When my son decided to get the vintage video game Super Mario All-Stars for the Nintendo Wii, I have to confess – I was pretty excited! It was in the same format as the one they made for the Super Nintendo back in the mid-90’s featuring Mario 1, 2, 3, and the Lost Levels.
I can’t tell you how many hours upon hours I used to spend as a kid playing each one of these games level by level. Even as an grown-up they are still just as much fun to play.
But also seeing this game again for the first time after so long through my adult eyes, I came to the realization of how much it was a metaphor for things you actually encounter in the real world. I had never noticed how much the Super Mario games prepared me with lessons for my adult life. Don’t think so? Let’s consider the following:
Life Lessons You Can Learn from Super Mario:
1. Regular dudes can do extraordinary things. Super Mario was a Man’s Man. I mean just look at the dude! Mario was a plumber – A red-blooded, blue-collar worker who wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He wore a mustache and overalls. He didn’t need some fancy college degree. Mario didn’t need permission to go all over Mushroom kingdom trying to rescue the princess. He was a regular guy with a job to do and he just did it.
2. The game is always easier with your bro. Luigi was always there to battle with Super Mario no matter which one of the games you played. And in life everything is always a little better when you’ve got someone there to help you along.
3. You might just win faster if you’re willing to look around hard enough. Sweet! Is that a secret warp zone? There were so many hidden gems through this game if you were willing to spend the time exploring and taking chances. In real life this works the same way. You can go the long way through level after level. Or if you’re clever enough, you can “warp” your way to success and riches. All it takes is a little ambition.
4. Coins help you stay in the game. The journey through Mushroom kingdom wasn’t cheap. One of the easiest ways to pickup free lives and stay in the game was to collect 100 coins. Although in real life it’s not quite as simple as reaching 100 coins, you still need a whole lot of coins to keep playing the game the way you want to.
5. Powering up made the game easier. Super Mario sure did kick butt when he had Fire power or Star power. When he was just regular, small Mario, it was pretty easy to die. In life, we become more powerful the more we develop our own special “powers” and “abilities” to help us through our “levels”. Does anyone else know someone they work with that has “invincibility” power? I bet you do.
6. Not all opponents are the same. Sometimes it was easy for Super Mario to just squash some of his enemies. Others (like the spike-covered turtle) were a little more complex and required special powers. In life, your “opponents” are just the same. Some of them are easy to defeat. Some require more specialized skills. And some are better just avoiding all-together by jumping over them and moving on.
7. Even the boss has a weakness. Is your “boss” a giant fire-breathing reptile? Even if he is, he still has a weakness and can be defeated. You’ve just got to try different things until something works.
8. The farther you make it, the harder things get. Is it no surprise that Level 8 was way harder than Level 1? But what’s funny is that when you’re a kid, you don’t see that coming in life. You think things will be so much easier when you’re an adult (when you’ve got a job, car, cash, etc). But that’s just not true. Things get so much, much more complicated.
9. When you fail, you try and try again. What happened when a Koopa touched you or you fell down a hole? Did you cry when you died? Throw your controller across the room? Well … maybe a few times. But after all that, you always tried again. Life really is like that. When you fail, you don’t pack the game up and never play it again. You get back on the horse and try again.
10. When you win, you should celebrate. At the end of every level, there was a flagpole to slide down and a short victory song just waiting for Super Mario. Depending on your score you sometimes even got fireworks! When you do something good, you should recognize your accomplishment; even if it is a brief celebration.
11. You’ll do anything for your princess. No matter how many versions of Super Mario they came out with, the story was always the same – the princess was captured and it was up to Mario to rescue her. And every time, Mario would go looking for her. In our own ways, our spouses will need us time and time again to rescue them from the same-old problems. But like Super Mario, we’ll rise to each one of these calls with the same unquestioning and heroic chivalry.
I hope you got a laugh out of this. Did anyone else have a favorite video game as a kid? As an adult, do you realize that there were some life lessons to be learned?