As I have mentioned in previous posts, Tom was a huge fan of video games, and an expert player. This interest started very early, before he entered his teens, continued through the “golden age” of arcade games in the 1980s, and then beyond into his adulthood. He continued to enjoy playing video games his entire life, and it was a favorite pastime that he and my grandson G-man liked to do together.
Super Mario Brothers is a good example of the type of video game Tom enjoyed, and it was one of his favorites during his mid-teens. It was the successor to the 1983 arcade game Mario Brothers, which I described in an earlier post.
In Super Mario Brothers, the player takes on the role of the main protagonist of the series, Mario. Mario’s slightly younger fraternal twin brother, Luigi, is only playable by the second player in the game’s multiplayer mode, and assumes the same plot role as Mario. The objective is to race through the MushroomKingdom, survive the main antagonist Bowser′s forces and save Princess Toadstool. The player moves from the left side of the screen to the right side in order to reach the flag pole at the end of each level.
The game world has coins scattered around it for Mario to collect, and special bricks marked with a question mark (“?”), which when hit from below by Mario, may reveal more coins or a special item. Other “secret” (often invisible) bricks may contain more coins or rare items. If the player gains a red and yellow Super Mushroom, Mario grows to double his size and can take one extra hit from most enemies and obstacles, in addition to being able to break bricks above him. Players are given a certain number of lives (and may gain additional lives by picking up green and orange ‘1-Up’ mushrooms, collecting 100 coins, or defeating several enemies in a row with a Koopa shell), which are lost when Mario takes too much damage, falls in a pit, or runs out of time; the game ends when all lives are lost. The game consists of eight worlds with four sub-levels called “stages” in each world.The final stage of each world takes place in a castle where Bowser or one of his decoys are fought. The game also includes some stages taking place underwater, which contain different enemies. In addition, there are bonuses and secret areas in the game. Most secret areas contain more coins for Mario to collect, but others may contain “warp pipes” which allow Mario to advance to later worlds in the game, skipping over earlier ones.
In contrast to Mario Brothers, where Mario would be hurt by stomping on turtles without first flipping them on their backs, Mario could defeat turtles by stomping on their shells; this change came about because the developers had decided the previous approach had been illogical.