Sunday, July 29, 2012

Super Mario 64 and Why It Shouldn't Take Eight Years to Collect 120 Stars

The cartridge that started an obsession.
Let's get personal. Rewind a few years back, to a time before I cared about the clothes I wore or even tried to call myself a gamer. I don't remember the year exactly but let's estimate that it was 1997, shortly after the release of the Nintendo 64.

I was lucky enough to grow up around video games. Everyone in my family played them and played them often. But the Nintendo 64 was the first system that I could call my very own. That grey piece of plastic means so much to me that I still have its original box (But this isn't just me being sentimental; I have a hard time throwing things away). Like a lot of people out there, I have a special attachment to my first game--Super Mario 64--as well, but for a less than normal reason.

It took me about 8 years to complete it.

No, that wasn't a continuous play-through (That would be about 15 stars a year; a ridiculous pace). I actually gave up on it shortly after getting to the "never-ending staircase" before Bowser in the Sky. Let's just say that the game was too much for my young mind to handle. It also gave me nightmares. Recurring ones, where Bowser and a pack Bom-ombs would climb out of my television and chase me around my house...

...Anyways, random childhood phobias aside, it wasn't that I didn't like the game, I just didn't like to play it. I wasn't even good at it. My mother was amazing though and since it was in my room, I just sat on my bed and watched her play for hours. But she never got all 120 stars. Eventually, we both set it aside and moved on to bigger but not necessarily better things. Super Mario 64 was pushed to the back of the collection.

Sometime around 2005, while the world was getting ready for the Wii (and complaining about its "Revolution" name change), I got the urge to take my Nintendo 64 out of its box in the closet. (Still don't know why. Nostalgia, maybe?) Not thinking too much about it, I popped in Super Mario 64 and finally took care of my unfinished business.

It was like a brand new, yet rough and outdated game. I not only got all the stars, but I even took the time to learn all the glitches. I love the game so much, I wrote a final essay about it for one of my college courses. It also covered Shakespeare, swans and Roger Ebert, but that's beside the point...

The point being: I was young and naive in '96. It took me 8 years to appreciate greatness.

Have you ever dropped a game you didn't like only to pick it back up and love it?


  1. Hmmmm...trying to think of how this may have occurred in my life. I can see myself liking The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past now more than I did a few years ago when I first played it and couldn't get into it.

    I think this illustrates a good point: as you grow up, you gain a new and better appreciation for good things. Which is why it's infuriating to have younger siblings who can't see the value in great things like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword!

    1. I think I felt the same way about A Link to Past when one of my friends let me borrow it. I didn't really like it then but now I feel crazy for not giving it a chance...

      And a lot of people don't appreciate Skyward Sword, which is crazy because it was a great game!

  2. Oh my god. I loved this post. I had a 64 and spent hours on Super Mario but never collected all the stars. That staircase was hell and it creeped me out.
    I want to get a 64 again just to play those old games, especially Banjo. I think old school games are so much better.. I'm not a fan of these ridiculous graphics now.

    1. Well, thank you for reading. I loved the staircase for some reason, it was the Boo in the basement that got to me. I couldn't play past that part for a while. Makes me feel silly now...

      The graphics used now don't bother me but they just don't make games like they used to. Banjo is one of those games I just never bought so I'm kicking myself about it now. Play it if you get the chance to.

  3. Super Mario 64 is a great first game. I played the DS version but never finished it. They also added 30 extra stars to it.

    1. I had that version too. They ruined a good thing by making the game longer, especially with the extra characters and bunnies. The original was just fine.

      Thanks for the comment!


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