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The Power of Portable Gaming

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the more-than-just-pokemon dept.

Portables (Games) 49

1up has up a piece on Handheld Heroes, portable games that have (despite their small size) make herculean changes in the face of gaming as a whole. From the article: "Tetris is, quite possibly, the most important portable game of all. While the drama surrounding its NES incarnation gets the most attention, the Game Boy version quietly sold millions and millions of handheld systems to people who were instantly addicted to its simple, intuitive, challenging gameplay. It's no exaggeration to say that Tetris single-handedly created the portable market, helped the Game Boy conquer its competition, and gave Nintendo an enduring source of income that's still going strong."

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Did I miss something? (2)

engagebot (941678) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580578)

There was 'drama' with the NES version of tetris? Did I miss something?

Well, I was probably 10 at the time anyway...

Re:Did I miss something? (1)

The Other White Boy (626206) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580753)

Tengen released an unlicensed version, Nintendo had an official version. lawsuits ensue.

Re:Did I miss something? (2, Informative)

kevin.fowler (915964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580754) n+tetris+history&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=3/ [] (Google Cache of Article)

Tegen put out their own version of Tetris without consent from Nintendo to make games for the system. It got ugly.

Re:Did I miss something? (3, Informative)

Zediker (885207) | more than 8 years ago | (#14581210)

Actualy I dont think Tengen had anything to do with the interesting history behind Tetris. It was the fact that Nintendo initialy didnt have any rights to publish it from the then Russian developer of the game. Essentialy it broke down into two corporations who thought they had the rights to publish the game. Nintendo eventualy came out 'victorious' even suposedly with the KGB involved. This was all covered in a short hour long documentary the Discovery channel had on videogames.

I found a link that makes mention of the history here: []

Re:Did I miss something? (1)

kevin.fowler (915964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14581566)

Totally slipped my mind! I forgot about the REAL international drama behind it.

Re:Did I miss something? (1)

FatRatBastard (7583) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580760)

There was a big stink about who had the rights to release the game in the states on consoles. A division of Atari released a version for the NES (Atari had the arcade rights in the states) and Nintendo sued (Nintendo had the console rights in the states). Nintendo won and Atari (Tengen) had to recall their version.

Re:Did I miss something? (1)

engagebot (941678) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580955)

Oh ok. thanks you guys. I can't actually RTFA at work because of our firewall. All i can get is *.org or *.edu

Re:Did I miss something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14599899)

Considering Tetris for the GB was A PACK IN ! Small wonder it "sold" so well.

That's not right. (3, Insightful)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580580)

It's no exaggeration to say that Tetris single-handedly created the portable market...

I think handheld football [] deserves that honor.

Re:That's not right. (1)

Godeke (32895) | more than 8 years ago | (#14581599)

We have a winner. Ah the joy little red blinking lights could bring.

Re:That's not right. (1)

FriedTurkey (761642) | more than 8 years ago | (#14583161)

I loved that game. It took me a year to understand it. Probably because I didn't understand football at the time. I broke the power switch so I had to hold the switch while playing. It added to the challenge.

First Game Boy (4, Interesting)

heldlikesound (132717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580610)

When I was 9 my dad reward my first ever all "A" report card with a Game Boy, this was about 16 years old. My first games were:
  • Tetris (came with the system)
  • Baseball
  • Castlevania
  • Cosmotank

What amazes me is that, first of all, my old Game Still works, and secondly I still enjoy playing most of the games on my SP.
As far as new games go, my favorites for the SP include: Harvest Moon, Advance Wars 1 &2, and the new Metroid games.

Re:First Game Boy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14583587)

"When I was 9 my dad reward my first ever all "A" report card with a Game Boy, this was about 16 years old."

Dude, so were you 9 or were you 16 when you got your first straight A report card and the GameBoy?

Or did your dad reward a report card from when you were 9 years old with a GameBoy given to you when you were 16? What a pleasant (and strange) surprise that would have been. "Hey son, remember that report card you brought home 7 years ago?"

