HomeVideo GamesLink to the Past: Super Mario

Link to the Past: Super Mario

logan j. fowler celebrates the 25th anniversary of gaming’s greatest icon …

I remember it vividly; the year was 1987 (this blogger was 4), and my brother and I had received a video game system that would be go down in history as the one that impact the virtual world. With the system, we were given a box containing a game that needs no introduction.

Running. Jumping. Throwing fireballs. It seemed so bizarre at the time, with a crazy world that contained man eating plants, walking mushrooms, and turtle-esque creatures that flew, but 8 bit gaming is synonymous with one game featuring those elements- Super Mario Bros.

Released in 1985, Super Mario Bros. is now celebrating 25 years of gaming greatness. As a Nintendo lover and a huge fan of the Super Mario Bros. franchise, I’m going to provide a brief retrospect of each the significant games featuring Mario and (poor underused, under loved, not always appearing) Luigi as the stars.

Super Mario Bros. (1985)-Two brothers. 8 worlds. A Princess to Save. Creator Shigeru Miyamoto gave us a virtual world featuring crazy characters, a vivid landscape comprised of only 8 bits, and the most familiar game music to ever grace gaming. They say they don’t make ‘em like they used
to. It’s true. While video games today are imaginative and have their own vivid imagery, you just can’t beat a classic.

Super Mario Bros. 2 (1988)-Following up to the groundbreaking SMB WOULD be a task. While Super Mario Bros. 2 was a lot of fun, it failed to recapture the magic of the original. As it is now known to many fans, Super Mario Bros. 2 was actually modeled after a game released in Japan called Doki Doki Panic. It shows, because all of Mario’s enemies from the first game are nowhere to be seen. However, Birdo and Shy Guys became series regulars, showing up in all the sports game in the future. Also, this game allowed you to play as other characters in the Mario Bros. universe, including Luigi, Toad, and Princess. All had different abilities that made them stick out. While it may be a very odd game, it still is a good time. (Note-The Super Mario Bros. 2 that was in Japan looked similar to Super Mario Bros. in design. It was later released as Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels in the U.S.)

Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990)-Grab the leaf! You turn into a…flying racoon? Ok…no matter how “out there” SMB 3 was, it definitely demonstrated that playing this game was something to behold. Heck, it even had a movie to advertise it, in the Fred Savage film The Wizard. The power ups were stronger (frog suit, hammer bros suit, taooni suit, just to name a few), the graphics were better, and there were new bosses (dang Koopa Kids!). The game was definitely as huge step up from SMB 2. As the 8 bit era was drawing to close, SMB 3 made it known that Mario had finished an amazing run on the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Super Mario World (1991)-16 bit was now in, and Mario took the new style in stride. Armed now with a cape that allowed him to fly, the Italian plumber joined his brother Luigi on a quest to save the princess (a commonplace scenario that would be the plot for pretty much the rest of the series), meeting new enemies, new dangers, and also new friends, as Yoshi made his first appearance. The green dino served as a trusty companion, eating mostly everything in its path, from apples to koopa troopas, with even the ability to spit fire from some of those baddies. Also, SMW had a lot more secrets to uncover, so when you bought this game, you knew you were going to be busy. Not surprising, SMW was another milestone for Nintendo’s biggest franchise.

Super Mario 64 (1996)-The only game to be released alongside the Nintendo 64 for a short while, Super Mario 64 made a more than successful transition of Mario from 2-D to 3-D, forming a game that was found groundbreaking to critics and gamers alike. The music, the levels, the characters-everything about it took Mario to the next plateau. Whether you were flying through the air with your wing cap, or making jumps and trying not to fall to your death, or whipping Bowser around during one of your meet ups with the Koopa King, SM 64 was gaming’s icon in that time’s next generation of gaming, showing off his moves and making players everywhere doing their best to yet again save a princess in peril.

Super Mario Sunshine (2002)-We all could admit that Mario could use a little vacation. After all, at this point, he showcased more than solid performances over the past 17 years. Nintendo did indeed give their flagship character a trip to the tropical Isle Delfino, where he, Princess Peach, her steward Toadsworth, and some Toads discover that the island is covered in brown sludge. This brown goo has made the Island’s power source, the “Shine Sprites” disappear, and now the island is cast over by a shadow. Mario’s doppelganger, Shadow Mario, was the culprit behind this, but Mario is mistaken for him and arrested, right after gamers were introduced to FLUDD, which becomes Mario’s water cannon backpack for the majority of the game. Mario is then ordered to clean up the island and recover the shine sprites.

You know there is something wrong when I have to explain a Mario plot. While the simplicity of the Mario games have always worked (rescue the princess), here Mario is given a little bit more to do. With that said, the game suffers from the boring chore of cleaning up the island. It did sell well and became a player’s choice title (dropping the original game price down to twenty dollars), but I didn’t find it to be that worthwhile. For a game, it was enjoyable, yet for Mario game it was lacking. It is the only game in the Mario franchise I’ve ever returned for store credit, and the only one I’ve never beaten.

