Super Mario Bros., World 1-1

I began writing this article as a top ten list of the best first levels. I made my list (and checked it twice) making sure I didn’t leave anything out; the dam from Goldeneye? Check! The jungle from Contra? Double check!

I typed out my bare list and started at number 1 filling out the article under each heading. The thing is, I just kept writing about the #1 first level on my list, and writing, and writing; about the level, and then about the game as a whole, and about it’s impact not only on me personally but all of video gaming.

Before I knew it, it was an article in itself. The other nine first levels will have to wait for another day. Today is reserved for the best of the best.

Super Mario Bros. World 1-1. What else is there to say about the most iconic level in video game history that hasn’t been said? It has become almost forgettable in it’s familiarity; eternally ingrained in the retinas and brains of kids who grew up in the 80’s, 90’s, and those of later generations who retroactively discovered the NES. So familiar is World 1-1 that it’s easy to forget the enormous impact that Super Mario Bros. as a whole had on the video game industry.

SMB challenged the standard for video game design by making the high score a secondary achievement. Shigeru Miyamoto’s visionary approach to game design gave the player a goal; a simple flag pole, sure, but in doing so altered the course of the medium’s young history.

You are introduced to everything that makes Super Mario Bros., well… a Super Mario game in that first level; the question-mark block, the mushroom, the (hidden) 1up, the star, the fire flower, the hidden coin block, the warp pipe (and by extension the always excellently scored underworld), the koopa, the goomba, the Mario theme, the spot-on controllers- all in this, the most influential, iconic, and greatest first level in all of video game history.

The influence of Super Mario Bros. and by extension World 1-1 goes far beyond just the gamers who piled onto couches passing around a Nintendo controller at preteen birthday parties and Saturday night sleepovers; Many of the elements first seen in World 1-1 still play an integral part in all platforming Mario games to date, and there is no reason to believe that they will not continue to be a rich source of inspiration for all foreseeable  series installments.

With today’s announcement of the North American release of the 25th Anniversary Mario package for the Wii, it goes without saying that future generations will have the ability to access and experience the most important console video game of all time, and hopefully understand just why World 1-1 is the greatest first level in all of gaming.

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9 thoughts on “Super Mario Bros., World 1-1

  1. World 1-1 is indeed iconic. After all these years, I can stillr emember everything there is to know about it. The theme song is still in my head (and my cell phone) too. :)

  2. Wonderful. I agree 100% with everything you said. Today’s devs should be forced to spend a week (or at least an entire day) contemplating this level, as it is the perfect example of how to introduce people to a game’s rules and mechanics.

  3. It really is great. That whole game is great. I have been spending nearly all of my game time on Vs. Super Mario Bros. on my red tent, and I still can;t crack world 7. The Vs. version is just so hard! But it’s hard in that “i’ll just continue one more time” kind of way.

  4. Just finished reading from 1st post to last. Great material, and very informative. Keep up the good work Nathan. You will be added to my blogroll.

  5. Great little post, a very Top 10 worthy topic to say the least.

    I ran into the same issue with Vs. Super Mario Bros. I think it was 7-3 with it’s suicide dive to a jump off a Koopa that I only mastered after I sold my stand up cabinet… oh the irony, but I shall go back to it via my MAME arcade soon…very soon

  6. “those of later generations who retroactively discovered the NES”- was that meant to be a pun?

    Awesome idea for an article. I would have to agree that this would be number one on my list too. A few years back, my bro and I sat around playing level 1-1 over and over to see who could finish it fastest without using the warp tunnel in the middle of the level. this went on for about 2 hours. I think we might have played that level 200 times in that day.

  7. A level that will live in my mind for the rest of my life! This was the first ever game I played and the first ever level I played through. It’s just classic! And discovering the hidden 1-up mushroom excited me so much that I almost peed my pants! Ahh great memories…

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