Or maybe you dad gave you a 16 year old GameBoy when you were 9 years old? The GameBoy dates back to 1989. That would make you 10 years old now, at most. In that case, how's it going, kid? Ever been to a Turkish prison?

Just messing around with you. My memory and typing are pretty bad sometimes. When I was 15 my mom got me a SNES for my 13th birthday. ;) ;) ;)

Seriously, I got my first GameBoy back in Christmas 1989 or 1990. Even though my home console game collection was of a respectable size when growing up, Tetris was the only original GameBoy game I owned until much later (for maybe 12 years, until I started hunting down and collecting older games), and the GameBoy was still so much fun for that whole time, with just that one game. I borrowed other games from friends, but even if I'd only played Tetris, it would have been enough for me.

Since then I've retired my classic GB (which also still works), and I still play classic GB Tetris on my GBA. It's always good to know that somebody else still has a working original GB that has been well-played and enjoyed since the beginning. It's one of those joys that comes with buying well-made hardware, something that I fear future generations won't be able to enjoy because of all the corners other manufacturers like to cut nowadays.

The GBA games you mention are definitely some of the best, too, and I recommend them all. The Golden Sun series is worth mentioning too, along with so many other great games.

Re:First Game Boy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14586747)

He got the gameboy when he was 9, which was 16 years ago. His poor word choice is totally blown away by your making such a big deal of it and not seeming to understand what he meant.

Re:First Game Boy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14587344)

Hey, have you never reached a little far just for humor's sake? Were the smilies too obvious to be noticed or something?

If you're bored at work. (1)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580651)

If you're bored at work, you may want to try Excel Tetris. []

Re:If you're bored at work. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14580834)

Alternatively, you may try, you know, working.

Re:If you're bored at work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14581027)

your posting on slashdot, I dont think you have any right to tell people they should be working :p

Dear ignorant USian: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14581212)

This may come as a surprise to you, but there really is a world outside your time zone.

The Rest of the World.

P.S.: Learn to spell.

Re:If you're bored at work. (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580904)

Do you have a mirror? The author seems to have removed the file.

Re:If you're bored at work. (1)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580967)


Re:If you're bored at work. (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14581304)

What a great way to spend my lunch break. Thanks! :)

Re:If you're bored at work. (1)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14581490)

No problem!

A game so simple that anyone can grasp it (4, Insightful)

hattig (47930) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580657)

That's why it succeeded.

Also most people will improve with practice at this game.

It doesn't rely on over complex controls. Nor pin-point accuracy. Not super-human controller skills. It's addictive because you know you messed up and can do better. And you can get it on $5 LCD games, never mind Gameboys now.

However there aren't many concepts for games this simple.

Re:A game so simple that anyone can grasp it (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14586256)

[Tetris] doesn't rely on ... pin-point accuracy. Not super-human controller skills

O rly? Have you seen the infamous Tetris Japan Finals [] video?

The power? (4, Funny)

thaerin (937575) | more than 8 years ago | (#14580853)

I'll tell you the best power of portable gaming, no more pausing for bathroom breaks.

Re:The power? (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585215)

Don't forget to wipe.

Needs a history lesson. (1)

SetupWeasel (54062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14581225)

No Microvision, no merit.

And once again, the 1up bias is in full force.

Re:Needs a history lesson. (1)

discoalucardx (840212) | more than 8 years ago | (#14582066)

No one knows what a Microvision is, much less cares. There's no bias, it's just irrelevant. Might as well complain that there's no Tiger Handheld games on the list.

Re:Needs a history lesson. (1)

SetupWeasel (54062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14582662)

The bias part refers to comments about certain modern portable systems.

And the Microvision was the first cartridge based portable system. It is the granddaddy of them all. Lumines, for instance, has next to no bearing on the current portable game market. Microvision and it's games, on the other hand, were the most important advances in portable gaming maybe ever.

