Mario Memories

This past Sunday was Mario Day, a faux but fun holiday created by Nintendo a few years ago to celebrate all things Mario. With all the Mario-themed output across the Internet on Mar. 10 (which kind of looks like “Mario,” right?), I couldn’t help but get a little swept up in all the silliness. Because Mario and me, we go way back. Back to the days of playing Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. in my movie theatre’s arcade (well, when the Ms. Pac-Man machine was busy, that is). Back to the days of replaying the same first few levels of Super Mario Bros. on our shiny new NES – it didn’t matter that I was terrible at it. And back to the days when I was sure that you would have to pry the NES controller out of my cold, dead hands before I’d stop playing Super Mario Bros. 3.

Mario has been a fixture in gaming since nearly the beginning. For those of who have been following his adventures, no matter when that following started, it’s hard to imagine a gaming landscape without him.  (In fact, I daresay that this plucky plumber helped bring together Virtual Bastion, itself!) I’m sure I’m not alone in my Mario memories, some of which I offer up for you here in the form of likes versus dislikes, and I hope you’ll share some of yours in the comments!

Favorite Mario game
Out the gates, it winner here is Super Mario World, though I must admit that nostalgia plays a very strong role in that choice. I loved everything about Super Mario World, and I especially loved sharing that joy with my sibling and friends, laying “pass the controller” and such. Beyond the Nostalgia, Super Mario is a solid platformer that contained mechanics still in use in Mario games today. Not to mention, it introduced Yoshi to the world, which give it’s an automatic A+ in my book.

Less favorite Mario game
It’d be wrong for me to call this category the “least” favorite, because I don’t really dislike any Mario games that I’ve played, per se. But I have to admit that Super Mario Galaxy wasn’t for me. I did my best with game, but I never got along well with its motion controls or the game’s topsy-turviness.  However, it remains one of the most innovative games (along with it’s sequel) in the Super Mario series, and one well worth anyone’s time. Just not mine. (Though I sure do enjoy watching it, which you can do on YouTube channel!)

Favorite Mario stage/level
I could easily devote a whole post to my most favorite stages in Mario games, but one that really sticks out to me is the first level of New Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo DS. Unlike a simple port, New Super Mario Bros. was a complete retooling of the original game that came with a couple new power-ups, including the mega mushroom that made for a MEGA Mario, who could slam through enemies and obstacles like a giant plumber-shaped wrecking ball! Not only was it enjoyable to revisit a much prettier version of Super Mario Bros., but the mega mushroom added a whole new level of joy to it. Stomping my way through that familiar first level as MEGA Mario truly instilled unprecedented levels of happiness.

Less favorite Mario stage/level
If you think I’m going to pick a water stage…you’d be right! And if you also happen to guess that the water stage I have in mind is Dire, Dire Docks in Super Mario 64, you’d be on a roll! As we all know, swimming and dealing with ice are two of the worst things in Mario games. They just are. Period. Swimming really take the cake for me, because it’s the one thing in Mario games that fills me with pure dread. And most dread-worthy for me is the Dire, Dire Docks. When I first played through the game, this stage brought me nearly to tears because I simply couldn’t deal with the hair’s edge timing required to get all the required underwater stuff before Mario ran out of air. I mean, if/when I choose to play through the game again, I’ll deal with it, but I sure won’t like it.

Favorite Mario enemy
In spite of my Super Mario Galaxy woes, I made it far enough into the game to encounter a very memorable version of a classic Mario enemy: the Jack O’Goomba. In short, these walking, starry-eyed, smiling pumpkins made me laugh. C’mon, jack o’ lanterns with little feet, bobbing around like they own the place? How is that not perfectly hilarious??

Less favorite Mario enemy
Without even thinking about it, I can tell you this is a flat-out tie between the Hammer Bros. and the Lakitus. I equally dislike both these enemies for the simple fact that they always, always, always get me. Their randomized attacks (which I’m sure aren’t really random) always prove to be a pain in my behind. It doesn’t matter which game they’re in, or how cute their made to be, I despise having to battel with either them in any form.

Most played Mario game
While my heart wants to award this to Super Mario Bros. 3, my head knows the real answer: Super Mario 64, and I’m including in the count Super Mario 64 DS, which is what pushes it to the top. Numerous images from Super Mario 64 are perfectly ingrained in my brain, from the opening view of Princess Peach’s castle, to the Big Penguin Race (ugh), to the amazing views of Rainbow Ride. Not only did I practically wear out the N64 cartridge itself, I also wore thin my Wiimote years later when I downloaded the game to the Wii. Ah, good times, Big Penguin race and all.

Least played Mario game
Not to end on a down note (but this post has got to end somehow!), I finish off with a look back on what I’d call a…personally disappointing Mario game. The unfortunate winner here is Super Mario 3D World. To be honest, I think I was too excited for this game. Like, excited to the point where I set aside a whole bunch of time to play it, because I figured I’d be playing it for a looooong time. But not even the plump, furry cuteness of Cat Mario was enough to make me invest the oodles of time into it that I thought I might. The game was more frustrating than interesting, and its 3D world didn’t strike the right chords. Well, Mario, you can’t win ‘em all.


Now it’s your turn! Share your most favorite/least favorite Mario memories in the comments!

Lede image by Flickr user Matt Clark (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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