Inside Pulse 12

Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame Nominee: Super Mario Bros.

Every week, we will present a new game to be nominated for the Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame. These nominations will occur every Monday and Friday, respectively. Our standards are just like the Baseball Hall of Fame: every game will be voted on by members of the staff, and any game that gets 75% of the vote – with a minimum of four votes – will be accepted – or thrown – into their respective Hall.

Game: Super Mario Bros.
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: 10/18/1985
System Released On: Nintendo Entertainment System
Genre: Platform

Who Nominated The Game: I did. Though that shouldn’t surprise regular readers.

Why Was It Nominated: Does “it saved the entire God-damned games industry” mean anything to you?

When Super Mario Bros. was released in 1985, America’s video game industry was in shambles. The reasons for the Crash of ’83 have been well documented – from saturation of poor games into the market to tens of different consoles to the advent of affordable personal computers – but by 1985, many powerful companies had either gone out of business or left the games industry to make other products. Though the arcade industry was still doing somewhat well at the time, the home market was all but dead. Therefore, Nintendo was taking quite a risk when they brought over the Family Computer, redesigned it for the American market, and packed Super Mario Bros. in with the Deluxe Set.

The gamble paid off. Nintendo levereged its market position to become the virtually undisputed king of the American video game market for four years, until the release of the Genesis. Super Mario Bros. was the main catalyst of Nintendo’s success. Getting a game with the system was a boost, but SMB was a special game on its own rights. Starring a plumber who was a minor character that was in the first two Donkey Kong games and his own modestly successful arcade game later on, Shigeru Miyamoto’s brainchild was unlike anything home console players had ever seen before. It’s really hard to appreciate what SMB brought to the table in 1985, but it’s important to remember that before the NES, even the most impressive games for the Intellivision, Coleco-System and Atari 2600 were very simple graphically and gameplay wise. Super Mario Bros. perfected (at the time) the fledgling platform genre with smooth scrolling, 32 different levels which included swimming parts (something else virtually unseen at that time) and, most importantly (in my opinion), pinpoint controls and smooth scrolling, making the game something where people knew that if they died, it was THEIR fault, not the fault of the game. Furthermore, having a definitive ending was something novel at a time when most games existed solely for the purpose of scoring points before ultimately and inevitably getting a game over screen. With a reason to keep playing, most people did, making the game hugely popular even years after the fact.

Most remarkable in retrospect is what Super Mario Bros. spawned in addition to a successful video game: it turned Mario – and by extension, Nintendo and Nintendo’s other franchises such as Zelda and later Metroid – into pop culture figures. If it existed in the 80s, chances are good that Mario or some other Nintendo character was plastered on it and sold in stores. It was on stickers, books, cereals, even its own cartoon show. Mario ended up like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Michael Jackson, leg warmers and Teddy Ruxpin: an integral part of the 80s that people look back upon when remembering those days. This, of course, is notwithstanding the impact that the game itself had on other games. If people thing space marine shooters are dime a dozen nowadays, back when I was a child, you couldn’t swing a rope without hitting a platform game where you jumped on top of enemies to defeat them. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s the case, Miyamoto should have gotten a restraining order for all of the companies that blatantly aped his game.

What Super Mario Bros. did that was the most important in retrospect was that it made the Nintendo Entertainment System – and by extension, home video games in general – a palpable product at a time when it had been relegated in the eyes of retailers and consumers alike as a “fad”, much the same as Cabbage Patch Kids, Members Only jackets and “Where’s The Beef?”. When the market crashed in America, video games in the home died with it; people moved on, partly due to ambivalence, and partly due to the fact that they were burned in the prior generation by too many shoddy games. If SMB – the pack-in game, don’t forget – was not a good game, it would have shuttered Nintendo’s plans for the NES, and might have done the games industry a fatal blow in North America. If you think about it, without Super Mario Bros. showing people that video games could not only work, but could be big business, we wouldn’t have Halo, Final Fantasy or any other big-name game franchise that we take for granted today, at least in the way that we know them.

Great game, franchise starter, console mover, and the added bonus of being a large part of the rehabilitation of an entire industry in two countries. If that’s not something worthy of a Hall of Fame, I don’t know what is.

All in Favour:

Aaron Sirois: NO BRAINER

This is Super Mario Bros. This is the game that turned so many of us on to video games. I remember when my family got an NES one Christmas. My father decided to buy one for himself and call it a present for my mom. Hilarious. Anyways, this game and Wrestlemania where the reasons I got into video games. It was fun, had great graphics, sounded great, and had awesome controls. It sold the NES just as much if not more than the NES sold it.

