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Mario Series 35th Anniversary Retrospective

mario 35.jpg

The Mario series has given us many enjoyable titles over the years. From platformers and racers to puzzle games and works of art, you can always find enjoyment in a Mario game. With this year being the 35th anniversary of the original Super Mario Bros. game on the NES, we asked several SmashBoards writers to reflect on their experience of the Mario series as a whole.

For this article, each writer was asked to write down their favorite Mario game as well as what they would like to see from the series in the future. The Mario series is incredibly big so we included spin-offs as part of this article, so long as Mario himself is the primary focus. Narrowing down an exact favorite game may be tough for a lot of people but thankfully our writers were able to do just that. It may also be interesting to see whether our hopes for the Mario series actually come true one day. Regardless, our writers were able to explain their answers in great depth.

With that said, let's dive into what each writer talked about:

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Sari Sari

Favorite Mario game:
Super Mario World

Everything that makes the 2D Mario games such amazing experiences can be perfectly summarized in Super Mario World. The game is just bursting with color and has some of the most challenging levels in the series. Several series staples were introduced in this game, such as the ability to replay levels after clearing them and special Switch Palaces which unlock things in other levels later seen in other entries like Super Mario 64. Other welcomed additions include the incredibly fun cape item, a world map filled with a ton of secret paths, and even an extra bonus world that will push your platforming skills to the max. Oh and did I mention that this game introduced a certain beloved green dinosaur by the name of Yoshi?

Super Mario World wasn’t just meant to showcase what the SNES could do: it was also meant to show-off everything that makes the Mario series great.

Hope to see in the future:
The return of the Mario & Luigi series.


These games are absolutely a blast and help to show the more comedic side of the two brotherly plumbers. Sadly, with AlphaDream going bankrupt in 2019, the future of this series is very uncertain. With the Paper Mario series taking a more experimental approach to the turn-based formula, I think Nintendo should use this time to revive their signature handheld Mario RPG series.



Venus of the Desert Bloom Venus of the Desert Bloom

Favorite Mario Game:
Mario Paint



Ok, let me first say that I’ve been playing Mario since it’s very beginning and honestly, I have a lot of games that fall into this spot. In particular, Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, and Super Mario World 3 could also easily take this spot. I actually haven’t gotten into the more recent Mario games and I even have yet to play Odyssey. My cousins and I were huge Mario fans and I’ll never forget going to their house to play Mario 64 with them back when it was released. That being said, if we kept a log on how much time we spent playing Mario Paint, I swear we could have filled one-hundred pages easily. We would go to our grandma’s every summer to swim at the family pool almost daily and then drink orange soda while playing Mario Paint. We would make tons of animated shorts which were usually gruesome with Mortal Kombat-esque deaths of the characters. We would play that Fly Swatter mini game and make music on the Music Editor mode. For me, Mario Paint isn’t only a game but represents my childhood and the time I spent with my family. My cousins and I have gone on to have children of our own but our time spent playing Mario Paint and the memories we made are still common get-together topics of conversation.

Hope to see in the Future:
Mario Paint Switch and more sport game spin-offs


I was hoping that there would have been enough fan support for Nintendo to get the idea and agree to greenlight either an entirely new Mario Paint game or to simply port it over to the Switch. Other than that, I’d like to see more spin-off type titles including the Mario sports games. Mario Volleyball, Rugby, and Bowling would all be fun games to explore the future.



@Amiibo Doctor

Favorite Mario Game:
Super Mario Sunshine

Some people believe that Sunshine is a childish game, or that it’s poorly made, or repetitive. Those people are wrong.

Super Mario Sunshine isn’t actually a story about Mario rescuing Peach. Well, it is, but only on your first playthrough. On your second playthrough, you’ll start to realize what really makes Super Mario Sunshine special - it’s actually a very large package of small stories that are sometimes hard to spot, and make for a truly interesting little world.

Sometimes the stories are untold like in Ricco Harbor, as you progress through the levels and clean up the bad guys, you’ll start to notice that some Piantas are swimming around with rubber duck floaties. The harbor is safer because you’ve beaten the baddies. Sometimes the stories progress throughout the entire game - there’s two Pianta NPCs in Delfino Plaza who argue through the entire game. The purple NPC accuses the green NPC of doing something, and the green NPC returns the accusation. Over the course of the game, they start to work out their differences, and after beating Bowser, they become friends.

Occasionally there’s no story at all, only theories. Why did E. Gadd provide Bowser Jr. with the paintbrush, while at the same time leaving FLUDD ready and waiting to identify and partner with Mario? He also seemed very willing to provide Luigi the Poltergust 3000 in Luigi’s Mansion to rescue Mario. What’s going on here?

Super Mario Sunshine is far more than a great speedrun with unusual glitches - it’s a world that deserves to have its nooks and crannies explored.

