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Super Mario 3 Custom

You never get a second chance at a first impression–what moment in pop culture had you saying “Now, that’s how you make an introduction!”

This week’s topic is about a pop culture first impression that really knocked your socks off. I think it’s a topic that leaves a lot of room for interpretation. That alone is a good excuse for me to get back into the League of Extraordinary Bloggers!

The year was 1990 and the location, a Zayre department store. Certainly a place for an auspicious debut. I should note that while the store was called Zayre, I’ve never known anyone to call it Zayre. Everyone called it Zayre’s, although they didn’t promote it as such. You know how some people call JC Penny, Penny’s, JC Penny’s or JC Penny? Well Zayre wasn’t like that. Nobody called Zayre, Zayre, they called it Zayre’s.

Zayre’s logo was an asterisk. I wonder what that asterisk was there for?

Ah, that explains it!

Ah, that explains it!

Where was I? Oh yes, it’s 1990 and our one local Zayre’s is about to become Ames, before eventually fading off into the sunset never to be mentioned again. I remember going to Zayre’s quite a few times in my youth, but I don’t really have any vivid memories beyond this one. I mean, I can recall dozens of times I went to K-Mart, Woolworth’s, Toys R Us or Children’s Palace to buy stuff… But I don’t recall ever buying anything at Zayre’s. I’m sure I did. Maybe a Boglin or something?

Anyway, so we’re at Zayre’s for something or the other. My Mom, who was viciously overprotective, lets me wander the store. Typically my Mom would only give me a couple of minutes alone in a toy aisle, but for whatever reason, on this day at Zayre I’ve been given carte blanch to be kidnapped. So I wander the store and I guess they didn’t have any toys of note despite this awesome commercial…

Right, so I head up front waiting for my Mom to finish buying, I dunno, cheap rugs or something and there I see it… A Nintendo Player’s Choice Arcade Game. It was the only game that Zayre’s had and it’s hard to imagine these days that arcade machines were everywhere, even brick and mortar retailers.

For those not old enough to remember, PlayChoice was basically a Nintendo Arcade machine that just played Nintendo games. It seems pointless, but you have to remember that back then everyone didn’t have a Nintendo. Although I had a Nintendo, I did not have the game inside. Typically these were loaded up with some pretty lame games in general, but I often would play them just to play the original non-Super, Mario Brothers game. I was a pimp at that game. This day however, there was something totally new in the machine that I had never even heard of, much less laid my eyes upon…

Super Mario 3 in an Arcade Machine... 1990 Heaven.

Zayre PlayChoice NES


Super Mario Brothers 3!

I didn’t have this! In fact, nobody had it. While I can’t back this up with facts and figures, I’m certain that this game was in this arcade machine months before it was available on cartridge. Certainly that’s true in my neck of the woods, as nobody had SMB3 at the time. As luck would have it, I had the quarter needed to play the game. So I played SMB3 for the first time ever, at Zayre’s in an arcade machine.

My mind was BLOWN!

Piranha plants that shoot fire and move their head around? A raccoon suit? YOU CAN FLY?! Dancing mountains between levels to an awesome 8 bit tune? HOLY MOTHER OF PEARL!

Talk about making an impression. Super Mario Brothers 3 has mythical status for lots of reasons, but screw The Wizard, SMB3 was all about the Zayre’s arcade to me. I remember going home and telling all my friends about this game. Nobody believed me. You can fly? You’re crazy!

You only get 4 men to start with and I sucked, for the record. Of course it was my first time playing this game and it was on a quarter. I remember level 1-2 being AMAZING because you could slide down the hills on your butt. Of course, I lost at least one man by sliding right off a cliff.

That's right, I slid my ass right down that hole.

That’s right, I slid my ass right down that hole.

I made it only to 1-3, as I recall. Losing a life to a Boomerang Brother (WHAT SORT OF UNHOLY MONSTROSITY IS THIS?!) a Para Goomba and my last man on one of those stupid bricks that jump back at you if you hit the musical note wrong. Oh man, this game seemed so foreign at the time, but equally as amazing.

I’m positive I begged my Mom for another quarter and I don’t think she would pony up. We left and by the time we were back there, Zayre’s was no more and Ames didn’t keep the Super Mario 3 machine. It was a brief, fleeting moment, but it was an incredible introduction to Super Mario Brothers 3 and it’s a memory I’ll never forget.

Elsewhere in the League, NerdRage talks about the first appearance of the 9th Doctor, which was pretty awesome. Stunt Zombie has some thoughts on the debut of Doomsday, whilst Vintage Toy Box talks about why she loves Han Solo and he knows.

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