In 1985 Nintendo Execs green-lighted a new game called Super Mario Brothers. I have fond memories of this game. I never played a lot of video games growing up, but when my grandfather showed up on our doorstep with a Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Mario Bros. I was blown away. It was the first I had ever heard of it and when he plugged it in to our TV, I was mesmerized.
For many it's the quintessential video game. While Atari and other video games had already been successfully marketed, Super Mario Brothers is a classic and was so far ahead of games like Pong and Space Invaders, that it was hard not to be impressed.
I actually took the time to play a game of Super Mario Bros. last week and I have to admit, it's still fun. Part of it is the nostalgia, but mostly because it's a really great game.
I often wondered as a boy how they came up with the name for the game. It struck me as odd that it should be called Super Mario Bros. I have two brothers and I am not sure that either of them would want to be in a game called "Super Nate Brothers"
This thought emerged in my head again the other night at a sushi restaurant and I took a moment to write out on my iPhone the conversation that I imagined would have ensued when Luigi heard the proposed title of the game for the first time.
Luigi: So what's the deal?
Luigi: We're staring in a video game, which is awesome, but why is it called Super Mario Brothers?
Mario: Well we are brothers, right?
Mario: We are pretty awesome, but that doesn't really roll off the tongue, whereas Super Mario Bros. in lieu of Awesome Mario Bros. does...
Mario: That's it.
Luigi: What the hell is that supposed to mean?
Luigi: Well, Its like every time I try and assert my self, it ends up with me in a diminutive role. I mean, why not super Mario & Luigi bros.?
Mario: Do you think that sounds good "Super Mario & Luigi brothers"?
Luigi: Yeah! There are two of us! Even the name is plural... Bros., which indicates that there is more than one brother.
Mario: Well the people at the N.C.D. don't think so.
Luigi: What the hell are you talking about Mario?
Luigi: What the heck is "N.C.D."???
Mario: That's an acronym Luigi. It stands for "Nintendo Creative Department"
Mario: We are lucky if you think about it. All those guys are Japanese. What if the names were all in Japanese, Luigi? Have you stopped to think of that?
Luigi: OK, OK...
Mario: As I was saying the "NCD", doesn't think so... They are running this show Luigi, and I for one would not want them to change their minds about us. You know how many Plummer-brother teams tried out for this?
Luigi: Yeah, yeah...
Mario: I had no idea there were so many, and they were ALL Italian...
Luigi: Well all but those Russian guys.
Mario: Boris and Nikita? Ha! That's ridiculous Luigi, don't forget, this is 1985... I don't think the free world wants to play a video game whose main characters are Marxists.
Luigi: They are immigrants Mario; they probably have deep political issues in their native land.
Mario: Whatever, I just don't think the Western world is ready for total
Proletarian internationalism personified through "Super Gorbachev Brothers" in a video game for kids.
Luigi: What's that?
Mario: A video game is an electronic game that involves human interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device. Hence "Video Game"... boy you are weird.
Luigi: Not that, I KNOW what a video game is Mar-i-o!!! We're talking about my name not being included in the name of the game and your contrasting political philosophies!
Mario: My point is, we are just lucky to be here and I don't want to rock the boat.
Luigi: Yeah, yeah, I know...
Mario: Look, we both know that its just a name and we both are in this 50/50... apart from revenue in perpetuity...
Luigi: Say what?
Luigi: So why Super Mario Bros.?
Mario: I'm not sure that I understand your question.