Frog 38: The Purge

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know that sometimes all I want to do in Mother 3 is take a simple walk. And that’s exactly what I got to do today, so I’m a happy frog. So why don’t you join me on this walk through Tazmily, and I’ll tell you a story.

Near the beginning of my eighth grade year, the Mother 3 fan translation released. I had been anticipating the project for about a year, having heard about it not long after finishing EarthBound for the first time on an emulator during the previous summer. Lucas’s appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, as well as the Mother boys’ cutscenes in the Subspace Emissary made me beyond excited to see what his new game in the Mother series would hold. Outside of Pokemon, none of my friends played RPGs, which led me to the internet, seeking fellow fans.

At the time, my YouTube channel specialized in music videos of various Legend of Zelda games (this was a thing back then–VGMVs, or Video Game Music Videos, a counterpart to Anime Music Videos [AMVs]). With Windows Movie Maker, I created such gems as Wind Waker set to “Come Sail Away” by Styx, Majora’s Mask set to the ever-edgy “This is Halloween” cover by Marilyn Manson, and, of course, the crown jewel of all YouTube music videos: “Through the Fire and Flames” set to Twilight Princess. Say what you will about all of it, but that Styx music video was inspired.

Seeking greater YouTube fame, I decided to start recording my Mother 3 playthrough on Visual Boy Advance, exporting the footage to Windows Movie Maker, and uploading it to YouTube in ten-minute chunks. I would always be sure to never save at a save frog until I was certain that my footage was shorter than 10:59, or else I wouldn’t be able to upload it to YouTube, and I’d have to play through the same section again. (You, of course, might be wondering why I didn’t just record for, say, an hour at a time, then chop everything up in Windows Movie Maker later, and to that, I say: good point, but I was just a kid!).

We were just before the explosion of “Let’s Play” content around this time. Voice over + gameplay videos existed, of course, and folks like Chuggaconroy had a following, but it had not yet become the phenomenon that it would become soon, taking over YouTube, and the internet, by storm, as everyone and their grandma bought a mic and a capture card and tried to make it big in the commentary game.

But before all that, it wasn’t uncommon for people to simply watch segmented playthroughs of games, uploaded one video at a time, on channels like TheRagnorakSeeker. And like I said, you couldn’t upload videos longer than 11 minutes back then, so a game like Mother 3 or EarthBound could take a really long time to cover.

So, I decided to throw my hat into the ring, and ten minutes at a time, I uploaded my Mother 3 playthrough to YouTube, hoping to be one of the first channels with English footage on the site. Also, even back then I could tell how impassioned Mother fans truly were, and there was another part of me that felt like I was participating in some greater thing, something bigger than my 13-year-old self, by uploading that footage to YouTube. I know that sounds silly, and maybe even egotistical, but you’ve got to remember that this was the era when I had truly first discovered the Mother games, and I wanted to share them with as many people as possible.

By uploading those videos on my channel, I convinced some of my internet friends (mostly lurkers on Fire Emblem forums) to check out Mother 3, and I was so proud of myself. I felt like I was spreading the Good Word of Itoi. Of course, back then, I thought the announcement of an official release by Nintendo would be happening any day, so I also liked to imagine that little channels like mine were inspiring more and more people to play the game, which would ultimately convince Nintendo to just release it (right?). Again, I know it sounds silly, but I thought I was “doing my part” on behalf of the Mother community. It was an exciting time.

But how successful was I really? There were channels much bigger than mine covering the game, and they had voice over, something I was sure I would never do. And even though I paled in comparison to these channels, I did have the occasional video that would blow up with views, typically a boss fight. My footage of the finale of the game (uploaded in two parts, of course) once shot up to 10,000 views in about a week, which was bona fide internet magic at the time. I remember cracking open a Mountain Frost (offbrand Dew), leaning back in my chair, and feeling so proud of myself.

I’d done it! I’d shared Mother 3 with 10,000 people! I could barely believe it.

As I’ve said before on the blog, it all ended in pubescent tragedy. Some kids at school found my YouTube channel, of which I was very shy about at the time, and teased me for it, off and on for about a week. It’s funny–these days, every little kid wants to be a YouTuber, and it would be completely normal for an eighth grade boy to have a YouTube channel, but the landscape was different back then, at least where I grew up. There had been a kid in my class who had a vlogging channel, and when my classmates found that, he was much worse off than me–the jokes were relentless! Kids can be so mean.

