She’s In Another Castle!

A Super Mario All-Stars 20th anniversary throwback.

It was Christmas of 1993 and I remember unearthing a very special gift from my parents from beneath the tree.

A Super Nintendo console bundle which was to be the birth of gaming for myself. Whilst my sister and I had previously experienced video gaming on my dad’s Atari 2600 Junior, with classic games such as Berzerk and the 32-games-in-one cartridge, we had never owned a gaming machine for ourselves. With the introduction of the SNES into the family however, that quickly changed.

We spent hours upon hours of playing, and fighting for the controller to the game that would ultimately define my gaming self: Super Mario Bros 3. Literally, that game cartridge was actually Super Mario Bros All-Stars. However, my sister and I always skipped over the original, Lost Levels and SMB2. Super Mario Bros 3 was the game that saw the most love on that cartridge.

Button-bashing became a thing for us. Controller-bashing also became a thing – across each other’s heads of course. Coordination was a must. We were seven and six at the time, but it didn’t take long for us to learn good dexterity. Running and jumping (and correctly, mind you) were essentially the two things that we learned that enabled us to progress. What took us weeks to finish at the time though, takes us minutes these days. You only get better through better practice.

Warp Tunnels and Magic Flutes whistled their way into conversations, passed on like secret information between fellow SMB3 owners. Visiting family suddenly became interesting when we could switch on the Nintendo and challenge cousins to completing castles and the like. It didn’t matter that four of us would be kicking and screaming over the two gamepads, huddled over a 32cm TV. Yes, that’s right, I said thirty-two centimetres, monster-television lovers. Go get your rulers out. That didn’t matter one bit back then. All that mattered was getting the run-jump perfected to grab the Star Card.

The comfort of the SNES gamepad also made SMB3 extremely easy to pick up and go with. Cartridge games were so durable that they could be handled by kids, and they were. If ever the software did not load, and often you would find the start-up screen glitchy; you simply blew into the cartridge internals on the underside. Hey presto, good and working! This faulty feature carried over from the days of the NES, but try doing that with your disc based games now. Nothing happens. The scratches remain.

When it came time to turn off the console, and go do homework or head off to bed – we did so reluctantly. The game was merely put onto hiatus, on hold. The curtains came down and the TV faded to black. There was only so much strangling by controller-wire my sister could endure in a day. That wasn’t all, folks. We would always be back for more Super Mario Bros 3, it was just a question of when not if.


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