Posted on April 10, 2013
My Top 100: #1 – Super Mario Bros.
Could it be anything else?
My previous experiences with games were fleeting, whether they were in the cart corral at Co-Op (with Centipede and Millipede) or in Baie-Sainte-Anne with our friends’ Vectrex. These were one-screen affairs that had a character moving from side to side, shooting stuff. Berzerk for Vectrex was pretty fun, and it kept my attention for a while, but aside from that, I didn’t have much interest in that kind of toy.
I was too busy with my Matchbox cars, Popples and Glo-Worms to care, I guess.
When I was finally introduced to Super Mario Bros. a year or so after the NES was released, I was suprised at how quickly the game’s world sucked me in. The colours were so vibrant, and there seemed to be secrets everywhere. There was an above-ground, an under-ground, day levels, night levels, and World 5 even looked kinda snowy.
Mario felt like he actually weighed something… if you compare Mario’s controls in SMB to those he has in Donkey Kong, I’m sure you’ll know what I mean. I didn’t know the concept of “physics” when I was little, but I definitely knew the game felt different from the rest of the ones I had played.
The idea that the screen was scrolling to the right was quite something, as well. I remember looking at the right side of the TV it was being played on, wondering where the land scrolling onto it was coming from. No longer were games confined to a single screen – this was one big world, like an interactive cartoon, waiting to be explored.
I’ve used the word “explore” a lot in my Top 100 game posts, and I truly think that my love of games comes from being able to immerse myself into the gaming world. Much like a movie or a cartoon, these are just images on a screen; once you put that controller in your hand, though, you become the character, whether it’s a first person shooter, role playing game, platformer, whatever.
I got a little too philosophical for my own taste, there. Still, it’s kinda true. If a game doesn’t control all that well, then chances are pretty good you’re not going to like it. Plain and simple. That’s where Super Mario Bros. had me right from the get-go.
Just now, while I was looking for a video to post, I couldn’t stop watching. Playing (or evidently just seeing) the game makes me happy. I think of all the trading cards, lunch boxes, t-shirts, colouring books, stickers, school supplies, and who knows what other Mario merchandise I made my mom buy over the years.
That’s why I can’t help but go back to it, time after time, just to feel like I’m 4-5 years old all over again.
I’ve already mentioned that snowy morning at our house when my sister rented an NES, as well as the time my dad got back from a work trip to Calgary with the console in his suitcase. Those are my two most vivid memories that I’ve shared in a prior post (seen here), so I’m kinda scraping the bottom of the barrel here… but here goes nothin’.
Our family friends in Shediac had a teenage son who owned an NES. After he showed me Super Mario Bros.\Duck Hunt, Renegade and Excitebike, playing NES was the only thing I wanted to do while we stayed there. I played and played, and since I was pretty terrible at Renegade, I focused on Mario and Excitebike.
They also had a teenage daughter, and she must have thought I was cute or something, because I hung around her a lot as well. She had some of her female friends over one day, and I was hanging around all of them. Now, keep in mind that I’m 4 years old. They’re all in the bedroom, talking about who knows what, and I casually stroll in to hang out with my new girl-friends. I’m not really paying any attention to their conversation, since I’m busy playing with the dog, a cocker spaniel named Sandy.
Out of nowhere, the girl says “OK Andre, time to leave. We have to change.”
I argued my point, saying I could put my hands over my eyes so that I wouldn’t see anything. It’s not like I even wanted to see anything! Besides, if the dog could stay in the room, I could stay in the room too!
She said the dog was blind, and that he didn’t have to leave. With that, she picked me up, plopped me just outside the door, and closed it in my face.
Another memory involves me waking up in the wee hours of the morning to my dad playing the game on our big TV in the living room. One of Dad’s friends was over, and he was watching him play, marvelling at how far he had gotten. He was at 8-3, which was the furthest any of us had gotten at that point. I knew it was way past my bedtime, but I stayed up to see what the level looked like.
There were lots of Bullet Bills, lots of Hammer Bros., and for some reason, in the background was a long brick wall. It looked quite intimidating, and it gave us the impression that the end of the game was near!
So, Dad managed to get to the last part of the level, but after making it past one of the Hammer Bros., got a little too confident, and lost his last life by running into yet another Hammer Bro a few seconds later. He tried again, only to die at the same spot, since there were a total of four of them lined up before the exit.
I’m sure what I thought was the “wee hours of the morning” was actually closer to 9PM, but I really did feel like I was breaking the rules to watch Dad try to make it to the next castle. For all we knew, 8-4 might not even be the last one, but finding out would have to wait another day.
So, there you have it.
When I started making posts for this countdown, part of me doubted I’d actually get to #1. I tried to stick to the “one post every day”, but it quickly wore me out. I struggled to keep the writing fresh enough to keep it interesting, so I tried to spread it out a bit.
Like butter on toast!
Anyway, I intend to keep posting to this blog as long as I have memories to share, and even if the games aren’t Top 100-worthy.
See ya ’round!