Growing Up with Mario

by Angelica Macias

It was the Christmas of 2007. My two older brothers were opening their last Christmas present. My family including my Mom, Dad, my sister Alex and I, all stared silently as my brothers tore through the Spider-Man-themed Christmas wrapping paper. When they finally managed to open the gift, I saw Luigi pull out a medium-sized white box that had the words “NINTENDO DS LITE” with an amplified image of what was inside. Meanwhile, Albert pulled out a tiny flat box. At the age of seven, these objects were foreign to me. I could not understand why they filled my brothers with so much excitement. So, in the depths of my curious mind, I assigned myself a  mission: to uncover the magic behind the mysterious objects my brothers received as presents for Christmas. My first step was to get a closer look. While my brothers were busy looking over the contents of the Nintendo box, I quietly slipped past them and managed to grab the tiny flat box. I looked at the cover of the box and slowly began to sound out the words that read, “Mario Party DS.” My next step was to figure out how to play this video game.

Every afternoon, throughout my two-week winter break, my brothers and I would play this game non-stop. Albert and I would take turns playing against Luigi, who, because he was the oldest, he had the right to play every round. Which meant that he had the most playing time on the Nintendo. I always thought that was unfair since, while the two of them were playing, I was stuck doing nothing other than watching. However, watching was not at all that bad. I had a beautiful view right in front of me. The view consisted of my parents sitting on the couch watching a film or the local news and constantly having to turn up the volume because of my brothers’ inconsistent screaming. Then next to me was Alex, patiently scrolling through her new iPod Nano searching for a song and at the same time rolling her eyes every time my siblings yelled. Finally, my brothers sitting together yelling “I beat you” every time one of them won a game. Moments like these were ones that made my mission worthwhile and brought me closer to uncovering that magic for which I searched for.

Once school began, only Albert and I managed to find time to play since we were still in elementary school. So to increase our playing time, every morning before Mom dropped us off at school, Albert would beg my Mom to bring the Nintendo DS when picking us up later that afternoon; and because I was so determined to continue with my mission I would join my brother in his pleading to Mom. Every time we got into the car, Mom would surprise my brother and me with the Nintendo DS and our favorite game, Mario Party. We would play all through the ride home and my Mom would even join us while we waited for Luigi and Alex to pick them up from school as well. Once we arrived at one of my siblings’ school campuses, the moment my brother and I heard my Mom change the gear shift to parking mode, we would quickly unfasten our seatbelts and rush to the front passenger seat. My brother and I would then play Paper, Rock, Scissors and whoever won for three rounds straight would have the privilege to sit in the front. Unfortunately, I could never win a single round, so I was forever destined to sit in the back seat. Once my brother made his way to the front seat, he would restart the game for Mom to be able to join us. She and I would take turns playing against my brother who was and still is a video game expert.

For the Mario Party video game, I would always choose my favorite character, Toad. He was the tiniest and cutest character out of all. Toad was my favorite character because, just like him, I was the tiniest person in my family and at school as well. (So, I felt that in choosing Toad I was represented in the game too.) The mini-games I enjoyed playing were “Cucumberjacks,” “Call of the Goomba” and “Book It!” For the “Cucumberjacks” game, the one who finishes slicing the cucumber first won. In “Call of the Goomba” you had to play the music at a certain tempo, not too fast or too slow, to get the greatest number of goombas on your side of the field. In the “Book It!” mini-game, you had to press the buttons A,B,Y,X as fast as you could so that you and your randomly selected mini-game partner reach the top of the steps made out of books. Yet even in the midst of all this fun, there were mini-games that I did not enjoy playing, like “Camera Shy,” “Soccer Survival,” and “Cherry-Go-Round.” In “Camera Shy,” you had to take pictures of all of the participating characters to win. I unfortunately never had the chance to even take one single photograph. My brother was the one who always won in this mini-game. I never knew how he managed to win. “Soccer Survival” consisted of evading a soccer ball that was kicked by a giant Goomba. In this game, I was the one that always got eliminated first. Finally, in “Cherry-Go-Round” I could never swing the cherry fast enough to throw and get the cherry to travel the farthest. These three mini-games frustrated me so much that would just quit playing altogether.

The other memorable Mario video game that Albert, Mom, and I loved to play was Super Mario 64 DS. This game had a compilation of mini-games where you could choose to play solo or two-player mode. Every summer night, before going to bed, My mom, Albert, and I would sit in the living room and take turns playing. We would all sit together on the cozy couch. I would sit on my Mom’s lap and my brother would sit next to her so that we could all see the Nintendo. After a few minutes of playing, Alex or Luigi would later join in on the fun. We would all help each other and cheer for each other. Sometimes we would get too loud that we would scare my Dad awake from his sleep. Dad would always come quickly out of his room to check on us and see what the whole commotion was all about. We would all laugh at Dad to see him half awake and half asleep yet still concerned about our well being. He would unfortunately never join the game yet our loud cheers would get him to stick around and watch. By now it was more than evident that my mission was over. The magic was finally uncovered and I finally understood the excitement my brothers felt the first time they received the Nintendo and the Mario Party video game.

A few years later, when the hype over the new and innovative Nintendo console, the Wii, was still at its peak, our parents bought one for the four of us. By this time, Alex was in college and Luigi was in high school, so the only ones who found time to play were Albert and me since we were still in elementary school. Every afternoon after finishing our homework my brother and I would play Mario Kart. This was the only Mario video game in which I was able to beat him. The trick was to find secret routes that allowed you to reach the finish line faster. What also helped me beat my brother was obtaining an item box that provided you with different abilities. The one that helped the most was the one that transformed you into a bullet and could take you from twelfth place to third place. Mario Kart ultimately became my favorite video game. 

Mario Sluggers was another game that I got really competitive about. However, this game was physically exhausting. Before even starting the game my brother and I had to rearrange his room in order to make more space. By the time we actually started playing, my hands could not even hold the Wii controller. Nonetheless, I still had lots of fun playing this game, especially whenever I made my very first home run. When I made my very first home run I was so excited that I jumped and shouted as I ran all around the house announcing my achievement. Well, I sort of had to whisper my achievement since my older siblings were now in high school and college and were working on homework and studying for important tests. Unfortunately, my excitement only lasted for a few seconds because later as the game proceeded my brother made two home runs. And, in much the same way this home run excitement faded quickly so did these fun moments. Before I knew it, time had passed and both my brother and I had grown. He was now about to start his first day of high school and begin preparing for his future career. I was in my final year of middle school and would soon be heading out to high school myself. I continued to play alone in my free time, but at this point, life had become busier for everyone; not even Mom had the time to play with me anymore. 

Fast forward a few years later, it became more than apparent that those days of fun and carefree moments were definitely not going to repeat themselves. With an increase in our load of homework and the responsibility of taking school seriously, it became difficult for my siblings and me to find time to play. Not only were we not playing video games together anymore but we found it hard to spend quality time together as we used to without worrying about the time or school and jobs. Now, with the release of the Nintendo Switch came the revival of many fun-filled Mario games; and with these releases came a sense of nostalgia upon me. Playing Mario Kart Nintendo Switch edition at this age and with my whole family has made me remember that there is always time for fun and that even though we have now become adults we must still maintain the heart of a child to not lose sight of ourselves. My self-assigned mission is to now rediscover that magic for which I once searched for when I was only seven. 

Angelica Macias is a CNMA student that spends most of her time lost in her thoughts thinking and envisioning new ideas which rarely come to life. During her free time she enjoys drawing, listening to music and most importantly spending time with her family.

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