This week we look back at an interview I did on January 5th, 2018. I talked with Sami Cetin of the UK about his world records on Mario Kart. This in depth article gives a great summary of his gaming career and opinions of the gaming community.
Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Sami Cetin (UK) who currently is displayed on card number 482, from the Superstars of 2013 Collection. Sami is one of the World Record Holders at Super Mario Kart SNES. In 2012 he won the World Title that was held in France. He also manages the Super Mario Kart Time Trial World Rankings since 1998 at www.mariokartplayers.com/smk/ . A collector of Nintendo games, he has over 200 boxed games among various Nintendo consoles in his collection. Some of his Guinness World Records include Super Mario Kart Mario Circuit 1 PAL version – 57.90 seconds & NTSC Version - 55.97 seconds. Sami has been training his niece for many years to be a Super Mario Kart Champion herself and is also among the fastest players of the World.
When did you first meet Walter Day and where was it at?
I first got to know Walter in late 1999 / early 2000 when him and the Twin galaxies team found our Super Mario Kart community and the partner site for Mario Kart 64 and wished to link up from there to help provide additional content for any upcoming books / projects. Then I had the opportunity to meet Walter Day in person in August 2005 at Fairfield Halls, Croydon, South London, UK (near where I live). It was a retro gaming event where several of the Twin Galaxies crew were there, including Billy Mitchell, Doris Self. I also had a very nice chat with Perry Rodgers who was due to have a Galaxian Showdown then with a British Gamer, Gary Whelan. However, Gary was apparently unwell at the time and couldn't attend the event. I have been in touch with Walter since then and really hope to meet him again.
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
Il give you two, he is an 'Angel', as he is such a nice guy and everyone who has met him has said the same.Secondly the 'Founder' as he is where it all began with videogame competition and I always look back to remember that and how far things have come now.
What is your favorite portable gaming device and why?
Game Boy Advance was brilliant as it was close to being a portable SNES and had many great games on it. The Nintendo DS line was also fantastic and has been well received by everyone.
Do you prefer PC or Console gaming and why?
Console gaming as it has been easier to set up, plug and play and have had to wait a long time for loading / setup and issues with PC games. However, I have played some good PC titles in the past and really enjoyed mainly in the early to mid-1990s. I was also a big fan of the Microsoft Flight Simulator Series, something that was only possible for PC.
What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?
Super Mario Kart SNES mainly but i have played other Mario Titles, Donkey Kong, Zelda's, Final Fantasy etc. I like platformers but also those with a deep story. For competition a racing game like Super Mario Kart has been good where I can do Time Trial.
If you could own one arcade game or pinball game, what would it be and why?
Original Arcade Cabinet with Donkey Kong, inspired by the King of Kong story plus it being the first Mario game and I am also a fan of the Donkey Kong character.
Which console company is your favorite and why? Nintendo, Sony, Sega, or Microsoft?
Nintendo because of Mario, it just called to me more than any other. In school there was a divide of fans between Nintendo and Sega. The majority seemed to prefer the latter, so I am really glad that Nintendo continued to be successful.
What does it take to be a Video Game Journalist?
Perhaps having a good all-round knowledge of different types of games and speaking to a variety of gamers as well. I think having your own project for a time writing about the games you love or a specific game can help.
How does video game music influence games past and present?
The tunes in video games are so catchy and there are even orchestras for such things such as Zelda. The number of videos on YouTube dedicated to video game music and those doing their own covers is amazing. I often listen to things at random.
Do you remember your first video game / arcade you played and what do you remember about it?
Probably the earliest thing I may have tried were some old decision-making games on Apple computers at school when I was 5 or 6. The purpose was probably for learning to read. At some stage later, I had played Super Mario Bros. NES on my aunt's friend's console, plus my cousin got a Commodore 64 which had various games on it. Then in 1991 when it was near the end of its life cycle I got my own NES with Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt which was the first thing I owned, then I started a big collection from there, mainly on the Super Nintendo which was my main console I focus on for Super Mario Kart SNES competition the year after.
What is your favorite singe player game and favorite multiplayer game?
Super Mario Kart SNES on both counts, for Time Trial and the Worldwide Multiplayer competitons without a doubt.If I had to choose a second game after that for single player, it would probably be between Super Mario Bros 3, Donkey Kong Country and Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games? How do you compare them to older, classic games?
The simplicity and hand-eye co-ordination plus technicality of the classic games cannot be matched. I love the later generation of games for nice story and graphics however I keep returning to the classics more.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a Video Game Trading card?
