Perhaps the most iconic face of gaming, and the title that literally put gaming back on the map, is none other than the fat, lovable plumber, Mario. Mario actually got his name from Shigeru Miyamoto’s landlord at the time. For those of you noobs who don’t know who Shigeru is, he is the guy that not only created Mario, but also Zelda, Donkey Kong, and many more of our favorite Nintendo pals. In the words of Ron Burgundy, he’s “kind of a big deal”. But I’m not here to talk about Shigeru Miyamoto and his illustrious career and vast fortunes, I am here to talk about my favorite video game of all time, the first Super Mario Bros (or SMB for short), and its two sequels on the NES, SMB 2 and SMB 3.
To this day, there is no video game in my life’s 23 year span that I have played more times than the original Super Mario Bros. It is also a game that over the years I have gotten down to a science and can literally beat in 10 minutes or better. The easiness to pick up, the fluid controls, and the downright fun and replayability make this game tops in my book. If I have some time to kill and I’m feeling nostalgic, I will plug in that old game cartridge, remove it, blow the dust off of it, and repeat until I stop getting either a flashing blue screen or pixilation. Once the technical difficulties are over, which occur with literally any other game on the system, it is time to play. One thing I really love about the original SMB is the ability to cheat and use warp pipes, which is admittedly the way I beat the game so fast. Since learning the locations of the warp pipes I actually can’t remember the last time I played on level 1-3.
Second on my list is SMB 2. This game was not only frustrating to me as a child because of its seemingly never ending gameplay and ridiculously hard levels at about world 3, but because it was nothing like its predecessor. There is, however an explanation for this. The real sequel to SMB was only released in Japan because marketers believed the game to be too repetitive of the first SMB and they also felt it was too difficult for American players. So what was Nintendo’s solution to this dilemma? Nintendo used another game they had already released and pasted the Mario characters in it. Yes, you heard me, the game was called Doki Doki Panic and literally the only difference between SMB 2 and Doki Doki was the sprites of the main characters. The characters went from some Arabian guys to Mario, Luigi, Peach, and the useless Toad. The music, enemies, and levels all stayed the same, including the main bosses. The SMB 2 that we know in America was released in Japan as Super Mario USA. We would not see the true SMB 2 until Super Nintendo came along and released Super Mario All-stars, in which Japans SMB 2 was labeled Mario: the Lost Levels.
Last but certainly not least, and possibly my second favorite game of all time, is SMB 3. This game brought Mario fans back to a familiar gameplay style. No more picking plants from the ground or unfamiliar enemies. This game brought back the enemies we came to know and love from the first SMB, but this time, Mario has an arsenal of outfits that give him various powers. Some features are a little ridiculous such as the frog suit or the giant shoe, but even though picking up a feather and turning into a flying raccoon doesn’t make any sense, the game was pretty epic. The worlds now had an overview map and bonus areas such as Toad’s little huts, memory games, and match up games (which I fail hard at). My favorite part of this game is the music. Some of the most memorable Mario music, aside from those of SMB 1, came from this game. My personal favorite track is the flying ship music. It is one of the toughest games I own on the NES and I am proud to proclaim that I have, in fact, beaten it. My heart raced as I battled Bowser in the final castle and when I beat him I felt like I had run a marathon. The sense of accomplishment was immeasurable.
Mario’s adventures thankfully did not end with the NES, he would go on to make many, many spinoff titles and sequels, which are still being made to this day. He, along with his buddies Link and Donkey Kong, have stood the test of time and prove that oldies are definitely still goodies. Even though there are games with epic graphics that are more difficult with longer storylines, I still feel the need to take a step back and play SMB. It is one game that never seems to get old, no matter how old I get.