Big Pic­ture Mode

In­dus­try is­sues given the widescreen treat­ment

EDGE - - SECTIONS - NATHAN BROWN

Nathan Brown has a Su­per Mario Odyssey fam­ily mo­ment

The kid, in case you were won­der­ing, is still ap­palling at Mario Kart. I spent the first three years of his life long­ing for the day when he’d ask me if we could play a videogame, but now it is merely the lat­est ad­di­tion to an ever-increasing list of things I’ll tell four-years-ago me about be­com­ing a fa­ther when they fi­nally in­vent time travel. It’s a weird sen­sa­tion: he bar­rels over to me (boys of this age can only bar­rel; no other verb quite cap­tures their un­gainly, way­ward, ter­ri­fy­ingly pow­er­ful hur­tle) with steer­ing­wheel con­troller in hand, ask­ing if we can play A Mario Driv­ing Game; my heart sud­denly swells with pride, then al­most im­me­di­ately de­flates when I re­mem­ber what’s about to hap­pen. I am go­ing to sit and watch him run out of time in Time Trial mode – be­cause, yes, you can ac­tu­ally do this, af­ter ten min­utes, a fact of which only par­ents are aware – and I am go­ing to have the Mario Kart Sta­dium mu­sic stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

Suf­fice it to say that my son is not quite ready for videogames yet – but he knows who Mario is, and un­der­stands that he is bril­liant and ex­cit­ing even when he’s not gorm­lessly bump­ing his go-kart into a track­side wall for ten solid min­utes at a time. One even­ing he saw me watch­ing the Su­per

Mario Odyssey trailer on my phone, put his tantrum into standby and sat on my lap, watch­ing, en­rap­tured, un­able to con­tain ei­ther his ex­cite­ment or his cu­rios­ity.

When I hear an E3 crowd go nuts for some ho-hum an­nounce­ment or other, I as­sume the crowd is full of paid-for, bussed-in hype mer­chants. When a mag­a­zine or web­site pub­lishes some lengthy spec­u­la­tive tract based on noth­ing more than a trailer, I as­sume it’s be­cause they have pages to fill, or SEO con­tent to pro­duce, or what­ever. But kids are gen­uine to a fault, and for a minute or so there we were united, al­beit for very dif­fer­ent rea­sons, in our un­fil­tered ex­cite­ment for Su­per Mario

Odyssey. A pal’s three-year-old in­sisted on watch­ing that trailer five times on the spin, get­ting more ex­cited ev­ery time, un­til his fa­ther put a stop to it be­cause he was wor­ried that, if he con­tin­ued, the kid would spon­ta­neously com­bust.

You don’t need to have chil­dren to un­der­stand that a sub­stan­tial part of the rea­son we love games is be­cause they make us feel like kids; that they al­low us to dodge the ex­pec­ta­tion that, once you reach a cer­tain age, you no longer need or have time for the sim­ple plea­sures of play. Yet no com­pany brings out my in­ner child quite like Nin­tendo, and so it’s no sur­prise to find that my son and I were brought to­gether by the sight of Mario gam­bolling around in the

Odyssey trailer. Per­haps it’s a ques­tion of tim­ing. Ours is, af­ter all, the Nin­tendo gen­er­a­tion; Mario et al fea­ture in our ear­li­est gam­ing me­mories, and have been a con­stant ever since. Watch­ing the Odyssey trailer, my son may just have been wide-eyed at the colour­ful, care­free play­ful­ness of it all. But I was think­ing about the first time I found Top Se­cret Area in

Su­per Mario World. About the day I got an N64 and prac­ti­cally sprinted home with it. About the even­ing be­fore the UK GameCube launch, when a Wool­worths (re­mem­ber that?) ad­vert in the pa­per (re­mem­ber those?) alerted me to a bun­dle of­fer that I sim­ply couldn’t refuse, and the week­end-long Su­per

Mon­key Ball ses­sion that fol­lowed. And then there’s the Sun­day af­ter­noon when I lay on my bed, face down and propped up on my el­bows, for four hours fin­ish­ing Su­per Mario

Bros 2, and my fore­arms went numb dur­ing the end cred­its.

And when I thought about all those mo­ments, I saw my kid’s ab­ject use­less­ness at Mario Kart 8 in a dif­fer­ent light. As Lak­itu’s start­ing light goes green and Yoshi veers im­me­di­ately into the near­est bit of road­side scenery, I re­alise that my kid, too, is just a cou­ple of feet over the start­ing line of his own jour­ney with Nin­tendo – a com­pany whose games have been part of my life for al­most all of it, and which I hope will prove a sim­i­lar gam­ing fix­ture for him. Switch is al­most upon us, and there’s no way he’s ready for Zelda. But in six months or so, when Mario Odyssey ar­rives, things might be dif­fer­ent. Per­haps we’ll ac­tu­ally sit and play it to­gether; maybe I’ll even be able to watch him play with­out grind­ing two more lay­ers of enamel off my teeth. I’m look­ing for­ward to it. If he goes bar­relling around the lounge with that ex­pen­sive tablet con­troller in his hands, though, he’s in for a right old hid­ing.

When I thought about all those mo­ments, I saw my kid’s ab­ject use­less­ness at Mario Kart 8 in a dif­fer­ent light

Nathan Brown is Edge’s deputy ed­i­tor. No kids were harmed in the mak­ing of this col­umn, though plenty of go-karts were

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