So Long, Mario

Super Mario 35 gets delisted today, and I wax lovingly about a game that occupied six months of my life.

When I get home from work today, I will play Super Mario 35. It will be the last time I ever get to play it, barring some 11th hour decision by Nintendo not to delist the servers and take the Mario Battle Royale game offline. This move was ordained from the day the game was announced, alongside Super Mario 3D All-Stars, which will stop being sold in retail today as well. The games, released as part of the 35th anniversary of the release of the original Super Mario Bros., were always meant to be limited release. In the case of the latter game, there’s no way Nintendo can stop you from playing that collection of their first three mainline Mario games in 3D. If you have the cartridge or the digital download on your Switch console, you can play it until you or the console die. It’s a play out of the old Disney book of locking up exclusive IP in a vault in hopes to artificially maximize sales with each successive release.

Disney, however, never tried taking a piece of media away from being able to consume it completely. Then again, they haven’t had the ability to do so with the kind of media it produces. The whole situation is weird because it is unprecedented. Most video games can be put on hard copies and played beyond the omnipresent and easily brought-to-action tentacles of Nintendo’s legal team. Unless the game is an English-localized version of Mother 3, they will find out if you’re playing any Nintendo game on an online-based emulator and shut it down. You’ll still get the chance to play said game after it has become unavailable on a wider spread. With a battle royale game, the entire point is to have a centralized server capable of handling massive traffic serve as a hub for players to gather and compete against each other regardless of how far away they are. They’re also exclusively multiplayer games, so even if you somehow were able to copy the code on a cartridge, unless you had people in that general vicinity to play physically on that console, tough luck trying to recreate an experience even close to resembling authentic.

It’s that unprecedented dynamic that exposes how capricious and callous this decision is. You throw a carrot to gamers who now have a simple yet exciting way to connect with each other, and you take it away after a year? It would be baffling if the decision were somehow connected to a wholly unrelated economic system to capitalism. If I had to guess, Nintendo will pull the old Disney vault switcheroo at some point in the future and offer the game on a subscription-based model on top of what they already charge for access to online play. They and Game Freak have already proven this will work with Pokémon Home. I pay a yearly fee to get online, and then I get charged $3.99 a month to be able to store Pokémon online and transfer them to various games where they can be utilized. The writing on the wall couldn’t be any larger or more legible at this point.

As if Nintendo really needed the money anyway, to be honest. But I’m not sure that’s what’s going to happen. Again, Nintendo is a company that allows so much of their wide anthology of games to remain unavailable unless you have the original hardware. Their reputation for holding out on their fans is second only to their desire to make you pay full price at all times for all games. It would almost be admirable how much they don’t give into capitalistic pressures if they didn’t hold a library of games people wanted to play for ransom.

After today, Super Mario 35 will be yet another game that you won’t be able to play anymore, at least in the form that it is available now. I played the hell out of it for the six months that it was available. I think I played it every day it was out, or close to. Mainly, I at least played until I met the daily goals. There are three daily goals you have to complete every day to get extra coins, and it was a good way to stay sharp. I don’t think I ever really got too dull at the game, to be honest. I had streaks, hot and cold. Sometimes, I would take streaks of finishing in the top five for entire days. Sometimes, I would inexplicably die on the first Goomba in level 1-1. I don’t know how much time I sunk into it. I could probably find out by going on my profile and seeing, but the last time I did that, I saw I logged over 200 hours playing Dead Cells, and that was before Motion Twin/Evil Empire released the first DLC package for it. I shouldn’t have to feel shame for how much time sunk into a game, but the residual guilt from being raised Catholic is branded into my DNA like a hot iron prodded into a steer’s skin.

Overall, I think I did pretty well in the six months it was available. I don’t know how many overall games I played, but I got to level 215, or more accurately, 15** as the notation goes. I accrued over half-a-million coins in my travels. Coin collecting was always a focus of mine, and no matter whether I died on the first enemy or won the whole damn thing, I got an extra bonus purse for starting out as small Mario. You could start out with the Fire Flower or a Power Star if you wanted to spend your money, but I liked the challenge of starting off small, especially after I proved to myself I could outlast up to 34 other players and win on a regular basis.

How many wins did you rack up in Super Mario 35? Leave a comment to brag!

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Overall, I won 46 times. Maybe I added a win or two to that total by the time you’ve read this if I got lucky enough in my final round of playing today. I don’t know how that stacks up against the other people who’ve played Super Mario 35 their fair share over the tenure of the game. Maybe I’m among the elites. Maybe I’m just some local also-ran who did better than his Twitter peers but paled in comparison to the true elites in the gaming world. No matter what the case is, I got a lot of fun out of that goddamn game, and I’m sad to see it go, like some six-month April Fool’s joke that Nintendo thought to troll their consumer base with. I’m going to miss throwing down my proletarian tools and picking up the game controller with the express purpose of playing through the first game I ever grew to love in a new setting. Who knows, maybe it’ll come back. Maybe it won’t. At least I might have some tall tales to tell my grandkids someday, if, of course, the world isn’t a festering, swampy mess unfit for human life by the time I’d be the age to have grandkids.