As Darth Vader said... (2, Interesting)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14581559)

"If only you knew the Power of Portable Gaming"

Back on topic, I used to have a GBA, and Advance Wars & Golden Sun totally rocked! I wish I had one of those new PSP's though, they look pretty sweet.

Re:As Darth Vader said... (1)

Bloomy (714535) | more than 8 years ago | (#14583773)

If you have a Toys R Us closing near you [] , you might find a PSP for $200. It took them a while before they started marking down video game hardware, 10% off at first, but the discount went to 20% yesterday. Games are getting to be slim pickings, though.

Re:As Darth Vader said... (1)

Jace of Fuse! (72042) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585473)

I've got a GB, GBC, GBA, two GBA SPs, a DS, and a PSP.

I love the DS which I play all the time. But the PSP is really a very nice machine. I love it. It's so sleek and uh -- portable. It has a few okay games, I guess. I mean it dosen't have anything as good as Mario Kart DS, but it's still really sweet. I mean that screen is just so wide and pretty. And it almost doesn't feel cheap! The battery life doesn't completely suck either, as long as you aren't actually playing any games. That analog controller also almost doesn't suck, and it would be a whole lot cooler if it didn't actually suck as much as it does, but I'm not complaining because the machine has so much cool factor! I mean it's kind of like an iPod, only it's bigger and not quite as cool. It does play MP3s, though. I even bought a 1 gig memory stick so I could store as much music as an iPod shuffle. Not that I use my PSP for music, though. I have an iPod nano. It's also not really all that good as a music palyer, either. And it's kind of big compared to an iPod. At least I can still use it as a portable movie player. Well, I could if I didn't mind spending so much on UMD movies. I'd rather just buy the DVD version though. Needless to say I find it's better to just buy the full DVD and rip the content off and convert it over for use on my PSP. A 1 gig memory stick is more than big enough for a full movie. The only problem is it takes almost an hour sometimes to rip, encode, and transfer. So I don't actually do that very often. Almost never.

I really do like my PSP though. Really. Now back to Mario Kart. :P

Is it just me? (1)

MajorG17 (676534) | more than 8 years ago | (#14582111)

Is it just me, or have others also never even heard of some of the games listed as "essential"?

Re:Is it just me? (1)

SouperDouper (568634) | more than 8 years ago | (#14582775)

It's not just you. I don't know how Nintendogs could be considered an "essential" game by any stretch of the imagination.

Re:Is it just me? (1)

joshsisk (161347) | more than 8 years ago | (#14584030)

It's not a list of games everyone has heard of, it's a list of games the editors think everyone SHOULD have.

Portables rule! 1up's choices don't! (3, Insightful)

bVork (772426) | more than 8 years ago | (#14585587)

I've always loved handhelds. Due to the whole idea that a handheld system is designed both for quick sessions (on a bus, for instance) and long playing periods (such as on a plane or in a hotel room), I think handhelds force developers to adhere to what I consider the ideals of video gaming: both instant playability and depth that inspires replay.

Obviously, puzzle games are the perfect match for this. I don't quite agree with some of 1up's puzzle game highlights. Tetris and Klax are true classics, but I'm not convinced that Meteos and Lumines are of the same calibre. Meteos times every game mode except for one, tilting it far in favour of quick sessions. It just isn't that enjoyable for a long period. Lumines falls victim to the exact opposite - the time attack modes aren't much fun but the normal mode is very addictive. The only problem with normal mode is that a typical single session often lasts more than half an hour!

Puzzle games aside, some of their choices and omissions are quite odd.

Donkey Kong [] on Game Boy is an expanded version of the arcade original, with 100 puzzle-heavy levels. It turns a classic arcade game into an even better home game. I think it's one of the finest games ever made. Mario vs Donkey Kong [] is a pseudo-sequel to the Game Boy one, but it doesn't quite live up to its predecessor. It's decent but far from being a true classic.

