Super Mario World Music and Memories

This morning I came across a collection of reworked “Super Mario World” music. I was skeptical at first but these songs are fun to listen to and they bring back the nostalgia.

The complete soundtrack to Super Mario World, covered by one man using dozens of instruments. Roughly in game order, faithful to the originals, with some bizarre artistic license thrown around. A private hobby made public. Dedicated to Koji Kondo. –XOC

Playing them reminded me of a Super Nintendo contest I was in a few years ago (a few being somewhere around 15). It was held at the Medicine Hat Mall. Four different Super Nintendo consoles were setup to play the brand new Super Mario World.

Super Mario World Screen Shot
The Start Screen.

When the contest started the rules dictated that the winner would be the player that was able to “get the farthest” in the game within a short period of time. Each of the four consoles would be run as if it were it’s own contest so even if you got the second farthest in the game, it was possible that the person who got the farthest could have done so on the same console as you and you would still lose.

It didn’t take long for the organizers to realize that in a game like Super Mario World, where the map is a kind of maze that requires backtracking and allows warping it was going to be pretty hard to figure out which player actually made it the farthest. So after about 4 or 5 people had played attempting to get the farthest, they changed the rules. Instead of distance traveled, the decision would be based on high score. Players with the highest score on their own console would win a free Super Nintendo.

My turn was just about to start, and let’s face it, I played a lot of Nintendo as a kid. I subscribed to Nintendo Power and I even scored the occasional blister from marathon sessions of Super Mario World. Not only did I possess a lot of game playing experience, but I also had a secret technique and I really wanted to win.

Super Mario World Turtles
Racking up points.

I raced through the first level in record time. Then instead of moving on to the next level, I re-entered the same level and picked up that famous first empty turtle shell and sent it flying through the 8 or so live turtles running up incremental runs of points: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1000, 2000, 4000, 8000, 1Up! Then came my secret: start followed by select. It was documented right in the instruction manual, (who reads video game manuals anyway?), pressing Start and then Select on a level you have previously cleared will bring you right out to the world map. So that was it, kill 9 turtles in one go, rinse, and repeat.

I totally clobbered any previously imaginable high score. It was insane! After about 5 minutes of running up my score the “judges” decided that what I was doing wasn’t fair to the people who initially thought they had to get as far as they could through the map so they told me to stop doing my trick, that I had obviously won and that now I should just go for distance.

Super Mario World Overworld
Go left for the Block Palace.

My instructions were to go right. When I tried to go for the block palace (left) they told me that I had to go right. I think they might have thought I was going back into the first level. Anyway assured that I had won the contest, what did it matter?

I never won the contest. I had the second highest score of the day but I would not be going home with any of the four Super Nintendos. Apparently some other smart fellow did my trick as well and on the same console as me. The judges insisted it was all fair because they only let him do it up to the same amount of points that I did it for. Of course after he was done he went to the block palace and got the high bonus points for completing that level.

The lesson to be learned from all of this? Video game contests in the early 90’s were rarely fair. Judges always seem to be changing the rules mid-stream and they didn’t really know what they are doing in general. It doesn’t really matter that I didn’t win a Super Nintendo – I already had one, but still I felt ripped off. If you ever run a contest, try and be as fair as possible by deciding the rules ahead of time, thinking about what could go wrong by actually trying the game yourself and once the contest has started stick to your plan.

One reply on “Super Mario World Music and Memories”

One thing you haven't even considered is that the kid who won was probably the son of one of the organizers, or otherwise related. Seriously.

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