Like many, many gamers, I have a distinct love for Mario. I'm old enough to remember playing the original Mario Bros. in the arcade, and it remains one of my favorites of the series. Super Mario Bros. as well, where you had to wait in line to play and there were no guarantees you would get a turn before your parents came back for you. But of course Nintendo home consoles came along giving whole new life and a lot more meaning to Mario games. Super Mario Bros. frustrates me in a lot of ways, and Super Mario 2 I remember for its quirkiness, but never really got attached to it. Mario 3 is where the series sunk its hooks in, and it has had me ever since through all of its many incarnations. But there is still one game I always go back to, each time with a renewed fondness and enthusiasm.
Super Mario World.
It is hard to pinpoint why I am attached to it like I am. Over the years I've played it though so many times I can't focus on any specific thing. Not long ago I put it in just because I wanted to hear the music. Next thing I know I was 30 levels deep! Long ago when the game first arrived, I remember bragging to a friend that I'd almost beat the game and he asked how many levels I'd gone through. I said fifty something and he scoffed at me and said, "Dude there's like 80." My mind was blown. I went back to it and it was like playing a whole new game. This is way before the ubiquitous internets, secrets were pretty much word of mouth. As years went on, after enthusiastically attacking new Mario games, playing with awe and wonder as Mario 64 brought 3D into play, it's still Super Mario World that defines the series for me. I love the Switch Palaces, Donut Plains, Ghost Houses, secret exits, feathers, Forrest of Illusion, and of course... Yoshi. But there's another element to Mario's world that always itches my brain, and that is Mario's view of the world himself.
Which brings me to my art piece, "Memories of Star Road." In all the games, in all the levels he's traversed, I can't help but wonder if Mario ever stops to realize what he's been doing. Imagine he's been travelling across all these bizzarre locales and then finds the first warp exit to Star World. Hey, just another level right? Later on Mario takes another path and he gets a good look at where he's been, up in the clouds. Overwhelmed by his trials, he takes repose for the first time and wonders, "What is this crazy shit?"
That was the inspiration for this piece, a little love note to a game that has brought me so much fun and joy. No doubt it will continue to for a long time to come.
Nothing out of the ordinary for the art process. Rough idea in sketchbook, digital pencils and inks in Manga Studio, colors/paint in Photoshop. It was a mellow art experience and I'm happy to share it with you all.
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