I haven’t been on this planet quite 30 years yet. I just turned 29 in 2015 and while I’m getting close to being at the base of the proverbial “hill” I still have one year of my twenties to live it up. I define “living it up” by watching netflix on Friday nights and eating plenty of fiber. Throughout my almost-thirty years there have been very few constants in my life. Sure my hair and eye color have remained the same, my parents are still my parents, but things change greatly over a span of three decades. We see it in almost every different form of media, from art to film and back again. However, in a constantly changing and evolving world one thing has remained constant; Super Mario Bros. is the greatest game ever.
I will get challenged on my bold claim, they will say that Super Mario Bros. 3 is superior. Nerds will come out of their caves with pitchforks screaming things like: Zelda! Final Fantasy VII! Halo! Half Life 2! and so on, ad nauseaum. There are many things that I COULD do in this instance, but this unorthodox move should shut them up. To all the critics and Red Bull fueled Rage Monsters, please shut up and listen to this.
Now you’ll most likely say, “Mike Staub…that’s just a silly theme song! How does that prove Super Mario Bros. is the greatest game?”. This theme song is iconic. Everyone knows it and you’ll be humming it all day now! Super Mario Bros. is more than just a great game. It’s more than just an ageless wonder. Super Mario Bros. is a cultural icon. No other game has the cultural significance of Mario. When the word “videogame” is uttered most people will immediately think of Mario, Super Mario Bros., and this cheerful face.
This is all because Mario IS the manifestation of everything that came before him and set the stage for everything to come after him. He’s the Mickey Mouse of video gaming. While he still shows up in plenty of games, Mario has surpassed even his own popularity has has become an avatar or a singularity. He has been around for almost 35 years and I find it highly likely that he’s going to be just as popular in another 35. While he didn’t debut in Super Mario Bros., it is his shining moment. For without Super Mario Bros. we’d most likely have nothing today.
Without the history lesson, Super Mario Bros. and the NES are almost single-handedly responsible for the survival of video games in the mid 1980s. Mario proved that gaming wasn’t just a fad and it was here to stay. That is what makes Super Mario Bros. so great. It has transcended its medium and has become something else completely. No conversation about the “greatest games ever” can happen without Super Mario Bros. It’s the hero we wanted and deserved.
Super Mario Bros. is quite close to perfect. It’s level design, physics, and gameplay have more than withstood the test of time. If you go back and play many other games from the mid 1980s you’ll feel the same lethargy that has plagued other classic (or retro) titles. Super Mario Bros. still feels right. It feels fresh. I credit Nintendo with making something feel so timeless, as though they made this game thinking about how it will be played decades into the future. With incredible foresight and boyish vision, Nintendo crafted what can easily be called the greatest game ever. It’s fun, challenging, and still incredibly addictive. Any time I fire up Super Mario Bros. I know i’ll be busy for a while. It has aged nicely, better than fine wine. Playing Super Mario Bros. today reminds us of what makes a great game great. It is a clinic on great game design. While many may think that turning Super Mario Bros. on may feel like opening a time capsule, it doesn’t. If anything the NES is like a time machine that allows you to live in 1985 for just a little while. Few cultural icons are this timeless and to this day, Super Mario Bros. represents everything about what makes gaming great.
So we light up the cake to celebrate all things Mario. As we look back over the past 30 years we see unending hours of fun. We can see how video gaming has grown up alongside Mario and Luigi. While many things have changed, the Super Mario Bros. remain constant. The final strands of our childhood calling us back to the sandbox one last time. We mustn’t forget about them either! Mario and Luigi represent so much positivity, creativity, and wonder. I still sit in front of the television and its blue glow, humming the theme that will be etched into my eardrums for the rest of my life. Remembering what it’s like to be kid again and loving every second of it. While Mario has gone on to star in well over 100 games and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue; we must remember though, it all started with a plumber.
Happy birthday, big guy. You deserve it. Thanks for all the memories.