The Mario Fangame Myth
A myth only lasts as long as people will tell it.
When I joined Mario Fan Games Galaxy in March 2003, the community already had a mythology around it. The site was started in 2001 by a kid named Luke from New Jersey, who went by the name Thunder Dragon. They had previously run a site called Bowser Technologies where they posted their Mario fangames, and the MFGG grew out from there.
The community was small but extraordinarily tight, and they celebrated the story of themselves at every chance they got. Everyone who joined MFGG had a personal character they made up, which the community erroneously called their “furries.” They were usually edited from other sprites. Supertoad2k was a Toad wearing golden pants and a cape. 4 Eyes was an enlarged sprite of Mario from the bootleg NES game Somari, but wearing glasses. Nite Shadow was a blue-and-grey Tails from Sonic with bloody Wolverine-style claws.
One of the main resources on MFGG was the collection of user-submitted “libs” – graphics libraries created for Clickteam game-creation programs like Klik & Play and The Games Factory, which were the most popular game creation tools on MFGG during its earlier years. But lib files were also technically game files for those programs, and so MFGGers would embed little scenes in them featuring other members’ characters. They were like a tapestry, weaving the story of the community into their resources, each new lib file featuring a new group of people as they all lifted each other up.
This grand soap opera played out on the static HTML website, which Thunder Dragon or Kritter or Supertoad2k would manually update every time they added new files. Thunder Dragon was the heroic leader of the community. If there was a villain, it was KyleH, also known as Kyle Heard from the UK, who was banned from MFGG after he was accused of deleting the entire website. The libs would show him being murdered or tortured by the rest of the community throwing fireballs at him – an ongoing digital Super Mario Crucifixion for his crimes against MFGG.
Both of those screenshots are taken from Neo Hyper Yoshi's 16th birthday celebration lib. The bloody mess on the floor is KyleH, who was killed by Super Sonic.
This was the milieu when I joined MFGG. In the grand scheme of the history of the website – which is still around but has slowed down – I’m one of the “oldbies” who joined the site early on. But at the time, this culture had been around for what felt like years. I was 13, and even two years of community was a significant chunk of my life at that point. I hadn’t seen the Great Kyle Flamewar or the old garish red-and-yellow EZBoard.com forums, but I heard about word passed down about them.
MFGG didn’t just have a community or a history. It had legends.
Right around the time I joined, MFGG had just switched from the free EZBoard forums to a vBulletin forum, running without a license, on a subdomain of D2Sector.net, a Diablo II fansite run by Spitfire, a friend of the admin Kritter. I joined the forum as ShadowMan, an extremely unoriginal name I lifted from a boss from Mega Man 3. (Evidently, there was another well-respected member who was just recently started going by Shadowman, lower-case, and I beat him to the punch registering for the new forum. So he changed his name to Press Start.)
I had known about MFGG for a year prior because of my brother, who found the site while searching for information online about the Koopaling characters. My parents had gotten me copies of Klik & Play and The Games Factory that I had been experimenting with, and when he saw that MFGG used the same software, he thought it was a good fit. I knew about the mythology of MFGG for almost a year from playing all the games and using all the libs. I had been making some games on my own, most notably a completely bonkers sci-fi espionage thriller epic called Luigi’s Game that completely spiraled out of control and I never finished, but even though I wanted to make a good game, most of my energy went into messing other people’s games. (Many people left their games “unprotected,” so you could edit them in The Games Factory and modify them. I just added all sorts of unreasonable blood and gore because I was a weird edgy 13-year-old.)
My parents were generally very controlling about the websites I could use where I’d interact with other people. The message board they had allowed me to be on before, a video game forum called Zantetsuken, had fallen apart, and at that point the floodgates were open to me. So having long watched the community tapestry being weaved, I decided to finally join the MFGG forums.
This was the forum banner when I joined in 2003.
I took to the community instantly, but surprisingly, it wasn’t because I knew who Neo Hyper Yoshi was or whatever. It was a bit of a free-for-all, like a big internet party, and it was easy to slip in. There was a running joke where new members were welcomed into MFGG by pretending it was an office building, with a warning not to touch the golden Thunder Dragon statue in the lobby. As a weird edgy 13-year-old, I decided to put my own spin on the welcome message by blatantly ripping off Monty Python: watch out for the shrubbery, which eats meats on Tuesday. And it just fit, and people went with it, and it got melted into the joke. More people continued adding their own twists to it, and it kept growing.
There was a forum thread where one of the long-time members, FanGuy, role-played like he was hosting a dinner party and everyone could bring what they wanted. Eventually it turned into a murder mystery, just from everyone contributing what they wanted and rolling with it.
MFGG’s community wasn’t impenetrable nest of in-jokes. It was reactive. This isn’t to say that MFGG didn’t have its own invisible community norms, and it was certainly home to hostility and flame wars. Just that if you were the right fit, and if you showed up ready to participate, people would work you into the story.
