The History of Mario – 30 Years of Super Mario

With Mario celebrating his 30th Anniversary / Birthday with the release of Super Mario Maker on the Nintendo Wii U we thought that now would be the perfect time to look back at past games and reflect on 30 years worth of Mario.

Donkey Kong (1981):

A well-known fact is that Mario’s first video game appearence was not Super Mario Bros but it was actually the arcade game Donkey Kong; a game which saw the, now famous, ape kidnap Pauline and throw barrels at a red and blue suited looking man. At the time of the games release this red and blue suited man was referred to as Jump-Man, as he jumped over the barrels that Donkey Kong would throw at him, but eventually he was re-named Mario.

Mario Bros (1983):


Three years after Donkey Kong was released Mario, and his brother Luigi, finally star in their own game and its slightly different to what we know today. Released in 1983 as an Arcade-only game it sees Mario and Luigi attempting to defeat enemies that appear from pipes at the top of the screen before time runs-out. Theres no real story to be had here; its simply a case of earning the highest score and progressing through the levels within the lives (and credits) you have. After its release in Arcades Mario Bros was ported to various home consoles at the time, such as the Atari 2600 and ZX Spectrum, and in recent times it has been included on Gameboy Advance versions of Mario games, such as Yoshi Island.

Super Mario Bros (1985): 


Ironically though it’s not until 1985 that Mario stars in his own game on the Nintendo Entertainment System; a platforming masterpiece you might say. The game saw Mario travel across eight different worlds in order to save Princess Peach from the clutches of Bowser. It’s a simple game of Run, Jump, Stop whereby players must reach the goal within the timeline. Even though it’s 30 years old it’s still one of the most loved and well known platforming games around; and even today secrets are still being found within its many levels.

Super Mario Bros 2 (1988):


Three years after the successful release of Super Mario Bros came it’s sequel, Super Mario Bros 2, and this in itself brought some interesting changes. For starters the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros 2, which was later released in 1993 as Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels, proved difficult for western auidiences and so the ‘western’ release of Super Mario Bros 2 is actually a re-branded port of Japanese platformer Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic. As a result gameplay was vastly changed from its previous game; for instance this title featured four playable characters, including the ability to play as Luigi, Peach and Toad, as well as a whole host of new enemies to do battle with. Super Mario Bros 2, in retrospect, was never designed to be played as a Mario game but somehow Nintendo managed to make it work and it provided a unique Mario experience.

Super Mario Land (1989):


The arrival of Super Mario Land saw Mario’s debut onto Nintendo’s iconic Gameboy handheld console. Unlike previous Mario titles Super Mario Land is set in Sarasaland, a new environment depicted in line art, and it sees Mario attempt to rescue Princess Daisy from Bowsers henchmen. Much like the western release of Super Mario Bros 2, Super Mario Land offered a slightly different playstyle and saw boss fights at the end of each three levels; furthermore certain levels would see Mario piloting a plane or a submarine – something which has never been seen before in a Mario game.

Super Mario Bros 3 (1991):


The final mario related release onto the Nintendo Entertainment System was non-other-than Super Mario Bros 3 and it too changed everything we knew about Mario. Just like with the original Mario Bros game eight worlds were available to explore; except this time players would negotiate around a world map before arriving at the castle for each world. The World Map itself featured numerous different levels and ‘Toad Huts’ that would offer players the chance to win power-up items, including the brand new Tanooki Suit. Super Mario Bros 3 also introduced the Koopa Kids and Bowser’s flying ship and each final boss of a level would see the Koopa Kids, on a flying ship, as the boss – that is until the final level where it would see Bowser as the boss. Super Mario Bros 3 was also re-made (and released) as Super Mario Advanced 4: Super Mario Bros 3 for the Gameboy Advance in 2004.

