As a kid, I idolized all of Nintendo's Mario games. I played the original NES trilogy to death, had Mario lunch boxes, pajamas, hats, and recorded the Super Mario Bros. Super Show every afternoon. That fondness extended past Elementary school: after a short relationship with Sega, the only consoles I ever purchased were Nintendo ones, which is true even as recently as my Wii purchase a few years ago.
Even recently, I made it a point to do something I always wanted to do: finish Super Mario Bros. 3 in its entirety, no warp whistles allowed. Doing that has to be one of my greatest gaming moments, alongside finishing Final Fantasy VII with every secret unlocked and those times my sister and I played Dance Dance Revolution in the arcades.
So you'd think when I got my hands on New Super Mario Bros. for the Wii (late to the party, I know), I'd be ecstatic. A throwback to those simpler times in my life. One of the most critically acclaimed games ever made by Nintendo. Mario the way I'd once loved him.
I hated it. Every single moment of that game was agony. I tried telling myself that maybe things weren't so bad, just keep playing and you'll get around to liking it. But after 20 minutes, I dropped the controller and just stared at the TV with nothing but contempt.
It had been months since I'd played a Mario game, so I know I'm not fatigued by it. It was just so alarming to see something I loved and cherished so much as a kid turn into something that I hated with such vile contempt. I'm sure I'm not the only person who has seen their tastes evolve, but this latest chapter actually makes me sad. There's so much history to Mario and I that it almost feels like a horrible breakup (a bit melodramatic, but you get the point).
Maybe I've done everything I possibly can with Mario. Maybe it's time to move on and devote myself more fully to other genres. Maybe my next gaming system should be something other than a Nintendo one (I love my PSP, and while I really like Zelda, that's the only Nintendo first-party franchise that I truly care about).
Without sounding too high and mighty, maybe the birth of my daughter four weeks ago flipped some switch in my brain. Not sure if anyone else has had that happen to them, but given the fact that I'm grinding through Final Fantasy I in my free-time, I doubt that birth flipped much of a switch, as I still love gaming. Still, the words of St. Paul do run through my brain: when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
There are a lot of faith aspects to this that are running through my head. The main thing is the fact that I pretty much worshipped Mario as a kid to the point of idolatry. Part of the reason I bought all of those Nintendo consoles is that childhood love of Mario: If I bought something different, it was like I was crapping all over my childhood and cursing a friend (when in reality, it's just a corporate product, not a true friend). Being disgusted with a Mario game makes me look back and start thinking about other things I've put in front of God. Playing on the computer. Work. Sports. Games. If I want to keep those other things from disgusting me at some point down the road, I'd better get my priorities straightened out.
Rest in peace, childhood memories.. I'll find another Mario really soon. And this time, I won't put it on such a pedestal.