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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

September 13, 1985

It's-a-me!  Matthew!  And today on the Tuesday Timeline, I've got a subject that has brought the fun and the games to the modern day world!

Of course, that's your only clue.  I don't want to be a real Goomba and spoil the rest for you.  Instead, let me take you on a small historical journey through past September 13th.  Shall we get started?

1501 - Michelangelo begins work on his statue, David

1541 - John Calvin returns to Geneva after being exiled for three years to reform the church under Calvinism

1609 - Henry Hudson reaches the river that would come to bear his name - the Hudson River

1743 - The Treaty of Worms is signed by Great Britain, Austria, and the Kingdom of Sardinia

1759 - The Battle of the Plains of Abraham takes place

1814 - Francis Scott Key composes the poem "Defense of Fort McHenry" during a crucial battle in the War of 1812; the poem would be the basis for the creation of "The Star-Spangled Banner"

1848 - Phineas Gage survives having an iron rod being driven through his brain - the incident prompts more studies in how the brain works

1898 - Hannibal Goodwin patents celluloid photographic film

1899 - Henry Bliss becomes the first person to die in an automobile accident

1922 - The Great Fire of Smyrna begins - the event would eventually lead to the conclusion of the Greco-Turkish War

1925 - Musician Mel Torme (d. 1999) is born in Chicago, Illinois

1939 - Actor Richard Kiel (d. 2014) is born in Detroit, Michigan

1948 - Margaret Chase Smith becomes the first woman to serve in both the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate

1956 - The IBM 305 RAMAC is introduced

1987 - In Golania, Brazil, a radioactive object is stolen from an abandoned hospital which inevitably spreads sickness and death to many people over the next few weeks

1988 - Hurricane Gilbert - which struck in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico - is named the strongest hurricane in the Western Hemisphere - at least until 2005 when Hurricane Wilma was recorded to be even stronger

1989 - Desmond Tutu leads South Africa's largest anti-Apartheid march

1996 - Rapper Tupac Shakur is shot and killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, aged just 25

1997 - Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997" is released worldwide

2001 - Aircraft services for American civilians is restored following the 9/11 terrorist attacks

2008 - Hurricane Ike makes landfall in the Texas Gulf Coast, causing massive damage

2013 - The United States consulate in Afghanistan is attacked by Taliban insurgents leaving two dead, and twenty injured

And for celebrity birthdays, we have the following turning one year older today; Barbara Bain, Robert Bedard, Eileen Fulton, Don Bluth, David Clayton-Thomas, Jacqueline Bisset, Peter Cetera, Noel Godin, Frank Marshall, Anne Devlin, Jean Smart, Randy Jones, Don Was, Anne Geddes, Kim Genelle, Geri Jewell, Bobby Davro, Tavis Smiley, Annie Duke, Jeff Ross, Zak Starkey, Tim "Ripper" Owens, Roger Howarth, Tyler Perry, Louise Lombard, Stella McCartney, Joe Don Rooney, Fiona Apple, Swizz Beatz, Ben Savage, James Bourne, Niall Horan, and Robbie Kay.

Okay, so what's the date that we will be warping back to this time around?

Why, September 13, 1985!  Yes, I think that's a fine date to Lakitu...erm...I mean, look back to.

After was the date in which one of my all time favourite video games was released.  And in the 31 years since that day, that one little video game has spawned a franchise that includes no more than two hundred different games overall!  Not bad for a little plumber from Brooklyn, huh?

Okay, have I given you enough clues yet?  Have you solved the riddle?

It's a him!  Mario!  And on September 13, 1985, Super Mario Brothers was first released in Japan!

Before I go any further with why I love this game so much, as well as some of the tricks and gimmicks the game has (which most of you probably already know), I think we should look at how the game was created.

Even though Super Mario Brothers was released in 1985, the character of Mario is a little bit older than that.  He made his first appearance in a Nintendo game in the year 1981.  Only back in those days, he was known as Jumpman trying to save his girlfriend from Donkey Kong. 

Two years later, he appeared in the video game Mario Bros, along with his brother Luigi, where the goal of the game was to go through the maze of New York City sewers and take care of the nasty creatures that live down there by jumping underneath them, kicking them, and smashing gigantic POW blocks to take care of several of them at once.