Where would the world be today without Mario? And where would Mario be without this game? I’ll tell you where. He’d be making the odd cameo appearance in quickly forgotten sports titles. That’s where.

Guy Desmerais: The game’s influence has been discussed time and time again by every magazine and website that ever covered video games. That’s fine, but I feel like the game’s pure fun and perfect level design is what should get it in the Hall of Fame.

This game is perfect in level design because every stage has its own unique flow. Sure, you can take baby steps through each stage, but once you learn them, I feel that this is where the true fun begin. The game becomes an exercise in reflexes and memory, where each enemy is perfectly placed and each possible jump is well though out. An example would be stage 8-1, where there’s this huge jump which leads to a single tile on which Mario can stand, and then to another jump before reaching the other side of the pit. If you stop on that single tile in the middle of the pit, you lose the momentum and then you awkwardly shuffle on it, trying to regain enough speed to get to the other side. However, and experienced player knows what’s coming and simply follows the flow, and makes it to the other side in one swift motion.

Trying to figure out the perfect way to run through the levels is what makes this game addictive, and after a while, it simply becomes second nature. It’s moments like the one I described above that makes the game insanely replayable despite being short.

Addictive, replayable, innovative and fun. This is why I believe Super Mario Bros. should make it to the Hall of Fame.

Mohamed Al-Saadoon: Some might say that Super Mario Bros. would be unknown if it weren’t a free pack in game (and by some I mean Alex Lucard). Perhaps he is right.

But then again, I really don’t care if this game is popular or not. Some might say nostalgia is blinding us to the deficiencies of the game but if I can still pop this game on virtual console or a gameboy advance and still be entertained for hours on end despite Super Mario Bros. being 25 years old then you have a true masterpiece that is not affected by how much it sold or whether or not it revived the videogame industry or whatever other metric you try to measure it by.

It’s fun encapsulated in cartridge form.

Sean Madson: This was the first video game I had ever played on a console. It was included, along with Duck Hunt, with the NES I received as a gift when I was just four years old. It was more than just a video game at that time. It was THE video game. The one title that the whole family played together. The only reason I learned how to complete it was from watching my dad navigate the final castle and I was able to memorize the pattern which you had to progress in order to reach the end.

I’m 25 now, and the game is still fun and I still remember where everything is. If that isn’t a lasting impact, then I don’t know what is. Would I be into video games as much as I am without having played this game? Who knows, but without its influence on the industry, video games would likely not be where they are today.

Ashe Collins: One of the classic Mario games. Sure I’d recognized the plumber from Donkey Kong, but this one was far different from the static platformer of Donkey Kong and introduced us to the side-scrolling paltform world that Mario would occupy until the Nintendo 64. While the game came bundled with the original NES, there was a lot going for it that kept me putting this sucker in there again and again even when I had newer and more exciting title like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game.

Even now while I’m thinking about it I’ve got the itch to try to make it through the dark worlds and find that princess in the next castle. It spawned many a competition in my household between siblings and started video game rivalries between several friends of mine that exist to this day. While not every Mario title will get my vote, this one has secured it from the sheer amount of hours I logged in this game and will probably continue to do in the future as well.

A.J. Hess: I’m not sure what else can – or even needs – be said about this game. Mario remains the most iconic character in videogames. This game defined platforming. If you made a family tree of spinoffs with Super Mario Bros. at as the roots, the tree would have more branches and sub-branches than any other game could possibly produce. Super Mario Bros. remains the king and inspiration for all of modern videogames.

Branden Chowen: With a name as synonymous to gaming as Gretzky is to hockey, there is no denying that Super Mario Bros. deserves a spot in our coveted Hall of Fame.

Like most gamers my age, I grew up playing with the plump plumber and his rascally friends. Some of my first gaming memories are of how amazed I was at my cousin’s Super Mario Bros. skills. I couldn’t fathom, then, how my cousin was able to maneuver between three mushroom men, or four green-shelled turtle dudes, and still make that impossibly long jump; Super Mario Bros. started out as this incomprehensible enigma, but soon became one of my all-time favorites that I still love to whip through in under a hour to this day.

