Monday, November 1, 2010

Super Mario Bros. 25th Anniversary Event, San Francisco

The streets of San Francisco were alive with Giants fever as they were starting Game 2 of the World Series against the Texas Rangers in their home turf. Fans that were not in the stadium quickly populated nearby bars to catch all the action, including Taverna Avertine. Downstairs, however, there were people that were more than just Giants fans.

Nintendo celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Super Mario Bros. video game on the NES amidst the appropriately-themed brick-and-pipe-lined basement of the bar. Decorations of plush bricks and question mark blocks lay stacked by the bottom of the stairs as I made my descent, and the familiar theme music of World 1-1 and Mario jump flooded my ears. There were 3 TVs hooked up to 25th-anniversary red Wii consoles, all sporting the latest Wii-mote Plus controllers.

The event invited press in a friendly competition to see who could acquire the fastest speed run (best out of three) through World 1-1. It didn't take long for people to figure out the best path to take for the fastest time. However, once people did, everyone was calculating minute details on how to shave off seconds from the timer. Of course, this meant that people were playing WAY more than the "best of 3 runs," but no one seemed to mind the repetition, let alone playing a game that's 25 years old.

Pretty soon, friendly questions on which pipe leads to the underground section and how to tackle the stairs faded, and determination was set in the air. My official end time (after 3 tries) was at 365, or 35 seconds to complete World 1-1. Unofficially, however, my time was 3 seconds faster at 368, or 32 seconds. Andrew, the rep there taking down scores, playfully writes down the latter score, just for the "record."

During the evening, there were small quiz sections where winners received more Mario-themed prizes, but the top prize, a red Wii console, went out to the fastest official speed run for the evening, which turned out to be 366, or 34 seconds. Unofficially, someone eventually completed World 1-1 in 31 seconds, one whole second faster than my personal best! I commend him for his accomplishment, since he practically spent the rest of the evening perfecting his speed run to the most granular detail.

In the end, the event was a spectacular gathering of people who can't, nay refuse to forget a classic game such as Super Mario Bros. There was even a "confessional" chair set up for guests to reminisce and record on video about their first experiences and fondest memories of Mario in their lives. And despite the minor distraction of the Giants winning Game 2 of the series that night, the event made everyone feel like kids again, crowding around a game that reminded us how many of our gaming lives began.

More pictures from the event are below. Enjoy!

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