Everyone loves Mario games. If you don’t then you must be dead inside, and I pity you with every fiber of my being. There is a reason these have been around so long, spawning new characters and incarnations and worlds decade after decade. Not only is it still as popular as ever (and the success of Super Mario Portal edition only proves that), but it doesn’t seem likely that it will be slowing any time soon. Even after the failed attempt at a movie. Or the disastrous Mario Is Missing. Or the Super Mario Brothers Super Show.
Ok, so they have had some missteps in the past within the franchise. But that doesn’t lessen the influence the series has had on modern culture, and especially on platform gaming. But how did it get to where it is today? To understand its popularity, it is best to look back on where it started and how it evolved over time.
We all probably know where it all started: Donkey Kong. In 1981, the first Donkey Kong game was released as an arcade version. You played as Jumpman, trying to save the Princess Pauline from the evil Donkey Kong. The giant gorilla stood at the top of a bunch of platforms, pounding them down into a ramp where he would throw barrels and other obstacles. Jumpman had to avoid them and climb the ladders to get to the top, saving Pauline from the angry primate. A year later the same game would be released with a D-pad, and he would be referred to as Mario.
A couple more Donkey Kong games would be released in the coming years, including one where DK’s son has to go after his father when Mario manages to capture him in a cage.
The Mario Games
It wasn’t until 1983 that a game that looks at Mario as the title player would be released, with the first Mario Bros. This game also introduced – who else? – Luigi, his taller, green wearing brother. After searching though various sewer pipes as part of their jobs as plumbers, they discover a number of unknown creatures. This was the first time we saw the gumbas.
Next came what is often considered one of the greatest video games in history. In Super Mario Bros, released in 1985, the brothers are transported to the Mushroom Kingdom. There, they have to fight through strange worlds filled with dangerous creatures. At the end, they run into King Koopa, the evil ruler who has taken over the Kingdom. We have all played and loved this game, and it remains a favorite of many today.
Super Mario Bros 2 was released a few years later, though a version had already been released in Japan. Many fans of the games who don’t know the history will point out how bizarre and different from the usual Mario setting this was. That is because it was originally Doki Doki, a completely different Japanese game that flopped before release. So they changed the characters into Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool and Toad. It is usually the least popular of the main trilogy.
Which brings us to Super Mario Bros 3. Do you remember being a kid and watching The Wizard, a film that was such an obvious marketing ploy that it still makes us all cringe to this day? They are at the final tournament and finding out what game they will be playing to find out the winner. That is when we get the reveal: a new Mario game. All of us in the audience freaked out, and with good reason. Along with the first game, this is considered of the of the greatest video games of all time.
Since the release of the classics, there have been a lot of Mario games. Many of which most of you probably don’t remember, and some that aren’t even worth bringing to mind. The format has changed many times, some remaining platformers, but others creating a new formula to work from.
A few of the more memorable games were Super Mario 64, Mario Cart, Super Mario All Stars and Super Mario Galaxy. But everyone has their favorites to add to the list, and many games were only released in certain countries.
What are you favorite Mario games? Let us know in the comments.