Super Mario + Sonic The Hedgehog + Dragonball Z mixed into a blender = Super Mario Bros Z
Let’s take a short trip to the past…say 2006.
Imagine a world without Youtube (I know it’s difficult right?), but before the Youtube giant appeared watching videos online was just starting to take off. For me and my friends it was all about flash games.
I won’t go into the full technological breakdown of Adobe Flash but basically it is vector, raster and 3D graphics that can be animated in Adobe Flash Builder then run online in a web page.
People got real creative with this and the internet became a sea of random flash animated games. The best website to see what I mean for this still is newgrounds.com (in my opinion).
I used to slack off in my college library playing some awesome early flash games such as Joe Cartoon, Ghost Motel or Johnny Rocket Fingers.
Today I wanted to talk about the highs and suprising lows of my all time favourite flash game Super Mario Bros Z.
The Story of SMBZ
I use the term “flash game” loosely as what SMBZ actually is makes it far more interesting.
When you run the game you simply need to click a “next” button and watch the events unfold.
That’s all you do, doesn’t sound like much of a game now does it?
But that’s the beauty of it as you begin to realize that you’re watching probably the first ever action sprite-based anime made in flash animation.
The tale is an inter-dimensional story about Sonic and Shadow the hedgehog as they fight to stop the incredibly sinister Mecha Sonic from achieving his plans to obtain all seven chaos emeralds and reach his ultimate form.
The fight finds its way into another dimension the Mushroom Kingdom where the Mario Brothers help Sonic to fight his nemesis.
The writing behind this premise is impressively captivating as it gives Sonic the hedgehog emotion and character development that just works. For example, when Sonic painfully explains to Mario and friends how Mecha Sonic murdered all of his friends leaving his world in ruins.
You’re all probably wondering, where does Dragon Ball Z come into this? Well if your fan of DBZ watch this short clip from SMBZ and you’ll get exactly what I mean:
See that? Well it’s the tip of the ice-berg.
The animation manages to capture the action-based fighting perfectly in my opinion. Mecha Sonic has the same presence as Perfect Cell or Frieza with a back story similar to the androids. Sonic and Shadow have a very Goku and Vegeta type relationship as Shadow is constantly stand-offish towards Sonic. Mario has a Gohan-like innocence about him while Luigi has some very Krillin moments and Yoshi of all characters proved he has some things in common with Piccolo other than being green.
Each episode has the classic cliff hangers like DBZ along with the glares, power ups and general pace of the anime. At the same time there are a tonne of genius nostalgic video game references that I won’t spoil for anyone who decides to watch the show (psst I’m talkin bout ep 7).
If this had been picked up by a larger animation studio and brought to life it could have been the greatest Saturday morning cartoon that ever-existed causing Sega and Nintendo to rake it in.
The show first appeared in 2006 creating millions of fans over the years and taken seriously enough to have its own Wikia just like any other anime.
However sadly the show was never completed and just stopped after 9 episodes like it was Samurai Jack (yes, I know that story now has an end). It even had an attempted reboot back in 2016 which is also in permanent hiatus, so what happened?
We’ll get to that…
Let me tell you about a guy named Mark Haynes.
Known to the internet under the alias Alvin Earthworm he spear-headed the project by himself and created this master piece.
I believe he opened the flood gates for the now millions of other flash animators as their inspiration. He wasn’t getting paid for his creations and just worked on it in his spare time around his day job because he loved what he did which I can really relate to with this blog.
Now from a fans point of view I simply thought that after he created SMBZ and it exploded in popularity before it stopped suddenly might have been down to other commitments, loss of interest, or maybe he couldn’t cope with the all the attention.
The real reason is actually quite sad from what I found in my research and who better to tell it then Mark Haynes himself.
Warning massive quote alert (from TwitLonger.com )
The future of SMBZ
A lot of people have been asking on a near daily basis about when the next episode of SMBZ will be coming out. And the answer to that is a whole hearted…
I don’t know…
I am fully aware this isn’t the answer that everyone has been wanting to hear. But that is the honest to god truth. In the back of my mind I still very much want to work on the series and FINALLY see it through to the bitter end. Yet at the same time, I still hold resentment towards a company who I have supported faithfully for decades for stabbing me in the back. Never mind the fact I spent many hours of my free time making a glorified commercial for them. As long as they’re not getting a slice of the pie, I don’t deserve any at all.
As for my radio silence to all of the inquiries coming my way. Why I have been “lying” to my fans and they want the truth. You really want the truth? Okay then.
At face value I’m the pioneer of sprite based crossover fanfics. My series inadvertently helped hundreds, maybe thousands of aspiring animators pursue their careers and go onto great things. But the cold reality is I’m an unemployed antisocial 32 year old virgin living at my mother’s place on disability benefits. Suffering from chronic depression, autism and suicidal thoughts. Feel free to make fun and kick the dirt in my face while I’m down. I honestly don’t care anymore. My reputation and credibility are in shambles anyway.
I honestly thought my life was turning around for the better when I started the reboot. I was happier than I had ever been in a long time. I had so much support on Patreon. I was going to the gym. I was eating healthily and lost a lot of weight. Then fucking Nintendo did their usual copyright bullshit. I’m not trying to demonize the company here, but seeing my Patreon closed down and my Youtube channel being fucked around with demoralized the fuck out of me.
I tried to rekindle that spark again by opening my new Patreon and receiving donations monthly. But the damage had been done. I slipped back into depression. I haven’t been back to the gym since then and I put all that weight I had lost back on. Hell, I haven’t even left the house for the past four months.
Video games have been my only escape. People noticed my positivity in my tweets when playing Breath of the Wild. But that was just a band aid on a bullet wound. It merely diverted my attention temporarily. Most days I can’t find the energy to get out of bed. I also wish the “meme” pics I have been posting were an exaggeration. But they truly are how I feel inside. I need help and I’m not getting it.
The only thing that keeps me clinging to this wretched mortal plane is my mother who has been the best and most thoughtful person ever, as well as my online pal Jake who is the brother I had always wanted. I’d be totally lost without them.
So, yeah. I didn’t exactly want to post this, but recent events have made it a necessity I guess. Although I am terrible at showing it, I truly do appreciate all the support I get from everyone. Fact is, SMBZ is the least of my priorities at this time. But rest assured, I have not forgotten about it.
Yeah wow right? That’s exactly how I felt.
Perfect example of a big company stepping on the little guy.
If it wasn’t for creators like Mark we wouldn’t have video games like Sonic Mania. That started as a fan project and could have easily been shut down by Sega being huge company but instead they chose to work with their fans.
Nintendo also tried to shut down other awesome fan projects like Metroid AM2R and Pokemon Uranium which I think is a real shame.
It’s sad to see the state this project ended up in and there is a serious talent going to waste but we can always dream that one day the story will be concluded.
My goal of this post was to simply raise awareness of SMBZ for those who haven’t heard of it and to geek out with those of you who are fans too.
You can still watch all 9 episodes on Youtube right now I’d also recommend the rebooted episode 1 too.
That’s all I had to say on this one, please like share and subscribe to the email list for more from EmulatorLowdown.
Till next time guys!
Credits: Blog thumbnail by 6growercrower4