In 1981, Nintendo brought us Donkey Kong, the story of an Italian-American Brooklynite name Mario in his quest to save an unknown woman from a gorilla. He returned in 1982’s Donkey Kong Jr, this time as the antagonist. In 1983, Mario brought his brother Luigi along for the ride in Mario Bros, firmly establishing that they were both plumbers. This was the first video game I ever received that was mine, which I was allowed to play on my sister’s Atari 2600. It wasn’t that great, but it set things up. In 1985, things got super.
I received a NES for my birthday, and frankly, the damn thing blew my mind – frankly, it still does. Atari and ColecoVision were all well and good – I spent hours playing games on these systems, but they just couldn’t hold a candle to my NES, which came with Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt right out of the box. (I had the combo cartridge – I believe this was called the action set.)
Super Mario Bros changed everything. Video games went from something I did for fun when I couldn’t go outside to play to what I waited to play all day long while I was at school. Everyone was obsessed with Mario and if you had a Sega Master System and thought that made you different, cool, a loner, or above the crowd, I’m sorry to tell you, you’re wrong. You were wrong then, and you’re still wrong now. (That Rambo game it came with was OK, but it was repetitive and the two player mode was glitchy as hell.) I’d tell you to ask your childhood friends, but you didn’t have any, did you? That’s because no one wanted to play with you, because you had a Sega Master System – or you were the smelly kid.
Every game to bear ‘Super Mario’ in its name has been great; bare none. Some are better than others, but every single title captured our imagination in a way no other franchise ever has or will. Mario is so relatable because he’s not your typical hero, he’s a plumber with a beer belly. Mario might be the perfect American hero: he’s an immigrant (I guess; when he started talking, the stereotypical accent came out), he owns his own business, and he always saves the Princess – accept when she’s in another castle. Women, huh? She can’t ever seem to stay saved, either – despite the ability to levitate!
Happy 25th Birthday, Super Mario Bros! I hope you get more than a cake this time! (fast forward to 4 minutes – check the look Mario gives the camera.)
Finally: know your Super Mario history! (see the video)