You might’ve seen me tease this before, or maybe you’ve seen the comic itself on my Patreon. Well, it’s finally about to launch, with Monster Flight officially set to kick off on this very site this Halloween! That’s right, there’s just…
Before Mario did triple-flips and shouted “Wahoo!” like he just sucked every last drop of helium from our planet, he was a surprisingly gruff, perpetually hungry, and somewhat idiotic cartoon plumber who lived with his brother Luigi in the Mushroom Kingdom by choice. Surrounded by what, according to my current count, adds up to roughly one million pipes that lead straight back to Brooklyn, the Mario Bros. held their hands up, pursed their lips, and shook their heads “NO!” like a kid shoving away a plate full of brussels sprouts.
Are you listening, Nintendo? Because you’re gonna have to work the following into your games as soon as this list goes live.
The Wizard King of the West
Super Mario Bros. 3 was full of kings, all of whom Bowser ruthlessly mutated before taking over their respective kingdoms. From what I can recall, though, there was never a giant-snail-riding Wizard King of the West. The lore implications are especially deep with this one. In “A Toadally Magical Adventure,” the Wizard King grows impatient after waiting 50 years for his magic wand to be crafted. He sets off from his castle atop his steed—a massive snail that looks like he just took the most righteous of bong rips—with the hurried and desperate exclamation of “Faster, Lightning Bolt, faster!” Unfortunately for the Wizard King, Toad ends up getting his pudgy little hands on the wand first, and he’s not exactly known for his impulse control.
From what we can gather in his limited appearance on Super Mario Bros. 3, this king can pretty much see all with his crystal ball and do all with his wand. Why, then, does he resort to such meandering means of transportation? Why does he continue to use the services of the Ace Magic Wand Factory if it takes them 50 years to make the type of wand literally every other ruler in the land seems to have within arm’s reach? Why isn’t he in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate?
Professional wrestling is an oft-neglected aspect of the Super Mario Bros. universe, but it’s definitely there. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door proved it 14 years ago with the introduction of Rawk Hawk, AKA the Feral Nuclear Reactor. But where are all the totally ripped inhabitants of the Mushroom Kingdom? The version of wrasslin’ in Super Mario Bros. 3 is even more enticing, serving up a pair of contenders that look like Toad had his genes spliced with the Bushwackers. Enter the Mushroom Wrestling Federation’s Mushroom Marauder and Jake “The Crusher” Thunder, a duo destined to be the stars of “Tag Team Trouble”—one of many episodes penned by my personal favorite SMB3 writer, Martha Moran—were it not for the infernal meddling of the Koopa Kids.
In another nefarious plan, Cheatsy Koopa—which is the cartoon’s switched-up name for Larry—wakes the duo up in the middle of the night, clips their eyelids open, and uses the power of hypnosis to put them right back to sleep for two whole days. Who could possibly take their place and hope to win the million coin prize up for grabs at tomorrow’s big match? Will Toad ever be able to face those poor orphan mushrooms when he thinks he lost their latest batch of donations? Why aren’t these guys in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate?
Mafioso Prison Breaks
In Super Mario Bros. 3, pipes to the real world don’t just lead straight back to hot spots like Brooklyn or a Milli Vanilli concert. Toilets, doors, and even highway tunnels have infinite possibilities within them, even if your final destination happens to be a maximum security prison. That’s where Koopa and his constantly caterwauling kids go when everyone’s favorite baddie decides to break a convicted felon out of prison just to teach his whole fam a lesson. With the help of Crimewave Clyde, Koopa’s kids will become meaner, nastier, and just plain badder than ever before.
Best of all, the plan works so well the Koopa Kids get carried away. Before Crimewave Clyde knows it, they’re robbing each other and planning a billion-coin heist from the local treasury. Between this and the fact that they’re really annoying, it doesn’t take long for Clyde to happily turn to the Mario brothers for assistance. There’s no way he’s the first criminal Koopa has recruited, thought, right? How many historically significant badniks have come over to the Koop side in the past 30-plus years? Why isn’t Crimewave Clyde in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate?
The Doom Dancer Music Box
A deep and twisted Mushroom Kingdom legend tells of a treasure said to possess great magical power: The Doom Dancer Music Box. As the Princess explains, cranking it fast makes everyone in the vicinity dance faster and faster. Crank it slow and it makes them slow down and stop. Mario chimes in right away, suggesting they use the music box to “keep King Koopa and his brat pack under control,” as if that wasn’t exactly what the Princess was about to say.
