My Nintendo Switch Launch Horror Story

Launch Day Woes

The Nintendo Switch is finally here! After months of raving about the new console and its upcoming games, I now have a Switch! I’ll have fresh impressions of the system up very shortly. But before I talk about my brand new system, I wanted to share my unique experience picking up the Switch at a little store called Walmart.

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What could go wrong?

Twas the Night Before Switchmas

Like many others who now have the Switch, I was lucky and pre-ordered within hours of the January reveal presentation. I had done so online through Walmart and set it to ship to my local store. I soon discovered that the 24-hour brick and mortar store would be having a midnight launch, so I quickly inquired about it. The employee confirmed that they would be selling the system for both pre-orders and walk-ins. I made sure to ask if that applied to online pre-orders as well, and he responded that it didn’t matter how you ordered it as long as it was for that location.

On the night before Switchmas, I was brimming with excitement. I would soon have the Switch, and a day earlier at that! I traveled to Walmart and found a huge line of people hoping to get the new console. An employee asked if I had a pre-order, and once I revealed my slip, they sent me to a special line near the front. There were about ten or so people in that line, so I expected it to be a quick process. Based on previous launch experiences, I usually paid upfront and when midnight hit, I would receive a nicely bagged Switch ready to go.

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Soon to be in my hands.

But once the clock struck midnight, nothing happened. As it turned out, the cashiers didn’t know where the Switches were. Several of them weren’t even sure what the Switch was or why we were lining up in the first place. Okay, so there was some miscommunication, but hopefully someone could figure it out. Instead, we waited about 15 minutes, asking what was going on and receiving no solid answer. This continued until the co-manager finally came and wondered why we weren’t receiving our Switches. He went to “the back” to look for them while we waited in silence. Once he returned with the systems, we cheered excitedly, ready to finally pay up and receive our shiny gifts. I was excited to watch the first customer grab his Switch and happily stroll off… but that wasn’t what happened.

For pre-orders, you generally pay a minimum deposit to reserve your purchase. However, the cashiers had no idea whatsoever how to ring up the first customer’s pre-order deposit. They could see that the customer paid a certain amount, but they didn’t know how to register that in their system. He was willing to simply pay in cash and get out of there, but they literally hid the Switch from him. It was only after ten more minutes that they resolved the problem and let him go. Okay, so we’re half an hour into this and the first person received his Switch. Can we ring everyone up now? Apparently not. The next person had the exact same problem, and it took them another five minutes to resolve that, which was odd considering it must have required the same solution to fix. To this day, it confuses me to no end. Were they just pressing random buttons the first time? Was this like one of those randomly generated puzzles that prevent you from using a walkthrough? After slowly getting through three out of ten pre-order customers, they got stuck once again. And this time, they just gave up.

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Oh well.

One of the cashiers let out a sigh, exclaiming that they were not trained to do this kind of work as the night shift. I could understand her plight and felt sorry for her, but there has to be something wrong with the training structure at Walmart if this is the case.

A cashier asked us to fetch the co-manager who apparently had run to “the back.” I’m not even going to talk about how ludicrous that request was, considering there were three cashiers doing nothing up front. Nonetheless, a brave soul from our pre-order party had already ventured to the electronics section, saying that he saw the co-manager. Once we realized what was happening, this was the breaking point for most of us. The co-manager was in the back selling Nintendo Switches to the walk-ins. There were people who had just shown up without a pre-order who now had their Switch and were happily leaving the store. Meanwhile, those of us with pre-orders had no clue if we’d even receive one by the end of the night.

After selling the last of the walk-in Switches, the co-manager emerged from “the back” and asked why we were all still there.

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After the co-manager came to smooth out the issues, it was my turn to hopefully have my pre-order go through, or not as would be the case. I should have assumed early on that if they didn’t know how to handle the in-store pre-orders, they would struggle with my online one. As it turns out, they couldn’t ring it up and said that apparently my Switch hadn’t arrived yet. Wait… what? My own personal Switch order, whatever that means, had not arrived from their Walmart facility. But what about all of those other Switches they sold? And why they did they tell me that I could pick it up with my online pre-order? There was some weird miscommunication going on. How they did handle it? They told me to go to the back of the line while they tried to handle the other customers.

Needless to say, I was frustrated. It wasn’t even about getting a Switch anymore. I just wanted to come out with something after this night. Once I got to the front again (after waiting through more prolonged instances of confusion with the register), I explained my circumstances, but the cashiers refused me the Switch. I sighed and walked away. I would get the Switch in a day anyway, so it would be fine. I was more upset about this whole situation and regretted attending this midnight launch in the first place.

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The Switch was dangling beyond my grasp.