I made an impression in the community for being weird and energetic. And perhaps predictably, my cavalier weirdness would end up being my legacy.
Some time in mid-2003, a new member joined named King Piranha Plant. Everyone hated him. It wasn’t fair for him. He was very young, he made terrible games, and he could barely type, but that was true of everyone else there. (Nite Shadow, a venerated oldbie, famously could hardly write a sentence.)
In August, on the Pointless Post Palace part of the forums – a section reserved for crappy nonsense and off-topic posts – KPP started a topic about Waluigi. Except he misspelled the name was Waligie. I think he was just talking about how much he liked the character, but I can’t remember. But whatever the reason, everyone thought this was hilarious. We all kept riffing about who Waligie was. We found a stock photo of a slightly-Mario-looking man with a mustache, taken via a Google image search from a Vermont Department of Health diabetes prevention website, with the filename measuring-sugar-man.jpg, and we decided that was Waligie. It was perfect.
One member of the forums, Hippoman, took the joke into his own hands. On August 15th, he posted a game, Waligie World. It was extremely short and an intentionally terrible parody of bad fangames, rife with misspellings. Waligie was a poorly edited sprite of Mario from Super Mario World made to look like the guy from measuring-sugar-man.jpg. He was on a quest to stop Bowser, who had “stolen the world.” The first stage was a single screen of platforms, about half of which aren’t solid. It’s infuriating to play. The second stage is identical, but with a tree in the background and the name “forest land.”
(In-between these two stages, there’s supposed to be a series of flashing bright lights. Because of a programming quirk in the Clickteam game-making program Click & Create, it doesn’t work, but the title screen still had a warning telling people “don’t play this game if you have epipleptic seasaws.”)
At the end, Waligie confronts Bowser, and they have an exchange, written in the Clickteam program default Windows system font:
Waligie: i never loose
bowser: you’ll have to fight might to get the stars ba
Waligie: no vilent it not the answer
bowser: ok, me good now
Waligie: damn straight
For whatever reason, Waligie World broke MFGG. It was an instant hit. We kept making Waligie jokes based on other typos, dragging more random people from an image search into it, like Waligie’s Luigi stand-in brother, Wiligie; we picked out a picture of him from a photography website, Volkstudio, that had a portrait study of a guy from Minneapolis known only as Mustachio Pete. The photo we chose looked confused and terrified.
Days later on August 19th, Hippoman released a second game, Waligie Brothers. You play as Wiligie, edited from Luigi’s updated sprite from Super Mario All-Stars + Super Mario World. The game is full of fake-outs. Touching a feather causes you to explode into a bloody cloud, with a death animation lasting close to 15 seconds before the stage restarts. The actual exit is in the back of the stage, after you fall down an inescapable pit, hidden behind what appears to be a brick wall. The second stage, the incomprehensible Ninja Land, ends with a long cutscene where you have to click a button to advance the dialogue many, many times, until it turns into “go back to 1st level” and the real button appears somewhere else, tricking you into starting the game over again.
And then at long last, you have a battle with the newly renamed “Boswer,” who immediately walks into a melon and dies.
The first two Waligie games were entirely Hippoman’s work, and despite being dumb jokes based on a typo, they had surprisingly clever moments – subverting expectations and tricking the player while also being extremely poorly made and full of things like a camel sprite in Ninja Land, inexplicably, that disappears every couple of frames.
The Waligie joke continued to pick up steam, and inevitably there was a third Waligie brother, Waluide, based on another image search-produced photo of a motorcycle collector named Dave Zappa who at one point had posted a picture on his website of himself with a gnarly beard that he even admitted “makes me look too old.” And inevitably, there was a third Waligie game, Waligie Bros 2. But this time, Hippoman called in some help.
I already had a minor reputation on MFGG for posting weird nonsense, like another Monty Python ripoff game I never finished called Mario’s Complete Waste of Time. (If you get the theme, between this and the shrubbery and the username ShadowMan, I was not particularly clever or subtle about taking things I thought were cool.) Hippoman had already been sharing the games with me as he made them, so he brought me in to help. Another community member who he recruited was Cutmanmike, who he had previously collaborated with on other joke games like Fat Sonic and, right around that same time, Fat Sonic Deluxe. (He had also put out a few games with screamer pranks in them, which the community called “The Face.”)
Together, we were the dream team to make a bad joke game, and we delivered. And I absolutely ruined it in the spectacular fashion.
Waligie Bros. 2 played about like what you’d expect. The Oompa Loompas steal Peache (not Peach), and the Waligie Bros go on an adventure to find them that takes them through an orthopedic underwear factory. (Hippoman also snuck in a level from one of King Piranha Plant’s games, largely unmodified except for the colors of the screen being inverted.) In lieu of an official Wario sprite that fit, Hippoman made the Waluide sprite by editing a fan-made Mario World-style Wario sprite by a user named Xander who uploaded it to the MFGG website.