As for how that transitioned into Super Mario Brothers?  Well, that came about as a result of the two men who created the game - Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka.  Because in Japan, the Famicon system (which we come to know as the Nintendo Entertainment System) was outdated and the following system in Japan - the Famicon Disk System - was set to be released in early 1986, the team decided to create Super Mario Brothers as a way to say goodbye to the Famicom.

(Of course here in North America, we never received the Disk System.  The Nintendo Entertainment System remained supreme until 1991 when the Super Nintendo first hit stores.)

There was also a growing demand for platforming games around that time, and the electronic games industry was just beginning to bounce back again after the Video Game Crash of 1983 - an event that nearly toppled the computer gaming industry.  And Super Mario Brothers was quite revolutionary at the time as it was one of the few video games that employed side-scrolling technology.  Whereas most video games prior to 1985 were fixed screen games, Super Mario Brothers allowed you to go through thirty-two levels of what seemed like a gigantic electronic world.

And as we all know, that world became The Mushroom Kingdom. 

Now, everybody knows what the goal of Super Mario Brothers is.  You as Mario (or Luigi if you're playing in two player mode) have to speed through the eight worlds in the game to try and rescue Princess Toadstool from Bowser's evil clutches.  Of course, Bowser has an army of troops that will stop you from getting there from mushroom shaped Goombas, to Koopa Troopas and Paratroopas, to Lakitus throwing spiny shells to Buzzy Beetles that JUST. WON'T. DIE.

Fortunately, there are power-ups scattered throughout each level.  Mushrooms will make Mario grow twice his size.  Fire flowers will cause Mario to shoot fireballs at anything that dare crosses his path.  And Starmen will grant Mario invincibility for at least twenty seconds, which can really aid Mario in getting through some of the toughest areas.

(Well, all except the underwater stages of 2-2 and 7-2...there are NO power-ups in either level.)

There are other notable worlds to be mentioned as well.  World 1-1 acts as a tutorial level, where you learn the basic mechanics of the game.  Worlds 1-2 and 4-2 are underground levels, where you can find the Warp Zones that will allow you to skip the world you are currently in and play on.  And on the fourth level of each world is a castle filled with fire traps, Podoboos, and the occasional lava pit, where you have to defeat Bowser at the end - and where you want to punch Toad in the face for his "our princess is in another castle" speech that he says at seven of the eight castles.

Now for some tips and tricks - which granted, most of you probably know already...but what the heck, I'm going to post them anyway.

1.  1-UP Mushrooms are extremely hard to find in this game.  Most of them are found in hidden blocks.  There's actually one in World 1-1.

2.  Or if you wait until 3-1 where there are two Koopa Troopas walking down the stairs, you could get infinite lives that way.  You just have to stomp on them and kick them a certain way...

3.  There is a Minus World that one can access if they find a way to bypass the Warp Zone in World 1-2...but it's really not worth it because once you get in the Minus World, you can NEVER LEAVE...

4.  Every one hundred coins Mario collects, he receives one extra life.  This is a mechanic that still continues to this day.

5.  At the end of every non-castle level is a flagpole.  The higher you land on the flagpole, the more points you earn up to a maximum of 5,000.

6.  If you want to see a fireworks show at the end of a level, you have to hit the flagpole at the very moment your timer ends in 1, 3, or 6.

7.  There is more than one way to kill Bowser.  The obvious way is to leap over or run under him to grab the ax that chops the bridge down...but if you have fire power, just shoot him with a bunch of fireballs.

8.  Are you tired of getting attacked by Bloopers (those squids in the underwater levels)?  To avoid them, don't bother swimming!  Just run along the floor and they cannot touch you!  Just don't forget about the Cheep Cheeps (the green fish).

All in all, it was the video game that turned the video game industry around.  And until Wii Sports was released in 2006, the game held the record for the video game that sold the most copies - with well over 40 million sold.  Of course, part of the reason could be Nintendo's decision to market their game consoles with a copy of Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt.

At any rate, this is a game that is so beloved by so many people, including myself.  I still remember the theme song, the fun I had playing the game (well, at least until level 8-2, which at the time I found IMPOSSIBLE), and the amount of time and money it took me to save up for it.  I was nine when I first got my Nintendo, and it took seven months of birthday gifts, allowances, and tooth fairy money to save up for it.

All this time later...I still think it was worth every penny.

Happy 31st birthday, Super Mario Brothers!

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