My favorite game when I was growing up was Super Mario World. I loved that game, but over the years I sold away my copy while keeping my SNES. I had been seeking it ever since.

“Why not just order it on Amazon? Or get the Game Boy Advance version? Or the Virtual Console? Or, god, just download an emulator?” my friends said to me. But I would not be dissuaded. I needed to scour yard sales until I found a copy of this extremely common game.

It took me years. And what did I find? NBA Elite 2011? Garage: Bad Dream Adventure? Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill? Some grey cartridge labeled “EARTHBOUND 64 FINAL PROTOTYPE”? All trash. I threw them away in search of the real prize. And one day, I found it.

Sure the name on the cartridge was SUPER MARIO BLOOD and the artwork was a rather grim Bosch painting but it was the game I loved! I slapped down five Washingtons and walked away with the prize.

“I have it bro, I have the game!” I called my friend.

“Yeah, well, five minutes on the internet and I could get every SNES game.”

“That’s risky, bro. I once heard of a guy who downloaded a pirated copy of Minecraft and was killed by that ghost who follows Notch around screaming GUILTY, GUILTY.”

“Yeah well I once heard this horror story about someone who downloaded DOTA 2.”

“And what happened to them?”

“They had to play DOTA 2,” he said, hanging up.


I popped Super Mario World into my SNES and already there were worrying signs. The Mushroom Kingdom wasn’t…right. The friendly faces in the background were scowling skulls, and everything was drenched in photorealistic blood. And then the name popped up: SUPER MARIO BLOOD. The 3D Mario from Super Mario 64 popped up and said, “It’s-a me, a mortal creature about to pay for his unforgivable sins.”

Uh, that’s odd, I thought. The SNES wasn’t capable of true 3D. Could this be a rom hack?

I pressed on. The first level seemed normal beyond the fact that the mushrooms were skulls and the background was a blood-red sky, marked by the occasional three-eyed pyramid. But then I leapt on Yoshi and I heard a terrible sound. It was like Giygas in Earthbound, or Kefka in Final Fantasy VI, or any number of non-terrifying sounds from non-horror games that I’ll compare things to because I think my readers only know about video games and nothing else.

At the start of the second level I couldn’t move, Mario just dived right into the water. Before drowning he said: “Mmmmmmmmph. MMMPHHHHHHHHHHH”. Oh my god, could Mario be the Pyro?

And then back on the title screen the title changed to MARIODROWNED.


“Mark! Mark! You gotta fucking hear this!”

“No I don’t,” he said before hanging up.

But I’ll tell you my experiences on this blog. I’ve figured it out across multiple playthroughs. I have no reference to anything other than video games so I constructed an elaborate conspiracy theory where I believe Mario killed his brother Luigi because Luigi stole something from him, possibly killing Aerith – no, not Aeris, you baka gaijin, you do not understand the purity of Japanese media the way I do, for even though I am from Ohio I am a major otaku who understands every nuance of Japanese culture, from anime to video games (the only two forms of culture in Japan), I once met an Oriental exchange student and told him about my love of anime and he told me he was from China and I told him, “Same difference, right?” before imitating his accent and then he never talked to me again and reported me for supposed “racism”, I don’t know why, that word is one of endearment and anyway you can use it for armor  – but to get back to my theory, it was LINK working with NATHAN DRAKE who killed JOHN F KENNEDY for the ILLUMINATI, as seen in Deus Ex.

Back to Super Mario Blood: I…had to keep going. In real life I noticed no negative effects on my psyche from playing this game but I knew it was harming me, somehow, despite just being a mildly eerie video game I could very easily put in a box and forget. I didn’t sleep, I didn’t go to class, I didn’t even call my good friend Mark, or any of the many other friends I very clearly have.

But I reached it. I reached the end. I navigated a sea of dead Luigis and the messages on the walls: REPENT SINNER, GOD LOVES YOU, SALVATION FOR ALL WHO ACCEPT HIM AS YOUR LORD AND SAVIOR. What does it all mean!?

I navigated all this and reached a bridge, like the ones Bowser waits on. It was time. It was time to face Bowser’s evil test.



A…video began to play? A music video?

“Don’t go, Cathy don’t go..Cathy don’t go to the supermarket today!!!”

Before my eyes I watched a music video on the horrors of the grocery store scanner, how it would steal our souls. Was this whole game just an attempt to get 80s technophobes to find religion???

It was…about as horrifying as these awful video game creepypastas. Shit, Slenderman is scarier than these stories and he’s just a faceless mannequin who stands around in the background of student films! At least the BENDROWNED guy created videos of the “scary” activity and exploited actually eerie elements of the game. Most of these stories slap some blood onto a screenshot of the Toad house and start screaming about how THE BLOOD WAS PHOTOREALISTIC. And why do all of these stories involve old NES-SNES games or Minecraft? Does disk-based media block ghosts? Can’t Steam occasionally fuck up and add a ghost to a download? I mean, have you SEEN the shit they allow these days? At least one of those Early Access games has got to be haunted.

