Illustration by Tarush Mohanti
PLAYING WITH POWER.
“It’s Mario time!” In celebration of MAR10 Day (SUPER MARIO BROS. DAY), SFR is sharing one critic’s opinions of the Top 5 MARIO moments in their life. It’s tough to narrow it down to just 5 moments since there are so many classics that didn’t make the cut, but hey, “let's-a go!”
SUPER MARIO BROS. 3 (1988)
At 8 years old I won my first video game system and a gaming controller has been attached to my hip ever since. The bet was over one of the undercard fights in the classic 1988 Tyson vs. Spinks. 10 bucks on the winning round earned the respect from the grown-ups in the room and allowed me to purchase a used Nintendo (NES). Now I was playing with power!
Cut to my 9th birthday and the new SUPER MARIO BROS. was being released. I had already mastered MARIO 1 and 2 and had studied the MARIO 3 Nintendo Power guide front to back, memorizing every collectable, world map and how to get a star for more 1-ups when exiting a level. I was ready. My best friend came over and it was a weekend marathon.
This game had it all. Dueling battles that harkened back to the arcade MARIO BROS., epic boss battles, themed worlds that took Mario to the next level and a lovable Kuribo’s Shoe to hop around in! After 48 hours the results were two very tired kids that couldn’t wait to tell their friends at school about World 4 (BIG world) and nefarious World 8 Battleships, especially Bowser’s Navy that I highly recommend saving a P-Wing for to beat.
SUPER MARIO WORLD (1991)
At 11 years old I already had a NES, Gameboy, Genesis, Game Gear and a Sega Master System. I wasn’t spoiled, I was just really good at saving my allowance.
In 1990 the Super Nintendo (SNES) was released and I had to get it. It was a one and a half year journey saving money and staying away from the quarter gobbling arcades. Cut to 1.5 years later and I had enough to buy the SNES with two controllers and was formally introduced to the lovable dinosaur, Yoshi.
I beat SUPER MARIO WORLD in a week, but it wasn’t enough. I kept going back to this game. The games producer, Shigeru Miyamoto had outdone himself again. You can say what you want about video games, but the core value for anyone playing is to have fun. SUPER MARIO WORLD captured that and so much more. The grown-up version of myself may or may not still own his original SNES plus this game along with a bunch of Yoshi Amibos. If you haven’t introduced your kids to MARIO, this is the one to start with as the game control holds up better than in MARIO 3.
MARIO KART 64 (1996)
I had played and mastered the power drift in SUPER MARIO KART on SNES in 1992, but nothing prepared me for my first taste of what being a “grown-up” could be in 2000.
In a dingy apartment in North Hollywood, a group of 21-year old film students would pre-game by playing MARIO KART 64. Think of it like the scene in SWINGERS where the college friends play NHLPA HOCKEY ‘93 on Genesis before going out to the bars. That was us with KART 64 in Wayne Gretzky’s place.
MARIO KART 64 wasn’t about the races as much as it was about the 4 player battles. For me, this was the first time I had a taste of belonging outside of my geeky video game circle back in Arizona. We had people with different backgrounds from Texas, Mississippi, Arizona, Florida and California all coming together to try and win a battle. It became a tradition and one that I’ve continued (minus the drinking) with my stepson in MARIO KART 8 DELUXE. On road trips, we have the Nintendo Switch in the backseat and we battle. He tries his best and after a ton of practice, he is now able to end our matches in a tie. One day he will beat me. He doesn’t know it, but it will be my proudest moment yet.
SUPER MARIO GALAXY (2007)
The 28 year old version of myself should have been working in 2007, but I couldn’t turn off the most innovative MARIO game to date. There are 120 stars all spread over Rosalina’s beautiful gravity defying galaxy. This game also still has the best soundtrack from any MARIO game.
After several sleepless nights, I finally had 119 out of the 120 stars collected. I knew what was waiting for me...The Toy Time Galaxy’s Luigi’s Purple Coins 😬. For those of you that have beaten this stage, you know the pain of getting 100 purple stars in less than 3 minutes only to realize you have no way to traverse to the other side of the disappearing platforms! Godspeed to those that want to experience one of the most challenging stages outside of SUPER MARIO SUNSHINE.
SUPER MARIO ODYSSEY (2017)
SUPER MARIO saved his best adventure for last in the Nintendo Switch masterpiece, ODYSSEY. Take all that you loved about MARIO 64 and MARIO GALAXY then add the nostalgia of the original series and you have this classic. It’s part open world and part mission quests as you attempt to collect 880 power moons from various locations. The key game mechanic that separates this from the rest is the ability to transform into different characters. You can smash through walls as T-Rex, become lovable Yoshi, recklessly drive as a crazy taxi and the biggest of them all, you can be Bowser. Collecting all of the power moons is nearly impossible but you will want to experience Pauline’s New Donk City love letter on repeat.
I met my stepson in 2017 and doing what any good mentor does, I introduced him to video games. His first game was ODYSSEY. I would see him every two weeks and each time, he was even further along in the game. I would train him for what’s to come by teaching him various shortcuts and moves and he would always master them by the next time I saw him. That is the magic of MARIO BROS. Just like Disney, it reminds grown-ups what it means to be a child at heart and enables them to share that passion, excitement and love with the gamers of tomorrow. Now that is playing with power!