What is “L is Real 2401”?

I guess we’ll have to wait 384 years to see what this cryptic message means.


#576 – L Is Real. Those 3 mysterious words have echoed in our minds since the Nintendo 64 days, where they showed up in Super Mario 64 and later in Ocarina of Time. But the question still stands: what does it mean? This video goes out to Crew member Rachel!

Footage credit: The Easter Egg Hunter
“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Manual Transition

If you’re old enough to remember printed game manuals, you’ve probably heard gamers joke about how superfluous they were. Ever since the mid 90’s, games have featured in-game tutorials and, even then, most people are smart enough to figure out the basics just by fiddling with the controller for a few seconds. They were utterly redundant. And yet, just about everyone admits that the first thing they did when they bought a new game as a kid was read those blasted booklets cover to cover. I know I did.

Nowadays, print manuals have been phased out in favor of in-game tutorials and digital guides accessible with a few, quick button presses. But just because something’s extinct doesn’t mean it’s not worth studying. Let’s take a look at how game manuals evolved over the years.

Kids love extinct things!
These have been gone for eons, and yet every natural history museum has to have at least one.

I’ll be limiting this examination to one mainline Mario title per console generation: Super Mario Bros., Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy 2. Why? Because contrary to popular belief I actually have a life, and to do this properly is way more work than even I’m willing to put out.

Printing

The most noticeable difference between manuals at first glance is their physical construction. The original Super Mario Bros.‘s manual is approximately 5.2×4 inches, which is considerably smaller the manuals of later generations, which all average to roughly 4.6×7 inches. Of course, size differences pale in comparison to the actual printing. With the exception of the cover and the gold Nintendo Seal of Approval on the first page, Super Mario Bros.‘s manual is entirely in black and white. Later generations would feature full color print for their manuals. Moreover, much more thought was given to how the pages were laid out, with sentences no longer being split between pages and more organic placement of text and illustrations. The last item of note is Super Mario Galaxy 2‘s manual is written in three languages: English, French, and Spanish. As to be expected, this tripled the booklet’s thickness.

Story

Back in the day, the only way to know a game’s plot often times was reading it in the game’s manual. Even after games started to become self-contained by providing opening cinematics, manuals continued to provide brief summaries of the game’s premise.

As to be expected, the plot summary of the first Super Mario Bros. is short and to the point. It describes what happens, without going into much detail as to how or why. Moreover, we don’t get to see things from any character’s point of view. Because of this, the narration has a sense of detachment from the plight of the hero, giving the plot summary a matter-of-fact tone. In short, it’s not so much a story as it is a plot.

In short, it’s not so much a story as it is a plot.

By contrast, Super Mario World‘s story uses a limited third-person narrative, presenting the story from Mario and Luigi’s perspective. The characters are presented as, well, characters: they’re given motives, emotions, and even dialog. Moreover, the story is actually presented as a narrative, with events playing out in sequence. Interestingly, the story (in the North American manual, at least), makes reference to the events of Super Mario Bros. 3, indicating that SMB3 is canonical despite Miyamoto stating it was all a stage-play…

Super Mario 64 continues the increased focus on narrative, notably by spending two whole pages on story! The story starts with a dose of self-awareness by asking, “Is there no end to the constant feuding between Mario and Bowser?” Afterward, the plot is told entirely from Mario’s perspective, with frequent interjections from the man himself. These quips from Mario are actually a bit jarring for anyone used to Mario’s modern portrayal, as they actually communicate some personality. It seems at this point Nintendo wasn’t afraid to let Mario be his own character instead of a stand-in for the player. Other than that, the story unfolds much like Super Mario World’s, which is to say a narrative instead of a plot. Interestingly, Mario 64 and Super Mario World‘s stories both include some overlap with what the player would see during gameplay.

It seems at this point Nintendo wasn’t afraid to let Mario be his own character instead of a stand-in for the player.

Super Mario Sunshine‘s story section is somewhere between the style of Super Mario Bros. and its super Nintendo and N64 predecessors, mostly leaning toward the former. While it attempts to convey the story with the sense of drama of Super Mario World and Mario 64, it only describes things in broad strokes. Like Super Mario Bros., there’s no focus on characters, instead favoring a description of events from an outside perspective. I assume this is in part due to the inclusion of cutscenes in the game itself. Since this was the first Mario game to be almost entirely self-contained when it came to plot, Nintendo probably thought it would be redundant to put information in the manual that the player would receive in-game.

