Traveling, especially internationally, is expensive. I am aware of my privilege to have visited Kenya, Australia, Italy, Russia, China, Egypt, and several other countries in my childhood. Fortunately, my parents paid a measly $3 and change each time the travel bug bit me, and they didn’t even have to drive to the airport.
How was this possible? By renting Mario is Missing! for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System from our local Movie Gallery.
Yes, I am well aware many ‘90s children were disappointed when they realized this game marketed as part of the Super Mario Bros. franchise is actually an edu-tainment adventure. No princess in need of saving. No platforms to jump. No secrets to unlock. Simply assume control of Luigi, Mario’s milquetoast younger brother, and venture across the globe for clues as to where King Koopa has taken the more portly plumber (hint: make sure to bundle up).
Luigi finds himself in famous cities where tourists (or locals?) wander the streets and offer clues about the location so players can direct Yoshi to the correct city, making the adventure similar to Super Mario World. Each city features information about world-renowned landmarks and history, and the music is a remix of popular Super Mario World tunes. As a kid who seized every opportunity to read books about other cultures and countries, I was smitten.
However, when I grew older, I learned that I was often alone in my fondness for Mario is Missing! Long-time Nintendo fans have flocked to the Internet to express their disdain for this unique adventure, even writing scathing reviews: “The Mario saga hit rock bottom with this game” (Super Luigi Bros.).
Perhaps Mario is Missing! could be considered the first walking simulator (minus the first-person perspective in modern titles), which is another often derided genre. All Luigi does is walk, talk to non-playable characters, and jump on Koopa Troopas in the cities and King Koopa’s children at the end of each level (oh, and you cannot die or lose stamina since the enemies cannot harm you). The entire game can be completed in about 3 hours, so, assuming the game retailed for $50 in the 1990s, I can understand how players expecting a bit more action from a game with everyone’s favorite plumbers would be upset and feel cheated.
Sure, players may tire easily from the repetition and lack of excitement, but who doesn’t like to read about the illustrious Russian ballet, the Sistine Chapel, the Great Wall of China… right? Sometimes we just need to escape the Mushroom Kingdom and enjoy the real world.
Are there any games most people dislike that you secretly (or not so secretly) adore? Should we feel embarrassed about the games we enjoy? Are edu-tainment games a disgrace or a boon to the gaming industry? Let us know!