What makes Super Mario Bros. Hall of Fame worthy, however, is not my nostalgia, but rather the game’s legacy, and what it managed to give the video game industry after its arrival. Super Mario World may be the greatest platformer I have had the pleasure of playing, but tied for #2 will always be Super Mario Bros. (with Super Mario Bros. 3, for those wondering). Mario may have been around before this game’s launch, but he became a household name, and an international phenomenon thanks to Super Mario Bros.. If that doesn’t get you a spot in the Hall of Fame, what does?

Christopher Bowen: Instead of repeating myself after all that I typed above… I’ll repeat myself, literally: here is what I wrote for our feature in 2008, where I named Super Mario Bros. my favourite game of all time:

It’s almost impossible to look at the original Super Mario Bros. without thinking of everything that it caused. One usually looks at the fact that it saved the entire industry from the Crash of ’83, or the massive step up that a game like SMB was from games on the Atari, Intellivision and ColecoVision, or the plethora of copycat games that it inspired, or the fact that you can get Mario has whored himself to virtually every genre on the face of the Earth to build Nintendo’s empire, etcetera etcetera. Not many people still look back at the game itself, from a pure playing standpoint. Allow me to delve into my all-time favourite game from the only perspective that truly matters: the one involving the player holding a controller.

I first played SMB in 1986. I was six years old, and we got the game when we got our NES. It was above and beyond anything I’d seen prior to that point, as most of what I’d seen was either in pizza parlours and small arcades, or on an Atari VCS. Bright, shiny colours, detailed sprites, and great control sucked me in, and my improving skills as a gamer meant that I would stick this one out for the long haul. I sincerely think that not having the internet, or GameFAQs, or a hojillion monthly magazines at the time was a true boon to my enjoyment of the game, because I can say with honesty that I found most of the secrets in the game by myself. All the invisible 1UP mushrooms, the secret pipes, the warp zones, all of them were found by me in moments of curiosity. Nowadays, a game like this, released a month earlier in Japan, would have been hopelessly disected and obliterated by the OCD crowd. By the time it hit American shores, we would be able to beat it just by piecing together bits of the 348423 FAQs already out from people with names like “GoombaFucker23941”. I remember getting to the end of world 3, and actually being distressed at being told the needy bitch I was supposed to be saving was in yet another stupid castle. That would never happen today, as I would know exactly what was coming at the end of World 3 after watching it on Youtube.

In short, it took me a long time to have the skills to finally, fully beat Super Mario Bros., and I did it again and again as a child. However, what’s surprised me is that I still pick it up quite often to go through it again and again, well into adulthood and approaching thirty. It’s not even a case of general nostalgia, which has a bad habit of going away the moment you realise that your nostalgic memories from simpler times should stay in times as simple as the object of the memory itself; it’s a case of me generally enjoying the game – a perfectly balanced game with a perfect learning curve – even to this day, twenty-two and a half years after it’s initial release.

Super Mario 3 was an overall “better” game. Super Mario World brought the SNES to prominence. Mario 64 was – and in many aspects, still is – the definitive 3D platformer. And Mario Galaxy is the epitome of the evolution of Mario as a franchise, and platforming as a genre. It doesn’t matter. You always remember your first, and after being teased by lesser titles for most of my youth to that point, Super Mario Bros. popped my gamer cherry and turned me into the hardcore gamer that I am today. And unlike most people that use that metaphor, I don’t mind going back for a good ol’ romp now and again, to this day.

All Opposed:

Alex Lucard: Okay. Lots of reasons why I am saying no.

1) It’s not the first game with Mario in it. Donkey Kong is. I think Donkey Kong is a much better game than SMB 1. So I can’t vote in SMB for “historical reasons” like “The first game with Mario in it” as it’s not.

2) It’s not the first game with Luigi. Mario Bros. is. While SMB is a better game I can’t vote in SMB for historical reasons like “the first game with Luigi” in it as it’s not.

