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Super Mario

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Super Mario
Mario Series Logo.svg
Genre(s)Platform
Developer(s)
Publisher(s)Nintendo
Creator(s)Shigeru Miyamoto
Artist(s)Yoichi Kotabe
Shigehisa Nakaue
Composer(s)
Platform(s)
First releaseSuper Mario Bros.
September 13, 1985
Latest releaseSuper Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury
February 12, 2021
Spin-offsYoshi
Wario
Mario Kart
Mario Party
Paper Mario
Mario & Luigi

Super Mario[a] is a platform game series created by Nintendo based on Mario. Alternatively called the Super Mario Bros.[b] series or simply the Mario[c] series, it is the central series of the greater Mario franchise. At least one Super Mario game has been released for every major Nintendo video game console. There are twenty-one similar games in the series and one cross-series game, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, which may or may not be included as part of the series (see Super Mario World games).

The Super Mario games are typically set in the fictional Mushroom Kingdom with Mario as the player character. He is often joined by his brother, Luigi, and occasionally by other members of the Mario cast. As a platform game, the player runs and jumps across platforms and atop enemies in themed levels. The games have simple plots, typically with Mario rescuing the kidnapped Princess Peach from the primary antagonist, Bowser. The first game in the series, Super Mario Bros., released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985, established the series' core gameplay concepts and elements. These include a multitude of power-ups and items that give Mario special powers such as fireball-throwing and size-changing.[1]

The Super Mario series is part of the greater Mario franchise, which includes other video game genres and media such as film, television, printed media, and merchandise. More than 380 million copies of Super Mario games have been sold worldwide, making it the fourth-bestselling video game series, behind the larger Mario series, the puzzle series Tetris, and first-person shooter series Call of Duty.[2]

Development and history

Release timeline
1985Super Mario Bros.
1986Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
1987
1988Super Mario Bros. 2
Super Mario Bros. 3
1989Super Mario Land
1990Super Mario World
1991
1992Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
1993
1994
1995Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
1996Super Mario 64
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002Super Mario Sunshine
2003
2004
2005
2006New Super Mario Bros.
2007Super Mario Galaxy
2008
2009New Super Mario Bros. Wii
2010Super Mario Galaxy 2
2011Super Mario 3D Land
2012New Super Mario Bros. 2
New Super Mario Bros. U
2013Super Mario 3D World
2014
2015Super Mario Maker
2016Super Mario Run
2017Super Mario Odyssey
2018
2019Super Mario Maker 2
2020
2021Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury

2D origins (1985–1995)

Original Super Mario Bros. games

An image of the three integral staff who worked on the game: director Takashi Tezuka, producer Shigeru Miyamoto, and composer Koji Kondo.
Director Takashi Tezuka, producer Shigeru Miyamoto, and composer Koji Kondo, pictured in 2015

Super Mario Bros., the first side-scrolling 2D platform game to feature Mario, was derived by collaboration of Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka as a successor to the 1983 arcade game Mario Bros., which starred two characters: Mario, the titular character that first appeared in Donkey Kong as the original player character and its sequel where he was a final boss, and Luigi, who first appeared in Mario Bros.[3] The etymology of adding "Super" to the title came after deciding to integrate the Super Mushroom into the game.[4] Super Mario Bros. was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). It established many core Mario gameplay concepts. The brothers Mario and Luigi must rescue Princess Toadstool (later called Princess Peach) from Bowser/King Koopa in the Mushroom Kingdom. The game consists of eight worlds of four levels each, totaling 32 levels altogether. Though the worlds differ in themes, the fourth level is always a fortress or castle that ends with a fight against Bowser (or one of his minions disguised as him).[5] This is one of the best-selling video games of all time.[6]

Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan is the first sequel to the original Super Mario Bros. It uses the Super Mario Bros. engine, with additions such as weather, character movements, and more complex levels, altogether yielding a much higher difficulty. The game follows the same style of level progression as Super Mario Bros., with eight initial worlds of four levels each. At that time, this sequel was not released outside Japan since Nintendo of America did not want the Mario series to be known to players outside of Japan for frustrating difficulty. It remained inaccessible to a steadily broadening market of American video game players, becoming stylistically outdated by the time the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 could be eventually delivered to America.[7] The game later debuted outside Japan in 1993 as "Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels" in the compilation game Super Mario All-Stars for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES).

