For this month's community themed blog, I am going all the way back. Back before colored handhelds, before pocket sizes portables, to the days of the original Game Boy. Before a lengthy family vacation, my parents bought me and my brother Game Boys. His had Tetris, and mind had Super Mario Land. From the moment I turned that gray box on for the first time, I knew I was in for a treat. And I did not know how right I was. Super Mario Land changed who I was. The game took me from childhood into adolescence. I started the game as a child, but ended as a man.
While sitting in an airplane seat that was way too big for me, I flicked on the Game Boy for the first time. I watched the words "Nintendo" slowly fall from the top of the screen and come to rest in the center of the tiny screen. The words faded, and I was soon greeted with the game's title screen and song that quickly became ingrained in my brain. I enjoyed the theme song so much, I sat through it a few times before I began playing the game. To this day I can only think of a handful of games that have had that affect on me. Once the 8-bit symphony was finished, I started playing.
As I played through the first level, I moved past being smitten and began to love this game. The music was fantastic, the enemies were fun to kill, and I was having the time of my life. I recall laughing out loud on the plane as I crushed turtles, flattened Goombas, and made stone heads explode. For me, this was pure ecstasy. But my joy was not to last.
After about ten minutes, my world of fun came to a stop. I received my first "Game Over." I was half way through the second level, and one of those jumping piranha plant's got the drop on me. I jumped, it jumped, and we collided. I had died before, so I first viewed this as an annoyance more than anything else. But unlike every other time, this time I did not come back. The words "Game Over" slowly rose from the bottom of the screen. I didn't
know what this meant. Why couldn't I come back? Could I ever play the game again? I was so hurt, more than anything else. Why had my love betrayed me? Couldn't it give me more lives? Why had it forsaken me? Upset and confused, I turned the game off.
An hour or so later, I turned the game back on. Mario was still there, happy as could be, and I we began our adventure again. This time, we made it to the world boss. After losing a couple lives, I finally beat him. My little heart was so excited! And, after the wall lifted, there she was! There was Daisy! "Oh, Daisy!" I said. "Oh, Mario!" she replied. I had saved the love of my life, and I was quiet proud of myself. This feeling was not to last Suddenly, Daisy turned into a a monster, and hopped off screen. Now I was pissed. I wanted to know who could have done this, and I pressed on to find the villain responsible.
All in all, it took me several months of trying and trying to beat that game. But finally, the day came where I blew up the alien thing, and flew off with Daisy in my ship. She didn't transform this time! I put the Game Boy down with some satisfaction. I had done it. I had won.
Why would I tell you such a story? Super Mario Land changed who I was. I started the game as a child, but ended as a man. The game took me from childhood into adolescence. As silly as it sounds, I learned so many life lessons from SML. Coping with loss? Check. Perseverance? Check. Winning the girl in the end? That's a big check. I have been hard pressed to find another game that has had that affect on me. But it's the reason I continued to play games. I continued to play games to find another game to wow my like Super Mario Land did. I managed to find it in Super Mario World, which is a whole other blog (Continuation of an Affair?), but you never forget your first.
Super Mario Land. The game that changed my life.