It’s March 10, or as Nintendo Fans like to think of it, Mar10 day. While it may feel a little superfluous to celebrate Mar10 this year, due to the ongoing celebrations for the 35th Anniversary of Super Mario Bros, I still feel compelled to take a minute to talk about what Mario means to me. I may not consider Mario my favourite video game franchise or video game character, but the plumber is very near and dear to my heart.
“While there may be other platformers I like better, I tend to consistently enjoy myself with Mario games, and find myself able to relax with them.”
Of course, there is the obvious; Mario is the de facto mascot of Nintendo and to a large extent the face of video games in general. Sure, other major video game characters have come out before and after the plumber’s debut, but you would be hard-pressed to find a video game character more immediately recognizable than Mario. He’s a gaming icon.
And yes, the games are fun. Mario has consistently been a huge influence on the platformer genre, essentially always being the one to beat, to strive to surpass. While there may be other platformers I like better, I tend to consistently enjoy myself with Mario games, and find myself able to relax with them. Some of the games may be better than others, but generally speaking, I have fun when I sit down and play a Mario game. But Mario means more to me than just platforming fun.
“Mario was a way to bridge that gap. It was a way to bring us together.”
I know I’ve mentioned this in other articles, but I didn’t get a home console until my early teens. Most of my video game experiences for a good chunk of my life were over at friends and family. In the case of the NES, that was typically with my cousins. Whenever we came to visit, my cousins would pull out the Nintendo, and there would be six or more of us, gathered around the TV, passing the controller around. And the games of choice tended to be Mario.
I was definitely the baby of the bunch of us. My oldest cousin is a good decade older than me. Everyone else was pretty much two to five years older than me. While that isn’t as huge a gap when you’ve reached adulthood, it may as well have been a century at the time. All of them were going to big kid school and things like that. It felt like they were in an entirely different world from me, one that I couldn’t quite reach, but that was so cool. To me, my cousins and my siblings were the coolest people in the universe. I so desperately wanted to be a part of that.
Mario was a way to bridge that gap. It was a way to bring us together. Sure, I may not have been able to understand what life was like for the big kids at the time, but we could all understand Mario going to save a princess. We could understand the joy of finding a warp whistle or the Tanooki Suit in Super Mario Bros. 3. We could watch the Super Mario Bros. Super Show together and enjoy it. It was something that could connect us.
“While I don’t think Mario will ever bring about world peace, I love the franchise’s ability to bring people together.”
And that’s a big chunk of why Mar10 and Mario are so important to me. Like any media, like any art form, video games are something that can connect us, and bring us together. People of vastly different ages and walks of life can understand, play, and enjoy video games. And Mario, being one of the best-known franchises out there, can bring together so many people.
The modern gamer does not know the impact Mario had upon its release, and while I only experienced it second-hand, I can only feel that the modern gamer is missing out on the beauty that came from a platformer where it was just you and the elements. Now we have gaming websites like Pokie Player and retro resources if you want to reminisce, but those first few Mario games did so much more for the world than we realise.
While I don’t think Mario will ever bring about world peace (although it would be magical if he did), I love the franchise’s ability to bring people together. Whether it’s Mario Kart, the sports games, Smash Bros, or the regular games, there is something magical, and timeless about Mario that can bring people of all sorts together. Something about him makes us all feel a little better; a little braver. Mario’s example encourages us all to enjoy life and to be the most heroic that we can be. His courage in the face of adversity is something we can all admire.
“I hope you all enjoy this Mar10”
A few months ago, I was at work, and I had to go into one of the classrooms to ask one of the teachers a question. As I was doing this, I noticed that one of the children had a collection of plushies with them. Curious, I went over and recognized a couple of familiar faces. “Let’s see. You’ve got Kamek, you’ve got Bowser Jr, you’ve got Iggy and Larry Koopa, yeah?” I asked with a smile.
The teacher of that classroom looks at me as though I am insane, but the child looks up at me in awe and wonder.
“I didn’t think that anyone else knew who these were!”
“Are you kidding?” I chuckle, “I’ve been playing Mario for more than thirty years. Of course, I know these guys.”
Ever since that day, that child will excitedly come by the kitchen to tell me about the new Mario plushies and merchandise he has gotten, and I am excited every single time.
So I hope you all enjoy this Mar10, regardless of what flavour of Mario game you happen to enjoy. Whether old or new, I hope you get just as much out of the series as I have. And in the meantime, I’m eagerly awaiting to see another Mario plushie show up at work. What are you doing this Mar10?