Monday, November 07, 2011

Questions Reasonable People Should Have Upon Playing Super Mario Bros. for the First Time

(See title for gist.)

Wait, why do coins give Mario extra lives?

Why am I being rewarded for collecting money but not for killing enemies and collecting points? Shouldn’t the points be the more valuable form of currency?

So he’s saving mushroom people but he’s also eating mushrooms? Isn’t that kind of fucked up?

And there are also evil walking mushrooms?

Is this, like, a drug thing?

Why are turtles evil? Or are they just anti-mushroom?

Why is Mario a stereotype of Italian people?

Why does he lower the flag at the end of each level only to raise a secondary, smaller flag in the castle he runs into?

Why would touching something stupid like an evil walking mushroom or a turtle cause you to get injured or die?

So the bricks just float there in the air?

Why is it the same boss at the end of every world? Does he come back to life every time you kill him?

Wait, how do you fly?

Why is the princess of the mushroom people herself not a mushroom?

Did the dragon thing want to, like, eat the princess? Or marry the princess?

So it’s a kingdom, but the person in charge is a princess?

Where did all the people live before the turtles came? Like, in the castles? They have wooden fences and plentiful trees but everyone lives in brick castles?

Are the “castles levels” at the end of each world where the mushroom people normally lived? Did they design the castles to be full of lava and spinning fireballs and stuff?

For a game where you have to eat mushrooms and ingest other psychedelic objects to get superpowers, isn’t the whole money-as-life metaphor weirdly conservative?

If he can break bricks by punching them, why doesn’t Mario just punch the bad guys?


  1. Ha! We're on the same wavelength at the moment, Drew -- over the weekend I wrote up a review of the Famicom version of Super Mario Bros. for my blog and in that review (which will be published in the next few weeks) I talk about the surreal quality of Mario's maiden adventure. Really, it's amazing how we've all come to accept the bizarre trappings of this series (floating Question Blocks, zombie mushrooms, etc.) over the years as "normal" and expected :)

  2. Anonymous8:08 PM

    Erm, I can't seem to post links, so:
    Go to Destructoid. Type in "The Six Sinister Things About Super Mario" and "Sympathy for Bowser". All will make sense then.

  3. I've often wondered about some of these things, too. Also, I took a stab at the questions you asked, even though I'm pretty sure they were rhetorical.

  4. Bryan: Indeed. In fact, your thingie on Panic Restaurant inspired my thingie on Panic Restaurant. I benefit from others' nostalgia, it turns out.

  5. Snifit: I appreciate these answers, but I think the questions should linger.

  6. Nathan: Were they rhetorical? I want people to think about the answers, but I don't think any one response is the correct one. For what it's worth, your responses were perfectly reasonable, and your questions as well.

  7. Bryan (again): Credit it to a desire to bump up comments if you must, but I've adopted your one-response-per-comment technique.

  8. Thanks! I've probably put more thought into this than the subject really merits.

  9. From who killed videogames? (a ghost story):

    "Game design is about crafting a micro-economy. Even in an action game, every action the player or an enemy can perform is a stock or a bond or a unit of currency that can be traded for something else. As the screen scrolls from left to right, Super Mario Bros.’s market fluctuates. One fireball can buy one dead koopa. The points at the top of the screen can’t buy anything. Given enough time and a spreadsheet, I could tell you how many dead Goombas a Bowser fireball is worth."

  10. Anonymous5:52 PM

    "Is this, like, a drug thing?"

    "Wait, how do you fly"

    It's a drug thing.

  11. Adam: I can honestly say I've never thought about games in the sense of economics... aside from how much games cost, of course. Interesting.