Hope to see in the future:
A Super Mario Sunshine sequel/continuation


I am not a fan of sequels to specific Mario games, but Super Mario Sunshine is worth the exception. Hopes for an HD remake were thrown out the window with 3D All-Stars, but we should never rule out the possibility that the stories of Super Mario Sunshine may be expanded upon with a sequel or DLC update to Super Mario Odyssey.



pupNapoleon pupNapoleon

Favorite Mario Game:
Mario Clash


The very first 3D Mario game came out all the way back in 1995 for the Virtual Boy console. The Virtual Boy was a semi-portable Nintendo console for a single player, wherein the eyes were submerged into a visor and a monochromatic parallax system produced stereoscopic-3 dimensional gaming. The goal in Mario Clash is to knock all of the enemies off of the ledges while moving across between the foreground and the background, with three different floors, all connected by warp pipes. Various enemies, means of attack, and the number of enemy troops that gradually increased level to level. I thought it was never ending but it turned out to be 99 levels…. I mean who could have known? You started over every time! The musical quality of the Virtual Boy, the unique gameplay, and the sheer fact it was a game I played as an infant when at Grandma’s house, all make this game my nostalgic favorite.

Hope to see in the future:
More Mario


There are so many more Mario things I want to see happen in the future. A full line of Captain Toad games, a Mario Parkour television competition series, Odyssey 2-5, Mushroom Kingdom Warriors, a real life Yoshi, more Dixie Kong in the sports spinoffs, another Wario Land, an Augmented Reality Mario Obstacle Course…. And even just more mobile games. I love Mario. I always want more.



@Scribe

Favorite Mario Game:
Super Mario 64 DS


Honestly I’m not even sure I can call this one my favorite, considering it’s in close competition with Super Mario World, Mario vs. Donkey Kong, and every 3D Mario game that isn’t the original Super Mario 64, but SM64 DS is the one I enjoy talking about the most, so let’s go with that one.

I think it gets a lot of flak for some of the compromises it had to make in order to work on the DS, and some of the added busywork in the early game can be annoying, including the fact that you can’t even play as Mario at the beginning. At the same time, the rest of the added content is actually quite enjoyable, and there are certain quality of life features that I’m just so used to that it actually kinda prevents me from enjoying the original. I particularly appreciate that you can actually turn in place now rather than walking in a tight circle when you try to turn around, and the way Mario can slide down walls like in later 3D Mario games, rather than bouncing off if you don’t get the timing right for a wall jump.

I also think it tackles the design challenge of multiple playable characters in a collect-a-thon fairly well, or at least better than other examples like Donkey Kong 64. You may only be able to switch characters from the hub, but you also have power-ups within each area that temporarily transform you into another character—with their full suite of abilities—until you get hit, and as Yoshi (the only character you can’t transform into in this manner), you even have the option to enter a level with one of these power-ups. It toes the line between expecting you to have some foresight as to which character you’ll need without forcing you to trudge back and forth constantly when you do need to switch.

Hope to see in the future:
Less strictness with the Mario IP

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Nowadays I feel like I’ve had my fill of Mario for the most part so… I dunno maybe for Nintendo to not be quite as strict with the IP as they’ve been in the past 10 years. I especially want to see this for the Paper Mario series, which I feel has generally been at its best when Intelligent Systems was allowed to mess around more with established Mario characters. That said, from what I’ve heard about Origami King, it seems that they’re starting to find their footing within the restrictions they’re given, so who knows what’s next for that subseries.



@Octorockandroll

Favorite Mario Game:
Super Mario Bros. 3


I’ve already gushed about my love for this game in my own Top 10 Mario Games article, so I’ll keep this short. Super Mario Bros. 3 is about as tightly packaged as a platforming game can be. Each of its 90 levels is built around introducing some unique challenge and building upon it as players progress. Most of these levels only take about 2 minutes to complete, too, meaning none of these challenges overstay their welcome and even if you end up playing through a level that doesn’t appeal to you, you’ll be starting the next one almost as soon as you realize that you don’t like it. But even that’s unlikely, since every level presents a carefully crafted obstacle course that keeps the gameplay varied, challenging and most importantly, fun.

Hope to see in the future:
A greater focus on Mario spin-offs


Oddly enough, I don’t really think another game like Super Mario Bros. 3 is what I want from Mario in the future. Mainline Mario games have been pushing the envelope of 3D adventures in open worlds ever since 64, while newer attempts to replicate Mario 3’s short but sweet design philosophy like 3D Land—as much as we love it—don’t quite measure up. I think Mario platformers are already heading in a good direction judging by Odyssey, so instead I’ll just say that Nintendo ought to put more attention into the portly plumber’s spinoff titles. We can all agree that the last few sports games, parties, and Paper Mario entries haven’t really been highlights in the series, so why not redouble efforts on their next entries? Besides, Nintendo can’t release a past-gen port as amazing as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and not have us expecting number 9, right?