The act of obtaining the box is definitely a late-game Mario stage. The adventure takes them to the Temple of Gloom in Dark Land, home to what is without a doubt the most terrifying depiction of Dry Bones imaginable.
Did they stop to think what would happen if Koopa got his own hands on the Doom Dancer Music Box? No, of course not. Thanks to this unfortunate turn of events, the audience is introduced to the episode’s title track, “Do the Koopa,” to which the entire Mushroom Kingdom is soon in thrall. This is one of about twenty original songs sung by the voice actors behind the Koopa kids, all of which are certified bangers. Odd, then, that “Do the Koopa” isn’t included as one of over 850 music tracks in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Guillermo del Toro showed us what the shape of water was in 2017’s Academy Award-winning film Sex Fish, but Super Mario Bros. 3 had this covered nearly 30 years ago. In the rudely titled “The Ugly Mermaid,” Mario ends up getting trapped in a cement block while swimming around in his frog suit. It wasn’t even the handiwork of Crimewave Clyde, it was that dastardly King Koopa! Before he dies the type of grim death Nintendo loves showcasing whenever Mario drowns in one of his games, a mermaid comes to his rescue. But this isn’t just any mermaid, it’s a reverse mermaid named Holly Mackerel, which means—cue the chorus—she’s got leeeeeegs.
Because she can’t see so well in her air-filtering fishbowl helmet, she believes Mario to be a helluva hunky frog. Mario rebukes her advances, even when she brings up the possibility of a royal wedding, but Holly leaves an indelible impression on the audience nonetheless. Why is this the first time we’ve heard about reverse mermaids in the Mario universe? Is Holly technically a sub-species of Cheep Cheep, or does she fall into the Big Bertha family of Mushroom Kingdom sealife? Why isn’t she in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate?
In My Frog Suit!
There are so many bonkers concepts in The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 it’s exhausting, but most of them just highlight how much ground the games themselves have already covered. There is one final item from the cartoon that will never, ever be topped on a Nintendo console today, tomorrow, or in a thousand years, so it’s not fair to sincerely suggest it. Try as Nintendo might to make a musical out of games like Super Mario Odyssey with Pauline’s excellent “Jump Up, Super Star!” song, nothing gets close to the chops of the Koopa Kids. And nothing in this cartoon could possibly soar higher than “In My Frog Suit,” a chart-topper from the “Mush Rumors” episode.
It begs the question: Why did this beautiful, stupid, absolutely canonical cartoon only last for 26 episodes? It’s not too late to right this wrong and make everything in the Mario 3 cartoon an integral part of the greater Mario universe, and it’s definitely not too late to dump it all in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. You put in a Piranha Plant, Sakurai. You can put in a sex fish.
This article originally appeared on the VRV blog.
If you’ve been looking for more ways to read Big Dumb Fighting Idiots—other than, you know, starting right here—you’re in luck! In a move to make the series more mobile-friendly, I recently started adding it in chapter form over on WEBTOON.
The vertical-scrolling style of the site/app is perfect, and makes it even easier to read BDFI in its entirety. I’ve been uploading chunky chapters, and I’ll probably be done with it and have the full series available to read there in the next few weeks.
In the meantime, feel free to read it there, here—anywhere!—and if you haven’t seen it, sign up for my Patreon to read the comic I’m currently working on, Monster Flight!
Back in 2016, I had a few drinks and decided to do a track-by-track review of one of the best albums ever, the 2013 insta-classic The Pink Album by Kirby’s Dream Band. Until now, it only existed on The Shizz, a forum dedicated to extremely influential video game cover band Minibosses. It must be preserved, though, so here’s all 1700 unedited words of it.
The opening to this song perfectly sums up the album, especially when the full band kicks in. The instruments are completely loaded, and when the guitars join it’s over. The album is absolutely over as soon as it starts. Call the match.
And then at the 1:00 mark it just gets disgusting, as far as first tracks are concerned. The understanding of what makes a Kirby song special is what really makes Kirby’s Dream Band special. If Kirby heard this opening track he would lose his mind.
This is the real stuff, though. The first few seconds of “Islands” are worth the price of the album alone. The way the guitars flow into the cascading keys and drums and transition to the more complex duet makes this a next-level VGM song.
