What do you mean the Princess is in another castle??

I am not what you would call a gamer, although my tenure as a Wii owner have made me wish I was better at playing fake guitar. For some reason, I never got past the 16-bit games.

When Mom & Dad finally bought my little brother and I our own Nintendo console, they got us the version that came with the Power Pad. Of course, once they discovered that we had to run and jump on the Power Pad, they told us we couldn’t use it. We lived in an apartment complex and the thumping would be a disturbance to our neighbors. Actually, I guess they were our tenants; Mom rented the apartments and Dad was the super. This early childhood guilt would eat at me every time I set up My Fitness Coach as an adult and the trainer wanted me to jump around my living room like an asshole. I lived on the second floor; jumping wouldn’t have been fair to anyone.

Anyway, we also had (of course) Duck Hunt. I always thought when you were playing the Clay Shooting part, you were shooting UFO’s. And the dog looked a little dopey holding up all the dead ducks. (How incredibly not vegan.)

For me, it was Super Mario Bros. all the way.

In the first game, I tried to save the Princess without cheating. I really did. But then I realized that in World 3-1, at the very end, if you hit the duck/turtle thing (the Koopa Troopa if you want to get technical) and then keep hitting his shell against the pyramid step, you can get infinite lives. Well, 128 anyway. Anything after that and you lose the game at the end of that life.

That was it. Add in the warp capabilities, and I was on my way. I saved the Princess more times than I can count.

Then came Mario 2. Mario was too wimpy to use, and Luigi sucked with those feet of his. Toad was good at picking up objects and running, but I usually used the Princess, who could float. Don’t think I ever beat this game – mainly because we didn’t own it and there were only so many times Mom & Dad were willing to rent it for me. But I loved picking up objects – including the bad guys – and throwing them at the enemy.

Mario 3. Never owned this one either. I have a feeling I beat it but I don’t remember the details. Mario got to dress in several different suits instead of just getting bigger and throwing fireballs. And you got to fight on pirate ships. Ok, there were no pirates, but whatever.

Sure there were other games. Tetris. Paper Boy. But nothing beats Mario on that NES.

Several years ago my ex-roommate resurrected her old console from her Mom’s and bought used versions of a bunch of games at the video store. Unfortunately, blowing into the game cartridge didn’t work the same when the cartridge was over twenty years old.

But the Wii came through. First, with New Super Mario Bros. Oh. My. God. At first play, it was like everything I liked about Super Mario 1 and 3, with added stuff I had no idea what to do with. Shaking the controller? Whoa! My first foray into that game was three hours of playtime and a billion continues. It was like I was ten all over again!

And then, there was the Super Mario Bros. set. NES’s 1, 2 and 3 for the Wii. Childhood is always a few presses of the button away.

Ah, Nintendo. You will always be my number one. With the pending snowstorm this weekend, perhaps I should get a game or five in.

This essay was originally written in January, 2010. It is published here with minor edits.

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