Portal: Mario Brothers
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|Debut||Donkey Kong (1981)|
The foremost video game series by Nintendo and one of the most expansive in the industry. Mario takes his roots back in the original Donkey Kong game that first appeared in the arcades. Since then Mario has grown into his own series of self-titled games with several spinoff series ranging from sports, RPGs, party games, and independent games for other characters such as Wario, Peach, Yoshi, and Luigi.
The franchise itself is the brainchild of Shigeru Miyamoto and though most of the games in the franchise are made without him, he has remained the guiding hand for all of the games in the series primary series of platforming adventure games. The "Mario Brothers" first came into being in the Mario Bros. arcade game where players pit Donkey Kong star Jumpman (now known as Mario) against his newly introduced brother, Luigi. This game would introduce many concepts to the Mario Brothers universe, including the turtle enemies (later Koopas), the presence of warp pipes, and Mario's seeming role of a plumber.
The most influential game towards the series was Super Mario Bros. for the NES which laid down the foundation for the rest of the series. The game introduced a diverse cast of new enemies, from the Goomba to the enigmatic Lakitu. It also introduced the new antagonist, Bowser, who would continue to be Mario's arch-villain for the rest of the franchise. Other important elements were introduced such as the powerups Super Mushroom and Fire Flower, as well as the series' constant damsel-in-distress, Princess Peach.
Super Mario Bros. spawned its own sequels. Super Mario Bros. 2 was basically an expanded and more difficult version of the original game. Nintendo of America considered it too hard for American players, so instead the game Doki Doki Panic was reworked to feature Mario characters and was released in America as Super Mario Bros. 2. Its follow-up was the more original Super Mario Bros. 3, which featured various new worlds, enemies and abilities, and it introduced Bowser's seven children as bosses. It became one of the most popular of the series and has been reported as one of the best-selling games of all time. This was followed by Super Mario World, the Super Nintendo's launch game which further expanded on the Mario formula with the Super NES's capabilities. The Koopalings returned, and Mario's loyal steed Yoshi was introduced, leading to the game becoming another popular installment.
At the same time, Super Mario Land was released for the Game Boy. This spawned a smaller platformer series that wound up introducing Mario's rival Wario, at which point the series transitioned into Wario's own series. The Mario series also began branching into more series. Dr. Mario was released for the NES and lead to several other Mario puzzle games, while Super Mario Kart started the trend of kart racers while paving the way for future Mario sports spin-offs. In 1996, Square worked with Nintendo to make Mario's first RPG game, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, which expanded on the Mario world while influencing various Mario RPG games that would follow over the years, such as a strong sense of humor as well as showing surprising emotional depth at times. Yoshi's Safari was a less successful attempt at a Mario shooter, while Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island starred Yoshi. The latter game led to Yoshi's own subseries while also acting as the first prequel game to feature baby versions of the Mario characters.
The platformer games than made a transition from 2D side-scrolling to 3D games with the coming of the Nintendo 64. Super Mario 64, the system's launch game, codified the formula for the 3D Mario games in the same way that Super Mario Bros. had for the 2D ones. The basic premise of rescuing the princess from Bowser remaing, but now Mario operated from a hub overworld from which various different worlds could be reached. Instead of having individual linear levels, the free-roaming worlds had specific goals that had to be accomplished to earn special items, in this case Power Stars. These collectible items could then be used to unlock more worlds and more areas of the hub overworld, as well as boss battles. Additionally, Mario was given a wider variety of acrobatic moves as well as a life meter, as opposed to the 2D Mario who could only jump without power-ups. Like the other Mario launch games, Super Mario 64 proved to be wildly popular and inspired most other 3D platformers of that era.
