USgamer has been doing these community questions lately and they have done a lot to stoke the fires in my own brain. This weeks question is: What was your first Mario game? This question got me thinking about my own relationship with the flagship franchise which I was introduced to early on but didn’t quite get hot and heavy with until a few years later.
When I was a child I didn’t own a Nintendo Entertainment System, unlike many of my peers. I was one of those poor flock of 80’s kids who had to listen to the cool stories, who had to watch the cartoons, and yet still bought Nintendo Power. I now look back with some longing; a desire to have been more of a gamer at a younger age than when I really got into it. I am sure that in the end I won because of all the time I spent outside with my friend poking rats with sticks or whatever.
When I was 7 or 8 the NES was huge and you couldn’t go anywhere at the time, as a preteen white kid in the 80’s, without hearing about Mario, Zelda, or Castlevania. I even got to touch some of these game when I went to my cousin’s house for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Occasionally, one of my creepy neighbors, the one who’s father/guy who lived upstairs/possible family member, would let me play his Nintendo. It wasn’t until I turned 10 and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System came out in America that I was able to finally become a full fledged member of the “gamer” community.
So, while Super Mario Bros. for the NES would have undoubtably been my first Mario game – officially. It really wasn’t the first Mario game that I became completely enamored with; that was Super Mario World for the SNES.
One of my fondest memories of playing Super Mario World on my SNES was that when I played it I was forced to play it on a small 8 ~ 10 inch black & white TV. Living in a 4 person household, in the midst of the Midwestern countryside, after having moved from Omaha, a much larger city, meant that there were a lot of people vying for TV time on our single 19 inch television in the family room. The only other option we had in our house was that little black & white TV, which nobody else wanted to use besides me.
On those all too infrequent days that I was able to plug the machine into the monstrous 19 inch color display, it was like having my eyes healed by Jesus. It looked as though the whole world was given life again. The vibrancy of the green jungles of the opening levels felt insanely rich. The ghost house levels were fun while being the slightest bit scary – the right amount of scary. Each different world was weaved together so well in that game and I feel very special for the fact that I have these two experiences with that game that on other person in the world probably has had.
I remember so many Saturday afternoons spent staring at that dull screen trying to finally make it to Bowser. When I finally made it to Bowser’s castle, my parents bugging me to get ready for church, I had to get ready for church so I only had a few minutes. We always we to church on Saturday evenings. I got to the Bowser fight. I tried two or three times before my parents were going to get really upset with me. I paused the game. When we came back from church while I was waiting for the chili to be done on the stove for dinner I beat Bowser. I am not sure if the power of Christ helped me that day or not (Being that I am an atheist, I doubt it.), but that day is one of my all time greatest gaming memories.
Super Mario World was my first Mario game. It is also the greatest of all the Mario games, not only because, objectively, it is a meticulously crafted piece of video game history, but also because of all of the personal memories that are completely intertwined in my experience with that game.