I highly recommend checking out Jeremy Whitson’s Warped Pipes series of articles where he dissects and examines the timeline of each game, I absolutely loved reading those when they came out and they are just as good today. This was all done right here on TAY, and I’m really feeling that. So here’s my rose-tinted perspective of the first Mario game I ever played.
Released way back in 1985, I probably first encountered this game in the early-to-mid 90's, and who didn’t?
Everyone who owned a NES or Famicom had a copy of Super Mario Bros. and for a good reason - mechanically, even today, it is an absolutely stellar 2D platformer.
Sure, my clumsy kid hands led to many a pitfall death, and who hasn’t died to the very first Goomba on world 1-1? How painfully embarrassing, especially if you had a sibling sitting next to you looking very smug because it was their turn again.
There was a certain magic and mystery to Super Mario Bros, with so many secrets to be found throughout the Mushroom Kingdom. Who can remember being shown, or finding the warp room for the first time? Inadvertently hitting a block and finding a beanstalk or a 1up that you desperately needed?
There was also enough variation to give every level it’s own unique feel and present it’s own challenges, and with the tight, responsive and simple controls anyone could play, and with a slow and easy learning curve without any major difficulty spikes (not counting the Lakitu, I absolutely hated that thing when I was a kid.) it’s an excellent game to be enjoyed by new and skilled gamers alike, of all ages.
The most amazing thing to me about Super Mario Bros. is how timeless it is - the 8 bit aesthetic is still popular today, and the gameplay is just as good as ever. Evidence of this is not one, but two Super Mario Maker games, allowing players to create their own insane and diabolical levels.
While it’s nice that you can create your own levels, I’m perfectly OK with playing the original once in a while. I owned the virtual console version on my 3DS, and it is also now available on Switch with the NES Online service, albeit as a subscription service. I find it strangely comforting that it’s so easy to play one of my favorite childhood games at any time, anywhere
It’s probably something I take for granted - in those days when there was no such thing as smartphones or WiFi, gaming could only be done in the house, in front of a TV. When we, as kids, were chased outside to play, we could only dream of a device you could carry in your pocket that could not only play Super Mario Bros. but stuff like Dark Souls and Skyrim as well.
Perhaps this is another reason, as an adult, I sometimes spend far too much time gaming. The freedom to do so as and when I pleased is something I coveted as a child, and now as an adult living in a world where gaming is a massive industry that I have contributed to building as a consumer my entire life, perhaps I am overcompensating at times by playing too much simply because I can. Other times it’s pure escapism, but that’s another article entirely.
it’s useful to look back at the one that started it all for me, and how this relationship has developed.
If Super Mario Bros. wasn’t the first video game I played, it was one of them, and if it wasn’t then it still left a lifelong impression.
Taking stock of the present, and how my relationship with gaming has evolved over the years, it has been almost 4 years since I started writing stuff for TAY and if Super Mario Bros. didn’t exist, I don’t know if I would be sitting here writing this.
Who knows what the future holds? My guess is it’s holding a video game controller of some kind. Technologies like video game streaming and VR are still new, but are making huge strides as evidenced by Half Life Alyx, and technologies like Geforce Now.
Do you remember your first game? How has your relationship with gaming changed or evolved over the years? Has gaming changed or shaped your life in any particular way? Let me know in the comments!
Marcus Stray (Future) is an engineer by trade but an artist and musician at heart who loves writing, playing and talking about video games, anime, their related industries. You can find Future here on TAY, on the TAY Discord, streaming on Twitch and YT or on Twitter.
You can also check out EXAGUN, a science- fantasy indie comic being written by Marcus.