Then, the co-manager looked at me and offered me a proposition. He knew that I had a pre-order, that I had been waiting a long time that night, and that they would be getting my Switch in shortly. They currently had around ten extra units that nobody was ready to pick up, so he would let me buy a walk-in system if I just cancelled my previous order. Then he’d let me leave that night with a Switch in hand. I gladly took up the offer and thanked him profusely. Cancelling my pre-order was no issue at all, and the pickup person was very on top of helping me. The store even offered me a $20 gift card to compensate for the delay troubles.

Long story short, I did get my Switch that fateful night. It took a couple more hours than it should have, but I brought it home, set it up, played a little Breath of the Wild, and went to bed. Looking back after writing this, I’m not angry, especially considering any qualms went away once I was playing my lovely new console. I am still critical about what happened, but I understand that there are likely problems higher up the store’s chain of command that did not properly equip their employees to handle this. While I will likely be looking to other stores for pre-orders from now on, I still have to give props to the sympathetic co-manager and the resourceful employee at pick-ups. This felt like a long losing battle, but on the upside, it helped me appreciate my new system more.

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Here it is, in all its glory!

Next Time… Switch Impressions!

Thank you for allowing me to indulge you with my launch day horror story. I wasn’t expecting to make this my first post after getting the Switch, but I wanted to share my story with you, both as a cautionary tale and a somewhat humorous retelling of my first Switch experience. Very shortly, I will be sharing actual impressions about the Nintendo Switch, so please look forward to it!

Do you have any launch day horror stories for any product? If you have a Switch, how did your launch experience go? Please share any thoughts and experiences in the comments section below! Thanks for reading!

Tales from Japan – Akihabara: Land of Video Games, Anime Shops, and Final Fantasy Cafés

Pilgrimage to the Electric Town

Welcome to the second round of pictures and stories from my trip to Japan! My wife and I had the opportunity to visit Japan, and it was the trip of a lifetime! We are both big video game and anime fans, so it was a no-brainer to visit Japan together. Last time, I shared about our stop at Ikebukuro, an area in the Western side of Tokyo with fun attractions like the Pokémon Center (which we visited when Pokemon Sun and Moon had just come out), the Shonen Jump amusement park J-World, and some huge anime stores. However, that was nothing compared to what we witnessed at the glorious mecca of geekdom, Akihabara.

Note: Click on images to enlarge or see captions.

Electric Town

Historically, Akihabara has been a major shopping center for electronic goods post-war. This helped the district earn its title of “Electric Town.” There are still many big electronic stores and computer goods scattered throughout the city including Yodobashi Camera. Nowadays, Akihabara is commonly referred to as a cultural center for otaku, who are typically hardcore fans of anime and video games. The area itself isn’t very large, but it’s densely packed with many dozens of stores filled to the brim with character goods. There are also arcades filled with “UFO Catcher” crane games and popular game cabinets. Even outside, gigantic banners showcasing the hottest anime line the buildings. It’s truly a sight to see, whether or not you’re familiar with any of the series. Cute characters, battle scenes, and other cultural icons are all over the place. Final Fantasy XV had just come out the day we were there, so there were huge displays in front of multiple stores advertising the hit road trip simulator.

As a kid, I had always imagined that Japan would be like this. Now that I’ve been twice, I know that the country consists of much more than anime. Truth be told, although anime is more commonplace and recognizable around Japan, there are only a few places where the hardcore fandom is in such full effect. Akihabara is probably the biggest and most well-known. And I absolutely love it! We were most excited to make the pilgrimage to the cultural home of our biggest hobbies. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it to every store. As soon as we entered any shop, we ended up staying there much longer than intended. There was just that much for us to see, from figurine displays depicting our favorite anime scenes to hundreds of merchandise in one aisle alone. Multiply that aisle by 30 and you roughly have the size of one floor of a store. Now multiply that floor by eight to get a full shop. Finally, factor in dozens of these tall buildings and you’ll get an idea of how jam-packed Akihabara really is! Needless to say, we spent a lot of money here alone.

Video Game Stores

Being in the Electric Town, I simply had to check out the treasure troves of Akihabara’s video game stores. Although there are a good number of retro video game havens in the area, they’re pretty well hidden. Of course, if there was any semblance of 8-bit goodness on a storefront, we instantly went inside. Occasionally, I would hear overworld themes from Zelda or Mario and would be lured inside like a sailor drawn to a siren’s song.

One of my favorite stores is the renowned Super Potato. The pictures speak for themselves. There are tons of retro video games at pretty decent prices. I was surprised by the dearth of old-school Famicom and Super Famicom games up for the taking. I even saw an honest-to-goodness Virtual Boy! I didn’t pick up any of them, but I documented my journey inside the utopia of game goods.

Final Fantasy Café

Akihabara is also known for its maid cafés and other themed restaurants. Within the former, hostesses dressed up as maids serve you goodies. It’s apparently quite a unique experience, but we scoured for the latter. There are numerous cafés around Tokyo, based on hot trends and other longstanding popular series such as Kirby and Monster Hunter.

