In the last part of The Evolution of Mario: The Birth of a Hero, we saw a how Mario got his start. From the early days of Nintendo as a card shop to the final game in the Super Mario Bros. series we got to see how Mario was created and how he began to evolve into the hero that we all know today. In part 2, we are going to focus on Mario in the 90s to present time. Lets get started.
Super Mario World
In 1990, Nintendo released Super Mario World, which would become the best selling game of its generation. In this game, Mario and his brother Luigi must travel to Dinosaur Land to save Princess Toadstool from Bowser and his evil children. Along the way, Mario meets a dinosaur who becomes his friend and helps him on his mission to save the Princess, you may recognize this character as Yoshi. Yoshi is one of the most beloved characters in the Mario world, and if it were not for Super Mario World, we may not have ever met him!
Super Mario World also helped to popularize the SNES. In the 90’s Nintendo was at war with Sega, who was trying to prove to the world that their systems were better than Nintendo’s. Sega was releasing the Sega Genesis with a free game featuring their poster child, Sonic (ever heard of him?). Customers loved Sonic and loved the Genesis, which was receiving massive sales numbers for Sega. So Nintendo had to do something about it, or else their new console, the SNES, was going to be a massive flop. They decided to bundle their franchise character, Mario, with the SNES. This turned out to be a successful move for Nintendo and they were able to popularize the SNES. Nintendo would eventually beat out Sega, but that is a story for another time. You can read all about the war between Sega and Nintendo in Blake Harris’s best selling book, Console Wars.
Super Mario 64
In 1995, Nintendo released Super Mario 64, one of the most revolutionary games of the time. This game was one of the first games to be made in 3D. It was also bundled with Nintendo’s latest console, the Nintendo 64. It would later become the best selling game for the Nintendo 64. In this game, Mario must saved Princess Peach from Bowser, who has kidnapped her and is holding her hostage inside the castle. He must explore the castle in order to find where Bowser is holding Peach.
Mario Kart 64
In 1997, Nintendo released a new racing game involving Mario and his gang, Mario Kart 64. You have undoubtedly heard of the Mario Kart games, where Mario and his friends see who is the best racer! This game was received with mixed reviews, with critics either loving it or hating it. Fast forward to 2003, when Nintendo released Mario Kart: Double Dash for the Gamecube. This game was a wild success, being praised by critics and earning $105 million in sales just 3 years after its release. After the success of Double Dash, Nintendo released Mario Kart Wii, for none other than the Wii! Released in 2008 this game became the 2nd best selling game for the Wii, selling 37.02 million copies as of September 2017. One distinct difference in this game from the other games is that the Wii has motion controls, so the game really came to life. When you need to turn right, you physically turn your controller right, just like a steering wheel. This is one of the main reasons this game is so beloved.
In 2014 Nintendo released Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U. However, this console was not very popular, thus the game was not too popular. However, in 2017, Nintendo re-released the game, naming it Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, for the Nintendo Switch and the game got the love that it deserved! This game was one of the fastest selling games in Nintendo history, selling 1.2 million copies worldwide in just 3 days. At the end of 2017, it had sold 7.33 million copies on the Nintendo Switch.
Mario Party Series
In 1998, Nintendo released the first game of one of the most popular series in the Mario franchise, Mario Party. The Mario Party games appeared on the Nintendo 64, Gamecube, Wii and the Wii U. That is 4 generations of consoles! In this game series, Mario and his pals appear in a board game. They play against each other trying to collect coins and stars in order to win the game. They take turns battling each other in a series of mini games to help get coins to buy they stars that they need! This series has not only produced 10 games, but also a bunch of mini games that people still love today!
Super Mario Sunshine
Released for the Gamecube in 2002, Super Mario Sunshine introduced some of the famed Mario characters that we know today. The most notable ones are Petey Piranha and Bowser Junior. This game was also wildly successful in terms of sales, selling 350,000 copies (in America) after being released for only 10 days. In this game, Mario and his pals decide to go on a vacation! But then an evil character resembling Mario, known as Shadow Mario, appears and vandalizes the city! Mario must clean up the city as well as save Princess Peach from Shadow Mario!
Super Smash Bros.
To this day, some of the most popular games in the Mario series are the Super Smash Bros. games. It started in 1999 when Nintendo released the original Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64. The series features various Nintendo characters who fight against each other (or can team up) using their characters special skills and try to knock their opponent off the stage. In 2001, Nintendo released Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Gamecube. This game was much like the original and received a lot of positive reviews. However, the best game in the series wouldn’t come until 2008 for the Wii, Super Smash Bros. Brawl. This game featured a more developed single player mode and playable 3rd party characters. It was by far the most popular game of the series selling 13.25 million copies as of September 2017 and has become the 8th best selling game for the Wii.
Super Mario Galaxy
In 2007 Nintendo would release what would become one of the greatest video games of all times, Super Mario Galaxy. Released for the Wii, in this game Mario is trying to save his beloved Princess Peach and save the universe from Bowser. He must travel to a bunch of different small planets in order to save the day. As of March 2017, Nintendo has sold 12.75 million copies. In 2010, Nintendo introduced a sequel to the original game, Super Mario Galaxy 2. Once again, Mario must travel through space to save Princess Peach from Bowser and save the universe. Mario must travel to various planets and recover the Power Stars that Bowser is using to control things and save the day! One notable feature in Super Mario Galaxy 2 was the ability to ride Mario’s favorite dinosaur, Yoshi. This game is also considered to be one of the greatest games of all time selling 7.67 million copies as of 2017.
Super Mario Odyssey
Super Mario Odyssey is the latest addition to the Mario franchise, being released for the Nintendo Switch in October 2017. This game has been wildly successful and is part of the reason the Nintendo Switch has been so popular. In this game, Mario must travel to various kingdoms in order to save Princess Peach from an eternal matrimony to Bowser! He must collect Power Moons to power his ship, The Odyssey, so he can get from kingdom to kingdom and chase Bowser down. This game also introduced a new and popular game mechanic of Mario throwing his cap and being able to jump off of it, along with being able to throw his hat onto characters and become them. However, none of this would not be possible without his new friend Cappy whom he meets along the way. This game has been wildly successful, selling over 9 million copies since its release in October 2017.
Mario’s journey has been quite an adventurous one. Since the start of the original game with just 3 character, Mario has evolved in numerous ways and made a bunch of friends along the way. Together, they have saved Princess Peach and the Mushroom Kingdom numerous times. With the franchise still going strong, who knows what is next for our plumber friend, but whatever it is I believe that he will be able to handle it, because after all, he is a hero.