Monday, October 26, 2015

BOOK REVIEW - SMB3: Brick By Brick (a.k.a. Bob Chipman Ruined Super Mario Bros. 3 For Me)

Once upon a time, there was an online personality called Moviebob. He did a show on Screwattack called the Game Overthinker, where he talks about certain topics and brings up good points. Then he decided to add shitty storylines and skits to his videos and they started sucking. Basically, the same trap that befell other online personalities with the caustic reviewing angle.

One thing was readily apparently with Moviebob a.k.a. Bob Chipman; he believes that Super Mario Bros. 3 is the most important video game in the history of the universe. So much so that it became the focus of his life... and the subject of his first book.

Some time ago, I lost a bet of some kind and ended up getting a PDF version of SMB3: Brick By Brick. I'm having a difficult time determining which is the sadder purchase; this or the Bores book.

Actually, that's a bit of a lie. This is the sadder book. The Bores book might not be the most eloquent piece of literary prose, but there were some laughs and fun to be had with that particular piece of business. I even banged out a couple bits and bobs for videos and even read some snippets for future material. In fact, I would go so far to say that if you want to waste your money on literary hot garbage, Bores' book has you covered.

Brick By Brick, on the other hand, was a miserable tome.

Intended as a detailed analysis of the classic Super Mario Bros. 3 game, Brick By Brick is less an extended review and more of a personal journey through the mind of Chipman, where he spends more time talking about his personal history with Mario than the actual game itself. His experience as a Mario fan is often compared to enduring multiple world wars and Vietnam, which is pushing it a bit. This chapter into Bob's psyche, which reveals several troubling personality tropes, is what derails the whole thing before it even begins and is perhaps the most difficult to sit through aside from the chapter before, which glorifies Super Mario from recognizable video game mascot to near godlike religious figure.

Even as a guide to the game, Brick By Brick falters quite a bit. The whole thing is treated as a Let's Play in text form, detailing every single detail in Chipman's playthrough of the game. And detailing those details that details every single detail that details every single detail in... GAZOOKS! The worst kind of decompressed prose there can be. In some instances, the book does offer some decent analysis; nothing that hasn't been said before, but still enough to convey the basic message across. For the most part, the game walkthrough felt like 50% glorification of a classic game to lengths that seem unabashedly disturbing and 50% ego boosting on the part of Chipman, who comes across as so full of himself that it's difficult to sit through the book. Even the personal bits that are supposed to be touching and heartfelt come across as sociologically distressful.

This is a miserable book. Between the forced personal anecdotes that no one could possibly care about, the various grammatical and typographical errors spread across the board ("I should be a game I love" is a line that somehow made print), and the overbundance of self-masturbatory ego-stroking that permeates between the lines, it is a book that feels less like a celebration of one of the finest video games ever made and more like a plea of desperation. When I finished reading the book, I promptly looked towards my library of NES games and pulled out Super Mario Bros. 3. After ten seconds of staring at that cover, a sense of dread and discomfort befell me as I held the decades old gamepak in my hands and after a moment, stored it away in a storage box; never to see the light of day ever again... or at least, until this sick feeling faded away.

Thanks to SMB3: Brick By Brick, I can never look at Super Mario Bros. 3 in the same light. No longer can I see it as the next step in the Super Mario saga or one of the definite NES classics. Now I see it as a tool of distress and agony, as the childhood memories associated with the game have since faded away and in their place lies the images of a bloated man whose fondness for the game and its universe goes beyond mere fandom and into near cult fanaticism. A man who would take up arms and ravage the Earth if someone slighted the icon he worships most of all.

Bob Chipman had ruined Super Mario Bros. 3 for me... and I can never forgive him for that slight against humanity.

Or to put it another way...

TLDR: The book sucks, everybody. Don't buy it.

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