GAMING BLOG: “Super Mario Bros.” legacy defines video games

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First Posted: 10/15/2014

I was approached by Plusnet last week, a British internet service provider. Throughout Plusnet Gaming Week, the company created various written content about games, infographics and even some gaming competition among subscribers.

They were generous enough to share some of their infographics for me to use looking at some of gaming’s most iconic series. The “family trees” for each series hallmarks most of the games in each, dating from the very beginning to present.

Not all titles from each series were included either for straying from the series’ canon, are the subject of controversy or for being licensed spin-offs. Each game has a colored border that represents on which console it appeared.

One of the family trees takes a look at a name that is practically synonymous with the word “video game.”

I’m talking, of course, about “Super Mario Bros.”

The iconic plumber first made his appearance in “Mario Bros.” way back in 1983. He would later appear in “Super Mario Bros.” in 1985 — ever since then, Mario is arguably video games’ universal mascot and the most popular video game characters of all time.

Mario and his brother Luigi have since been stomping Goombas and Koopa-Troopas to save Princess Peach Toadstool from King Bowser. Mario and company have also been featured in some other well-known franchises, such as “Mario Kart”, “Super Smash Bros.” and a slew of sports-related games.

I, like many gamers my age, grew up with Mario. My grandmother of all people was an avid gamer, and since I had a Sega Genesis as a kid, going to her house meant playing “Super Mario World” for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t very good at the game — I’d always miss those secret exits, and more often than not, I was treated to the “game over” screen.

My grandmother made it look easy. She’d zip through the levels, find all those secret areas and finish a level without any difficulty whatsoever.

My first real “Super Mario” game came when I was 7 or 8 years old. I got a Nintendo 64 for Christmas, and “Super Mario 64” was one of my first games along with “Star Fox 64.”

Not much changed with my Mario-playing ability when I first powered on my N64 — I was terrible at it. I had a hard time adjusting to the controller’s analog stick, which meant Mario’s first movements were running frantically around in circles.

After a couple of days, I was a self-proclaimed Mario expert. I stomped any Goomba that got in my way, and rode the shells of any Koopa Troopa that dared get in my way of saving the princess.

I love where “Super Mario 64” is placed on the tree, because it is hands down the best game in the series. Among gamers, it is often recognized as one of the best games of all time.

Getting that Nintendo 64, which was the first console that I could call “mine”, was my own version of a Red Ryder BB Gun. It easily ranks as the best Christmas gift of all time, and I can still remember me, my dad and my brother huddled around the television hooting and hollering at the game.

To this day, I associate anything involving Mario (or Nintendo, for that fact,) with the holidays or the winter.

“Super Mario Galaxy” and “Super Mario Galaxy 2” take that third-dimension style of “Super Mario 64” and create a whole new adventure — this time, in space. Mario soars through space to once again save Princess Toadstool, all while collecting starbits and navigating some awesome-looking planets.

“Super Mario Galaxy” was a driving factor that pushed me to get a Nintendo Wii, and “Super Mario Galaxy 2” was that much better. “New Super Mario Bros.” for the Wii, and “New Super Mario Bros. U” for the Wii U have an amazing modern twist on that old-school, side-scrolling nature that made the iconic series what it is. “Super Mario Land U” is supposed to be good judging by the reviews I’ve read, but I haven’t played it.

Part of me wants to get a Wii U to see for myself.

I criticized some of the newer Mario games as being “too easy,” which is ironic because when I was a kid, some levels in the older games would drive me to the brink of madness. Games like “Super Mario World” seemed impossible — I finally beat it when I was in college, and it was a cakewalk.

Maybe, just maybe, I am a better gamer than I give myself credit for, and maybe I’m just finally good at Mario after so many years. The neat thing about Mario is, it isn’t about how good you are — the fun of the game is going back to see what you missed, or giving a second controller to a friend or a family member and playing together.

My grandmother that gamed with me passed away many years ago — I’d like to think that if she were still around, we’d still be playing Mario together.

Every Mario game has a certain charm that only the “Super Mario Bros.” flagship can create, and that in itself makes each game special. Whether it’s the iconic tunes and sounds to the memorable levels, “Super Mario Bros.” has crafted an ironclad legacy that puts it in a league of its own.

Chances are, Mario will continue to go down those green pipes and chase Bowser for many years to come.