Cutmanmike’s level in the first half of the game is a notable standout. It uses some of the default graphics included with Clickteam programs and has a midi of ABBA’s “Gimme Gimme Gimme” as the music. It’s bizarre, featuring dated music (at least for teenagers in 2003), and filled with weird sound effects. (Already from previous games, Waligie made the sound of broken glass when he jumped, and Wiligie would shout “OOGA BOOGA.”)
But after Waligie fights a giant orange, things take a dramatic turn. This was the point when I was put in charge of the game. The Waligie brothers die and go to hell, and they meet the devil, Bob Braker (a sinister version of Bob Barker), who says they “shall go to hell for your sins against humanity.” After an incredibly long cutscene in which I uncreatively stole the button trick from the first Waligie Brothers, our heroes fall into hell, which is a giant, incomprehensible, barely visible maze covered in pictures of Groucho Marx and the Price is Right logo.
The hell level is terrible. The rest of the Waligie games had been a playful, needling sort of terrible, where the joke was misaligned graphics and bad level design. Starting at Price is Right Hell, the game turns into a sledgehammer of awfulness. You have to press unexplained keyboard keys to teleport around the stage. Several of the exits on the screen are fakeouts; one of them goes to a level Hippoman designed, where you’re trapped in a desert for 5000 seconds. Price is Right Hell was loud, blunt, and constantly in your face.
Cutmanmike tossed in another level filled with random images and sound effects that, like his previous ABBA level, was clever and stupid. This one had Barbie Girl. Then it went back to me again. I kept adding terrible nonsense, like a humongous level in freefall with a shaky camera that, if you failed, would send you to an infinitely looping sub-level of hell made out of Cheez-Its boxes while "That’s Amore" plays. (It was supposed to have a hidden exit, but because I never bothered testing it, it has a glitch that prevents your escape.) I also tossed in a secret hidden in a cutscene where you could play Fat Sonic starring Wiligie, which I think I added almost entirely to suck up to Hippoman and Cutmanmike.
At the last minute, I kept jamming in more secrets, like a side quest where Wizard Man (who?) commands you to “go to upside down land and get my cow” on a quest that spans multiple inverted levels from earlier in the game. (The solution involves dying, failing the challenge, and restarting the game.) Among other weird easter eggs, including a screamer prank that stole the sound from Cutmanmike’s The Face in a second act of flattery, I also hastily added an alternate ending, which through another untested mistake was impossible to see, where the Waligie brothers become the kings of the world.
I don’t think we released Waligie Bros. 2 as its own game, at least not with all that weird bonus content like Wizard Man added. But we did release all three games as a bundle pack called Waligie Bros. DX.
The MFGG forums were extremely active at the time and filled with community playfulness, like FanGuy’s dinner party topic. But even among that activity, Waligie seemed to be a big deal. The MFGG community was no stranger to joke games, even ones that actually made it onto the MFGG website – though those ones, like the bizarre Halloween costume-themed Yoshi, Dead and Loving It! where Yoshi turns into a werewolf, were at least interested in being decent, fun games in addition to being goofy. Waligie was different. It was terrible, impossible to play, surprisingly long and dense, and expanding on a bizarre forum joke in a totally unexpected way.
It was also a joke that started at the expense of a confused kid who misspelled a name. Waligie became its own thing and grew beyond that, but the bullying aspects of the origins of the joke, especially among a community that made a point of embracing weird new people, are not lost on me. King Piranha Plant was eventually banned from the forum for other reasons. He has since gone on to become a notable YouTuber; we’ve spoken since then, and he looks back fondly on MFGG, even acknowledging that he wasn't the best and appreciating what happened with Waligie. But in hindsight, even though I loved the chaotic fun we had with Waligie, it’s concerning that the whole thing started from the community ganging up on someone, and it portends some of the toxicity at large in internet culture that would later seep into the MFGG community, in part from my participation.
The next year on MFGG was unstable. The website and forums were constantly up and down, moving around servers. Our forums were kicked off D2sector.net after someone posted pornography and our webmaster removed us; we later learned it was actually the webmaster himself, looking for an excuse to get rid of us. (The unlicensed vBulletin forum didn't help.) The same thing happened with the main website. It had previously been hosted on Emulation Zone, which also hosted our rival Sonic Fan Games HQ (we had no reason to hate them, really, but it seemed right). We were kicked out supposedly because of a complaint by the Interactive Digital Software Association, a precursor to the ESA, but Thunder Dragon suspects it was made up by the Emulation Zone webmasters because they were sick of how much traffic we were using. We were temporarily hosted by a friend of Thunder Dragon named RicWeb, then a website called Gunsha run by a guy named Masaki, who eventually deleted the site after we got a few weeks’ notice. There was a brief period when both the site and the forums were gone, and the community existed in exile on a temporary message board, AIM, and IRC. It’s a miracle we survived that, but the MFGG community was resilient. We became used to a nomadic lifestyle, maybe because we were used to being the underdog. We were making pseudo-legal fangames and banding together from the website being deleted so many times by so many people, and it gave us a rowdy, scrappy spirit that we channeled back into the games we made.
