Eight Bit Brothers

As opposed to two-bit brothers...

As opposed to two-bit brothers…

prompt logo 2The magical sounds of Friday are in the air, and that can mean only one thing… you’re only one day away from another totally cute squirrel picture!  But before that happens, you’ll have to put up with another reader-generated foray into madness that we like to call Prompt the Squirrel Fridays.  I’m making a list and checking it twice, and there still seems to be a lot of you who haven’t done your part to make PTS2 the rousing success it truly can be.  Everyone who reads my blog needs to play nice and submit a prompt… which you can do using the contact form in this post.  There will be severe discipline issued for those who fail to comply…

Don't be this guy.... well, unless you're into that, I guess.

Don’t be this guy…. well, unless you’re into that, I guess.

This week’s prompt comes to us from one of The Nest’s original groupies, Merby… who many of you are already familiar with since I can trace most of the people who read my blog back to her.  Rather than ask me to do a tribute to some obscure rocker that goes by the name of Pete…. um… maybe it’s Paul… McCarthy, or something like that… she instead requested this of me:

Do a post about Mario and Luigi!!

OK... has anyone seen Luigi?

OK… has anyone seen Luigi?

Of course, Merby is talking about the most famous video game siblings of all time, the Mario Brothers!

They seem entirely too happy.  Maybe it's a good thing I never had a brother.

They seem entirely too happy. Maybe it’s a good thing I never had a brother.

Mario began his life 35 years ago as the protagonist of the classic arcade game Donkey Kong, which was Nintendo’s first big breakthrough in America four years before they’d revolutionize the home gaming industry with their famous NES console.

Blue hair... hey, punk was big in the early 80's.

Blue hair… hey, punk was big in the early 80’s.

The pre-Mushroom Kingdom Mario has a few notable differences from the plumber we all know and love…. like the fact that he was actually a carpenter in this game.  It’s a good thing Mario became rich and famous, because I can just imagine the amount of dues he had to pay to both of his trade unions.  He originally had the lame name of Jumpman before being rechristened Mario after Nintendo’s warehouse landlord.  He was also not noteworthy enough to be rescuing princesses at the time… the damsel in distress was his girlfriend Pauline, who seemed to mysteriously disappear once Peach came into Mario’s life…

She looks big enough to slap the shit out of him for cheating on her...

She looks big enough to slap the shit out of him for cheating on her…

Mario’s next appearance came two years later when Nintendo debuted the arcade game Mario Bros… and as you might expect, this is where his green loving brother Luigi first came into the picture.

Does my brother count as a pest?

Does my brother count as a pest?

Not only did this game give us Mario’s tag team partner Luigi, but it also was the basis for the brothers’ new career as plumbers… as well as the start of Nintendo’s green pipe fetish.  One of the revolutionary aspects of this game (And the whole reason Luigi came into existence) was that you and your buddy could both play at the same time… teaming up to clear the screen.  Of course, given that brothers don’t always get along, you could also attempt to sabotage each other.  Nothing is more rewarding than sending your dear old brother to an early grave by knocking him right into a killer turtle…

It's not just little sisters who are evil...

It’s not just little sisters who are evil…

Usually, sequels suck… but it could be argued that 1985’s Super Mario Brothers was the most influential and historically significant video game of all time.  Not only was it yet another smash arcade hit, but it helped drive the sale of Nintendo Entertainment Systems throughout the mid 80’s, helping to revive a home gaming market that walking turd E.T. nearly single-handedly killed off.  It also gave birth to the world of mushrooms, goombas, Koopas and princesses that has been home to the Mario Brothers universe for three decades now.

And killer flying sushi.

Beware of killer flying sushi while going on walkabout.

At the time, however, Mario and Luigi still looked like identical twins who shopped at different ends of the color spectrum.  Luigi was just Mario wearing green instead of red.  A color blind person wouldn’t even be able to tell them apart, and if it weren’t for their side by side play in Mario Bros., it would’ve been reasonable to question whether they weren’t just the same person.

Luigi adores a minuet...

Luigi adores a minuet…

That all changed in 1988 when Nintendo… now focused on its booming home console business, released Super Mario Bros. 2 for the NES.  Suddenly, Luigi became the big brother…

That's the short and stubby Mario his ex Pauline remembers...

