Remembering Super Mario Brothers (1985)

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. You gaming fans out there may recall the early days of Super Mario Bros, particularly if you were a gamer in the 80’s. Over the years, this game has become a touchstone and a massive franchise. Today, I’d just like to air my thoughts on the game that I so fondly recall.

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Super Mario Bros. is a game that I don’t need to review. We all know it, we’ve all heard of it, and it would be pretty redundant to review this thing when I’m sure other people could do it much better than I can. I do love the game though, even if I absolutely suck at playing it.

Platform games have never been my skill, quite the opposite. I’m much more likely to see “game over” screens than I am to beat any platforming title on the first attempt… or even the first few attempts. When it comes to my formative years in gaming, I spent most of my time falling into pits and inadvertently running headlong into enemies or projectile hammers.

There is one franchise that towers among them when it comes to endless strings of “game over” screens and a young version of myself gritting my teeth and gripping the controller as I try again to complete it. Even though it isn’t known for it’s difficulty like Contra was, Super Mario Brothers isn’t an easy game by far.

To me the iconic art style of the lettering and brick pattern stands out even today. I can almost hear the music of world one, stage one in my head as soon as I see this thing. Yes, the sentiment bears repeating. I absolutely love Super Mario Bros.

It holds a very special place in my heart of hearts. I spent my earliest days watching my older brother play this game. I recall nap times in front of the television set, blanket and sippy-cup of juice in hand on hot summer days. I remember being too little to hold the controller or figure out the mechanics.

I was born in 1989, so the early 90’s for me was a time of fun and excitement when it came to the world of gaming. I envied my brother’s ability to play it. I wanted to be just as good as him. Spoiler, that was never going to happen.

This game was full of noteworthy little secrets or things to do that are now common knowledge. For example, the ability to jump up onto the the top layer of blocks and run through most of the stage this way. These days it’s pretty obvious, but I recall scowling at the screen the first time I saw this little trick.

It really is the little things that come to mind. The simple, if repetitive music. The red or blue bricks and layers of pipes that allow you to explore each stage. The little bonus areas that reward you for exploring around in the first place, and of course we can’t forget about the iconic enemies or that screen at the end of world one, stage four.

I truly wonder these days just how many people got annoyed to see that iconic moment when you finally beat King Bowser for the first time. Mario seems to be victorious, only to see Toad standing in the dark halls with a message. Yep, we all know the moment I’m talking about…

These days, it probably doesn’t feel so annoying, or at the very least confusing. I’m sure many children were perplexed the first time they saw it, though. My mother tells stories of my brother feeling agitated when he first saw that after hours of effort. I certainly felt the same the first time I got there, and I knew that would happen because he played the game so much in the first place.

Either way, moments later, world two loads up with four more levels that would continue to get progressively harder and upon completion the pattern continues. These days speed runners make it look easy, and I think we take for granted the sharp difficultly curves that occur midway through the game. With eight worlds in totality, four stages each, it was probably a very difficult battle to get to the finish the first time around for most people.

Still, this is a foundational game to the generations of people who played them in their earliest iterations. With such a long lived franchise you’ll certainly find better games out there. The titular character Mario and his brother Luigi have certainly gone on their fair share of adventures over the years. It behooves us to look back either way.

This game stands as a paramount benchmark for what a good platformer was at the time, and the waves that Super Mario Bros sent through the gaming industry to become what it is today.

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