowing a yellow and purple ball to drop down from above, onto the ground. I crack it open, and some spikey-shelled enemies leap out ravenously.

0:46: Actually, they're really cute, lol. Starlow states the obvious and says that jumping on them would be a very bad idea. Instead, this calls for hamer attacks.

0:46: Er, wow. If I thought getting the best possible action commands with the jump was tough to get used to, it's nothing to this. I'm failing pretty much every time. Hammers are another M&L trademark (Mario RPG trademark in general, actually) but the timing was never this tricky. This'll definitely take some practice.

0:47:  The battle ends and Luigi levels up. He could use some more speed so I try for that. I get a 3! Guess we know who got the better end of the gene pool. (But I still love ya, Mario. XD)

0:49: I beat up some more spinies (if that's their name. I should've checked). It's hard to avoid enemies in this 2D perspective. All I could possibly do is jump over them, but since battles are initiated depending on the first thing you do on the field (if you jump on an enemy, if you hammer it, or if it gets the jump on you) it's very possible I'll jump on the spinies and take damage. So it isn't worth the risk. Not that I'd skip out on fights anyway; I'm kind of a stickler for fighting every enemy, talking to every NPC, and checking every nook and cranny in games. I just want the full experience, you know?

0:49: Anyhow... next area. I made it out of whatever part of Bowser I was in, and now I'm looking at a pseudo-overworld of sorts, with all accessible areas of Bowser's body circled. Starlow suggests I look for some place I could prepare for the dangers ahead. She flies over to a circle that has a mushroom on it (usually a sign of shops or rest points in Mario RPGS). There's also a place called the "Funny Bone".
0:50: I go to the Funny Bone. XD

0:50: The second I get there, Starlow asks me to wait so she can go scout ahead. A several muttering of "it must be" and "it has to be" she flies back and tells us to follow her up ahead.

0:51: Turns out it's another nerve--a major one, according to Starlow. My hammer sense begins to tingle...

0:51: I whack it, and Bowser finally wakes with a jolt. "Whoa, what did I eat?!" he moans.

0:51: Starlow starts to talk to Bowser, the latter of whom is, understandably, disgruntled that there's someone in his body doing all these strange things.

0:52: The conversation continues. Apparently Bowser has no recollection of anything that happened after he ate the vacuum-inducing mushroom. Perhaps for the best, Starlow decides to keep the fact that Mario, Luigi and Peach are inside his "bod" a secret.

0:53: For some reason Bowser is in a cave. A dim and dank one, at that. Afte a couple of confused-sounding voice bites from Mario and Luigi, Starlow suggests that they let Bowser take the reins for a while. It's-a Bowsah time again!

0:53: Before I can get far, Starlow pipes up with another tutorial. I have six minutes left--this better be snappy!

0:54: And it is. She mentions that I can switch between Mario and Luigi inside Bowser, and Bowser back on the actual overworld, with just the tap of the A and B buttons, or the X and Y buttons, respectively. Pretty cool! I guess if I ever tire of playing with either party, I can switch it up to keep things fresh.

Bowser wants to make your day.

0:54: Hmm, Bowser's fire breath is mysteriously unavailable at the moment. Ah well. I make my way around, smashing boulders in the cave, and then solve a simple puzzle.

0:54: The music is quite awesome, by the way. Especially considering it's a beginning area. The game's composer is Yoko Shimomura, who also worked on the Kingdom Hearts games. The music that was in the forest, back when you first control Bowser is very KH-esque. Wonderland, more specifically, lol.

0:55: Bowser realizes his flame is missing as well, and shows some 'tude to Starlow (Good thing no one's around to watch him cause he's kinda arguing with his own stomach...) "I used to be a burning machine!" he whines. Starlow insists she would gain nothing from disabling his fire, and shuts him up with a "YELLO GOODBYE!".

0:56: I contine to work may way througthe cave until the ground begins to change from stone to grass. Also, Bowser's healing items are hot drumsticks. Drumsticks or mushrooms... think I'd have to side with Bowser on this one, heh.

0:56: Just as I exit the cave, Fawful shows up for more shenanigans! The mushroom Fawful gave Bowser was one he created himself, aptly named a vacuum shroom.

