It’s MAR1O Day, folks. The anniversary of the time someone noticed you could make the word “Mario” out of “March 10” and someone else figured that was a great way to make money has arrived once again. That includes content creators and media types like ourselves, who see events like this and think, “oh praise the lord I can write about something I actually care about and it’ll be timely.” You can’t just write about Super Mario Bros. 3 if you feel like it, because the SEO Algorithm Machine will fucking kill you. But on this Friday, or rather Thursday afternoon in preparation of this Friday, we can use our blood-pumping, organ-feeding hearts without attracting the ire of the cold, lifeless and honestly very stupid machine. Uh, I mean, wah-hoo!
Here are some thoughts from the Prima Games Staff about their favorite Mario games, or in lieu of a favorite, a Mario-flavored anecdote. Also here’s a cursed video brought into existence thanks to Nintendo’s hubris.
Lucas White – Mario Teaches Typing
I’ve written about a bunch of Mario games over the years, and it’s obvious most of them are bangers on a level few games can match. But I want to go off the beaten path a little here and mention a game that lived in my head through most of my childhood: Mario Teaches Typing. Vague memories of playing this strange Mario adventure in which Mario and his friends ran across the weirdest-looking stages in an early school setting made it a holy grail-like relic in my head. I remember seeing a box for it on a chair years later and being mystified, as if something that shouldn’t be but was in my head suddenly materialized before me. I wasn’t much of a PC player, is what I’m saying.
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Also, I’m a trash typer. I have zero formal training and ADHD so powerful it makes writing a Herculean effort sometimes. Since I’ve been writing over the decades I’ve got my own, clumsy style fueled by poor posture and muscle memory. Sometime between then and now I pirated a copy of Mario Teaches Typing, played it long enough for a chuckle, then forgot about it almost entirely. Typing words to beat the life out of walking turtles did nothing for my skills. Why was this strange edutainment title such an anchor in my being for so long? I couldn’t tell you. It didn’t amount to much. But if I ever see it again, it’ll probably still ignite that little spark of uncanny valley.
Madison Benson – Paper Mario
The Paper Mario franchise is one of the most well-known and beloved turn-based action RPGs out there. While the original Super Mario RPG has its own charm, my favorite is its sequel, Paper Mario, released in 2000. As you travel around the world to collect the seven star spirits, you’ll meet and play alongside unique characters who help you solve puzzles, defeat a wide range of foes and discover secrets to build on the game’s lore. It’s straightforward, it’s simple, and it’s charming.
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Feelings of nostalgia combined with Paper Mario’s replayability and lovable characters make this one of the greatest games of its time and easily one of my personal favorites. Every time I begin a new playthrough, I’m always excited to come up with new strategies to beat the game, especially with my badges and which partners I use. Nearly 23 years later, it still holds up to modern standards, making it worthwhile to pick up if you’re looking for a new series to start.
Matt Vatankhah – Mario Paint
I initially chose Super Mario World for its undeniable influence in the franchise, until I remembered an old childhood favorite of mine that released around the same time.. Mario Paint. I couldn’t possibly tell you the countless hours I spent in this weird, quirky artistic sandbox. The music and sound effects, the sprites and imagery – it was all so bizarre, and yet harmonized so beautifully to make a hodgepodge of creativity for every kid to enjoy.
Mario Paint made me realize that I could do anything. I was a painter, an animator, a 16-bit musical composer, even an insect exterminator. Yeah, there was a fly-swatting minigame in it, too. Hey, any excuse to utilize the SNES mouse that came with the game, right? Truly the Mario avant-garde of the era, and way ahead of its time.
Jesse Vitelli – Mario’s Cement Factory
Now let me tell you about the truly best Mario game of all time. Mario’s Cement Factory is a game I’ve never played but so desperately want to now that I know of its existence. I have always dreamed about Mario doing a different blue collar type job, and loading cement into trucks seems like something Mario does to pay the bills.
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This Game & Watch title features Mario funneling cement into trucks as he swaps between different dangerous elevators. He then has to empty the cement, or it will literally overflow and kill people in the OSHA violation of the century. This is a far more pressing matter than saving a princess or defeating Bowser. Mario is working within the system to defeat the true endgame enemy, a job well done.
Daphne Fama – Super Mario Bros. 3
Mario changed the trajectory of my life forever. Before I could read or write, my father had me playing Super Mario Bros. 3. I became fascinated with the 2D Goombas, the secret routes, the over-the-top Koopalings. But more than that, I fell in love with a world that unfurled the better I became at the game.
Valleys became deserts, Goombas grew wings, and Mario grew with me sprouting wings or a Tanooki tail. So thank you, Mario, for all you’ve given me. Happy Mario Day!