My wife and I love Final Fantasy, so imagine our surprise when we discovered a café themed around it. We later realized that there was also a new Square-Enix café that was actually serving up some FFXV goodness, but we’re still happy that we got a slice of fantasy in Akihabara! The Final Fantasy Eorzea café is named after the region in the online multiplayer Final Fantasy XIV. The interior itself is well-decorated with artifacts from the game, cute statues of popular FF mascots, and stations to play the game (PlayStations, if you will). The food and drinks were FF-themed as well. There were Titan crepes and Fat Cat cakes. My wife had a Tonberry omelet and I had Ifrit cheese tortilla, which came with a wonderful seaweed representation of the fiery summoned beast. We also enjoyed delicious Potion and Ex-Potion drinks! Each order came with a souvenir Eorzea coaster. We were so lucky to have such an amazing experience!

Gundam Café

That wasn’t even the only café we went to that day! We later visited the Gundam Café, themed around the popular giant robot anime. The café is conveniently near the Akihabara train station next to the other popular AKB48 café based on the popular all-girl group. While I’m not a huge fan of Gundam, I enjoyed my time there. Several human-sized model robots and other mechanical decorations filled the interior. A video played constant clips of Gundam theme songs and anime scenes. We even enjoyed some foods that were shaped like the iconic mecha, such as the Gundam curry rice!

Next Time… Shinjuku and Shibuya!

I hope you enjoyed our journey through one of our favorite hot spots in Japan, Akihabara! I have many hundreds more pictures from Akihabara alone so choosing about 50 was incredibly difficult. That said, if there is anything you want to see and I just happen to have it, I’d love to include it in my next update. I can’t guarantee I have such pictures (we only spent a day and a half here), but if I have something close to fulfilling a broad request, I’ll look for it! I’ll end here with a picture showcasing some of our goods from our fun-filled pilgrimage. My favorite goods were Phoenix Wright keychains, a Daigyakuten Saiban (Phoenix Wright prequel) shirt, a Yu-Gi-Oh! Millenium Puzzle glasses case, a mini-Garnet figurine from Final Fantasy IX, and goods from my beloved anime Detective Conan and My Hero Academia. My wife loves her Dragon Ball Super Goku-shaped water bottle and keychains of Yo-kai Watch’s Hovernyan, Danganronpa’s Monokuma, and an adorable Rayquaza-cosplay-Pikachu.

Thanks for indulging in our displays of fandom! Please let me know if you have any questions or comments! Next time, I’ll share about our day at the popular hangout districts of Shinjuku and Shibuya, including our stop at the Final Fantasy store!

Tales from Japan

Ikebukuro’s Pokémon Center, J-World, and More!

Tales from Japan – Ikebukuro’s Pokémon Center, J-World, and More!

The Dream Trip!

My wife and I had the opportunity to visit Japan. As big fans of video games and anime, it was no doubt a goal to see Japan together one day. I had studied abroad in Tokyo years back, but this was my wife’s first time. In fact, after returning from my first trip and before we had even started dating, she asked me to take her along next time. As it so happens, we got married, and so this really was the promised dream trip of a lifetime!

Note: Click on images to enlarge or see captions.

That was just a sample (and teaser) of photos from our entire trip. I have thousands of pictures that I could share. I couldn’t possibly post them all, so I will pick the biggest highlights and talk about them. Also, it’d be difficult to share them all in one post, so I plan to devote multiple posts to our Japan trip. I’ll post them in-between reviews so I sincerely hope you enjoy my pictures and tales!

Ikebukuro

We traveled around the Tokyo area, the populated capital and southeastern city of the main island Honshu, for most of our trip. On our first day, we visited the urban district of Ikebukuro. Ikebukuro has numerous attractions, mostly associated with shopping. We saw big department and electronic stores such as Seibu and Bic Camera immediately after exiting the bustling station. Sunshine City, a large building complex with stores and attractions within, is at the heart. Many people know Akihabara as the big district for geeky things, but Ikebukuro is quickly becoming a den for anime and game fans. As such, we definitely had to see what Ikebukuro had to offer for our fandoms. Our favorite places to visit were the Pokémon Center, J-World, and the Animate flagship store. We ate a simple meal of beef bowls at Yoshinoya, a Japanese fast food chain that has gained some international acclaim. Eating in Japan is just as a fun an experience as sightseeing, so I’ll be sure to post more about food whenever appropriate.

Pokémon Center Megatokyo

The Pokémon series is very important to me and is one of the biggest reasons I got into anime and Japanese culture in the first place. It’s no surprise that Japan has multiple stores entirely dedicated to Pokémon. Ikebukuro’s Sunshine City is home to the largest of them, Pokémon Center Megatokyo. Pokémon Sun and Moon had just come out, so there was a large focus on the brand new Alolan creatures, both in statue and plush form. There were lots of other merchandise that we shamelessly bought, from dozens of cosplaying Pikachu (including Luigi Pikachu!), adorable plushies, and Pokémon themed apparel and accessories. We enjoyed taking many photos with the life-size Pokémon statues and decorations!

