The Evolution of Mario Video Games and Their Impact on My Life

You may have heard of Mario the plumber’s trademark catchphrase, “Let’s go!” However, there is more to Mario than meets the eye. The Mario franchise has revolutionized the video game industry for many decades and still stands strong today for Nintendo. In fact, in the last 30 years, there have been references to Mario in at least 200 video games and he has been referred to countless times in Nintendo and outside of Nintendo as well. While the franchise has had its ups and downs in the industry, it still has set the precedent for many games across the globe. 

The first Mario game to ever exist was the Donkey Kong arcade game in 1981. The point of the game was to jump over barrels and save Princess Peach from the clutches of Donkey Kong. While this game seems quite simple to us now, in the 1980s it was quite revolutionary for its time. The game got its main traction from the 1983 home version, which allowed players to play outside of the video game arcade, which has now become the new normal for many of us today. 

From there, Nintendo created a plethora of major mainstream Mario games. Notable pieces include the first Super Mario Bros. with the addition of Luigi on the NES, aka the Nintendo Entertainment System; Mario Bros. II on the Commodore 64; Super Mario Bros. 2 and 3 on the NES; Super Mario World on the NES; and the first Mario Kart game called Super Mario Kart on the Super NES. The Mario franchise overall had a huge impact on the video gaming industry, especially in bringing at-home consoles to the forefront of gaming. 

The most revolutionary Mario game created by Nintendo was the first Nintendo 3D Mario game called Super Mario 64. This game was important to the gaming industry, as it was the new turning point from solely 2D games to 3D gaming platforms and became the foundation of 3D gaming for the future. The legendary Shigeru Miyamoto was one of the first creators of the game, and since then, he has become a household name within gaming. I guarantee that every massive Mario fan will probably worship this amazing and ingenious creator. While it seems like the production of a popular video game such as Super Mario 64 would have many creators backing it up, only a TOTAL of 15 people were able to create the entire game. The idea of Super Mario 64 might be simple, but it paved the way for Mario and Nintendo to be at the top of the gaming industry at the time, especially for its sublime movement, control and animation. 

Image by Olya Adamovich from Pixabay. The first ever video game I played growing up was Super Mario Sunshine on the Nintendo Gamecube which came shortly after Super Mario 64. From the relaxing, vacation vibe of the game setting to the thickening plot my sister and I would uncover every time we played, it became a part of my nostalgic memories. The scenery, the music and the intense levels were addicting, and Mario became my escape from the real world growing up. While my sister and I did play other games, we would always gravitate towards playing Super Mario Sunshine because of its captivating aura. 

After growing up with Super Mario Sunshine, my sister and I always sought to look for the new games for the Mario franchise. After constantly begging our parents, we ended up getting our first Wii. The game that struck my sister and I the most was Super Mario Galaxy, the next Super Mario game in the franchise. My sister and I would rent out the game from Blockbuster and be thrilled everytime we would play the game after renting it over and over again, which later became a crucial core memory for me.

Entering high school changed my own game of life. My sister and I ended up playing the last Super Mario game that would exist for a while, embracing the last of the eloquent music and subliminal setting/scenery of the game. With a busy schedule, my mind steered away from the games and more into my work. 

Even though Mario was absent in my high school years, the new Nintendo Switch brought him back into my life in college. I was able to connect with friends more than ever because of Mario, through late night gaming sessions of Mario Kart Deluxe to brawling it out on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Fast forward to now, while the COVID-19 pandemic halted my various ways of connecting with friends in person, I found Mario as my escape from the world once again. After some time passed in quarantine, Nintendo made a thrilling announcement to add to their Nintendo Switch a remastered version of all the Super Mario games with Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and finally Super Mario Galaxy: a childhood dream come true. I immediately bought the first copy of the game before it sold out. Playing the remastered versions once again enhanced my craving to be immersed in Mario games. I’d sometimes find the soundtracks on YouTube and let them play in the background as I closed my eyes or stared at my dark ceiling at night, imagining myself in space like in Super Mario Galaxy or vacationing on the islands in the storyline of Super Mario Sunshine, wanting to relive the innocence and curiosity of childhood in these gloomy, dark times. 

Life is a game, and Mario was a part of mine. When I listen to Mario music or play the many Mario games, to me it’s more than just a game: it's a story to tell, and it is beautifully written to be up to interpretation. One doesn’t need to play Mario games to understand the story of the characters; if a gamer takes a step back from the completionist mindset and dissects the story from the inside, they will notice that the game has a somber and eloquent meaning. From the captivating world-renowned Gusty Garden Galaxy music to the characters I have come to grow and love over the years, Mario games have been a nostalgic memory for me. The power of Mario has stood the test of time, and with more advancements in technology, the Mario franchise will continue to gain popularity and traction in the future of the gaming industry as we know it. I’m looking forward to one day going to the Nintendo Amusement Park in Japan opening next year to live out my dreams of being in a real life Mario World. Pick up a console and try out a Mario game; you never know, it might change your life, too.