Final Fantasy Adventure [] , also on Game Boy, is Seiken Densetsu 1 renamed to cash in on the Final Fantasy name. Seiken Densetsu was also renamed for the western market, to Secret of Mana. Yes, Secret of Mana is a sequel to this Game Boy game. And this Game Boy game is the best action/rpg the system has to offer - edging out even The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening [] (which is also a fantastic game and a must-own). Too bad the GBA remake, Sword of Mana [] , was awful.

Besides Klax, the Atari Lynx had quite a few other arcade ports. Roadblasters [] is a lot of fun. Robotron 2084 [] isn't perfect (due to the Lynx lacking a way to duplicate the original dual-joystick control system) but is still decent. S.T.U.N. Runner [] looks fantastic on the handheld and is the best home port of the game we ever received, even if it does use sprite scaling instead of polygons. Speaking of sprite scaling, Blue Lightning [] is an Afterburner clone with better graphics than any of the pre-32X home ports of Afterburner. The gameplay measures up, too. Chip's Challenge [] , another original design for the system (though it was ported to plenty of other systems eventually) is a very fun action/puzzle game like The Adventures of Lolo [] . It also has a geeky love story plot that I'm sure most Slashdotters will appreciate :)

The Game Gear was perhaps the most lacking of all mainstream handhelds (ignoring utter shit like the Gamate [] and Watara Supervision [] ), but even it had some very good games. Crystal Warriors [] and Shining Force II: The Sword of Hajya [] are an excellent pair of strategy-RPGs with amazing depth for 8-bit handheld games. Bubble Bobble had a great port on GG (not surprising, considering that it's basically a conversion of the fantastic Sega Master System version). Compile [] also made two games in its legendary Aleste series for Game Gear, but they were unfortunately never released outside of Japan. This isn't as much of a problem as you'd think - like most handhelds, the Game Gear has no region lockouts and thus you can enjoy shmup goodness with no difficulties (other than actually FINDING the games - I suggest checking eBay). The Game Gear is based on Sega Master System hardware, and Sega released the Master Gear Adapter to allow SMS carts to be used on the Game Gear. This lets me include games like Wonderboy 3 [] (there WAS a Game Gear port, but the viewing area is so small that the game is all but unplayable), Power Strike (another shooter by Compile), and Phantasy Star on the list of must-have 'Game Gear' games.

I never really liked the Game Boy Color. It had too few worthwhile games. I think 1up actually nailed them all, apart from Super Mario Brothers Deluxe [] . A nearly perfect (apart from some vertical scrolling thanks to the lower-than-NES GBC resolution) port of Super Mario Brothers 1, on the go, with tons of extras! Apart from the original game from 1985, there are lots of additional things to do like find 8 red coins in every level, and so on. It also includes Super Mario Brothers 2 Japan [] (which was only released here as part of Super Mario All-Stars [] as "The Lost Levels"), though there are a few levels and extras missing from SMB2J. Still, a fantastic game and definitely one to own. Not only is SMB1 one of the best games ever, but the many challenges add a lot of replay value.

The NGPC sure had a lot of fighters. 1up did manage to pick the best of them, but Samurai Shodown 2 [] is also worth a look if you enjoy that series. It suffers a bit from the 2-button limitation, but is still quite playable (and this can be said for just about every fighter on the system with the possible exception of Fatal Fury, which wasn't very good at all). Metal Slug: First Mission [] is a fine game on its own, but pales in comparison to Second Mission. I still recommend getting it if you enjoy Metal Slug. One game 1up did ignore was Magical Drop Pocket [] , a handheld version of the Neo-Geo puzzle game series. The game is very difficult at first, but once you begin to understand how to do combos, it gets quite fun.

