Super Mario All Stars and Mortal Kombat don’t have much to do with each other but for one week they did.
Growing up my parents would take me to the video store. I loved walking up and down the aisles, looking at the boxes. Checking to see what that video game or movie was all about based on the wierd cover. At the video store I judged a book by its cover. Window shopping entailed looking at games for the systems I didn’t own. I miss rental stores but only the concept of them. Getting excited to rent a new release or feeling the disappointment when there was no video behind the box, signaling that someone else is currently enjoying what you wanted. It wasn’t perfect by today’s standard, but it was a cheaper way to experience games without purchasing them.
Thinking about it more and explaining this concept to someone who never experienced rental stores sounds asinine. You’d drive 10-15mins to the store, wonder around the store for a half hour, pick something, spend about $5 to rent it for 3-5 days, then you’d have to come back to drop off the movie. Didn’t return it in time or rewind the VHS tape? Well that’s an extra fee. What a waste of time and money. I guess sometimes nostalgia gets the better of you. Times are a lot better and cheaper than they ever had been. Browsing through Netflix is a similar experience except not as tangible. With all the Steam, Humble Bundles, and various sales you can get an entire library of games for the price of one rental.
One rental was all I was allowed every week or two when my parents took me the video store. I was in elementary school so I based my decisions on what I saw in Nintendo Power or how cool the cover looked. Sometimes you pick out something fun like Kirby Super Stars, other times you’d rent a dud like Hook. Some games were so bad I blocked them out of my memory.
As a kid, I went where my parents told me to go and this time it was a family dentist specializing in elementary school kids like myself. I never liked the Dentist. I still go to this day but I’m not fond of it. It feels like I’m going to choke on my tongue as they push it to get to my teeth or drill into my bone to fix a cavity. At this dentist’s office the hygienist would quickly clean my teeth, tell me to brush, then wait for the dentist to look at me. There was typically six other kids in the back just sitting down waiting their turn. This all ended with a brief consultation with the dentist and my mother in a separate room. Never anything bad just to keep brushing and flossing. You know the typical things you probably hear from your dentist today.
My mother and I were waiting for him to come in when she had a surprise for me. She rented two of the most popular games out at the time, Super Mario All-Stars and Mortal Kombat. I read about both of them and needless to say I was ecstatic. I was bouncing off the walls with joy, not one but two games! Not just any games, these were the games you had to play.
We left the dentist’s office and I was anxious to play them both. When I came home I told my Dad how excited I was to play Mortal Kombat. I chose the wrong words because what he said hit seven year old me like a sack of bricks. He read about the game and he deemed it was too violent. Probably because it was around that time the senate had a hearing about violent video games. Of course Mortal Kombat came up because it was the pioneer of violence at the time. Listening to Nintendo and Sega’s arguments they just end up taking cheap shots at each other. Great job guys, you really showed congress how great an art form this is and contributed to why school kids argued which system is the better one. Knowing now that the Super Nintendo version censored the blood and replaced it with sweat, I probably would have been allowed to play it that week.
Needless to say the game was placed on top of the refrigerator and I didn’t get to play it that week. Being that young there wasn’t a moment where I was truly alone enough to sneak into the kitchen and take it, nor did I want to disobey my parents. While I was sad, there was still Super Mario All-Stars to play. I had a lot of fun playing it and I believe I got it for my Birthday the following year.
About a year passed when I finally was able to play Mortal Kombat. Not through my parents of course. Steve, a friend of mine at the time, came over for a sleepover and brought it for the Sega CD. Needless to say we played that through the night. Looking back it’s weird that someone else in my class owned a Sega CD. This terrible but unique system did have some advantages when it came to multiplatform games. Don’t believe me, check out this video someone else made comparing the differences.
There were some load times, but who cares. I was playing a game I shouldn’t have. Watching the pixelated blood fly across the screen, I was being rebellious for a kid still in elementary school. I wasn’t very good at the game anyways as I wasn’t able to pull off the fatalities. Considering what they evolved into they’re tame compared to the latest Mortal Kombat.
Though when you really think about how violent Mortal Kombat is, so is Mario. You’re running through a kingdom jumping on turtle’s heads and kicking their dead bodies at their friends. All so he can get a taste of that sweet sweet cake. Of course this was the Super Nintendo so there wasn’t any blood and guts, just a fat Italian plumber sweating through his overalls.
Have your parents ever restricted the games you played? I want to hear your stories. Please leave a comment below.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. If you like what you’ve read, you can help support Joystick Journey by becoming a Patreon. When you support me on Patreon you’ll get behind the scenes look at my writing process and other exclusives. Thank you, I greatly appreciate your support!