If you have been living under a rock, you may not know who Mike Matei is. Cinemassacre is the home of James “The Angry Video Game Nerd” Rolfe and his friend, Mike Matei. They rip apart terrible games and have become a cultural phenomenon in the video game world. With their upcoming movie The Angry Video Game Nerd and, of course, the constant stream of new game content on Cinemassacre, Mike Matei is one of the busiest men in the gaming world.
Mike was gracious enough to take the time to talk to Nintendo Enthusiast and we picked his brain on his history, his love for Nintendo, and what he has coming up. We proudly present to you an exclusive interview with the one, the only, Mike Matei.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to Nintendo Enthusiast, Mike. We are all big fans of Cinemassacre’s work. It seems like gamers don’t know much about Mike, aside from your videos, though, so tell us a little bit about yourself.
This is a difficult question to answer, considering the majority of my time revolves around producing and editing at Cinemassacre. I am an avid collector of comic books, video games, action figures, movies, and various 80s memorabilia, and my Atari 2600 collection is currently nearing completion. I was born October and think this has contributed to my love for the fall and all things Halloween. This past year, I visited the Bates Motel, a haunted hayride, mansion, and cornfield where they try to scare the shit out of you (and it worked!). Before even entering the attraction, a guy jumped out at me in the waiting room and caught me completely off-guard. My love for the horror genre has made editing Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness a great experience and I look forward to working on the series every year.
Although many people associate me primarily with being the illustrator for the AVGN title cards, my main role at Cinemassacre has always been video editing. Aside from that, I spend time with my girlfriend, who is also an avid Nintendo fan, and we enjoy antiquing and playing video games together in our spare time. We always joke around and say that Nintendo is the sole reason we wound up together, which isn’t entirely far from the truth. As of recent, we have been playing a whole lot of Mario Kart 8 and try not to let red shells ruin our relationship. Basically, if you’ve ever made it to Ganon without the sword or managed to jump over the flagpole in Super Mario Bros., we speak the same language.
What is your favorite console of all time and what are some games you enjoy for it?
If I had to choose, it would probably be the NES. Some of my favorites include: Batman: The Video Game, Castlevania, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, Contra, Double Dragon 2, Duck Tales, Galaga, The Guardian Legend, Kirby’s Adventure, The Legend of Zelda, Life Force, Mega Man 2, Mega Man 3, Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, Ninja Gaiden, Super C, Super Mario Bros. 3, Tetris, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: The Manhattan Project.
Were you a SEGA kid or Nintendo kid growing up?
Definitely Nintendo! That reminds me. While growing up, my mom was a flight attendant. Once, when I was a kid, she brought home a copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 from Japan before it was released here in the States. For a couple of weeks after that, I was the coolest kid in school. I’ll never forget that.
You and James did a video on NintendoLand not too long ago and you recently did a review for Mario Kart 8. Are you enjoying the Wii U and the direction Nintendo is taking it, especially after E3 this past year?
I thought E3 went really well for Nintendo this year. I’m really interested to play Mario Maker. Designing my own Mario Bros. stage was something I’ve wanted since you could customize your own tracks in Excitebike! (I also liked the little references to Mario Paint they threw in there.) Also, the preview of Zelda (Wii U) looked pretty impressive. I’m really glad they’re finally making Hyrule a more open world, where it doesn’t have to load between areas. That’s been my biggest gripe with the franchise for a long time. I thought they were going to fix that with Twilight Princess. So it’s long overdue.
For me personally, the Wii U has a lot more games on it that I’m interested in playing than the Xbox One or the PS4. I bought the Xbox One around the time it launched and the only game that interested me at all was Dead Rising 3. I love zombie movies, so I figured I’d really it, but after playing, I found the controls to be really poor. Also, after the opening few missions, it really dropped off in quality.
There’s other games like Titanfall that people are raving about, but FPS aren’t really my thing. (Though I do love Doom 2 and Wolfenstein.)
