When it comes to video games, few franchises hold as much recognition or nostalgia as the Super Mario Bros. Not only has it been around for over three decades, but it’s also become so much of an icon in popular culture that it’s hard to exist without, at the very least, a basic understanding of what the games are all about. But for those who aren’t too familiar with the world of gaming, here’s a primer on what the Super Mario Bros. really is.
Super Mario Bros. is a series of side-scrolling platformers developed by Nintendo for their various consoles, starting with the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985. The games are set in the fictional Mushroom Kingdom, where the titular character, Mario, goes on adventures to save his loved ones from the clutches of the villainous Bowser. The franchise has since gone on to become one of the most successful in history, with dozens of sequels, spin-offs, and merchandise to its name.
The first game, Super Mario Bros., introduced players to Mario and made him an instant sensation. Players would guide the mustachioed plumber through various levels, each with its own set of obstacles and enemies. The goal of each level was simple: reach the end, defeat Bowser, and save Princess Toadstool (later renamed Peach). Here, the game established the style of platforming that would become synonymous with the franchise — jumping on top of Goombas, collecting coins and power-ups, breaking blocks to reveal hidden bonuses, and more. Essentially, everything that makes a Mario game a Mario game can be traced back to the first game in the series.
Over the years, the franchise has seen many iterations, each with its own twists and variations on the formula. Super Mario Bros. 2, for example, introduced the ability to play as different characters, each with their own unique abilities, while Super Mario Bros. 3 added new power-ups, including the iconic Tanooki Suit. There have also been spin-offs like Super Mario Kart, which added racing to the mix, and Super Mario RPG, which added a role-playing element to the gameplay.
But perhaps the most important aspect of the Mario franchise is its influence on gaming culture. The Mario games have introduced countless innovations and tropes that have since become staples of the medium. The concept of power-ups, for example, can be traced back to Super Mario Bros., while the idea of hidden secrets and collectibles has become a hallmark of many modern games. Even the way in which Mario moves and jumps has become intrinsic to platformers as we know them today.
But beyond its impact on gaming, the Super Mario Bros. franchise has also had a profound impact on popular culture at large. The characters, music, and visuals have all become so iconic that they’re instantly recognizable even to those who have never played a Mario game. The franchise has even made appearances in movies, TV shows, and other forms of media. These days, Mario himself is more than just a video game character — he’s a cultural symbol.
In conclusion, the Super Mario Bros. franchise is more than just a series of video games. It’s a cultural touchstone that has had a profound impact on everything from gaming to popular culture. Despite being around for over 35 years, the franchise continues to remain fresh and exciting with each new entry. So, whether you’re a longtime fan or a newcomer to the world of gaming, there’s something to love about the Super Mario Bros.