No Series is more recognizable than this Nintendo poster child. Some of the most memorable titles in Nintendo’s lineup has had the name Mario associated with it. Such a franchise, that has the ability to spawn various genres from racing to party games, even adventures staring side characters, deserves some discussion.
First and foremost, the popularity of the original Super Mario Bros. gave rise to the platformer genre in video games. Thought there were games that came before, this Famicom/NES title helped in shaping the conventions of what platformers should aim to achieve: adventuring through a level and providing an immersive experience for players to enjoy. When compared to games like Pong, whose main objective was to achieve the highest score, Super Mario Bros. had the advances of power-ups, unique enemies, different worlds, and of course platforming puzzles. The success of this game did help bring confidence back into the prospect of video games in North America following the Video Game Crash of 1983, but what it did beyond that was cement Nintendo as a force to be reckoned with.
Each console that Nintendo has released since the Famicom/NES has had some type of Mario game that appeared. Each generation of Mario game to release redefined the series and the themes surrounding it. Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy, and Super Mario Odyssey have all been unique to the franchise through their game mechanics, art styles, stories and lore, but they continued to keep the platforming as an integral part of the series; they never forgot their roots. Until a few years ago, I had never picked up a Mario game in my life due to me growing up with Sonic of the Genesis (that’s a story for another day, however). I immediately took an interest in the game design, aesthetic, characters, and the challenge that each game brought to the table. Many people view these games, including Super Mario 64, as works of art and I can very much vouch for these statements. The time and dedication that Nintendo has done to create these games to be at the highest caliber is truly remarkable. Even though they don’t have the latest graphics, most powerful consoles, or online gaming services (I’m sorry, but it’s true), Nintendo has done the one thing that should be the outset of any video game: it’s fun to play.
To anyone out there, who hasn’t played a Mario game, I ask that you give these games a try and see for yourself how this one plumber set the stage for all of video gaming.