Most of my fondest childhood memories revolve around video games. My family moved around so often that it was difficult to make and keep friends, so I turned to books, writing, and my Super Nintendo. While Koei's mostly forgotten strategy game Gemfire is my favorite SNES title of all time, I keep a very special place in my heart for Super Mario All-Stars.
I need to since my copy vanished when I was 11. Super Mario World was nice, but it didn't have Super Mario Bros. 3 on the cartridge. I spent 11 years longing to find my long-lost All-Stars and relive all the gleeful memories, but copies of that game turn up at resale shops in terrible shape.
When Nintendo announced that they were releasing the original Super Mario All-Stars collection on the Wii, I very nearly had my own N64 Kid reaction. Nostalgia whipped me into a frenzy that repelled the dismay that this was just a SNES cartridge slapped on a disc. It was more than that. It was like getting back a little piece of my childhood.
Super Nintendo days
My health has never been particularly good. I was often sick as a child; I even had chickenpox twice. While in kindergarten, I developed pneumonia and empyema that necrotized a part of my lungs. I was in the hospital for so long that I barely remember much of that year in school, but I do remember video games.
The hospital had a well-worn NES on a cart that they wheeled around. Since I couldn't move much due to the fluid in my lungs, playing games was the best thing to keep me from just sleeping all day. This was a dramatic step backward from the SNES I had at home, but anything was better than staring out a window.
Magically, someone donated a SNES and a lot of games to the hospital. In that set was a precious copy of Super Mario All-Stars. Even though all I had been doing was playing Mario and Zelda games, the fresh look of All-Stars made everything new again.
Once I started getting better, the video game-trolley didn't stop in my room as often. I was happy to walk around, sure, but I missed All-Stars most of all. I longed for it in that annoying way children do, and I have no doubt that my parents were sick to death of hearing me talk about it. By the time I left the hospital, I moved on from constantly nagging them about it to the quiet, slightly depressed stage of want that many only children suffer.
Of course my parents hadn't forgotten. Once things had settled down at home and I started going back to school, I almost forgot about All-Stars. I really only remembered it again when I came home from school one day and my father was failing miserably at hiding something behind his back. It was Super Mario All-Stars! I remember screaming with joy and rushing off to play it right away. My mom was in the middle of playing A Link to the Past, but I couldn't wait.
Then, after a particularly stressful move, my game disappeared. I tried not to cry, but it was terribly important to me for a lot of reasons.
Mario's 25th anniversary
I never picked up another copy of All-Stars, despite constantly renting or borrowing the game. By the time I started high school, I stopped obsessing about it entirely.
While the new Wii release of the collection isn't the most outstanding thing in the world, somehow it stuck a cord with me. The day my copy arrived I was immediately hit with a rush of happy, gushy childhood memories. It allowed me to reconnect with an experience I thought was gone forever.
I readily admit that Nintendo just put an SNES ROM on a disc, but for me they put a precious memory on an easily accessible format. I think this is ultimately what they were trying to accomplish. Sure, you've played these games a million times, but the nostalgia around Super Mario All-Stars outweighs the nonexistent upgrades.