This is going to be a fun series of posts for me because it will allow me to chat about a topic close to my heart: video games. The interactive medium was first introduced to me by friends I can now no longer remember with the NES. This cool device that plugged into the TV and allowed me to embark on awesome adventures. In this series I will discuss games of great significance in my life for a variety of reasons; loves, hates, introductions, enjoyment and more. This is not a list of favorite games, or games I think are the best. Rather, there are games that I now see in retrospect as important to my life in some manner. I’m not sure if the order of these will follow any particular method. I’ll probably just write which on which one strikes my mood at the time. This list will span just over 2 decades, starting with my earliest games to some of my more recent ones.
Just to set things up ahead of time, I’m going to list for you the systems I’ve had at my disposal for the last two-and-some-change decades in (by my best guess) the order I had them.
- Nintendo Entertainment System
- Super Nintendo Entertainment System
- Personal Computer
- Nintendo 64
- Gameboy Color
- Gameboy Advance
- Playstation 2
- Nintendo DS
- Xbox 360
With that out of the way, let us begin.
I will start these lengthy diatribes with the beginning, the first game I owned. The one that game packaged with my NES that at the tender age of 5 started a relationship that I hope to one day share with my own brood. This game of course is Super Mario Brothers. It was Christmas of 1988 and amongst the gifts littered under the tree was a grey box that I would soon plug into the TV, attach a controller and take my first joyous steps into the Mushroom Kingdom. I then heard a tune that I would continue to hum for the rest of life. With World 1-1 before me, I jumped on a shambling fungus, grew big eating a mushroom, jumped over some pipes, went down some pipes, got the power to shoot fireballs, jumped over pits, fell down pits, become invincible, found a hidden one-up, learned to run, jumped on to a flag pole, went into a castle and watched some fireworks. Little did I realize that in a few short minutes of enjoying my time with a Brooklyn plumber that I would lay the groundwork for my primary media consumption habit for the rest of my life. Of course, what 5 year old would ever realize what their primary media consumption habit is going to be.
I wasn’t any good but that didn’t matter. It was fun and the game I found myself playing was highly enjoyable. Over the next months I would endure and push ahead in my adventure. I would discuss the game with friends at school. I’d learn cool tricks about warp zones, or tips on beating certain levels. If you owned an NES, you had this game. To this day I look back fondly on the joy and wonderment I derived from this simple game. I may never have that same feeling again in my life. Back then, it wasn’t about beating the game, or facing the challenge or even showing off. The only thing that mattered was playing the game. Dying didn’t matter, even though beating a stage was always a plus. I never beat the game in my youth. World 8 always gave me grief. I would eventually beat it later when it was released for the Gameboy Color. Finally, the princess was not in another castle. However, in my initial play time with Super Mario Bros. it was about having fun. I feel as though I lost sight of that at some point in games. Mario in any incarnation always reminds me that fun is the primary objective in gaming.
It could have been any game. It could have been something less notable. However, for my generation it was many people’s introduction to gaming. Just as Mario started me out then, Mario is still the jumping board for many young gamers. I’m glad it was Mario. If it was something else, the wonderment may not have stuck. I may have picked up something else. Hard to say. Mario and I have gotten along swimmingly for the last 20 years, and I don’t see that relationship ending anytime soon. I’ll never tire of beating Bowser into submission. It was my first game. It may not be my favorite, or even fall into a list that I would compile of the best games ever. However, its impact on my life is profound. To this day I will hum that little tune, and when I do I remember the good times in 1988 and I smile.
Thus ends the commencing entry in My History with Gaming. I’ve plotted out what is ahead and I will tell this: you’ve not seen the last of Mario. The Mario series appears to make up such pivotal parts of my gaming history that he can’t be ignored.
The Short and Sweet of It
The Game: Super Mario Bros.
Why it is important: It was my first video game, and started a life long hobby.