That’s the short and stubby Mario his ex Pauline remembers…

Mario and Luigi’s different body styles they’re known for can be traced specifically back to this game… and what’s really funny about that is that there was no intention on Nintendo’s part to make Mario physically different from Luigi.  It’s just one of those accidental things that happened when Nintendo pulled off the greatest self-plagiarism project in pop culture history…

Wait a minute... who's this clown in the turban!?!?

Wait a minute… who’s this clown in the turban!?!?

Because Japan thinks we’re a country full of pussies when it comes to video games, they scrapped their more difficult (but faithful to the original) version of Super Mario Bros. 2 and merely changed the four main characters in a Japanese release titled Doki Doki Panic to issue as what Americans know as Super Mario 2.  Each of the four characters in DDP had different strengths and weaknesses, and those were also applied to the Mario characters who would replace them.  Since Luigi’s power was proving White Men Can’t Jump was just another racist epithet, he was made taller and lankier since we all know tall people can jump higher than non-tall people.

Tell that to squirrels.

Tell that to squirrels.

While much of what transpired in SMB2 was ignored when Super Mario Bros. 3 came around a couple years later (Save those ever cute little Bob-Ombs), the stray adventure into the land of Doki Doki Panic was immortalized in one of the greatest live action/cartoon shows of all time…

The Super Mario Brothers Super Show ran only one season on the Fox Kids after school lineup (My freshman year in high school, 1989-90), but it not only kicked ass… it seamlessly wove together the Mushroom Kingdom of SMB1 with the Arabesque world of SMB2 to keep children out of trouble before their parents came home to make them do their homework.  Yes, that’s TWO references to Captain Lou Albano you’ve gotten from me this week, as he was chosen to play Mario in the live action scenes, while the recently departed Danny Wells got stuck as Luigi.

Yo!  At least I don't pierce my face with rubber bands, yo!

Yo! At least I don’t pierce my face with rubber bands, yo!

It would be impossible for me to continue on through the evolution of our favorite pixelated brothers, not only because I’d like to keep this post under 30,000 words, but because my gaming days pretty much ended when the NES died out in the mid 90’s.  However, before I do put up the game over screen on this article… I must confess right now that I’ve always favored Luigi over Mario.  When I’d kick my sisters’ asses at a Mario Bros. game, I was always Luigi.  Despite what you might hear from others, Luigi is far and away the best character to play as on every screen in Super Mario 2.  Plus, I’m always for the underdog… the one who gets lost in the shadow of a more popular character… and maybe I just have a fondness for green overalls…

Er.... um... this is the kind of thing that happens when you've played second banana for over 30 years.

It’s not easy being green…. or a second banana for three decades.

Thank you Merby for giving me the chance to represent for Luigi and his brother!  I’ll be ready to jump and pop open another “?” box set out by one of my followers next Friday…


About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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32 Responses to Eight Bit Brothers

  1. draliman says:

    If that picture at the top is what awaits me, I’m definitely not submitting a prompt 😉
    The Mario brothers pretty much passed me by. I never had a Nintendo anything.

  2. Arlene says:

    My favorite was Mario Brothers 3. I couldn’t play worth a darn but I liked to watch my younger brother and his friends play. Later when my two kids were old enough I broke my NES out of storage and they enjoyed it as I once again watched. 😀

    • 3 was a great game, though it gave out far too many extra lives to make it very challenging (Or help with the wait time if, say, your sisters were playing while you had to sit and watch…). I think they went overboard with the complexity of Super Mario World on the SNES… and that is the most recent Mario game I’ve ever played!

  3. fanrosa says:

    Once again, you are wrong, Wrong, WRONG when it comes to Doki Panic 2. Luigi was the worst because those stupid flipper feet were too hard to control. Princess Peach was the best because she could float and take those long jumps over the oceans and such.

    Unless you needed to gather a lot of veggies in a particular world, because Toad was the diggingest little mofo the world (ha!) has ever seen….

    • If you could control flipper feet with the expert care I did, there’s no way you’d play any level with anyone but Luigi. Princess’ floating was nice, but she couldn’t jump worth a shit, and you need jumping skills more than anything in the game. Plus, she’d get hit by about 473890433 Shyguys in the time it took her to pick up one damn veggie!

