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Three classic Mario games released onto the Nintendo Switch last week, and I — like any good millennial — am returning to my youth and rediscovering that earliest of 3D video games: Super Mario 64. It was the first game I can remember needing to get a truly perfect ending on. I wanted all the stars, I wanted all the wins, I wanted everything. It my memory, it’s a rose-colored haze of Nintendo Magazine clues and laughing with my cousins.
Now, having revisited it, let me talk to you about the hell my mind forgot.
It’s this guy:
This is today’s Chosen One mostly because I want to complain about this absolute bastard. This shady trash bag. This turd. This big blue racing monster.
“Mario, you ole’ so-and-so!” he says. “Let’s you and I have a quick jaunty race down this horrifying ice slide!”
Perhaps I am paraphrasing.
So you try to ice-slide-race against him, and he actively tries to murder you. That’s right. This jerk penguin tries to push you off the ice so you fall to your death — not once, not twice, but over and over for as many extra lives as you have, like some sick Sisyphean joke.
Revisiting this course last night reminded me of the sheer anger I held in my heart for this asshole as a 12-year-old. I hated him, and I hate him still.
After nine or 10 tries, however, the beast was bested and I will never encounter him again.
… Until I replay this game because actually it’s perfect and wonderful and bless you Mario 64 for the brief respite you are bringing to us all during these horrible times.