Plumber Crack

I was nearly beside myself when I found out that Nintendo was re-releasing the original Super Mario Brothers games for the Wii. It seemed like something I dreamed, like Mario was coming to visit, planning to clean my house and bake me a black forest cake. The only thing better would have been Patrick Swayze (circa 1987) coming to visit, planning to clean my house and bake me a black forest cake, wearing only a pair of acid wash Levis and a smile, and –wait: this is a post about Mario. Sorry. Back to the plumber.

As a kid, I spent many joyful hours tethered to the little grey and black box on top of our thirteen-channel tv in its heavy oak cabinet. That television was so bulky, actually, that we left it as furniture in our living room after it sparked, smoked, and died because it was too heavy for my dad and brother to carry out by themselves. The new tv sat on top until we had enough burly guests in the house to help us haul the old beast away.

My brother and I played Mario until blisters threatened to rise on our right thumbs and the Nintendo threatened to overheat. We had the first and second Mario games, and I clearly remember my brother flapping his hands upward every time he wanted his character to jump. I loved Super Mario Brothers II, the somewhat different one where I got to choose my character between Mario, Luigi, Toad, and the Princess, and huck veggies at my enemies. Everyone knows that kids would much rather throw turnips at people they don’t like than actually be forced to ingest such abominations.

I waited on every major occasion to unwrap a copy of Super Mario III, the game I only got to play at select friends’ houses. The best part about that game to me was the leaf power-ups, which turned us into flying raccoons. It was an unprecedented thing for us, flapping around our two-dimensional universe, feeling the wind in our overalls. Alas, I never owned a copy of the game as a kid. No raccoons for this girl.

I’ve never been able to play those new-fangled 3-D games. I can’t run around a whole universe on screen because I get uncomfortably motion sick after about four minutes and all the fun is ruined. To make matters worse, I have no sense of direction: none. I get lost looking for the restrooms in West Edmonton Mall. When Nintendo moved on to N-64 and started placing poor Mario in the middle of his own universe, I had to give up my beloved plumber. The fun to vertigo ratio wasn’t one I could live with.

With the re-release of the four original Mario games, I now have Super Mario I, II, AND III (fly, my pretties, fly!) as well as the impossibly difficult Lost Levels edition. I stood in a line of two people at Walmart, waiting for the man in the blue vest to unlock the cabinet to retrieve my game and make all my dreams come true. I still think he thought I was a little off to be so excited about a videogame that existed before people had cellphones, but that’s his problem. I read the case inserts at the red lights (sorry, Mom) and twitched with anticipation as I drove home with my treasure. No, I did not speed, but yes, I really, really wanted to.

The problem with Mario is that it’s deceptively simple. Really, how hard can it be to navigate that little plumber over the chomping plants and through the dungeons? Apparently, it can be really hard. I’ve only conquered the second game of my four retro-cool titles, and I just can’t get enough Mario. One round of that repetitive electronic music, and I’m hooked. I’m helpless to resist that plumber in his little red overalls! Like a moth to the proverbial flame, only the flames are those little fiery meatballs I chuck at my enemies.

You can have your Halo and your Assassins’ Creed. Keep your Call of Duty. I have no interest in shooting folks with machine guns or drop kicking ninjas. I just want to stomp on some angry mushrooms and warp down some pipes.

copyright 2011:

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