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TheDustinThomas avatar 1:21 PM on 06.04.2013  (server time)
My Gaming Story: A Fire-Charred Copy of SMB3

I have an older brother who only buys one new game a year. He buys it in November. I'll give you three guesses what game that is, and the first two guesses don't count. Even though my brother fits into the oft-overused "Dudebro" category, it was he who influenced me to start playing videogames. While he eventually lost interest in gaming as a whole, my love only grew. For anyone who has an older sibling, it's easy for you to understand what I mean when I say that I wanted to be just like him, and because of that, I did all the things he did. My brother played baseball, so I played baseball. My brother started listening to heavy metal, so I started listening to heavy metal. And, yes, my brother played videogames, therefore, I played videogames.

As children born in the 80s (my brother in 82, and me in 85), the NES naturally became a part of our living room, and we got ours in 1988. Like most 80s kids, we didn't own a lot of games, but every other day my mom would take us to the local Marsh Supermarket to rent one (it boggles my mind now to think that we used to be able to rent games at a grocery store). Also like most kids my age, the game that cemented my love of the medium was Super Mario Bros. 3. I remember taping the movie The Wizard on CBS shortly after its release, and that's when I first heard about the game. I'm sure a lot of people are thinking "I've already heard this story," but before you hit the 'back' button or close the tab, I promise I'm going somewhere with this.

My wife and I have decided to frame this in our home.

Being 8 and 5-years-old at the time, my brother and I had no idea about release dates, all that we knew was that we had to have SMB3 by any means necessary. That summer, as a joint birthday present (our birthdays are only 15 days apart), our parents officially became the coolest parents in the history of parenthood. I remember seeing that shiny yellow box, with big blue letters that I'm pretty sure said "SUPER MARIO BROS. 3 MARIO'S A FREAKIN' RACCOON NOW!!!!!"

"Why is Mario a raccoon?"

Hey guys, I don't know if you all know this or not, but Super Mario Bros. 3 is a pretty good videogame. It's the first game that I have very vivid memories of playing. I remember being scared of the sun in World 2 and how blown my mind was when I first got the frog suit.

The fun, however, didn't last long. Shortly after receiving the game and starting kindergarten, there was a little problem with our house. That little problem being that it blew up. There was a gas leak in our utility room that had somehow gotten triggered, causing an explosion, and luckily no one was home at the time. We lost everything: clothes, furniture, my WWF Hasbro figures, we had to give away our golden retriever, and yes, we lost our beloved Nintendo Entertainment System. When we went by the next day to try and sift through the remains and see if there was anything that we could salvage, the only things I found that I cared about was one of my Hulk Hogan figures and our copy of Mario 3, both of which showed signs of their brushes with the blazes. I thought there was no way the game was still going to work, as it had been blackened by soot, but I decided to take it with us anyway.

I like to imagine it looked something like this.

We moved in with my grandmother for a few months until my parents found us a new house for rent. When we moved in, we were given an amazing surprise. My mother's coworkers pooled money together and bought my brother and I a brand new NES. We didn't have any other games outside of the mandatory Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt, but we didn't care, we had our NES back, we begged our parents to take us to the supermarket.

We knew it was a long shot, but we put SMB3 in just to see, if by some miracle, it still worked. We hit the power button, it didn't. No problem, we knew how to fix NES games: by loosing every last bit of our lung capacity into that fire-charred cartridge. We must have spent no less than a half hour huffing and puffing into that game. And when we finally saw that red curtain being pulled skyward, revealing one of the most beautiful sights thine eyes had ever beheld, that was the moment I knew I loved videogames. It wasn't the act of playing them that gave me this epiphany, it was the fact that I had missed them so much when I had no way to play them. Ever since then, videogames and I have been inseparable.

Super Mario Bros. 3 is already an all-time classic, but for me, it has a little extra sentimental value.

Thanks for reading,


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