|Still Up?||Partially! Some parts of the site don't seem to work anymore, but nothing redirects to a squatter site except for the link to forums. The parts that don't work just show a blank 'Access Denied' page.|
|Other Notes||The site uses Quicktime to try and autoplay Midi files. I suggest using Firefox to view it, since it can block the plugin without any trouble. Chrome keeps automatically downloading the Midi files instead.|
The rise of independent fan wikis was a hard time for fan sites of every stripe, and it wasn't any different for Super Mario sites. While the Super Mario Wiki is an invaluable reference for all the important people and places in the Super Mario canon, it can't really match the personality of the older fansites.
When I was first getting on the internet around the turn of the millenium, my two favorite Mario sites were The Mushroom Kingdom and Super Mario Bros HQ. Both sites were a combination of information about the games and fan generated content; TMK leaned heavily on the information and reference side of the scale, while with SMBHQ the real stars of the show were the sprite comics (the first ever sprite comics on the internet, even!) and fan fiction. The Mushroom Kingdom, for what it's worth, is still chugging along today, although I am disappointed that the few less serious parts of the site have gotten scrubbed away at some point in the last decade or so. That's more than I can say for the Super Mario Bros HQ; after trying to eschew their fan subsites in an attempt to match the Mario Wiki as an information site, SMBHQ suffered a fate I can only describe as Death By Poker Ads. Thankfully the two parts of the site worth saving have been mirrored elsewhere, but it's still a sorry state for one of my childhood sites to be in.
However, this page isn't about these sites. It's about a Mario site that, from what I've seen, didn't ever feel threatened by the Mario Wiki's presence, and probably never saw it as a threat at all. That's because while other fan sites were a more even mix of information and fan content, this was a site that put fan content first and foremost; even the 'information' on the site was submitted by its users. This was a self sustaining community that kept itself going well into 2012, and still lingers on after the main site went defunct. This is Lemmy's Land.
Lemmy's Land comes from the era where websites didn't always call themselves websites. They were given names that implied physical locations. In the case of Lemmy's Land, the site fashioned itself as an amusement resort within Lemmy Koopa's kingdom. For the uninitiated, Lemmy Koopa is a Koopaling, one of six henchmen (and one henchlady) that work under King Bowser in various Super Mario games, starting with Super Mario Bros. 3. Although they've made a resurgance in more recent games in the series, they were a rare sight for a good long while. During that absence, the only real characterizations the Koopalings got was in the various Super Mario cartoons, where they were Bowser's children (something Nintendo would much later go on to deconfirm).
If that all seems like a lot to wrap your head around, just you wait. While Lemmy's Land is ostensibly a Super Mario fansite, it has taken the characters from the games and run with them to the point where they are entirely new characters. While this isn't anything new for fan fiction, what's unique here is that these new characterizations are, for the most part, consistent throughout the site, despite the content being written by various different authors.
This standardization is mostly helped along by the section called 'Morton's Basics', which doubles as an overview of the the characters in the site and an overview of the site's rules. Without getting too much into it, the Koopaling's characterizations are basically what they are from the cartoons, with a few features exaggarated and then some extra affinities thrown in based on whatever level they were the boss of in Super Mario Bros. 3. For example, Larry Koopa said he was The Emperor of Eavesdropping one time, so he is obsessed with being sneaky and spying. Larry was also the boss of Grass Land, so he is an avid botanist. It's not much, but 'sneaky plant enthisaist' is more personality than Larry has had anywhere else, so more power to them. Not every character has had such a significant overhaul; Roy Koopa, the sunglasses wearing bully of the Koopalings from the cartoons, is pretty much identical in Lemmy's Land, not having any real affinity to his conquered level of Sky Land.
The only real eyebrow-raising part of the Basics section is the chronological order the site puts the official games in. Certainly with a series that actively fights against continuity like the Super Mario series there's no real evidence that Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Luigi's Mansion DIDN'T take place between Super Mario Bros. 1 and Super Mario Bros. 2, but it still just feels weird to me. The real motive behind the timeline being arranged this way can be seen at the bottom of the page, which puts the games featuring the Koopalings as the more recent games in the timeline. For what it's worth, this part of the site seems to be mostly ignored, or at the very least it's never directly addressed; I'm just a little amused by the mental gymnastics used to conclude that Bowser. Jr in Super Mario Sunshine is actually Ludwig von Koopa as a child. It's more coherent than Hyrule Historia's Zelda Timeline, anyway.
Besides Morton's Basics, the other page suggested for newcomers is called Little Lemmy's Land, which is meant to be a 'best of the best' listing for the site. Not every section is featured Little Lemmy's Land, so I imagine that the ten sections listed on the page were meant to be the real highlights of the website.
