A funny thing happened to me while playing Super Mario 3D Land the other day.
As I attempted World 5-8 for the tenth or so time, I noticed an item box floating where once there was none. But this was no ordinary keeper of the Fire Flower or Super Mushroom. This item box glowed with heavenly power, beckoning Mario to jump beneath it. From within the fabled container rose a single leaf, golden in appearance, floating towards our hero. Once the magical leaf made contact with the plucky plumber, its benevolence was granted, and Mario became a glowing tanooki deity. No longer did the heat from Bowser’s flames of damnation singe the savior of the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario was reborn as an invincible raccoon… guy. And he would not be stopped.
So yeah, I grabbed the Super Leaf and whoopped the dog crap out of Bowser. No chance of losing, on to the next level, here we go. My inner child is just yelling at me so loudly. Screaming that he, “doesn’t need some stupid leaf,” and he could, “beat that part if I just gave him the controller!” Don’t get me wrong, it is nice to not get frustrated and give up on a game. I remember so many NES titles where I just accepted the fact that I will never see the ending of this game. There is something to be said for seeing all of your efforts come to fruition. To stand up, after hours and hours of trying to beat a certain level, yelling at your television/computer/handheld screen in triumphant cries, “I BEAT YOU, YOU STUPID GAME!” I have so many memories of hanging out with friends and family, all of us huddled around a screen, just wasting the afternoon away, trying to see the ending of some video game. As an adult, these moments are not as frequent.
The big catch of growing up is that the benefits of adulthood come with the responsibilities. College, work, staying healthy, actually having a social life, these are all aspects of being a grown-up that come with loads of free time and no parents telling you what to do. While most of my friends and I still play video games regularly, now we have to take better care in balancing our time. One of my good friends made a recent comment saying he can no longer play Japanese RPGs, since they require such an investment of time for a reward he could just watch on Youtube. So even though video games still bring great joy, they take a backseat to that fickle mistress: real life.
So maybe the Super Leaf isn’t such a bad idea. It gives the player a chance to just breeze through a frustrating moment in a video game so they can get back to the entire point of playing: having fun.