I can still remember my initial shock in June of this year when I learned that the one and only King Bowser Koopa would be appearing in a Disney movie later this year. At first I thought it was a joke, but then I saw the trailer. Once I did, my response to Disney was basically "Shut up and take my money!" (or in this case, quarters!)
Wreck-It Ralph gives a clever nod to anybody that was born or grew up in the '80s or '90s, and remembers video and arcade games in their early, simply days. The film focused mostly on arcade games, as an arcade was a central part of the plot. There are more references and cameos included in this movie than you can hope to shake a stick at! (This review is spoiler-free)
I think it's pretty clear that the movie's target audience is gamers like you and I that grew up during the NES and SNES eras. Almost all of the film's marketing has all the cameo characters frequently shown in the posters, trailers, tv spots, etc. Strangely enough, in a long list of official posters released for the movie, Bowser is strangely absent on all of them. As you may have expected, all of the officially licenced characters have a fairly minimal cameo role, and this is all done during the first few minutes of the movie. Act I, or the first 30 minutes of the movie, is its strongest by far, with lots of laughs and a great showcasing of classic characters that must have cost a fortune to lock up the rights to use!
Focusing on Bowser, since this is a Bowser fansite and all (and there's no bias here of course =p), all the moments he is on screen is magical. They chose to go with Bowser's most current look (the more "bubbly" version of Bowser during the GameCube and Wii era). The animation is easily the best of Bowser ever done, being done by Disney's animation studio and all! Reading some of the movie's notes yesterday, apparently Nintendo coached the animators and developers frequently to ensure they stayed true to the character. At first, early depictions of Bowser had him too small by comparison to other characters like Zangief. The final version of the movie has him quite accurately-sized.
Since Bowser is so huge, colourful, and such a recognizable character, he sticks out in almost every scene he is shown in. Although he does not talk, he is seen in the left side of the frame almost the entire time Zangief is delivering his hilarious dialogue. What's also funny is that he can be seen sipping this tiny little styrofoam cup of coffee the entire time, only to spit it out when Ralph mentions he doesn't want to be a bad guy anymore. The classic fireball sound as Bowser unleashes his flamebreath is AWESOME!
What also made the experience so magical is that the movie is in 3D. As a result, Bowser's model pops out in a way that's nearly lifelike! After the "BAD-ANON" support group of bad guys adjourns, Bowser is still spotted in the background of several scenes in the gaming universe's Game Central Station.
Any Bowser fanboy truly couldn't have asked for more when it came to this movie. Amazingly, Bowser is the ONLY character from the Super Mario franchise that is represented. Apparently Nintendo was asking for too much in licencing fees to even have Mario or Luigi get any screetime at all, and they do not appear anywhere in the movie. Even supporting characters like Yoshi do not appear. The Mario universe's representation is all Bowser (or "King Koopa" as some still refer to him as) here, and he does his job very well!
Again, it is so amazing that Bowser even made it into this movie! Wreck-It Ralph was mostly parodying arcade games like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Pac-Man, etc. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't ever remember a "Super Mario Bros." arcade game that had Bowser featured as the bad guy. Maybe the original Donkey Kong with "Jumpman", sure, but I can't think of an arcade game that featured Bowser. I'm not complaining in the least of course, but after so many years of feeling like Bowser was always getting the short end of the stick, it was hard to believe he was given so much recognition here! I love it! Hopefully he will gain even more fans!
This movie is definitely a must-buy for me when it comes out on Blu-Ray, so I can screencapture all of Bowser's great cameo moments. I'm fairly happy with the amount of screen time he got, and he seemed to fit in quite well with the rest of the baddies. Honestly, much of the Bowser moments can be seen in the trailers and tv spots, as he is seen mostly in the first 10 minutes of the movie only.
As a Bowser diehard, I couldn't have asked for more than what Disney produced. Well, of course a whole movie about Bowser would be even better, but I can't be greedy! Major kudos to Disney for a great family film and a touch of nostalgia. It was a fun night at the movies!
The Bowser Shrine Dark Ages: 2009 - 2012
November 4th, 2012
Since I do not have the ability to change the past, I must label the years 2009 - 2012 as "The Dark Ages" here on The Bowser Shrine. This was a period in which no new real updates occured, and for a while, I even ended communications, as was described in my megaupdate below. All I can do from here is move forward, and I certainly have my work cut out for me.
Doing a quick search, it doesn't look like there have been any other competing Bowser fansites that have taken up the slack. It's possible that it all rests with me, and I'm willing to take on that responsibility. Over the years I've been absent, I have increased my computer skills even further with my work as a server administrator (now doing web administration). I feel I still have plenty to offer if you are patient with me (as you all already have been).