So, on to WonderSwan [] ... wait a minute, 1up didn't even mention the system! SwanCrystals (the final version of the Wonderswan, after the WonderSwan Mono and the WonderSwan Color) are very cheap on eBay and worth picking up. Once you do own one, I suggest any of the Gunpey games. Gunpey EX [] is my personal favourite, but the original [] and Tarepanda no Gunpey [] have almost identical gameplay. This series is Bandai's answer to Tetris (and Klax) and is a lot of fun. You join lines together to connect one side of the gameplay area to the other. You get bonuses for doing branching connections and so on. Sounds simple, right? Except that it's game over if a line segment reaches the top, and the scrolling slowly gets faster and faster. There's also a puzzle mode much like that in Lumines, where you have a specific number of moves to remove every line segment on the screen. The game is very addictive and lots of fun. Too bad it was never released (and nor was any WonderSwan system) outside of Japan.

The Wonderswan also has a handheld (and sadly monochrome) version of Pocket Fighter [] , Capcom's superdeformed fighting game more commonly known as Super Gem Fighter [] here. Think of this as the WonderSwan equivalent of SNK vs Capcom: The Match of the Millenium. It is hampered a bit by the 4 distinct buttons that make up the WonderSwan's d-pad, but this is taken into account and thus the game is very forgiving when inputting special moves. If you like fighting games and own a WonderSwan, this is the game to own. It sure beats the Guilty Gear games on WS...

I don't like all of the games on 1up's GameBoy Advance list. I only agree with the inclusion of Metroid: Zero Mission, WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$ (my favourite game on GBA), Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Racing Gears Advance, Klonoa 2: Dream Champ Tournament, Fire Emblem, WarioLand 4, and Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town. They ignored some of the best games on GBA.

Astro Boy [] is a fantastic beat-em-up/shmup by Treasure with an autosave system that makes it work well for portable gaming, plus two different endings that give it replay value. The second ending isn't received by making a single choice or something, either. Instead, you're allowed to play any stage in any order after you beat the game once and get the first ending. You have to go back and forth between all of the levels to meet characters in the right order to allow the good ending. The entire plot changes, too. I think this is one of the most innovative means of extending the length of a game without designing more levels, and it works very well.

Ninja Five-O [] feels like it dropped in out of the 16-bit era. A platformer best described as Shinobi meets Bionic Commando, the speedy gameplay (thanks to a bionic commando-style grappling hook that lets you arc your way through the levels) makes this a very fun game. The time attack mode adds replay value, and thanks to the smooth gameplay and huge number of moves, you'll actually WANT to try to improve your times through the levels. Unfortunately, the game is quite rare (which is odd considering that Konami published it, not some random fly-by-night company), but I've found a place [] that still has it in stock. Go buy it, you won't be sorry.

Another Konami game (and one that fortunately hasn't become super rare) worth getting is Konami Collector's Series: Arcade Advanced [] . I mentioned this in a post [] a while back, but it's worth repeating: this is one of the best arcade compilations I've ever seen, with a lot of variety and some really cool secrets.

A 'compilation' of a different sort, WarioWare: Twisted! [] , is also a must-buy. Using a tilt sensor, you never press any buttons other than the A button. Instead, you twist and turn your handheld to perform actions in the minigames. Especially impressive are the NES-themed games. Twirling my GBA to play through the first level of Super Mario Brothers 1 isn't something I'm liable to forget.

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap [] is another fantastic GBA. I wasn't too impressed with the Oracle games on GBC, but Capcom has finally figured out how to design a great Zelda game. The whole 'shrinking' mechanic results in tons of very creative puzzles. Like most Zelda games, it has almost no replay value, but is one great game while it lasts.

In short, the GBA is a fantastic handheld. And I haven't even mentioned the Castlevania [] games [] , Iridion II [] , or Gradius Galaxies [] ...

The DS is shaping up to be just as good a system as the GBA. There's a nice redesign [] on the way, and there are plenty of fantastic and innovative games. Trauma Center is the best damn game on the system, and the best game I played in 2005. I think I would have written hate email to 1up if they had ignored it. Mario Kart DS [] doesn't do a whole lot of new stuff, but it has great graphics, absolutely flawless control, and fun (if limited) online play. Other games that 1up ignored that are worth playing are Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney [] (an absolutely hilarious lawyer-themed adventure game), Nanostray [] (from the developers who did Iridion II), and Electroplankton [] (not a game; a music 'toy' that is as unique as that sounds).

