Super Mario Then and Now - 1985-2019

Welcome to the World of Super Mario!  If you’re a HUGE Nintendo fan like myself --- and I proudly have been for only the last million years, heh heh --- then you will definitely love what this article is about, the one character central to the entire operation, the face of the company…..yes, we’re talking about the lovable Mario! To millions of gamers around the world, he’s more than a plumber on a mission; he’s a legend. And here, we’re going to briefly explore his rich evolution, throughout the years, as it appears he’s been in dozens of games….starting in the early ‘80s. Let’s have a look, yes?


Super Mario Bros.

We start with our first classic, Super Mario Bros., released in 1985 for Nintendo’s very first console ever, the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) platform - gaming system. This was the first game to officially introduce Mario, Bowser (his main nemesis throughout the future Mario games to come), Princess Toadstool (aka, an earlier version of the later - known Princess Peach), Mario’s brother and sidekick throughout the franchise, Luigi, and more. 

Once you get hit, fall off, or basically anything else, you lose a life. Lose enough lives, and it’s all “game over”. Remember those days? It was simple as that….. 

If you can make it through and survive, at the very end, you’ll face Bowser. Try to cross his lava bridge, and he’ll seek to end your life….literally. Be careful, and make it to the other side safely, sending him plummeting into the lava and rescuing the Princess. 

Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels

NOTE - this was originally only released in Japan.

Next up on the list, we’ve got Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, which came out only one year later. And in this game, the movements of the player and his or her character, the surrounding weather and environmental patterns, the levels you play through, and all else have been enhanced to offer greater difficulty and a more rigorous challenge overall. Game on! In the game, you must advance through 8 worlds, once again (as you did in the last game), each world holding 4 unique levels of its own. And something else is similar to the last game as well…..

MAJOR SPOILER ALERT AHEAD……..Once again, here, you will find yourself taking a final stand against Bowser. I just spoiled the end of the game. And guess what else? It’s in a lava castle, once more! 

Super Mario Bros. 2 / Super Mario USA

Now we come to Super Mario Bros. 2, otherwise known as Super Mario USA in Japan. Released in 1988, the game rocked and rolled like its predecessors, offering a new way to kick butt as Mario! But this time, Bowser takes a break from his mischief, and Wart becomes the new villain on the list to take down….before it’s too late. His evil plan is to rule the Subcon dreamland, and this dark frog king will try to let nothing (at all) stand in his way from doing so. 

In this game, quite notably, you are actually allowed to pluck vegetables right out of the ground and throw them directly at your enemies. Many fans love this aspect of it. And there’s more; in addition, it’s the first Mario game to incorporate a life meter, which shows you your “health” in the game. Take up to 4 hits! 

Super Mario Bros. 3

Then, of course, we have the unforgettable (even still today) Super Mario Bros. 3, released the very same year and for the same NES system, respectively. This game is the reason Mario continues to exist today, to put it quite bluntly….it was an end - of - trilogy sequel that delivered like no other, and made room for Mario to be able to continue to succeed as a character on future gaming platforms offered by Nintendo. 

This game was bold, innovative, uniquely rich and colorful at every turn, and overall inspiring as a game. It made a lot more money for Nintendo and got players into the series as well. By this time, Mario had quickly gone up the ranks as a new household name, especially in Japan and the U.S. alike: It was a good time for Nintendo. In this game, Bowser attacks once more, and you must stop him! 

Many still remember the classic look of this game, and of how it all takes place as a “staged screenplay”, so to speak. Draw back the curtains, and the action will unfold. As Mario successfully completes each level, he gets to “walk off the stage” proudly….. 

Super Mario Land

Then we’ve got Super Mario Land, one year later in 1989: This game is as notoriously remembered, as were its predecessors, as one of the “classics” of legend. It’s especially held in high esteem as being the very first handheld Mario game to ever come out, offered originally for the Gameboy. But since then, and all through these years, it’s been re - released on multiple types of “retro. - honoring” platforms, including those of the Wii’s or even by PC (where you can download the game and play instantly). Tatanga is the name of the main nemesis here, and it appears he is a mysterious spaceman of whom you don’t know much, and he has just captured the lovely Princess Daisy. Mario, to the rescue!

12 levels and 4 worlds are yours to play in. Live up to your name, and beat the odds. Can you survive as Mario? 

Super Mario World

This game introduced Yoshi.  That by itself was huge.  It featured much improved graphics and more elaborate / advanced gameplay.  It introduced all new levels with a revolutionary design.

