Since 2015, pannenkoek2012's extremely detailed videos about Super Mario 64 have become notorious. His phrases about parallel universes and half-button presses have become well-known memes on the internet. Despite millions of views, however, pannenkoek2012 seems to be going through something of late, and his audience has noticed.
The last video pannenkoek2012 uploaded to his channel, "Watch for Rolling Rocks - 0.5x A Presses (Commentated)," is now a year old. You might remember it as the video where a guy explains the incredible process of beating a Mario 64 level without ever jumping. The video went on to accrue 2.1 million views.
It's been long enough since that video that you might be forgiven for believing that pannenkoek2012 has abandoned Mario 64, but that's not the case at all. This entire time, the YouTuber has been uploading to his secondary channel, UncommentatedPannen, where he distributes rawer footage showcasing his research — all without commentary.
Many viewers are delighted to see under the hood, but pannenkoek2012 has also gained an audience that is primarily there for jokes. Commenters often ask pannenkoek2012 when he's coming back to the other channel, or make the same tired reference to parallel universes, as if to remind him, hey, remember the thing that made you famous?
"Panenn... Please... I wanna hear your voice once more... be merciful and make a commentated video?," one viewer pleads.
"It's been nearly a year, it's going to be hard to save your channel," another wrote.
"But first we need to tlk bout prllel universes," someone joked on a completely unrelated video, because of course.
Thanks to comments like that, a months-old imgur has started circulating among fans. The image collects a number of depressing comments supposedly made by pannenkoek2012. They paint a picture of a content creator who is burned out by his popularity, if not sick of how people flatten his love for the game into the same old jokes.
I scoured dozens of pannenkoek2012's videos and while I couldn't find all of the referenced comments in that imgur, I can confirm that at least a few of them are real. A year ago, for example, pannenkoek2012 detailed how he made the infamous Rolling Rocks video during a really difficult time in his life:
I'll let you in on the secret backstory of the rolling rocks video. Back in January, I got into a fight with my parents, which left me in a really bad mood. Like a really bad mood. I wasn't on speaking terms with my family, I didn't feel like seeing my friends, and I didn't feel like doing anything fun at all. So because I was so miserable, I wasn't in the mood to have any fun with my time, so I figured it'd be best to just convert all my time to productivity, i.e. by making videos.
So for 11 days straight, I devoted all my time and mental faculty to making that rolling rocks video. From waking up to going to bed, all I did was work on it. In the shower, while going to bed, while eating - I would just be thinking about what to do next and ways to improve what I had already done. I had no distractions because I wasn't talking to anyone else or going anywhere - I could spend 24/7 in complete isolation in my room just working.
That allowed me to conceptualise the whole video in my head and figure out exactly what to do to make the video coherent and informative - what would be explained when, what visuals to make, what jokes to make, how much detail to go into given the time constraints of the video, what the clearest way to present information was. It was a miserable existence for me, but there was nothing else I felt like doing because of my bad mood.
Eventually I could have gotten rid of my bad mood, but I deliberately prevented it from subsiding because it was helping me get the video done. And so those are the circumstances that led to the creation of the rolling rocks video - a monument of my torturous ordeal. So now when someone says, "please make another video like this one!", I just think, "please don't make me go through that again..."
It's not surprising to hear that a video like that takes a lot of effort. Pannenkoek2012's work is extremely detailed, and he probably knows the game better than Miyamoto himself. But people often only get to see the end product of a creative work, not the toil that went into it.
Most fans begging for more videos like Rolling Rocks have no idea what misery went into creating it. They just want more content, more entertainment, more memes.
Pannenkoek2012's standards for what qualifies as a main channel upload are high, which is part of why he doesn't upload too often. But, part of what's keeping his productivity down seems to be how meme-ified his content has become, judging by some of his responses on YouTube:
Pannenkoek2012 did not respond to requests for comment, so we can't say for certain how he feels about the memes. If the imgur that fans share with one another is to be believed, Pannenkoek2012 allegedly dislikes that people make so many jokes about his Rolling Rock video.
For content creators, especially those on YouTube and Twitch, such woes might sound familiar: well-meaning fans can sometimes run a thing into the ground, thereby ruining it for everyone. In this specific case, there's a nebulous quality to how Pannenkoek2012 became an internet staple among video game fans.
When the Rolling Rocks video became famous, you could never tell if people talking about it genuinely liked it, or if they considered it absurd, perhaps too obsessive for its own good. Maybe it was a little of both. Whatever the case, you can't blame Pannenkoek2012 for stepping back from the limelight even if it leaves confused fans looking for answers in the comments to his secondary channel:
A recent conversation on a Pannenkoek upload — part of the confusion is that he hardly replies to anyone anymore.
Some commenters hope the YouTuber will return, and are offering encouragement to remind the YouTuber that some people do value what he does on its own merits.
"Pannen, I know it may seem like your viewership are people who are here to laugh because these videos are big fancy memes, but I know there are people out there who appreciate your work for what it is and use the knowledge for its purpose," one commenter wrote. "Never forget that."