3) I realize the game was played by nearly everyone as a kid, but that’s because it was a pack-in title. It became popular because it was FREE and every kid with a NES had it and could play it, even if they couldn’t afford a second game. You know what? If I look back to my childhood, kids damn sure preferred Duck Hunt to the first SMB (at least ones I knew) and even today I hear more people saying “I wish i could shoot that &*^%^&%&^ dog” than I hear say “Man, remember Super Mario Bros., dude?” I honestly believe that ANY game that had been bundled with the original NES and that proved to be a decent enough game to spawn a sequel or two would have achieved the same legacy. It was simply a matter of SMB being there at the right time and the right place coupled with Shigeru Miyamoto almost psychotic obsession with the character and insistence Mario be in every game he made. Even Miyamoto has admitted that the character is largely forgettable and has only survived due to his zealousness and Nintendo’s marketing budget

4) People make the mistake of listing this as one of the best selling games of all time, but getting the game for free shouldn’t could as selling a copy of a game. By that same respect all the free copies of Dragon Quest that came with a Nintendo Power subscription because Nintendo was desperate to move that game lest they have another ET on their hands (even though DQ was actually, you know, GOOD) would count too. It’s the same reason I twitch a little when people say “Wii Sports is the best selling game of all time” even though no one has ever actually PURCHASED THE GAME. Honestly would people have shelled out for SMB on its own if it wasn’t free? I truly in my heart believe otherwise. So did Nintendo at the time. Hence why it was a pack in.

5) Most important of all, I never liked the game, even as a kid. it was BORING. It was 32 levels of the same thing. Run run run. Jump jump jump. Maybe get a fireball. Oh look, my princess is in another castle. Fuck you anthropomorphic mushroom. If I look back at all my NES games, Super Mario Bros. was rarely touched. When people came over, no one wanted to play it. When I was over at other people’s homes…no one wanted to play it. It was just there, taking up space. I’ve never enjoyed the game, from my childhood to my adulthood and for all five of these reasons, however in the minority they are, I can’t willfully vote for SMB into the Hall of Fame.

Plus it’s always good to have a contrary opinion to read, right? ;-)

Mark B.: So, I grew up with Alex Kidd In Miracle World, and as such, didn’t really spend much time with Super Mario Bros. until a few years after the fact, and because of this, I’m not really all that into the game. I get the historical significance of the game, but I get the historical significance of Tetris and I wouldn’t vote for it for the Hall of Fame either based on that merit alone. Says I, I’ll vote for a game if it makes me want to go back and play it again and again, and while Tetris might rank in that regard (though lord knows I’LL never nominate it), Super Mario Bros. does not.

I mean, that’s really the gist here. The game was historically significant, sure, and it was pretty fun when it came out, absolutely. History will recognize it as one of the greatest games ever created and tons of lists have already been made that place this game near the top for a number of different reasons. At the end of the day, though, I… really have no need to ever play it again, and for that reason, I’m against inducting the game. Sorry.

Result: 8 In Favour, 2 Opposed, 80% Approval = ACCEPTED

Conclusion: It’s pretty hard to believe that a game so revered, so famous and so significant can barely get into the Hall of Fame, but those are our standards. Still, with ten people pitching in their opinions, the game still managed to get two votes above the minimum for inclusion. If anything, we, insignificant as we are in the grand scheme of video game history, just confirmed what was already known: Super Mario Bros. is one of the greatest video games of all time, both from a gameplay perspective and from a historical perspective.

Next Week: Whereas Super Mario Bros. brought the platformer to universal prominence in America, our next game did the same to the role playing game, and forever changed the fortunes of a company that would have gone under had it not been a success.

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  • Justin Holmes

    Alex Lucard and Mark B. are the GameFan equivalents of the assholes who didn’t vote for Cal Ripken Jr.’s entry into the Hall of Fame. It’s like, dude, seriously! Whatever, it’s in.

    Senor Lucard: People did buy Wii Sports in Japan, and in record numbers. It bothers me too that it gets listed as the best-selling game of all time, but that doesn’t change the fact that millions of people chose to buy it there — not to mention the uncountable millions outside of Japan that bought the system for the game.

    Which leads to an excellent point — why do you think people were buying the NES in its infancy if not for Super Mario Bros.? Were they really spending all that money after the industry crash just to play Hogan’s Alley and Mach Rider?

  • Justin – considering I’m a Nintendo employee I can tell you outright that no one that is a higher-up in the company, including Miyamoto himself, thinks that SMB would have been a success outside of being a pack-in. Same with the “Mario didn’t sell NES.” line i have. If you take a look at records, commentaries and stats from the 1980s, you’ll honestly see that people were buying the NES for Duck Hunt (or because the console was new and shiny) over a specific ” MUST OWN SMB” reason. I know it sounds totally insane to hear that in 2010, but in the mid 1980s it was true. If people actually take the time to look at sales figures, statistics, commentary from around the launch (Get your micofiche reader out kids!) and look at what was actually going on back then instead of through rose-tinted glasses or by regurgitating opinions without actual factual evidence, you’ll see exactly what Nintendo itself sees to this day – SMB is an important part of the NES’ success but by no means the sole or even largest reason.

