Moments in obsession: the incoherent Mario fangame I made at age 11 where Luigi crosses over with Final Fantasy VIII

Today I’m gonna share something I rarely take out of the mothballs. When I was in elementary school, I was a novice amateur game maker who exclusively used simple no-coding-needed tools to kitbash games together. Today we’re going to talk about one of the first ones I ever made, which I worked on together with my brother.

Without going too deep into the weeds here, it was a game where you play as Luigi, who is on a mission to murder Mario for reasons that are too stupid to explain here. It was built using the OHRRPGCE, a DOS-based engine for developing top-down RPGs in the style of the Super Nintendo Final Fantasy games. I was so enamored with the idea of making my own game like this without needing to code that I considered naming my first game Final Fantasy XIII, expecting to have it done right around the time Square finished up XII (oops).

But I quickly found I was more excited about making something, for lack of a better way to put it, crazy and stupid. The game my brother and I made is still nominally an RPG, but it was more like an open-ended adventure game, where you, as Luigi, wander around rural Valparaiso, Indiana, looking for guns and booze, learning kung fu, meeting aliens, getting stung to death by bees, cutting off your arms and replacing them with six-foot-long swords, etc. Because my brother and I would get bored halfway through fleshing out an idea, the unfinished game is littered with half-expressed ideas and dead ends. It is nearly incomprehensible, and not usually in a funny way, one of the reasons I don’t talk about it that much.

Looking back on it now as an adult, what stands out the most to me is how we used this project as an excuse to reference things we thought were cool around 2000–2001. Luigi goes on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and reads Harry Potter. You can buy a VHS copy of Dr. Doolittle starring Eddie Murphy at the nightclub (I didn’t really understand what nightclubs were) and find Majora’s Mask. Luca Brasi from The Godfather shows up, because my brother had just watched it and liked the name Luca Brasi.

It may not be too surprising that there’s some Final Fantasy VIII nonsense in there too!

Behind Mario’s dilapidated shack (long story), there is a large dirt hole, and at the end of an invisible wall maze (long story), there’s a button that deactivates Mario’s force field (long story!!!). And if you walk through… you end up in time compression.

A crude drawing of Luigi, walking around a crude black-and-white spiral labeled "TIME COMPRESSION."

The background music for this scene is a janky homemade MIDI of the Fithos Lusec motif from FFVIII. At the center of the time compression, you are whisked back to an area called End of Time, which is unfinished but I’m pretty sure (based on the out-of-place presence of a Mario warp pipe) this was going to be a reference to the time gates outside Ultimecia’s Castle that let you jump around the world.

There’s other random FFVIII bits strewn throughout the game files, mostly music, like a MIDI version of “Dance with the Balamb-fish,” which I was apparently going to use for an elevator sequence. At one point it looks like he was supposed to shoot Mario with a grenade launcher while yelling “FITHOS LUSEC WECOS VINOSEC.”

There’s also this horrible drawing I made of Luigi in the middle of running over Mario with Doomtrain. I doodled it over a screengrab from one of the live-action segments on The Super Mario Bros. Super Show.

An incredibly crude drawing of Doomtrain driving straight for a live-action Mario, who is looking at Doomtrain through a window. There's a green dot riding on Doomtrain, meant to represent Luigi.

I don’t think there’s a lesson here. I just really liked Final Fantasy VIII and I have been this insufferable for 25 years. Please help me.