In Super Mario Bros. 2 (Super Mario USA in Japan), Mario and his companions are out to stop the evil frog Wart in the Subcon dreamland. Based on a discarded prototype,[8] the game was instead originally released as Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic in Japan, and was ultimately converted into a Mario game for the rest of the world as Super Mario Bros. 2, before being released in Japan as Super Mario USA as part of Super Mario All-Stars. One of the game's most defining aspects is the four player characters: not only Mario, but Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad are available for single-player action, each with defined character movements: Luigi jumps higher, the Princess glides through the sky for a short amount of time, etc. Characters here also can pluck vegetables from the ground to throw at enemies. This is also the first Super Mario game to use a life meter, which allows Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad to be hit up to four times before dying. [7]

Super Mario Bros. 3 is divided into eight themed worlds, each with 6–10 levels and several bonus stages displayed as locations on a mapped overworld. These locations are not necessarily in a linear order, and the player is occasionally permitted to skip levels or play the game out of order. Completed levels cannot be replayed. The penultimate boss stage in each world is a side-scrolling level atop an airship ("Doom Ship") with a fight against one of Bowser's seven Koopalings. The game introduced a diverse array of new power-ups, including flight as Raccoon Mario or the level-long P-Wing allowing permanent flight through a whole level. Bowser is again the final boss.

Super Mario Land games

Super Mario Land is the first handheld Super Mario game apart from the Game & Watch conversion of Super Mario Bros., and was released for the Game Boy. As with other games in the series, it is a sidescrolling platformer in which Mario sets out to save Princess Daisy. Power-ups include hearts, which give Mario an extra life (similar to a 1-up mushroom) and the Superball Flower, which allows Mario to shoot projectiles. The game consists of twelve levels split across four worlds.

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins introduces Mario's rival, Wario, who had taken over Mario's castle during the events of Super Mario Land and forces Mario to collect the six golden coins in order to reenter and reclaim his castle. While its predecessor is similar to the original Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Land 2 has more in common with Super Mario World. The player is no longer restricted to only moving towards the right. A bell at each level's end activates a minigame, where the player can try to get extra lives. There are 32 levels, based on several themed worlds each with its own boss. Three power-ups return: the Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, and Super Star. The game introduces the Carrot power-up, which gives Mario large rabbit ears that let him glide when falling for a limited time. Its story was continued in Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, which retroactively became the first of a spin-off series, Wario Land.

Super Mario World games

Super Mario World for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System is the best-selling game of the system

Super Mario World was released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and consists of nine worlds displayed via a world map overworld. It is a direct successor to the Super Mario Bros. games, with the subtitle Super Mario Bros. 4 in Japan. Unlike Super Mario Bros. 3, however, where each world map is separate, the world map here is unique and covers the whole game. Some of the levels have hidden alternate exits. Mario's new moves include a spin jump and the rideable Yoshi, who can eat enemies and either swallow or spit them out. Power-ups include the new Cape Feather, based on Super Mario Bros. 3's Super Leaf, which lets Mario and Luigi fly with a cape.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island was released for the SNES in 1995. To reunite baby Mario with his brother Luigi, who has been kidnapped by Kamek, the player controls Yoshi as the primary character through 48 levels while carrying Baby Mario. Yoshi runs and jumps to reach the end of the level while solving puzzles and collecting items. In a style new to the series, the game has a hand-drawn aesthetic. The game introduces his signature abilities to flutter jump and produce eggs from swallowed enemies. Yoshi's Island received "instant" and "universal acclaim", according to IGN and review aggregator Metacritic, and sold over four million copies. Yoshi's signature characteristics established in Yoshi's Island would carry throughout a series of cameos, spin-offs, and sequels. Sources have debated on whether Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, where the player primarily controls a Yoshi carrying Baby Mario, should count as a Super Mario game.[9][10][11] Miyamoto responded affirmatively when asked if Yoshi's Island is a Super Mario game, with Tezuka later adding:

"When that game debuted, I wanted people to understand that Yoshi was part of the Mario world, and that be conveyed whether through title or gameplay. To me, it's part of the Mario series, but today's Yoshi games? They've changed from those origins, so I think it's okay to think of Yoshi living in his own universe. You can think of it separately from Mario's world."[12]

Introduction of 3D and open worlds (1996–2005)

Super Mario 64

Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64 (pictured) is the first 3D and open world entry

In the early 1990s, director and producer Shigeru Miyamoto had conceived a 3D Mario design during development of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) game Star Fox (1993). He considered using the Super FX chip to develop a SNES game, Super Mario FX, with gameplay based on "an entire world in miniature, like miniature trains".[13] He eventually reformulated the idea for the Nintendo 64, not for its substantially greater power, but because its controller has more buttons for gameplay.[14][15] Super Mario 64 was developed over approximately three years, with one year spent on the design concept and approximately two years on production.[13] Production began on September 7, 1994, and concluded on May 20, 1996.[16] Super Mario 64 is the first 3D and open world game in the series, and a launch game for the Nintendo 64 home console. Each level is an enclosed environment where the player is free to explore in all directions without time limits. The player collects Power Stars from the paintings in Peach's castle to unlock later courses and areas.[17] The Nintendo 64's analog stick makes an extensive repertoire of precise movements in all directions possible. The game introduced moves such as punching, triple jumping, and using a Wing Cap to fly. It is the first Super Mario series game to feature Charles Martinet's voice acting for Mario. Mario must once again save Princess Peach from Bowser. The game's power-ups differ from previous games, now being three different hats with temporary powers: the Wing Cap, allowing Mario to fly; the Metal Cap, turning him into metal; and the Vanish Cap, allowing him to walk through obstacles. A remake of the game called Super Mario 64 DS was released for Nintendo DS in 2004 and 2005.

