Super Mario Bros., the game that launched the highest selling and most popular video game franchise of all time, turned 30 today, as gamers celebrate the release of the first game in the series on this date back in 1985.
Since launching on the Nintendo Entertainment System and Japan’s Famicom all those years ago, Super Mario has become the video game industry’s greatest icon. Developed as a sequel to the 1983 release of Nintendo’s more simple Mario Bros. arcade game, which saw Mario and his brother, Luigi, fighting off and exterminating creatures in the sewers of New York City, Super Mario Brothers, it is said by many, revived and saved the American video game industry, which had found itself in the midst of a multi-year sales slump.
Super Mario Bros. has remained such a resilient and bankable franchise for Nintendo that it has spawned some 20 iterations across all Nintendo consoles and handheld devices, as well as several offshoots, such as Super Mario Kart, Mario Golf, and Mario Baseball.
Super Mario Bros. was designed and developed by acclaimed video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, the creative genius behind such other famed video game series as The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, and Star Fox.
The venerable video game series popularized the side scrolling style of gameplay during the late 1980s to early 1990s before again pioneering the manner in which video games are enjoyed with the 3-D launch of Super Mario 64 in 1996. As Nintendo has sought to remain on the forefront of the video game console industry, their mascot, Super Mario Bros., has always followed suit. Mario’s current iteration, Super Mario Maker for the Wii U, is referred to by Entertainment Weekly as “a wonderful celebration of the plumber’s storied history,” and allows players to design their own Mushroom World in which to play.
As CNN reports, Miyamoto’s now iconic design choices for the lovable plumber were all results of the technical limitations of the time. Mario’s trademark hat is the result of the fact that Miyamoto could not easily produce hair in eight bits. His overalls were chosen so the player could see Mario’s arms when he walked. And the bushy moustache? That was chosen because there was not enough room for an eight bit smile.
With Nintendo reportedly gearing up for another console launch some time in the near future, it is inconceivable that yet another iteration of the Super Mario saga wouldn’t be in tow. From a children’s television series to a breakfast cereal and even a feature film, Super Mario’s mark on pop culture burns as bright as one of his fireballs.
[Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images]