Anyway, the teasing truly wasn’t that bad, but my 8th grade self-esteem got the best of me, and I was afraid of my classmates digging a little deeper into my YouTube channel and finding those Legend of Zelda music videos. It could be the end of my social standing in middle school! And while I regret that it ever happened, I ended up “nuking the vods,” as the kids say now, and deleting every video on my channel. All except one, which was a song I’d downloaded from a Yoshi game and uploaded to YouTube. It still exists! Of course, what description from 2007 is complete without “Wow, I actually never thought this could get 1k views…”

If you look at my channel description, I say that I took my videos down because of copyright, though we all know that isn’t true.

Honestly, it makes me kind of sad to type this, now, as a 25-year-old. I wish I could go back in time and tell my 8th-grade self that having a YouTube channel, and working hard on videos, was a good thing, and there was nothing to be embarrassed about. I spent hours, my entire summer vacation, working on those Zelda videos. And yes, even now, it is adorably silly to imagine myself putting a Styx song over Wind Waker footage, but I also remember that footage was harder to come by back then, if you were 13 and unfamiliar with the internet’s landscape. I downloaded countless trailers and obscure speedruns just to have enough footage to put the music video together. I experimented with different codecs to have the best and most stable recording quality for Mother 3, going out of my way to email people on YouTube and pray for a response from them. I worked hard, and I wish I could have had confidence in myself back then. I wish I could give my 13-year-old self a hug and say, “Dude, you’re awesome.”

I remember one of my YouTube friends, CommaHappy, “Inboxing” me (a DM, back then, a feature that YouTube removed) and telling me not to delete my videos, after our mutual friends Firemblemaniac and FETactics told him about my plight. CommaHappy was a couple years older than me, a high schooler, and he told me I’d regret it if I deleted my videos. Unfortunately, I didn’t listen.

Now, I’m not sharing this story for any sobs. My YouTube channel was truly nothing special, compared to the landscape of the time; mostly, I wish I still had access to those videos for nostalgic reasons. I also wish I could tell the little Shane of the past that, one day, most people would have YouTube channels, and video games wouldn’t just be for nerds. Because that was another part of it: in 2008, the conversation was shifting away from Nintendo and Wii and all that stuff, unless you were a “nerd,” and, again, for some reason, I cared about that kind of stuff. I couldn’t help it! Puberty is rough!

But when you think about it, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Here I am, 12 years later, still producing content about Mother 3. And in the same way I used to record for just ten minutes at a time, now I write for about fifteen minutes at a time. It’s beautiful, in a way, and I’m happy to have found my way back to Mother 3, and back to the creation of content (even though I hate the word “content”–it’s so lifeless!). And I’m also still making videos about Mother, if you ever get bored and want to watch them. (I promise this whole thing wasn’t just a commercial for my little channel). Life is all just little cycles!

So, what’s the lesson? Well, if you are reading this, especially if you are a young person, please have confidence in your creative outlet. Don’t be afraid to share it. Don’t be afraid to believe in it. If you are having fun, and loving what you make, I implore you to keep making it. Don’t throw away your drawings, don’t toss your writing, don’t scrap the code for your fan game, or nuke the timeline of the video you’re working on. Keep at it, for the sake of doing it. Our creative side saves us from the doldrum of everything else. And having a creative life is about so much more than recognition–it’s about cultivating. arelationship with that side of yourself, and learning to love the times when creative production is hard. It’s all a practice not just of craft, but of being you and honoring yourself.

So, please, please stick with it, and don’t delete your YouTube channel 😛

Well, stories aside, there are still a few Mother 3 things I’d like to talk about today.

There was one NPC I didn’t visit again last time, and that was dear old Alec, who’s still up on the hill by Hinawa’s grave. When approached by Salsa and Fassad, Alec tells them off, saying, “I said it before, and I’ll say it again. I don’t want any of your cockamamie Happy Boxes. So would you stop bothering me already?” Even though we haven’t technically seen Alec reject the Happy Boxes, and we’ve actually seen him share a pretty tender moment with Salsa… I feel bad for him here. Not just as a grieving old man, but as a Tazmilian (or at least an out-of-towner) who wants Fassad to buzz off and quit trying to sell people shit. I really feel Alec’s exhaustion here. I can’t tell if he’s snapping because he’s grieving, or if he’s snapping just to snap, and in both instances, I’m on Alec’s side.