Terrible, just terrible.

Hello. I haven’t posted since March. At first I was sick, later I was busy. Finally I concluded I was sort of burnt out after going on with 32 Bits for so long without posting anything else.

32 Bits will return! And I’ll announce when it does (at this point it’ll probably return with Super Mario 64). When I do close out 1996 I’ll make sure there’s no interruptions. In the interim I’ll post about other topics in gaming, both old and new.

Chasing a rabbit for a secret star in Super Mario 64

Chasing a rabbit for a secret star in Super Mario 64

SUPER MARIO 64: Last time I played I was 38 stars in, clearing out Big Boo’s Haunt and was unexpectedly enjoying this game.

I thought it’d be weird that you can only get one star at a time. But the game’s designed around this, so stars are on different paths and traversing the level becomes easier as you go. Stars feel like smaller, faster levels within a larger one. It’s not like, say, the 3D Gex games, which only let you get one remote at a time but often placed them at the end of the same path so you have to go through the whole level multiple times.

ARC THE LAD II: I also started playing Arc the Lad II and it has maybe the most archetypal JRPG opening ever.

ThirtyTwoBits-2014-04-20 10 50 14

We open on a burning village at night. Soldiers gun down all the villagers, except one young boy who survives thanks to his mysterious powers. Wouldn’t you know it, that flashback was a nightmare and the boy is woken up late for work!

ThirtyTwoBits-2014-04-20 11 07 26

He’s a monster hunter for hire and goes to stop a mysterious foe in an airport (for airships, of course). He defeats this enemy only for him to, of course, flee. Chasing down the villain he discovers a girl with mysterious powers. After besting his enemy in a fight, he’s killed before he can say anything. And so our hero defends the girl from a wall of what appear to be 1920s gangsters, but she’s wounded! Can the healer help her? Is there a link between the two, hinted at via a sepia-toned flashback? Probably!

On the other hand, the game’s pacing is so much better. The first Arc the Lad began with a interminable cutscene, one that ran well over ten minutes before the first battle. But ten minutes into Arc the Lad II I’ve fought two battles, gained a party member and have explored the world map. I’ve also heard Arc the Lad II is the best in the series so I’m cautiously optimistic.

OUT OF DATE BOOKS: Browsing a library I found, nestled between HOW TO MAKE MILLIONS OFF SECOND LIFE and THE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO SECOND LIFE, a most ordinary book: The Rough Guide to Videogaming, 2002 edition.

A 12 year old guide to video games still being on the shelves is strange enough. But a British guide to 2002’s video games? In an American library? In 2014?

The back pages advertise “The Rough Guide to Shopping Online”, “The Rough Guide Internet Directory” and “The Rough Guide to Manchester United, 2001-2002” (“a respect-full history of the world’s greatest club!”).

“The latest consoles are all coming equipped for online gaming…although for full Web access and email you’re still most likely better off with a computer.”

Their top Playstation games, in alphabetical order:

  1. Crash Team Racing
  2. Final Fantasy IX
  3. Gran Turismo 2
  4. ISS Pro Evolution 2
  5. LMA Manager 2001 (a soccer management sim)
  6. Metal Gear Solid
  7. Quake II
  8. Resident Evil 3
  9. Spyro: Year of the Dragon
  10. TOCA World Touring Cars
  11. Tomb Raider Chronicles
  12. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
  13. Wipeout 3 Special Edition

Note the heavy presence of Quake on these lists.

Their suggestions for the nascent Playstation 2 library:

  1. Quake III
  2. SSX
  3. Tekken Tag Tournament
  4. Theme Park World
  5. Timesplitters

Man the Playstation 2 had such a great launch line-up compared to the original Playstation and later the PS3. SSX, Timesplitters, a new Tekken, the first actual Dynasty Warriors game, Smuggler’s Run…plus the usual crap and glorified tech demos. Including a unprecedented four RPGs at launch…not that any of them were any good, mind.

I just avoided the whole mess. By the time I had a PS2 it already had a good library, so my first games were Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy X.

The recently-cancelled Dreamcast:

  1. Crazy Taxi
  2. Jet Set Radio/Jet Grind Radio
  3. Quake III
  4. Rayman 2
  5. Shenmue
  6. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2

Not a list you’d see Dreamcast fans make now. Quake shows up again, and we have two ports. To be fair, Rayman 2 and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 are absolutely fantastic. But nowadays people would probably rather boast a console’s exclusives than versions of games associated with other consoles.

And the similarly soon to be obsolete Nintendo 64:

  1. Banjo-Tooie
  2. Goldeneye 007
  3. Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
  4. Perfect Dark

A weirdly sparse list, but it covers the N64’s bases: mascot platformers, first person shooters, Zelda and practically nothing else!


The best Saturn games I’ve played so far are Guardian Heroes; GunGriffon; Nights Into Dreams; Panzer Dragoon II; Virtua Fighter 2.

The best PS1 games I’ve played so far are Die Hard Trilogy; Resident Evil; Tekken 2.