This is about the series. For the character, see Mario (character).
Mario (or Super Mario) is a long-running media franchise developed and produced by Nintendo. The titular character of the franchise is Mario, a fictional Italian plumber who serves as the hero of a place called the Mushroom Kingdom. The franchise was started by game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, with the first installment being Donkey Kong, an arcade game that was released on July 9, 1981.
The games were primarily developed and self-published internally by Nintendo, while other companies such as Hudson Soft, Square Enix, AlphaDream, Retro Studios, and several more, developed Mario games under Nintendo's supervision. Beginning with third-generation consoles onward, most installments in the series have been developed for various Nintendo game systems and handhelds.
The Super Mario series is the main one of the franchise, consisting of platformer titles that usually revolve around Mario and Luigi protecting the Mushroom Kingdom and Princess Peach from Bowser and his Koopa Troop. Both brothers make use of their trademark jumping ability that effectively allows them to proceed through levels, and are also able to acquire a variety of useful power-ups. The franchise also consists of other genres which include racing games such as the Mario Kart series, sports such as Mario Tennis, role-playing games (RPG) such as the Mario & Luigi series, and several educational games.
The Mario franchise totals over 200 video games, with a combined selling of over 600 million copies. Mario also has appearances in other media such as comics, television series, books, and a feature film. Being the flagship franchise of Nintendo, Mario has garnered massive critical acclaim and is highly recognized worldwide as the best-selling franchise.
Pre-NES Era (1981 – 1985)
The Mario series began in 1981 with Donkey Kong. Created by Shigeru Miyamoto, Donkey Kong was Nintendo's first big success. Originally, Mario was known as Jumpman, but it was later changed to the former when Nintendo of America nicknamed the character Mario after their landlord, Mario Segale.
Mario and Donkey Kong also appeared in several Game & Watch games.
Mario's first outing on the NES was Super Mario Bros. It sold around forty million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling game of all time. The game introduced many of the hallmarks of the series including Bowser, Princess Peach, Toads, Mushrooms, Fire Flowers, Starmen, Koopa Troopas, and Goombas.
In the wake of the success of Super Mario Bros., a sequel, Super Mario Bros. 2, was released in 1987. In Japan, the game was similar to Super Mario Bros. It was later released in America as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels on the Wii's Virtual Console and the compilation, Super Mario All-Stars. In America, Super Mario Bros. 2 was the same as the Japanese game Doki Doki Panic, but with Mario characters. The American version allowed players to play as Princess Peach and Toad for the first time and was re-released in Japan as Super Mario USA.
In 1989, Mario made its debut on the Game Boy with Super Mario Land. It sold 18.06 million copies, making it the bestselling game not bundled with a console in history. This game introduced the good friend of Mario's, Princess Daisy.
Mario returned to the NES in 1990 with Super Mario Bros. 3. The game returned to the formula of Super Mario Bros. It introduced many new powers such as the Super Leaf, Tanooki Suit, Hammer Suit, and Frog Suit. It also was the first appearance of the Koopalings. It sold 17.8 million copies.
SNES Era (1990 - 1996)
In the same year, Mario set the standard for cart racing games with Super Mario Kart. It was at the time (and some say, still is) the best racing game available.
In 1993 a game collection called Super Mario All-Stars contained Super Mario Bros. Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario Bros. 3 with better music and graphics, released.
In 1995, Mario returned to the Super Nintendo as a baby in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. Instead of controlling Mario, the player controls Yoshi.
Mario's last game on the Super Nintendo had him delve into the RPG genre. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is fondly remembered by fans and is often listed as one of the top games for the Super Nintendo. Interestingly, this is the first game that lets players play as Bowser.
Nintendo 64 Era (1996 - 2001)
1996 was a landmark year for the Mario series. It was the year that Super Mario 64 was released. The game made the transition from 2D to 3D very well and set an example for how 3D platformers should feel. The game sold 11.62 million worldwide, making it the bestselling game for the Nintendo 64.
In 1999, Mario was once again pushed in a new direction. Mario Party was an odd concept: a combination of a board game and video game. However, it was very well done and an excellent game to play with friends.
Another new idea developed in 1999 was Mario and sports. That year, Mario Golf was released and well received.
Perhaps the strangest departure that year was a fighting game. While Super Smash Bros. isn't technically a Mario game, it is still noteworthy. The game featured characters from some of Nintendo's most popular franchises. It went on to become the fifth bestselling game for the Nintendo 64.
In the year 2000, Mario tried out another sport. Mario Tennis was as successful as Mario Golf was before it.
In the year 2001, Mario returned to the RPG genre, but with a new twist. Paper Mario featured the hero as a paper cut out.
Nintendo GameCube, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS Eras (2001 - 2011)
The GBA was released on March 21, 2001. In its launch was Super Mario Advance, which was a remake of the American Super Mario Bros. 2, adding new graphics and a few new additions, such as a remake of Mario Bros. that could be played with four players.
Also in 2001, the sequel to Mario Kart 64, Mario Kart: Super Circuit, released. This game was very similar to Super Mario Kart, except 32-bit, not 16-bit. Super Mario Advance 2 came out early in 2002. A remake of Super Mario World, it had new graphics, but unlike the original Advance, it had many new features.
