Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Top 50 Video Game Moments: Number 13

Okay, okay... this is it. The home stretch. No more playing around. Everything's been written and scheduled.

Super Mario Brothers was one of the first true video games I ever played (along with Joust and - weirdly enough - Jaws for the NES, where I mostly just sailed the boat around and waited for the shark to devour me). There are any number of nostalgic moments I could've picked from the game.

* The first goomba stomp
* The first fire flower
* The first castle (that music... shiver)
* The first time I found the warp pipe
* That one jump in world 8 that seemed impossible until we played it so much that it became second nature.

I'm not picking any of them, and I'm not picking "your princess is in another castle!" like a lot of other folks do. I remember being so incredibly pumped that I beat the koopa in the first castle that I didn't much care about the princess. In fact, I had never read the manual, so the idea of the princess being in another castle didn't strike me as so much a 'wtf' as a 'oh, there's a princess? huh'. The moment in question actually came a year or two later, when I was 8. There aren't any spoilers, so there's no need for a jump, but jumps are how I roll, so read on.

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 minces 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.

1 comment:

  1. I don't remember winning this game. I mean, I did, many many times, but I don't remember that moment. I do remember finally figuring out the mazes in some of Bowser's castle.

    Defeating Wart in SMB2 was probably the highlight for me for this series. But the #1 "Oh my god I can't believe I just won" moment is beating Mike Tyson. In fact, even though I can beat him about one in every six or seven times even today, I'm still shocked when I do it.