Tag: Summer Camp

A smashing blast to the past

A smashing blast to the past

Gotta love tentpole programming.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is officially out today! Even though I haven’t personally gotten my hands on it just yet, by all accounts it promises to be a fantastic collection of all the greatest parts of the series’ 19-year history.

I’m excited to get my hands on this sucker, because I’ve been a pretty hardcore fan of Masahiro Sakurai’s wonderful party fighter games since Melee on the GameCube.

Melee was quite literally a game that defined my young childhood, with many birthday parties spent playing as Young Link on the “Great Bay” stage from Majora’s Mask (many years before I actually played its game of origin).

Brawl was the game that offered my core friend group, from middle school on, to duke it out, find our main characters and test our creativity building our own fields of combat.

Smash 4 brings with it memories of being so excited that I played the demo endlessly during art class in senior year, time that left me proficient in newcomer Mega Man as much as I would be proficient in Lucina — my current main character, passed along from Marth before her.

Yet the fourth entry in the series became so much more. Long nights in the Daily Titan newsroom were more manageable after my boi Aaron Valdez brought his Wii U and we held DT tournaments.

Hell I even have some fond memories of the original Smash Bros., despite the fact that I never owned a Nintendo 64. I distinctly remember going to an animation camp while visiting my grandparents in Florida one summer, and a major highlight of the camp was getting there early to play on some of the consoles available in their waiting room.

My attachment to the series went far deeper than just playing the games with my friends, however.

When Stephen Hillenberg died a few weeks ago, writing my blog obituary for him brought back a lot of memories. One of the most potent memories was attending a sprite animation camp (here in California) over a summer with my friend Mitchell Winn from all the way back in elementary school.

Thanks to that camp, I learned a good many things about grabbing sprites from my favorite games off of The Spriters Resource and using them in different projects.

I took on ambitious sprite projects in the months and years to follow. Including recreating that famous Band Geeks halftime scene from Spongebob with video game characters.

One other project that felt pertinent to today required going back into my old desktop Mac.

IMG_1555

IMG_1554

This dinosaur literally hasn’t been touched since 2012 based on the security update. Thus it has become a crystalized time capsule for 15-year-old Jason.

I had so much fun going through this thing that I’m going to talk more about my discoveries later this weekend.

But for now, the important connection back to Smash Bros. were these desktop wallpapers I made using character sprites from various games and other fan projects:

SSBB Battle Subcon Stage2
The Featured Image, a classic fight between Link, Charizard (sans Pokémon trainer as this was the Brawl era), Kirby and Marth on “Mushroom Kingdom II.”
SSBB Battle Battlefield Stage
Four hatted-Kirby duke it out on Melee’s “Battlefield.”
SSBB Battle Yoshi Stage
Pikachu, Yoshi, Marth and Falco fight on “Yoshi’s Island,” where Marth shows off his Dolphin Slash. A favorite move of mine, clearly.
SSBB Battle Mario Stage
The Mario Bros. take on Link and Sonic on the aptly named “Mario Bros.” stage.
SSBB Battle Final Stage
A slightly askew duel between Samus, Fox, Zelda and a very tiny Captain Falcon on Brawl’s version of “Final Destination.”
SSBB Battle Onett Stage
One of my prouder pieces from what I remember, in which Ness knocks Kirby out of the park in his home turf of “Onett.”
SSBB Battle Mario Stage2
We return to “Mario Bros.” so the Bros. can confront a series of variant Sonics each colored after Chaos Emeralds. Not sure if these are the classic Chaos Emerald colors, but the different poses are sweet if you ask me.
SSBB Battle Temple Scene
It’s a race for the Master Sword between Link and Young Link (clearly set during the Melee era) on the leftmost side of the “Temple” battleground.
SSBB Battle Subcon Stage
Apparently I predicted Smash Ultimate being a thing years ago by pitting the (at the time) Melee-exclusive Mewtwo and Brawl-exclusive Snake on “Mushroom Kingdom II.”

Would have helped if I made them all the same size so they didn’t get stretched out when I rotated them as wallpapers. But hey, eight years ago.

All of these babies were created between May and June of 2010 using Graphic Converter, as I never learned Photoshop or anything.

