In this series of 30 daily articles celebrating the upcoming 30th Anniversary of Super Mario, various members of the Nintendo Life extended family will share their memories and thoughts on the iconic franchise. This time we have video contributor Lee Garbutt.
It is incredibly difficult to both express how important Mario is to me, as well as to pinpoint when and how that exactly happened. I suppose it technically all started at the age of around 3-4 years old, when I first played Super Mario Bros. on a Nintendo M82 (A pretty cool retail demo unit that contained multiple games). As a child more accustomed to the keyboard/joystick and single-button controls of Amstrad CPC 6128 games, it took me until the end of my demo time to realise that the A button could be used to make Mario jump, but even continually walking into the very first Goomba of the game kept me amused.
I wouldn't get a NES for myself until I was 7 years old (with Super Mario Bros. 2, a game that remains very close to my heart), but by that point Mario Mania was in full swing. I woke up to a Super Mario alarm clock, in time to watch the Super Mario Super Show, before putting on my favourite Super Mario T-shirt. Nothing highlighted Mario's popularity more than at a friends' 8th birthday party. His parents had planned a full evening of kiddy entertainment (including the usual party games), but made the fatal mistake of letting him unwrap a pristine copy of Super Mario Bros. 3. The donkey's tail remained unpinned, as we all took turns trying to tackle World 1, astounded at every second of Mario's latest adventure. We even missed that night's episode of GamesMaster, we were that enthralled.
Ultimately for me, and many of you, Mario has been a gateway of sorts to everything that is Nintendo. Before my developing brain could handle the complexity of The Legend of Zelda and the claustrophobia of Metroid, Super Mario was that friendly introduction to console gaming and the yardstick by which all other console games were compared to. Whether it's the platforming perfection of Super Mario World (which is a perfect game, and I won't hear anyone say differently), the astounding move to 3D in Super Mario 64, or the refinement of these mechanics in Super Mario Galaxy, these games remain as timeless experiences that I have repurchased and replayed many, many times over and will no doubt continue to do so.
This is why Nintendo's mascot continues to be a constant fixture in three decades of console gaming. By all accounts, a moustachioed Italian plumber should not be popular, but as each of those thirty years have shown us, it has been the game that has made the mascot - Not the other way around, something which many lesser developers have failed to realise even to this day. Mario has just been that friendly face inviting us into these surreal worlds of frog suits, flying raccoons and fire flowers, and it's through him that we see Nintendo's philosophy of impeccable game design.
At the time of writing, I too am 30 years old, soon to be 31. I've grown up with Mario, and even as an adult, I still get the same excitement from playing a new Super Mario game than I did when I played Super Mario Bros. in a Tandy electronics superstore, all those years ago. Here's to many more years of Super Mario!