No I didn't, but I always had a vision since the mid-1990s that I would meet the best players of the World for Super Mario Kart SNES and after starting the World Rankings in November 1998, currently on http://www.mariokartplayers.com/smk/ this came to be true :) Being on a Video Game Trading card is a wonderful idea.
Have you ever received any media coverage for your appearance on the Trading Card? If so, where?
Not specifically for my personal appearance on the card as i know there have been so many. But I have had other media coverage from Guinness World Records in their books from 2012 - 2015 region plus various other gaming communities and Nintendo Life.
Are video games aimed mainly at children, adolescents or adults?Back in the day it seemed to be aimed at the younger crowd, I was asked when I was 16 when I’m going stop playing games. Maybe that was the expectation? But i believe that in this day it is for all ages. Especially Smart phone apps with games I do see everyone taking part and enjoying games.
Do you believe some Video Games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?
I have seen discussions on this before and there may have been television documentaries in the past regarding violence in video games. One point I remember being raised was that there have been violence in movies as well and for a lot longer in the past before video games became popular. I don't enjoy violent video games, as I prefer to focus on platformers, racers and adventure games which just have a moderate amount of action.
Do you prefer playing video games alone, against friends or online against the world and why?
Playing online is an amazing invention as you can literally compete vs anyone. In person though is better as you can watch them in front of you and feel the tension there as it is done live. We have World Championships for Super Mario Kart SNES and it is wonderful to play. But also to meet the people. It is the players that make the competition fun and to meet great people from around the World. We have made great friendships this way that will be for life.
Which company makes the best games and why?
I would say Nintendo but that is because I am a fan. I think there are good games from all companies. Capcom have been very successful with the Street Fighter series. Square Enix for Final Fantasy. Too many to mention they are all so good.
Are video games good for relieving stress?
Some say that it stressed players out but that is down to the player, for me even with competition it is like an escape, so definitely yes it relieves stress. I can go to that place to get away from daily life and enjoy the virtual world for a while. I am sure everyone feels the same. It is very addictive indeed.
Do you like it when Hollywood makes a movie from the video game?
I am certainly happy to hear if Hollywood are willing to make another video game into a movie. If they can keep it faithful to the particular storyline as well that will be good.
Who is your favorite video game character and what makes that character special?
Mario, such a simple but clever idea for a character that has grown on us for so many years. Mario can go anywhere, from platformers to racers, and much more. He has been enjoyed from generation to generation so far and I remember reading in an old survey that Mario was more recognizable than Mickey Mouse.
What springs to mind when you hear the term ‘video games’?
Hours and hours of fun to put it simply, being able to interact with something on the TV rather than just watching. It was a step forward from watching VHS tapes back in the day, you could plug in a cartridge / tape and play a game.
Of these five elements video games, which is the most important to you and why? Gameplay, Atmosphere, Music, Story, Art style
Difficult one; I’d say the least important is the Art. Graphics itself doesn’t make a great game. The Gameplay is probably the most and the thing that makes the last ability. Atmosphere and Music go together I would say but not always essential and story depends on the type of game.
Do you find boss battles to be the best part of a video game?
Sometimes, if they are not overly difficult or too easy. But usually i will enjoy the whole game as it is.
If you can design your own game, what would it be about and who would be the main character?
I haven’t really thought of this, but a modernized Mario Kart game with the exact controlling mechanics of the original, or something similar to the 3d adventure games like with Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong. Perhaps with a brand-new character and they go on an adventure of some sort which will be a life changing journey. This has been done before I suppose many times, but something original could be written perhaps.
Do you learn anything from playing video games?
Focus and discipline, patience and improving hand eye co-ordination. Also, educational purposes. Further up I said i was a fan of the Microsoft Flight Simulator series; on top of learning about civil aviation aircraft it also improved my Geography skills regarding cities for example. There is a lot of numerical activity as well, so video games and Mathematics were also linked.
Are you still involved with gaming today, and what role do you play?
Super Mario Kart SNES; I am the World Record Holder of Mario Circuit 1 with 57.90 seconds on PAL and 55.97 seconds on NTSC. This is the first race track in the entire Mario Kart series so an iconic record to hold. I hold some other records on the other tracks and my colleagues abroad are faster on the rest. I am the overall UK Champion and also manage and update the Time Trial World Rankings site for Super Mario Kart SNES every week since November 1998(!) on www.mariokartplayers.com/smk/ providing weekly updates on my Twitter now: @SamiCetinSMK
Where do you see video gaming in the next 20 years?
Who knows, there is a lot more on Smart Phones, graphics may improve though only if the technology is there. More online activity and interaction. But I hope that live meets can still be encouraged so that it is not just playing online from home or WIFI. Bigger ESports growth would be good.