Zerp Zerp

Favorite Mario game:
Super Mario Sunshine


Super Mario Sunshine is far from a perfect game and is riddled with a bunch of major flaws. For example, there’s the nonsensical placement of some blue coins, a terrible camera, and the game is very glitchy. Despite all of that though, it’s still my favorite Mario game (although by no means do I think it is objectively the best Mario game, it’s just the one I like the most).

Part of why I like it so much is the level design. Every time I play it I’m amazed at how great the level design is in the main worlds (Not you, pachinko machine from hell). Pretty much every platforming element has a reason to be where it is in the context of the world instead of there just being a random mess of platforms and some NPCs to talk to. Everything feels grounded as a result which really helps contribute to a feeling that the world of Sunshine is alive. That alone is pretty good, but what makes it great is that despite everything being so grounded, these levels also play really well. Now, if you were to just toss the Mario from any other 3D Mario game into Sunshine and play these levels with said Mario, they probably wouldn’t feel very good. Why?

Because they don’t have FLUDD, that’s why.

FLUDD is basically a water gun, which doesn’t sound like a big deal at all, but it adds a ton of movement options to Mario’s kit and Sunshine deeply benefits from this. Mario can do all sorts of things with it, such as using it to hover and course-correct, speed up his swimming, and even rocketing himself up into the sky. The movement is so intuitive that I was able to sequence break the game as a child without looking up any guides. All I had to do was stop and think “Hey if I spin jump here then wall-jump and hover I should get high enough to reach that”. Is the movement perhaps a little broken? Yeah, probably. Is it fun? Absolutely!

Hope to see in the future:
A 3D sandbox Mario game with true multiplayer.


By true multiplayer, no I don’t mean playing as Cappy or the baby Luma. I mean Player 2 being able to play as someone who controls like Mario (like say, Luigi) and play at the same time as Player 1. The 3D Mario games focused on exploration are already so much fun and that’s pretty much the only way I’d see them becoming even more fun than they already are.

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We hope you all enjoyed this collaborative article released during an influx of Mario content from Nintendo. Here's to another 35 years of fun Mario memories.


Credits:
Editing:
Venus of the Desert Bloom Venus of the Desert Bloom
Graphics: Zerp Zerp
Social Media: Zerp Zerp
Special Thanks: Mario Wiki for most of the pictures


Author's Note: What is YOUR favorite Mario game and what would YOU like to see from the series in the future? Let us know in the comments below!
 
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Sari

Comments

Mario Clash? Paint? Was there some agreement to not choose the same games lol?

Next time include me and I'll choose Mario & Wario. 😉
 
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Mario Clash? Paint? Was there some agreement to not choose the same games lol?
Everyone was allowed to choose the same favorite game if they wanted to, as seen by two people picking Sunshine as their favorite.

Mario Clash might seem weird since it's a Virtual Boy title but the person who wrote it had a personal connection to it so I can understand them liking it.

Mario Paint was amazing especially when it first released so I completely get why they said it's their favorite.
 
Paint? Was there some agreement to not choose the same games lol?
Since I was the one to choose Paint, I’ll further elaborate. In truth, probably Mario 64, Mario Kart 92, and Super Mario Bros. 3 would be a hard tie to first place for me. However, if I was to consider the memories I made playing these games, Paint is top. I have a large family on my mother’s side with a total of 15 cousins along with me and my sister. We all grew up together (some lived on the same street as me) so we were all, more or less, connected at the hip - especially during summer. While we grew up playing Mario, NES, SNES (and more mature rated games like Doom and Mortal Kombat thanks to my older cousins), we all found common ground with Paint. Even though it wasn’t a multiplayer game, we still could play together to create these funny and quirky cartoons, make music, Paint the black and white pictures, and the fly swatter game. We would hope contests who could create the most funny or bloody cartoon or most creative song. For a bunch of kids, this was tons of fun for us and probably one of the best memories I have when playing video games. I loved playing 64 and Kart but the memories made playing Paint with them stand out the most.
 
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That's fair... I was being a bit facetious with my post anyway; heck, if I were to choose a favorite Mario game, Maker 2 would be strong in the running and that's closer to Paint than a typical Mario "game".
 
Zerp Zerp

3D World + Bowser's Fury surely has your wish covered?
It almost does. I mean't something like Super Mario 64, Sunshine or Odyssey's style with multiplayer, although that's my fault for not being clear. I kinda forgot 3D World existed when writing that so I omitted the word "sandbox" from it originally and failed to explain I mean't the ones that place a heavy emphasis on exploring stuff lol. That said, I had a lot of fun playing 3D World with my brother and I really loved how the multiplayer was implemented. If we got something with multiplayer like that but the level design was closer to the sandbox style of 64/Sunshine/Odyssey it'd probably become my absolute favorite.
 
I really love these collaboration articles- they gives many different perspectives and often teaches me quite a lot. And there is something special about hearing the reason so many love Mario- I know I got into gaming in large part because I was an awkward kid and Nintendo provided many series that helped me connect with others (especially Smash). There's no more needed year to feel a little joy than 2020.
 
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