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Mario Memories: A Conversation on SUPER MARIO BROS’ 30th Anniversary

On September 13, 1985, Nintendo ushered in a little title called Super Mario Bros. into the bright, pixelated world of video games. If your math skills are up to par, you’ll realize that was 30 years ago. Whether you were around on that fateful day, or were introduced to the game later on, I think it’s safe to say that the desire to pick up a controller and test your skills in a video game, for a lot of people, stems from a certain platforming plumber. In commemoration of the franchise’s birthday, my fellow Nerdist writer Edwin Garcia and I decided to sit down and have a nostalgic chat about some of our favorite Super Mario memories. In the words of my main man Mario, “Letsa go!”

Super Mario Bros 2

What was your first Super Mario Bros. Game?

Samantha: This is always a confusing question for me because there were quite a few games I switched back and forth between as a child, but I’m pretty sure the first Mario game I actually played was Super Mario Land for the Game Boy. While I also frequently dipped into Super Mario All-Stars [specifically Super Mario Bros. 3] on the Super Nintendo, Super Mario Land was portable thanks to the original Game Boy–with which it launched– and I was all about that. I remember toting it along on grocery shopping trips with my grandmother. I’ve continuously gone back to the game on handhelds I got later on, from the Game Boy Color all the way to the Game Boy Advance SP.

Edwin: Not a bad place to start.

S: It’s definitely a great game. I think I’m going to dig up the cartridge, blow the dust out of it, and play it later on.

E: Despite being a fan of SML, the first game I played came from Super Mario-All-Stars. I still can’t believe how great a collection that is. I remember watching my mom play through Super Mario Bros. 2. Watching her play really made me want to try it out for myself. After taking the controller, I played non-stop for a good while. I think it’s a really funny place to start, because Super Mario Bros. 2 is definitely one of the weirdest ones out of all of them. But, it was love at first jump…I’ll see myself out.

S: Clever. Yeah, I remember playing 2. I always thought the Shy Guys looked like tiny versions of Thomas the Tank Engine. Picking them up and chucking them at other enemies was too much fun.

Paper Mario

Which is your favorite?

S: Usually the answer that I give is Super Mario Bros. 3, because I have a lot of memories tied to that game. But, another game I like a lot is Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door for the GameCube. It was the first Mario game I really picked up since All-Stars, aside from Nintendo 64 titles like Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64. What they did with Mario in paper form in terms of physics and game mechanics was pretty cool.

E: The original Paper Mario on the Nintendo 64 was a lot of fun as well. I was excited when Nintendo revealed Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam for the 3DS during E3 this year. It should be a good time.

S: Yeah. I’m pretty excited for that title. Seeing the Paper and 3D Mario worlds collide is a unique experience I never knew I wanted.

E: Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story is another great Mario RPG. My answer, however, is a bit different. There are so many Mario games that it’s hard to pick just one. I think it really depends on the time and place that you play them. It comes down to two for me, personally: Super Mario Bros 2, which we’ve already spoken about, and Super Mario Bros 3. 3 is incredible. It’s still my favorite platformer of all time. Aesthetically speaking, the art-style is great. Also, now we know that it is actually one big play. When Miyamoto confirmed it the other day, a lot of people said it was obvious because of the curtains opening at the beginning of the game. But, it’s still fun to hear an official answer after years of rumors. That game is just too good. I’ve played it on every platform it has been available on, with my most recent time being on the 3DS.

Super Mario World 2 Yoshi's Island

Any specific memories?

S: When I first really started gaming, I remember playing Super Mario Bros. 3 every summer at my grandma’s house. While my older brother and cousins were at school, I would sit there for hours trying to master the levels. Later on, when everybody came home, we’d play together, taking turns and fighting over who got to go into the Toad House to score the free loot. I remember being really proud after beating the first world. The best part, however, was finding secrets. Figuring out how to find all of the warp whistles, by doing things like dropping into the background is something I’ll never forget.

E: This is a tough one. Hmmm…I have to go with playing Super Mario World. 2: Yoshi’s Island with my elementary school friends. Again, another one that’s a bit different, but I remember sharing one cartridge between three of us. We’d go over to each other houses over the summer, and help one another get through certain areas. There’s also something about the moon Raphael the Raven boss fight that always made me laugh. It’s still one of my favorite boss fights of all time. And yes, it still makes me laugh uncontrollably.

Super Mario hug

Did Mario play a specific role in your life?

S: I think, like most people, Nintendo was the starting point for the life-long love I have for video games. Mario was the first experience that hooked me. Though there were a few years where I didn’t game as much, the reason I picked the controller back up was back in 2004 when Thousand Year Door came out. It’s crazy to think about all of the awesome games that came out that year. Off the top of my head I remember Half-Life 2, Halo 2, Doom 3, The Sims 2, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, and Star Wars: Battlefront all releasing around the same time. It was a great time to get back into gaming, especially with the Xbox 360 and the PS3 right around the corner. It was Nintendo and the plumber in particular, however, that played a huge role in getting me where I am today. One of the first gigs I scored as a writer was as a U.S. correspondent for UK-based site Nintendo Life.

E: I think in one way or another, no matter what platform you play on, Mario has influenced your life. This series changed video games forever. A lot of people take it for granted right now and say that it’s just more of the same because Nintendo doesn’t change anything, but it’s so important to the industry we’re in. A ton of other games were influenced by Mario, and have tried to emulate what it does. The franchise has always been about fun. So, even if I wasn’t a huge console gamer when I was younger–because I was more into the Game Boy–I still got around to playing the classics which fueled my passion for games. Even as a young kid, when I didn’t realize it, it was pushing me in a direction that I never thought I’d go down.

S: I think one of the best things about the brand is that it’s been successful for so many years. Mario is about fun and people can’t get enough.

E: Exactly, these games have definitely proven to outlast many series, and I think that’s because no matter how old you are, Mario speaks to all ages. Whether you’re 5, 20, or 40, you can pick up a controller and have fun with any Mario game. It’s also influenced pop culture. You mention Mario and everybody knows who he is. He has been around for a good while and is only gaining more popularity. You go on the app store and find a billion different copycats. They try to emulate it because Mario is special and transcended video games in a way that no other character has. Even if I haven’t always been consistently into Mario games, it still influenced the games I did play. It has significantly changed my life for the better.

S: Plus, there’s the obvious, we both talk about video games for a living.

What were some of your favorite Mario memories? Let us know in the comments below.

Featured Image via Deviant Art User: b00sted4fun

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