Have you ever heard of Super Mario Bros. 3? It is one of the greatest NES games of the 1990's and one of the greatest vintage Mario games. This game is the first time we saw Bowser's first seven kids, Larry, Morton Jr., Wendy O., Iggy, Roy, Lemmy, and Ludwig Von Koopa and the first time we saw Mario turn into a Raccoon, a Tanooki, a Hammer Bro, a Frog, and many more. However, perhaps you haven't heard of one copy of the game that apparently never saw the light of day... until now. Here's the story.
The PastaMy best friend, Stefon, has a 7-year-old daughter named Sable, who is a huge Mario Bros. fan. Ever since she first saw the Italian plumbers on TV, she's loved them to death. One day, Stefon asked me, one of his oldest friends, to get a copy of Super Mario Bros. 3. Naturally, I didn't want to disappoint, so I got onto my Windows 7 computer, went to eBay.com, and ordered an apparently used copy of the game I was looking for. I thought it was kind of sketchy that it was being sold for $66.60, which seemed pretty high for a game of that condition, but I got the game anyway and paid with my Master Card.
A few weeks later, I got a package. As you'd probably guess, I was hyped as all hell when I got it. When I opened the package, however, I was rather disappointed at what I saw. Instead of a gray cartridge, I saw a pastel purple cartridge (many unlicensed NES games had cartridges in these kind of colors). It didn't even have the regular label on it. In its place, there was a label similar to the label on the Famicon version of SMB3, except this one was much larger and had no text on it, Japanese or English.
I gave the strange cartridge to my friend. If he, too, was disappointed at the sight, he surely didn't show it. He got out his old NES from back in the day when he was a hardcore gamer. Being that the game was only for one or two players, I had the father-daughter duo try out their gaming skills while I just watched.
As soon as they started the game, I could notice something was wrong right away. The curtains were sepia-toned and the Mario brothers looked drastically different. Rather than being chubby and cute, Mario was almost as thin as an anorexic and he was monochrome. As for Luigi, he had rotting clothes and a disturbingly detailed skeletal face. His color scheme wasn't any different. Atari 2600 sounds could be heard as the brothers were moving. Fortunately, Stefon knew to just skip the intro and move to the title screen.
He chose two-player mode and the game officially began. When we saw the World 1 map, would you believe there were no dancing hills? Instead, the skulls from the World 8 map were there and they were in shades of green. The ground was shit brown and the castle was haphazardly-colored. The happy, upbeat music wasn't playing, either. The music that was playing sounded like it was glitching up. Mario looked almost completely white like the programmers didn't have time to color him in. This had to be a bootleg copy. It just had to be. Why else did this game stand out about as much as Lady GaGa and Nicki Minaj stand out in the middle of the desert?
Anyway, Stefon as Mario started playing the first level. The sky flashed as if the game was trying to give us epileptic seizures. The ground was practically invisible and so were all the other obstacles. For some reason, Mario wouldn't move. Stefon tried every button on the controller, but they seemed unresponsive. A large Goomba that took up nearly half the screen started stomping toward Mario. It may have been the abruptness, to be honest with you, but the Goomba almost gave me and Stefon heart attacks and almost made Sable wet herself. The Goomba was completely black and when he finally caught Mario, the dying animation didn't play. Instead, it actually showed the Goomba squishing everything out of him, even his organs.
Next, Sable as Luigi started playing the first level. This time, it looked normal. She stomped a regular-sized Goomba and had gotten a Super Mushroom. Suddenly, the Piranha Plant started to emerge from its pipe. We were baffled when the mutant plant grew all the way to the sky and came out of the left corner of the screen. It was physically impossible for such a thing to happen, especially in a video game. Then it repeated until the head of the Piranha Plant touched Luigi and, I shit you not, actually ate him alive!
It didn't cut back to the map screen that time. Instead, a message box popped up and read something along the lines of "Ardebit in te testimonium tibi cum Inferno." I actually wrote this down and according to Google Translate, it is Latin for "You burn in Hell when you witness it for yourself." I was actually very shocked about this. Instinctively, I turned off the game and removed the cartridge from the NES hastily.
It's been a month since I bought the bootlegged cartridge online. Both Stefon and Sable have post-traumatic stress disorder, but Sable's is much worse. As for me, I feel guilty for bringing a huge, horrible burden upon them and so, there is one thing I must do: get rid of the cartridge any way I know how before it harms others.