Super Mario is being celebrated after 35 years of service in the gaming industry. This gaming icon is one of the most recognizable in the entire history of the hobby, and for good reason. In those 35 years of history, Mario has seen plenty of major victories.
In celebration of this icon, let’s take a look at the 10 best moments in Super Mario history.
10. The top of the castle (Super Mario 64)
Super Mario 64 was originally released in 1996 and was recently revitalized in Super Mario 3D All Stars. The goal of this game was to collect all 120 power stars scattered throughout Princess Peach’s castle, beat Bowser, and receive a hard-earned cake baked by the princess herself.
What exactly happens when the player finds all 120 stars, though? Well, the player had to make their way up to the top of the castle roof. Naturally this is where they would find Yoshi, one of Mario’s close friends. A quick tongue-in-cheek dialogue moment later, he would reward 100 extra lives, as well as a brand new star jump. All in all, it was well worth the star grind years ago.
9. The discovery of a warp pipe (Super Mario Bros.)
1983’s Super Mario Bros. was a game that many people grew up with organically. For many players, Mario was a character who was just always there, ready to be played with for many hours. It was bound to happen that in those various hours spent in the Mushroom Kingdom, a warp pipe would be discovered.
Hearing the iconic sound as Mario sunk into the green pipe is a moment that is synonymous with the animated plumber, after all. That feeling of discovery and reward followed the series well into the 3D days.
8. Yoshi’s introduction (Super Mario World)
By the time that 1990’s Super Mario World arrived, players the world over were wondering what new tricks Mario would have in store for his newest adventure. As is now obvious, this surprise came in the form of a lovable green dinosaur named Yoshi.
The character is now an icon, himself. Plus, the inclusion of his gameplay in Super Mario World proved that Mario still had some gaming magic left. Seeing the Nintendo mascot riding a cute dinosaur across the levels surely wowed some players at the time.
7. Mario takes on a new form (Super Mario 3D World)
Power-ups such as the Tanooki suit and the Fire Flower have been long-standing staples of the series for years. Curiously enough, new versions of power-ups are somewhat rare. As such, fans were delighted to see Mario take a new, more feline form in 2013’s Super Mario 3D World.
Trading the fire-tossing and the floating in for some shiny kitty claws turned out better than expected. Giving Mario new moves and animations helped refresh the character by quite a bit!
6. Mario enters the fighting game scene (Super Smash Bros.)
Super Smash Bros. released for the Nintendo 64 in 1999. Few could have predicted just how incredibly popular this series would become. It has gone from being a goofy party game to being a mainstay of the fighting game community. The game is even so popular that the inclusion of a character in its ranks is viewed as an honor.
The coolest thing about this, however, is that it has allowed Mario to go up against many gaming icons. Kirby, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Walugi are just a few heroes of gaming he’s been able to best in the ring.
5. Mario makes the jump to 3D (Super Mario 64)
3D gaming was an interesting curiosity in the mid-’90s. Many players who had grown up with 2D sprites and side-scrolling action were unable to properly imagine how a game would play on the 3D grid. Fortunately, from the moment that Mario popped out of a warp pipe in Super Mario 64, it was clear that 3D gaming was more than an experiment.
Not only was Mario used to deliver an unforgettable adventure in 3D, but he was also a tutor for many to learn their way around this type of game.
4. Mario’s mad dash down rainbow road (Mario Kart)
Similar to Super Smash Bros, no one could foresee just how wildly popular Mario in a go-kart would become. When Nintendo’s mascot took the wheel in 1992’s Super Mario Kart, it was clear that they were onto something.
When Mario Kart 64 released in 1996, the racing series was solidified as something more than a passing amusement. Watching Mario and friends burn rubber across the dreaded Rainbow Road racetrack meant that the new franchise was here to stay.
3. New Donk City (Super Mario Odyssey)
2017’s release of Super Mario Odyssey felt like a huge celebration of the character. It revisited some of his best moments and paid homage to the plumber’s grand origins. This was best exhibited in the New Donk City stage. In this level, a showstopping concert is held in his honor that is capable of leaving even casual Mario fans feeling a bit warm and fuzzy.
2. Level 1-1 (Super Mario Bros.)
Two years after his appearance as “Jumpman” in 1981’s Donkey Kong, Mario got his own adventure in Super Mario Bros. The first level of the game, Level 1-1, is immediately recognizable to fans the world over. In fact, it’s safe to say that some have even memorized this simple, yet timeless level. That alone makes it one of the best moments in Super Mario history.
1. Mario Segale takes it easy on Nintendo and an icon is born
Everyone knows Super Mario, but how did this icon come to be? Well, the answer lies in the stresses of late rent and overdue bills. In the mid-1980s, Nintendo was both struggling to pay rent to an American warehouse as well as find a name for their new mascot.
A meeting was held to discuss the naming of the character previously known as “Jumpman” in Donkey Kong. During this meeting, the landlord of said warehouse, Mario Segale, interrupted the conversation. Following a fiery exchange regarding the late payment, Mr. Segale agreed to let Nintendo slide on the rent for the time being.
In conclusion, this small act of kindness led to the naming of the iconic plumber as we know him today, Super Mario.