J-World Amusement Park

Shonen Jump is a huge manga magazine that has serialized many of the most well-known series, including Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, One Piece, Bleach, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Death Note, and Rurouni Kenshin, just to name a few. J-World is an indoor theme park devoted to the magazine and its series. We love theme parks, and an anime-focused one was a must-see for us! One of our favorite attractions was this room where we could shoot Goku’s signature Kamehameha waves through the magic of 3D technology. We also enjoyed playing minigames to obtain the seven Dragon Balls and summon the dragon Shenron. Other fun attractions were a ninja mission to fight the Akatsuki from Naruto and a boat ride through the pirate world of One Piece. We even got to go in a fun flavor-of-the-season room with decorations based on Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable. We capped our time off eating at the J-World restaurant complete with Ichiraku Ramen and Vegeta’s chicken karaage, because the prince of all Saiyans should be associated with fried chicken.

Animate Store

We did more traditional sightseeing at other areas in Tokyo (and I’ll get to those in future posts), but Ikebukuro was clearly one of our huge shopping days if you couldn’t tell. One of our shopping stops was the new Animate flagship store, which houses seven floors of anime goods. We got lots of things from our favorite series including a Phoenix Wright towel, the Japan-only Monster Hunter Stories amiibo, Pokémon and Yo-kai Watch 3DS cases, and calendars from Boruto and Dragon Ball Super. Here are pictures of the store and some of our new merchandise.

Next Time… Akihabara!

Thanks for indulging me in my pictures and tales from Ikebukuro. I plan to talk about each major area we visited and have lots to share about each one. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments! For next time, I’ll share more about the area most relevant to this site, the anime and video game geek heaven, Akihabara!

Tales from Japan

Akihabara – Land of Video Games, Anime Shops, and Final Fantasy Cafés

Mr. Panda Meets Mario – My Meeting with Charles Martinet

A Weekend with Charles Martinet

I had the honor of meeting Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario, Luigi, Wario, Waluigi, and so many other video game characters, at Indy PopCon 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The following is a brief testimony of my experience followed by a transcript of several panel interviews with Charles Martinet.

Charles Martinet Headshot

My Magical Experience with Charles Martinet

I felt nothing but excitement knowing that I was finally going to meet the man behind the voice of Super Mario, Charles Martinet. Ever since I had first heard him in Super Mario 64, I have been a huge fan of his work. That iconic voice saying “Here we go!” and “Wahoo!” has echoed in my ears throughout my many years of gaming. He was one of my childhood heroes, and the opportunity to meet him fulfilled one of my biggest dreams in life.

As soon as I walked up to Martinet, he greeted me with the most wonderful smile. I told him how much he and his work meant to me and he gave me such a sincere “Thank you.” He is a truly happy guy, with much more energy than you could imagine for a 60-year old man. He is very animated when he talks, raising his arms, making faces, and shouting with elation. He is also very kind to his fans, providing plenty of inspiration and hope.

My wife and I were able to interact with him all weekend, participating in a photoshoot with him (in which we donned our Mario Bros. hats!), conversing with him at his booth, and attending panels in which we could ask him questions. Charles Martinet was kind enough to record the following message below:

 

 

 

 

This means so much to me because it’s the voice of Mario acknowledging who I am. I have big aspirations in my life. This grand meeting with Martinet is an important stepping stone in the journey of my life. To hear Mario saying all of this fills me with confidence and gratitude. Everything that Martinet says in the video truly reflects how I feel about you all. You really are the best: to read my articles, comment with such kind words, and converse with me. Your support means everything to me, and I want you to know that Mario says, “You guys are number one!”

 

 

Panels and Interviews

The following are some stories that he told to start off his panel, followed by answers that he gave to the audience’s questions. Please enjoy learning about Charles Martinet!

On His Start in Acting

Charles Martinet was originally going to be a lawyer at UC Berkeley. He was inspired by whom he thought was the greatest political science teacher in the world. However, when he tried to take a class from him again next year, he couldn’t get a single class. Martinet wanted nothing but him, and was devastated. So he left.

A friend of Martinet later asked him to take an acting class from him. Martinet believed he would absolutely never, ever take an acting class because he was shy. Nevertheless, he was somehow convinced to take the class. Students were to give monologues from the Spoon River Anthology about different ways they had died. Martinet was extremely terrified, and his body was shaking nervously as he gave his monologue. He was convinced everyone would be laughing following his performance. Instead, they looked at him, applauded, and said, “The amazing thing about what you just did is, you’re the only one who wasn’t nervous.” Martinet laughed, and was able to shake less as he continued doing more monologues throughout the class.

 

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Martinet considered himself a shy guy.

