Since 2007, I’ve played Super Mario Bros. 3 every year. It was released on November 5, 2007, on Nintendo’s classic games service, the Virtual Console, for 500 Wii points. It was like Nintendo was telling me Happy Thanksgiving, here’s your childhood.
I didn’t play much of the first Super Mario Bros. and didn’t get the chance to play the sequel until much later. I had the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game for the NES that gave children nightmares and made them question why these mascots of awesomeness would do this to them. It was Super Mario Bros. 3 that saved me from giving up games for the rest of my life. It opened a door to a world of possibilities – I could fly, explore, find secrets and a accomplish great things by playground standards.
If you asked me why I feel the need to play Super Mario Bros. 3 every year since 2007, I could tell you that it is because it’s Super Mario Bros. 3, which is often regarded as the greatest game of all time. But there’s something else behind this tradition.
It reminds me of times when I would wake up before the sun even had a chance to consider rising into the sky just to get my fix. A child sitting too close to the television blowing into the cartridge to make sure it loaded up on the first try. It did and I played until I ran out of lives. That’s where I spent a portion of my childhood finding secrets and manically trying not to lose my frog suit.
Today I play it and still find the game as good and addictive as I did so many years ago. I do see it in a different light now, though. I find fascination in the game’s design. The lack of a save system for such a sprawling game, the map-like world-exploration, the new items and suits that add another layer of fun and challenge. The secrets are almost embedded into my memory, anyone who saw The Wizard knows about the warp whistle and still ask themselves how Haley knew about it.
Thanksgiving is a time to pay homage to things in life we are thankful for. For me, that includes this game because I am thankful that it kept me interested in video games. Without it I might have never begged for a Super Nintendo and I might have never discovered my favorite game. I might have missed all this excitement in the gaming industry. I may have even missed connecting with the friends that I have now.
Forget New Super Mario Bros. U, this Thanksgiving I will be playing Super Mario Bros. 3 again. It’s one of the games I am thankful for and owe something to.
Super Mario Bros. 3 just seems to be my comfort game. It’s not my favorite game (that honor goes to Chrono Trigger). Realizing this has made me wonder if other people have comfort games or games they go back to ritualistically or even just a game they are thankful for. If anyone has one, please leave a comment below and tell us about it.