Defining Mario's Legacy: Squashing Goombas, Grabbing Mushrooms
With Super Mario 3D Land less than two weeks away, we reflect back on some of the plumber's biggest titles.
Super Mario 3D Land finally arrives on 3DS November 13, and we can't help but wonder what its long-standing impact will be.
As it turns out, all of the primary Mario titles have made a mark on gaming. Granted, some were bigger than others, but each one played a role in defining the series and/or the industry as a whole.
With this in mind, here's a list of these adventures, and what they've meant to us.
Super Mario Bros. (NES)
Mario's original adventure is the grandfather of side scrolling platformers, with fluid movement, the catchiest music in video game history and, of course, Mario, the biggest gaming icon of all time.
What really stands out, though, is the heavy emphasis on exploration. At first, there appears to be little in the way of discovery. Take a closer look, and you'll find a hidden 1-up here, a warp pipe there. Nintendo packed a lot of secrets into such a simple looking title. Super Mario Bros. certainly wasn't the first game to do this. The concept of Easter Eggs and hidden goodies goes back much further to the Atari days, but it helped popularize the concept.
Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES)
Super Mario Bros. 2 gets a bad rap because it deviates from the typical formula, yet it still made a huge impression that often goes unnoticed.
No, it has nothing to do with throwing vegetables. Rather, this was one of the first games to feature different playable characters (in this case, four) with unique abilities. Even better, players could experience them all throughout the quest, instead of having to choose one and stick to him or her the whole way. The levels were the same regardless of which hero you picked, but playing the game as Mario, Luigi, Peach and/or Toad felt unique, especially Peach, with her hover ability.
Super Mario Land (Game Boy)
Although Mario had already gone portable with Nintendo's Game & Watch series, Super Mario Land was significantly more important because the company delivered a console quality game on such a tiny device. In doing so, it also showcased the mascot's ability to do more than stomp goombas and shoot fireballs by piloting a submarine and airplane.
Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
This phenomenal game was one of the first to feature an over world. Even better, it gave players the option of occasionally choosing which levels they wanted to complete or skip entirely. We also loved the introduction of suits for Mario to wear. That not only appeared in future Mario titles, but numerous copycat platformers as well.
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (Game Boy)
True, Mario's name appears in the title, but 6 Golden Coins was all about Wario, his greedy alter ego. Without him, we may never have played the critically acclaimed WarioWare series, or unleashed powerful mega farts in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Super Mario World (SNES)
This game was all about Yoshi. Super Mario World is one of the first games to feature a companion character that plays a significant role with the hero already on-screen. There was a sizable difference between plowing through stages as Mario versus bringing Yoshi along for the ride, flutter jumping and swallowing enemies.
Super Mario 64 (N64)
It's hard to say where 3D video games would be without this masterpiece. Not only did it serve as a benchmark for 3D graphics on consoles, but the analog controls were also spot on. That controller wasn't a controller as much as it was an extension of one's hand.
Super Mario Sunshine (GameCube)
Like SMB2, Sunshine is somewhat of a departure from the usual Mario conventions, as the plumber cleans up sludge while vacationing at the sunny Isle Delfino. If anything, it put Mario's versatility on display, while showing fans there's more to this series than just the oft traveled Mushroom Kingdom.
New Super Mario Bros. (DS)
Much of New Super Mario Bros. represented a return to form, as Nintendo borrowed elements from previous 2D adventures. We did, however, enjoy collecting those hidden star coins in each stage, and the map displaying Mario's current progress (and distance to go before reaching the end) was a nice touch.
Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)
We chose to lump both these games together, since they share so many traits, the biggest being sheer imagination. While not necessarily innovative, the Galaxy titles feature some of the coolest levels in gaming that force players to manipulate gravity, travel upside down and run up walls.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
One word, multiplayer. Nintendo let up to four players tackle levels co-operatively. At first, the concept seemed a bit silly; more like too many chefs in the kitchen, so to speak. Yet the developers made it work, and we had a blast working together or sabotaging friends.