Sunday, November 2, 2008

My Life in Games: Part 1: Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt (1988)

I was 3 years old when I first picked up a NES controller. I was visiting relatives and my 8-year-old cousin's NES was hooked up to the TV in the living room. I watched him play Duck Hunt for a while and apparently he let me give it a try. (My memory is understandably foggy.) I was pretty awful at it. I was only 3 years old, so that was to be expected. I was perfectly happy just blasting away at those ducks. If I managed to hit one, great. If not, I liked the dog and his little laughing noise anyway.

I also gave Super Mario Bros. a try. I was less awful at that. I wasn't great with the bottomless pits, though. I lacked self-confidence. I could make it to level 2 by going into the pipe in the first area and skipping most of level 1, including all of the holes. I'd play until I got to that first mandatory hole, and then I'd just stop. Then I'd start over! I didn't make much progress that way, but I liked it. I don't know what I was afraid of, though. What's the worst thing that could happen if I fell? I'd lose a life, or get a Game Over. So what? My tiny toddler brain didn't understand the consequences and I decided to err on the side of caution.

I'm kind of glad my first two games were such iconic ones. Especially Super Mario Bros.. Super Mario Bros. came out the year I was born. I don't even really need to explain why it's such an iconic game. It was a giant hit. People would buy a NES just for this game. It made Mario into the star he is today. At one point, Mario was more famous among children than Mickey Mouse. Super Mario Bros. marked the beginning of revitalizing the video game industry, as well as the beginning of my life as a gamer.