    People who aren’t actually in the industry seem to think that the SMB1 BY ITSELF saved video gaming as a whole and honestly, no one who actually works in it believes that. Every industry has a bust and every industry has something that brings it back. People purchased the NES because of a LOT of good games that came out. Duck Hunt gave you a light gun experience at home – a first. Gyromite was something that little kids HUNGERED for even though the game wasn’t very good. People were getting arcade ports of Donkey Kong, DK Jr and Popeye, all of which were still extremely popular in the arcades. You also had sports titles that blew away anything released before the NES (well, graphically), like Excitebike, Golf, Tennis, 10 Yard fight and so on. Then you had other games like Castlevania, Mega Man, Final Fantasy and the like come out.

    What killed the industry was that Atari let anyone and anything come out for their system without any real QA or regulation. It made sense at the time, became home console gaming was still new, logistics weren’t worked out and the room to err was huge simply because no one really new what they were doing. When the NES hit, it succeeded because of Nintendo’s near stranglehold on what was released for the system, its quality control (Which seems to be misisng from what gets published for the Wii) and a strong consistent library of well made games. Add in a series of cartoons and some easily toyetic characters and the only way the NES would have failed is well, if it had been the Sega Master System which as much as I love that system, didn’t follow Nintendo’s lead or learn from Atari’s mistakes.

    As for Wii Sports in Japan, it sold because it was the core game for the system. The one Marketing and Nintendo pushed. Of course it helped that it was truly revolutionary and actually used the Wiimote system better than any other game released at launch for the system. 2007 is a far different time from 1985 and gamers at this point will mostly by what they are told to rather then actually formulate opinions for themselves. So when you have a game that actually IS the best launch title available and it has an insane marketing blitz behind it, it makes sense Wii Sports sold in countries where it wasn’t a pack-in. That was by no means a sure thing in 1985, and Nintendo knew they needed to put something with the NES to sell it. So what did they do? They included two (or three) games that they doubted would sell very well on their own and made them their pack-ins. If the pack in games had been something else, we’d almost definitely be discussing those titles to this day as they would be the games 99.99% of NES owners played rather than SMB and Duck Hunt. Never underestimate what the power of getting something for free can do to something’s popularity and nostalgia value.

    All I’m saying is when even the company line for SMB and its creator himself says that the success and legacy of the game is vastly overrated, it tells you something. Would I say the same thing about something like Mario 3? No, that game earned its reputation. SMB1 however has mainly gained its reputation through urban legends and a lack of understanding of why the NES actually succeeded. That doesn’t make the game any less deserving of being the fifth entry into the Hall of Fame – but it means that like Sonic, Wii Sports, Altered Beast, Ys I and II, and other pack ins, it can’t in good conscience get my vote because as a pack-in there is no true way to judge the game legacy’s outside of what the industry already knows in “free = popular.”

  • Mark B.

    Why am I an asshole because I grew up playing the Sega Master System?

  • Justin Holmes

    You make some fair points, specifically about Gyromite and Duck Hunt drawing gimmick attention. Fair enough. It does ignore the fact that, although you don’t care for the game — fair enough — it’s popular, it holds up today and it has left a long, long legacy in terms of influence on the industry.

    You talk about the influence nostalgia has on gamers, and again, it’s a solid point. However, if Gyromite and Duck Hunt were so much more popular, why aren’t they considered hallmark classics of the medium through those sepia-toned glasses? Gamers know what R.O.B. is as a curiosity, but probably couldn’t name Gyromite or Stack-Up as the games for the peripheral. As for Duck Hunt, it’s an extremely limited game with little to remember other than a hidden two-player mode and the aforementioned dog.

    Now I submit this to you — if the equally packed-in Duck Hunt is really the game everyone would rather play than Super Mario Bros., why is there no outcry about modern televisions? Most people can’t even play the game anymore because it doesn’t work on today’s TVs. Imagine if Super Mario Bros. wasn’t playable on modern TVs. I think that would have elicited more of a reaction than the shrug people give about not playing Duck Hunt. And if Duck Hunt is the height of NES nostalgia, why isn’t it a bigger deal that it’s not on the Virtual Console? Where’s the Earthboundesque petitions for a release?