The Nintendo 64 era was also known for the spinoffs released in that time. It saw the release of Yoshi's Story, which cemented Yoshi's spin-off games, as well as the beginnings of the Mario Party series and the regularly released Mario sports games such as Mario Tennis and Mario Golf. Although no more platformers were made on the Nintendo 64, a new RPG called Paper Mario was released that combined RPG and platformer features in a new way that spawned another subseries. At the same time, most handheld releases for the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance consisted of remakes of classic Mario games as well as various sports and spin-off games.
The Gamecube era controversially launched with a non-platformer game starring Mario's brother Luigi, the first to solely feature the neglected brother (not counting the licensed game Mario is Missing!), Luigi's Mansion. This was a game that was more about exploration and armed Luigi with a flashlight and vacuum weapon, which lead to mixed reviews. A 3D platformer was still in development for Mario however, and in 2002 Super Mario Sunshine was released as a follow-up to Super Mario 64. This game used an island setting and equipped Mario with a water-spraying backpack known as FLUDD, which had a variety of functions depending on the equipped nozzle. This game also received mixed reviews compared to its predecessors due to the usage of FLUDD and the emphasis on cleaning up pollution found throughout the game, although it also introducing popular recurring characters such as Bowser Jr. and Petey Piranha. The Gamecube also contained more sports titles, the obligatory Mario Kart follow-up (in the form of the also mixed reviewed Mario Kart: Double Dash!!) and the more popular Paper Mario sequel, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.
A new RPG series also started on the GBA with Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, which starred both brothers together on a new adventure, with a gameplay system that featured more platformer elements than ever before. It was followed up by two more sequels on the DS that expanded upon the concept, Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time and Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. The GBA also revisited another classic premise in the form of Mario vs. Donkey Kong, which acted as a modernized revival of the Donkey Kong concept using various influences from the 1994 Game Boy remake. This game would also see two sequels with the DS's release. When it launched, the Nintendo DS came with a Mario game that was an expanded remake of Super Mario 64 known as Super Mario 64 DS to show off the DS's capabilities. The DS has also featured further Yoshi games, as well as one game featuring the princess known as Super Princess Peach, in addition to the usual set of sports games, a party game and a kart racing game.
Nintendo later released its first fully original 2D Mario platformer in over a decade for the DS, known as New Super Mario Bros.. This game used the classic side-scrolling gameplay style mixed with some of the acrobatic moves and enemies from the 3D games, as well as power-ups both old and new, and the game became wildly popular. With the release of the Wii, there was a bit of a gap before it received original Mario titles. Super Paper Mario was reworked from a Gamecube game and reversed the normal Paper Mario formula by being primarily a platformer with RPG characteristics, as well as featuring Peach, Bowser and Luigi as playable characters. The Wii later saw the latest 3D platformer in the form of Super Mario Galaxy, which featured Mario in an intergalactic setting traveling across various planets. It also introduced a new character, Rosalina. The Wii since has seen further sports games, along with another party installment and another kart game. Interestingly, a series of sports game pitting Mario and company against Sega's mascot Sonic the Hedgehog and friends (Nintendo's former rival during the 1990s) has surfaced, starting with 2008's Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games.
A follow-up to the popular New Super Mario Bros. idea was released for the Nintendo Wii with the simple title of New Super Mario Bros. Wii. This game naturally expanded upon the DS predecessor in every way it could, including a multiplayer cooperative option for progressing through the plot, although the playable characters were restricted to the Mario brothers and a pair of oddly-colored Toads. This game also saw the return of the Koopalings, whom had been absent for much of a decade since Yoshi's Safari, with the exception of a surprise appearance in the first Mario & Luigi. New Super Mario Bros. Wii has also gone on to become one of the Wii's most popular titles. Super Mario Galaxy 2 was also released for the Wii in 2010 and vastly expanded upon the gameplay of the original with the addition of Yoshi and some more new power-ups, as well as Luigi being integrated as a playable character earlier on. These games were followed by new Mario games for the 3DS in 2011 and 2012. The first was Super Mario 3D Land, which combined a 3-D environment with the linear stage design and other gameplay aspects that were primarily associated with the 2-D sidescrollers. This acted as a combination of the two Mario styles and was designed for quick and convenient play. Additionally, a new Paper Mario was announced for the handheld.