For me, the Wii U has the best games by far. New Super Mario Bros U, Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, NES Remix, and Mario Kart 8 are all awesome as far as I’m concerned. Also, I had originally purchased Batman: Arkham Origins on the Xbox 360. I played about an hour into the game and then it kept crashing on me. I returned the game and got the Wii U version, which has functioned flawlessly. So that’s another big point in my book. I like the 360, but I was pissed about that.
Compared to PS4 and Xbox One, which of the three current systems do you enjoy the most and why?
I think I just answered this. But again, I prefer the Wii U. It has all the games I’m interested in. (And Smash Bros. U hasn’t even come out yet.) Also, I find the Wii U GamePad menu a lot easier to navigate than the Xbox One menu. That has to be the worst menu screen I’ve ever seen on any system. It’s so confusing. With the Wii U, if I want to watch a show I want, I click two buttons and it’s playing. I’m not trying to hate on the Xbox One, either. I still have hopes they’ll fix all the issues and it’ll end up being a great system. But as it is, I’m very unsatisfied with it.
That said, there’s room to improve with the Wii U. The main issue is the name itself. “Wii” was just never a good name to begin with. It sounds like what a two-year-old boy would say if he had to take a piss. “Mommy, I gotta go Wii!!!” Saying “Wii” out loud is just embarrassing. I never felt that way saying “Super Nintendo” or “N64.” Don’t get me wrong: the Wii U is a great system. It’s the best of this generation. But they have to find a better name.
What is the worst game you have ever had the “honor” of playing?
There have been so many James and I have played since The Angry Video Game Nerd started. The Zelda CD-i games are up there. Most people only remember the terrible animated parts from those games, but if you ever get a chance to actually play the games themselves, they are godawful. Wall Street Kid on NES is virtually unplayable. The NES game I hate the most is Back to the Future 2 and 3. That game pisses me off more than anything in the world. It has the most frustrating game design I’ve ever encountered. And I’ve play a lot of crap games. As for most boring game of all time, that honor has to go to Desert Bus. But, at least that one was a joke.
When it comes to the “console wars” of today, how do you feel it is comparable to the ones when we were growing up? I tend to feel like there was more genuine hatred between companies back in the early 90s to the console war nowadays being more fan-based. Do you see it in a similar vein?
I know what you mean about the hatred back then being genuine. I think because the SNES vs. SEGA war was the first of its kind. That was the first time gamers were ever arguing over which system was better. I am old enough to remember and I don’t recall anyone ever really getting into a fight over whether Atari 2600 or Colecovision was better.
I don’t really get involved in the console wars of today. I sincerely don’t care which company is making which game. Just create a game I’m interested in and I’ll play it, regardless of which company makes it. I have no bias towards any company. I will definitely let you know if I think something is crap, though.
What games are you currently playing now?
At the time I’m doing this interview, Mario Kart 8 is the latest thing, so that’s what I’ve been playing most. I also just picked up a Retron 5, which I have to say is an awesome system. If you’re not fortunate enough to get your hands on the original systems, it’s definitely worth getting. I’ve been playing a lot of the classics on that because it uses HDMI and looks great on my LED Television. Old Nintendo games never looked so good!
What other projects do you and James have lined up for the future? Are you going to be working on more solo projects, and if so, what do you have lined up?
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie is finally wrapping up. So after that’s done its theatrical run, it’ll be nice for James and I to be able to focus more on web content again. There are lots of plans to bring back some of our older series that have been in limbo for a while, so tune into Cinemassacre.com for that.
Thanks for the interview, Mike, it’s been very enjoyable. Anything you’d like to say to your millions of fans out there?
Thanks so much for all the support and for watching the videos. Be sure and tune in each week for a new episode of James & Mike Mondays. If there’s a game you’d like to suggest that we haven’t covered yet, contact me!
Nintendo Enthusiast would like to send a sincere thank you to Mike Matei for taking the time to do this interview!