As a sign of good faith, I have spent all of today personally answering every e-mail that was sent my way over the past 3 years. I am now fully caught up, and it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. After hitting the "Send/Receive" button, about 700 e-mails flooded my way. About 500-600 of them were total spam sent by bots, about 19 seemed like hate mail, but the rest were common questions and e-mails I would have gotten anyway. Again I apologize for disappearing off the face of the internet like that for such an extended period of time. I will not do that again, and if things change, I will at least communicate any absences in advance. I am back to frequently checking and answering all e-mail that comes my way.
As stated in my update below, I am planning to return to regular updates here on The Bowser Shrine in early 2013. The rest of 2012 will be spent migrating nearly 6 years of data to a new PC, and install a local Apache webserver on it again. My domain host has always been HostGator, which has been absolutely fantastic (and has such an adorable mascot!).
It's entirely possible that I may even decide to redesign The Bowser Shrine from the ground up. Call it a Bowser Shrine 2.0 if you will. What made updates so slow from the beginning was that I did not have a proper Content Management System (CMS) in place. I had coded the entire website from scratch, and by hand. This is great control-wise, and it certainly looks pretty, but it often becomes tedious to manage. A lot of the sections I've been planning will almost require some sort of CMS, as it would be suicide to try to do it manually.
In a few hours I will be seeing "Wreck-It Ralph" with a large group of friends. I am very excited for it, and will post my review afterwards. What I am so impressed by is how (this is not a spoiler, as it was announced ahead of time) Bowser is the only character from the Super Mario series that will be represented. Apparently greedy Nintendo asked for too much money for the licencing to use Mario and/or Luigi, and the creative team couldn't find a good place for them anyway, so it's Bowser all the way! This will definitely help his exposure, and may even gain him some new fans! He looks great in the movie too!
Stay tuned for my full review!
Hey, this is awesome. It's like I'm back or something... =p
The Bowser Shrine Hiatus Explained
November 3rd, 2012
The last time The Bowser Shrine was given a proper update was on November 16th, 2008, nearly 4 years ago. After 9 months went by, I wrote an update basically summarized as "I've been busy". While that is true, there is a lot more to it than that. This is a notification that I should have made years ago.
In my last update, I stressed that The Bowser Shrine was not dead, but my results (or lack thereof) to back that up proved otherwise. For almost 4 years the site wasn't quite dead, but on life support, basically kept online in its existing form with no new signs of activity. How have I been through this whole time? Well I'm alive, and I'd like to say "and well" too, but I've honestly been a lot better. I think it's about time I come clean about this, so here's my story:
(*WARNING!* Incoming personal rant!)
One thing I have always tried to avoid, or at least limit, is the inclusion of personal details in my updates. In hindsight, this probably would have been a good idea to do, as it would have explained the long delays between new content being updated. Even posting something such as "still busy" would have been better than nothing. In the past, I was not forthcoming about these personal details to avoid having people become worried about me. Ironically, this became a self-fulfilling prophecy, as my long silence did worry people.
Early work on The Bowser Shrine began as far back as March of 2005, while I was still taking computer programming in college. It was then that I created a "proof-of-concept" involving an early beta of the site's design, and started writing a lot of the sections (chiefly under the "Bowser Info") section. The Bowser Shrine does not use any templates of any sort; it is all coded by hand by yours truly! My Bowser Shrine project was done on the side of a full college course load, in which I would often endure all-nighters (usually due to my own procratination) working on labs/programs/homework. All this time was usually spent hunched over my laptop at a little table.
Now I just happen to be much taller than average at 6 foot 4 inches, and weigh about 190 pounds or so. For years I remember the advice to "sit up straight" and use proper ergonomics and all that. I already had one repetitive stress injury (RSI) scare a few years earlier with some tendonitis that developed in my right wrist from constant typing and from holding the mouse wrong (on top of excessive computer use). I was unaware that as I was doing all this work, another monster RSI was developing.
A few times as far back as 2005, when I was up half the night working on the early version of The Bowser Shrine, I remember the headaches beginning after long coding sessions. I just attributed it to fatigue, and ignored them. These headaches started out quite mild, but became more and more frequent with time.
March of 2006 was the "straw that broke the camel's back" moment. Still obsessed about Super Smash Brothers Melee at the time (I played the game semi-professionally traveling to different tournaments on the West Coast of North America), I was enjoying a very long gaming session at my best friend's house on a Saturday night. The game is so addictive, even to this day. My friend and I must have fought each other 1 vs 1 for about 10 straight hours, sitting on the edge of his bed - probably with horrible posture.