Lastly, Super Mario Galaxy 2 somehow manages to beat even Super Mario Bros. in brevity. It doesn’t even set up the story’s conflict. All we learn from it is that Mario’s been invited to the castle and meets a Luma along the way. That’s it. The Prologue page actually devotes more space to character bios than story, which—given the game’s focus on gameplay over any semblance of plot—is probably appropriate.

Controls and Gameplay

The most important part of a game, and thereby the most important part of a game manual, is the gameplay. Gameplay and controls vary from game to game, even within the same franchise. As such, these sections are going to differ quite a bit on the granular level. Seeing as this is an examination of the evolution of game manuals and not the Mario series, I’m going to look at the big picture: what’s emphasized and how those instructions are written.

So right off the bat, I noticed something peculiar about the way pre-2000’s manuals were written. Often times when explaining controls or specific actions, the manuals often phrase actions in terms of Mario and not the player. For example, when listing the uses for the A-button, the Super Mario World manual says it “Makes Mario jump,” instead of, say, “Makes you jump.” Sunshine and Galaxy 2‘s manuals instead phrase controls and player actions in terms of the player, using terms like “when you touch an enemy” and so on.

This is interesting as conveys the idea that—despite the player controlling him—Mario is his own separate entity, with the player simply giving him instructions rather than Mario being an extension of the player. That said, I would be remiss to not mention that the pre-2000’s manuals were inconsistent in this trend, often alternating between describing actions as being performed in third-person (i.e. Mario) and second-person (i.e. the player). Also interesting is that while Mario Galaxy 2‘s manual exclusively describes the actions Mario can perform in second-person, actions that Yoshi can perform are exclusively third-person, indicating that the player isn’t the character he’s controlling, he is Mario.

This conveys the idea that—despite the player controlling him—Mario is his own separate entity.

Older games take a very different approach to describing gameplay. Both Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario World go into great detail about everything: defeating enemies, items, kicking shells, using the weird pink ramps in Mario World, everything. Super Mario 64‘s manual spends most of its pages explaining analog movement, items, and how to progress through the game, with basic concepts like stomping on enemies being mostly glossed over. Sunshine‘s gameplay section is almost exclusively about all of the different moves and actions Mario can perform, only briefly touching on game progression or items. Lastly, while the Galaxy 2 manual mostly lists moves, it does go into more detail when explaining the mechanics of recurrent items and stage features like checkpoint flags than the previous 3D games.

I don't know why, though; it all makes perfect sense. Hitting something from below knocks it over, stomping on something hurts it, and kicking turtle shells turns them into balistic missiles capable of defeating entire armies.
Early manuals explained every facet of the game.

Personally, seeing how ideas and perspectives have changed over the last 30+ years is fascinating. We’ve seen Nintendo promote Mario as a character, only to make a 180 and make him a simple stand-in for the player. Then there’s getting to see what they thought was important for each game: back when Mario was first introduced, stomping on enemies, kicking shells, and so forth were new ideas, and the manuals tried to explain everything they could. Later games trusted that the player was familiar enough with the series—or video games in general—to figure out how to use their abilities and instead focused on the basic controls and the game’s new ideas, such as Mario 64‘s analog movement.

Unfortunately, this is where the story ends; Nintendo phased out print manuals during the Wii U era in favor of digital manuals, and now with the Switch, we don’t even have those. It’s a shame really, because, as I’ve just shown, even if you don’t need a manual to play a game or understand its plot, you can still learn from it.

What Nintendo Character Am I?

If you ever need your eyebrows slimed, call us first.


It’s popular with the kids and it’s popular with the squids – SLIME! Simeon and Scott are here to play with slime (in a Nintendo-like fashion) for YOUR enjoyment. So play along and see if you can guess the characters that their slimy faces portray.

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Summer of Play Q&A | TBC on Location

Thanks to all the awesome peeps that let us bug them in line!


#556 – The Chicago Summer of Play event was host to some of the coolest Nintendo fans around! We went through the line and talked to some folks and asked them some very deep, very personal questions… about Nintendo! Enjoy.

