Super Mario: The Next Generation
December 14, 2017
For Thanksgiving this year my girlfriend and I had dinner with her family and, as part of the festivities, I was asked to bring my Super NES Classic console to the house so that her nieces, Talia (age six) and Claire (age three), could try a Super Mario game for the first time. I took this as an honored responsibility. When I was first introduced to Super Mario Bros. at the age of six, it was a life-changing event that rippled outward into the rest of my childhood and beyond into my adult years. I owe my career to an early start with computers and video games, particularly games with Mario and friends. Who knows what impact Super Mario could have on these children if I introduced the game correctly? There's no telling what positive impact they could later have on society as a result of it. I had to get this right. The future was counting on it.
My girlfriend, her sister-in-law, and I sat the girls down in front of the television on Thanksgiving morning after the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade ended and explained that they were about to play a game. Their mother remembered Super Mario World from her own childhood and quickly cleared the Yoshi's Island 1 and Yoshi's Island 2 stages. She passed the controller to Talia and pointed her to the easiest stage in the game, Yellow Switch Palace. Talia stomped the P-switch and ran back and forth, collecting coins before they vanished as quickly as they'd appeared before moving on to hit the big yellow switch block to scatter yellow blocks throughout Dinosaur Land. Claire was enraptured as she watched the action unfold. Unfortunately, that was the extent of Talia's progress as there's an awful lot going on in Super Mario World that can overwhelm a new player, particularly a very young one. Jump, spin jump, collect coins, grab that Super Mushroom, don't run into the Koopa Troopas, pick up that Koopa shell & throw it upward at that block, look out for the Cheep Cheep, tap the button repeatedly to swim, oops you're dead. We hadn't even tried to explain Yoshi yet! The whole experiment lasted maybe fifteen minutes before the girls lost interest and moved on to the next activity.
So, in the end, neither girl was really interested in Super Mario World, but the adults in the room had fun with the console. One by one, everyone in the late twenties to early thirties age bracket grabbed a controller to take a brief run through games like Super Mario Kart, Donkey Kong Country, and F-Zero. We had more fun than the children did! Although I like to think that Talia picked up something from the experience. While playing in the house later in the morning, she was spin jumping her way around the room. Perhaps Mario and I reached her after all.