When I woke up the next morning (Sunday), my head and neck suddenly became very tight, and everything around the room looked weird. It felt as if I were still dreaming, and not fully awake yet. Everything appeared wavy and odd, and it reminded me of being slightly drunk. I thought I was just getting a weird flu of some sort, and monitored my symptoms for the next couple days. By then, I started to get crushing headaches, as if I were under 100 feet of water with pressure imploding my head from all directions. When I went to my doctor and explained my symptoms, a CAT scan was ordered for the same day, as I was showing symptoms that could have been caused from a brain tumour. Thankfully this scan proved negative, and I passed all other major medical tests too. This made me relieved that nothing was seriously wrong, but nothing could explain the tight tension headaches and brain fog/cognitive disfunction I was now experiencing. It was regarded as a medical anomaly or enigma - seemingly idiopathic.
Unfortunately this issue became chronic, affecting me on a daily basis. For years I swept the internet constantly, trying desperately to find answers to what was plaguing me. Nobody in the entire world (or at least internet) seemed to have both my symptoms of tension headaches and feeling spaced-out at the same time. It was either one, or the other, but never both. With very little information to go on, finding a treatment plan was very challenging
Pain can be a great motivator, and people will often do everything in their power to escape it. In my desperation, I landed up spending tens of thousands of dollars over the years through various therapies and treatments to try to find something that would at least lessen the symptoms. This is on top of the high taxes us Canadians pay for our public health care system (which only wanted to "treat" me with pharmaceuticals as a "solution", which I would have none of).
The efficacy, or cost/benefit ratio of all this is impossible to determine, but I would like to think much of this helped at least a little bit. At the very least, I learned a tremendous amout of information that I wouldn't have otherwise. You may have heard of the saying "life is a journey" before. This is totally true. This issue of mine is definitely a curveball that has been thrown at me, and has been the single biggest challenge of my life so far.
These chronic headaches often make me feel "spaced out", or if I am drunk 24/7 (and believe me, it's not as awesome as it sounds!). As a result, it affects my ability to focus. Despite this, I "solidered on" through them in 2006, 2007, and 2008, still pumping out a few updates on The Bowser Shrine, and trying my hardest to not let them get the best of me. It was hard enough as it was to continue working a full-time job as a server administrator to pay for my high medical expenses at the time.
When symptoms worsened further in 2009, I felt I needed to simplify my life as much as possible, and reduce all unnecessary stress. Sadly, The Bowser Shrine was part of this "simplification". I only meant to do it for a short period of time, and didn't want to make a big deal about it. How easily it can be to underestimate such things.
During this unannounced hiatus of further Bowser Shrine progress, I deliberately went into an avoidance strategy so I wouldn't have to face disappointed fans. For over 3 years I made a point not to even bother checking my e-mail. This was totally wrong to do, and I apologize profusely for doing this. Hardly a day went by during this time when I didn't think about The Bowser Shrine and the amount of Nintendo fans I let down. It caused me to become very depressed, which didn't help my situation any. During my total breakdown of communication, some people naturally thought the worst (that I had died). I would say this was totally irresponsible of me. It's quite ironic that I didn't want to worry people by sharing these personal problems, yet I caused that worry to happen with others to an acute degree
I truly can not believe how quickly time has passed. What I remember as years seem to go by in months. To my perception, it feels like only 4 months have passed, not 4 years. Perhaps this is part of adult life and affects everyone the same way, or maybe it just comes with always been kept busy.
Thankfully the news gets better from here (mostly). In the past 3 years, I have noticed that I have been improving, albeit slightly. This year I have seen the most improvement with my headache symptoms. I attribute this to me becoming a lot more active - working out 2-3 times a week - and trying to strengthen my core muscles so I can maintain better posture during my excessive computer usage.
Unfortunately, my excessive computer usage has caused yet another RSI that also began suddenly. On a Saturday in late August of this year, I suddenly felt nauseous and unwell while on my computer, causing me to voluntarily quit using it for that weekend. The symptoms worsened throughout the following work week to include dry/red eyes, aching eyes, and vision headaches (different from my primary ones). Now I had 2 different types of headaches simultaneously!
Thankfully, the cause for this new problem with my eyes appears to have been found by my optometrist. It looks to be a problem with my binocular vision - potentially a congenital issue that was worsened and expedited by my constant arms-length focusing with long-term computer usage. Equally fortunate is the fact that it is a fairly treatable condition, with a decent prognosis, although at the expense of money and time. I have been scheduled for nearly a year of vision therapy to correct this issue, which I have already started, with symptom-relief taking as long as a few months.