One day, his college was performing A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Martinet believed he was perfect for the part of Oberon, and worked hard to audition for him. He was so excited, believing he had gotten that role for sure. To his surprise, he didn’t receive any parts at all. He attributed his desire to learn how to be an actor to this “wonderful failure.”

Martinet studied theater, speech, and everything else voraciously. One day, a Berkeley representative came to the school for apprenticeship auditions. He auditioned with his original monologue for Oberon, and got the apprenticeship! From there, he continued to pursue acting for many more years.

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Martinet worked hard to become an actor.

On His Start with Voicing Mario

Martinet began doing corporate videos on the suggestion of a friend. Satisfied with how much more it paid than theater, he pursued more, doing about 600 of them. One day at a session, he was asked if he knew how to do voice-over. Learning that he could make even more money doing those, he declared happily that he was a voice actor!

Sometime after, Martinet got a call from a friend suggesting that he crash a certain audition. He followed the suggestion, even though he had never crashed an audition before. Once he got there, he asked if he could do the audition even though the casting director was already heading out. They informed him that he would be auditioning for an Italian plumber from Brooklyn. He was then told to just make up a voice and start talking until he ran out of things to say, and that would be the audition. In his head, he thought, “I can talk without stopping.”

When thinking about what voice to do for the audition, he wanted to make a nice and fun voice especially since it was for children. He decided to use a voice similar to one he had previously done for Petruchio from The Taming of the Shrew and make it younger. He was still nervous about the video game aspect because he didn’t know much about video games aside from Pong and Pac-Man. Regardless, once he was asked to start, he immediately used what is now the iconic voice of Mario. He talked on and on about random topics using the voice. He dragged it out because he was never told to stop. He was finally told to stop talking when there was no more videotape left.  The casting director said that they’d “be in touch,” which Martinet implied to mean that he was likely never going to hear back again.

As it turns out, the casting director got on the phone with Nintendo and told them that he found their Mario. He sent only Martinet’s long audition tape to Nintendo. The rest is history.

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A voice is born.

Interview with Charles Martinet

Note: The following is a transcript comprised of two separate panels at Indy PopCon 2016. One panel starred Charles Martinet exclusively, and the other featured three other voice actors, Nolan North (Nathan Drake), Jennifer Hale (Samus Aran), and David Eddings (Klaptrap; Gearbox Software). For the purposes of this transcript, only Charles Martinet’s answers are included. Different people in the audience, including myself, asked the following questions. For the most part, the answers are Charles Martinet’s words. The questions and answers are only edited if a) It was a personal matter regarding the interviewer or Charles Martinet, b) He repeated his answers earlier in the panel, or c) It was irrelevant crosstalk between Charles and another panelist, interviewer, or himself.

With that said, please enjoy the transcript, and please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Q: Have you played the Nintendo games you’ve starred in, and which one was your favorite game?

Charles Martinet: First of all, yes, I play the games – not very well. I’m really fantastic at getting to that level where I find out that the princess is not in this castle. I’m not very good at getting past that. Once I get [to] the first one…. I can get to the second castle sometimes, [then] the third castle, but I’ve never once rescued Princess Peach. (frowns and droops head) But one day, I will watch somebody do that! (laughs)

If I play Smash Bros, I’m the guy in the bubble coming back 2 or 3 times. I don’t even know what’s happening in that game! I forget who I’m playing in that game! It’s funny, because when I play the games, I do all the sound effects. I go, (Mario voice) “OW OW OW OW OW OW OW!” And when I’m playing Galaxy, I’m going like this (pretends to hold Wiimote and Nunchuk and leans way over to the side). I can’t not do that!

Favorite game of all time? That moment with the dancing in Super Mario Bros. Wii. I also love (makes cat paws with hands) “MREOW” in Super Mario 3D World.

Q: How often do you play Mario games?

CM: I play not everyday, but every time a new game’s coming out, I play with that game. Like, I play with Zelda. I love to know what’s going on.

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Q: How did you come up with the other Mario characters’ voices?

CM: I did this Mario real-time thing for several years — 5 years before the game — and we were doing tours around the country. I’d go around, and all we had was Mario. I had these things glued to my face — surgical glue, surgical tape — and then we’d go through this [process]. I would move, and it would make these little rollerballs move. This mask was [attached] to my head. That would go through a supercomputer — we had dry ice and the supercomputer because it was crunching so many numbers. The character [on-screen would go], (Mario voice) “Hello, I’m-a-Mario!” So I’m talking to young kids (in Mario voice), “Hello, you have a blue shirt on today.”

This was at a Wal-Mart in Arkansas. The kid would ask, “Hello, Mario. Can I talk to your brother Luigi?” (blank stare) (Mario voice) “Ehhhh, hang on a sec. He’s a bit shy. He’s in the kitchen making spaghetti meatballs. Hang on a sec. I’ll let him know. Hey Luiiiiigi!” And so I couldn’t move my mouth [because the Mario on-screen would move his mouth too], so I go, (without moving mouth in Luigi voice), “Yeah, what do you waaaaant?”

(Mario voice) “My friend here, he wants you to come and say hello.”

(Luigi voice, mouth barely moving) “Tell him I’m too shy. Besides, I’m in the kitchen making spaghetti meatballs.”

(Mario voice) “Oh, he said he’s in the kitchen making spaghetti meatballs.”

The kid said, “Oh pleaaaaase?”

(Mario voice) “Oh pleaaaaase?”

(Luigi voice) “Sorry.”

So I would do this whole monologue….

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One man is behind all of these voices.

In that process, I’ve created this entire imaginary [family]…. Luigi’s in the bedroom. Dad’s in the den. (Italian Wario-like voice) “Don’t touch-a that remote controllo, I’m using it.” Mom’s in the kitchen making spaghetti meatballs. So when people ask [about them], I go, “Hold on a sec.”

(Mario voice) “Hey, momma. You wanna come out and say hello?”

(Italian mom Mario-like voice) “Oh yes, you little handsome-a plumber boy! I can’t! I’m in the kitchen!” So that’s how I did Luigi (and the imaginary family’s voice).

Then one day, I was at the Consumer Electronics Show, and there was Wario on the set. [They said], “Hey, we want you to do Wario.” I look at this character, and he’s angry all the time. So I’m like, (Wario voice), “Oh have a ROTTEN day!”

Then I did Mario Tennis, and there was this wonderful character, Waluigi. (flails arms around and says in Waluigi voice) “Waaaaaaah! Self-pity!” The emotions have to be real, and these nemeses have to be the opposite of the happy, joyful, fun-loving Mario, which is this angry sort of thing. [For Luigi), he’s a little bit shy, so the opposite is a little bit of self-pity.

Then… I had to do Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time, and there were the two little babies. It was so cute, aww… (Baby Mario voice) “Mamma mia.” So sweet. And then, (makes Italian-like gibberish noises from Mario and Luigi series). They just told me to keep playing with it and having fun. It was so great.

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Martinet reminisces about Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, in which he voiced Mario, Luigi, Baby Mario, and Baby Luigi.

Q: How often do you record voices? How often is it reused from an older game?

CM: I never know how many games they’re going to do. This is a huge year. Zelda’s 30 years old. The Zelda stuff looks awesome. It’s just unbelievably magnificent. They have a library of a million sound effects of the things that I’ve done. But we often record new things because there’s a new aspect of the game, new action, new elements… So I’m recording all the time. It’s a wonderful variety of experiences. I can’t tell you what’s coming. But I can tell you you’re going to have so much fun. It keeps getting better! Like life!

Q: Out of all your voices, which one is your favorite voice?

CM: Absolutely no question, Mario! I love it. Because to do a character, you need to feel that emotion. Total elation, total joy, total love, total fun, total respect, total innocence. It all clicks inside of me. The ultimate joy is doing Mario. I dream as Mario. I’m often flying over lakes and rivers and outer space. The character’s like a real aspect of me.

Q: What has been your favorite role outside of the Mario universe?

CM: Honest to goodness, I love every single thing I ever get to do because, it’s all, “Come and play the new toy in the sandbox! So I love everything. I love doing Paarthurnax [from Elder Scrolls]. It was really so fun. I was reading the dragon speech, and you get to this thing on the TV, and I would absolutely have no idea [which dragon name it was]. And so, they would call the writers and say, “Was it [this name] or [that dragon name]?” and they would say, “No, it was [this dragon name].” It was so much fun. It was so cute to do that! It was a whole language, and I got to speak it and forget it!

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Paarthurnax from Elder Scrolls

Q: What was it like working on an indie game like Bit Trip Runner 2 [in which Charles played the narrator]?

CM: They were so nice. These are the nicest guys in the world. They said, “It’s so great to work with you,” and they brought me [a gift]. For the second game, I was in London, and I was staying in a friend’s house. It was a church converted into a house. And I was in the bedroom, and I put the covers over my head, put them on the telephone, and did the session underneath this bed in a church. You don’t get to do that everyday! That was so fun, and they are so nice! I sure hope another one comes out, because they’re great, terrific people. Every experience is great.

We’re the luckiest people in the world. That’s why I say, “If you want to drive trucks, drive trucks with joy and passion in your heart.”

Q: How do you feel when your character is going to die? Note: Directed towards other panelists, but Charles Martinet chose to answer as well.

CM: I do Mario in real-time, so that kids can talk to Mario at the Nintendo World Store. And this little child comes up to Mario and says, “Mario, when you die, do you see God?” You know, I’m willing to talk philosophy with anyone at certain times, but at that second, I said, (Mario voice) “No, I just go ‘WAAAAAAAH!’ And then I press start again!” (laughs)

Q: What’s the funniest thing that ever happened during your career?