Super Mario Sunshine

Super Mario Sunshine is the second 3D Super Mario game. It was released in 2002 for the GameCube. In it, Mario and Peach travel to Isle Delfino for a vacation when a Mario doppelgänger, going by the name of Shadow Mario, appears and vandalizes the entire island. Mario is sentenced to clean the island with a water-squirting accessory called F.L.U.D.D. Super Mario Sunshine shares many similar gameplay elements with its predecessor Super Mario 64, yet introduces moves, like spinning while jumping, and several other actions through the use of F.L.U.D.D. The game contains a number of independent levels, which can be reached from the hub, Delfino Plaza. Mario collects Shine Sprites by completing tasks in the levels, which in return unlock levels in Delfino Plaza by way of abilities and plot-related events.[18] Sunshine introduces the last of Bowser's eight children, Bowser Jr., as an antagonist. Yoshi also appears again for Mario to ride in certain sections. The series did not see any original 2D releases in the ten year period between 1996 and 2006.

2D revival and further 3D games (2006–2016)

New Super Mario Bros. games

New Super Mario Bros. series logo

New Super Mario Bros. was released on the Nintendo DS in 2006. In it, Mario and Luigi set out to save Princess Peach from Bowser Jr. The gameplay is 2D, but most of the characters and objects are 3D on two-dimensional backgrounds, resulting in a 2.5D effect. The game uses an overworld map similar to those of Super Mario Bros. Deluxe. Some levels have multiple exits. The classic power-ups (Super Mushroom, Fire Flower and Super Star) return alongside the Mega Mushroom, Blue Shell, and Mini Mushroom.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii (2009) features 4-player co-op and new power-ups: the Propeller Mushroom, the Ice Flower, and the Penguin Suit. All characters can ride Yoshi.

New Super Mario Bros. 2 was released in July and August 2012 for the Nintendo 3DS. The player, as Mario or Luigi, tries to save Princess Peach from Bowser and the Koopalings, with the game's secondary goal to collect one million coins. Several gameplay elements were introduced to help achieve this goal, such as the Gold Flower, a rarer variant of the Fire Flower that turns items into coins.[19][20]

New Super Mario Bros. U, the Wii U follow-up to New Super Mario Bros. Wii, was released in November 2012. It introduces both a Flying Squirrel suit that lets the players glide through the air, and asymmetric gameplay that allows the player holding the GamePad to influence the environment. In June 2013, New Super Luigi U was released as a downloadable content (DLC) package for the game, featuring shorter, but more difficult levels, starring Luigi as the main protagonist instead of his brother. Subsequently, it was released as a standalone retail game on August 25 in North America.[21] The Nintendo Switch port New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe includes both the main game and New Super Luigi U, and new playable characters Nabbit and Toadette.[22]

Super Mario Galaxy games

Miyamoto explained that when he was developing Super Mario 64 with Yoshiaki Koizumi, they realized that the title would be more directed towards the "core gamer", rather than the casual, "pick-up-and-go" gamer.[23] After Super Mario Sunshine, their focus shifted to more accessible, casual games, leading them to develop Super Mario Galaxy with more progression-oriented paths. Super Mario Galaxy was launched in 2007 for the Wii. It is set in outer space, where Mario travels between "galaxies" to collect Power Stars, earned by completing quests or defeating enemies. It introduced motion controls to the series. Each galaxy contains a number of planets and other space objects for the player to explore. The game's physics system gives each celestial object its own gravitational force, which lets the player circumnavigate rounded or irregular planetoids by walking sideways or upside down. The player is usually able to jump from one independent object and fall towards another close object. Though the main gameplay and physics are in 3D, there are several points in the game where the player's movements are restricted into a 2D axis. Several new power-ups appear following the new game mechanics. All of them return in the sequel, Super Mario Galaxy 2, besides the Ice Flower and Red Star power-ups.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 was initially developed as an expansion pack to Galaxy, although it eventually developed into its own game, released on May 23, 2010. It retains the basic premise of its predecessor and includes its items and power-ups. These include the Cloud Flower, which allows Mario to create platforms in mid-air and the Rock Mushroom, which turns Mario into a rolling boulder. Mario can also ride Yoshi along. It was released to widespread critical acclaim, getting better reviews than its predecessor.