    Super Mario Bros. holds up exactly as well today as it did upon release, graphics aside. People like you who are, unlike me, in the video game industry and understand so well how cyclical the industry is — an industry that has seen nothing but growth since the launch of the NES — would at least admit very few games from the mid-80s hold up under modern scrutiny like Super Mario Bros. I respect your biases — we all have our own — and I’m not changing any minds here but you might want to take your own glasses off on this one.

  • Justin – the official reason for Duck Hunt not being on the VC is because it’s well known you can play the game for free on PC, it wouldn’t turn a profit due to that and various other things (like modern TVs) and Nintendo knows that although it was the more popular of the two pack ins in 1985, that much like how SMBs influence and percieved effect on the industry has grown through urban legends and exaggeration. Duck Hunt has had the opposite effect. Light gun games are a niche genre in 2010 compared to in the 1980s. As well, most of the people who were kids with the NES and preferred Duck Hunt aren’t really gaming that much anymore. Only 10% of the gaming market is 35 or older. However, SMB has been re-released with every passing generation, or had a sequel on a console, and so its stayed fresh in the mind of gamers. If we had had 12-13 Duck Hunts the clamor would no doubt be there, but one game since the NES days? That’s going to dull any fandom. Now when you keep a character front and center with each console generation and also put him into every game you can, then there will always be a large fandom for said character and thus the first game in the series. Sometimes that nostalgia holds true as Sonic 1 is much better than most of the more recent Sonic releases and sometimes it proves false. I would put SMB in between both extremes, as it’s not the best game in the series (I’d give that to SMB3) nor the worst. It’s simply the start of a series that had had ups and downs but it successful primarily because of the publisher’s loyalty to the brand first and foremost. Castlevania would be a close parallel save that every CV game doesn’t have Simon Belmont.

    And in quelling another urban legend, Nintendo actually does get far more requests for Duck Hunt than Earthbound. You’d be shocked at how few people actually give a hoot about Earthbound and/or Mother 3. It’s only a few very loud people that keep clamoring for it. Nintendo’s already done the accounting and have found they wouldn’t make money on it here in NA, even as a VC release. It’s disappointing, but a sad fact.

    I’d also disagree that very few games hold up by todays standards, unless you’re talking graphics. I mean I’d say it’s the same percentage that would hold up from any console generation. The vast majority of games released for any system are forgettable crap after all. I’d also disagree SMB1 holds up as well today as it did in 1985 simply because platformers are far less popular these days. It would hold up well to someone like you or I who have watched the genre evolve from its beginnings but it tends not to with a more casual or younger gamer.

    And the industry hasn’t seen nothing BUT growth. It’s more people are purchasing systems and games now because it’s mainsteam but the average games per consumer are down sharply from previous console generations, so it really depends on what metric you want to use. That’s the problem with statistics.

    Now at no point do I want to ever say SMB1 hasn’t been influential or popular. I’m just saying people need to look at the actual reasons behind the zeitgeist rather than assuming is was the game and only the game itself.

  • Justin Holmes

    Alex (I presume we’re on a first name basis now): I must confess I can’t argue with information that you have exclusively that I don’t. I can say that as a fervent fan of the Virtual Console, I’ve seen some real efforts to get Nintendo’s attention on certain games and Duck Hunt is not a big one. If Nintendo gets more requests for Duck Hunt than EarthBound, StarFox and Yoshi’s Island combined, you know what, it’s really your word against mine. But I find it pretty unlikely that there’s a large sustained groundswell of people who want Duck Hunt but not enough to justify the $5 a pop (I understand there’s probably some added cost on making the control work that’s not seen on regular NES games). But, again, it’s my word against yours.

    As for the industry seeing less attach rates, yes, that’s true, but gamers buy more consoles each generation. And even as the industry grows by total dollars in a year — because really, that’s what we’re talking about — Super Mario is still popular and just anecdotally given how this Halloween went, is arguably as popular as ever, and also with kids who weren’t born in the ’80s, or even the ’90s. New Super Mario Bros. Wii has been overwhelmingly popular by doing very little that wasn’t introduced in Super Mario Bros. Platformers of course aren’t the standard video game archetype they once were, but they still have a following and certainly Super Mario Bros. has aged very well when comparing it to some other titles of the era.

    To the point, Super Mario Bros. was not only a fantastic game in its own right, but also the starting point for the also important sequels.

