Thursday, April 1, 2010

Super Mario Brothers 2

Where, indeed, da goombas at?

Also, I totally used cheats. That's what I get for making those little pictures up before actually re-playing the game.

Like any other kid, I was geeked to get my sticky little hands on a copy of Super Mario Bros. 2. We expected a continuation of the epic battle between Mario and Luigi and Bowser. More castles, more fireballs, more goombas. Goombas by the dozen!

And goombas. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

It occurs to me now that I have an unhealthy obsession with these walking, fanged mushrooms. But what we got was so very much different from what we expected.

At first, it all seemed neat. You could choose from one of four characters, still familiar from our carousing about in the mushroom kingdom the first time. You could play as Mario, who had no immediately apparent use; or Luigi, who could jump really high and flail his legs about in the air like know, there's really no good simile for what he does; Toadstool, who could pull shit out of the ground really fast; and the Princess, who wore a pretty pretty pink dress and could float for a couple seconds.

I was, as a kid, particularly excited about being able to play a game as a female character, because up until that point, I had not played an NES game with any female characters. (It was a while before someone told me that the main character in Metroid was a chick.)

And then the game started, and your heart raced, and your character dropped onto the screen in that first scene, and you thought...

What the hell is this??

No goombas. No koopa troopas, or discernable koopas of any kind. No, you get little pink freaks in noh masks, hopping vultures, giant-eyed fish, and some kind of end-level boss that lays eggs with its mouth. And then you have to throw the eggs at it, thereby defeating it with its own young.

And your weapons? Bombs and vegetables. Enemy in your way? Chuck a turnip at it!

Almost two decades later, my fiance would tell me that the game was actually based on a Japanese game called Doki Doki Panic. Hence the lack of mushroom- and turtle-based enemies.

The game was so difficult for me as a kid that I was satisfied with watching my childhood friend play it when we were hanging out at her grandmother's, rather than deal with the stress of whomping things with various veggies myself.

In re-playing it, I saw some peculiar things. One of these is the whales in the ice level that you have to traverse to make it to the other side. Observe:

Here, the whale appears to be a giant black slab with an eye and a gas problem. And if you're just walking around on the whale, minding your own business, and then walk into that stream coming from its blowhole, you get injured. However, if you're standing directly on top of the blowhole with the whale decides to, for lack of a better word, blow, this happens:

Oh, my. That can't be comfortable.

Then you get to the end. After fighting some pretty challenging bosses to get to this point, you end up with a lizard-man who won't eat his vegetables. So you're expected to help ease his nutritional difficulties by taking vegetables that shoot out of what appear to be the bells of brass instruments and toss them into this guy's mouth, while he is belching up bubbles at you.

Of course, I will help you with a visual aid.

Hm...not the best visual aid, because it looks like Mr. Main Enemy here is having some trouble with constipation. Maybe he could sing for a modern rock band. Is Hinder looking for a new front man?

So, what is your reward for defeating all these ridiculous enemies?

Turns out that everybody's favorite plumber ate a much-too-spicy pepperoni before bed. 'Twas naught but a dream!

To repeat the thoughts of my younger self, upon watching my friend conquer the game:

What the hell is this??