It’s hard to deny that Mario was a major background player in my childhood. From the first time that I saw Super Mario Bros. at my friend’s house in 1985, I was hooked on this snappy little platformer (and its power-ups — something that wasn’t exactly standard fare back then). Mario 2 gets a lot of flak these days, but hey, we all played it back in the day and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Princess Peach was the bomb, yo, because of her floaty power.
Mario 3 was not just the centerpiece of the greatest movie of all time (The Wizard) but the game that every one of us wanted to be playing back in 1989. I could still beat the Koopa kids in my sleep, I’m sure. Super Mario Bros. The Movie couldn’t compare in grandeur.
When our family finally got the SNES, Super Mario World became the default title we played by virtue that (a) it was a pretty terrific game and (b) it was packaged in with the console and we didn’t have money for anything else right then. Even today I have a copy of this on my Wii and my retro game console, and it still gets a lot of play. Mario Kart, too, was a total blast and a great party game.
Probably the last Mario title that I played seriously was Super Mario RPG, a surprisingly good mash-up of the Mario universe and Japanese-style RPGs. After that, I drifted away from both Nintendo and Mario — I didn’t play the N64 version that everyone seems to have embedded in their own childhoods and after college the whole Mario thing seemed rather kiddy.
So here’s to the plumber who made for an unlikely hero and a tentpole of Nintendo’s empire. Its-a you, Mario!