CM: This is not really funny, but I was doing Luigi. I was getting excited as Luigi, and I literally hit my head onto the microphone. Then, I went, (Luigi voice) “I bumped my head.” (laughs)

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Q: Do you have a favorite story about Nintendo or about anything else?

CM: One of the things was when I got the phone call saying, “Mr. Miyamoto wants you to play Mario in a game. I was like (makes excited noises). I was so ecstatic. And then going in and doing that session. For 5 years, I had been doing a real-time animation system. So all of a sudden, there I am going into the studio, and they’re wanting me to do the things I’d been doing for 5 years and adding to them, (Mario voice) “Mamma Mia!” and “Here we go!” Seeing the animatics, seeing the video games for the first time, and seeing Mario moving the way the artists had created it was absolutely magic to me.

Everyday’s a different, wonderful experience. I was in Australia, and these 5 boys came into the GameStop that was there and said, “We want you to sign our foreheads.” I said, “What do you mean? All I have is pen and marker!” And they said, “Yeah!” So I did it. (laughs)

Life is such a great gift, and every experience is so wonderful. The great thing about humanity is that we all go through the same things together…. The common bond of humanity is our hearts. We all get there to experience the joys and sadness. So I appreciate so much when I have those one-on-one connections. — This little boy today, with a Mario balloon — and I said, (Mario voice) “Oh, you have a Mario balloon! I’m-a-Mario!” And he goes, “Yes, he’s on your t-shirt. And also, you have Yoshi on your t-shirt.” He’s like 3 years old, and I’m like, this is the most golden moment of my life! Everyday has moments like that! Just thinking about human connection, it’s so great.

Q: Are there any particular moments you’ve had working with other voice actors?

CM: In the old days, when I used to do more cartoons, television, corporate videos, there used to be rooms full of actors. The only time I get to see actors nowadays is when I come to cons like this. I did have a wonderful dinner last night with Nolan [North], Jennifer [Hale], Tara [Strong]… Oh, I love actors. I don’t get to see them because when I work, I work alone in the studio in a box. I have the producer and director. We have wonderful rapport and creativity. But you don’t get to bounce things off other actors like in the old days. It’s different.

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Amazing panel of people here! From left to right: Charles Martinet, David Eddings, Jennifer Hale, Nolan North, Moderator

Q: What do you think of some of the other portrayals of Mario like the Super Mario Bros. Super Show or the Super Mario Bros. movie?

CM: I love actors, and I love artists. I love everybody’s interpretation. I love Mario art. I love people that are inspired to do art because I think creativity inspires creativity. I don’ think the script in that Mario movie was great. But I thought Bob Hoskins did a wonderful job — not portraying him the way I would – but he’s him and I’m me! I thought John Leguizamo did a wonderful job. Now, how he ended up with the princess in the end… (raises arms in confusion and shakes head) I don’t know! But I love interpretation. If you asked Shakespeare, “What do you think of the way people perform your plays?”

He might go…. “Oh roller-skates… I like roller-skates.” It’s all wonderful.

Q: Would you ever be interested in doing a Mario Bros. movie, and do you think Mario would do well in the movie format?

Charles Martinet: My life is such a joy. I’m filled with happiness and joy. I get to travel the world. I get to meet wonderful people in places like this. If somebody calls me up and says, “We want you to come into the studio and put a cap on your head and say, ‘Whee!’” I’ll go “Whee!” And I’ll be so happy to go do that.

So would I be happy doing a Mario movie? It would make me ecstatic beyond belief. Because I love working with Nintendo. I work with the most wonderful people, and I’m sure that they would get the most wonderful people to work with. And it could be a project that I could do for many weeks. And so I’d be ecstatic doing that, but I’m also happy anytime they call and say, “Come on up and do a voice in a game.” I’m like, (Mario voice) “Woohoo!” So thank you, I would absolutely love it, and I love everything I do.

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I’d be fine with Martinet doing a movie, as long as it wasn’t this one.

Q: Would you be interested in doing a fully voiced Super Mario RPG?

CM: The great thing about my relationship with Nintendo is total trust. If Mr. Miyamoto said, “I’ve been talking with the creative teams, we want to do an RPG fully voiced,” then I would say, “Woohoo!” If he said, “We want to do an RPG with no voice,” I would go, “Whoo!” Of course, if I get to play in the sandbox, I’m happy. I’d say, yes, like I’d do a movie or anything else. Whatever they call me for, I’m ready.

Q: Besides Mario, are there any Nintendo games or franchises that you particularly enjoy?

CM: I love Zelda, and I love Kirby. There’s something about a big pink furball that gets to eat a lot. I love it. Wait until you play the new Zelda. It’s so amazing! It’s a fun and funny amazing adventure!

Q: What are your opinions on Sonic the Hedgehog?

