This is what love is.
Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Except for that one time my 5-year-old son made me farm 9999 coins in Super Mario Odyssey so he could get the stupid Skeleton outfit. Nah mate. I'll definitely be keeping a record of that wrong.
Okay, primer time. Let's talk about Super Mario Odyssey.
Super Mario Odyssey is a very good video game and Super Mario Odyssey has costumes. Super Mario Odyssey has a shitload of costumes. Most are easily acquired -- 100 coins or so, no big deal. A handful are a little more pricey. I remember spending quite the period of minutes umming and ahhing over the 1000 coin purchase of Mario swimwear.
It took me a while to collect these coins I thought and, unlike in previous Mario games, coins also sub for 'lives'. If you lose a life in Mario you lose coins.
"I might actually need these coins," I thought to myself, "when I literally and actually die."
Of course I bought the shorts because Mario nipples, and I was comfortable with that choice. I was also comfortable in not needing to buy any more outfits in Super Mario Odyssey. Because video game costumes are not my thing. Because I don't care.
But my son. My recently turned 5-year-old son. He cares. He cares a lot. Now that he's 'finished' Super Mario Odyssey and officially defeated Bowser, he's set his sights on acquiring every single outfit in the game at any cost.
At. Any. Cost.
It's been a fruitful search for the fruit of my loins and he's done pretty well for himself. Many a time he's gleefully scrolled though his Mario wardrobe ("I've got this one and this one and this one and this one)". Quite the collection, but one crucial item missing.
The skeleton outfit. Guess how much that thing costs in Mario Money:
Nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine coins. The literal maximum amount of coins one can collect and hold in Super Mario Odyssey.
"Daddy, can you help me get this one?"
Fuck it. Sure. Why not.
To be clear: I didn't really expect to spend my afternoon collecting 9999 coins in the video game Super Mario Odyssey. I expected that my son, being a newly minted 5-year-old, would lose interest fairly quickly and bugger off sideways to play with -- Christ I don't know -- Beyblades or Transformers or the trash-town toy that came in the happy meal I bought when I was too tired to cook dinner the other night.
But nah. Sadly I was mistaken. This kid was in it to win it. He actually wanted this thing bad. Real bad.
So it begins...
I started my coin farming mission in a place that I thought was 'good' but would later find 'sucked'.
I call it the Donkey Kong mission. It's arguably the highlight of Super Mario Odyssey. You go down a 2D Pipe into what my son terrifyingly calls 'Minecraft Mario' -- supremely inventive 2D levels that live inside the 3D world like well-designed Picasso paintings. The Donkey Kong mission is perhaps the largest of these levels. It also plays host to a buttload of coins.
"I'll just play this over and over till my son gets bored," I thought.
He didn't get bored.
On the contrary, I got bored. Super quickly.
As part of the New Donk City questline, the Donkey Kong mission is a spectacular end to one of my favourite sections of Super Mario Odyssey. In isolation, endlessly replayed like some fucked up digital Groundhog Day, it's less joyful. Five straight plays and 1100 coins later, I tossed the controller onto the couch.
"Daddy needs a break."
"No no no. No break."
"I'll come back later, I need to make lunch."
"But Daddy you said you loved me so much. That's why you need to get them all."
Whilst eating my lunch (eggs on toast if you're curious) I did a quick Google search. "Best place to farm coins in Super Mario Odyssey".
God bless Kotaku and its glorious SEO because the first link on the list was this: The Easiest Way To Earn Coins In Super Mario Odyssey. Thanks Heather!
Legend tells of a legendary coin portal whose coins are the stuff of legend. It resides in Bowser Kingdom, in a small nook left of the entrance to Bowser Kingdom's final battle. You pick up a seed, dodge some spikes and create a vine sized portal to the nether realm of COINZ. So many coins.
According to Heather's post (and every YouTube guide I could find) this was the spot. This was the place where I could most effectively farm 9999 goddamn coins to get my goddamn trash son the goddamn trash skeleton.
When I sat back down on the couch to start farming (and saw that my son had already spent 900 of the 1100 coins I farmed in New Donk City) it occured to me that my son might not really understand what he was asking of me. For a five-year-old my son counts well, but I honestly wondered if he truly understood the concept of 9999, the difference between one thousand and ten thousand. The difference in effort required. The difference in time.
"Daddy how many minutes?"
I had no idea.
I got started.
Allow me to describe the process of farming coins in Bowser Kingdom.
One quickly picks up the seed. One runs to the pot filled with soil. One throws the seed at the soil and clambers up the accompanying vine into the sky. One throws his hat at the speedy flower and sprints headlong at the coins. One finishes the level.
One repeats and rinses until 9999 or complete mental exhaustion.
Now that I was back at square one I estimated that I would need to do this run roughly 63 times in order collect the necessary volume of coins to buy the stupid-ass-skeleton-costume.
I became very good at doing this run.
But remarkably, I still often found ways to completely fuck it up.
Once in the sky, the coin collecting could begin...
This section was as simple as it gets. One throws Cappy at the flowers. One does not touch the analogue stick. One lets Mario run his little legs out. One throws Cappy at another set of flowers, one runs to the end of the level. Rinse, repeat.
But yes, I still found ways to fuck this up too.
I remember this feeling like a big deal. I also remember it was a point at which I desperately, desperately needed a break. A moment at which my brain started doing 'A Beautiful Mind' style calculations as to how much longer this ridiculous endeavour would take.
"Daddy how many minutes."
Uh... sorry son, Daddy needs a break.
"No Daddy. No breaks.
"Daddy, concentrate on Mario."
I decided to concentrate on Mario.
Collecting these coins felt a lot like running long distance. Back when I trained for marathons I always got this feeling at the halfway point. Some call it a second wind, but to me it was psychological: you've hit the top of some metaphorical mountain and now it's downhill all the way. You're homeward bound.
Once I hit 5000 coins the repetitions seemed less... repetitive. The mind numbing nature of this task felt less mind numbing and (for some unknown reason) the coins seemed to accumulate faster.
Before I knew it I had hit 7000.
This message from Cappy: "Doesn't seem like there's anything left to do here...". I've seen that message 60+ times now. In the beginning it felt like an existential crisis waiting to happen. Why am I here? Why am I doing this? When will the sweet release of death come for me on this virtual coil of existence?
Eventually it became more like a challenge. No. Fuck you Cappy. I'm doing this. I've committed to this pointless task and I'm close to achieving it. Nothing is gonna get in the way of me achieving my lifelong dream of acquiring 9999 coins in a video game to make my son happy for precisely 10 seconds. Nothing.
Then I hit 9000 and tried to meme.
So close at this point. A collective euphoria between my son and I. There we sat, laughing like hysterical hyenas. At one point my son started chanting like a bizarre cherubic harbinger of doom and destruction: "everybody's gonna be scared of meeeeeeeeeee."
And then it happened:
Nine thousand nine hundred and ninety nine coins.
This was the point where I relinquished the controller. I'd spent a long, long time collecting these coins, but I really felt like the honour of purchasing the Skeleton costume belonged to my son.
"This what you wanted?"
This what you wanted?
The A button was clicked. The funds were deposited. The skeleton costume was purchased and worn.
I exhaled and stepped away from the couch. I stumbled to the kitchen and boiled the kettle to make myself a well-deserved cup of tea.
A reverberating echo:
"Everyone's gonna be scared of meeeeeeeeee..."
I drank my tea. I smiled. Another job well done. Father of the year.
Ten minutes later I returned back to check up on him, see if he was still having fun...