0:56: "And I am betting you remember nothing", Fawful mocks with delight. "You inhaled like a hungry syrup pig at the free pancake buffet." <3 Fawful. XD

0:57: Everything Bowser has done has gone according to Fawful's plan. Him inhaling everyone at the castle. Him falling unconscious. Him ending up in the cave. Bowser demands, "What's your beef with me?" "Beef?" Fawful responds. "I am lacking in beef. Fawful is beefless." ...GENIUS. 

0:58: After many more Fawful quotes that, with a heavy heart, I choose not to type here for the sake of keeping this moving, Fawful reveals that he wishes to take over Mushroom Kingdom. He has even begun attacking Bowser's own castle (with flying saucers that remind me heavily of the Shroobs' ones from PiT). 

0:58: Fawful calls for Midbus--a spikey, pig-like guy not unlike Bowser--to put Bowser back to sleep. This should be good!

0:59: Bowser battles start off with Bowser saying, in an extremely gruff voice, "Showtime!" I can get used to this, hehe.

0:59: Oddly enough, Fawful takes the role of Starlow in explaining how battles work. "Midbus! Have readiness!" Fawful warns his minion. "The longer he is holding back his punch, the bigger the hurting to your face!" Thanks for the tip! :D

0:59: BOWSER PAAWWNCH!!! This is too awesome to be described any other way, lol. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like it's possible to win the fight. Midbus spares Bowser, telling him to work on his skills, (if I had a dime for every villain who did that and lived to regret it...) and he and Fawful shove off to wreak havoc on Bowser's castle. Bowser addresses Starlow, insisting that he needs to save his castle before he goes to Peach's like Starlow wants. Eventually Starlow caves, and lets him do his thing. Bowser is a Koopa King with a mission! 

Well, that's all she wrote! RPGs have a knack for starting off really slow--as you can probably tell because of all the tutorials still around at this point--so that may not have been the wisest choice for this feature. Still, I'm enjoying the game immensely. A lot of reviews seem to echo the opinion that this is the best Mario RPG yet. Considering the original Paper Mario is my favorite game ever, those are big words to live up to... but I'm looking forward to seeing if they're right!

If anyone finished that, you have my thanks a thousand times over. XD Next entry will probably be the tale of my stay in Miami, but I'd like to do another one of these eventually. I have two games on order from Gamestop right now: Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days and Scribblenauts. Which would you guys prefer? (as if I need to ask, lol) Also, any comments on the new feature? I'm open to constructive criticism, heh.

Oh, and here's sketch number two!

Two things:
1) His eye is incorrect from that angle.
2) The shoe he's standing on should be curled a bit at the front, because what he's doing right there is physically impossible.

...Told ya I can take criticism. XD

Mondo Cool!

That Flipnote Studio app is forcing me to consider hunkering down the cash for a DSi. I mean, look what someone made.

MUST. GET. A. DSi. "Maraca" Brock (as Vickie and I have lovingly dubbed him, lol) demands it. XD I was actually able to tinker with one when I was still visiting Sammie. In truth it isn't much different than the DS Lite; slightly bigger screens, slightly better speakers, a matte finish instead of a gloss one (which is a really nice change. I like the gloss of the DS Lite, but it's just a glutton for fingerprints. The matte finish has a cool feel to it. It's like you're playing games on a piece of candy, hehe). Then there's the two cameras, of course, but at 0.3 megapixels they're a fairly useless addition for anyone who's bought a digital camera within... I don't know, the last seven years? But with the promise of more apps like Flipnote Studio and DSi-exclusive games, it's still pretty hard to pass up on, eh?


Er, you guys do still remember me, right? XD;

Wait. I retract that question. A better one is this: Who still remembers me, and was anticipating my return for a reason other than for the opportunity to wring my neck into a shape not unlike a county fair pretzel? That should narrow most of you guys down. Thank goodness for my l33t "Guess Who?" skills! XD

Heeeey people! So sorry I've been off for so long. As some of you know, I was on my Summer vacation. Or, that's what my parents called it, anyway, heh. It's going to take a good while to explain everything that went on these past few months, so I thought I might split up the whole tale into separate entries. Well, may as well get started!