The PSP has very few worthwhile games. Official ones, at least... the homebrew scene is going strong with great releases like Callisto [] . 1up somehow managed to miss two of the three (the other being Lumines) good 'real' games that make the system (almost) worthwhile. Wipeout Pure [] lives up to the legacy of the PlayStation games (too bad Wipeout Fusion on PS2 didn't) and may actually become the best game of the series if they keep releasing new tracks. The Europe-only Omega League is fantastic and justifies importing the game, even though there is a North American version. The other worthwhile game sadly must be imported... Space Invaders Pocket [] is a compilation of the five arcade Space Invader games. That may not sound impressive, but there's enough gameplay variety (especially in the latter three games of the series) to make it an excellent UMD to keep in your PSP while on a trip.

Independent games? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14586269)

If I want to develop and sell independent games for a handheld video game system, which platform should I target? Nintendo DS, Sony PSP, and the phones provided by many popular North American wireless carriers have lockouts.

Re:Independent games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14586479)

GPX2 of course []

Brick and mortar (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14586560)

People on Slashdot seem to love the GP2X handheld video game system. But where can I buy the GP2X at a brick-and-mortar store in the United States? Too many parents will buy their kids a GBA or Nintendo DS or PSP because they see it in stores, but they won't buy anything available only on the Internet.

Re:Independent games? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588193)

How about PDAs?

Re:Independent games? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14589453)

It's hard to find a PDA nowadays that's not built into a mobile phone, and I don't want users to have to pay for the obligatory $720 voice service contract ($30/mo for 24 months). And do PDAs have decent game controls?

Re:Independent games? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14589556)

They're somewhat decent, as long as you rely on the touchscreen there shouldn't be any issues. The dpad is usually rather wobbly and the buttons placed pretty badly though it's enough for NES emulation. I'd stay away from 3d but a good RTS should find a market.

Re:Independent games? (1)

xtieburn (906792) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588651)

Id probably go for the DS because you can get a flash cart to run the code easy enough and I believe the software to do it is on usenet and the like.

Not only that but the GBA homebrew scene is already thriving and will be easier to start with than either DS or PSP games.

The PSP in contrast is harder to develop for as it is PS2 technology fairly notorious for its difficulties unless your experienced with it. Also last I checked it requires a PS2 dev kit. Im not even sure if you can get a hold of one of them without having some business or University connections. (We had a lab full of them at Uni, though I dont think thats usual even if you had access to such an institution.)

As the other threads have pointed out there are alternative platforms as well.

Re:Independent games? (1)

apoc06 (853263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14601995)

well, the core development of a game fit for resale is probably not the easiest. however, there is a thriving homebrew community that has been developing applications for the psp for many months now. other than having a psp that is capable of running homebrew, or able to downgrade... you dont need much more than that to start developing applications. to create something great, obviously you need a dev kit.

Re:Independent games? (1)

torpor (458) | more than 8 years ago | (#14594802)

No question about it, get yourself a GP2X [] ..

Wonderful platform. I have 5 ... ;)

Tetris DS (1)

LKM (227954) | more than 8 years ago | (#14592541)

For those who are interested, there's a new Tetris coming out for the DS. It sports online gaming, and multiplayer gaming for up to 10 players. [] has info and screenshots.

Can hardly wait :-)

Bionic Commando (1)

kisrael (134664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14593976)

Nice to see the shoutout to Bionic proved that the GB could do super-solid NES ports, and was to the NES what the GBA would later be to the SNES.

It anime'd things up, took out the Hitler, added a few levels and took out the old school Commando, but it played great...much better than the buggy GBC version that came out a bit later. I also missed the prelude and postlude that the NES had, where you find out it was a story told by Super Joe, but still.
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