Super Mario Bros. 3, my introduction into the wildly weird world of video gaming, shook up life for the better at a time when I was my most vulnerable. After six months of pregnancy, Mum and Dad were startled when their offspring to be grew grumpy of womb life and wanted out. Following a cesarian, a baby boy with a heart barely beating emerged, displaying a diminutive frame, light as a feather mass, and two underdeveloped lungs failing to function. After being hooked up to a ventilator, said lacklustre lungs were urgently inflated, granting the baby the ability of breathing (which is somewhat fundamental to the ‘not dying’ aspect of life). Despite these lungs being harshly harmed in the process, resulting in long-term respiratory problems to this day, that baby lived to tell the tale. He was retained within incubators and iron lungs, took more needles than a heroin junkie, and was granted a thirty percent likelihood of living. Now he’s writing an article for Goomba Stomp, laying in bed whilst eating a dairy-free easter egg.
In short, I was born three months premature, spent the first nine months of my life in hospital, battled bronchopulmonary dysplasia (chronic lung disease), but at age three found escapism from it all in Super Mario Bros. 3.
Lounging at home linked to a plethora of pipes, akin to a monster from Doctor Who that’s been rejected for being “Too upsetting for children to lay eyes on”, I was isolated from all but my parents. I couldn’t socialize with other children as a consequence of possessing a pathetically susceptible immune system (although perhaps this was for the best, as all I could’ve contributed to social scenarios is physical disability and a bothersome necessity of being fed through a plastic tube crammed up my nostril), and I lacked the dexterity to enjoy toys. Although I was in and out of the hospital as a result of falling sick with Pneumonia three times, the occasions I spent at home required something to serve as a form of mental engagement, lest I fold under the crippling weight of ‘a bit boring’ entertainment. Cue Dad, booting up a Nintendo Entertainment System in our living room and slotting the bulky grey Super Mario Bros. 3 cartridge inside with a punchy click.
Super Mario Bros. 3 is a masterpiece in video game design and a jewel in the crown of the two-dimensional platforming genre. Countless articles (here’s a great one from Ricky) are scattered across the internet delineating its marvelous quality, and of course the heaps of praise the third Bros. adventure receives are entirely deserved. Suffice to say, my three-year-old self had his mind satisfyingly boggled by the podgy red plumber zipping across the television screen, controlled by Dad, who was also a newbie to Mario’s plights. Before long I had been promoted from button mashing an unplugged second controller to playing as the Italian protagonist myself. Despite my tendency to die regularly, I eventually discovered the secret formula to conquering World 1-1 (which is to avoid contact with the plentiful quantity of objects that spell Mario’s demise).
Following this, my debut video gaming accomplishment, there’s been no going back. My lifelong Sonic The Hedgehog obsession followed immediately after, alongside indulgence in a wealth of other SEGA Mega Drive titles, including Mortal Kombat II, Shinobi III: Return Of The Ninja Master, and ToeJam & Earl. For a medium to bring such delight to my life, I have only one title to thank for it. The iconic video game that set me on my journey, welcoming me into a world of astounding elation: Super Mario Bros. 3.