Usually my posts are about new happenings in the gaming world that you could’ve read about on a million other sites as well. Not this one. This one will touch upon an old game, one from 2001 to be exact. The game I’m referring to is:
This game was long awaited and didn’t quite live up to the expectations. I loved it though. A lot of people did actually, but it just wasn’t as good as it should’ve been… It just wasn’t Super Mario 64 2 (I refrained from calling it Super Mario 128, since that title has become quite ambiguous (…meaning that it could refer to both the Gamecube tech demo shown at Space World 2000 and the upcoming Revolution title (…though it could still turn out that both are essentially the same and only differ 4-dimensionally (go see Back to the Future (again) if you didn’t get that last remark (by the way, this use of parenthesis isn’t a blatant rip off from Geek on Stun‘s. It really isn’t.)))). Where was I? What?? Mario Sunshine?? Ow yeah. I was gonna say something about the most perplexing collection of polygons and textures since the cheese in Perfect Dark (cheese… Link to a cheesy site… Geddit?)…
The Book in the Bottle
Alright, before I delve into the wonderful world of ‘The Book’, I want to go back to the cheese first. Perfect Dark and its spiritual predecessor Goldeneye (couldn’t find a decent Goldeneye site. How sad!) were quite infamous for the inclusion of some rather odd ‘easter egg‘-like objects. Examples are the before mentioned hidden chunks of cheese in Perfect Dark, or Goldeneye’s glass test-tubes on top of a vent, or that damned key in the Silo level that opened NOTHING. When the Developers at Rare were asked about some of these oddities they simply claimed they were jokes from the programmers or unused artefacts that were never removed (see here and there). I still can’t believe that key had no purpose though. Although these kind of easter eggs were quite common back in the days Rare developed for Nintendo consoles (and all was good), contemporary games seem to go without them. Maybe the higher cost of video games have made quality control too tight to allow these kind of jokes and artefacts in the final product. That’s why I find it hard to believe that one of Gamecube’s biggest games contains one of these useless remnants of development or sheer pieces of programmers mischief. Therefore I bring you…
The Book in the Bottle
Or: How I stopped worrying and started loving the Book. Now that we all know a little about
easter eggs in games (not happy with that term. Let’s call ’em) Rareties, I’ll start explaining the title (read: get to my friggin point). The game: Super Mario Sunshine. The level: Noki Bay. Location: bottom of the red coin bottle (shine #3). Basically, Mario is in this giant bottle (I know Mario has actually been shrunk, shut up) and has to collect 8 red coins to make the main collectable of the game, the shine, appear. Besides 8 red coins, there are 50 yellow coins, some big Mario-grabbing fishes, a lot of water and a stone shrine on the sandy bottom of the bottle. There’s this jet stream and a sign too, but those are not important (I think). The shrine is. The shrine holds the answer to my riddle, the grail to my quest, the… well it holds the Book.
Many have sought the Book, yet none have reached it. It is clear in sight, so close, yet so far away. That isn’t even true. You have to use the C-stick and the L- or Y-button to carefully maneuver the camera inside the stone shrine to reveal its existence, so it’s not clear in sight at all. It’s just a small red-brownish book. It seems to have a label but it’s illegible. Now if this was all, I could’ve easily put it to rest, yet it gets even more confusing. You see, it’s not just in the walls, it’s behind a door, in a corridor. A DOOR. Doors open. This one doesn’t. It gets worse still. The shrine has two other corridors. One ends at a dead end, and the other one probably leads directly to the Book. There’s a problem with this one though… When you’re standing on top of the building you can find a small crack that lets you peer inside. So you can see it exists. You know it’s there. It even has an entrance the same size as the other corridor’s entrances, but it is BLOCKED BY MORE WALL. You can see the seam! There’s definitely an entrance! But there’s just no way in! It’s maddening! (See photo gallery for images)
Those who have played Sunshine before will know Mario comes equipped with a squirting device (ooh, dirty) this time around. A lot of puzzles are solved by squirting something. I’ve tried it. I’ve squirted everything that seemed squirtable. No luck. So there were coins you say? Yes I did say, but I’ve tried that too. Collected every blistering coin in there (more than once actually). Still no dice. So what’s left to try? Veteran Mario fans might recall level -1 from Super Mario Bros. (ahh, sweet memories). You had to do this elaborate sequence of actions that made you look like a tool to others, until you succeeded that is. Gamefaqs has this neat explanatory image in their archives for your viewing pleasure. This ‘cheat’ seems archaic now, and I doubt Sunshine would incorporate something similar.
I just can’t accept that all this is some kind of a joke. There has to be more to it. I’ve searched around on the internet and found a little bit more info. The song that plays while in the bottle is actually called "The book in the bottle". Not very enlightening, but it could imply the book indeed has a higher purpose. Some claim the Book’s cover reads "You have no life. Signed, Shigeru Miyamoto." This of course is bogus, yet it does hint at the best way to reveal the secret. Of all the people that might be holding the beans, Shigeru Miyamoto is in the most likely position to eventually spill them. It’s not likely doing so will jeopardise his position at Nintendo. Couldn’t someone just ask him the next time they see him? Maybe right after he’s had one cup of saké too many at a Nintendogs meeting?
Some people might read all this and think I’m nuts. The Book’s a joke, get a life. But what would that joke be? What’s the message we should be receiving? Same could be said for the cheese in Perfect Dark, yet I find this case way more intriguing. We all know what’s inside cheese (more cheese), but what’s inside the Book? I am going to find out one way or another. For starters I’m not quite done collecting them coins yet. First up I’m going to get all red ones without touching a single yellow one (edit – Been there). Next the yellow ones will go, without red ones (edit – Done that). Note that both tasks are utterly tricky and therefore not already tested (edit – less tricky than expected). What will I do after that? I don’t know (edit – I still don’t). Any suggestions or hints are welcome. Together we can find the solution to this enigmatic conundrum!
Hopefully other game developers will rediscover the Rarety one day, for it results in special bonds between the gamers and the games. That might not be true. I don’t care.