Super Mario World (1992):


The first Mario related game to arrive on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, or SNES if you prefer, was Super Mario World and much like Super Mario Bros 3 the game saw a world map whereby players could freely choose the choice of level. Gameplay elements remained the same as previous games with the exception of Yoshi, a green dinosaur, being introduced as a new character and once found Mario could use him to defeat enemies or eat them to create fireballs. The story itself saw Mario and Luigi on a quest to save Dinosaur Land from Bowser and in order to do this they must travel through seven different world environments scattered across the island.

Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins (1993):


The sequel to the Gameboy’s debut Mario title once again saw a different take on the Mario franchise; as this time Mario must reclaim a castle stolen by newly introduced antagonist Wario; however in order to access the castle Mario must collect six golden coins which are scattered across various game-worlds. Just like with previous Mario titles the 2D platforming gameplay style remains; with the exception of improved visuals and varied enemies.

Super Mario All-Stars (1993):

To celebrate Mario’s success on the NES Nintendo released compilation game cartridge containing past mario titles. The collection, known as Super Mario All-Stars, contained Super Mario Bros 1, 2 and 3 as well as introduced western audiences to Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels which was previously released in Japan as Super Mario Bros 2. The collection also featured a ‘save’ feature whereby players could save their progress and resume at a later point – a feature which hadn’t made much of an appearance in Mario games.


Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario World 2 (1994):


The sequel to Super Mario World took a different direction to other Mario games; as it saw Yoshi cast as the ‘main character’ with Mario, who has been turned into a Baby, as a support character. The concept of the story is that Yoshi must protect Baby Mario while they search for his brother, Baby Luigi, who has been kidnapped by Baby Bowser. Unlike traditional Mario games Yoshi is the focus, and as a such the gameplay styled is slightly different as it tends to focus more on Yoshi’s abilities – such as those found within the original Super Mario World game. Yoshi’s Island became popular in its own right, and as such it saw spin-off titles across various platforms, including the Gameboy Advance, N64, 3DS, Wii and Wii U.

Super Mario 64 (1996)

super mario 64 tick tock clock screenshot

Mario’s next ‘game-breaking-appearance’ wasnt until the arrival of Super Mario 64 on the Nintendo 64. Herald as one of the ‘best’ Mario experiences to date it saw Mario attempting to rescue princess Peach from the clutches of Bowser inside a castle. Super Mario 64 was a totally different gameplay experience and it’s not because it featured 3D polygons. In order to progress forward through the game players had to collect stars and in order to obtain these stars objectives had to be completed in the game-worlds. Each game-world, which are actually paintings in the castle, had six different objectives that offered a star and a bonus star if you collect 100 coins in that world. The surprises didn’t stop there either, as hidden stars were scattered around the castle and if you managed to collect all 120 stars you could gain access to the roof and see Yoshi. Super Mario 64 was later re-made, and re-released, onto the Nintendo DS as Super Mario 64 DS except this time it saw Yoshi as the playable character rather than Mario.

Super Mario Sunshine (2002):


Super Mario 64 was such a ‘strong’ title on the Nintendo 64 that another Mario game wasn’t released until after the Nintendo Gamecube had been released. Super Mario Sunshine uses elements found within Super Mario 64, such as a large open area as a hub-world and multiple objectives within a single level, but the newest addition was the FLUDD device and the challenge of removing paint from the game-world. The story itself saw Mario and his friends on vacation on the tropical Isle of Delfino, but when a Shadow version of himself begins making graffiti with paint Mario is put to work by the citizens in order to return everything to normal. It’s a relatively unusual story for a Mario game and yet its still one of best – and most varied – ever released by Nintendo.

New Super Mario Bros (2006):


Mario games are often about creating new innovations and new-ways-to-play; except in 2006 Nintendo went back to its roots with New Super Mario Bros. This particular Mario title was designed to play like the original NES and SNES versions of Mario titles, as a side-scrolling platformer, however the format was tweaked with 4-player on-screen co-op and the inclusion of 2.5D visuals. The game was later ported to the Nintendo Wii, as New Super Mario Bros Wii, in 2009 and then later ported again to the Wii U as New Super Mario Bros U in 2012. An expansion for the Wii U version, known as New Super Luigi Bros U, was also released in 2013 which saw Mario replaced with Luigi as the main character.

