I was never a really big Minecraft guy. I didn’t understand the appeal of playing a game with no real set objective. Why would anyone want to chop wood and mine through the ground with a pickaxe to find different types of materials and minerals for hours on end to build their virtual dream home? I could play a game like World of Warcraft and be a hero who slays monsters and gathers materials for crafting in his spare time. Why would I want to play a game where crafting was the game?
I just didn’t get it.
The only reason I owned a copy of Minecraft was because my kids wanted it. My son (3) and daughter (6) would play co-op on the PS4 version and when they weren’t playing on that, they were playing on their iPads. If they weren’t beating each other to death with shovels (in-game), they would occasionally work together to create some pretty marvelous looking things. While I was never really interested in playing, I was always fascinated by the idea of Minecraft and the creativity it could spark in someone. Watching my kids create a house in the mountains, or witnessing them finding that first piece of diamond they had been looking for would always put a smile on my face.
I tried to avoid playing Minecraft for as long as humanly possible, but when the kids would beg me to play until they were blue in the face, I finally gave in and immediately felt out of my element. It all just seemed so complex and strange to me. There were so many variables to cover and so many different combinations to crafting different items that I was overwhelmed. The way my kids wanted to play was we wouldn’t actually work together and instead build our own houses, which meant I had to fend for myself. Since I had no idea what I was doing, I spent my first night in a hole. I know this is commonplace for most players on their first night, but when you had been watching your kids play for months now and they would have a three story house by the end of day one, there was really no reason for me to be sleeping in a hole in the ground. Let’s face it, I sucked at Minecraft. I had become that old guy that didn’t know how to play something. If “Ok boomer” had been a thing a few years back, my kids would have absolutely said that had I said “Minecraft is a silly game, play Mario“.
The kids and their love for Minecraft would continue to grow over the years (my interest would continue to be lukewarm) until a new texture pack would release for it. The world of Minecraft was being taken over by Mario. Minecraft Wii U Edition released on December 15th, 2015 and gave you an entirely new world to play in with its Super Mario Mash-Up. There had been different texture packs released in the past, but this one spoke to my soul.
Simply watching the trailer changed my perspective on Minecraft. My kids grew up with Minecraft. I grew up with Mario. The first system I owned was a NES. Since purchasing a Wii U, we would play games like Super Mario 3D World and have a blast playing together, but this Minecraft texture pack was a culmination of the games that we both loved. The Mario Bros Mash-Up was so much more than just “Mario in Minecraft.” Everything was Mario themed now. You could choose to play as 40 different Mario character skins . Ender Men looked like Shy Guys. Zombies were now Hammer Bros. Your house could be built out of materials from the Mario Universe. The Super Mario 64 theme would play in the background as you were building. You didn’t feel like you were in Minecraft anymore, but transported to a Mario game. It’s extremely well made and everyone involved in creating it should be proud. It just works and I love it.
One night after we finished a gaming session and the kids went to bed, I decided to continue playing Minecraft by myself. I was always being pulled back and forth by my kids needs in-game that I never had a chance to play with fresh eyes. The things they had taught me I was now applying to my gameplay. I had a crafting table and I was building a decent house as a base. Before I knew it, I had stayed up all night creating a replica of our house in Minecraft. The kids were ecstatic. “Did you really make this?” my daughter asked. “Can we join you?” my son chimed in.
“Of course you can my children.” I said. “Welcome to my super awesome and amazing Minecraft world.”
Okay, that’s not at all how it went down… but I wish it had.
Our house in-game was pretty much an exact replica of our actual house. The kids had their rooms in it. I had mine (complete with secret underground hiding area where I hid diamonds and golden apples from my greedy son). We ended up sticking with this game I had created and my brother joined in later on. My brother was also a Minecraft veteran so after some considerable time the four of us worked together and defeated the Ender Dragon. It was such a cool experience to see our characters grow and gather resources to take down the big bad at the end. It really brought us closer together.
It only took an entire face lift for me to appreciate Minecraft, but it also made me appreciate Mario even more. I think that’s the appeal of Mario and what makes him such an endearing character after all these years. Whether he’s in a sports game, strategy RPG, or teaching you how to type on a keyboard, it doesn’t matter. The world of Mario has proven that it can work with any type of genre, and that includes Minecraft Survival Mode. It’s pretty cool to think that the things I grew up with like Mario are still relevant and hip today. Minecraft on Wii U was a chance for me to connect with my kids and try something new.
I’ll admit that I still suck at Minecraft, but at least I’m having fun. – NVJ
Wahoo! You are a Super Reader! But the adventure doesn’t stop here… There’s more of this project in another castle! This article is just one level in an entire Super Mario Multiverse, a galactic collaboration between writers around the world sharing a bit of our hearts and memories about our favorite Mario games.