Again, it’s the minute mark that makes this track an entirely different beast. It has a lot to do with how closely KDB conforms to the original flow of the tracks, but that’s part of their charm. The pick-up at 1:00 is beyond revolting. It’s the kind of song you’ll put on loop for that moment specifically, and then when it approaches the 90-second mark it turns every other cover into chop suey. 2:00? Forget about it, this album is done. By the time the last 30 seconds are rolling you might as well call it a day.
Mr Shine & Mr Bright
This has a tooty intro that leads into one of the best VGM grooves ever put down. The 12-second mark is a moment in time that doesn’t work without the seconds that preceded it. The same goes for the 24-second mark and the 41-second mark. It’s ghoulish, for real. Just some putrid wreckage that belongs in a time capsule.
The rest of the track is pretty remarkable, but the heights it ends up reaching around the 1:40 mark are so grandiose that it’s tough to fully appreciate them. The return to a more standard groove as we approach the 2-minute mark is similarly outrageous. The end of the song could be the end of a normal album.
Street Fighter II
I’m always kind of dubious going into this one. It comes off the high of some really incredible Kirby tracks, but it’s hard not to appreciate it by the time it really blasts off. The transition at 1:27 is sublime, and the momentum carries through until the last note, which screeches into the heavens like an unshackled harpy.
The brilliance of the album can truly be seen when going from the high end note of SFII to one of the most deviously nasty Kirby songs. “Go Kirby!” is a balls-blazing fast trip down a grass hill, rolling head over heels in a breakneck race to the finish. It has a dueling playfulness to its opening minute before it hits a pro-Kirby rally.
And then it gets seriously nasty. All bets are off at the 90-second mark. The final stretch of the race is loud, pulsing, and gross. The redemption at the end almost makes you think they won’t destroy you with the next track.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
But they do, of course. KDB’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2 cover is transcendent. You can’t talk about the first leg of the medley without mentioning the steady, climbing bass line. The keys are something else, but it’s the transition at 1:35 that really makes me want to jump in a river. What follows might be the most successful two minutes in VGM history. The final 30 seconds of drumming belongs in a museum.
I’ve already mentioned a few unstoppable song intros, but this is another one. This is the track that checks anyone who got too comfortable during Sonic 2. The change-up to and from the particularly upbeat Kirby then back to the more pressing, time-limit-stressing Dedede music is tremendous.
2:15 is probably the most memorable transition on the whole album. Don’t listen to this shit unless you have somewhere to be and you’re trying to get there fast.
This is a beautifully inserted interstitial. It works perfectly as a swaying, mid-album mood swing. The heat of the previous tracks dissipates as the classic Kirby tunes serve up a soothing salve. The song may be called “Kracko,” but it doesn’t make me as wacko as the preceding tracko. That was a sentence I really hated typing but I refuse to change it. Anyway, despite the light fare the arrangement still manages to be full and hit hard.
The chill break around the 2:00 minute mark will actually bring your blood pressure down remarkably. The ending of the track manages to be hopeful, aggressive, and dreamy at once.
My three favorite Chrono Trigger covers are by Super Guitar Bros., Battlecake, and Kirby’s Dream Band. If there’s anything that pushes KDB’s into the #1 spot it’s:
i) the thick, gutting opening bass
ii) the desperate notes around :30
iii) the serene keys that follow
iv) the harp-ass shit around 1:17
iv) the heartbreaking piano and bass combo at 1:43
This is a song that was clearly made with the utmost respect and admiration for its source material. Once the full jam kicks in at 2:27 you’re ready to go on a time-bending adventure, and the acoustic guitar is nothing but MUAH. The guitar harmonics at 3:10 are simply extra-terrestrial.
This is a surprising song, but the jovial Cave Story opening works pretty well following the epic finale to Chrono Trigger. I love the Cave Story soundtrack but sometimes I hate how corny the interplay between the notes is in the opening. It’s remarkably faithful, but the album is better for it once it hits the 2:22 mark.
This section could just as easily fit into the Street Fighter II song. It has that chugging immediacy that makes you want to throw your opponent through a gargantuan steel temple bell. The rest of the track continues to raise the stakes, with keyboard flutters that reverberate around the room, and by the time it ends you kind of forgot how cloyingly it opened. The final minute sounds more like a high-stress Kirby theme.