Super Mario 3D Land and 3D World

Two games in the series have attempted to translate the gameplay of the 2D games into a 3D environment, and simplify the control scheme of the 3D games through including more linear levels. Super Mario 3D Land was released for the Nintendo 3DS in November and December 2011. It is the first original 3D Super Mario game on a handheld console, since all previous handheld games were either 2D or ports of previous games. It also brought back several older gameplay features, including the Super Leaf power-up last seen in Super Mario Bros. 3.

Super Mario 3D World, the sequel to Super Mario 3D Land, was released for the Wii U on November 22, 2013 in North America, and utilized the same gameplay mechanics as its predecessor.[24] Co-operative multiplayer is available for up to four players. The game introduced the ability to turn the characters into cats able to attack and scale walls in order to reach new areas, and to create clones of the characters. Like Super Mario Bros. 2, it features Princess Peach and Toad as playable characters in addition to Mario and Luigi. Rosalina from Super Mario Galaxy is also unlocked later in the game. Miyamoto said that "even though that's a 3D game, it's a little more accessible to everybody."

Super Mario Maker games

Super Mario Maker is a creation tool released for the Wii U in September 2015[25] which allows players to create their own levels based on the gameplay and style of Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U, as well as to share their creations online. Based on existing games, several gameplay mechanics were introduced for the game, with existing ones also available to be used together in new ways. A Nintendo 3DS version of the game called Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS, was released in December 2016. It features a few new pre-installed levels, but no online level sharing. Super Mario Maker 2 is a new version of Super Mario Maker with many new items, themes, and enemies, a world-builder, as well as online multiplayer. The game was released on June 28, 2019 for the Nintendo Switch.

Super Mario Run

Super Mario Run is a side-scrolling and auto-scrolling video game released in December 2016 on the iOS platform, then in March 2017 on Android. It is the first official Mario game developed for non-Nintendo hardware (since previous attempts all faced cancellation), as well as the first official Super Mario game developed for mobile devices. As such, it features simplified controls that allow it to be played with only one hand. In this game, Mario runs automatically, and the player's in charge of controlling the jumping action so that Mario avoids all hazards. This is achieved by touching the tactile screens these devices are built with, and the longer the player touches the jump button, the higher Mario jumps. This game also includes a "Toad Rally" mode, quite similar to the "VS Boo" mode of Super Mario Bros Deluxe, in which players have to complete a level faster than a computer-controlled Toad. Success in this mode earns the player access to in-game money to spend in customization options for it to create its own "Mushroom Kingdom" map, using mechanics similar to Farmville, into Super Mario Run's third gameplay mode.

Return of open-ended exploration (2017–present)

Super Mario Odyssey

After having fallen out of favor by the mid-2000s, open-world "collectathon" 3D platformers such as Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie and Super Mario Sunshine had become less common.[26] For example, the 3D adventure game Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (2008), explicitly mocked the perceived tedium of collecting large quantities of tokens.[27] By the mid-2010s, however, 3D platformers were aiming to replicate such experiences, including Yooka-Laylee and A Hat in Time. Super Mario Odyssey is a return to the open-world "sandbox" 3D style of game,[28][29][30] with "more open-ended exploration like in Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine."[31] It was released in October 2017 for Nintendo Switch.[32] After Mario's cap is possessed by a spirit named Cappy, he gains the new move of temporarily "capturing" enemies and objects to utilize their abilities. Like previous sandbox 3D games, the game's worlds contain a large variety of objectives that can be achieved in a non-linear order before progressing. The game features many different kingdoms in addition to the Mushroom Kingdom that Mario's adventures usually take place in, and is the first in the series to include a vocal theme song, "Jump Up, Super Star!"

Bowser's Fury

Bowser's Fury is part of the 2021 re-release of Super Mario 3D World on the Nintendo Switch. It implements 3D open-world "free-roaming" gameplay in a similar fashion to Odyssey, from which it includes many elements.[33][34] Supporting up to two players, it sees Mario teaming up with Bowser Jr. to collect Cat Shines to restore lighthouses in a land called Lake Lapcat. Periodically, a gigantic incarnation of Bowser known as Fury Bowser awakens to bring darkness upon the land and attacks the island. To beat him, Mario must collect enough Cat Shines to awaken the Giga Bell and use it to fight Bowser.