2010! I know I spent all this time building up 15-year-old Jason, but these specifically are all a product of 13-year-old Jason’s ingenuity.

Now that Smash Ultimate is out, I’m hoping to get my hands on it soon so I can start to make some new memories with that game. Perhaps a few of them will come somewhere remotely close to leaving an impression as strong as the older titles.

Here’s to everyone having a happy Smash Ultimate day!

He was #1

He was #1

Sometimes you really don’t think about how much of an impact a person has had in your life until you see that name pop up on an obituary.

That happened for me when I saw that Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of Spongebob Squarepants, passed away from ALS complications at 57 today.

Spongebob hasn’t been at the forefront of my mind for a number of years now. If anything I’ve grown to be more resentful and dismissive of the Nickelodeon classic the longer it lives in prime time, because I’m one of those snobs that loves to go on about how the old episodes were great and the new stuff is trash.

Which is objectively true. But I digress.

Just because the modern run of the show isn’t fantastic doesn’t mean the blockbuster of a series didn’t become a classic for nothing.

Almost immediately after Spongebob aired in 1999 (almost 20 years ago — yikes), he became the face of Nickelodeon. Anyone who watched the network at any point in the early aughts would recognize the yellow sponge in everything.

The show has been nominated for and won over 100 awards in its runtime according to imdb, and I would say it’s hard to find a more recognizable voice talent than Tom Kenny in the field of animation.

That sponge is everywhere in our pop culture landscape. Hell they even referenced Squidward in Avengers Infinity War.

We have Stephen Hillenburg to thank for that entry, as well as others like Rocko’s Modern Life.

As usual Variety has a pretty nice article summarizing his overall impact and past far better than I could.

My contribution comes a little more easily from talking about how much Spongebob became an ever-present part of my life without my even realizing it.

Like I mentioned, the older episodes are absolute classics in my mind. Almost word-for-word I could recite the plots that I watched repeatedly on weekend mornings.

The one where Squidward travels through time.

The magic conch shell.

The Mr. Krabs robot.

Long, tan and handsome.

The Alaskan bull worm.

The hash slinging slasher.

The imagination box.

Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen (he was #1).

And of course, my personal favorite episode: Band Geeks.

There are honestly too many to count. Almost all of them, interestingly enough, seemed to involve a number of the most famous Spongebob moments that became memes as the internet grew.

So many memes stemmed out of Spongebob episodes, it honestly feels like one crops up whenever another dies. Those kind of moments have become jokes and references that my friends still pass around to this day.

Slight topic shift. At one point in my life I tried my hands at doing sprite animation. Even went to a summer camp to learn more about the subject with my old friend Mitchell Winn.

One of the first projects I tried was recreating the football halftime scene at the end of Band Geeks using video game sprites.

That scene was so iconic to me that I wanted to capture even a glimmer of its majesty in a medium I’d almost never done anything with before. The project never went very far, but I distinctly recall using the Spriter’s Resource to cast Mario from Superstar Saga as a drummer using a drum set from the Scribblenauts series.

That’s how much of an impact the show had on me.

Just thinking about Spongebob drudged up that old part of me, which also helped me remember the Smash Bros.-themed desktop wallpapers I created.

I’ll have to see if I can find those to show them off, but that’s a post for another day.

I also couldn’t help but think about the Nicktoons Unite game I played on the DS back in the day, namely because it was the Spongebob level I could never beat.

Funnily enough when I tried to look for that game in my collection, all I was able to find were these two Spongebob games that I don’t even remember owning!

IMG_1537
This stupid little sponge was literally everywhere in my life. Seriously.

The day that I’m writing this, Nov. 27, is Giving Tuesday.

Originally I was going to write something promoting the Gladeo donation campaign, but in honor of Stephen Hillenburg I think it would only be right to point out some ALS charities for everyone to donate to.

Unfortunately I don’t know who’s reputable and who isn’t, so I’m going to default to the ALS Association. Go support them in honor of that iconic character living in a pineapple under the sea.

With all that said and done, I can’t think of a better send off for Stephen than this tweet.

Yet another man with a legacy that will live decades beyond his far too early passing. Rest in peace.


Featured Image courtesy of Carlos Cazurro via Wikimedia Commons