Dream Land Days
Speaking of Kirby, the carnivalistic opening of “Dream Land Days” is a fitting rebuttal to the proud, victorious closing of the Cave Story track. Most of this track rings familiar bells. Playful back and forth that marries guitars and keys seamlessly with effortless bass tracks and absurdly precise drums. There are plenty of open calls for obnoxious fills but they smartly keep it simple, even as the carnival rockets into the stratosphere.
Final Fantasy IV
There aren’t many first notes more accurate in the world of VGM. If you dig Final Fantasy battle themes the FFIV track is a colossal wonder. Every instrument is on point, and the transition at 1:38 makes me want to jump into my TV and never come back. Do not walk around at night and listen to this song because you will get into at least a dozen hard-fought random battles. By the time you hit 2:37 you’ll be a husk of a human, the rest of the track a wavering blur.
Pokémon Red and Blue
Even if you’ve never played Pokémon you’ll know the first seconds are an undeniable call to battle. It’s exceedingly dangerous to place this song immediately after Final Fantasy IV. I can only chalk this up to irresponsibility on the band’s behalf, but the fact remains that you won’t find a better medley based on fucking Pokémon Red and Blue. Give me a break. I was 17 when I played through that game in a hotel in Utah and I don’t think I could do it again today.
Nevertheless, the intensity of facing off in the tall grass courses through my veins when listening to KDB’s cover. The pristine perfection of the rolling drums and keys that will, for no obstacle or abomination, stop their incandescent jamming.
The Search for Heart Stars
The opening notes of this return to Kirby could be the closing of anyone’s life. One could hardly ask for more than to be escorted by the soft, graceful wings of death as it glides along this rapturous melody. The search for heart stars might as well be the knowing closure of every conscious door. To listen to this track is to abandon everything you know, lest you out yourself as anything less than a heavenly creature.
It’s around the 1:50 mark that we enter what some may crudely dub the “next plane of existence.” The Hey Dude-esque flourishes at 2:51 do not go unnoticed. The rest of the song is a caribbean daydream until it rocks you awake.
Revenge of Meta Knight
If anyone knows how to build to a finale it’s KDB. With “Revenge of Meta Knight” they mimic the progression of a video game, echoing previous achievements in a more accomplished flurry of melodic exchanges and rebuttals. The aural marriage that results at 0:55 is at that point a foregone conclusion.
There are so many instrumental fights in this song it’s like an entire pay-per-view in and of itself. The winner, of course, is you, dear listener. You remain privy to the kind of behind-the-scenes showcase of bravado few get to witness in their lifetime. The double-bass-drum bullying near the end is nothing but a puffing of the chest before it all comes to a comical collapse.
Milky Way Wishes
If KDB is a gala showcase, the final track is the moment when all the bands present get back together on stage and jam all at once. It opens with the kind of slick showmanship that makes you either want to clap or barf, depending on what mood you’re in. Once the rest of the track gets rolling the entirety of the album coalesces into one swirling mass. It would have been much easier to simply not bother attempting to close off such a tightly-crafted album, but KDB makes it seem a simple task. “Milky Way Wishes” incorporates rhythms and themes we’ve heard since the first track, and it does so without seeming corny. It simply does so.
Whatch’all know about the night he came home? What ELSE would I watch on Halloween, but John Carpenter’s original 1978 Halloween? I thought about following this up with either Halloween II or Halloween 2018, but I didn’t have time. It’s a miracle I even managed to squeeze all these movies in this month, really.
And what could I possibly say of merit about Halloween here? The trick-or-treaters are beating on my door like Michael Myers trying to break into that dang closet. If I spend one more second thinking about its perfect soundtrack, or its masterful timing and buildup, you’ll have to dig my corpse out from under a pile of half-eaten fun size candy bars.
So it is with the utmost enthusiasm that I whip my cape before my mangled body and hiss… HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
Halloween 2019 Movies:
1. Sequence Break
2. Deadtime Stories
3. Hell House LLC
4. Body Bags
6. Friday the 13th Part III
7. Child’s Play 2019
8. Ghoulies II
9. Satanic Panic
10. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
12. You’re Next
14. The Ranger
15. The Fly
16. Train to Busan
17. Halloween III: Season of the Witch
18. Army of Darkness
19. Lake Mungo
21. Beyond the Gates
22. Invaders from Mars
23. Body Melt
25. Basket Case
27. Scream 2
28. Scream 3
29. The Howling
30. Zombieland: Double Tap