Remakes and remasters

Game System Year Remade game(s)
Super Mario All-Stars (+ Super Mario World) Super NES 1993/1994 Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
Super Mario Bros. 2
Super Mario Bros. 3
Super Mario World[d]
Super Mario Bros. Deluxe Game Boy Color 1999 Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
Super Mario Advance Game Boy Advance 2001/2002 Super Mario Bros. 2
Mario Bros.
Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2 Game Boy Advance 2001 Super Mario World
Mario Bros.
Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3 Game Boy Advance 2002 Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
Mario Bros.
Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 Game Boy Advance 2003/2004 Super Mario Bros. 3
Mario Bros.
Super Mario 64 DS Nintendo DS 2004/2005 Super Mario 64
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe Nintendo Switch 2019 New Super Mario Bros. U
New Super Luigi U
Super Mario 3D All-Stars Nintendo Switch 2020 Super Mario 64
Super Mario Sunshine
Super Mario Galaxy
Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury Nintendo Switch 2021 Super Mario 3D World

Music

Much of the original Super Mario Bros. music and sound effects have become iconic to the series and incorporated into modern games. The original Super Mario Bros. theme, composed by Koji Kondo, has become one of the most well known video game themes around the world.[35]

Super Mario Galaxy, released in 2007, became the first game in the Super Mario series to feature orchestrated music,[36] which would return in its sequel and other subsequent games such as Super Mario 3D World.[37]

Common elements

The objective of the game is to progress through levels by defeating enemies, collecting items and solving puzzles without dying. Power-up use is integral to the series. The series has installments featuring both two and three-dimensional gameplay. In the 2D games, the player character (usually Mario) jumps on platforms and enemies while avoiding their attacks and moving to the right of the scrolling screen. 2D Super Mario game levels have single-exit objectives, which must be reached within a time limit and lead to the next sequential level. Super Mario Bros. 3 introduced the overworld, a map of nonlinear levels that branches according to the player's choice.[38] Super Mario World introduced levels with multiple exits.

3D installments in the series have had two subgenres: open world exploration based games and more linear 3D games with a predetermined path.[39] Levels in the open world games, 64, Sunshine and Odyssey, allow the player to freely explore multiple enclosed environments in 360 degree movement. As the game progresses, more environments become accessible.[40] The linear 3D games, Galaxy, Galaxy 2, 3D Land and 3D World, feature more fixed camera angles and a predetermined path to a single goal.

Blocks

Most items in the Super Mario series appear from item blocks when hit, which originated in Super Mario Bros. and persisted throughout the series, where Mario hits a block to receive either coins or power-ups.

Mushrooms

UGO described the Super Mushroom as "the quintessential power-up".[41]

Mushroom power-ups appear in almost every Super Mario game. The most iconic of these is the Super Mushroom.[41][42] The Super Mushroom increases Mario's size, turning him into "Super Mario", and allows him to break certain blocks. When hit by an enemy, Mario reverts to his smaller size instead of losing a life.[41] When Mario is in his "Super" form, most blocks that would contain a Super Mushroom instead offer a more powerful power-up such as the Fire Flower. The Super Mushroom is similar in appearance to the Amanita muscaria, with an ivory stalk below a most commonly red and white (originally red and orange) spotted cap. Created by chance, Shigeru Miyamoto stated in an interview that beta tests of Super Mario Bros. proved Mario too tall, so the development team implemented mushrooms to grow and shrink Mario.[43]

The Poison Mushroom, first introduced in the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2, is a mushroom that causes damage when touched.

The Mini Mushroom is a small blue mushroom, a recurring item in the New Super Mario Bros. series, which shrinks Mario into miniature size, allowing him to access areas and pipes that Mario normally cannot reach. Mini Mario also jumps higher, floats midair, bounces off enemies without hurting them except by ground pounding, and can run across the surface of the water and then jump from it as if he was on land. Mario is more vulnerable in this form and loses a life upon receiving one hit in miniature form. The Mini Mushroom in New Super Mario Bros. U allows Mario to run up walls.[44]

The Mega Mushroom, introduced in New Super Mario Bros. and further appearing in New Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario 3D World, is a more recent addition to the series that grows Mario into a towering, invulnerable giant who destroys enemies and the environment by running through them. It has an orange-yellow cap with red spots, like the Super Mario Bros. Super Mushroom, but with an inflated cap. Super Mario 64 DS features an item simply called "Mushroom"[45] that grants the same abilities as the Mega Mushroom.

In the Super Mario Galaxy franchise, the Bee Mushroom gives Mario the Bee Suit, and the Spring Mushroom puts Mario inside a metallic coil.

1-Up

The 1-Up is when a video game awards the player an extra life. The 1-Up mushroom was introduced in Super Mario Bros., sometimes hidden in invisible blocks, and having an orange cap with green spots. In Super Mario Land and Super Mario Land 2, the 1-Up is shown as a heart. Super Mario World introduced the 3-Up Moon. 1-Ups can also be earned through collecting a certain number of coins or playing minigames.

