On July 14, 1983, while France commemorated the storming of the Bastille, another revolution was quietly unfolding in the world of video gaming. It marked the birth of ‘Mario Bros.,’ a game that would forever alter the gaming landscape. In this Culture Re-View, we delve into the origins and impact of this iconic title.
A Game-Changing Release
The exact release date of ‘Mario Bros.’ has been a subject of debate among gaming historians. Some sources attribute it to July 14, 1983, while Game Machine magazine records it as June 21 of the same year. Regardless of the date, one thing is certain: 1983 saw the emergence of a game that would leave an indelible mark on the gaming industry.
A screenshot from Mario Bros. Nintendo
‘Mario Bros.’ wasn’t Mario’s first appearance in the gaming world. Two years earlier, he had made his debut in the immensely popular 1981 arcade game ‘Donkey Kong.’ In ‘Donkey Kong,’ players guided Mario through a series of challenges, avoiding barrels hurled by the eponymous gorilla. However, it was ‘Mario Bros.’ that set the stage for the iconic franchise that we know today.
Plumbing the Depths of Mario’s Origins
The 1983 arcade game ‘Mario Bros.’ introduced players to a new side of Mario. Set in the New York sewer system, the game presented Mario and his brother Luigi as plumbers. Players navigated a series of platforms, tasked with defeating enemies emerging from pipes at the screen’s sides. Interestingly, the game’s mechanics required players to bump enemies from beneath the platforms, as opposed to the familiar act of jumping on them.
Before ‘Mario Bros.,’ Mario was known simply as “Jumpman.” The game’s development, spearheaded by Nintendo legends Shigeru Miyamoto and Gunpei Yokoi (designer of the Game & Watch and the Game Boy), marked a significant shift in Mario’s characterization and narrative setting.
The Birth of Mario Bros to ‘Super Mario Bros.’
The success of ‘Mario Bros.’ laid the foundation for the groundbreaking ‘Super Mario Bros.,’ released in 1985 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). This sequel introduced players to the iconic side-scrolling platformer that would define the franchise. Players guided Mario as he leaped over obstacles, squashed Goombas, and raced against the clock to reach a flag at each level’s end.
‘Super Mario Bros.’ not only cemented Mario’s status as a gaming icon but also transformed the way we perceived video games. It set a new standard for platformers and remains a beloved classic to this day.
A Lasting Legacy
The legacy of ‘Mario Bros.’ endures through the years. Various iterations of the original game have been included as mini-games in numerous ‘Super Mario Bros.’ editions, allowing players to revisit the game that started it all.
In conclusion, the release of ‘Mario Bros.’ in 1983 marked a pivotal moment in the history of video games. It was the genesis of a beloved franchise that would go on to captivate generations of gamers worldwide. While the exact release date may remain a subject of debate, there is no disputing the profound impact ‘Mario Bros.’ had on the gaming industry, forever changing the way we play and perceive video games.
As we celebrate this gaming milestone, we reflect on the enduring legacy of ‘Mario Bros.’ and the plumber-turned-hero who became a cultural icon. From humble beginnings in the New York sewers to traversing fantastical worlds, Mario’s journey is a testament to the enduring power of storytelling in video games. Happy (belated) birthday, ‘Mario Bros.’! Here’s to countless more adventures in the Mushroom Kingdom.