Eventually, we found permanent hosting from two people named Willy Goldwater and Retriever II. Retriever II hosted sites for a few other friends in the loose Hocus Pocus network of Mario fans and fan artists, like Klobber and a guy named Joey, both of whom joined the community.
During this time, I was promoted to a moderator by Thunder Dragon and shortly after an administrator. In late 2003 – I think October 2003 – Thunder Dragon posted a test for new potential moderators to show how they would evaluate new games, libs, and reviews submitted to the website, and apparently, I aced it. TD took a shining to me for whatever reason, and I moved up the ranks. Which put me in the awkward position of being the person Masaki gave our weeks’ notice to before he deleted the website, and I forgot to tell anyone.
MFGG continued to grow rapidly, losing some of its close-knit community feeling as it expanded. Hippoman and I had still been playing around with Waligie. He made a fun minigame collection called WaligieC as well as a few other experiments, while I had made fruitless unfinished spinoff games. We had been sharing them while we talked over MSN Messenger, and late that year, we decided: the time had arrived for a new full-fledged Waligie game.
Waligie 2, also called Waligie Allstors, matches what happened with the original game in some ways. Hippoman intended it to be a clever, even well-made game, in which you’d control all three Waligie brothers and switch between then. Each of them had an objective to track down – a piece of sugar for Waligie (since he was the measuring sugar man), a carrot for Wiligie, and a weird plant that was maybe weed for Waluide. The first few levels Hippoman designed turned out that way, and we started going back and forth on the game, each designing a level or two.
The Waligie brothers would go to hell to find their dad, Wiliggie, and get split up. Wiligie would stay in hell; Waluide went to heaven; and Waligie himself was banished to Limbog, the limbo dimension heavily inspired by that episode of SpongeBob SquarePants where Squidward’s time machine sends him to another dimension (a quick search says it was “SB-129”).
Hippoman did a great job fixing and reusing elements from the previous Waligie game, even turning the Price is Right Hell into a playable level when the Waligie brothers revisit it. But of course, not to be outdone, I turned it all to shit in even more spectacular fashion.
Everything I added to Waligie Allstors was even more chaotic than what I had inflicted in Waligie Bros. DX. In even more cases than before, it was untested, and I simply assumed it worked. Hippoman was responsible for the first half of the game again, but then I got my hands on it and made it significantly worst.
Apart from a quick cutscene where a photo of a snake kills Wiliggie, my first major contribution was a boss battle against Chef Boyardee, the ravioli mascot owned by Conagra that my family had a personal connection too. My grandfather was a businessman at American Home Products, the food conglomerate that chef Ettore Boiardi originally worked for. Supposedly my grandfather was on the team that helped purchase and market Jiffy Pop, but the most exciting part to me was that, according to my dad, he was friends with Boiardi. I don’t think I learned about my family’s connection until slightly later (I just thought he looked funny, and my brother and I had a preoccupation with food product brands), and I didn’t actually eat Chef Boyardee. But I added him as a boss battle, which eventually speeds up so fast that it’s close to impossible without extremely good luck.
(The battle is actually a reference to another fangame, the unfinished Super Mario: Legend of the Time Stopper by our former host Willy Goldwater. He uploaded a demo to MFGG which is unfortunately gone, but it was a wild example of the strange frontiers the game would have gone to. The demo had one level from early in the game, as well as a much later level, a boss battle versus a giant face coming out of a wall. Both the Boyardee and Time Stopper battles start the same way, with the final boss music from Link’s Awakening, plus the boss’s giant eyes slowly appearing and tracking the player as the fight continued. It was so ridiculous in Time Stopper, especially with the contrast between the earlier level and the giant gap between them, leaving up to your imagine what on earth happened.)
My other levels followed suit. Waluide has to face the seven deadly sins. (I was one of those people who loved random humor, so the sins were things like Eggplant and Jimmy Carter.) Hippoman contributed the levels for the sins Yellow and The Village People, though he only made the Village People level at the last minute because my original idea, an epic-scale boss battle against dragons with the heads of the Village People, didn’t work out for obvious reasons. Of my other five contributions, two of them (Ducktales and Potato) are impossible to complete because of an oversight in the level design. Another one, Monosodium Glutamate, forces you to walk across nearly invisible narrow platforms while Ronald McDonald tries to murder you, and it amazes me to this day that at least one person actually managed to complete the level because, honestly, I gave up trying to beat it while I was making it. At least the Potato level had a bizarre gimmick where the game window would move around the screen, and touching one part of the level would restart your computer. All of them, however, were filled with random pictures from Google image search, one superimposed with poorly drawn googly eyes.
(I put the MSG stage twice to show what the stage actually looks like. Keep in mind that some of those yellow platforms will actually kill you, and there's no way to know.)