    Mark B.: I didn’t call you an asshole, nor did I mean to infer you are one. If my language is a bit peppery, I apologize, because I wasn’t aiming to offend. My point was twofold: That this should’ve been a unanimous induction and anything less is worthy of some amount of incredulity, and that the guys who didn’t induct Cal Ripken Jr. are, in fact, assholes. I mean, come on.

  • Justin – I agree with nearly everything you’ve said. SMB is a very important game in regards to the industry. That said, I just can’t vote yes on any pack-in game. So you’d be having this discussion with me on anything from Aliens Vs. Predator to Ys 1 and II for the Turbo Duo, both of which are games I enjoy very much, but due to the pack-in nature I just don’t feel comfortable giving them a yay vote. So don’t think it’s an anti-Mario bias as much as it is that I feel pack0ins have a huge emotional/nostalgic bias that other games don’t have. Of course, in all these cases I know those games will probably get in anyway, so I don’t have a problem casting the devil’s advocate vote. ;-)

    I also don’t think you’ll ever see a game get a unanimous vote into the HoF. I don’t even know if Tetris or something like Pac-Man would achieve that.

    Also, I hear you on Cal Ripken Jr. Of course I’m still surprised there were any votes against guys like Mike Schmidt or Ozzie Smith. But that’s the thing, the more people you have vote on something, the more likely you’ll get someone to say no. It’s just the odds.

  • Mark B.

    Mark B.: I didn’t call you an asshole, nor did I mean to infer you are one.

    Oh, I absolutely am an asshole. I wasn’t contesting that. The issue was as to why my not growing up with the NES would be the reason for this thing.

    If my language is a bit peppery, I apologize, because I wasn’t aiming to offend.

    Nah, you’re fine, no worries.

    My point was twofold: That this should’ve been a unanimous induction and anything less is worthy of some amount of incredulity,

    Because Super Mario Brothers is significant to you. You grew up with it. It’s a part of your personal history, a part of your life, and for that reason, you look at it in this fashion, same as Chris did, and same as the other people who voted in favor of the game did.

    It wasn’t a part of mine.

    I grew up with the Sega Master System. While everyone else was playing Super Mario Brothers, Metroid, The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy, I grew up with Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Zillion, Wonder Boy in Monster Land and Phantasy Star. Those games are the things that are important to my childhood. Those games are the games I grew up on, and the games that I remember fondly when I look back on my childhood.

    By the time I played Super Mario Brothers, I’d played platformers that were, arguably, better. This is something Chris and I will never agree on, but to me, Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Wonder Boy in Monster World, Spellcaster and others were better than Super Mario Brothers. It doesn’t matter if they came out later. That’s not relevant to the discussion here. At the end of the day, to me, Super Mario Brothers was unexciting. I’d seen it already. Challenging? Certainly. But challenge doesn’t do anything for me, especially not when I’ve played a platformer with an adventure game built into it complete with a solid running narrative as I progressed.

    I don’t disagree that the game is historically significant, but that’s not the sole criteria of the voting process. It’s a matter of whether or not the voters are interested in the game itself, and I’m ultimately not. Why? I didn’t grow up with the same games you did.

    That said, I don’t have a problem with the game getting in or anything. It’s just not meaningful to me, I guess.

    and that the guys who didn’t induct Cal Ripken Jr. are, in fact, assholes. I mean, come on.

    I don’t watch baseball, so I’m just going to smile and nod.

  • Thomas R

    Me and my brother got a used NES a few years after its release and in the package was SMB, Duck Hunt, SMB3, Zelda I & II and we later on got River City Ransom (or Street Gangs as it’s called in Europe), Mega Man and The Battle of Olympus.
    So I grew up with a NES but I had some games to pick from immediately and SMB was the least played game of the bunch. SMB3 and Mega Man was more fun to play, the Zelda games more fun to watch (as you do when your brother is playing)and River City Ransom is just awesome. We even played Duck Hunt more and I remember that was the only game our dad liked. Mum sat with us when we played Zelda I and The Battle of Olympus and even tried some herself. Mario was never touched.
    And though I grew up with a NES I also had a Amiga and a Commodore 64 and while I get the significance of the first Mario game I never really cared for it.
    There was just so many other games that were more fun.
    As a final ado, my littlest brothers who are 10 and 12 years younger than me (14 and 12) doesn’t care for it much either and they love hard platformers. (The one who’s 12 finished I Wanna Be The Guy when he was 10.)

