I’ve recently been making my way through Paper Mario 2, and I can’t describe how delightful this game is for me. My love affair with Mario RPGs starts way back in the Super Mario RPG for Super Nintendo days. Just thinking about that game gives me the urge to track down a Super Nintendo for the sole purpose of playing that game. I had never owned a Super Nintendo, so I missed out on many a good game. I’ve always swung back and forth on a Pitfall-esque vine over the chomping alligator heads of gaming on the consoles versus the PC. After swinging back and forth between the NES and PC for many years, I had swung back to the PC (though not before taking a detour on the Sega Genesis to play Ghostbusters) and become fairly entrenched in the rise of first-person shooters and real-time strategy thanks to Doom and Dune 2. By the way, in the history of gaming no other two games have been so consistently misinterpreted:
Dude1: “So, what are you playing?”
Dude2: “Dune 2.”
Dude1: “Doom 2?”
Dude1: “Dude…is that like Herzog Zwei?”
Since the allure of a Ghostbusters game had already forced my hand to the dark side of Sega and its Genesis, convincing the parents that I needed yet another “game machine” was problematic. That kind of subterfuge was the realm of HVAC salesmen, auto mechanics, and my older brother George, none of whom which did I share the capacity for deception and embellishment. Given the verbosity of this paragraph, whose sole purpose was to simply state “I never had a Super Nintendo.”, that may not be the case anymore. As I say, though, I was too content playing the likes of Ultima Underworld to be bothered with what might have been happening on the “kid” systems.
Later on, I secured a job at a local used game store known as Game World, whose merchandise consisted primarily of console games. It was at Game World that I began to swing back into the consoles, thanks in part to my bearded co-worker Mark’s console RPG enthusiasm. It was here that the classics were brought to my attention. Chrono Trigger. Ogre Battle.
Mostly Chrono Trigger.
My long-standing streak of not finishing Chrono Trigger had its impetus here and continues to this day (not unlike my streak of not talking about Paper Mario 2 that recently kicked off). Still, being that I worked in a video game store and could check out any game and/or system I liked at any time, I didn’t see fit to buy myself a SNES. By the time the Playstation came out, SNES-like thoughts were long gone, as were precious amounts of my time that disappeared into the black holes known as Beyond the Beyond and King’s Field (and not in a good way). Although chances were high that I would finally talk about Paper Mario 2 by this third paragraph, alas, you’ll have to wait for the next one.
When Game World went out of business one day (Literally. One day I closed up for the night, the next day, everything was packed up and I was out of a job), I had to do something to get my parents off my back. I needed to lose some weight, so I joined the Air Force. My first duty station was Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, New Mexico. Clovis is the perfect town for video games, as there weren’t a damned other thing to do there. When I first arrived, I had nothing but the clothes on my back. No computer, Playstation, or other entertainment device. My new roommate had just gotten himself a shiny, new Pentium II with which he spent as much time mining ore in Ultima Online as I did lurching around King’s Field. He also happened to have an old discolored SNES hiding in the bottom of his drawers (no, not those drawers).
My new job consisted of monitoring the military’s ancient computer network 24×7, to ensure that if anyone dropped a bomb on us, I could get the word out to scramble the F-16s. This being the late 90s, the mid-shift was not exactly a hub of activity. One Tuesday evening, just after breakfast, I happened upon a copy of Super Mario RPG at the Base Exchange (also known as the BX, PX, or NEX, depending on your military service of choice). And so my eyes were open to the wonders of the Mario RPG series. Again, I’ll steal the word Shawn Elliot used in his description of Super Mario Galaxy that I find fits this series perfectly: delightful. Much like Chrono Trigger, I don’t think I’ve ever managed to finish Super Mario RPG, but I find myself picking it up every once in a while and enjoying of every minute of it, nonetheless. This thing had more charm than a weiner dog, and I turned into a helpless school girl in front of it, giggling ridiculously.
Next week: maybe I’ll actually talk about Paper Mario 2.