The spreadsheet application has been impressing people for years — and continues to, as it takes on even more unusual forms.
Being older than the iPhone, older than cloud computing, and even older than mainstream Internet, it makes sense, in a way, that Super Mario Bros would find a home of sorts on a timeless application like Excel.
Though it may have been created some time ago, a user of the popular online bulletin board Reddit recently shared a video that showed how Cinémavore recreated one of the most popular video games of all time on the world’s most popular spreadsheet software.
A blogger on The Nerdist noted that the game marked a leap in creativity compared to some of the more simplified games that have been baked into, or built from, Excel.
“Everything is pretty spot on—from the sounds to the Goombas—with a few discrepancies, like Mario’s relative size and the at-times incorrect colors of his outfits,” the post noted. “But also, this was made in a program designed to manage budgets and organize textual and numerical information, so come on, this is pretty fantastic.”
If Super Mario Bros. had been created on Excel in the first place, in other words, we wouldn’t blink at it, but its transition to a spreadsheet seems almost magical.
We sometimes lose a bit of this magic when we get used to certain applications on a day-to-day basis, but there are still plenty of people who remember the difference certain programs have made.
Writing on Lexpert, for instance, George S. Takach reflected upon a situation many years ago when he and a CFO were erasing (by hand) numbers in a chart relating to an acquisition. A younger member of the team surprised them by showing them how the whole thing would be done faster and easier with a click of a button in Excel. Things got sort of emotional:
I glanced over at the CFO. He was, like my aforementioned colleague, speechless. And his eyes, I kid you not, were welling up. Everything that he had done laboriously by hand over the many years of his long career (with changes requiring his trusty eraser) could now be done in a fraction of the time and effort with the push of a button on a newfangled electronic data-processing machine. What magic indeed!
Excel may no longer make anyone cry happy tears, but the point is that innovations in technology — whether the early days of Excel or the coming transformation in finance thanks to cloud-based CPM — might make some of today’s challenges eventually look as simple as playing a game of Super Mario Bros.
Because that’s the magic of Excel. Sure its power may come with issues when you need to deal with hundreds of spreadsheets for one financial process—but its versatility, including what can be built on top of it, make of Excel a truly timeless tool.