When I saw it, I nearly cried.

There it was. The thing that I had been working towards for days on end. The ultimate goal that I had been savoring all this time, for all my life, really:

The final screen of Super Mario Brothers.
When I saw it, I nearly cried. They were not tears of joy for slaving over the game for days and days. They were also not redemptive tears of satisfaction for the pain in my wrists and thumbs being worth it. And they weren’t tears that sprang forth upon seeing the beauty of a rewarding finale of a fantastic journey.

Instead, they were tears of utter misery for working so hard to get to the end, and being rewarded with a single, unexciting screen:

mario end

That was it.

No kiss from the Princess. Not even an embrace.

What the hell, Princess? Mario went through eight worlds to get to you. EIGHT WORLDS! He bashed his head into bricks to get to you. He spit fireballs for you, sometimes underwater. Hell, he even defied laws of space and time by going down pipes and warping to a completely different world.

All to get to you. To save you.

And you’re telling me that you can’t even hug the guy? Not even a handshake or a high-five? All you give him is the option to play the game again, only harder this time?

Thanks, Princess. Thanks so much.

The tears were really flowing now. I didn’t feel bad for myself as much as I felt sympathy for Mario, standing before the Princess. He was tiny. And it wasn’t because he hadn’t had a mushroom. He was tiny because of the journey that had beaten him down. He was tiny because of the belittlement of an upper-class woman.

He was just an ordinary plumber who decided to go on a implausibly dangerous voyage with one goal in mind: to save the Princess. And somehow, beyond all rules of logic, he was able to make it to the end and save her. Only to be put in his place by this high and mighty bitch who had everything handed to her all her life. It wouldn’t surprise me if she never had to kill a single Goomba or Koopa Troopa in her life.

I could almost hear the laughter in her voice as she told the peon plumber to go do it again. Go run the marathon again, this time with more enemies and bigger jumps. Do it now, little man!

In my ten years on this Earth, many tears have escaped my eyes. But none had been wiped away with such fervor and with such renewed dedication.

I took a deep breath and pressed B. It would be a much harder road, but I knew, just knew that something delightfully better would await me at the end of World 8-4 the second time through.

-Youngman Brown

0 thoughts on “8-4

  1. This was one of the first games I ever beat. Most atari 2600 games didn't really have a way to beat them, you just kept going until you ran out of lives.

    I remember that screen very well. Of course, I never went through all 8 levels, using the tubes to skip where I could. And using the turtle cheat to rack up lives at the end of level 3.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  2. This is the voice of my generation. I love it. We had such great video games with such epically shitty endings. Awesome story as always. The princess telling him to 'go run the marathon again, little man' especially got me.

  3. A stinking kiss would have been the least she could have done, wonder if there is a controller action that we don't know about that will make her kneel down and do this?

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