Retro recollections: Super Mario Ball

Because it turns out there’s no part of Mario that Nintendo won’t turn into a game.

Super Mario Ball holds a particular place of pride in my games collection. That’s largely because it’s a game that I picked up on my first trip to Tokyo, back in 2004.

I picked up my copy of Super Mario Ball, if I recall correctly, in a Don Quixote store in Roppongi at about 2am. As you would, you know. Well, actually, I’m well aware that there are many other things that folks choose to do in Roppongi at 2am. My memory tells me that as I paid for it, a group of ladies were getting a manicure, for example. I’d much rather buy videogames than get manicures, but maybe you’re different.

The pricing sticker on my copy tells me that I paid the grand sum of 4,319 Yen for it; roughly $51 Australian by today’s exchange rate, and a tad cheaper than most Gameboy Advance games were selling for in Australia at the time.

At the time, you see, I didn’t particularly have much in the way of region unlocked gaming machinery. So I wanted to get something that I knew would play. Unlike (sigh) the 3DS, the Gameboy Advance was region free, and I figured a game all about (snigger) Mario’s… ahem… balls would be fine.

OK, OK, it’s actually a Mario Pinball game, and I really don’t particularly know why Nintendo didn’t just call it Mario Pinball Advance and be done with it. It was Mario Pinball Land by the time it got to Australia some months after my trip, at which point I’d had plenty of time to play it. It’s a great little title that does the smart thing with videogame-based pinball. Yes, pure recreations of classic pinball tables do have their place, but if you’re going to make a videogame pinball title, why not take advantages of features that you could simply never build into a regular real world pinball table?

So yes, I totally did buy a game in Japan at least partially on the basis of a puerile gag. You may judge me. But before you do, you really ought to watch the ad that accompanied the game, which was really what put me over the edge.

How come we never got beatboxing Mario telling us all about his balls, Nintendo?

Retro recollections are just random musings on retro subjects, usually whatever I’m playing at the moment.

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