I also made the Limbog section by butchering Hippoman’s perfectly good WaligieC game, rendering it both extremely hard (a concentration memory game made extraordinarily fast and difficult to control) and, again, impossible (one cannon-shooting minigame that does not have an ending at all). My theme through all this seems to have been aggressive, fast, careless development with zero playtesting.
Eventually we had to finish the game. Hippoman threw together a level for the first half of the game that takes place in the MSN Messenger window, where we were talking about how eventually we had to finish the game.
The game ends with Bob Braker returning to help you defeat the real devil, Lou Bega. After one more contribution from Hippoman, a level with penguins set to Spice Girls music, the Waligie brothers force Lou Bega back to his true form – a lemon – and defeat him in an ending cutscene largely made out of non-sequitur jokes and the one clip of Howard Dean screaming. The end.
Despite the game being literally impossible without having passwords to skip levels, people still loved it. Released on February 7th, 2004, Waligie Allstors didn’t have the same impact as the original. But because it was even more of a nightmare, at least it became infamous, and the community continued to embrace it for whatever reason. If nothing else, it’s memorable.
I’m reluctant to describe the games I made in terms of like “It’s a hit!” because it sounds like the sort of blowhard self-aggrandizing oral history that doesn’t accomplish anything. It was a hit, in sense of the audience that existed on the MFGG forums.
Waligie was finding its way into the MFGG mythology by force. “no vilent it not the answer” and "damn straight" had become catchphrases. At least one person, Knuckles T15, made his own Waligie fangames. I remember during this time having some people asking if they could contribute to the next Waligie game. One user, an anime fan named Nathan Gray who went by Hanyou, sent me an purposely bad game as an unsolicited audition, which I remember in retrospect he said was a bad idea.
As administrator, I started an event called the MFGG Awards in 2004, which were meant to highlight community achievements and great contributions from the previous year, like categories for Best Shader/Improver (for graphics) and the Most Helpful award. One of the awards was for Most Absurd Game. Kritter accused me of adding that just to Waligie Allstors would get an award. That’s probably true. It won anyway in a three-way tie with Yoshi, Dead and Loving It! and Paper Mario World, an unintentionally terrible fangame predating Waligie that had been the community’s low watermark. Waligie Allstors also tied for Best Replay Value with Bidget Ball by Duckboy. I still don’t understand why it won that one.
Re-reading the old MFGG Awards forum thread, one thing stands out. People are nasty to each other. I don’t want to write off all the earlier chapters of MFGG before I joined with a broad brush and say they were positive, because there were still people fighting and presumably getting banned. (I remember, early in my time with the community, someone bragging in a private chat about hacking another member and stealing personal files from their computer.) But there’s something about the tenor of this conversation, which I participated in, that seems vicious. Was I noticing it back then because I had finally joined and I was responsible for moderating it now, or was it actually getting worse?
The defining moment for MFGG came on August 19, 2005, when G4 TV’s Attack of the Show, hosted in this episode by Kevin Pereira and Jeff Gerstmann, ran a segment near the end of the show covering the fangame Super Mario Blue Twilight DX by BlazeHedgehog. There are clunky parts to the game, but at the time it was one of the community’s greatest achievements. It had clever boss battles, inventive ideas for levels, and it worked in graphics from Castlevania in ways that felt surprisingly organic.
At the end of the segment, Pereira and Gerstmann gave a plug for the website where you could play all sorts of Mario fangames – Mario Fan Games Gallery. Not Galaxy. So close. But it didn’t matter, they got the URL right. Traffic to MFGG surged.
This is a graph of our server activity the day after the G4 TV promotion, courtesy of Retriever II, who thought to take a screenshot of it at the time.
From 2004 onwards, the MFGG post database got so large and unwieldy that Retriever II would have to periodically purge the off-topic section. (Because of this, we’ve unfortunately lost the original Waligie topic.) From 2005 onward, MFGG experienced so much sustained, increased activity that the site would go offline for several days at the end of each month because we would run out of bandwidth. It was a huge deal. The site was enormous.
And bigger was good, right? The EZBoard days seemed like the distant past, that era when the message board banner had pictures of everyone’s characters. Nobody really had characters anymore. (For a particularly strange but telling example, an old-timer named turdlantic, who used to have a character that was a piece of poop, rebranded himself as James Bradshaw Layfield after the professional wrestler with a similar name and was eventually banned.) We started seeing more users who weren’t actually interested in making their own fangames – or even Mario – which is what bound the old community together when it was much smaller. Users like Joey, from the Hocus Pocus network. We were good friends for a while. We had a similar weird, dark sense of humor, I liked his artwork, and we made Flash animations together. He shared a lot of his art on the forums, but his main contribution to MFGG was reposting internet memes and harassing people.
I worry, looking back 15 years later, that this change is what shook the community apart. The off-topic section continued to grow in size and activity to the point where it threatened to overwhelm the fangame-related sections of the website. I liked weird, random nonsense, and I used the MFGG community as an outlet for weird random nonsense. I would change the forum skins or add music looping in the background. So that’s the direction the forums went.