This is Super Mario World, a 1990 release, made available for the SNES, otherwise called the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. This console - gaming system, quite worthy of note, was truly and genuinely the “next evolution up” from the previous NES system, in every respect. Its games included more worlds and greater memory, faster loading times, greater colors and graphics, sequels to games from the NES, new characters and storylines (and their looks and layouts, not to mention), and so much, so much, more! And as it all related to Mario and his franchise, it could not be more true….game developers truly took things a step further.

In this particular game, you play throughout a world map overworld. And there’s 9 worlds at your disposal. Your challenge is to get through 72 unique levels within them using all kinds of added power - ups like the glorious Cape Feather. 

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

Next up, it appears fans of Super Mario Land couldn’t get enough. That’s always a good sign, and probably the reason for why there’s Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, released just in 1992, not to long after its original prequel. This was notably one of the first titles to use the character, Wario; in fact, it was the very first. And thanks to its success as a game, Wario is now in many types of other Nintendo games. He is quite a villain / anti - hero when he wants to be. 

Wario is the opposite of Mario, in every respect. He wears a large W across his hat, much different from how Mario wears a large M across his. Wario’s two main colors are purple and yellow, different from Mario’s blue and red, respectively. Wario’s also got a different laugh and is truly insane! Consider him an “evil Mario”.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

But of course, to follow suite, Super Mario World needed to get a sequel of its own as well. It was also a title of choice for many players, who apparently wanted more. And if Nintendo ever learned anything from its many years of business, it was this: You give the people what they want. So that’s what happened…..and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island came out for the SNES in 1995. 

This title had it all, when it came to corny worlds and colorful, vibrant enemies along the way….not to mention the power of team work. Here, Mario rides Yoshi (as Baby Mario) for the very first time and uses him to get through the many obstacles and foes they encounter along the way. And guess where you get to play? On Yoshi’s Island! It’s a backstory to the Super Mario Bros. games, in which Mario and Luigi were just infants…..

Super Mario 64 

Then we’ve got a game above all games, in the world of Mario, at least according to me: Super Mario 64 (1996 release)! This has been, and will only forever be, my very favorite Mario game of all. It was the game that got me started on Nintendo, converting me into a true believer. Super Mario 64 was the first 3D animated Super Mario game to ever hit the shelves (and boy, did it hit them hard), like, ever. Period. 

And this was something that had never been achieved before, in the world of gaming. As naturally followed, the game’s markets reaped in thousands upon thousands of purchases, making the game’s latest Nintendo console (the Nintendo 64, or N64) a riveting success. This game featured Mario, Princess Peach, Bowser and Toadstool in 3D form, for the first time! The experience was unforgettable….. 

I could literally go on and on about the great game that this was...and still is, mind you. If you have ever wanted to “become a fan” or play your first Mario game ever, then this would be the game to do it through; it’s got loads of worlds and levels, not to mention about 120 total power stars that you need to collect. The music, to me, is beyond fact, I still remember it in the back of my head today. And you face levels of grass and sunshine, fire and lava, winter and ice, darkness, and so much more. 

Super Mario Bros. Deluxe

Moving on, we’ve got the end - of - millenium game, Super Mario Bros. Deluxe. The USA and Europe saw the game come out first, in 1999; while Japan had it released for its market in 2000. The game was released for the Gameboy Color, a new update from the classic Gameboy Nintendo system, adding more layers of color and graphics, in addition to other neat little surprise along the way. This game was truly an epic remastering and re - release of the very first Super Mario. Bros game, making new players fall in love with it…..and old players doing the same, once more. This game has even been re - released after that , once more, in 2014, for the Nintendo 3DS gaming console. 

As you can tell, then, it’s quite a popular one. Players love remastered games. And this one is no different. It truly delivers! 

Super Mario Sunshine

Then, we’ve got 2002’s smash hit, Super Mario Sunshine, which was the Nintendo Gamecube’s top seller at the time. It was one of the first games to hit the new Nintendo console, which was a step forward for Nintendo. Gamecube games had even more graphics, levels, playing options, cut scenes, and so much more….they even incorporated memory cards, which players would be required to purchase in order to “save their progress” on longer games, offering more worlds to play from, more weapon options and so much more. And with Super Mario Sunshine, such was the case; in fact, you would not have been able to save your progress, throughout the game, without first buying a memory card, attaching it to the front of your Gamecube, creating a save file for it, and then playing through the levels. Nintendo and Mario had further evolved, and this time, they each meant business!