  • Phil J

    I could go either way on this one; on one hand the game was set a foundation for evolved platforming that was copied and built upon throughout the eight and sixteen-bit generations. (Then after that, people forgot how to make great two-dimensional action-adventure games by-and-large) So the impact of the game cannot be understated, and it was a great game for its’ time. I was also a SMS first adopter, and while I had fun with that console I was also very envious at launch of the pack-in for the standard NES of SMB/Duck Hunt in comparison to Hang-On/Safari Hunt. (Actually I preferred Hang-On/Astro Warrior also but getting the system that included the light-gun was high priority back then) Although Safari Hunt had marginally more to offer than Duck Hunt, SMB was the crown jewel of those four games and it is easy to see why the NES got the early jump in market share with their system package; the third-party support of course (In tandem with Sega’s reluctance to embrace third-party support) would only further extend their dominance, but it all began with getting the console in homes, and SMB was the single biggest initial selling point. Most people were not buying the Rob-the-Robot Gyromite console after all.

    It is also true that many games improved upon SMB in the platforming genre, many of them would probably not even be recognized of nominated for HOF status. As Mark B. noted, Alex Kidd in Miracle World is a better game from a level-design standpoint, although the play-mechanics at its’ core were not as good, and it didn’t help that later Alex Kidd games absolutely sucked (Especially “Lost Stars’) while subsequent SMB games would be equal or better, and in the process sticking to the same fundamental play-mechanics of the original SMB.

    I guess that I am saying that I can understand and respect both sides of the argument; SMB was a trailblazing game for its’ time, that much is certain.

  • It’s not really an argument. It’s more a civil discourse. The fun of doing the HoF/HoS columns each week is us just letting our readers get to know our individual tastes better instead of just our reviews and seeing what manages to get into the Hall with our wildly diverse tastes.

  • Mark B.

    I thought that the gameplay mechanics of the game were as good, but then, I liked equipping a bracelet and shooting enemies in the face with it when the situation called for it over the fireball option.

    And Lost Stars was never the worst game of the series to me, but it probably would have been better received had it included the two-player co-op of the arcade version. As it is, though, for my money, High-Tech World is and will forever be the worst game in the series.

    And I’d probably be fine with a nomination for Super Mario Brothers 3, as it’s still a pretty fantastic game today, all in all. I just have no love for SMB itself.

  • Phil J

    Alex Kidd and the Lost Stars was an abomination of immense proportions; not only did it ignore many of the elements that made “Miracle” such a respectable debut, but the level-designs and game-play direction were utterly primitive in comparison to platform/adventure games that were being released on the NES at roughly the same time, like Rygar and Goonies 2, among others. What kind of game has you going strictly left to right just avoiding contact with everything? God it pissed me off; A two-player co-op would only have made your unfortunate playing partner smack you upside the head for subjecting him/her to such a lackluster gaming experience. Due to the lousy and disappointing nature of the game, the momentum of Alex Kidd as a franchise–and as the direct answer to SMB– coming out of Miracle World was stopped in its’ tracks, never to fully recover. By the time that High Tech World was unveiled, many SMS owners did not care about the franchise any longer, still with a bad aftertaste in their digital mouth. Therefore “Lost Stars” is actually a great candidate for the Hall of Shame.

  • Mark B.

    Well, the problems there are twofold:

    1.) Lost Stars has aged… acceptably, I suppose? It’s presently a game that’s utterly unremarkable and inane in many respects, but certainly not abominable in the strictest sense, just poor. This is a problem because…

    2.) Aside from probably myself, Alex, Chris and J. Rose, I sincerely doubt anyone on staff has played the game, and I wouldn’t vote for its inclusion for the reasons stated above, so there wouldn’t be a lot of point.

    High Tech World, on the other hand, is still a festering pile no matter when you play it, and it wouldn’t take a strong argument to get that nominated, I don’t think.

  • kade

    I hate you guys. It’s the same thing over and over again. “This might be the best/most important, game of its time but Mario Galaxy is clearly the better game. So I say no.”

  • Clearly you missed that Super Mario Galaxy went down in flames when it was nominated…

  • I think he also missed “the game still managed to get two votes above the minimum for inclusion”.

  • Mark B.

    And the part where neither of the dissenting opinions said that Mario Galaxy was, in fact, the better game.

    But then, he does hate us, so I hear I don’t care.

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