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Incredibly, 30 years ago this past weekend, Nintendo‘s Mario turned 30. It’s an impressive feat for a character that has touched the lives of so many gamers, and practically changed the way designers built side-scrolling platforming games.
I remember the first Mario game I played. It was 1988’s Super Mario Bros. 3, and back when I was a toddler waddling about, it was seriously challenging. The game hasn’t aged a bit. Playing its stages now in Super Mario Maker is still pretty damn tough.
But Shigeru Miyamoto‘s little 8-bit character is more than just blocks on a screen. It shaped countless lives, and to be fair, if I hadn’t played Mario Bros. when I did, I probably wouldn’t have been so entrenched in gaming culture as I am now.
The rest of the office feels the same way too.
“For me, Mario and the Mario Brothers series has been a big part of forming my childhood and forming my later gaming addictions,” notes Graham, lamenting the difficult stages of Super Mario Bros. 2.
About as massive as a character can get? E3 2014 paid homage to the humble mushroom-loving Italian plumber.
“I’d spend hours running through the first few levels only to face Bowser(or non-Bowser?) and loose life upon life on that bridge of death. I have a vague memory of beating the fire-breathing dragon with my own Power Flower-enabled fire balls and rescuing the princess. Only I didn’t rescue the princess, but rather a mushroom man who spoke the words, ‘Sorry, but your princess is in another castle!'”
Jacques also has fond memories, even though he has never owned a Nintendo console.
“My fondest memory is actually that really terrible Super Mario Bros. movie in the early 90s, reminding us how super weird the story really is — a pair of colourful, Italian plumbers trying to stop a dictator from merging two dimensions. I mean, how wack is that?”
That movie is possibly Mario and Nintendo’s darkest creative moment, without question.
Mario hasn’t always been a prime example of a good role model, though, as Stuart explains:
For me it was always just a mad dash to the end. It was only in adulthood that I learned the backstory and that Mario might actually be an anti-hero (did you know Donkey Kong was his captive slave ape?). Anyway, dude’s done pretty well for a plumber…
We’re not too sure if Mario could unblock a drainpipe in any case, but at least his creators are incredibly skilled in their art.
Have a listen to Miyamoto’s and Takashi Tezuka’s Mario interview below that sheds a little more light on Mario’s creation, the challenges game designers faced in the mid-Eighties, and how tracing paper and correction fluid ultimately began a platforming gaming revolution.
Until then, let us know what your favourite Mario memory is in out comments section below.