Every Fourth of July, Americans proudly celebrate the casting-off of British oppression by doing what we do best: staring at explosions. And with Independence Day just around the corner and an entire country gearing up to gaze skyward (or at your front lawns, if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with no fireworks laws) in slack-jawed wonder, it seems as good a time as any to look back at some of the more spectacular and memorable times that videogames have used big, colorful firebursts to kickass effect.
The fireworks that accompanied end-of-level victories in the SMB series over the years have never been all that spectacular, but they were certainly memorable. What child of the ‘80s didn’t get a thrill when the sky lit up after a particularly stellar finish? Never mind that the explosions were actually tied to the last digit on the level timer – it always felt like a reward for extraordinary awesomeness, even if you weren’t sure you’d done anything all that awesome. And even if the “fireworks” were just little round explosions that sounded like a dog barking underwater.
Above: The coolest thing ever, circa 1985
While still round, the fireworks got a little snazzier when Super Mario All-Stars came to the SNES a few years later…
And returned once again, more explosively, when New Super Mario Bros. revived the franchise on DS:
And while they’re not quite the same, it wouldn’t be right to completely leave out the fireworks display at the end of Super Mario World, which was pretty much the height of videogame romance, circa 1991:
Above: It was also arguably the height of the romance between Mario and Peach, who since then seem to have settled into either a cartoonishly chaste friendship or a bizarre love triangle with an occasionally gigantic turtle-dragon with anger issues