  4. OMG OMG OMG OMG look at those kittens. I’m in toxic cute overload. KITTENS!!!!!

    But on a more serious note… I’m always Luigi when we play Mario games on the Wii. I love saying his name. Lu-eeeeeeeeeee-gi.

    • I have the companion photo to that uploaded here somewhere of Spilly pushing Ody away from the food bowl. I miss having blood brothers around…

      I’m glad to know I wasn’t the only one who called him Lu-eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-gi too! Are there even any other famous Luigis out there? I think not…

  5. chattykerry says:

    I stopped reading after the cute little kitties – MY FOOD! Someone has to be the alpha male…

    • I do have a contradictory photo where the food-blocking is reversed. Funny thing is, Spilly (the black one) was definitely the alpha of the two despite his weirdness and small size disadvantage. Once Spilly passed and I got Biskit, Ody happily took over as the new alpha… and it was weird how his personality changed almost overnight.

      • chattykerry says:

        Mrs. Stripe was our Alpha cat but Zhenny disputed this for a decade or more, to no avail. Now they seem a bit lost without an Alpha but now they can have the whole rug in front of the fire to themselves!

  6. Trisha says:

    I don’t remember which Mario Bros. game I played or which character I used. I just remember getting really pissed off because I couldn’t make it to the door at the top of whatever level I got permanently stuck on. I don’t think I really wanted to rescue the princess that badly anyway, or maybe I just knew I never would since I always sucked at video games!

    With the threat of severe punishment, I have now written “prompt the squirrel” on my to-do list. 🙂

    • I wonder if I’d have ever gotten into video games had the internet existed at the time. Once I finally got a computer, I put away the games for good…

      I am probably the only person who can weekly threaten their readers and still have everyone coming back! 🙂

      • Trisha says:

        Probably! I don’t usually respond well to threats. 🙂 I was going to ask you to tell us about the origin of MBRS but I see you’ve already done that. Dammit! Back to trying to jolt my pollen-riddled brain into coming up with an idea.

      • I’m seriously considering my next Friday series being in-depth posts on the background and creation of each of my critters (As was suggested when I did the Buster post a few weeks ago), so you may learn more about her later this year anyway.

        Like anything else that seems to require thought, the key may be not to think about it at all. And one of my best prompts from the first series involved what was maybe the most generic and abstract suggestion I got. I wouldn’t overthink it (And I think the dominatrix will go after Draliman first!)

  7. Ally Bean says:

    There was a Super Mario Brothers TV Show, huh? Didn’t know that. I never cared much about Mario Bros, so I guess I won’t regret missing it. Still it makes me wonder what I was doing that I didn’t know about it.

    • Unless you watched after school cartoons at the right time 25 years ago, you’d have no reason to ever know it existed. There were many other Nintendo inspired cartoon shows though… none of which I ever watched or cared for.

  8. The Cutter says:

    I’ll admit it: I liked the Super Show. That theme song was insanely catchy

  9. I never made it much past Space Invaders, but I was a real super duper champion at that. Maybe that’s WHY I never made it beyond that. When you have achieved the pinnacle of success, why not rest on your fat laurels? I bet I could still beat anyone at Space Invaders. I mean ANYONE.

  10. Quirky Girl says:

    Damn Mario Bros. I used to lose sleep over how to get to the next level on the original Super Mario Bros, only to never even get a turn as the dreaded player number two. Sigh…

    • Two player games between me and my sisters always led to a lot of sabotage in an attempt to speed up the time between turns. “Accidentally” walking in front of the TV was always a good move… 😉

  11. Merbear74 says:

    Ah, that’s what my prompt was! My memory has holes like a slice of Swiss cheese…
    I am proud to be one of The Nest’s original groupies!
    I could beat Super Mario 2 in 45 minutes back in the day…my brother timed me. I actually used Luigi the most!
    Great post, as usual!

  12. gentlestitches says:

    I loved it and thought it was amazing how the children played the same game together but with a different ds. Now of course it is the SNES which still is popular here. My favorite part is the music.

  13. 1jaded1 says:

    Thanks for the history. I played the game twice in my life. I’m too uncoordinated. I always think of Mario Andretti and Luigi lemon ice stuff.

  14. One of the best and most classic games ever. I would have loved a gameboy as a kid…

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