In a nutshell, from late May to late July Vickie and I were back in Miami, living with Sammie. It was a summer vacation idea my parents had; my dad's been out of work for quite some time which meant that a trip to anywhere outlandish was simply out of the range of our budget. We weren't about to let an entire summer slip by without doing something, at least, mildly noteworthy, though. So my parents continued to brainstorm cheap vacation ideas, when they were hit with the thought of sending Vickie and I to go visit Sammie back in Miami.

Before I continue, I think some back story is in order. If you recall, Sammie didn't come with us to Georgia. She came to the ultimatum that she just had too many friends in the area, (or one major friend... but that's getting ahead of myself) and didn't want to risk losing them by moving 14 hours up north with us. Mom and dad, of course, opposed the idea. Understandable, I think; it would be her first time living on her own, and it's not like she would be living in a dorm surrounded by kids in situations similar to hers. No, her options were either to stay with relatives, or find an apartment somewhere... and since growing up Sammie and I never developed a particularly strong bond with our grandparents--or any relatives in general, really--it was obvious she would do everything within her power not to have to resort to the former option. So she started looking at apartments... the problem there being: this is Miami we're talking about. All she could afford with her part-time job at Vitamin Shoppe was some dinky one-room flat in a pretty fishy area of town. And our parents were having none of that. After the quest of finding a decent apartment became all but myth, and it became apparent to my parents (hur hur, c what i did tha--*struck by a flying ice cream truck*) that Sammie really wanted to stay, they decided to let her live in our old house. We were in the process of trying to sell it, but with the housing market being in the slump that it is we would've had to give it away for much less than it was when we had originally bought it back in 2003. The plan was that Sammie could live there until the house's value went back up, and that she would find a roommate by the year's end to house with, in order to help pay the mortgage.

Unfortunately, that was last year... and even now, she's still yet to find a roommate. And to top it all off, it was slowly becoming increasingly difficult to get in contact with her. She wouldn't answer any of our phone calls, and when she finally got back to us it was weeks later. She eventually informed us that she took up another part-time job in conjunction with her job at Vitamin Shoppe, so she was really busy and her schedule had become extremely unpredictable. We figured she did it to work up enough money on her own to pay the mortgage... but she still wasn't doing it. At that point, we were all scratching our heads in confusion as to what she was up to.

You can probably see now why my parents thought it such a good idea to send us to visit her. The whole trip wasn't just a scheme of my parents to get us to spy on her though, lol. We hadn't seen her since she visited for Christmas, so it goes without saying that we really wanted to see her again, above all else.

This sounds like a good spot to put the bookmark for now. I think I'll save what we actually did over there for next time or else this one will extend way into the stratosphere (not that we did anything totally mindblowing really, but we had some fun times). But before I go I want to say thanks to Kayleigh, Ashley, and Chrystie (if she actually took my advice and got her butt on LiveJournal, lol) for really making my birthday! :D Yeah, don't think I didn't notice all the nice things you guys (or girls, I suppose) said. I hate that it's taken me three months (*cringes*) to properly thank all of you, but I'll do my best to make up for lost time. Soooooo, how about some new sketches, hmm? I'll post a new sketch every entry for the next eight entries in a row. Jordan rewards those who do him kind favors. XD

This first one is fairly self-explanatory, but if I had to speak what was on his mind, it would definitely be this!

...Or something to that effect. XD (Thank DBZ for that phrase. Expect to start hearing me say that when I think something is really awesome, lol.)

I also want to say a special "thanks" to Kayleigh, for the jaw-dropping bit of photoshop magic you see below. Let's see, here: The Legend of Zelda? Check. A goofy picture? Check. "DORK!" In big, red, extremely noticeable letters? Check. Am I pleased? Oh--heck yes. XD You have me all figured out, lol. But I guess that comes with being friends for so long, huh?

In all seriousness though, thank you so much for the present. I know how difficult it is, coming up with new gifts to give, considering our limitations. It's not like you can go buy me a video game and be done with it, heh. You really have to go that extra mile, meaning paying attention to the things that person likes, and then basing a gift around that--usually made with your own hands. But that's what always makes them so special, and mean so much to me, on a personal level.  

From Kayleigh

...But that's just me trying to be all manly and mature. If you want to know how I really feel, it's MONDO COOL. XD

And on that note, I'm off!