Games that made a difference is a weekly series on GameBuz about games that, well, made a difference. These games made an impact in one way or another, storytelling, mechanics or real life influences. Stay tuned to your favorite games news site for more.
Mario, one of the most recognizable characters in the world. Everyone from your niece to your grandpa knows who he is. Today we will be taking a look at Why.
A history lesson
The year is 1983 and the gaming market went to (insert word I’m not allowed to use due to us being a family friendly site)...
The gaming market was oversaturated, consoles were fighting a losing battle against PC’s, everyone and their grandma was making new consoles, 3rd party game developers started taking shares of the market and the market was getting flooded with bad games.
So in 2 years, a $43 billion market dropped to $14 billion and everyone thought that gaming was just a fad and has no future. Investors were jumping ship and many companies went bankrupt.
It was a dark time for gaming until Nintendo turned the lights back on. In 1985 Nintendo released the NES and it brought hope back to the industry. It was the best selling console at the time, even today it has a pretty high ranking.
The game that revived an industry
A year later Super Mario Bros. was released and it was an instant hit. Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda brought back gamers and with them came the investors. (Before you ask why is the article not about Legend of Zelda, half of the world still doesn’t know the difference between Link and Zelda, while Mario is as recognizable as Coca Cola.)
Super Mario Bros. did everything right and pioneered side-scrolling platformers. Yes, there were others before, but can you name any of them off the bat?
To start, we have the character, Mario himself. Why is he so special? He’s just a guy in a red shirt and blue overalls. Well, that kind of is the reason. He isn’t a generic lump of pixels or an overcomplicated character. He has a red hat and big mustache, just enough to make him different and memorable.
The game is wacky, you have an Italian plumber trying to rescue a princess that is always in another castle. While on the way ghost squids, turtles, walking bombs, fishes with mohawks and over-sized bullets try to stop you from getting to her and in the end you fight a huge spiky turtle.
It’s a simple game to play, family friendly due to the fact that it doesn’t depict any violence, can be replayed infinitely and one of the favorite games for today’s speedrunners.
There are so many unique and memorable characters and you never really have to question why is anyone doing any of the things they are doing.
Another thing that made a difference was the controls. The NES, unlike previous consoles, came with a gamepad that featured a D-pad. It was a lot nicer to use and because of it, Super Mario Bros. had very smooth controls compared to previous games.
Super Mario Bros. cemented the characters and the entire franchise. Across all platforms there is 21 Super Mario game, every console had at least one Super Mario on it. There are 11 Mario Party games, 8 Mario Kart games and Mario is featured in almost 280 titles, not counting where he is an easter egg or reference.
No matter if its platformers, racing games, RPGs, adventure, educational, sport or action games, Mario was featured at one point or another. Just having Mario in a game was proven to increases sales.
This was so easy to do because the characters are so simple yet unique. You can put them anywhere doing anything and there’s no reason to question it. Today, Mario is even more recognizable than Mickey Mouse.
Super Mario Bros. and the NES saved the gaming industry. Set the rules for future platformers, gave gamers many hours of fun and built the biggest gaming franchise in the world. So write a thank you letter to Nintendo for saving gaming.
Super Mario Bros. is without a doubt a game that made a difference.