Also in 2002 was Super Mario Advance 3. It was a port of Yoshi's Island. It had almost nothing new, not even graphics.
In mid-2003, Mario Golf had a huge update on the GCN with Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour. It did not have any of the humans from the original, but it added tons of new features to add to its wackiness, plus a new, easier mechanic for swings.
Mario had his first RPG on a portable system in 2003. For the Game Boy Advance, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga featured both of the brothers fighting simultaneously.
2004's Super Mario Advance 4 was more or less a port of Super Mario All-Stars's remake of Super Mario Bros. 3, but it had a few tiny changes, such as yet another Mario Bros. remake addition.
In 2004, Mario Golf: Advance Tour was released. It was a lot like the GBC version of Mario Golf, but now it has new characters, courses, and 3D graphics. There were RPG elements to the game, too, which meant one's character stats could be totally different from others of the same character. It was possible to link to Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour and transfer characters to it.
Mario went back to his roots and went up against his old antagonist Donkey Kong for the first time in ten years in 2004. Mario vs. Donkey Kong's gameplay was similar to Donkey Kong '94's gameplay, but with entirely new levels.
In 2004, the sequel to Paper Mario came out: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door played similarly to its predecessor, but in a new setting with an unrelated story.
On November 21, 2004, Nintendo released its new console, the Nintendo DS with a port of Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64, Super Mario 64 DS.
2005 stretched Mario's boundaries a bit further by adding rhythm games to his resume. Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix featured remixed games as well as characters from the Mario series.
Mario also tried a couple of new sports in 2005. Mario Superstar Baseball mixed the great American pastime with Mario. Super Mario Strikers, on the other hand, mixed the Mario with the excitement of soccer/football.
The GBA version of Mario Power Tennis came out in 2005, called Mario Tennis: Power Tour. It was much like the GBC Mario Tennis, with RPG elements and Humans. Unfortunately, the GCN version could not link up to it.
Late in that same year, two DS titles came out featuring Mario. They were Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, which was the sequel to Superstar Saga, throwing time travel and Baby Mario and Luigi into the RPG fray, and Mario Kart DS, which was the very first Nintendo online game. It included, along with 16 new courses, 16 old favorites, four from each of the past Mario Karts.
Princess Peach got her own game in 2006. Super Princess Peach is an easier platformer than the previous Mario platformers, but it has its own unique characteristics.
2006 was the year of the Nintendo DS for Mario. The Mario Bros. series has been continued in a unique way with the New Super Mario Bros. With new abilities and the old platforming action, the game is truly a worthy successor and became the best-selling game for the Nintendo DS.
Mario tested his skills on the courts with Mario Hoops 3 on 3. Along with his usual friends, he also went up against some opponents from the RPG Series Final Fantasy.
Wii Era (2006 - 2012)
2007 brought on new sequels to classical Mario games, such as Super Paper Mario (Paper Mario series), Mario Party 8 and Mario Party 9 (Mario Party series), Mario Strikers Charged (Mario Strikers series), Super Mario Galaxy (sequel to Super Mario Sunshine). Later in 2008, Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Super Smash Bros. series) and Mario Kart Wii (Mario Kart Series) were released. Mario Super Sluggers (Mario Baseball series) was also released. In 2009, New Super Mario Bros. Wii was released. In 2010, the sequel to Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Galaxy 2, was released.
Nintendo 3DS Era (2011 - 2019)
The Mario series added a new game to the Super Mario Land series for the Nintendo 3DS with Super Mario 3D Land. Two spin-off games, Paper Mario: Sticker Star and Mario Kart 7, were also announced. In August 2012, a new game for the New Super Mario Bros. series, New Super Mario Bros. 2 was released. In 2013, the very popular Mario & Luigi: Dream Team and not so known Mario Party: Island Tour was released. Also, remakes for the old Mario & Luigi RPG series were released: Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions and Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey.
Wii U Era (2012 - 2017)
Near the end of 2012, Nintendo released a new Super Mario installment for the Wii U, called New Super Mario Bros. U. There was a different version of New Super Mario Bros. U, called New Super Luigi U, released for the Year of Luigi. Another game, Super Mario 3D World, was released as well. The Super Mario series has started from Mario's appearance in Donkey Kong. Later on, creators have been making Mario games like Super Mario Bros., Paper Mario: The Thousand-year Door, and so on. In 2014, a spin-off, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker was released for Wii U consoles. Mario Party 10 was released in 2015. Also in 2015, the Mario franchise turned thirty years old. To celebrate this, Nintendo released Super Mario Maker. The game was a level designer, that allowed users from all over the world to submit creative, and maybe a few not-so-creative, levels.
Nintendo Switch Era (2017 - Present)
The first Mario game for the Nintendo Switch was Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, releasing five months after the system launched. The first mainline Mario game released for the system, however, was Super Mario Odyssey. A remake for the not-so-successful platformer New Super Mario Bros. U was released in January 2019, titled New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. Another installment to the Yoshi series was also released, called Yoshi's Crafted World. A sequel to Super Mario Maker, named simply Super Mario Maker 2, was also unveiled for the Switch in June 2019, and a third Luigi’s Mansion, Luigi's Mansion 3, was presented in October 2019. A new Paper Mario game titled Paper Mario: The Origami King released on July 17 in 2020.