You know when you have one of those dreams in which everything seems perfectly normal at first, but then you notice that something isn’t quite right? A tiny little hole in your otherwise immaculately woven subconscious tapestry opens up, and within seconds you realise that none of it is real. The image unravels like a fake Burberry cardigan thrown to a litter of kittens, and before you know it you’re wondering how you ever fell for it in the first place.
Techno-management festival Concetto’s Super Mario Bros. themed website had exactly the same effect on me the first time I saw it. As a man who, since the age of 7, has probably finished the original game about a hundred times, the effect of seeing much-loved videogame imagery used as a third party website is at once captivating and unsettling.
The site, which provides information about one of east India’s largest (apparently) techno-management festivals, is built entirely around the original Super Mario Bros level design, with different sections of the site accessible by slipping down green pipes or hitting question blocks.
Upon entering the site, visitors are given a few simple instructions regarding how to control Mario, before being quickly thrown into the gaming world that we all know and… wait. Did that goomba just come back to life? Hang on, why can’t I get up these stairs properly? Why didn’t I die just now? This is getting weird…
In Concetto’s take on the Super Mario Bros. world, there is no death. Enemies continually respawn, bumping into bad guys does nothing whatsoever, and whenever Mario plunges to his doom he reappears completely unharmed at the top of the screen.
These slightly jarring discrepancies aside, the site’s visuals, sounds and animations are lifted straight out of the original Super Mario Bros. game, begging the question of how any of this could be legal, yet still somehow managing to be incredibly charming and– as is the nature of the event itself– quirkily creative; a particular favourite of mine being the ‘past memories’ photo board at the end of the ‘level’ whose image can be changed by jumping and hitting the block adjacent to it.
How long this cheeky take on the videogame classic will remain up is anyone’s guess, but it’s definitely worth a quick visit, if only for a bit of 8-bit nostalgia.