Maybe I like this scene because somebody finally speaks their mind to Fassad. Even Flint just absent-mindedly says he has no interest in a box, and other Tazmilians, like the Gossiping Women, don’t quite have the hearts to tell Fassad “No.” And again, I’m sure Alec’s grief is tied up more in the fact that, you know, his daughter and grand-son are gone, but Alec makes me realize that people in Tazmily aren’t always honest. They’re polite, but to a fault. They never really give an authentic self, at least most of them.

So get out of here, Fassad! Git, ya git! Nobody wants you around here!

I also realize now this is probably one of the last times we see Alec before the time skip, when he’s relegated to living in the old folks’ home. Interesting when you think about it. Alec, along with Wess, is clearly one of the more independent Tazmilians in town. He can take care of himself, he can survive a mountain trek with Flint, and he can speak his mind while others hold their tongues and say half-truths. Alec should be running the old folks’ home, not living in it. Alec has more agency than half the people in this town.

Anyway, farther up the road, the Pigmask Assault on Osohe Castle has begun. (As a small note, I revisited the Candrum Pass and saw that the tanks were still parked there–I was hoping one or two would be missing during the assault, as a small consistency in detail, but oh well!!). Poor old Nippolyte has already been battered and bruised, and he even still has the heart to warn Fassad and Salsa if they’re headed up to the castle–there are bad guys in there!

Little does he know…

Just like last time, it bums me out to see Nippolyte’s ruined gardens. I don’t know why, but I really connected with the idea that there was this old groundskeeper who turned the inner walls of a castle into a garden. Can you imagine that? What if you found some old castle nearby your house, and you were able to ground a beautiful garden in there, of potatoes and cabbage? That’s the life! That’s the point! And the Pigmasks have ruined it!

If you remember Frog #25, you might remember (probably not, it’s okay!) that I didn’t want to just walk through the front door as Duster and Wess when I returned to Osohe Castle. My gut instinct was to climb up the Wall Staples and enter the castle through its second floor, like I had done the first time. Ultimately, however, my terrible reflex that says, “Play by the rules!” saw me walking through the front door, which I hope to remedy this time around.

So I like to imagine it like this: Salsa and Fassad walked up to the front door of Osohe Castle, but Salsa, through the corner of his eye, spotted Duster’s Wall Staples. It had been so long since the monkey had gotten to climb something, to find some elevation, to feel like a little king of the jungle. So, knowing it would likely result in being shocked, the monkey started walking toward the Wall Staples, and made to climb them, knowing at any second the shock would come…

But it didn’t. Fassad, perhaps feeling somewhere in his heart that the monkey wasn’t doing anything wrong and should be allowed to climb when it felt like climbing, followed Salsa up the Wall Staples, and the two made their way inside Osohe Castle. I like to think of it as a big victory for the little monkey–a subtle sign of the changing wind.

And of course, as soon as we step inside, we are greeted by today’s frog, hopping toward a Pigmask who’s in a staring content with the haunted portrait on the wall. The Pigmask reports that no matter where he stands, the woman looks directly at him, so he has decided to stare right back at her with all of his might.

Honestly, I think is both hilarious and also impressive. The Pigmasks are typically painted as bumbling foot soldiers, who can appear threatening on occasion, but are better, or at least often, used as comic relief. In this instance, I’d expect the Pigmask to be afraid of the woman in the portrait, but instead he greets her head-on. It’s almost like the potential for horror goes right over the Pigmask’ head, so he sees the staring contest as a challenge and won’t give it up. I love that. I mean, put me in this situation, and I’m going to run away from the portrait screaming. Put a Pigmask in front of it, and you’ve got yourself a battle of wills.

The best part is that when you’re done talking to him, he turns around and keeps on staring. Brilliant! Keep at it, soldier!

Well, anyway. That ends today’s frog. There wasn’t much to say, but I still had a good time. Currently, I just don’t have much new to say about Fassad or Salsa. We’re in the thick of it! The story is storying!

Will this barrage of frogs continue? Can we make it to 10 days in a row? I say we can, and with ease! With a hop, a skip, and a jump!

Then another hop.

*hop*

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