Flashback Friday: Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo

Recently, I helped someone clean out storage and received a couple of original Nintendo systems for my trouble. Since I am all about throwback gaming and love to delve into 1980s tech, I was pretty excited. I had a few games left over from when I operated the computer shop a few years ago and was looking forward to some Mario Bros with the wife. Yes, it was everything I thought it could be and more.




Everything Good About Super Mario Bros

As soon as the game system turned on and the title screen flashed across our 42-inch widescreen, we were as gitty as school girls. Sometimes it’s nice to recapture a bit of your youth, even if it’s something as simple as a game you grew up with. Although I beat the pants off my wife score-wise, it was the experience that made the evening.

At first, I was worried that playing Mario Bros on a widescreen Visio would be too distorted. In reality, I barely noticed. Whether it was the exhilaration of playing the game or that I was used to see stretched screens, the entire night was virtually perfect. I’m sure I would have the same experience if the game was played on it’s original square display design. But it didn’t matter at that point. I am 40-years old and playing Super Mario Bros. What could be better?

Flash of Nostalgia

We didn’t have a Nintendo in the house when I was growing up. All of my experiences on the system were at the neighbors or my cousin’s house. While playing the game, I was instantly thrown back to those days of racking up one extra life after another and discovering hidden areas. It was almost like I could smell dinner from 30 years ago cooking in the background.

The best part of the experience is that I didn’t have to blow in the cartridge for the system to load up. In fact, the Nintendo looks like it was rarely played. Bonus for me since it can be an ultimate pain in the ass to get an extremely used Nintendo to work right. Not this time. I just plugged it in, put in the cartridge and turned the system on. It was like experiencing it for the first time all over again – only without the original box.

Even holding the controller in my hands gave me a sense of time travel. I remember sitting on the floor in front of the old television playing Super Mario Bros while clutching the rectangle piece of plastic until my hands started to sweat. Although the ones that I got from helping the person move need to be cleaned inside and out, the experience was still worth the effort.

Simple Rules for a Simple Life

super mario bros smallThe controllers are so tiny when compared to the systems of today. Instead of using most of your hand to manipulate more than 10 different buttons, you had two…not including the directional pad. It was a more simple set of controls for a game that was simple in design. It’s almost a metaphor regarding how life has advanced since the 1980s. Now, I have 140 keys on my keyboard and 20 buttons on my mouse for game play.

The premise of Super Mario Bros was pretty easy to grasp: go from one side of the map to the other without dying. Your only real weapon was the ability to spit fireballs, after getting a mushroom that made you grow. For what it was, the game had everything you needed back in the 80s.

As we had the volume up a bit high, hitting the coins for the first time was a bit of a shock. I forgot how loud those dings were in comparison to the rest of the game. This was especially loud when I remembered where that hidden coin brick was on the first level. Ding, ding, ding, ding…it was almost giving me a headache. At that point, we decided to drop the volume a bit.

The Evolution of a Franchise

One of the things I like most about retro gaming is seeing the evolution of a franchise. Technically, Mario has been around before Nintendo called him Super. But the name has advanced throughout the decades far beyond it’s simple 8-bit, 2D scroller screen. Although the movie sucked on a few different levels, the progress of the game has driven fans the world over.

Engaging the Children

Personally, I can’t wait until I am able to sit down with my daughters and play Super Mario Bros. I doubt they will be as impressed as they have been playing the hell out of Minecraft lately. But it will still be fun for me to show them what gaming was like when I was their age.

As soon as I have a bit of time, I plan on streaming Mario a bit. We did find our copy of Mario 3, so that may be on the list as well. Both my wife and I prefer the third in the series. Regardless, it was immensely fun to turn on that system and play out a few lives on the Nintendo. Hopefully, I can find the rest of my collection of games. Nowadays, a lot of titles are collector’s editions and expensive to buy online.

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Michael Brockbank

I have been playing games for more than 30 years. I wouldn't consider myself a hard-core gamer, but I have brought the pain in my day. Now that I am rounding the horn at 40, I still enjoy everything from booting up the old Commodore 64 to exploring new titles in Steam. You're never too old to enjoy a good plot and mind-numbing graphics.

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