Projectile flowers

The flower power-ups let Mario shoot projectiles. The Fire Flower, introduced in Super Mario Bros., transforms Mario into Fire Mario, who can throw bouncing fireballs at enemies. Super Mario Galaxy is the first 3D Mario platform game to have the Fire Flower. In Super Mario Land and Super Mario Maker 2, the Superball is a bouncing ball obtained from a Super Flower, which Mario can use to defeat enemies and collect coins. The Ice Flower transforms Mario into Ice Mario, where he can shoot balls of ice as projectiles similar to that of the Fire Flower; it freezes enemies in a block of ice, to be used as platforms or as thrown projectiles, as seen in New Super Mario Bros. Wii and New Super Mario Bros. U.[46] In Super Mario Galaxy, the Ice Flower turns Mario into ice and lets him walk on lava or water for a limited time by freezing the surface. Lastly, New Super Mario Bros. 2's Gold Flower lets Mario turn bricks into coins and earn bonus coins for defeating enemies.

Invincibility

Invincibility is an effect first appearing in the three Super Mario Bros. games, where it is granted by a "Starman",[47][48][49] an anthropomorphized, flashing star. The star has also been named the "Super Star" in the two Super Mario World games as well as the New Super Mario Bros. games[50][51] and the "Rainbow Star" in the two Super Mario Galaxy games. Picking up the star makes Mario temporarily invincible, able to resist any harm. Use of the item is accompanied by a distinctive music track that appears consistently across most of the games. The player character flickers a variety of colors — and in some games, moves with increased speed and enhanced jumping ability — while under the Star's influence. While invincible, Mario defeats any enemy upon contact with it. In Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, the star gives the normally immobile baby Mario the ability to run as well as become invincible. In Super Mario 64, invincibility is provided when Mario wears the metal cap or the vanish cap. The Mega Mushroom provides temporary invincibility with the addition of giant size and environment destruction (see Mushrooms).

Course tokens

The games often feature collectibles found in levels in order to progress in the overworld, most frequently with the visual motif of a star. They are typically situated in locations that are not readily found or reached, or awarded for completing stunts, or objectives given by NPCs. They include the Power Stars in Super Mario 64 and the Super Mario Galaxy games, Shine Sprites in Super Mario Sunshine, Star Coins in the New Super Mario Bros. series and Super Mario 3D Land, Green Stars in the Galaxy games and Super Mario 3D World, and Power Moons in Super Mario Odyssey. In Super Mario Land 2, there are six Golden Coin tokens that must be collected to finish the game.

Flying

Flight is a common theme throughout the series, first enabled with the magic carpet item in the international Super Mario Bros. 2. The Super Leaf and Tanooki Suit items, first appearing in Super Mario Bros. 3 provide Mario with an animal-suited tail, which in turn acts as a flight propeller. The Tanooki Suit returns in Super Mario 3D Land, and the Super Leaf returns in New Super Mario Bros. 2 and the Super Mario Maker series. In the New Super Mario Bros. series and Super Mario Maker series, the Propeller Block and the Propeller Mushroom let Mario spin up into the air and slowly descend. In Super Mario Land, Mario pilots a yellow airplane with unlimited ammunition called the Sky Pop. Super Mario World introduces various forms of flight: the feather item provides a cape, the P Balloon puffs Mario into a floating balloon figure, and Yoshi can carry a blue Koopa shell which gives him wings. In Super Mario 64, flight that is granted by a Wing Cap. In New Super Mario Bros. U, Mario can use the Flying Squirrel Suit to gain limited flight and gliding capabilities; can use a supercharged version of the Flying Squirrel Suit, the P-Acorn, to fly indefinitely; and can also command a pink Baby Yoshi to puff up into the form of a floating balloon. In Super Mario Galaxy, Mario can obtain a special red star that transforms him into Flying Mario for a limited time. Lakitu's cloud can be commandeered in several of the side-scrolling games.

Power-up suits

Several suits work as power-ups, many of which are based on animals. Debuting in Super Mario Bros. 3, the Raccoon Suit (provisioned by a Super Leaf) and the Tanooki Suit each provide Mario with a tail which acts as a flight propeller. In addition, the Tanooki Suit lets Mario spontaneously change into an invincible statue for about five seconds. In Super Mario 3D Land, the Raccoon Suit reappears and is accompanied by a silver-colored variation called a Statue Leaf.[52] Super Mario Bros. 3 includes a Hammer Bros. suit, which allows Mario to throw hammers as projectiles to defeat enemies at a distance, imitating the enemy of the same name. While wearing the suit and ducking, Mario is invulnerable to fire attacks. Super Mario 3D Land features a "Boomerang Suit" which provisions long-distance boomerang projectiles. Other animal suits include the Frog Suit, Penguin Suit, Cat Suit and Bee Suit.

Coins

Super Mario level design traditionally incorporates many distributed coins as puzzles and rewards. Most Super Mario games award the player an extra life once a certain amount of gold coins are collected, commonly 50 or 100. Several coin variants exist, such as silver coins, dragon coins, star coins, and more.

In Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy, and Super Mario Galaxy 2, coins replenish health (and air, when Mario is underwater). In Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, collecting 100 coins in a level results in a Power Star or Shine Sprite respectively. There are also stages in that game reward a Power Star for collecting eight red coins in a level, worth two normal coins each. In Super Mario 64, a blue coin is worth five normal coins. In Super Mario Sunshine, blue coins act as a side quest when brought to the Delfino Bank and for every ten blue coins deposited, Mario will earn a Shine Sprite.

In the Super Mario Galaxy series, after finishing each game once, stages unlock where Mario can collect 100 purple coins to earn a Power Star. In Super Mario Galaxy 2, they can also be used to feed some hungry "Luma" characters that can turn into either an item or another planet.

Playable characters

The series often features the option to play as characters other than Mario, usually Luigi. Earlier games have offered an alternating multiplayer mode in which the second player controls Luigi on their turn. Luigi is often only playable by player one in a second, more challenging iteration of the base game, such as in The Lost Levels, Galaxy 2, New Super Luigi U and the special worlds in 3D Land; these feature lower gravity and reduced friction for Luigi. Later games allow four player simultaneous play. Playable characters other than Mario and Luigi have included Toads, Peach, Yoshi, Wario, Rosalina, Miis, Toadette, Nabbit, Daisy, and Bowser Jr. Characters are sometimes differentiated by special abilities. Super Mario Maker (though not Super Mario Maker 2) includes costumes that depict many more characters.

Warp Pipes and Warp Cannons

The Warp Pipe is a common method of transportation used in many of the Mario series games. Warp Pipes are most often green but also appear in other colors (early games included silver pipes, newer games have introduced red, green, blue and yellow pipes), and have many uses in the series. Warp Pipes can also contain enemies, usually Piranha Plants, and sometimes launch the player into the air (most commonly seen in the New Super Mario Bros. series). In early Mario games such as Super Mario Bros., special, well-hidden areas known as Warp Zones contain pipes that allow players to skip several worlds (handfuls of levels) at once.[53] In the New Super Mario Bros. series, pipe-shaped Warp Cannons work similarly to the Warp Zones of the earlier games and are unlocked by finding secret exits in levels. Cannons appear in most of the 3D games in the series starting with Super Mario 64. Mario uses the cannon by jumping into the barrel, aiming himself and being fired at a distant target. This allows Mario to progress through a level or reach otherwise inaccessible areas.

Yoshi

Mario's dinosaur friend Yoshi has appeared as a mount to the player character in several Super Mario games since Super Mario World. In the sequel, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, a tribe of Yoshis finds Baby Mario and helps him to save Baby Luigi. In this game and Super Mario 64 DS, instead of the player merely riding on Yoshi's back, Yoshi is the player character. Yoshis generally have abilities including eating enemies, flying, and breathing fire. Miyamoto had originally wished for Mario to be able to ride a dinosaur in Super Mario Bros., but this wasn't possible due to the technical restraints of the system.

Reception

Sales and aggregate review scores
As of March 31, 2021.
Game Year Units sold
(in millions)
GameRankings Metacritic
(out of 100)
Super Mario Bros. 1985 NES: 40.23[54]
GBC: 10.55[55]
GBA: -
NES: 86%[56]
GBC: 92%[57]
GBA: 80%[58]
NES: -
GBC: -
GBA: 84[59]
Super Mario Bros. 2 1988 NES: 7.46[55]
GBA: 5.57[60]
NES: 81%[61]
GBA: 82%[62]
NES: -
GBA: 84[63]
Super Mario Bros. 3 1988 NES: 17.28[55]
GBA: 5.43[60]
NES: 97%[64]
GBA: 92%[65]
NES: -
GBA: 94[66]
Super Mario Land 1989 18.14[55] 77%[67]
Super Mario World 1990 SNES: 20.61[68]
GBA: 5.69[55]
SNES: 94%[69]
GBA: 92%[70]
SNES: -
GBA: 92[71]
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins 1992 11.18[55] 79%[72]
Super Mario All-Stars 1993 10.55[55] 90%[73] -
Super Mario 64 1996 N64: 11.91[74]
DS: 11.06[75]
N64: 96%[76]
DS: 86%[77]
N64: 94[78]
DS: 85[79]
Super Mario Sunshine 2002 6.28[55] 91%[80] 92[81]
New Super Mario Bros. 2006 30.80[75] 89%[82] 89[83]
Super Mario Galaxy 2007 12.80[84] 97%[85] 97[86]
New Super Mario Bros. Wii 2009 30.32[84] 88%[87] 87[88]
Super Mario Galaxy 2 2010 7.41[55] 97%[89] 97[90]
Super Mario 3D Land 2011 12.81[91] 90%[92] 90[93]
New Super Mario Bros. 2 2012 13.38[91] 78%[94] 78[95]
New Super Mario Bros. U 2012 Wii U: 5.81[96]
Switch: 10.44[97]
Wii U: 84%[98]
Switch: 81%[99]
Wii U: 84[100]
Switch: 81[101]
Super Mario 3D World 2013 Wii U: 5.87[96]
Switch: 5.59[102]
Wii U: 92%[103]
Switch: -
Switch: 93[104]
Switch: 89[105]
Super Mario Maker 2015 Wii U: 4.02[96]
3DS: 2.01[106]
Wii U: 89%[107]
3DS: 72%[108]
Wii U: 88[109]
3DS: 73[110]
Super Mario Run 2016 - 76[111]
Super Mario Odyssey 2017 20.83[97] 97%[112] 97[113]
Super Mario Maker 2 2019 7.15[102] - 88[114]
Super Mario 3D All-Stars 2020 9.01[102] - 82[115]

