Need to polish up those jumping skills in time for Galaxy?
Mario: love him or loath him, you gotta admit heâ€™s made a quite the impact in the gaming scene for a plumber! While Nintendoâ€™s â€˜everymanâ€™ may indeed feature in roughly a third of all games in existence (slight exaggeration), itâ€™s only once in a blue moon that a real Mario game is released. Although many games â€˜featuringâ€™ Mario are great, real Mario games are amongst the most important releases for each generation.
With Marioâ€™s first â€˜properâ€™ Wii outing, â€˜Super Mario Galaxyâ€™ (being released in New Zealand soon), I decided to take the opportunity to celebrate Marioâ€™s many outings.
Okay, so it may not be one of these â€˜proper Mario gamesâ€™ I mentioned above, but the Donkey Kong games are where Mario got his start. Before he was Mario, the hero of Donkey Kong was named â€˜Jump Manâ€™, a carpenter whose look was designed around displaying a detailed character with so few available pixels.
Donkey Kong was of course a huge hit at the arcades and would go on to be ported to a range of hardware. A quick fun fact is that Mario was actually the villain in the second Donkey Kong game, Donkey Kong Jr!
Mario Bros was the first game named after the mustachioed one. With a change of career and the recruitment of his brother â€˜Luigiâ€™, Mario must takes to the sewers to eliminate an army of pests - while, of course, collecting all objects shiny and coin-shaped along the way. Two players could play this game simultaneously, and while working together was indeed a valid strategy, playing competitively could be a whole lot more fun.
Super Mario Bros
This is where Mario really hit the big time. Super Mario Bros is easily one of the most influential games of all time. When this game came out, it was light-years ahead of any other game in all areas. Super Mario Bros redefined gaming forever. Itâ€™s no surprise that the most imitated game ever is the best selling game of all time (40+ million).
Everyone that was around back in the day remembers where they first played Mario. (Except those of us who stuck to Sonic! â€“ Ed)
Super Mario Bros 2 / The Lost Levels
This was the direct follow-up to Super Mario Bros in Japan. Looking and feeling more like an expansion of the first game, Nintendo decided not to release this game outside of Japan. The insane level of difficulty didnâ€™t help things either. This outing was later released outside of Japan as â€˜The Lost Levelsâ€™ and was first seen as an inclusion in the brilliant â€˜Super Mario All-Starsâ€™ cartridge.
Super Mario Bros 2 / Doki Doki Panic
What was released as Super Mario Bros 2 in PAL/US territories was actually not a Mario game at all. Nintendo simply redrew some of the game sprites and tidied up the gameplay of an existing game title. While a great game in its own right, itâ€™s no surprise that our version of Super Mario 2 plays and looks quite different than subsequent Mario endeavours.
Super Mario Bros 3
The third game in the series would be the one to really up the ante. SMB3 had more levels, enemies and secrets than the other games combined. For its time, the game was simply HUGE, and it really did take an insane amount of play to see nearly everything the game had to offer. Super Mario Bros 3 is still considered by many to be the ultimate Mario game.
Super Mario Land
With the huge success of the Mario franchise, it made perfect sense for Mario to be a launch title for the GameBoy. Before the phenomenon that was Tetris, Super Mario Land was at the helm of the GameBoyâ€™s success. SML is one of the black sheep titles amongst the Mario titles, as it was created by Gunpei Yokoi and not Shigeru Miyamoto.
Super Mario World
If you want to start an argument with Nintendo fans the world over, ask them a simple question: what is the best 2D platformer of all time - Super Mario Bros 3, or Super Mario World? Both are the epitome of the genre, both offer a huge amount of challenges and both have absolutely ingenious level design.
Super Mario World was a launch title for the Super Nintendo and as the console was late to the 16-bit party, it needed to be something else to get everyoneâ€™s eyes back on Nintendo. Turns out it was something else indeed and the title did the trick.
Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins
The sequel to Super Mario Land actually played more like a scaled down version of Super Mario World, funnily enough. Even though SML was a technically superior game, some felt that the less linear nature of the game and save utility made the game too easy.
SML2 also introduced Wario, who would go on to have his own spin-off franchise. I wonâ€™t list SML3, as really itâ€™s Warioâ€™s first game title (and easily his best IMO).
Super Mario World 2: Yoshiâ€™s Island
With its brilliantly quirky visuals and game play which is unique, yet â€˜oh so Marioâ€™, Yoshiâ€™s Island was an instant classic. Firing up the game today, visually it still looks as brilliant as when it first came out, and the creative level designs will keep you busy for simply hours.
Super Mario 64
Super Mario 64 may not have invented gaming in 3D, in fact it was far from it, as many games had featured 3D graphics years before the Nintendo 64 was ever released. What Super Mario 64 did so well was create a 3D world that looked and felt alive. Just running around aimlessly perfecting your array of jumps was fantastic fun.
In my mind, no 3D platformer has surpassed SM64 in terms of sheer fun and playability. To this day the level design is addictively awesome and the challenge of getting around the levels in the most stylish way possible is just brilliant.
Super Mario Sunshine
While Sunshine did indeed get great reviews, it never quite had the same impact, playability or lovability of Marioâ€™s previous outing on the Nintendo 64. Sure the game was brilliant, Iâ€™ll give it that, but it wasnâ€™t quite the sequel to SM64 that the punters wanted.
This game took place outside the Mushroom Kingdom and featured a waterpistol/backpack/thing which was a key part to the gameplay. Ironically, I personally thought the parts where Mario was stripped of this device were the most fun.
New Super Mario Bros
New Super Mario Bros went back to the roots of the franchise and attempted to recapture the feel of the original Super Mario Bros game, as well as carrying over some lessons learnt from newer Mario titles. NSMB is easily one of the best titles available on the DS and is indeed a blast to play, but I canâ€™t quite help but feel that some of the control and level design isnâ€™t quite as spot on as the games it imitates.
Super Mario Galaxy
Currently receiving rave reviews overseas, SMG is the next title in the Mario series. SMG promises to be the spiritual successor to Mario 64 that every Nintendo fan not so secretly desires. As well as keeping the Mario feel, Galaxy looks to shake things up and deliver a whole bunch of new tricks to a genre that has been somewhat stale as of late.