Encore Extra Stage #18

Welcome to Friday! I’m Alex Williams, and this column is great! It’s phenomenal! It’s…it’s…um…

…pieced together from other columns I wrote.

Yes, this week I don’t have new material to bestow upon you. But in an interesting twist, its not because I’m lazy! Far from it, as a matter of fact. The piece I was working on this week turned into something incredibly deep, and needs a large amount or reworking. I feel really bad about offering an unfinished piece of work to you fine readers, so instead I’ll offer some of my favorite classic columns from my previous place of employment.

Don’t worry about copyrights or anything, though. I edited out all instances of the old site’s name. No one cares, anyway.

But to start with, The Great Randolphsky e-mailed me asking me to explain my “Norwegian Athlete” nickname origins to those who are friggin’ confused as hell as to why I would even call myself that. Well, it’s a good thing I’m piecing this column together, as I found the old news story I ran explaining this very item!


The following is something I’m not making up. Even if I TRIED, I couldn’t make it up.

In a recent article from BBC News, they covered the very first DDR European tournament. Within, they explain how popular the game is in various European territories, such as England and Italy. Also mentioned as Norway, which will soon register DDR as an official sport.

Yes, DDR will be an official Norwegian sport.

You know what that means, don’t you?


In America, I’m just a guy who plays a dancing game and looks silly! In Norway, I’m a JOCK! I KNEW my lack of athletic skills would work itself out eventually!

And hey, if curling can be considered a legitimate, competitive sport, so can DDR I guess.

And there’s the story of why I call myself a Norwegian Athlete. Even though I was born and raised in the states, and have no real connection to this country otherwise. Ain’t it great?

Now for some of my favorite commentaries from the old site. Hope you enjoy them!


Last Thursday evening, I was leaving Towson’s Anime Club meeting when I got one weird complement from this one girl:

“I love your jacket! You look just like Squall!”

Squall, in this case, meaning Squall Leonhart from Final Fantasy VIII.

And she was sort of right. The jacket I was wearing was a leather one, with white felt on the inside, and buckles in various places.

Once I realized my jacket did bear some sort of resemblance, I wanted to commit suicide right then and there.

I mean, I HATE Squall. Squall is the perfect example of main characters you DON’T want to see in a game. He is bland, emotionless, and has no personality to speak of. We see characters all around him having feelings and whatnot, but this guy…he just STANDS there and moans “Whatever”, even when given the OPPORTUNITY to emote.

So later that night, I was chatting with Lucard on AIM, and he sympathized completely. I said Squall had no personality, he agreed. I said EVERYONE had more personality than Squall, and he agreed. I said a brick wall has more emotion than Squall, and he lost it. Between the two of us, we then came up with a list of video game characters / inanimate objects than had more personality than Squall did, and were rolling the whole time.

What follows is the product of some kind of drug-induced AIM chat…only without the drugs…well, ok, maybe a little caffeine…


Luigi: “Mario? Mario! Mariooooo!” Not his best performance, but showing concern for his family definitely earns him some bonus points.
100x MP (More Personality)

Brick Wall: Even a brick wall crumbles over time! Squall’s face will stay in that position for hundreds of years.
3x MP

Ghaleon: Perhaps the ultimate villain in the RPG universe. A twisted individual with vision, mastery of manipulation, and the means to get what he wants. MASSIVE points here.
75,000x MP

Parappa The Rapper: A rapping paper cutout of a pooch? Yep, that deserves some props.
468x MP

The NES Gyromite Robot: Remember this accessory for the NES? (Do I even have the right reference?) Well, if I’m correct, then even THAT had more personality.
73.8x MP

Leisure Suit Larry: At least he’s getting some.
5x MP

Main Character of Altered Beast: Almost no personality, but at least he transforms into some cool beast forms. But those “Power-Up” moves? Err…
3x MP

Sonic the Hedgehog: A blue hedgehog with an attitude. Need we say more?
1,000x MP

Kirby: It’s a sad day when little pink puffballs show more emotion than a human being. I mean, really! Wow.
768x MP

Tom Nook: Come on! A raccoon with a never-ending supply of home fixer-uppers! We LOVE this guy!
50x MP

Little Mac: Never gives up as long as you have enough continues. And he smiles!
35x MP

Barbie: More than Squall, less than a brick wall. And we’re being GENEROUS.
2x MP

Nakoruru: We’d give her a higher score, but most of that personality equation comes from the bird she’s got.
14x MP

Simon Belmont: He comes from a long line of vampire killers, and is good at what he does. We salute you, sir!
14,608x MP

Bub: He’s a chibi-dinosaur! That blows bubbles! How can he NOT be emotional?!?!?
25,000x MP

The [INSIDE PULSE] Kliq: We rule. No two bones about it. All of us combined make Squall look like a statue. No wait, I’m sorry. Statues have more emotion than Squall. So I apologize to all statues everywhere.
999,999,999.9x MP

But none of these people (not even us) compare to our last entry:

Eggplant Wizard: This guy takes the cake. He’s an EMOTING EGGPLANT! With MAGICAL POWERS! He’s got more depth than the UNIVERSE ITSELF! You saw it on Captain N: The Game Master! The RAW PASSION! The CONSTANT EMOTION! No one, NOT NO ONE, can show the video game world how to act than EGGPLANT WIZARD!
1,000,000,000,000x MP

That’s it. I vote for Eggplant Wizard to be the official [INSIDE PULSE] mascot. Lucard has my back. Who else is with me? Huh?


You know, sometimes a business writing college course can bear some strange fruits…

I was talking with my professor one day last week, and I mentioned that I wrote for this little site called [INSIDE PULSE]. He seemed genuinely intrigued by this, and asked for a sample of my work. I obliged, and gave him my Super Mario Advance 4 review.

He then explained to me an assignment he used to give to his other classes. He would have them play a video game (it didn’t matter which), and compare the experience to the experience of writing.

Now it was my turn to be intrigued.

It wasn’t an official assignment, but I wanted to do it anyway. To compare the two hobbies I love the most in the world: gaming and writing. To see if they are very alike, or very different in execution.

So instead of doing this for a grade, I’ll do this for all of you.

I’ll use these two items for comparisons sake:

An e-Reader level from Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Brothers 3

An essay due for college

And so we begin.

I scan in a new level for SMA4, and I’m ready to play.

I start a new Microsoft Word document, and I’m ready to write.

My first attempt at this stage, “Wild Ride In The Sky”, is not a pretty one. I’ve never seen this level before, and don’t know what to expect. And after a small time, I miss a jump and lose a life. Back to square one.

My first attempt at this essay, I don’t know what to write. I have a general idea of how to go about it, but I don’t like how the words are coming out. After the first few sentences, I end up deleting the entire thing. Back to square one.

My second try is much more fruitful. With the level fresh in my mind, I’m able to try new things. I time my jumps better, I collect more coins, and get farther into the stage. But another jump slightly to the right of a moving platform causes another life lost. This time, however, I have much more to go on.

I try writing my essay again, and this time, I like what I’m seeing. The ideas are coming out with more force, and more clarity than before. I already have an introduction, and two out of the three points that I’m addressing in writing. But now I’m stuck on the third point. Writer’s block. I take a break for now, but I have much more to go on.

Third time’s the charm, I guess. This time, I know where to jump, where to dodge, and where plenty of coins are. And using some basic strategies, I get to the end of the level! Not a perfect performance, but I get to the end nonetheless.

When I come back to the essay, I finally get my third point down on paper. And with that part finally passed, I easily summarize the whole thing in the conclusion. And lo and behold, I have my first draft! Not perfect, but at least I got to the end.

Now I may have beaten the level, but I didn’t collect everything within it. I still need to collect all the giant gold coins, as well as develop strategies to keep myself at maximum power. So I play the level a few more times to find all the power-ups, collect all the coins, and kill all the enemies. This way, I fine-tune my playing style and get better.

The essay looks finished, but this is only the first draft. My ideas are out in their “raw” form. I’ll need to go through the essay several more times to “fine-tune” my ideas and make them clearer. There are also several typos and grammatical errors I’ll need to fix. This way, My essay will look better, and possibly get a better grade.

My final play-through of this stage is practically flawless. I’ve been through the level enough times to know where all the coins are and power-ups are. I know how to kill the grounded enemies, and how to dodge the enemies I can’t kill. I even know all the methods to gain extra lives here. So after going through the entire level with a fine-toothed comb, I’ve done the best I can here.

My final draft of my essay is almost perfect. I’ve gone through the essay enough times to find all the errors, and flesh out my main ideas. I make the essay fit the assignment’s criteria, and even include a little something more. So, after going through the essay with a fine-toothed comb, I’ve done the best that I can.

Well…looks like writing and gaming aren’t as different in execution as I originally thought…


And that’s today’s offering! Did you like it? Or were you mad as hell that I would recycle two old columns from 2003 and repackage them into something new? In any case, things should return to normal come next week. Either that, or I’ll take the week off and not announce it. Either way!

Alex Williams, The Norwegian Athlete