CM: Sonic the Hedgehog. Who’s that? (laughs) I love Sonic. It’s a funny thing. I love that we got the Olympic Games now, and Sonic and Mario are playing the Olympic Games with all these other characters. There was a day when Sonic and Mario were fighting for first place. It’s like, “Oh my gosh. What if Sonic becomes number one?” At Nintendo, everybody there loves making video games. Everybody there plays video games. There’s a passion and joy for video games like nowhere else in the world. That joy, that passion, and that love for making great games is what helped the company endure for all these years since 1985, and before that when they made all the great games from before. I love that Sonic and Mario are playing now. It’s great. (laughs)

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Q: You have voices for Baby Mario and Baby Luigi. Do you have voices for Senior Citizen Mario and Senior Citizen Luigi?

CM: (Mario voice) “Wahoo!” (falls asleep and snores) I am convinced that when I’m 97, that that’s what I’ll be doing. (Mario voice) “It’s-a-me, Ma…” (falls asleep)

Q: What are some of your other hobbies?

CM: I travel. (repeats this phrase 5 more times). In the last year, I’ve been to: Bali, Indonesia, Borneo, Malaysia, Thailand several times, Myanmar, Lao, Cambodia, Vietnam North and South, China 7 times. I just got back from Peru, on a mini-trek to Machu Picchu, and I did a show there. I’m going to Ecuador this year, and also to Abu Dhabi. I love travel for work. When I’m not traveling for work, I travel for pure joy and pleasure.

Q: If you could create any character in a video game, what would it be?

CM: Mario. I love this character. I try to be more like him in my real life. Facing challenges with kindness, agility, and love. Everyone loves the people they’re close to. The true content of your character is how you are with people who really mean nothing to you and can’t give you anything. [I do all these characters], but I try to be Mario, and be nice [in real life]. It’s a good lesson in life.

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Wario is an antithesis to Mario, but he’s still likable!

Q: What is one thing you like about each of the characters you voice?

CM: I love their innocence and joy. I’m a big believer in life…. It’s amazing because everybody goes through hard times. Everyone can be cynical. It’s their option to choose innocence. I fully believe that adults can choose innocence. I don’t want to believe in the memory of pain or scars of the past. I want to live right now in the joy that I’m in. I want to be in the present.

I try to create all my characters out of joy. There seems to be a valid creativity theory that you create from the lack in your soul. It’s the loss in you….. that will never be fulfilled. Out of that, you create because your drive is there…

I love the purity of every character. And every character that I’ve tried to do, I try to do it with great clarity and purity, but from a position of innocence. So even [with] my “villains” like Wario… [He says,] (Wario voice) “Have a rotten day!” All the humor is going to come back at him.

It’s an interesting dynamic. I love creation from innocence. As an adult, I love choosing innocence, and connecting and realizing the beauty, joy, truth, and goodness of every person and every life. I try to instill my characters even if they’re like, “Bip!” I want that joy… that spark.

Q: Is there something you’ve always wanted to say to your fans that you haven’t gotten to say until now?

CM: (smiles) I love you.

Q: Thank you very much!

CM: Thank you so much! Live your dreams. Yahoo!

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I want to end on this very important and special message from Charles Martinet.

On Life and Dreams

CM: I could never say I [grew up thinking that I] wanted to be the voice of Mario. But I could always say that I want to be happy. And I want do what gives me joy, which is making other people have joy and have a sense of fun.  It’s what I wish for absolutely everybody here. My wish is that you live your dreams, and you live your life, and that you decide what it is that gives you joy and gives other people joy.

Life is very much like a video game. You choose who you’re going to be in the morning, — who your character is – and you go out into the world. As you’re traveling along in your world of your day, making choices and decisions – picking up these weapons and putting those ones down and deciding where you’re going to walk through instead of fight trough – Eventually, you’re doing this for a long time, and then you discover that’s [your] destiny. [You are] the hero of [your] game. Because life happens so fast! There’s no time to waste. You have to start having fun. You have to start living your life. You gotta start loving.

If you want to be loved, go out and love. If you want work, go out and work. You do those things that give you joy. If you wanna be a voice actor, yes you can be a voice actor. You can go and learn about voice acting and do that stuff.

Mainly, be happy. If you’re focused on being happy, then that’s where you’ll be. I knew that I didn’t want to just work for work’s sake because that’s what my dad did, and he hated it. I knew I didn’t want to make that choice. I wanted to be happy. And [now] suddenly, I’m an actor.

Live your dreams!

Thank you very much for reading!

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Mrs. Panda, Charles Martinet, and Mr. Panda wishing you the best!

For a list of works that Charles Martinet has done, you can visit his IMDb page. You can also follow him @CharlesMartinet on Twitter.

What are your thoughts on the legacy of Charles Martinet? What’s something you learned or found interesting from his interview? What is your favorite voice that he plays? Please share any thoughts in the comments section below!