On April Fool’s Day 2004, I rebranded the boards as a Waligie forum, which lasted all day and resulted in widespread chaos on the forums. It was fun, with Waligie still popular on the boards, but folks like Kritter, a long-time admin, weren’t happy. MFGG was drifting away from being a playful, community-focused game creation website for Mario fans into a general internet community, and I was partially responsible for that, and he was probably right.
Extreme, surreal humor and petty cruelty became regular features of MFGG’s forums, specifically the Pointless Post Palace section. There had been some seeds of it earlier in the MFGG’s history, but I don’t accept that it was inevitable for mid-2000s internet communities, made up mostly of young men who play games, to go down that road. (Then and now, it’s difficult to avoid discussing the influence of sites like 4chan on the forum’s culture.) Through action, inaction, and attitude – ours and mine – we allowed it to get that way. At least this is how I’ve explained it to myself looking back on it.
I don’t mean to put everything in such a harsh light, because MFGG was still such a fun, creative place. The community still had its spark of creativity and community support within it. We had art contests and minigame contests! And despite the fighting, we enjoyed each other! Some folks still told the same joke about the golden Thunder Dragon statue to the newcomers – fewer people getting in on it, but still apart of the community’s mythology. Increasingly, though, that part of the mythology seemed like pre-history. I was there long enough that now I was one of the oldbies.
People there were stopping to telling the myth. Whose history was that anyway?
The fangame content on the MFGG website continued to grow so much that Retriever II had to code a new custom website CMS to handle the enormous content submission queue (and we had to bring half a dozen people to moderate it). I don’t think we understood what was happening on the forums because the positive side of the site was growing too, and this surely just came with the bigger territory, right? But I don’t know how many proclamations I had to make on the forums about re-writing the rules or no-tolerance policies before I realized it wasn’t improving.
Hippoman and I didn’t release another Waligie game together. We had worked on a bunch of ideas for Waligie 3: On Mars, an epic finale to the Waligie series where the Waligie brothers would go to Mars and fight cantaloupe. We completed a bunch of odd levels. Cutmanmike came back and gave us one very inspired level to use that was set in a volcano with a scuba diver in it. There was gonna be a level where Waluide goes back in time to the 70s by using the Time Toaster. Chef Boyardee was going to come back to help you, and Bob Braker would even be playable for a small part of the game. Some of the sound design choices were inspired, like the cutscene with a remixed midi from Super Mario World only using the midi telephone sound. (Other music was lifted from another joke game, the Doom mod Mock 2: The Speed of Stupid.) For the most part, none of these ideas came together into anything coherent – even by Waligie standards of coherence – and the project gradually petered out. I released a chunk of what we had done as Waligie Episods, an episodic game parodying games like Half-Life 2: Episode 1 and the specifically reboot of the shooter SiN; I did intend to release more, but honestly, it’s funnier that there was only one.
At this point, despite having been in the community for several years and still actively playing around with fangame ideas, I hadn’t released an actual Mario fangame. Anything I posted tended to be a joke or a tech demo for a bigger project – Luigi’s Game, which never saw the light of day and that's probably for the best.
I remember during this time comparing my tenure as an administrator and a forum moderator to being The Punisher, which is an extremely bad thing to compare yourself to if you’re responsible for moderating a forum community. It had become a particularly nasty place; we had to ban a user (who went on to become a successful game developer) for threatening physical violence and doxxing against people who criticized him on the forums.
I finally reached my breaking point in 2007. I had banned a user named Bacteriophage, whose character is a virus. In response, I started getting threatening messages from his friends over AOL Instant Messenger, trying to coerce or threaten me into unbanning him.
It wasn’t worth it anymore. How could it be? I quit as administrator and forum moderator, staying on only as a site staff moderator. I wanted to focus on the parts of MFGG that I loved and supported because I had let the forums turn into a cesspit.
During my last year on MFGG, where I was only part of the site staff, I tried hard to promote ideas that would direct people back towards fangames. I started a Review Drive to have people write reviews for games on the website that weren’t popular or didn’t have a lot of comments. I worked with another oldbie, Yoshiman, to put together an online Nintendo fangame “convention” called NCFC, which was ragtag but brought a bunch of communities together to celebrate for a week. I had really wanted to create a shared portal for fangame communities, but I never put that together.
The fangame side of the community was going through a rough patch too. More users were switching over to using Game Maker over Clickteam products. A member of the community named Hello had created his own replica Mario physics template in Game Maker called the Hello Engine; it was outstanding, and it soon became the standard for the community. But it also became obvious when people were using the Hello Engine, and backlash ensued. The new fangames coming out felt identical, like they were level packs for an existing Mario game, and although this meant people could focus more on level design, it also meant that weirdass games like Mario Left the Cheese Out were becoming scarcer. Games like Paper Mario World, or the bad minigames that I put blood and gore into before I joined the MFGG community, were long in the past; the bar had been raised high enough for games on the website that those no longer made it up there.