The first adaptation of a Mario game was the Donkey Kong segment of the 80's cartoon Saturday Supercade. It was made in the style of a classic Hanna-Barbara cartoon, with Donkey Kong as the lovable animal protagonist while Mario was more of an antagonist who constantly pursued Donkey Kong; Pauline was depicted as Mario's niece who accompanied him but often became a damel in distress. There was also a mostly unrelated Donkey Kong Jr. segment in which Donkey Kong Junior (who could talk and was a Scrappy Doo-esque character) traveled with a streetwise teenager named Bones in search of the missing Donkey Kong.
Several anime adaptations were released throughout the 80's that were closer to the source material. In 1986, an anime movie called Super Mario Bros.: Peach-Hime Kyushutsu Dai Sakusen (translated to The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach) was released that was based directly on the Super Mario Bros. video game. It featured Mario and Luigi being pulled into the video game world, where they went on an adventure to save Peach from Bowser. Then in 1989, a trio of OVAs were released that featured Mario characters in the roles of classic folk tales: Momotaro, Issun-boshi and Snow White. These notably featured an appearance by the Koopalings, as well as some influence from the later Super Mario Bros. games. None have been released in America.
The Super Mario Bros. Super Show was made in America in 1989 and blended concepts from the first two Western Super Mario Bros. games. This show featured Mario, Luigi, Toad and Peach (or Princess Toadstool as she was known in America at the time) as the main characters. Bowser was known as King Koopa (and had a more crocodile-like design) and appeared in a variety of disguises, pulling off a variety of schemes in each episode that usually involved taking over the Mushroom Kingdom or capturing the princess. The first series also featured live action segments set in Brooklyn where Mario and Luigi often got involved in sitcom-like situations and met a variety of guest stars. The original series also featured Captain Lou Albano as Mario, although he did not reprise the role for the follow-up series.
Two follow-up shows to the Super Show were made; in 1990, The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 incorporated various elements from Super Mario Bros. 3, such as the inclusion of the Koopalings as regularly-appearing characters (but known by different names). The show also featured stronger continuity and episodes set in the real world (but still depicted in animation) as well as within the Mushroom Kingdom. The last short-lived series, Super Mario World, was aired in 1991 and based on Super Mario World. Toad was replaced with Oogtar the caveboy, and Yoshi was added to the main cast.
Comics and Manga
From 1990 to 1991, Valient Comics' Nintendo Comics System published several Mario comics that were based on a combination of the American cartoons and the first three games.
In Japan, a Super Mario-Kun manga entered publication in 1991 and has been published to the current day. The manga loosely adapts Mario games as they come out, starting with Super Mario World, and infuses them with a comedic slapstick feel.
A Super Mario Adventures comic was published in Nintendo Power in 1992. One of the more faithful adaptations, it was drawn in manga-style and featured the Mario Bros. on a quest to rescue Peach before Bowser marries her, with several twists thrown in. This also included characters from the later games such as Yoshi and the Koopalings. Afterwards, two more follow-up comics featuring Wario and based on Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins were made.
The Super Mario Bros. movie was released in 1993. It starred Bob Hoskins as Mario, John Leguizamo as Luigi, Dennis Hooper as Bowser (once more called Koopa) and Samantha Mathis as Daisy, who was used as the Mushroom Kingdom's princess instead of Peach. The movie took an odd science fiction turn in showing the Mushroom Kingdom as existed in a lost world full of humans whom had evolved from dinosaurs. Mario and Luigi stumble into a portal to this world by accident after Daisy is kidnapped, and they learn more about this strange world while preparing themselves to take down Koopa. This movie was critically planned and has divided Mario fans due to the movie's distance from the source material.