Friday, August 14, 2009

Super Mario Brothers



*Let me just offer this as a legitimate and all-excusing disclaimer: I am not, nor do I claim to be knowledgeable about video games in any way. Please don't take my word for it on any technical points by any means. I don't know the names of the versions and all of the release dates. Please accept my humble offering of Mario love. Thank you.

I like that we all just accept it as fact that a stubby little Italian guy with a face-consuming mustache battles obstacles and adversarial Koopas to rescue Princess Peach (nee Toadstool). Even as I'm typing it, a small part of me is still thinking, well, of course, it makes perfect sense. Mushrooms give you power and flowers give you fireballs and if you shimmy down a tube, you enter the mysterious minus world where the coins make that satisfying "ding" with each collection. Duh. Everyone knows that.

Mario and all of his spin-offs have become such a ubiquitous part of our culture that we're all willing to go along with that plot line and say, yeah, why not? That's just the way it is. Have you ever tried describing a video game to someone who had never played a video game? You'll find that this intricate gamer world that you navigate without question is probably the most bizarre thing they have ever heard. It's the delightful escapism of video games: they're not the real world, nor do they pretend to be grounded in it. In this world, anything goes, and you always get to play the hero. Where do I sign up?

I admit I was not much of a Nintendo aficionado growing up. Not for lack of want, but more for lack of brothers. My parents never saw fit to buy my sister and I our own video game system, though we were allowed to play Mario and Tetris on my mom's Gameboy. Before you pooh-pooh my shaky gamer credentials, let it be noted that my mom used to bring me to work and in order to escape the tedium I'd sneak of to play their giant arcade game of Super Mario Bros. Don't ask me why they had this in a nursing home. I don't know. It makes no sense, so the only explanation was that it existed solely for me to delight in the incredibly addictive world of Mario. I appreciate the gesture, but did you have to put it next to that weird aviary thing? The chirping is sort of distracting.



This was the version I played, though admittedly with less skill. I still love that music. It's so satisfying when you get to that flag. Such joyful beeping. Ah, the memories.


I have also spent the last 30 minutes playing Super Mario Bros online here. Under the guise of doing research, I found myself cursing aloud over missed coin opportunities, unintentional mushroom collisions, and failure to catch a falling star. It just isn't the kind of game you can play halfway. It's all or nothing, and in most cases, it was all.

In the 80s and 90s, video games had a far different look and feel than video games of today. The violence was more lighthearted, our aims more simplistic, and our graphics admittedly more pixelated. That's not to say the games weren't complicated. The Mario games alone were a world unto themselves. On the other hand, our hero was a stocky Italian-American plumber sporting flamboyant red overalls. I guess we'll just have to take Nintendo's word for it that he's fully qualified for such a hefty task.

Mario and his younger brother Luigi were residents of the Mushroom Kingdom. As the name implies, their homeland was indeed a monarchy, home of our beloved Princess Peach (or Toadstool, depending on which version you're looking at). I have to admit, I am such a girl. I always loved the Princess best. I always liked Super Mario Bros 2 because you had the option of playing as her, and she was a pretty awesome hoverer. In other versions, I was nowhere near adept enough at Nintendo gameplay to actually ever make a legitimate rescue (or, let's admit, even come close) but I did totally reach the Princess in Mario Teaches Typing. I kicked ass at that game.*


I like the way they claim this version (Super Mario World) is "more realistic". Do explain.

For some reason, when their beloved Princess is in peril the kingdom turns not to some sort of qualified combatant but rather to our little mustachioed plumber in overalls. You literally get to root for the little guy. Mario is tiny. Bite size. Pocket size. Fun size. You get the picture.

Mario was originally known as "jumpman", which is not particularly surprising when you observe his vertical bounce prowess. As a player, jumping became our major means of defending ourself and obtaining valuable powers and weaponry. Our journey is treacherous; weird creatures throwing crap at us, knocking us off of things, and generally standing in the way of our honest and decent quest. When those crazy turtle-bird dealies** started ricocheting back and forth and threatening to knock me off my little brick walkway, I was pretty much toast.

This is probably the coolest thing I've ever seen. I'm aware that this confirms my status as a huge nerd, but that does not in any way stop me from coveting this cake

We braved underwater levels, underground levels, sky levels, warp land, and all sorts of other exotic video game worlds to rescue our fair princess. For those of us caught time after time with a disappointingly premature death (read: me playing the flash version online right now), the game was endlessly frustrating. The sheer joy at beating a level was the ultimate triumph, while the crushing disappointment of being killed yet again by that same stupid fall was the ultimate defeat.