The lion's share of Lemmy's Land is fan generated content, and the lion's share of that fan generated content is writing. That writing is spread out across several different categories, each with its own section. Besides a catch all Fun Fiction section, there's a section for short funny stories, interviews, biographies, mysteries, and ideas for video games. I have a bit of a soft spot for that last section, since there's nothing more pure and earnest than a child's idea of what the best video game ever would be, even if their idea is a boxing game. The Mysteries section of the site also deserves special mention for being a part of the site that still works, even in its defunct state; if you are logged in, you can attempt to solve the mystery. If you give it a try, I would suggest using a throwaway email and password for your account; from what's written on the create an account page, it doesn't sound like the passwords are especially secure.
The Little Lemmy's Land section for Fun Fiction is a good snapshot of the sort of stories that were popular on the site, and they are varied enough to span a few categories. Some of them are cute simple stories, the kind that start with things like 'One Morning', and some of them are obviously meant to be very dramatic and dark (but not TOO dark; this is still Super Mario fan Fun Fiction after all). There aren't any dates listed next to the stories so I have no easy way of confirming this, but I would bet that the simple one-off stories were added to the site early in its life, and the dramatic multi-chapter epics came years later. However, I have absolutely no problem placing a date range for another set of stories, which are Game Show Parodies. The shows that were parodied, like Survior and the Amazing Race, put their creation very firmly around the early 2000s. There are also a few collaborations among several authors, including "Super Mario BROTHERS 64", which is probably my favorite entry on the site if only for its sheer scale. It's a retelling on Super Mario 64, except Luigi is there, and there is an individual chapter for every single star in the game, including the ones that are just getting 100 coins.
Something I noticed going through the stories, including the stories deemed good enough for Little Lemmy's Land, is that a lot of them aren't finished. Not exactly, anyway; a lot of them have something called Trimmings, which are a concept I have never heard of before in fanfiction. A Trimming is when a story that has been ignored or abandoned by the author is finished by someone else. It's essentially fan fiction of fan fiction, a concept that isn't that unheard of, but it's usually not billed as (or accepted as) the actual continuation of the story like it is here. In some cases, the Trimming part of the story is even bigger than the original part. I can't help but wonder if everything unfinished on the site was considered fair game after a certain period of time, or if the original author had to explicitly state it was okay for their story to be finished like someone else. Like having an organ donor card but for words!
Besides teaching about the people and places in Lemmy's Land, Morton's Basics also describes the rules of conduct for the site, including something called Koopaling Votes. They were the currency of the website, and although they are meant to be a way for a user to vote on which Koopaling is their favorite the site itself says that it's mostly a meaningless number that people like seeing go up, which is honest if nothing else. Koopaling Votes are also used to determine if you can become a VIP member; you need 25 of them to become a 'Super Koopa', although you also need to demonstrate that '[your] submissions have improved the site'. It's a good thing that second qualifier is in place, because it seems like it's really easy to get 25 votes. Besides assumedly earning them for approved submissions, there are several other places on the site that just give them out, including a casino. Naturally most of them are unusable now that the side is abandoned, but a few still work correctly as long as you're logged in, such as the Mysteries section that I mentioned earlier. Of course, it might not be a bad thing that it's easy to get to the magic number of 25; if it's attainable and all you needed was to demonstrate that you were an active and productive member of the site, it could very well have kept people contibuting to the site throughout the years.
If there was one significant issue with the site, it's the one that was the site's undoing; it was all centered around one person. Certainly there are parts of the site that are automated, and I'm sure the chatroom and forum had other members acting as moderators, but for the site itself every update of Lemmy's Land was done by Lemmy himself. If other people had the ability to update the site I can't find any evidence of it. I can only assume that when Lemmy lost interest with the site is when the site went under, and it must have been a shock for the users of the site. What's curious to me is that the site is still up, despite that it isn't being updated. Maybe the bandwidth costs are low enough that it's still okay to keep it up? That said, I've noticed a few sections of the site have stopped working as I was writing this article, only returning an 'Access Denied'. Maybe it's a temporary thing, but if not, you should enjoy the site while you can.
Lemmy's Land is definitely a product of its time; usually when people use that term it's meant to excuse poor behavior, but in this case I mean it in a positive way. The site has a charming earnestness to it; users collaborating and adding to each others stories wasn't just accepted, but encouraged. I'm sure I'm sugarcoating things a bit, and the site's community had its fair share of misunderstandings and problem users, but they weren't significant enough to be mentioned on the website. For as long as it remains on the internet, it will be a shining example of what fansites used to be.