Nintendo are currently making a big deal about their mustachioed videogame mascot Mario being 25 years old this year, on the very day this post goes out in fact. It may seem quite amazing that Mario has already reached the quarter century, but what’s more amazing is that he is actually a little older than that.
Nintendo may be marking this year as the official 25th birthday of Mario, but games fans will no doubt know that Mario’s first appearance was actually in Donkey Kong. OK, he was known as Jumpman then but the sprite (the name given to 2D videogame images) is most definitely Mario through and through.
Even if you don’t include Donkey Kong though, there was the original Mario Bros game (which was a bit rubbish in my opinion) which was released in 1983 and introduced his brother, Luigi. However, I think what Nintendo are getting at is that the first Super Mario Bros game was released in 1985, and this is undoubtedly the game that truly made Mario a star. Indeed, Super Mario Bros was the biggest selling videogame of all time, that is until Wii Sports came along…
So who is Mario then? Well, Mario Mario (his full name, according to the Hollywood film anyway) is an Italian American plumber who now lives in the Mushroom Kingdom, a land connected by big green pipes and ruled over by the oh-so-sweet-and-lovely Princess Peach, who is often referred to as Mario’s girlfriend, but whether they really are an item is never really made clear.
Mario finds himself repeatedly saving Peach from the claws of the nasty Bowser, who was originally called King Koopa. In order to do this he finds himself travelling across the Mushroom Kingdom, stopping enemies by jumping on their heads and collecting coins and eating mushrooms and picking flowers along the way. The mushrooms can make Mario grow to twice his original size, whilst the flowers allow him to shoot fireballs as well!
The original Super Mario Bros game was a horizontally scrolling affair, and was first released in the arcades and then on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Since then each new Nintendo console has had it’s own big evolution of this original game, from Super Mario World on the SNES (still one of my personal favourite games ever made), through the Nintendo 64’s Super Mario 64 to the Wii’s Super Mario Galaxy games.
But Mario is not all about jumping on turtles heads, far from it. Over the years Mario has featured in sports games such as Tennis, Golf and Football, puzzle games, party games, beat ’em up games and of course the original karting game. He’s even been the ball in a pinball game! In total he has appeared in around 200 games, and that number just keeps getting bigger and bigger, and shows no sign of ever stopping.
I’m personally a very big fan of the Mario games (by that I mean the platform style games which are Mario’s true roots) so I thought I would mark this anniversary myself by making this week Super Mario Week on Child of the 1980’s. Tune in for more on our dungaree wearing hero as the week progresses!