Me, My Daughter and Mario: A Four-Year-Old's First World 1-1
I was four years old in 1985 when the Nintendo Entertainment System was released, which means I had an awesome Christmas that year as well as many, many years afterwards. What can I say? Everything important I learned came from lessons in 8-bit graphics.
Of course, the system came with Super Mario Bros., one of the acknowledged greatest games of all time. Even three decades later, I can still take that first level with my damned eyes closed. That's because way back in the day, the people who made home consoles forgot that you no longer made money by intentionally killing the lead character as often as possible.
It meant that every single tiny mistake sent you right back to the beginning. Of the game. It was a horrible, sadistic way to treat your customer base since only perfect memorization, reaction speed and timing could save you.
I decided it was time to see how my own offspring would do against the unforgiving hoards of the Koopa Troop.
It's not her first video game. I got sent several 2K releases of Nick Jr. shows like Team Umizoomi and Bubble Guppies for 3DS a while back and she took to those like Frog Mario to water. Those games, by the way, are excellent for small children because they teach math, patterns, movement and other whole educational television lessons with the easy-to-use interface of the 3DS stylus.
They're also boring as shit. You can't lose, everyone is pleasant and helpful, and there are no bad guys. As a learning tool, they are amazing. As games, they reek.
Though I killed the disc drive on my Wii after playing, oh, 400 hours of Xenoblade Chronicles on it without ever removing the disc, the virtual console still works just fine. Add to that the fact that the Wii controller is functionally identical to the original NES controller, and re-creating my own childhood after a brief download duration was a snap.
Now, I've also got New Super Mario Bros for 3DS as well, and part of me wondered if I should go with that instead of the classic. It's prettier, after all, and more in keeping with graphical norms that she's used to.
Within moments of her trying out the original, though, I knew I'd made the right decision. True, Mario games look better than they ever have, but there is something so accessible about that simple 8-bit color palette that clearly speaks to young children. There are no blurred lines. Everything is simple, definite and finite.
Having grown used to the stylus-based interface of the 3DS, the idea of moving with the d-pad using your left thumb and hitting the buttons with your right did not come naturally to her, and it was just plain weird to me how watching her have to think and look down to check her hand position pulled me right back through the many years to the days when my own hand-eye coordination was still in development.
Piece continues on next page.