While not a big Nintendo guy, one of my fondest memories is playing the original Super Mario Bros. on NES. On level 8-4 with a single life remaining, I managed to perfectly dodge every fireball, squid and pitfall, leap over Bowser and snag the axe, leaving my spiky-shelled nemesis to fall to his fiery doom.
That day, I was the ultimate player of games. Mario ones, at least.
But those flag poles. Man, I could never hit those without falling short. I'm sure there's some secret technique to landing them, but they always made me feel inadequate, despite how well I'd done during the level.
I can't imagine what they'd have been like to hit perfectly in a 3D environment. Nintendo did, however. Koichi Hayashida, director of the upcoming Super Mario 3D Land for 3DS, mentioned in the most recent Iwata Says that the flag pole was considered, but ultimately dropped, from Super Mario 64.
Iwata: The impression the goal pole makes has a big influence over the impression that the game makes. I suppose he thought this was an area that deserved effort.
Hayashida: Later, I asked (Yoshiaki) Koizumi-san, and he said that they tried a goal pole once for Super Mario 64.
Iwata: Oh, is that so.
Hayashida: But at the time, when they thought about what was the most fun about playing in 3D, it was going to all sorts of places and looking for something, so they decided on players getting a Star.
Good news is, the flag poles are back for Super Mario 3D Land, so time to practise those long-forgotten skills... and brush up on your spatial awareness.