Myke Olson
September 17, 2002
LCC 4400
Super Mario Brothers (Week 5)

Flaming Ropes, Fireworks, and Secret Passageways

As with most people, my first experience with a 'home entertainment system' was with the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and the bundled game, Super Mario Brothers (and Duck Hunt). I was still too young to want a Nintendo, but my parents bought one for my sister and I anyway, convinced that it was a revolutionary device -- your very own home arcade system. I still remember spending an hour hooking up the NES to the TV in the playroom and then turning it on for the first time. We were presented with an option: Super Mario Brothers or Duck Hunt. Well, the gun looked pretty cool, so we skipped over Mario and selected Duck Hunt. After getting frustrated with the unpreciseness of the gun, we hit the reset button and tried Mario. Two players. It took us quite a bit to get the hang of this one, too...jumping over enemies and infinity-deep ditches.

Mario was one of the first games that I'm aware of that developed such a cult following. What level you made it to and what evil enemies you had to kill to get there was the topic of discussion in elementary and middle schools across the country. Because you didn't have to get your parent's permission and go to the local arcade (not to mention that when you lived in the suburbs, there was no such thing) in order to play the game. You either went over to a friend's house or into your own playroom and turned on the NES. Kids could play the game for hours and hours without having to constantly insert quarters. Holding down the A key and then pressing start after you died would pick you up at the same world level where you had perished. Some kids were driven by the need to beat the game and the boss enemy at the end of each level. I was, however, easily frustrated by the flaming ropes that I could never get past or the elevators that kept passing me by as I was trying to get to the warp level screen. While I certainly put hours and hours into the game, trying to beat my friends, I didn't quite have the dedication to finish the entire game. To this day, I still have not beaten the whole thing.

That's not to say that I haven't tried. A couple months ago, I found my NES packed away in a box. I dusted it off and blew on the cartridges and started playing again...starting with the classic Super Mario Brothers. Playing brought back alot of old memories...laying on the floor of the playroom until the wee hours...not being able to get past the flaming ropes... I was hoping that my older age and additional experience with more challenging games and button-pushing skills, that this time it would be a piece of cake. Instead, I kept dying at the exact same places as before. My friend Daniel came over to share in the memories and it was just like old times. While he didn't do that much better than me, he always made it to the warp screen before I did, mastered the jumping block before I did, always got fireworks at the end of the level, and found a whole bunch of secret passage-ways full of coins that I never knew about. Again, we spent hours trying to get past the same places, but eventually gave up. I kept trying when I had some time for the next couple days, but finally decided that beating Super Mario Brothers was just one of the things that I would never be able to check off on the Big ToDo List.

It's easy to see how a simple game that came bundled with every Nintendo Entertainment System could be considered a classic. It created a new era of home entertainment that found kids huddled around an old television set with their rectangular-shaped controllers. Nintendo recognizes the historical significance as well and has continued to use the Mario and Luigi characters in many of it's later games, including Super Mario Brothers 2 and 3, Mario Kart, Mario Party, Mario Sunshine, etc. Mario and Luigi even stared in their very own movie in 1993.