Classic Game Tales: The Evolution Of Mario

12 Jan 2019
POSTED BY Alvin Thomas

The Y Geek Squad reviews how Nintendo’s much-loved character – Super Mario – became game for anything.

Call it ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ if you like, but Princess Peach from the Mushroom Kingdom certainly struggles to stay out of trouble; so much so that it takes a tubby Italian plumber to rescue her from the creepy stalker, Bowser.

In fact, not only has this given poor old Mario – the protagonist– sleepless nights and countless hours of twiddling around the kingdom’s darkest corners in search of his lover, but also in the real world, a foothold in possibly the greatest gaming franchise of all time.

The numbers don’t lie: more than 200 video games have been created and nearly 40 million copies sold under the premise of this very story – and it has been adapted or ported into everything from the Famicom console from the late 1980s to the Nintendo Switches of today.

This week, we look at the evolution of Mario – how the game progressed from being a mere side-character in Donkey Kong to the hero of his own super-title: Super Mario.

1. Donkey Kong (Arcade) – 1981

This became known as the genesis of modern gaming. In short, this is where it all began. Originally introduced as a character named, ‘Jumpman’, in the Donkey Kong game, Mario’s character didn’t have a convincing identity to go by when he made his first appearance on screen. Yet, with his distinguishable moustache and tradesman jumpsuit, there was no denying that Mario was slowly starting to take shape..

2. Mario Bros. (Arcade) – 1983

It took them another two years to finally come up with the complete concept of having Mario as a separate character. Released for Nintendo’s arcade machines from the era, the game – for the first time ever – was developed with a storyline, and additionally, a co-op mission mode that let players play as Luigi – Mario’s brother.

3. Super Mario Bros. – 1985

The most distinguished gaming title of all time, Super Mario Bros., took the game Mario Bros. game to fresh heights – complete with a release on the iconic NES gaming console. This also marked the beginning of the size-varying mushrooms – or as they call it, the “super mushrooms” – which would allow Mario to grow twice in size, and the final product of a title that we would continue to witness for the years to come.

4. Super Mario Bros. 3 – 1988

Banking on the success of its predecessor, Super Mario Bros. 3, followed in the footsteps of the earlier games, albeit with substantially improved graphics. Changes to this game included giving Mario more superpowers in the form of a tanooki suit for flying, a frog suit for swimming, and a hammer suit for throwing hammers. The well-tuned controls and the vivid
colours made this one of the best-sellers of its time.

5. Super Mario Kart (Super NES) – 1992

Why the developers took the call to create a racing game featuring characters such as Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong Jr, and Bowser is beyond us. But what we can tell you is that the game paved the way for one of the most fun arcade multiplayer games console of all time and all the titles that followed.

6. Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64) – 1996

This year marked the game’s first radical change since its inception: the release of a Super Mario game set in a 3D environment. Mario could now walk, run, crouch, creep, swim, crawl, climb, and above all, speak!

7. New Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo DS) – 2006

In a surprise move, the developers ditched the 3D platform to hark back to its past. This meant you were now back to controlling Mario in a 2D environment in a powerful handheld console. It broke all expectations and stunned the critics by becoming the best-selling Nintendo game of all time, with sales figures touching 26 million.

8. Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo Switch) – 2017

The latest and the greatest Mario game of the modern era. Excellent graphics, sophisticated controls and a physics engine to match, this title redefined the way we played the game. A slew of missions that switched between 3D and 2D added to the overall experience – and it sat well with the audience. In fact, it became a best-seller that year, with 12.17 million copies sold overall.

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