When asking my optometrist if this was "the smoking gun" that was causing my headaches all along, she said it was definitiely a possibility, but didn't want to give me any false hopes. My instructions are to focus on this vision therapy, and monitor my other symptoms for improvement. I am being fully compliant with this, as it is absolutely no fun to feel sick while using a computer. I have been using a computer (excessively) since 2 years old. It is my passion, and I have no intentions of ending that.
(End of personal rant)
Hopefully this will offer a good enough explanation as to why updates have not occurred for more than 4 years. It is challenging enough to balance a full-time job working 40+ hours on computers as it is, along with the responsibilities of adult life, and finding time for projects such as these - never mind having a breakdown in health on top of all of that. These health problems have plagued me daily for over 6 and a half years now, and I won't bother describing the hell it has been - from the physical pain, depression/anxiety, and the disappointment of feeling like a shadow of my former self.
The good news is that I am improving, and I feel my stress-tolerance is too. I have a clear plan for treating my latest vision problems, which has the potential to improve my headache problems automatically. This is very encouraging, as I feel that I will be able to return to "business as usual" in a few months, when I can first begin to achieve some partial symptom relief. This means I am hoping to return to regular updates here on The Bowser Shrine in 2013. I have recently built a brand new computer, and my project to end off 2012 will involve migrating everything over to it over the next several weeks. You can also consider this megaupdate a broadcasted response to everyone that has been e-mailing me the last few years.
My intent from the beginning was to have the largest Bowser fansite in the entire world, and I remain committed to that goal. This has always been an ambitious project due to the amount of work required for a single person to do. I am quite proud of what I have been able to produce so far, it just takes me a very long time. I released The Bowser Shrine to the internet on my 21st birthday, even though it was incomplete at the time, and still is. After working on the project for a year up to that point, I eventually wanted to just get it out there so people could see what I have done, and I had my "greyed-out links" as planned future sections.
At this present time, I'm sure it would be a tough argument to still claim "world's biggest Bowser fan" with my near online invisibility over the last 4 years. Let me assure you that my passion, addiction, and obsession for King Bowser Koopa has not waned in the slightest. It has been there for as long as I can remember, and I'm sure will last me the rest of my lifetime. I ask for your forgiveness and understanding of my situation, and I deeply apologize if you feel if I have turned my back on you, or let you down. I sure hope I will be able to make up for all of that, but I definitely have my work cut out for me.
I know myself too well by now not to set deadlines, or make promises that land up in disappointment, but I can definitely assure you one thing: As long as I am alive, The Bowser Shrine will always remain online, and will never go "dark". I will also never "sell out" by placing ads all over the place, selling the site or charge for its content, or even accept donations. I'm perfectly willing to fund the website and domain myself, and have the means to do so for years to come.
You have all been tremendously patient with me so far, and here I am asking for even more time! I am very excited for what I can still deliver in the future on The Bowser Shrine. I've been using the internet since its infancy (at least mainstream-wise). As a result, I still have ultra-rare renders and images of Bowser from the mid-to-late 90s that I can assure you doesn't exist anywhere else anymore. Even a lot of the stuff I have already produced I have seen circulating around the net over the years (renders, content, even entire sections of my page). Just Google "The Bowser Shrine", and you will see duplicated content that has sprung up (without my permission). I'm guessing people ignored or didn't read the "No contents of this website may be reproduced without written permission" part in my disclaimer *sigh*
Thanks for reading such a long update as it is. To reward such dedication, I will share another project I had worked on and completed before The Bowser Shrine. Bowser has always been my all-time most favourite character ever, but another that comes in at a close 2nd is Charizard from the Pokemon series (also from Nintendo!). I swear Nintendo owns my soul (and pocketbook!).
In 2003 I released "Charizard Tribute", which was a music video done to honour Ash's Charizard (who was left in the Charicific Valley to train in the Johto series). I watched the Pokemon anime religiously to follow my other lifelong love, Charizard. This is another example of my extreme dedication I have towards characters that I really like. This project was a lot easier, because it did not involve post-release maintenance like updates. Once I completed making "Charizard Tribute", I felt like I did the best job I could, and there was nothing I felt I would have changed about it. I can also proudly announce that as of this writing, it has been uniquely viewed more than half of a million times (just like the Bowser Shrine almost has).
Here is the embedded YouTube link to "Charizard Triubte" below, enjoy: