Not going to lie, the idea of writing a feature celebrating the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. is daunting. I tossed and turned on how to attack this piece. Do I simply talk about how much Mario has meant to the gaming industry? How much he’s meant to an entire generation of gamers? How he changed the way that the world viewed gaming? It’s hard to pick just one thing to celebrate.
Super Mario Bros. was released in Japan on September 13, 1985. It was the flagship title of the new Nintendo home console, the Famicom. Since that date, Mario has gone on to appear in over 200 titles on nearly 20 different gaming systems. By sheer volume alone, Mario has dominated gaming. He’s starred in platformers, RPGs, Puzzle, and even sports games. So I thought going through the biggest games that Mario has been a part of would be a good way to honor him.
But Mario isn't just a character in a game; he’s so much more than that. He’s a character that 25-35 year-olds grew up with. He’s a part of pop culture. He’s had his own cereal, comic books, and Saturday morning kids’ show. He’s the face of Nintendo and arguably the face of gaming. Mario continues to star in some of the most popular games today, driving every new Nintendo system. So I thought that I would talk about how important he has been to the lives of gamers.
But then I thought, everyone is going to be doing that on his anniversary. So I decided to share my experience with Mario. I remember the first time I was exposed to Mario, and gaming in general really, was when I given an NES as a gift. I remember sitting down at my grandparents’, seeing the screen load up and being presented with the option I’m sure many gamers remember: Duck Hunt or Super Mario Bros. The Nintendo Zapper seemed cool, but I wanted to see this little guy who was running in place. After playing through the first two levels, I was hooked. Every day I wanted to keep trying to rescue the princess, and every day I got more upset when the toad issued his useless apology and advised me the princess was in another castle. But I loved every minute of it.
Through the years I grew up and so did Mario. I remember the day my mother said we could go get Super Mario 3, and I remember the revolution that was the Raccoon hat and flying. Super Mario World gave me a funky dinosaur to ride and the feather that let me become even more of a super hero. Super Mario 64’s graphics blew my mind just like everybody else’s and changed the way I looked at game controls (and in-game cameras). I got to take my frustrations out with Mario in both Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 64. I waited to get a Gamecube until Super Mario Sunshine was released. I read the definitive book on the history of Mario and Nintendo, “Game Over.” And for my money the best games on the Wii are Super Paper Mario and Super Mario Galaxy.
While today’s batch of young gamers may think that Call of Duty and Halo define the gaming industry, my generation will always hold a special place for our favorite mustached plumber. We’re known as ‘Generation X’ and ‘Generation Y’, but that’s not me. My name is Zak Grim, I’m 25-years-old, and I’m part of the ‘Mario Generation’.