So here we are, finally my number one most inspirational game. Its been challenging trying to disseminate so many crucial titles in my life into a compiled list that accurately reflects my own experiences. When I devised the preliminary list over a year ago the selected games I’d compiled were shifting almost daily. Some would move higher, others fell off the list entirely. One game however remained unflinching, vigilant atop a totem of diverging quality and adjusted influence. It was clear even then that “Super Mario World” would top my listing, its venerated effect on me never in doubt no matter how cluttered the rest of the directory was. But the reasons for its exalted position rests not only on the game’s legacy but also because of the stipulated principles for which this entire top ten list was conceived on: influence.
All of the games in my Top 10 have had a profound, influential effect on my life in some manner. They have provided many dutiful hours of irreverence, fun and necessary reprieve from the galling irritation of real life and the confounded people who operate in it. Super Mario World was different however. It didn’t simply distract me from the wearisome strife of school but nurtured my growing affinity for the captivating allure of gaming. Super Mario World enhanced the creative aptitude we all possessed at such a tender age. The boundaries of practicality didn’t apply to us. Reality, responsibility, maturity; these were the afflictions of grown ups. The Mushroom kingdom was my home, little green dinosaurs were my companions and the only threats that accosted me were those instigated by Bowser and his fanatical offspring. When I was here battling stages of disreputable goombas and cunning spectres with a penchant for “peek a boo”, I felt a comfort that few games illicit. Yet the one thing I’m reminded of most when I recall playing this game is my mother and fathers unceremonious split.
I’ve already detailed this traumatic event with emphatic detail in a separate article, so I’ll spare you the entire sob story. But it was one of those life altering moments that despite almost 25 years worth of intervening experiences I can still remember the entire day with vivid clarity. In fact that very day my mother openly encouraged me to play this game to distract me from the suppressed verbal altercations going on between my parents. It might seem odd to associate such an emotionally traumatic period of my life with a game, but it offered so much comfort and stability at a time when life was erratic and confusing. It was an almost cataclysmic event in my life that galvanised my relationship with my mother and frankly destroyed the bond between my father and I. Super Mario World was the comforting antithesis of my parents impending separation. A shield to protect and neuter the pain of witnessing the demise of my family. Playing that game truly was like a cathartic consultation with a psychiatrist, helping me adapt to the inevitable changes in my life. Not through any overt psychological aid, but a pathological solace that remedies that kind of heartbreak by simply entertaining.
I’ve probably made this sound far more dramatic than it really is, accentuating the tragedy of divorce as if it crippled me emotionally for the rest of my life. But it was such a significant part of my childhood that I don’t think I would have dealt with quite as well if not for Super Mario World. This is more than just a cherished piece of nostalgia that evokes memories of care free childish youth and misspent endeavours, but evocative therapy that made me feel better at a time when I couldn’t have felt worse. That is the power of computer games, the purity of their willing ignorance to the real world. And precisely why Super Mario World is and will forever be my #1.