I can't quit you, Mario. No matter how easy you are becoming. No matter that you recycle content, level design and game play.

I bounce along on your colorful mushroom caps and glide along collecting coins using the raccoon tail in "New Super Mario Bros. 2," knowing it's all something I've seen and done since I owned the first incarnation of Mario back in the 1980s. Just as I am done looking at one more koopa, something goofy and cheery will happen, and I'm sucked back into loving this game again.

I know Princess Peach needs better security (maybe reach out to the "Halo" crew or something). I know Bowser is unable to annoy someone else's kingdom. I get it -- I have to do some swimming, some diving down into pipes (Mario is a plumber, after all) and, of course, some traipsing through castles that feature more fire than my wood-burning pizza oven on full blast.

Yet there I am, sitting on my couch or on the train giggling and quietly high-fiving myself when I clear a level in record time or perfectly time that jump to collect just a few more coins while evading Bob-omb just before he explodes.

As a critic, I am continually looking for the new, the trendsetting, the future. I know games should strive for originality and achieve greater heights, but this warm feeling in my heart says I'll never tire of you.

Well played, Mario, well played.