Monday, December 14, 2015

30+ Years of Mario and Counting


Who would’ve thought that a character from the 1981 video game ‘Donkey Kong’ would evolved from ‘Jumpman’ to the beloved character, Mario, an Italian-American plumber, and the main character of over 200 video games? The Mario game franchise holds the title of the bestselling video game franchise of all times. The Mario series of games has sold over 210 million units, not counting non-platform games including sport series games such as Mario Kart racing, golf, and tennis games as well as educational games including Mario's Time Machine and Mario Is Missing. Included in the franchise are comics, television shows and films as well as licensed merchandise.

In 1983, Mario Brothers became a platform game featuring Mario and his brother, Luigi battling creatures in the sewers below New York City in arcade, the Family Computer and Nintendo Entertainment System Versions. Developers Shigeru Miyamdo and Gunpei Yokoi made Mario a little more invincible for his transition from Donkey Kong to the Mario Brothers game as well as modified his wardrobe. In Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr. Mario would suffer his death by falling from great heights and wore a blue shirt and red overalls. In the Mario Brothers game his wardrobe changed to a red shirt and blue overalls. He reverted to red overalls but wore a brownish shirt for Super Mario Brothers. For Super Mario Brothers 2, he wore the red shirt and blue overalls and the overalls has remained the same ever since. Miyamota gave his reason for Mario wearing overalls being to make his arm movements more noticeable.

He also changed professions from a carpenter in Donkey Kong to a plumber in Mario Brothers. Luigi's inclusion allowed for two player competition. Home versions of Mario Brothers were also available on Apple II, 4 different Atari platforms, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC despite the video game crash in 1983. Super Mario Brothers is thought to be the game that help the video game industry bounce back as part of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and accounted for the huge sales volume of the system. Super Mario Brothers was first released in Japan in 1985 and later in America, Europe and Australia in 1987 and was the first of the Super Mario Brothers series. In this version, players controlled Mario and Luigi on a quest through the Mushroom Kingdom to rescue Princess Toadstool from Bowser, her kidnapper.

Between 1988 and 2007, Super Mario Brothers game series had eight different titles including Super Mario Land (1989), Super Mario World (1991), Super Mario Sunshine (2002), Super Mario Galaxy (2007) and Mario and Sonic at the Olympics (2007). Mario themed games were bundled in 2010 for its 25th anniversary and those who registered their Nintendo 3DS game systems at the end of 2013 to the end of 2014, with different time frames for different countries, received free download codes through their emails.


Gamers that have watched Mario evolve have also witnessed the evolution of technology. New generations are still finding Mario interesting and challenging. As technology continue to evolve, future generations will enjoy the many quest and adventures that Mario takes them on just as those of the 80s.