While my wife and I have only been married two months, we've been together for five years now and always have fun exchanging gifts. She's the artistic one and is a master of tailoring, crafting, and painting, and she's given me several of her creations that have special romantic sentiment to us that also tie together with our love of video games. Climb our stairway and you'll find framed photos of us next to the jerkass goose from Untitled Goose Game stitched with his to-do list of tasks, one of which is a crossed off "Steal your heart". Around the holidays she hangs our Mushroom Kingdom-inspired wreath and we bring out the menorah she built based on the pipes from Super Mario Bros. As for me, I'm not creative in that way. I'm a writer, not a builder. Usually I give her things that I buy from stores instead of something I create because I know that's not where my talent lies, but this year I was struck with special inspiration for a Christmas gift, and like so many of the good things that have come out of this damned year 2020, it all started with our wedding. No, wait; actually, this really goes all of the way back to over twenty years ago.
I know I can't be the only one who has a story about how Nintendo's landmark 1996 release Super Mario 64 changed everything when it came to playing and perceiving video games. We'll sidestep the usual "3D immersion / polygons / exploration" part of the story, and instead I want to point out an architectural detail from the game that struck me then and still sticks with me now. When Mario is first guided up to the front of Princess Peach's castle, it's impossible to miss the massive stained glass window image of the princess in profile on the front of the structure. The Nintendo 64 image textures were fuzzy and lacked precise details, but the idea was clearly there and my mind's eye filled in the visual gaps just like it did for so many other video game visuals that suggested more than was actually on the screen. The stained glass element has recurred in most every other incarnation of the castle as it's appeared in other Super Mario games over the years even as the castle design itself has changed. It's an iconic element.
Now, back to the present. As I stood before family and friends last month and watched my fiancée walk down the aisle to become my wife last month, I was mesmerized with how exceptionally beautiful she was in that moment. She looked as if she'd walked right out of classical artwork, and I was hit with inspiration. I had an image in my head of my wife in her wedding dress depicted in the stained glass window in place of Peach, and I just couldn't let go of it. Later in the day at the reception, I flagged down my wife's Matron of Honor who is a talented artist and asked if she would be willing to help me out with a project, and of course she was on board. I gave her the source images of the castle and reference images of my wife in her wedding dress. It didn't take her long to turn around the finished artwork which I then set against the actual brick texture from Super Mario 64 and had mounted on acrylic to give the finished portrait a reflective glow in the light. And that, kids, is how I came to give my wife a portrait of herself in the style of Princess Peach in stained glass for Christmas this year.
My wife loves it so much that she wants to have a companion piece made of me in my wedding suit in the same style to hang beside it. Right away I said that there is no Mario stained glass window in the castle, but this is our castle now and we'll do what we want.