No one needs to wait their turn to play as Luigi thanks to an epiphany about the Nintendo classic.

SoraNews24 headquarters is divided into two rooms, the general-use office, and the meeting room. When there isn’t a conference going on, though, the meeting room sometimes becomes the video game room, and during a recent shift our reporter Seiji Nakazawa decided to sneak in a Super Mario Bros. break on the company Famicom/NES.

▼ When life presents you with an opportunity to play 8-bit platformers while you’re on the clock, you take it.

Unfortunately, Seiji’s plan soon hit a snag. As he slipped into the meeting room, he noticed that the head of our Japanese-language editing department, Go Hatori, was already firing up the Famicom.

“Sorry, Seiji, I was here first.”

Still, Seiji’s gaming-at-work hopes weren’t completely dashed, since the original Super Mario Bros., like a few of its sequels, is actually a two-player game. Unfortunately, it’s two-player alternating, not a co-op, which means Player 2 has to wait for Player 1 to die in order to get a turn, as well as endure the mild indignity of playing as less-popular plumber brother Luigi.

But since Go technically outranks him, Seiji was resigned to waiting patiently as Luigi. Or at least he was, until the unexpected arrival of SoraNews24 founder and president Yoshio.

▼ “I, too, would rather be playing classic video games than working.”

Seiji’s heart sank as there were now two people who could pull rank on him, potentially bumping him from the gameplay rotation entirely. Now, you might be saying that the three of them could just all take turns playing, but as anyone who squabbled as a kid with a friend or sibling about sharing a two-player alternating game knows, that’s hard to do without plenty of maturity, which isn’t exactly our strong suit.

But they say necessity is the mother of invention, and what Seiji needed was a way to avoid having to go back to work. Staring longingly at the controller, he suddenly had an epiphany. There is a way to make Super Mario Bros. a three-player game, and not only that, but a three-player simultaneous co-op one!

How? Like this:

Working as a team, one person controls Mario’s movements with the D-pad, another is responsible for the B/dash button, and the third team member controls the A/jump button.

And with that, it was time to get started! With the nostalgic opening of the World 1-1 background music filling their hearts with courageous comradery, Seiji steered Mario to the right, Yoshio held the B button to hurry him along and Go…

…well, Go hit the jump button too soon, and they got killed by the first Goomba, a.k.a. the very first thing in the entire game that can harm Mario.

OK, so dying in less than five seconds wasn’t a promising start, and their next few tries didn’t go much better. At the risk of inciting their boss’ wrath, Seiji and Go soon started to realize that Yoshio was the problem. Mario’s different walking and running speeds also affect the momentum he travels through the air with, so an unexpected press of the B button can completely screw up the position of a jump, landing you right in front of an enemy or sending you sailing into a bottomless pit.

The key, then, is to keep up the chatter between all three players. “Is it OK to dash yet?” Yoshio would ask, and he was pretty good about abiding by his teammates’ suggestions. Well, at least until they found a Fire Flower, at which point Yoshio started hammering on the B button to hurl a barrage of fireballs at everything that appeared on screen.

But with practice…

…they were eventually able to clear Level 1-1, and experienced the odd sensation of getting past what’s essentially a stealth tutorial level giving them a rush of elation on par with beating the toughest Dark Souls boss!

OK! With their minds an fingers now operating in perfect synch, Level 1-2 should be a piece of…

▼ …oops.

▼ You might want to turn down the volume of your speakers here.

It turns out that Level 1-2 is actually several times more complicated than 1-1. Actually, the whole experience is hammered home that while Super Mario Bros. often feels like the ultimate in elegant pick-up-and-play simplicity, right from the start it’s actually throwing tons of variable-dependent decisions at you to make, all of which require expertly coordinated responses from the three control inputs of the D-pad and two face buttons.

After running out of lives, Seiji, Go, and Yoshio shuffled their duties…

…but alas…

…on this day they were unable to rescue Princess Peach.

They did come away, though, with a newfound respect for just what a masterclass in game design Super Mario Bros. is, and next time we look around the office and see their three chairs empty, we’ll know where to find them.

Images ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]