Super Mario Sunshine is also my second - favorite Mario game, second only to Super Mario 64. And like Super Mario 64, there’s dozens of sunshine stars, (similar to the previous concept of power stars) that you need to go out and collect, in order to bring a ray of hope back to the island of Delfino and stop Bowser’s plot. The game carries a vastly tropical feel and some very upbeat background scores within it, giving you that feeling that you really are in a far away place...though perhaps not on vacation, as Mario had originally intended when he travelled to the island. 

Super Mario 64 DS

In 2004, Super Mario 64 DS then came out...and some people, as much as they loved the new Gamecube, still were amazed and in love with the N64 and all it accomplished, with Super Mario 64 nonetheless. They wanted more of it but didn’t quite sure know how to express it. But Nintendo certainly knew; their staff could tell from the influx of fan letters and all other kinds of support from loyal players. It was time to bring the N64 Mario back, but in a whole new way……

And that’s what this game set out to do, and it sold like never before. It was the first 3D HANDHELD Super Mario game to hit the world of the player. And it sold like a hot pancake on a summer morning, to put it very bluntly. It ‘wowed’ and amazed, especially since it could do what other games could do, having remastered Mario and his environment, but for a 3D version you could hold in your hand. Everyone was blown away!

What I especially like about the game (and I still own it, pull it out and play it, from time to time….) is the fact that, thanks to the DS, you can play it on a dual - screen. This allows you to do more as you progress throughout the game. And, to further add, even some of the original Super Mario 64’s most memorable moments, or little glitches, may be found in this DS version as well, such as that time when a monkey on a certain island can steal Mario’s hat...and Mario has to run around showing his head, until he can get his hat back. 

Super Mario Bros. DS 

Our next stop is 2006’s newly re - re - released, Super Mario Bros. for the DS. The gameplay, like with its original, still remains in 2D, but it’s no less fun. It offers a whole new way to fall in love with that great classic and never forget about it….it was, after all, what got the world of Mario started. So how could we forget the classics? 

This game takes a slight twist from its prior released versions, though, in the fact that you have to rescue Princess Peach from the grip of Bowser Jr., instead of the regular ol’ Bowser. Bowser Jr., as you may remember him from his first appearance in Super Mario Sunshine, is Bowser’s son. Theory has rumoured that he is, in fact, Peach’s son as well….eww, gross. But such theories have been shot down many a time...who knows, really? 

But Bowser Jr. is no less a threat than his father --- he is, in fact, learning to follow in his steps. He is unkind, devious and full of other little surprises. He is not to be toyed with! 

Super Mario Galaxy

Then came the times of the Nintendo Wii, in which the next step up was Super Mario Galaxy (2007). The game was, to say the least, another hit….even so much so that it was also released later for the Wii-U, the platform that came after the Wii. Super Mario Galaxy was similar to Super Mario Sunshine, as well, but took things a notch up in graphics, storyline, cut scenes, playability, villain “difficulty” and so many other factors players look for. It offered a challenge beyond a challenge, and gamers were up for it! 

I remember the first time I played it. I was astonished by the introductory cutscenes alone. It looked like a true plot was in motion, and so it was….and playing the first few levels was no less a true delight, especially getting to roam through outer space. Good times, good times…..imagine shooting across the galaxy, at your whim, and exploring the great unknowns of the Milky Way --- and beyond --- like you never have before….and all without needing a space suit, to a degree. 

The rumbling of the controllers, the powerful cutscene scores, and the overall vibrancy and “feeling of reality” that you get when playing through the realms and their many puzzling challenges --- all these factors were what made the game an “instant choice” in my opinion. I fell in love at first sight. I love literally everything about this game and hope it gets remastered less than 10 years from now! If that happens, I know I will be a happy camper….say no more. 

Super Mario Bros. Wii

Also, we’ve got the Wii Super Mario Bros. game to talk about, which is everything an old fan or a new convert alike could enjoy from a Mario game. This game was 2009’s big title, and it was all about the notorious Koopalings (and their cruel rising leader, once more….Bowser Jr.) capturing Princess Peach again and causing mayhem to all who would stand in their path. And the worst part is that they captured her right in the middle of celebrating her birthday party, with her loved ones, in her castle. Yes, we’ve all heard of letting your party “go out with a bang”, but maybe this isn’t the fun way to have it happen, right?

Who wants to get captured and taken away on their birthday, not even having gotten to try the icing on the cake? Boo hoo. But not to worry….the Mario Bros., along with the blue and yellow toads on their team, are ready and set to embark on another rescue! 

This time, they’ll need new power - ups. And the game has them. You can try out anything from an Ice Flower, to a Penguin Suit, to a Propeller Mushroom. Ride on Yoshi, too! 

