Why couldn’t Dr. Mario have circumcised me?

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Dr. Mario (1991)

I must set the scene for my most recent trip to the doctor’s office by telling you about my GP. I’ll warn you beforehand though, this one is going to get a bit graphic and inappropriate. First of all, I hadn’t had to suffer the displeasure of seeing this doctor for about 15 years up until then – my last visit had concerned my unfortunate bout of balanitis, an inflammation of the old policeman’s helmet.

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Don’t feel sorry for the plumbers, they’re well used to being knee-deep in it

Mario Bros. (1986)

It strikes me suddenly, with no reason and over 35 years later, that for a supposed plumber I’ve never actually seen Mario do anything you’d call plumbing. He’s clambered through a few pipes alright, and he undoubtedly got up to some messy waterworks while on holiday in Super Mario Sunshine. But when have you actually seen him get down on his hands and knees and fix the gunge and rubbish coming out of those nasty pipes?

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Get your gladrags on and join me on my fashion odyssey…

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Super Mario Odyssey (2017)

You don’t need to take a trip to my long abandoned Instagram account (both of them) to learn that I pretty much dress like a scarecrow, as in yes, I keep the birds away. I’m very much a function over form man, I just see clothes as social necessities. So long as it keeps the wind from tickling my ghoulies and I don’t embroil myself in any tricky-to-explain court cases, I’ll wear it. I think one of the main reasons why I’m such a fashion disaster is that my wardrobe is essentially a basket beside my bed with clothes folded on top of it, two abreast, both dangerously teetering like a block of ghastly flats ready to collapse.

Each morning, I grab some articles of clothing from the top of this pile, and whichever has the least obvious creases wins. That’s my ensemble for the day. See, that’s the teeny-tiny drawback you get with your modern day IT jobs – since you’re no longer required to dress like a filing cabinet, just another shirt and slacks merchant, you’ve now got to put some thought into what you wear.

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Every game developer is just one bad day away from being mean

Super Mario Bros The Lost Levels

Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels (1986)

Every now and then in your working life you’ll run upon a person who is just unrelenting. The type of person who wakes up, runs into the bathroom and smiles at the mirror, just to get it over with for the day. You can get them in school and college too, but it’s in work where people aren’t under any pretenses to be nice to you anymore. I’m the type of person who gives these grouchy gits concessions – I try to understand them, get a bit of craic going with them, make excuses for their infuriating behaviour. Then they still rebuff me and I’m left feeling like a pilchard.

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In his first foray into Maths and Stats, Mario graduates with honours

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Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (1996)

I spent my college years wandering about in this kind of cynical trance, like Holden Caulfield. Didn’t really have anywhere to go, anyone to meet, so I just sat about writing and listening to music instead. Even if I’d studied or attended lectures, it’d have hardly made a difference anyway. I went to a ‘prestigious’ university, see. And they can’t fail you.

Maybe if you don’t turn up or if you vomit crayon wax all over the exam paper, you’ll score a big fat zero. But write your exam number down, blindly fill in some of the multi-choice questions, regurgitate parts of your earlier assignments that only barely passed anyway, and you’ve pretty much nailed it. See, if they were to fail you, then you’d go down as a negative statistic, harming the college’s reputation that bit more, domestically as well as internationally. And you know what that means? Lowered funding, something more unspeakable to an educational institution than Voldemort and Macbeth combined.

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If only they’d dropped Mario cartridges on Pearl Harbour instead

Super Mario Bros Logo

Super Mario Bros. (1987)

I won’t bore you to death on the whole video game crash, blah blah blah, E.T. wrecked the whole thing and all of that other stuff. History was the most boring of school subjects as we know, and anyway, the whole event is pretty much the first thing a prospective gaming YouTuber searches for on Wikipedia, before delivering a webcam filmed lecture about it with jumpy editing. Suffice to say, we had an awful lot of terrible “games” (and I’m talking, less impressive than interactive DVD menus) in the late 70s and early 80s.

I’m not just talking about clag that delivers less than 5 seconds of enjoyment either. Even ‘clag’ is too weak a word for games like Custer’s Revenge, or Beat ‘Em and Eat ‘Em. It was this kind of rubbish that was being sold, morse code graphics and all, into households at premium rates. Eventually the poor old gaming camel took one too many straws to the back, that straw being E.T., and over it went. Electronic TV games were a fad that had come, stank up the place a bit, and now they were gone.

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6 of Gaming’s Scariest Creatures

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6 of Gaming’s Scariest Creatures (2019)

Regular readers of these pieces will doubtless be amazed to learn that I’m not always so alpha. Yes, I may often cross the road without waiting for the green man or looking both ways. I’ve swallowed my chewing gum more times than I’d care to mention. I’m even tough enough not to blink at this time of year when fireworks are constantly exploding overhead or shooting straight towards my head. You’ve never met me, I hope, but we can probably both agree that I’m by far the bravest man you know – until it comes to games.

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A scientific calculator is no match for exploding Koopas

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Super Mario Land (1990)

When I revisited Super Mario Land not long back, I thought I was playing a calculator, never mind a Game Boy. We had to buy scientific calculators in school in order to keep up with some of the ridiculous maths stuff that was coming our way – things likes xs, ys, and many other letters. I ask, what was wrong with numbers? Then there was sins, tans and coses… we were getting hit by these daily, and even our shiny new calculators couldn’t deal with whatever on earth an asymptote was. But I used to be seething with envy at our school colleagues in the US, who had access to Texas Instruments calculators, machines which I’m led to believe are the Rolls-Royces of computation and arithmetic. We really were deprived schoolchildren. 

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We’ll sell you the whole tablet but you’re only gonna need the stylus

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Super Mario Maker 2 (2019)

Call me a fanboy, but I always have to admire Nintendo’s testicular fortitude. They’ve sold us bathroom scales, knowing that we’d buy them in our droves. You almost never want to buy a DS, or a 3DS, or even a Switch, because you already know they’re going to throw out a Lite or XL version any day now. But with the Super Mario Maker duology of games, they’ve really done it this time – they’ve sold you a Mario game, except you have to make the levels yourself.

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The Many Jobs of Mario

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The Many Jobs of Mario (2019)

Now in his thirties, and still exhibiting no signs of a mid-life crisis, it’s not beyond the remit of a talented man like Mario to have had many different job titles and roles behind him. Actually, you’d have to say that some of Mario’s travails throughout his glittering life are so wild and out there, that him entering a go-kart tournament against his eternal enemy Bowser is now entirely normal. A man so travelled and so adept surely can’t escape the romantic attention of the Princess much longer, can he? All the same, given the rate he goes through jobs, you’d think Mario would be able to afford better clothes than his patchy dungarees.

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