The Evolution of Mario: From Donkey Kong to Super Mario Odyssey

Mario, the iconic mascot of Nintendo, is a name that resonates with generations of gamers around the globe. From its humble origins on Nintendo DS to Nintendo Switch, this classic Italian plumber in red left an incredible mark in the arcade industry like no other game could.

mario cart

So, let’s dive deep into the world of Mario to understand how this remarkable character started off under the shadows of a mere platformer game and ended up appearing in over 200 Nintendo games that made him the man behind the company’s best-selling video game franchises of all time.

The Birth of a Legend: Donkey Kong (1981)

Mario made his first appearance in Nintendo’s 1981 arcade game “Donkey Kong.” Designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, Mario was originally known as Jumpman, a carpenter who had to rescue his girlfriend, Pauline, from a giant ape named Donkey Kong.

This was the very first game that made players aware of the abilities of their soon to be favorite character, leading to instant success. To celebrate this win, the company immediately launched Donkey Kong Jr., where the son of Kong had to rescue his father from Jumpman (Mario). Even though Mario was a bad guy (probably the only time in his entire career) in the sequel of the game, this, too, was a grand success.

From Jumpman to Mario: Mario Bros. (1983) and Super Mario Bros. (1985)

In 1983, Mario and his brother Luigi were featured in their own game “Mario Bros.” This game, set in the sewers of New York, introduced the concept of Mario as a plumber and added cooperative gameplay mechanics.

However, it was in 1985, with the release of “Super Mario Bros.” on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), that Mario truly became a household name. This game featured side-scrolling gameplay, power-ups, and a quest to rescue Princess Toadstool from the villainous Bowser. “Super Mario Bros.” revolutionized the platform genre and solidified Mario’s role as Nintendo’s leading character.

The popularity was such that in 1980’s itself Mario was a part of over 12 NES games, even in launches where he was not an integral part of the plot. For example, he was a referee in Punch-Out!! (1987), a golfer in Golf (1985), an umpire in Tennis (1983) and many more roles in Pinball (1985) and Tetris (1988). Nintendo was doing its best to live up to the craze that their young mascot had achieved.

Expanding Horizons: Super Mario World (1990)

After the launch of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in 1990, Mario’s adventures expanded with “Super Mario World.” This game introduced new characters like Yoshi, a friendly dinosaur who assists Mario, and showcased enhanced graphics and more complex level designs. “Super Mario World” not only highlighted the capabilities of the SNES but also deepened the lore and environment of the Mushroom Kingdom, establishing it as a central setting for future Mario games.

old video games

The Leap to 3D: Super Mario 64 (1996)

The arrival of the Nintendo 64 in 1996 marked a significant technological leap for video games, and “Super Mario 64” was at the forefront of this transition. This game was Mario’s first adventure in 3D, offering players a vast, open-world experience within Princess Peach’s castle and its numerous surrounding worlds.

The innovative gameplay, non-linear progression, and detailed environments of “Super Mario 64” set new standards for the industry and demonstrated Nintendo’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of gaming technology.

A New Arena: Super Smash Bros. (1999)

In 1999, Mario ventured into a new genre with “Super Smash Bros.” on the Nintendo 64. This game brought together characters from various Nintendo franchises to battle it out in a unique fighting game format. Mario, as the mascot of Nintendo, played a central role.

The game’s innovative mechanics and multiplayer appeal made it a huge success, selling over 5 million copies. “Super Smash Bros.” became a beloved series in its own right, with Mario remaining a key figure in each subsequent installment.

Mario Kart Arcade GP (2005)

In 2005, Nintendo released a fun new game called “Mario Kart Arcade GP.” This game was only available in arcades and was a big hit among players who enjoyed racing games. It offered an exciting and thrilling experience that got players really excited.

It was loved for its cool gameplay, amazing graphics, and famous characters like Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Bowser. Players got to race on crazy tracks, use cool power-ups, and compete with others in multiplayer mode. It was a game that people of all ages enjoyed playing.

One cool thing about “Mario Kart Arcade GP” was how it used special items and abilities to make races more interesting. These items could help you or mess up your opponents’ race, adding a fun twist to the game and keeping everyone on their toes.

Galactic Adventures: Super Mario Galaxy (2007)

In 2007, Nintendo continued to experiment with the release of “Super Mario Galaxy” for the Wii. This game took Mario into outer space, introducing gravity-defying mechanics and spherical world designs.

The imaginative levels and unique gameplay mechanics of “Super Mario Galaxy” received widespread acclaim, reinforcing Mario’s status as a pioneer in the gaming world. This game exemplified Nintendo’s ability to combine creativity with cutting-edge technology creating a memorable gaming experience. Things were only getting better with time.

Nostalgia Meets Modernity: New Super Mario Bros. (2006) and Super Mario Maker (2015)

While Mario’s 3D adventures were incredible, Nintendo also recognized the appeal of classic 2D gameplay. “New Super Mario Bros.,” when released for the Nintendo DS in 2006, it brought back the beloved side-scrolling format with modern graphics and new features.

Its success led to several sequels. In 2015, “Super Mario Maker” allowed players to create and share their own Mario levels, celebrating the series’ legacy and building a creative community of fans.

The Ultimate Adventure: Super Mario Odyssey (2017)

“Super Mario Odyssey,” released for the Nintendo Switch in 2017, represents the culmination of Mario’s evolutionary journey. Combining elements from all his past adventures, this game offers a rich, expansive experience.

Accompanied by his new companion Cappy, Mario travels across diverse kingdoms to thwart Bowser’s wedding plans and rescue Princess Peach. The game’s open-world exploration, innovative mechanics like capturing enemies, and a return to the sandbox style of “Super Mario 64” highlight Nintendo’s mastery of blending nostalgia with innovation.

The way Mario has evolved from Donkey Kong to Super Mario Odyssey reflects the transformation in the video gaming industry. The Mario Series has not only adopted modern technological advancements but has often been at the forefront of driving those changes.

In fact, with continuous innovation, imaginative gameplay and an unshakable connection with players, Mario still remains an amazing and beloved figure in gaming. Looking ahead, one thing is certain: the adventures of Mario are far from over, and his journey will only keep on inspiring gamers of all ages and years to come.

Get Email Updates Daily!

Want great deals and tips in your inbox?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *