Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Super Mario Brothers

I've been using screenshots to illustrate my previous blog posts, but I don't think that will be necessary to illustrate the original Super Mario Brothers. If you haven't played it, then you're either a) too young, b) were raised by Ned Flanders, or c) don't play video games, and I'm surprised you're reading this at all.

I don't remember how old I was when my family got an NES. It was either eight or nine. And every system came with the Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt package. And I enjoyed both games immensely. With Duck Hunt, I learned the joy of killing ducks, and then sending forth a dog to retrieve the carcass, or to enjoy the bloodless sport of shooting clay pigeons.

With Super Mario Bros., I learned the joys of jumping on giant mushrooms.

Now, when I think about it, it would be perfectly natural to jump on and crush to death a waist-high mushroom that is actually approaching you. Mushrooms shouldn't move. That's all there is to it. Especially when they have huge eyes that have the mean guy slants to them, like they're angry all the time.

When I played the game through again recently, it still had the same effect on me as it did when I was a kid: elation when I got the fireworks at the end of a level, thinking "this is cool!" when I got the water level, and being totally impressed when the sky turned black to indicate that all the action was going on at night.

Mario was so cool that he could even stomp mushrooms at night!

In retrospect, I'm not really sure what purpose Luigi served in the game, other than to give it a two-person capability. Nobody got excited about being Luigi. He was the tall, skinny sidekick, decked out in green. I supposed, at the end, he just stood back and watched his brother save the princess, get all the credit, and go on to a life of wealth and fame in the Mushroom Kingdom where he is worshipped by dwarves with mushroom caps on their heads. And twenty years later, when Mushroom Kingdom reporters find him frozen to death on a city park bench, he will be referred to in the article as "Luigi, the Robert to Mario's Raymond."

Okay, back to the entry. Enough with the segue.

Another part of my childhood was getting together with friends of the family, who had a couple kids around my and my sister's ages. They also had an NES. So when the families would get together, we kids would gather 'round the game systems while our parents sat at a table, played cards, and got really, really loud. And usually around midnight, we kids would filter out and beg the adults to order up some Domino's pizza, because at the time, Domino's was the shit.

When it wasn't my turn at the controller (and being the youngest, that was pretty rare anyway), I would read the instruction manual that game with the game cartridge. Not only did this glossy little booklet come with actual instructions on how to play the game, but also a listing of the game's enemies and what they were called. So I memorized the name of all the enemies, and when I yelled, "Stomp on that goomba," no one knew what the hell I was talking about.

However, when I explained that the goomba was the angry-looking mushroom guy, the four of us decided that this was a funny word.

Now, here's the part that proves all little kids are assholes. Our friends had a neighbor who may or may not have been developmentally handicapped. Time has clouded whether or not this was a fact, or if the neighbor was simply annoying. We decided to start referring to this neighbor as "Goomba."

In addition, we got it into our heads that Goomba liked flashlights. I don't remember what the basis for this was, but it was stone-hard fact in our little world.

I really wish memory served me well, because then I could tell you exactly why we came up with the concept that if this neighbor had a band, it would be called Goomba and the Flashlights.

This wouldn't have worked if we were British, because Goomba and the Torches just doesn't have the same ring to it.

We even came up with an opening song that Goomba and the Flashlights would sing at the beginning of each show. It was pretty much singing "Goomba! And the Flashlights!" over and over again to whatever tune was in our messed-up little brains at the time.

If you watch South Park, do you remember when Timmy was the front man for the Lords of the Underworld? The Goomba and the Flashlights song went kind of like that.

So, for your convenience, I'm going to sum up this whole, rambling blog posts in a few numbered points for you, rendering everything you've read up to the point completely extraneous information. (Do you remember your first communion? No? That's because those brain cells are now being used to remember this post!)

1. Everyone who was a kid for at least part of the 80s remembers Super Mario Bros.
2. Mushrooms shouldn't move.
3. Everyone loves Raymond, not Robert. That's why it's called "Everybody Loves Raymond."
4. Kids are assholes.
5. Kids are big assholes.
6. You've just lost more brain cells on this post, you poor bastard.