I have many fond memories of the NES. I spent many hours in my friend's basement, playing Final Fantasy 1 and Mad Max. However, some of my most traumatizing memories come from that same console... brought forth by Super Mario Brothers.

The game featured worlds, which were levels within levels. Entire worlds could be skipped through the use of secret warp zones, allowing a knowledgable player to skip through a large portion of the game. However, this only hastened the horrible phenomena that was about to happen.

At the end of each world, the player had to face Bowser, who got harder each time. The last world was no different. Mario (or Luigi) would finally prevail however, sending Bowser sailing into the lava. The princess would be rescued, and all was well... or so you thought!

The player would gasp in horror, as the whole game started over again on level 1, now even harder then before. Sure, you can grit your teeth and beat all the levels again. Alas, the game will restart a second time, and be even harder. The game never ends, a true symbol of the infinite. As your thumbs become sore, and you cry out in pain as the blood drips from your fingernails, the cliff calls out to you. Over and over again, you plunge the hero into the depths, until you've got only one life left. You jump.

Game Over

If you were to take the words I am about to write and copy and paste them into a Microsoft Word document, it would probably be bigger than the entire data stored in Super Mario Brothers. Super Mario Brothers was a pretty straightforward game--- you run, you jump--- except when it wasn't. And the glitches and exceptions and secrets to Super Mario Brothers, packed in the smallest little niches of those double digit kilobytes were enough to keep us entranced. In the days before the internet, and having a good source to discern the truth of rumors, whether or not there was a minus world kept us debating on the playground for years.

The Nintendo was originally my idea. My sister was originally afraid of it, and had to leave the room when the ominous music of the castle begin playing. Eventually she took the lead from me and took to rescuing the princess with ease while I watched. But we weren't sure what to do next, after rescuing the princess and finding ourselves back playing the same game only with more Buzzy Beetles. Luckily some kid on the schoolyard had the solution for us: if you beat the game 20 times in a row, you could find The Mushroom King. Well, why not? We didn't have a wiki of the game in 1989. We had the manual which had two paragraphs explaining the plot. And we had a kid on the schoolyard.

So one day my sister and I got up early in the morning and started playing. At the time, we lived on a 40 acre piece of land on some beautiful and adventurous rolling hills that featured meadows, woodlands, forests, and a stream. We could have spent the day exploring it. But that little cartridge with its 32 areas of pixelated scenery had entranced us more than the real world could have. We played from morning through the afternoon, my sister playing through the game over a dozen times. I probably took relief from her from time to time, but it was mostly her thing. As the day wore on and we had been on the floor all day, we called it quits, famous fungal monarch missing. I forgot what excuse we made as for why this solid gold schoolyard formula had not worked to produce the game's good ending. Was it continues? Was it warping? Did Mario have to defeat Bowser only with fireballs and not with the axe? Or vice-versa? Perhaps even in those days we detected the story was bullshit and we had, in fact, already extracted every last drop of juice from the turnip that was the game. I don't remember if this was a cause of angst or presaged the end of childhood and the beginning of adolescence or something. All I can tell you is, we soldiered through and found nothing.

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