In the early 1980’s, while Nintendo was just a card and toy manufacturing company, the arcade gaming market began to expand. When Nintendo realized the immense potential in the world of gaming, they decided to develop and sell their own type of arcade games. In the beginning, many of their attempts at creating a worthy video game fell short, and most of them didn’t sell enough copies. Looking for new and better ideas, Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi came to artist Shigeru Miyamoto for help. In Miyamoto’s first attempt in creating a new storyline for Nintendo’s arcade gaming industry, he struck gold. In 1981, Miyamoto created a famous game known as Donkey Kong featuring the main protagonist as “Jump Man.” This protagonist, “Jump Man” would later be renamed as the infamous “Mario”, a plumber.
Through the 1980’s and early 2000’s, Mario grew to be one of the most well-known video game characters of all time. In fact, in a 1990 poll by Marketing Evaluations, Mario was found to be more popular among children than Mickey Mouse. Also, 40.24 million copies of Super Mario Bros. were sold in 1985, making it the most sold Mario game ever. With Mario being one of the most desired video games for children, the likelihood of me playing it during my childhood was very high.
In fact, looking back on everything, I remember playing Mario a lot. I remember first playing Mario on the Nintendo 64 with my best friend Mathew. We would play it all day until we were so tired we would just fall asleep, and then we would wake up the next morning eager to play it again. Mario was one of the easiest and most entertaining games that I had ever come across, and I would beg my parents constantly to get me a Nintendo 64, so I could play the game at home.
As I continuously begged my parents to buy me a Nintendo 64 with Mario, my parents decided to get me a Nintendo DS instead. Of course, Mario was the game that was included, and I would play it endlessly, just like I had done previously.
Weeks later, my little brother also got a Nintendo DS with Mario, and we were soon playing the game together. I can remember both of us playing the same game, laughing and screaming as we tried to beat each other’s high scores. Those were good memories and I still hold them close to my heart to this day.
A few years later, when the Nintendo Wii came out, Mario was the game of choice that everyone wanted to play. So of course, my brother and I got it, and just like any other Mario game, we played it endlessly and had a lot of fun doing it.
To say Mario was just a game, would be an understatement. Playing Mario was a substantial portion of my childhood and that game still means a lot to me to this day. Through Mario, I was able to make friends, bond with my little brother, and have an awesome and entertaining childhood. Mario truly gave me something to turn to when there was a rainy or boring day but it also taught me that a good childhood is what you make it out to be.
Not only did Mario impact my own childhood along with many others, but it also impacted the video game industry itself. For example, when Super Mario Bros. came out in 1985, it shifted the desire of arcade gaming to 2D platformer gaming. According to Damien McFerran, an author for Redbull, “Before Mario came along, platform games certainly existed, but the genre itself wasn't quite as all-conquering. As soon as Super Mario Bros. hit the scene it changed the playing field entirely, and for the next decade the 2D platformer would become the game style of choice for pretty much any self-respecting player.” It should be noted that Mario also helped revolutionize 3D gaming and set the stepping stone for other future 3D games to follow. According to Rus McLaughlin, an author for IGN, “Super Mario 64 remains one of the most acclaimed videogames of all time, setting down standards every 3D platformer that followed still adheres to.”
The video game franchise “Mario” has changed a lot throughout that past 30 years. When Mario was first introduced in Donkey Kong in 1981, nobody knew that the Mario franchise would have such a substantial impact on video games. But, as Mario grew, the game continuously improved in quality, content, and quantity, and began to shape the way video games were being produced. There are now over 200 different Mario games currently available, varying genres from soccer, tennis, board games, racing, to the well-known 2D platform. Not only did Mario create and lead the path of 2D and 3D video game development, but it also impacted my childhood in a way I still appreciate to this day.