Note: We lost footage of a few awesome people :( But please check out their channels!
Clashex Games: https://www.youtube.com/user/ClashexGames
ItsMeTNC: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbWSIM3i9yHmRHqPMetMAzg

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Nintendo Slime Co-Op Challenge

You could call us “YouTube Trendsetters,” but… you’d be completely wrong.


#553 – Never seen a video like this before on YouTube, have you? We’re playing with Slime, and you can just chalk this up as a Splatoon video, alright? The object of the game is for us to get each other to guess Nintendo related characters, objects, icons and more, simply by manipulating stubborn slime with our bare hands. Should be fun, right?

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Top 6 Things we Want in Super Mario Odyssey

Cappy Cappy Cappy Cappy Cappy and Cappy. Done.


#551 – The next big 3D Mario game is about to hit stores and Switches in a few short months. QUICK! Two Button Crew needs to get in their wish lists to the developers at Nintendo so that they can design the game to our exact specifications. Agree with our wish list? Let us know below!

Footage credit: Outside Xtra

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Why Doesn’t Nintendo Sell Soundtracks?

Nintendo turning down money? Hmmm…


#540 – Sometimes Nintendo will create a bundle or incentive for us fans to acquire the rare soundtrack CD, but why don’t they shift their business model and actually sell the music? Or offer it for streaming, because… who uses CDs these days, anyway? It seems like the Big N is behind the times in this regard, and it’s also odd that they aren’t utilizing their tracks as another stream of revenue. They pay a lot to orchestrate this stuff, why not offer them as products?
“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Debate: Mario Odyssey Vs. BotW in Sales

Best way to win a debate: Pick a side and give your opponent the other one to argue for.


It’s amazing how many heavy-hitters the Nintendo Switch is getting in its first year. Some of Nintendo’s biggest franchises are being represented with all new entries featuring innovation and a high level of polish. That said, which game deserves the #1 sales spot when all is said and done? Will Breath of the Wild maintain its momentum from launch and stay king of the hill, or will Super Mario Odyssey become a runaway hit this holiday and dethrone the competition? We want your thoughts – vote in the poll by clicking the “i” icon!

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Super Mario Odyssey In-Depth (E3 2017)

Do you think Bowser himself can be CAPtured?


#533 – Super Mario Odyssey had a strong showing at this year’s E3, not to be outdone by Metroid! Mario and Cappy explored some wildly different scenery, in search of different currencies and different rewards than Stars, and… well, all around this game is very different! Oh, and don’t forget the T-Rex!

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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E3 2017 Reaction Blow-Out!

This is an E3 to remember!


#530 – Nintendo just had one of their best E3s ever, and it’s not even over yet. In the span of 25 minutes, they managed to blow the socks off most of their hardcore fans. They really pulled out some big guns this year! Simeon and Scott are here with their fresh impressions of Nintendo’s newest announcements, discussing their failed predictions, and talking over what excited and surprised them the most. Join in the E3 hype in the comments!

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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E3 2017 Bingo Predictions!

How long do we have to keep being right in order for us to become paid industry analysts that make snarky remakrs for a living?


#528 – Each year, before the Electronic Entertainment Expo, Simeon and Scott take a stab at a swath of predictions! Nintendo will be streaming some bombshell announcements during their press conference / Nintendo Direct, and we’ve created a bingo board to keep track of our correct predictions! Can we score 5 in a row? Middle space is free!

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Most Fun Bonus Modes Ever

Forgot the Super Mario 64 stretchy face!


#526 – Sometimes, the side mode ends up being the best offering of the whole game! When the main story mode just isn’t good enough when compared to the side mode, wonderful things happen! Here is a short list of our favorite bonus modes in all Pantendo games. Footage Credit: Mario VS Luigi – SullyPwnz | Super Smash Bros. – RedFalconGames

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Real or Fake Game Name?

Pu :3


Sometimes, games have the craziest names! And other times, Simeon and Scott try to trick each other with wacky titles that COULD just be the real deal. It’s up to them to distinguish which is which in today’s episode, where they put each other to the test and try to call the bluffs. Play along and see how you do!

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Stalking Nintendo Stars on Instagram!

Now all we need are their social security numbers!


#518 – Forgive us for being just slightly on the “creepy” side today as we stalk some well-known Nintendo employees and associated on Instagram! We get to learn a little bit more about Bill Trinen, Charles Martinet, and “Karen”, and perhaps even observe some of their habits and behaviors! Delightful!

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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N64 Masterpiece: Super Mario 64

I’m still trying to figure out how we skipped from Super Mario 3 to Super Mario 64…


#517 – Super Mario 64 is a landmark game – a revolution in our industry. And recently, we had a young viewer named Rachel who watches our channel faithfully who asked us to “focus on some Mario games that people don’t talk about anymore, like SM64 and SM64 DS.” So that’s exactly what we’re going to do today! Watched some footage as we discuss this incredible step forward in 3D gaming, and see if you don’t have the urge to go and pick up your old three-pronged controller! Footage credit: Super Mario 64 – Matthewmatosis

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Caption This! Nintendo Photo Challenge

We apologize. But not really.


#508 – Oh dear. We’ve done it… we’ve gathered the internet’s most awkward Nintendo screenshots and we’ve put horribly hilarious captions to them! See if you can top ours by leaving your own in the comments.

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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E3 2017: What Nintendo Needs to Do

Anyone at Nintendo looking to hire a couple of professional E3 consultants?


E3 (AKA Gamer Christmas) is coming around the corner once again, and this year will mark the first time Switch content has been shown at the convention. Will Nintendo take this opportunity to get everyone on board the hype train, or will they play it too conservative? Scott and Simeon are presenting their wishlist, and if Nintendo were to follow it, their fans would be pretty happy.

E3 Footage Credits: Biased Gamer, NintendoCade Gaming, GameXplain

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Best Nintendo Sidekicks of All Time

TBC needs an offical… sidekick… YouTube channel! Now accepting applications.


Every superhero has a sidekick, and Nintendo’s stable of heroes are no different! But the characters that we find in Mario’s and Link’s shadows are not to be overlooked, because sometimes those characters are the ones that leave the biggest impression. That’s right – today’s all about the hero-helpers that made our gaming experiences amazing! Footage Credit: PMtTYD Yoshi – Tom Fawkes | TLoZ TP HD Midna – YOGSCAST Martyn | Paper Mario Goombario – RedFalconGames | Super Smash Bros. Wii U Falco – shofu | Super Mario RPG Geno – Zoundj

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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What You Get from Being TBC’s Patron!

We launched our very own Patreon page!

For almost two years, we’ve been making Nintendo discussion and gameplay videos every single weekday. It’s hard to believe we’ve been going for this long!

Well, it’s time to kick things up a notch and we need your help to make it happen. With a bit more support on our page, we’ll be starting the Two Button Crew podcast! And that’s only the beginning.

Giveaway

USA Residents: Back our page at the $5 tier (or higher) by March 31st to be entered to win one of these three prizes!

1. Breath of the Wild Soundtrack 2. Sheikah Coin 3. Apple Store Exclusive Super Mario Run Pin

Credits

Get your name in the credits of all of our videos for only $1 a month!

Votes

For $3 a month, you become involved in the planning of our show’s content by voting on upcoming videos.

Exclusive Videos

Behind-the-Scenes, bloopers, and bonus videos that won’t be available to the public. $5 per month lands you all these extras!

Tees

You can get your hands (and torsos) on TBC’s exclusive tee shirts, designed and distributed only to our highest tier of Patreon backers. Every 3 months that you support us with $15, you’ll receive an exclusive tee in the mail.
Want to see the first design?

“Warped Pipe” – Celebration of Prop Drops and all things Crew. Exclusively available to Patreon backers.

Did I mention that our rewards use stacking tiers? Each reward tier includes the perks of the previous tier!

So hop on over to our Patreon page and join the Crew with your support.

Good luck in the giveaway!

Initial Switch Impressions + Early Reviews

Similar to how “we” was suddenly a buzz word after the reveal of Nintendo Wii, it is now off limits to use the word “switch” without a wink-wink nudge-nudge to accompany its use!


We’ve only had a handful of days with the system, but BOY has it left an impression on us! There’s really something special about Nintendo’s Switch console/portable hybrid platform. And having a huge open world Zelda game on it sure doesn’t hurt! It’s very early to have a full review but we’re happy to provide our thoughts so far, and we’d love to hear yours in the comments below. Tell us how your experience has been!

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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