Sales

Super Mario is one of the best-selling video game franchises, having sold more than 380 million units worldwide as of 2021.[116]

Games in the Super Mario series have had consistently strong sales, ranking among the best-selling video games of all time. Super Mario Bros. sold more than 50 million units worldwide sold across multiple platforms by 1996.[117] The original NES version sold 40.23 million units and is the best-selling NES game, with its two sequels, Super Mario Bros. 3 (18 million copies) and Super Mario Bros. 2 (10 million copies), ranking in second and third place respectively.[74] Super Mario World is the best-selling game for the SNES console, selling 20 million copies. Super Mario World is also the seventh best-selling game of all time. Super Mario 64 sold the most copies for the Nintendo 64 (11 million), whereas Super Mario Sunshine is the second best-selling game (5.5 million) on the GameCube (second to Super Smash Bros. Melee). Super Mario Galaxy has sold 12.80 million units as of March 2020, which was the best-selling 3D game in the series until 2019, and is the ninth best-selling game for the Wii.[84] Its sequel Super Mario Galaxy 2 has 7.41 million units sold, placing in twelfth.[55] Super Mario Odyssey has 18.06 million units sold as of June 2020, making it the best-selling 3D game in the series to date, and among the best-selling games for the Nintendo Switch.[97] New Super Mario Bros. Wii has sold 30.32 million copies worldwide, the fourth best-selling game on the Wii, as well as one of the best-selling video games of all time.[84]

The Super Mario series also sold well on handheld consoles. Super Mario Land has sold 18.14 million copies, and is the fourth best-selling game for the Game Boy. Its sequel, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, sold 2.7 million copies, placing sixth. New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS sold 30.80 million units, making it the best-selling game for the console, and the best-selling portable entry.

For all console and handheld games that have not been bundled with a console, Super Mario Bros. 3 is the fourth best-selling game, whereas New Super Mario Bros. is fifth, Super Mario Land is eleventh, and Super Mario 64 is eighteenth.

Critical reception

The Super Mario series has seen tremendous critical acclaim from both critics and audiences. The series was ranked as the best game franchise by IGN in 2006.[118] In 1996 Next Generation ranked the series as number 5 on their "Top 100 Games of All Time",[e] additionally ranking Super Mario 64 at number 1 although stating the rule that series of games be confined to a single entry.[119] In 1999, Next Generation listed the Mario series as number 3 on their "Top 50 Games of All Time", commenting that, "The depth of the game design was never matched in 2D and has yet to be equaled by a 3D action performer. The gameplay is simply genius - Shigeru Miyamoto wrote the book on platformers."[120] Electronic Gaming Monthly attributed the series' excellence to the developers' tireless creativity and innovation, pointing out that "Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog series changed very little in its four installments on the Genesis. The Mario series has changed significantly with each new game."[121]

The original Super Mario Bros. was awarded the top spot on Electronic Gaming Monthly's greatest 200 games of their time list[122] and IGN's top 100 games of all-time list twice (in 2005 and 2007).[123] Super Mario Bros. popularized side-scrolling video games and provided the basic concept and mechanics that persisted throughout the rest of the series. Super Mario Bros. sold 40.24 million copies, making it the best-selling video game of the whole series.[124] Various other video games of the series were ranked as the best within the series.[125][126][69] Games included are Super Mario Bros. 3,[127] Super Mario World[128] and Super Mario 64 to name a few.[129][130] Before Super Mario Odyssey, Super Mario Galaxy has been for 10 years the best-ranked game on GameRankings.[131][85]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Japanese: スーパーマリオ, Hepburn: Sūpā Mario
  2. ^ Japanese: スーパーマリオブラザーズ, Hepburn: Sūpā Mario Burazāzu
  3. ^ Japanese: マリオ
  4. ^ Not included in original version of All-Stars.
  5. ^ The entry name is "Mario (series)", but the description as a "side-scrolling platformer" makes it clear that Next Generation meant the Super Mario series specifically.

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