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Super Mario Galaxy 2 came out in 2010. And though I’m a bit disappointed that a sequel for Super Mario Sunshine was never made (yet, or at least, one can always hope…..), I was glad to hear that the Super Mario Galaxy storyline would be moving forward. And this game soared, like its last, but in a whole different way, and fans are ‘mixed’ in their reaction and final verdict. Some fans prefer the prequel, and others like this one better. It all depends on what you want; different minds are different worlds, after all.

In the game, you continue your pursuit of Bowser in order to stop him from taking full control of the Grand Stars and Power Stars. Stop him from ruling those galaxies. Put an end to him, once and for all (or at least until he gets reincarnated in the next game and platform). Conquer! 

Super Mario 3D Land

2011’s Super Mario 3D Land was the very reason Nintendo lovers were in such “jolly spirits” around the Holidays that year. Released and making top sales around November and December, this game was a whole new way to do Mario, and it was especially useful in bringing back another classic….that had yet to be remastered. Nintendo never forgets its titles!

Super Leaf power - ups, and so much more, made their way into this game once again. And so did all kinds of other foes, like Bullet Bills, evil mushrooms, hammer turtles, and more. It was a game that played like a 2D Mario game, but from within a 3D environment, so that was pretty cool. I never got to play it, myself, but I did see it in action many times….like in commercials, through some live IGN footage, on YouTube, and even in the hands of some friends I knew. We all love Mario games and talk about them all the time.

Super Mario Bros. 2 DS

Furthermore, Super Mario Bros. 2 (2012) was “next up” for the 3DS. It came forth around the July - August time period that year. The Nintendo execs were proud to feature it in many of their markets, noting that a secondary goal had been added to it, which players would enjoy….that of collecting a whopping million gold coins. Are you up for the challenge? Think you can play all the way to the end and not fall apart?

The Gold Flower was new to this game, and it’s apparently the classic Fire Flower’s much rarer variant, which lets Mario and his friends turn multiple items into coins….go figure. The player can once again play as either Mario or Luigi, or alternate between the two. Multiple kinds of Coin Rush Stages are optional add - ons that you can tack on with this game, too.

Super Mario Bros. U

Super Mario Bros. U came out the very same year and is the rightful sequel. It follows the same style and layout but includes an all - new Flying Squirrel Suit, letting you hold the GamePad as you joyfully glide through the air and kick butt. The asymmetric gameplay is no less amazing. Here’s what the story’s all about…..

This time, it’s not just Bowser. Heck, it’s not just Bowser Jr. We’ve seen that. It’s not even just the Koopalings. This time, all of them come together to kidnap Princess Peach in a whole new way that has not been done before……

They use a giant mechanical arm to do so. They snatch her up and kick Mario and his team out of the way. Who would have seen it coming? It seems those Koopas can never stop reinventing the wheel in causing their mischief! 

Super Luigi U

In 2013 was released the new Super Luigi U for the Wii-U. This would make for the 4th title in which Luigi can carry a greater focus as the central character, the very first being Luigi’s Mansion for the Nintendo Gamecube. But this is a Mario game, as well, in many respects. Anyways, in this title, it seems Bowser’s most recent Koopaling invasion attempt has just resulted in a major failure, and being the persistent fool that he is, he will try once more…..

This time, he uses the very same strategy he used the last time and manages to invade the castle, and since Mario isn’t present at the time, he’s not able to abduct Mario and Luigi. This, of course, allows the heroes to fight back. This 2D side - scroller game rocks the stage like never before, and you get to play a lot more as Luigi! 

Super Mario 3D World

But hold up….we’re not quite done yet here in showing you our selection of major Mario games released. That same year, in fact, 2013, saw another great title that’s worth our mention; it’s that of Super Mario 3D World, in which Toad, Peach, and the Mario Bros. encounter a tilted glass pipe. The plot thickens, however, and a Sprixie Princess pops out of nowhere, just after the plumber brothers fix it, and she sadly alerts them of Bowser’s recent actions.

It looks like Bowser has just lately been up to a new kind of evil, this time in the form of kidnapping and trapping all other Sprixie Princesses in jars. And all of a sudden, the same Bowser shows up, captures this Sprixie Princess, and gets away….now, it’s a hot pursuit to find him, which leads the heroes down the same pipe and into the Sprixie Kingdom. Hold on! 

Super Mario Maker

September 2015 then saw the release of Super Mario Maker for its Wii-U system. This was more of a creation tool that would allow you to create and design your own Mario game, something that has also never been seen, heard of or done before. And many love it --- just when it would appear Nintendo could not come up with any more new or unused ideas, it seems it proves all others wrong and manages to do so. Create your own levels, style and other gameplay features, taking ideas and content from past games like Super Mario World, Super Mario Bros. U, and many more.


