The Hero of Mushroom Kingdom turns 27 – Super Mario!

Super Mario Bros.

After a previous article on Pac Man we are now glad to feature the hero of Mushroom Kingdom, Super Mario! The game with the official name Super Mario Bros. was published on Friday the 13, in September 1985 … a lucky day for Nintendo and Princess Toadstool, who could finally be saved from Bowser and his evil forces.

The game was designed by Nintendo’s creative department to focus on jumping for later athletic games. The developers Shigeru Miyamoto (who developed ‘the Legend of Zelda‘ simultaneously) and Takashi Tezuka were able to make Mario’s jumping abilities such as jumping as high or far as the player decides very precise, which is now seen as the reason for the game’s great success. Super Mario Bros. became the second best selling video game in the world. Also a neat and from the start promising effect depict the mushrooms in the gameplay. Whenever Mario consumes these he would power up and grow much bigger. This idea was taken from ‘Alice in Wonderland‘, where Alice uses the mushrooms in her mysterious world to either shrink or grow.

But coming back to the protagonist, have you ever wondered, where the the famous plumber got his name from? During the development of the game, Nintendo America faced heavy financial difficulties and their landlord came for a visit, claiming his money. His name happened to be Mario Seagale and to please him, the company named the protagonist after him. However Mario’s special look is to be attributed to Miyamoto, who declared that in 8-bit graphics a mustache would be easier to recognize as a mouth. Also the superhero wears an overall so that arm movements were easier to notice. But Mario was not the only “good guy” in the game. Presumably everyone who happened to have an older sibling knows one other character very well: Mario’s little brother Luigi. He was not as popular as Mario due to his character being described as very anxious and easily scared, he was also taller and skinnier than his older brother. Nevertheless he was an important part of the game and a reason for its success.

Some of you might remember these days when bugs in games could not be fixed through a quick update of the app on your device. In Super Mario Bros. there were several bugs, also called ‘glitches’, allowing the player to run through hazards or get through enemy attacks without being harmed. One bug in Mario Bros. has become very popular. It is called the ‘minus world’, leading Mario into a random, infinite and unbeatable world.  Even though players found out a way to solve the issue, it has definitely caused thousands of players some moments of despair.

Despite the bugs, Super Mario Bros. was able to critically influence the video game industry and could enormously boost the success and reputation of Nintendo. The game was sold more than 40 million times and the great outcome has caused something like a cultural mass movement in the field of gaming. The popularity of jump and run games increased and the game characters – especially Mario – turned into pop-icons.

 

At yovisto you can watch one of the games effects on our culture. Andreas Heikaus started a project at the University of Applied science and Art Hannover, in which the famous Italian plumber is taken out of his original 8-bit environment into the open world.

References and Further Reading:

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