3. Don’t Blink, Don’t Look Down

presented by nibbishment

When I was 9, my parents, my brother and I house-sat for a couple who lived on a lakeside lot. This family happened to have a Nintendo with a copy of Super Mario Brother 3. My parents didn’t want us to waste our time playing it when there was so much natural beauty to behold. They had a point, of course, but my brother and I still set our alarm clocks for absurdly early hours so that we could sneak down to play it. Every day for two weeks, we would get to the same exact place in the game.

I wrote that up a couple of years ago when I was going through my list of favorite video game moments. This one was number 27, which seems just about right. We so badly wanted to beat this level and it just didn’t seem possible to do so. We had no problem getting here – whistles made that almost trivial. For some reason that I don’t seem to recall, we always used our P-Wings elsewhere, which (in one of this level’s – and indeed, this’ game’s – biggest failings) would have rendered this level stupidly easy.

Oh yeah. Big fuckin’ hero flying over the entire level.

 

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5. Actually, Your Princess Is In This Castle

presented by nibbishment

We* knew what this was all about. We had all heard that there were eight worlds in Super Mario Brothers, and there were only 4 levels per world, so in the closing moments of 8-3 (easily the hardest level in the game, btw. There was no easy way around those damn hammer throwers with the entire level taking place on flat ground. We died SO MANY TIMES on that level), we knew what was coming – the last level, the end castle… the final boss.

Of course, we had two lives left, so we died in the first room, unable to figure out the logistics of that first jump.

The screen that spawned a million minces oaths form children around the world.

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6. Stop! Hammer Time

Once you get the hang of things in Super Mario Bros. the game becomes pretty easy. Enemies have predictable patterns, and with a little patience, there’s little in the way of challenge outside of timing your mad dash for every Bowser visit. But there’s one area of the game that never gets easy and to this day still makes me nervous.

Oh, and there’s bullets.

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8. Traction Control

Presented by nibbishment

Mario’s ice worlds (one per game!) get a bad rep.

Okay, controlling Mario as he slips and slides around some frozen hellhole, completely unable to maintain any sort of his momentum without jumping first is irritating, but it’s a gameplay mechanic that can lead to some interesting ideas.

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Also, here’s as good a place as any to admit that I liked the stage music to this world

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10. Into the Wild Blue Yonder

presented by nibbishment

The first time I played Super Mario Brothers 3, I was at my cousin’s house. He sat beside me and watched as I marveled at things like an actual intro screen and a world map. I was hooked, and I hadn’t even actually played the damned thing yet.

Soon enough, I was playing, and loving it. I got the mushroom soon enough, then managed to unlock another, different powerup – one I hadn’t seen before.

I am a leaf on the wind…

I picked it up, and… gained raccoon ears and a tail. I knew nothing about the manual, and hadn’t seen any gameplay to this point (missed out on The Wizard), so I had no earthly idea what being turned into a raccoon could possibly mean.

“Ooh!” my cousin said, barely able to contain his enthusiasm, “get running really fast and then jump.”

Mario would never be the same.

Watch how I soar…

11. Source Code

Plumbers, upon birth, are granted the great fortune of being able to die twice and still continue their existence. It doesn’t matter how, either. Fall down a pit? Second chance. Hit by a bullet? No problem. Run out of an arbitrary amount of time presumably set by the Koopa Gods? Just wind back the clock. Of course, it’s likely those things will happen to plumbers more than just three times during the span of their careers. They can earn more chances to fuck up. Why, the St. Peter of plumbers takes 100 gold coins in exchange for a second life. He also takes poisonous mushrooms.

Don’t try this at home kids. You will die.

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12. Leap of Faith

presented by nibbishment

The first level of world 8 featured a jump which needed a fair bit of precision (the jump onto the singular pillar towards the end of the level), but at least you could see the landing zone when you made the jump. About halfway through the second level, you were denied that opportunity.

Well, I mean… there has to be something over there, right?

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