This game has been notably played over 600 million times, respectively. And as you can guess, that figure will soon be make way for a larger number, of course. There’s no telling how much more can be done within it, and it might even get re - re - released, or upgraded / remastered for a third release (more on this a bit later...keep reading…..), in the future, too! 

Super Mario Run

2016 boasted of two great games, the first being Super Mario Run, an auto - scrolling, side - scrolling recent hit. It first hit all iOS platforms, for mobile phone, in December. Then, the next year, it got released for Android phones as well. Now, pretty much anyone with a mobile phone can jump in and play, and you can even do so with just one hand through its simplified controls. 

This was the first mobile - device Mario game that’s worthy of remembrance. And it’s got 4 amazing modes you can play in, the first having to do with running and collecting coins, the second with players competing against each other, the third entailing altered versions of the original game but remixed, and last but not least, the fourth dealing with players expanding themselves with coins from within the Mushroom Kingdom arena. The game is anything but boring, and that’s the fans talking; I haven’t tried it myself, and with the continual influx of positive reviews on the game, I would be more than willing to give it a go. See what you think! 

Super Mario Maker 3DS

Also in 2016, we had Super Mario Maker 3DS! (A second release already? WHAT?) 

This one could do much of what its Wii-U original version could but now takes things to a handheld level, as well, meaning you can play from within your car, while at that boring work meeting, in the bathroom on the toilet seat, or anywhere you want...really. Don’t think too hard on where you want to play it, though, just keep it in your pocket and wait for that ‘right moment’ when you need something to do. Or how about taking it with you as you wait in line for your name to be called at the DMV station? Lots of ways to take your fun on the go…..

There is a small ‘bummer’ to be had here: This version of the game doesn’t quite let you engage in online level sharing like before. Aww, bummer. But you can still have some fun in other ways as everything else has pretty much been kept. And did we mention pre - installed, additional levels have been included with this version? I think we didn’t! It’s so much fun you will likely be addicted for hours; that’s what Nintendo team members have said about it. 

Super Mario Odyssey

The Nintendo Switch, another new platform, then got to feature Super Mario Odyssey in October 2017. This game sees Mario traveling on a hat - shaped ship throughout all kinds of new worlds, his goal being to stop a marriage that is about to involuntarily ensue….one between the evil Bowser and Princess Peach. He wants to force her hand, so Mario must put on his hat and overalls, and come to the rescue before it’s too late; time is ticking! Wedding plans are already in motion. Hurry, Mario! 

The Odyssey is the name of this ship, by the way, and it’s powered up through what are known as Power Moons. The more of these that Mario can manage to collect, the further he is able to advance in his mission, and the closer he gets to Bowser and Peach. The game takes some of the best characters, worlds, and other elements from games like Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Bros. alike. Mixing 2D and 3D memorable elements in perfect conjunction. Long live the multi - integrated Super Mario universe, which is ever - expanding! 

Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe

Last, but most certainly not the least, on our glorious collection of Mario game must - haves, we arrive upon a title Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, which is Nintendo Switch’s latest release and just came out this month. Go and get it. It’s got everything great you remember from its originally released Super Mario Bros. U but remasters everything it can think of, even taking into account past gamer suggestions and preferences. It is truly a wholesome game that improves upon its prior success.

You can also unlock additional campaign missions and other features within it, so give those a shot. But furthermore, if you’ve wanted to collect more coins than before, or simply have your own slots to play from, then this is a great game to get as well. It puts Mario to his best, once again!

Final Thoughts

So welcome to Super Mario, in a nutshell, a world where anything is possible, and dreams really do come true. With a long history dating back to those good ‘ol 80’s, where Nintendo was born, the Mario history has seen a whole load of new fans. And its fan base continues to grow as people email Nintendo constantly with questions on the characters’ untold backstories, suggestions for future games, and more. Super Mario is Nintendo!

The future of Mario promises further expansion. Who knows what it’ll hold in store? But for the time being, you can choose to become a true fan and see what all the fun is about. Why not? 

Throughout your time as a fan, new or old, you can come to expect top - selling games to get re - released in enhanced versions, for new consoles. You can expect to encounter Mario as you’ve never seen him before as well as his enemies (and even his friends). You can expect to laugh, learn, jump, fall, shoot and even fly along the way. Ultimately, you can expect to be transported to an all - new world, and wish to stay there.