While most kids fought their way through and persevered, showing their hard-working earnestness and goodness of spirit, I was not among them. I was more the type to say, screw it. I'm going to play Duck Hunt. I get a gun in that game.***






*Yes, I recognize that a typing game is notably dorkier than a video game and achievements are thus far less admirable. Thank you for pointing that out.
**I'm aware that there's got to be some real name for these things
***Can you believe it? A gun!

28 comments:

Mike K said...

For a girl, your video game prowess is quite impressive :) Your blog is the absolute BEST!!! I wish I could tell everybody :)

outpostroad said...

I am SUCH a Mario fan! I think I've played every Mario game ever made until the Wii came out because it's too damned expensive.

Freck said...

Omg, I love Mario Bros. I'm going to go pull out my N64 (I know, I know, not the same) tonight and play some Mario Kart...

This post is awesome.

Optimistic Pessimist said...

I still play this...only on the wii!

lovelila said...

I love Mario Bros.! Luigi is my fave, though, even though once they developed his personality, they made him a big wimp. *sigh*

Anyway, I love playing the NES game, it was the first video game I owned and now I have it on my Wii! To this day, I don't have enough patience to actually figure out the 8th castle maze. I just quit and declare victory anyway. Haha!

That cake is awesome, by the way!

ReRe said...

just looking at this made my heart smile! this and duck hunt -- that's what i want to do in heaven!

Jaime | Fast Times said...

That cake is, without a doubt, the coolest cake in the history of the universe.

Carol said...

Nick downloaded the old Mario brothers game onto his xbox!

Badass Geek said...

I sucked hardcore at this game.

Andhari said...

I used to play this all the time at computer lessons in school lol ignoring the teacher the whole time!

Valerie said...

I wasn't allowed to play video games at home. Subsequently, when I went to friend house, I was very bad at super mario and was made fun of

for the love of pictures said...

I love this game. I will freely admit that I have devoted way too many hours to Mario over the years :)

Lil' Woman said...

Super Mario Bros. 3 was my shit! :) Like you saw on my blog if I ever have a son his room WILL be decorated in super mario bros. : )

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

LOVED Super Mario Bros!! I just can't play the new-fangled games like Xbox and Playstation the way I could play super mario!!!

Mrs EyeCanSee said...

Loved the mario bros. I had the original 3 in the SNES version...until I went away to college and my mom took it upon herself to sell it in a garage sale. Needless to say....I was pissed. The N64 just doesn't compare.

Hanako66 said...

I remember the pure frustration the first time I received the message "the princess is in another castle!!!"

loved this game

Tracy-Girl said...

we still play the old old version of this game!! :) LOVE it! definitely stuck in the 90s with this one!

Lauren From Texas said...

i remember playing this all day. not stopping to get dressed, eat, or anything. i was OBSESSED.

Kristen said...

oh I LOVE super mario brothers. You can actually download it on your wii and play it with a remote control, but no I have never done that & didn't attempt to keep playing until I beat it and certainly did not get all excited as this was the first time I actually beat the entire game myself, nope not at all! :)

Nic said...

I LOVED Super Mario! And Sonic the Hedgehog, remember him? He was the coolest!

Shoshanah said...

I want that cake! Yum

JGIWC said...

YES! I have been praying and waiting for this post!

Lily G. said...

Super Mario Brothers!! I used to play this all the time.

Andy said...

If Mario Bros. were introduced for the first time today, health and family advocates would be screaming about how they are poor models for children because of their obesity, use of magical shrooms and chauvinism.

Good thing it came out two decades ago, when it could be awesome and not overanalyzed.

mollymouse said...

MARIO TEACHES TYPING!!! I loved that game. I also had the version of Mario Bros. that is in the first video... I don't know HOW that person beat the whole game in FIVE MINUTES! too awesome.

Anonymous said...

The turtle-birds are called Para-troopas. The ones that do not fly are Koopa-troopas.

Anonymous said...

I too preferred duck hunter and while I was horrible at Mario in general for some reason I was the only one who could get through the dungeon levels (battles with Kuppa) in one life. Also can I just say, Mario is Missing, that game was hard.

Richard_Keef said...

Ah, Super Mario Bros was definitely the coolest. Sonic was cool, but not as good as Mario. Although, now their worlds collide in Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games! I'm still hoping for a proper joint outing of the platform variety though. That would be amazing if it was done right.

Digg This!