Right around this time, I graduated from high school, and I was about to leave for college. I had one more fangame in me, a minigame collection called New and Tasty (once again, shamelessly stolen, this time from the Oddworld series, as a reference to how I talked to friends about it only as “something new and tasty”). I’m proud of how it turned out, and I released it halfway into my first semester in college, but that was it for me. By that point, after the second NCFC event, which I helped MC out of my dorm room, I left MFGG.
I had a smug sense of superiority about it at the time, like this was something I had gotten over. Is that why I was souring on the community? Did I just age out of it? Was it possible that everything felt wrong because I saw myself as growing up in ways the community wasn’t? It was something I wrestled with for a while. I wrote an essay about it for my college writing class, where we had an essay prompt with the theme of childhood. It required explaining what a fangame was to my professor. He was a Gen X punk band sort of professor, and although he was confused, he loved the idea of what he saw as this underground remix culture. It was the first time I had heard someone talk about MFGG from that sort of detached, artistic appreciation perspective.
Waligie wasn’t done yet. Of course it wasn’t.
Friends alerted me that Hippoman returned to the forums with a new solo Waligie game, the amazingly titled fun game; in it, waligie. It was back to the clever, silly nonsense he had liked to do before I took Waligie in such an extreme direction, and reportedly he had made some parts of it while drunk. It was like a solo album after a band breaks up, and in a way it also felt like a return to the tiny, goofy games that marked the earlier years of MFGG. Inspired by Hippoman, I decided while at college to make my own simple Waligie game again too, and I briefly returned with Waligie and the Credit Crunc, a very short and nondescript game where Waligie accidentally triggers the 2008 banking crisis. It was nice to release a throwaway game without the pressures of the community.
I was still enough of a known figure on MFGG that posting on the forums again felt like a homecoming. The fervor around Waligie had cooled by then, five years after the games came out. Most folks there still remembered me, and I knew the administrators, who were doing everything they could to right the ship.
Still, the ship sank.
MFGG underwent dramatic changes in 2009. In an attempt to figure out how to fix the state of the community, which at that point was near collapse, the admins and moderators started the MFGG Improvement Plan, which focused on simplified rules, less off-topic conversation, and a greater focus on fangames. It didn’t work.
In an effort to figure out what on earth to do, the head administrator at the time, Black Squirrel – who, incidentally, had made his own weird fangames inspired by Waligie before, as a testament to the weird influence those games had on the community – convened a group of current and former mods and administrators to a closed section of the forum to brainstorm solutions. I joined in those conversations as well, and it was so much fun to see people like Retriever II and Klobber again. And even though we were there to generate ideas, we enjoyed each other’s company again in a small, focused group. When the discussion was over, we ended up starting a private forum for former MFGG administrators. May of us remain good friends. Retriever II's real name is Justin; we make a point of visiting once or twice a year, and we've started going to video game events together.
As a result of the discussions, Black Squirrel outright deleted the offtopic forum, which by that time had been renamed the Casual Conversation Castle. The backlash was immediate.
You could make an argument that MFGG ended in late 2010, with an event that has ominously become known as The Split. The community had already splintered off in previous years into smaller subcommunity forums like The End of the Universe and MFGG Underground, a community largely made up of friends who been banned from the forums (including Cutmanmike). But this was the biggest splinter possible. To refocus the community around fangames, the general discussion sections of the boards were completely removed. MFGG became focused exclusively around fangames. The community discussion was cast off into its own separate unaffiliated forum, Minus World.
MFGG was never as big again as it was during the Blue Twilight era. Most people had already drifted away at that point, but the community slowed down significantly following The Split. But it calmed down, and it nurtured a positive, small, slow community. Looking back, that may have been the only way to survive – returning to the close-knit focus that Thunder Dragon started the site for.
I’m catching up on most of this later history thanks to the MFGG Wiki, a wiki of community history that I helped start before I left. There have been pushes to delete the MFGG Wiki since it’s a catalog of community drama that no one cared about anymore. But it’s the equivalent of writing oral traditions into a book. The mythology of MFGG had existed for years, passed down through generations that weathered the Great Kyle Flamewar, the forum and site deletions, the MFGG Awards, the minigame and art competitions. We were done telling the story, and we were all forgetting it. The time had come to write it down.
But of course, we write down what we selectively remember. My page on the MFGG Wiki mentions a throwaway joke game I made called Live in a buttock, based on a series of bad reviews someone submitted to the website. It was a tiny, crappy game, and yet because it has an entry on the MFGG Wiki, it still keeps coming up. I spoke with Jeremy Penner about MFGG on his Fringe Game History podcast, and the subject of Live in a buttock came up because that’s the written record.
Waligie became part of the myth too. Because the games were never posted to the MFGG site, there was no central place to download them, and they continued to pass through the community like rumors. Did anyone have a copy of Waligie Episods anymore? Does anyone know anything about it? It was a precursor event for the folks who still stuck around or joined following The Split. It was a legend now too.
A myth only lasts as long as people will tell it.