Super Mario Galaxy (2007):


Mario’s next big outing wasn’t until 2007 with Super Mario Galaxy and unlike previous Mario titles this one made full use of the new Wii hardware and its unique Wii-mote and nunchuck peripherals. It all starts when Mario fails to rescue princess peach and finds himself catapulted to an unknown location, here a new character known as Rosalina requests Mario to retrive power stars from Bowser otherwise her environment is in grave danger. In essence Super Mario Galaxy offers a ‘real’ story with cut-scenes animations, but it also introduces some new gameplay aspects by using the Wii control scheme – such as the Star Pointer which sees star bits being picked up and used to attack distant enemies. A sequel, known as Super Mario Galaxy 2, was released a few years later in 2010.

Super Mario 3D Land (2011):


It was another five years until a ‘new’ dedicated Mario title was released and its known as Super Mario 3D Land. Super Mario 3D Land is a Mario game that seamlessly blends 3D with 2D gameplay and offers a truly unique experience. For the most part Super Mario 3D Land plays in 3D environments, just like the levels in Super Mario 64, but you’ll often find yourself thinking its a 2D (or to a certain extent 2.5D) platformer. Power-ups from past games return but new introductions, such as the Boomerang Flower, offer alternate ways to play the game. The story itself sees Mario attempting to stop Bowsers plan of using ‘tanooki’ power-ups on his minions that will be used to overthrow the mushroom kingdom.

New Super Mario Bros 2 (2012):


Six years after the original New Super Mario Bros title its sequel arrives onto the Nintendo 3DS and not a lot has changed. The iconic story of using Mario or Luigi to rescue peach from Bowser’s castle with the aid of power-ups still remain and everything found within previous ‘New Super Mario Bros’ titles remains. The only difference is that this particular title introduced Downloadable content, via the Nintendo eShop, that allowed challenge modes to be played. These challenge modes saw the player attempting to collect as many gold coins as possible within the time limit as well as trying to complete selective levels within the fastest possible time.

Super Mario 3D World (2013)


Super Mario 3D world was released onto the Nintendo Wii U and is the spiritual successor the Nintendo 3DS release of Super Mario 3D Land. The gameplay concept of seamlessly merging 3D environments into 2D gameplay remains and while the game-worlds and levels are different it offers a sense of deja vu. The major selling point for this title was the introduction of Cat Mario, a suit which saw Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad (as all four characters were playable) able to climb walls and flagpoles with ease. In regards to the story then it sees Mario and his friends attempting to rescue Sprixies from Bowser who, in turn, has his own plans for everyone. Super Mario 3D World is easily one of the most enjoyable and entertaining experiences in recent Mario years.

Super Mario Maker (2015):

Super_Mario_Maker_WiiU_Screenshot (2)

So, after 30 years of Mario, this is where we land; at Super Mario Maker on the Nintendo Wii U. For the past three decades we have been playing mario games with the levels, worlds and rules from the minds at Nintendo; but now with this particular title we can create our own. This is Super Mario Maker in a nutshell; it allows you to create any level you want and once you are happy with the results you can share it online with friends. The game includes all of the tools available, with more becoming unlocked the more you use it, and it even allows the ‘visual’ style to be changed from classic Super Mario Bros to a more recent New Super Mario Bros world style.



Of course this isn’t a comprehensive list of Mario titles, as this list focuses on the main franchise, but over the past thirty years Mario has appeared in numerous spin-off titles including Mario Paint, Mario Tennis, Mario Golf and in more recent years a collaboration with SEGA for numerous Olympic Titles.

Mario merchandise is available to order through and you can save an additional 5% on your order by using the code ‘NEWS5’