New Super Mario Bros. (2006)-4 years after Sunshine, Mario and Luigi returned to their roots; 2-D gaming. Appearing on the Nintendo’s handheld, the DS, NSMB was Nintendo introducing Mario’s classic formula to a new generation, while making grown up fans of the series relive what made the series so great. New power ups were introduced (Koopa Shell, Mega Mushroom), new music provided the background beats, and there was new worlds to explore, but something about it felt so familiar. Mario. 2-D. Best combination since pb and j, or maybe oreos and milk if you are allergic to peanuts.

Super Mario Galaxy (2007)-The first Mario game on the Wii system, Super Mario Galaxy shot Mario into space. Providing a new twist on Mario’s 3-D elements, SMG was innovative and creative just like its spiritual predecessor, Super Mario 64. Gravity could either be your friend or your enemy, as one would have to face a trial and error process to see what platforms were 360 degree friendly. This game sucked me into it like a vortex, and it remains in my top ten favorite games ever.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii (2009)-Utilizing the nostalgic factor that was attributed to New Super Mario Bros. success, NSMB Wii took the game and made it more crazy-giving fans the ability to play with 3 friends. Mario, Luigi, and two Toads took center stage, using helicopter hats, penguin suits, ice flowers, and whatever other items they could find to defeat the returning Koopa Kids (!), Bowser Jr., and their notorious poppa, the King of Koopas, Bowser. Also, this game outdid SMG’s routine Bowser boss battles by making the final fight epic in scope and fun. Once again, returning to roots for Mario and company proved another winner.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (2010)-The first direct sequel to a Mario game on a home console since the days of the NES, SMG 2 took an already great idea and made it better. Yoshi made a grand 3-D return. The power ups (while gimmicky) were more fun. The levels were tougher. The music was grander. The game was better. Also, SMG 2 demonstrated that it could transition between 2-D and 3-D seamlessly. The most recent Mario game is one of the series’ finest. Also, it lets you allow play levels as my favorite video game character, Luigi. I cannot express how much better SMG 2 is (IMO) than with that previous statement.

Those were the big ones, but now a brief recap on two not as big, but still essential*, Mario games.

Super Mario Land (1989)-Released on the ol’ brick known as the Game Boy, Mario’s first adventure on Nintendo’s first handheld took the plumber out of his familiar surroundings (Mushroom Kingdom) and placed him in Sarasaland, which had a mixture of temple and desert like landscapes. He also was on a mission to save Princess Daisy, not Toadstool (aka Peach) from an alien by the name of Tatanaga. The game provided Mario with the classic super mushroom and fire flower power ups, but also gave him vehicles, known as the “Sky Pop (airplane)” and “Marine Pop (submarine).” While different from the it’s only known predecessors at the time (that being the original SMB and SMB 2), SML was an epic adventure on a small screen, giving Mario yet another win.

Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins (1992)-Probably one of my favorite handheld games, SML 2: 6GC brought back in similar stuff from other games in the franchise, but at the same time introduced new villains, one of which who would gain a spinoff game, and also introduce the world to crazy mini games. The bizarro Mario was introduced. Wario apparently had enough charm to gain his own sequel to this game (Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land), star in his WarioWare games, as well as appear in the Mario and company games, like Mario Kart, Mario Tennis, etc.

Anyway, this game had a plot too, but still retained simplicity; Mario’s Castle (could he really afford one?) was stolen by Wario (who was behind the kidnapping of Princess Daisy in SML while Mario was gone. Turns out Wario hired Tatanaga. Look at that, continuity!), and now he must get it back. Getting new power ups (bunny ears for gliding, astronaut suit), Mario made his way across 6 worlds, fighting off interesting new bosses (3 little pigs?), giving us a taste of space Mario (SMG was only 15 years later,) and providing a Mario who dodged enemies while legos were the 4 bit ground (a crossover memory I’ll always remember from my childhood). Getting back the coins allows you to face off against Wario, who just wanted the castle for the reason that he’s been jealous of Mario since they were kids. What an ass. But what a game.

25 years of gaming greatness has been provided by Nintendo featuring a (for the most part) simple idea. Find Bowser. Defeat him. Rescue the damsel in distress. However, the implementation of adventure and difficulty has always been the strongpoint behind one of the greatest franchises of our time. Shigeru Miyamoto is an artist in his own right, as the vivid imagery, music, and desire to explore for secrets have been his main focus of this series. Good games may come and go, but creating a series of games that for 25 years continues to innovate and entertain fans and new comers alike all over the world is nothing short of groundbreaking.

25 years celebrating three simple rules.

With that said, I’d just like to say…


Thank you-a so much-a for reading my blog!

And may the next 25 years for Mario be just as great.

* Please note that while Super Mario RPG and The Paper Mario Series are Mario centric, I have not played them as much (if at all) and I am focusing on what games Nintendo themselves are showcasing for the 25th anniversary as well as adding the two Game Boy Mario games. Don’t hate the player.



Comments are closed.

Most Recent

Stay Connected