Tag Archives: Video Games

It’s-a Me, Mario Doll!

Walking through the vendor aisles at the Video Game Summit this year, I came upon something that I haven’t seen with my own eyes since probably 1991 or 1992. Sitting together with a bunch of other classic video game memorabilia was a 1989 Super Mario Doll from Applause. Immediately after seeing it I was hit with a surge of nostalgia, followed by the suspicion that the thing was going to cost me a arm and a leg. Anything Super Mario Bros usually fetches a pretty high price, but I decided I would ask the vendor to see how bad the sticker shock was anyway.

“Hey man! Is that a vintage Mario Doll there?” I said.

“Yeah! He’s missing his hat, but he’s from the 80’s.” He replied.

“How much are you asking for him?” I said, getting ready to be hit with an absolutely ridiculous price.

“20 bucks.” said the seller.

“That’s it?!” I said.

Usually I don’t let my poker face show like that, but I was pretty happy with the price and decided to pick it up.

The first time I saw this Mario doll was at a video game rental store located in Crystal Lake, IL called Video Game Adventures. The store itself was pretty amazing, featuring a vast library of games to rent for all consoles and even handhelds. Games with blue tags only cost a dollar to rent for the weekend, where newer black tagged games cost 2 dollars to rent.

Located up front at the register was a glass display case with used Nintendo games and along with those games was the same Mario doll keeping watch over the grey cart goodness. I immediately asked if it was for sale, but the owner explained to me that it was gift to her from her daughter in celebration that she opened up the store. I can tell you that I coveted that thing every time I visited that store. Sadly, one day we went to Video Game Adventures to pick up some games for the weekend and the store was gone! It pretty much vanished without a trace and I was crushed.

I explained this same story to the vendor and I could tell that he felt really happy that he was able to hook me up with my long lost little buddy. I think I made his day as much as he made mine. Sure, by today’s standards this Mario doll looks pretty goofy; but this was my childhood Mario and I’m really pleased to finally have one.

Mother/Earthbound Origins 2X LP Soundtrack Review

Do yourself a favor and play the below video I produced that contains the entire soundtrack of this record while you read this review, it will certainly add to the flavor.

If you would have told me that the vinyl release of the Mother Soundtrack would be my favorite out of my collection back when I started picking up game music on vinyl, I would have told you that you were crazy; but after multiple listens of this incredible record, that seems to be the case.

I had always known that fully studio produced tracks for the release of Mother/Earthbound Origins existed, but I had only heard small bits and pieces of some of the tracks. When I picked up this record, I expected just a high-quality recording of the music from the Famicom classic; but instead I got so much more. Let me be honest, these lyrical, fully produced music tracks are pretty damn cheesy; but somehow hit me right in the heart with almost every track. For a game that was made to capture the essence of the mid to late 80’s in the United States, these arranged tracks do the same thing. I could have easily heard music like this when I turned my radio on in the 80’s and not thought it was out of place. The arranged tracks range from genre to genre; sometimes you get a little pop music and other times you get something that seems straight out of a Peter Gabriel album, but it’s all very well done and sounds fantastic on the format. Side D on the second record gives you the original music from the Famicom game and its sounds excellent in its constant mix presentation.

This two record LP set from Ship to Shore Phono Company is beautifully produced and comes on two gorgeous red vinyl discs, along with a great gatefold cover. The version I was given included a booklet which gives a nice history of the production of the music from this album and a thank you page devoted to the fans who backed the Kickstarter set up for this project.

Regrettably, the double LP version of this soundtrack is out of print, but you can still pick up the CD version of this directly from Ship to Shore as of the publishing time of this article. If you are a fan of Mother or Earthbound and don’t have some version of this music in your library yet, I suggest you pick it up! Just listen to the video I put up if you don’t believe me!

Mother Soundtrack CD: https://www.shiptoshoremedia.com/store/albums/mother

Persona 4 Official Design Works Review (UDON Entertainment)

As much acclaim as the entire series has received, my first real dealings with the Persona series was with the 4th installment on the Playstation 2. The concept of the game seemed a little strange to me at first, but the beautiful artwork and design of the game grabbed my attention immediately. After becoming addicted to the game and spending over 60 hours with it to get the true ending, I ranked Persona 4 as one of my favorite JRPG games of all time and it’s an experience I will never forget.


Now UDON Entertainment has brought us Persona 4 Official Design Works from overseas and inside this book is a well rounded amount of content that any Persona fan will love. Those looking for concept art, final production artwork and a look at almost every character in the game will certainly want to pick this book up. One thing I enjoyed about this book is that it’s very light on spoilers, so if you’ve never played or finished P4 you can read the book without ruining the important parts of the story.


The comments from the design team are also quite interesting as they discuss some of drastic changes that occurred to certain characters as development of the game progressed. Usually, these comments are followed by the appropriate artwork progression of the concepts from start to finish.


With release of Persona 4: The Animation, Persona 4: Arena and the upcoming Persona 4: The Golden, readers may be disappointed that this book does not contain any art from those releases. While the disappointment is understandable, one must realize that UDON translated this book from the original Japanese release of P4 Official Design Works. Perhaps in the future, we may see an additional release with that content. I would have loved to see that content as an exclusive to the translated release though.


By the time I reached the end of this book, I was bum rushed with the same great experience I had with the actual game. For anyone else who has had that feeling, picking up this book is a no brainer.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Retail Price: $39.99

Get it here: http://www.udonentertainment.com


Street Fighter X Tekken Artworks Review

Capcom’s Street Fighter X Tekken was a colossal hit when it was released. Combining two great fighting game universes is no easy task, but the design team behind the game got the job done with great results. With the release of UDON’s SFXT Artworks, fans can now see some of the brainstorming that was done during the development of the game.

Fabulous illustrations like this one are plentiful in this art book.

The book itself spans over 192 pages and features a variety of sections including concept art and development materials as well as comments from the design team. For those looking for some verbal insight on the Street Fighter and Tekken games, extended interviews are featured as well. The interview with Akiman (A designer who has provided designs for the Street Fighter series for some time.) provides one of the most interesting interviews as he talks about his involvement with Final Fight, Poison and more. The variety of concept art featured will be very interesting to both Street Fighter and Tekken fans alike as some of the alternate costumes that never came to light would of been quite intriguing to see. (Especially the Poison alternate costumes!)


From concept art to promotional art, this book has it all.


For those looking for something past concept art, a variety of things are pulled straight from the game. Each trailer, cut scene and ending are made available to the reader; along with the individual character backgrounds for each character. For those of you who didn’t get to see certain characters due to one being available on a different console platform, you can now check them out; which is a welcome addition.


Every trailer, introduction and ending is featured.

With all of these features and then some, the SFXT Artworks is a must have pick up for any Tekken or Street Fighter fan. The well rounded amount of content definitely left me satisfied! Those wanting to add this art book to their collection can expect to find it in comic shops in October or online for a suggested retail price of $39.99.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Where to buy: http://www.udonentertainment.com