Rick And Morty Captures Creepiness Of Super Mario 64’s Face Stretch

  • Comedy
  • Science Fiction
Morty's face, contorted, in agony.
Morty's face, contorted, in agony. Adult Swim

Sorry Fargo, the best movie of 1996 was watching Mario’s face get pinched, stretched and slapped around. His head spinning in space, no neck of its own, mouth flapping up and down, the eyes following your cursor dead and empty of understanding, but awe overwhelmed all that. Millions of people first experienced the concept of virtual three-dimensional spaces with Mario’s face on the Super Mario 64 opening screen. Toy Story had come out the year before, and here was almost the same thing, manipulable with a controller that looked like the dumbest stealth fighter ever tested at Area 51. The actual game, simultaneously groundbreaking and polished enough to stand to competition for generations after, eclipses Mario’s rubber face, but what a first impression.

I can’t say for sure that Elastic Man Morty, an interactive widget on Adult Swim’s site posted late in 2016, is a tribute to Super Mario 64, but it is, right? And while it’s not the same injection of brain-zapping future Mario 64 was, it does provide an eerie, modern spin on the same creeping flesh sensation; it’s really gross. Morty looks like latex pumped with waterbed runoff. And that sound, like rice krispie treats in a wet diaper.

Fluid animator and artist David Li built the online Rick and Morty toy.

Li wrote the code from scratch and shared a few other technical details on Twitter.

As best I can tell, there’s no way to freeze Morty’s features in place temporarily, as you can do with Mario’s face, but people are already finding new ways to interact with the Rick and Morty toy, like stretching it across multiple monitors:

Expect to see a lot more grotesquerie radiating off this thing. It’s just the beginning:

One of the few bright spots in Rick and Morty’s public life — more known for Szechuan sauce mania and too many t-shirt catchphrases — has been its extensions into technology, including co-creator Justin Roiland’s virtual reality evangelism. Whether Morty’s stretchy face is innovative in any technological sense, I’m not sure, but it’s fun to play with.

Rick and Morty’s interpenetration with every facet of pop culture continues apace. But new episodes are a long way off, in the far-flung future, 2019.

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