By Aaron Tam:
It seems far-fetched that an average Italian plumber can turn up as one of the most popular gaming icons. But then again, people will know immediately that it is Mario that we are talking about. This short, moustachioed plumber also emerges as the face of Nintendo as it dominates the gaming industry. Aside from being the darling of the gaming world, it is simply incredible to see how Super Mario Bros has revolutionised the world of gaming.
Thanks to the legendary video game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, Mario became a huge success as few would have anticipated that a plumber could inspire and influence the gaming world. Running and jumping over numerous obstacles, Mario raced to rescue his beloved Princess Peach from the evil Bowser. Before he was known as Mario, his original name was actually “Jump Man” (how generic can you get?).
It all began when a little-known card and toy company, Nintendo, was attempting to enter the “gold mine” at that time – arcade games. Despite making several efforts in producing games, the results were not that encouraging. Desperate for something that was truly game-changing, the Nintendo President, Hiroshi Yamauchi engaged the artist, Shigeru Miyamoto, in designing a game for the cabinets. Until then, Shigeru was the guy who designed the art for Nintendo games. Going against the conventional wisdom, Shigeru actually planned a story before working out on the gameplay since he was not a programmer by profession.
Video game experts believed that such workflow was truly unprecedented because this was the first time that it happened in the history of video games. Nevertheless, Shigeru came up with Donkey Kong which featured the efforts of a man in overcoming obstacles so that he could ascend a construction site in order to rescue his girlfriend from Donkey Kong who kidnapped her.
This man, Jump Man, could climb and jump around. Needless to say, this style of gaming was remarkedly different from the contemporary video game titles. Humorously, Jump Man eventually got his iconic name, Mario, when the landlord demanded Nintendo of America to pay its rent. Its staff began to come up with a nickname by calling adding Jump Man to landowner’s name. As you have guessed it, his name was Mario.
Despite the glorious age of video games in the early 1980s, the video game industry actually crashed in 1983. Apparently, the crash was so massive that the revenues of video game companies at that time went from a few billion to just a hundred million. This catastrophic crash lasted from 1983 to 1985. Primarily, it was due to consumers’ loss of faith in the quality of video games. Not just that, video games were regarded as just a short-lived fad. It was the time when video games were considered to be on the brink of extinction. Yet, the arrival of Super Mario Bros seemed to save the day.
The release of Super Mario Bros has been seen as incredible since it actually single-handedly injected the much-needed life into the dying industry. Characterised by its simple gameplay, the Super Mario Bros game was both immersive and addictive in terms of gameplay value. The popularity of that game just soared sky-high as more and more people bought video game consoles just to play the game. Not only that, this game also gave people the reason to get back into video gaming again. Needless to say, the Super Mario Bros has taken its place as one of the most recognisable video games of all time.
Prior to the arrival of Mario, 2D platform games were around but only a handful of them can be that fun and engaging. Moreover, the platform itself could be described as more on the sidelines. The debut of Super Mario Bros certainly changed the face of 2D platform games forever as it would make it the genre of choice.
Following the lead of Mario, it spawned other legendary games such as Sonic, Megaman, Superfrog and others. Just as the Super Mario Bro revived the video game industry, so too the New Super Mario on the Nintendo DS-inspired waves of 2D platform games that continued to this day. Amazingly, you still could find a lot of new 2D platform games which are being designed and developed every single day. Thus, the 2D platform games are still very alive and relevant today.
Talking about the realm of 3D gaming (do not confuse with the defunct 3DO company), it has been said that tons of the golden 2D era never made the final cut into the new 3D gaming. Despite the greatness of Sonic 3D Blast, many still regarded it as not as good as the Super Mario 64. Once again, the Super Mario 64 revived the 3D platform gaming by introducing players to a totally new gaming atmosphere. Offering rewarding gaming experience, the makers of Mario showed that they understood the key to a gamer’s heart. Time and time again, it has been proven that one must devise a way to enable gamers to enjoy the game totally, regardless of any gaming format.
Aside from its “wacky” look, Mario is a fun character that is synonymous with the true meaning of entertainment. When he is not racing to rescue his princess, Mario actually got tons of hobbies which you can play as well! Look at other Mario game titles and you will discover that he played go-kart, golf, football, tennis and other games.
Not just that, you could join Mario in cleaning up an island. A game about cleaning could be awkward or bizarre but Mario made the process to be so much fun and entertaining. There is just so much magic in involving Mario in numerous sporting activities. It is utterly unexplainable but having an iconic face that does other stuff certainly works. What’s next? Call of Duty cleaning game? (you know you want it!)
As Mario has entered into the mobile gaming, it is not hard for him to conquer the region as well as carving a niche for himself. Yes, the latest Mario game, Super Mario Run, is yet another offering from Nintendo when it comes to shaking up the mobile gaming industry. While Nintendo has been rather hesitant in bringing its famous face to mobile games, the lucrative market of mobile games just entices even Mario to go powered up to seize the price.
Hence, there are so many ways of how Super Mario Bros transformed the world of gaming to the one that we know today. Once you know the key, you will even understand how Farmville or Angry Bird becomes famous in the first place.