MFGG isn’t gone, but it’s not much anymore. As I’ve been writing this, one of the longest-serving head admins, VinnyVideo, stepped down from his position a few days ago. VinnyVideo held the community together in the years following The Split, and it’s difficult to imagine the site going on without him. It’s difficult to imagine the site going on much longer at all.
The MFGG site is still a treasure trove of games, but they’re old. The forums have become mostly inactive, with the remaining activity shifting to the MFGG Discord group. Very, very few people from my tenure in the community are still around. Maybe I hadn’t aged out of the community right out of high school, but by now I had, as had everyone else. It's an old memory for most people who went there.
Every three or four years after that, I had made another Waligie game just for fun, partly from nostalgia and partly because I wanted to play around with game-making tools again but didn’t care about making anything good. I never finished Luigi’s Game, and I never became a game designer like I wanted as a kid (that’s for the best), so it was a little opportunity to revisit that. And each time I went back to the MFGG boards and posted a Waligie game, years apart, fewer people knew what it was or cared. I think that’s for the best, but it had me reflecting on what a huge deal it was to the community in 2003 and 2004. In another era, would that have broken out on social media? Would there be a missive about it on some game journalism website? MFGG felt like a huge, important community, like we were the apex of the internet and video game culture, but there was no sense of perspective being in a self-contained forum. Was it really just that we were a small blip in the big picture of things? Did we break apart the moment we were exposed to something larger than us? Did what we were doing matter at all?
These thoughts were going through my head even as I was writing this. Why was I spending so much time, staying up late on a Saturday night writing about a joke game I made when I was 14 that didn't have an audience anymore? But I think it's significant that this is, for better or worse, what was happening in a pocket of the video game community. MFGG impacted who we were in ways that, talking with friends from MFGG, we can still notice. The experience wasn't entirely positive, and I think it's necessary to reflect on how the community came to enable the same sort of entitled, aggressive, obsessive behavior that would make video game culture a hotbed of misogyny, gatekeeping, and anger. (At least one former friend from MFGG has since become a right-wing anti-diversity extremist.) At the same time, I think about the monumental effort that went into MFGG – far more than I can possibly fit in here, which only touches the surface of the games we made and the fun, creative energy pent up in that community – and wonder what the legacy of that space is when it stops existing.
I recently grabbed dinner with friends from college, and we reshared all the old in-jokes and weird things that happened, positive or not. At that time, those were the driving energy behind our group, a group that no longer exists and can no longer exist as it did. But it mattered to me and these friends, catching up on who we were almost a decade later. I think that’s the best we can ask for, that the time we spent with each other matters to someone, that those memories stay powerful, emotional, and relevant to a close group of people, and that they can inform who we are in a constructive way that we can carry with us out into the world and into the rest of our lives.
It’s unreasonable to have expected the mythology of MFGG to be told forever. In 2005, it felt like MFGG was a beacon. We pretended we had a gold statue of the founder, for god’s sake. It was, in the grand scheme, a story where our greatest triumph was someone saying our name wrong on a live TV program, which you can only see now in a fuzzy YouTube clip, on a network that doesn’t exist anymore. But MFGG left this bizarre tapestry, assembled from libs and discarded wiki pages, told only among the people who remember it.
I mentioned to Yoshiman, now the father of a child named after a Mario character, that I was writing about MFGG for the Lost Histories Jam. He asked me to capture “the vast amount of knowledge of events, drama and sheer insanity that is the baseline of MFGG.” It was important for him to tell the story.
I joined the MFGG Discord looking for inspiration. They had a Waligie emoji. I didn’t know anyone there. I said hello.
Dragonair Nova: Whoa! Shadowman is here!
StirStir: Shadow Man
LangtonLion64: The Waligie guy
Dragonair Nova: Damn straight.
Shadsy: I'm honored, amazed, and concerned that in the annals of MFGG, I am the Waligie guy
bethany let me see the kids: its your legacy
Dragonair Nova: Well Shadow Man made a game called "Live in a Buttock" or something I forget lol.
The myth continues.
Every Waligie game ended with a credits screen thanking Thunder Dragon – a reference to how many games on the early site thanked them for the graphics libs they put together – and a link to a fake website, geoshities.com/dipstick
It took 15 years, but Knuckles T15, now calling himself Techokami and whose real name is Chris, finally registered geoshities.com. It’s now the home to all the Waligie games for as long as he’ll keep hosting it.
The Waligie games will still work on Windows 10, as long as they’re run in compatibility mode for Windows XP. But it might be easier to watch the blurry, low-resolution playthrough videos embedded in this post, which someone uploaded to YouTube just a year and a half ago, including many of the Waligie fangames. God knows it’s the only way you’ll see much of Waligie Allstors.
Waligie Bros DX
Waligie 3: On Mars (unfinished, via MFGG 10th Anniversary Time Capsule)
fun game, in it; waligie
Waligie and the Credit Crunc
Waligie and the Quest for the Golden Tresaure