The original Super Mario Bros game launched 34 years ago today 13th September 1985.
It was of course, the Nintendo’s Famicom console in Japan that it launched on, but it soon found itself available in every corner of the world throughout the 1980’s.
Super Mario Bros. is a platform video game developed and published by Nintendo. The successor to the 1983 arcade game, Mario Bros., it was released in Japan in 1985 for the Famicom, and in North America and Europe for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985 and 1987 respectively. Players control Mario, or his brother Luigi in the multiplayer mode, as they travel the Mushroom Kingdom to rescue Princess Toadstool from Bowser. They must traverse side-scrolling stages while avoiding hazards such as enemies and pits with the aid of power-ups such as the Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, and Starman.
The game was designed by Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka as “a grand culmination” of the Famicom team’s three years of game mechanics and programming. The design of the first level, World 1-1, serves as a tutorial for first-time video gamers on the basic mechanics of platform gameplay. The aggressively size-optimized profile was intended as a farewell to the Famicom’s cartridge medium in favor of the forthcoming Famicom Disk System, whose floppy disks temporarily became the dominant distribution medium for a few years.
Super Mario Bros. is frequently cited as one of the greatest video games of all time, with praise on its precise controls. It is one of the bestselling games of all time, with more than 40 million physical copies. It is credited alongside the NES as one of the key factors in reviving the video game industry after the 1983 crash, and helped popularize the side-scrolling platform game genre. Koji Kondo’s soundtrack is one of the earliest and most popular in video games, making music into a centerpiece of game design. The game inspired an expansive franchise including a long-running game series, an animated television series, and a feature film. Re-releases and cameos of the game are on most of Nintendo’s following systems.
Alongside Mario himself, Super Mario Bros. has become prominent in popular culture.
In Super Mario Bros., the player takes on the role of Mario, the protagonist of the series. Mario’s younger brother, Luigi, is controlled by the second player in the game’s multiplayer mode and assumes the same plot role and functionality as Mario. The objective is to race through the Mushroom Kingdom, survive the main antagonist Bowser’s forces, and save Princess Toadstool. The game is a side-scrolling platformer; the player moves from the left side of the screen to the right side in order to reach the flag pole at the end of each level.
The game world features coins scattered around for Mario to collect and special bricks marked with a question mark (?), which when hit from below by Mario may reveal more coins or a special item. Other “secret”, often invisible, bricks may contain more coins or rare items. If the player gains a Super Mushroom, Mario grows to double his size and gains the ability to break bricks above him. If Mario gets hit in this mode, then instead of dying he turns back to regular Mario. Players start with a certain number of lives and may gain additional lives by picking up green spotted orange 1-Up mushrooms hidden in bricks, or by collecting 100 coins, defeating several enemies in a row with a Koopa shell, or bouncing on enemies successively without touching the ground. Mario loses a life if he takes damage while small, falls in a bottomless pit, or runs out of time. The game ends when the player runs out of lives, although a button input can be used on the game over screen to continue from the first level of the world in which the player died.
In the fantasy setting of the Mushroom Kingdom, a tribe of turtle-like creatures known as the Koopa Troopas invade the kingdom and uses the magic of its king, Bowser, to turn its inhabitants, known as the Mushroom People, into inanimate objects such as bricks, stones and horsehair plants. Bowser and his army also kidnap Princess Toadstool, the princess of the Mushroom Kingdom and the only one with the ability to reverse Bowser’s spell. After hearing the news, Mario sets out to save the princess and free the kingdom from Bowser. After traveling through various parts of the kingdom and fighting Bowser’s forces along the way, Mario reaches Bowser’s final stronghold, where he is able to defeat him by striking an axe on the bridge suspended over lava he is standing on, breaking the bridge, defeating Bowser, and allowing for the princess to be freed and saving the Mushroom Kingdom.
Super Mario Bros., the successor to the 1983 arcade game Mario Bros., was designed by Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka, both of whom belonged to Nintendo’s Creative Department, and largely programmed by Toshihiko Nakago of SRD Company, Ltd. Though not originally using any particular character, the very deliberate creative process of what would become their next game was motivated by “a grand culmination” of their technical knowledge from previous games such as Excitebike, Devil World, and Kung Fu, by a desire to give the ROM cartridge format “a final exclamation point” in light of the forthcoming Famicom Disk System as the new dominant medium, and by continuing their legacy in the platform game genre. Miyamoto explained, “We felt strongly about how we were the first to come up with [what we called the “athletic game”] genre, and it was a goal of ours to keep pushing it. … We had built up a lot of know-how since the release of the console, and the time had come when that would be possible.” The game was made in tandem with The Legend of Zelda, another Famicom game directed and designed by Miyamoto, which was released in Japan five months after Super Mario Bros. As a result, certain elements were carried over from The Legend of Zelda to Super Mario Bros; for instance, the fire bars that appear in the game’s castle levels began as an unused object from Zelda.
During the third generation of video game consoles, tutorials on gameplay were rare. Instead, players learned how a video game worked through being guided by level design. The opening section of Super Mario Bros. was therefore specifically designed in such a way that players would be forced to explore the mechanics of the game in order to be able to advance. Rather than confront the newly oriented player with obstacles, the first level of Super Mario Bros. lays down the variety of in-game hazards by means of repetition, iteration, and escalation. In an interview with Eurogamer, Miyamoto explained that he created “World 1-1” to contain everything a player needs to “gradually and naturally understand what they’re doing”, so that they can quickly understand how the game works. According to Miyamoto, once the player understands the mechanics of the game, the player will be able to play more freely and it becomes “their game.”
Super Mario Bros. was first released in Japan on September 13, 1985, for the Family Computer. It was released later that year in North America for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Its exact North American release date is unknown and is frequently debated; though generally being cited as having been released alongside the NES in October 1985 as a launch game, several other sources conflict with this statement, suggesting that the game may have released in other varying time frames ranging from November 1985 to early 1986. The game was released in Europe two years later on May 15, 1987 for the NES.
In 1988, the game was re-released along with the shooting range game Duck Hunt as part of a single ROM cartridge, which came packaged with the NES as a pack-in game, as part of the console’s Action Set. This version of the game is extremely common in North America, with millions of copies of it having been manufactured and sold in the United States. In 1990, another cartridge, touting the two games as well as World Class Track Meet, was also released in North America as part of the NES Power Set. It was released on May 15, 1987 in Europe, and during that year in Australia as well. In 1988, the game was re-released in Europe in a cartridge containing the game plus Tetris and Nintendo World Cup. The compilation was sold alone or bundled with the revised version of the NES.