Friday, August 22, 2014

Top 20 NES Super Mario Moments: Number 1

1: Wart

today's post courtesy of deathbytroggles

Bosses, especially in NES games, fall into one of two categories. They're either insanely easy once you determine the trick to beating them, or they're insanely hard, requiring perseverance and multiple hits. Wart is neither of those. While there are strategies to defeating him and avoiding getting hit, there's no automatic road to victory. On the other hand, it is very possible to get very good at defeating him, taking no to minimal damage. In a way, he's like Mike Tyson.

He wants to eat your children
Wart's castle is tough enough to get through, and then beating him is another stressful task. Ultimately, it's one of the most rewarding moments for the entire console. And that doesn't even include one of the most elaborate, fun endings you'll see in the 8-bit era.

Newhart just had to copy this idea

Top 20 NES Super Mario Moments: Number 2

2: No Escape

No game in the Mario series was more willing to dispense with established rules than the second game in the series (yes, I know, "Doki Doki Panic", etc, etc). Of all the rules it broke, though, the most sinister was clearly the one that most of us took for granted.

What's offscreen is in the past.
Phanto is a great enemy. He's the spritual forebear of my favorite enemy in the Mario series (Boo), only he's more devious and fear inducing. Most of SMB2's most frantic moments involve grabbing the key and running like hell.

Or, more often than not... falling like hell

He was relentless and invulnerable. The only way to escape was to drop the key (not always a good idea on those long elevator chase falls, and besides, he'll be waiting for you to pick it back up again) or get through the locked door.

Of all the enemies from SMB2 that I wish had reappeared in subsequent games, Phanto is easily number one.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Top 20 NES Super Mario Moments: Number 3

3: Don't Blink, Don't Look Down

When I was 9, my parents, my brother and I house-sat for a couple who lived on a lakeside lot. This family happened to have a Nintendo with a copy of Super Mario Brother 3. My parents didn't want us to waste our time playing it when there was so much natural beauty to behold. They had a point, of course, but my brother and I still set our alarm clocks for absurdly early hours so that we could sneak down to play it. Every day for two weeks, we would get to the same exact place in the game.

I wrote that up a couple of years ago when I was going through my list of favorite video game moments. This one was number 27, which seems just about right. We so badly wanted to beat this level and it just didn't seem possible to do so. We had no problem getting here - whistles made that almost trivial. For some reason that I don't seem to recall, we always used our P-Wings elsewhere, which (in one of this level's - and indeed, this' game's - biggest failings) would have rendered this level stupidly easy.

Oh yeah. Big fuckin' hero flying over the entire level.
This level is short. It doesn't seem nearly short enough when you're a kid, but that's most because the overly quick forced scrolling of the level. It's the gimmick to end all gimmicks. Without the forced scrolling, this level's a cakewalk. If the level scrolled at the speed of, say, the first forced scrolling level in world 1, this level's still very easy. Even once you put everything together, you've still got a level that wouldn't be difficult enough to be a training level on Super Meat Boy.

But to my brother and I? This level was Everest (of course, we were wrong... we didn't find out about that until AFTER we beat this, though...) Conquering it was monumental, and I still have warm, nostalgic feelings about that week we spent waking up early in the hopes of beating...

...this guy

I know he seems anticlimactic now, but we did die to him once that week. I don't know if I've ever been so pissed at a video game.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Top 20 NES Super Mario Moments: Number 4

4: Open Sesame

today's post courtesy of deathbytroggles

At the end of nearly level in SMB2 you are faced with the impossible large face of a hawk. Once you've completed the level he opens his large gape and invites you inside to play at the casino.

This one's gotta pay off soon!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Top 20 NES Super Mario Moments: Number 5

 5: Actually, Your Princess Is In This Castle

 Reposted from two years ago.

We* knew what this was all about. We had all heard that there were eight worlds in Super Mario Brothers, and there were only 4 levels per world, so in the closing moments of 8-3 (easily the hardest level in the game, btw. There was no easy way around those damn hammer throwers with the entire level taking place on flat ground. We died SO MANY TIMES on that level), we knew what was coming - the last level, the end castle... the final boss.

Of course, we had two lives left, so we died in the first room, unable to figure out the logistics of that first jump.

The screen that spawned a million minced oaths form children around the world.

It took several runthroughs to even figure out how to get to the Koopa King, there was the moving lava bridge, the waterless hall of flying fish (which made no sense), the hall of underwater flame fences and octopi (which made significantly less sense), and finally the Koopa King's throne room. Each portion (five of them, if I remember correctly) claimed several lives before we got it all down, and sure enough, I was facing Koopa small on my last life, with a wall of hammers and the big guy himself waiting for me. I waited, and somehow managed to sneak by and cut the rope.

We had done it. We had conquered a video game. Sure, the princess looked like she had a horrible case of gout, but that hardly mattered.

Hey there, sexy
Bowser had been defeated, but more importantly, we had beaten our first video game...

...then we started on the New Game+ where all the goombas were turned to beetles, and all the fire fences were made enormous. Our asses were kicked within minutes, taking the buzz off juuuuust a bit. It was still pretty awesome, though.

*"We" were my childhood best friend Colin, my younger brother (who, being 4 or 5 at the time wasn't very good at SMB, and was forced to merely spectate our legendary victory), and I. My house had no Nintendo, and his mom didn't want him playing on his for more than an hour a day, so there was always a sense of urgency to our gaming sessions.