This year marks the 35th anniversary of the release of the original “Super Mario Bros,” and Nintendo surprised fans with a series of products that rightfully pays tribute to the iconic franchise. The video game crash of 1983 could have easily spelled doom for home gaming consoles, with personal computers on the rise ready to take hold of the gaming market. But in 1985, Nintendo released the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), a console that revitalized the gaming industry with the help of the bundled launch titled “Super Mario Bros.” This year marks the 35th anniversary of the original video game’s release, and Nintendo surprised fans with a series of products that rightfully pays tribute to the iconic franchise.
The success of the 2D platformer turned Mario into a hero, with the character quickly becoming the face of gaming. Nintendo capitalized on their superstar by building an entire franchise off of the original title’s success. In 35 years, the Mario Bros. series alone has sold more than 240 million copies, and Mario has appeared in over 200 games, including his most recent Nintendo Switch titles “Super Mario Odyssey” and “Super Mario Maker 2”.
To commemorate 35 years of “Super Mario Bros.,” Nintendo plans on releasing a variety of Mario-themed games and merchandise over the next few months. In terms of hardware, Nintendo is releasing a limited-edition retro console titled “Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros”. This handheld device will play the original “Super Mario Bros.,” “Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels,” and a classic “Game & Watch” juggling game that will feature Mario himself.
“Tetris 99” for Nintendo Switch brought the classic block game to the competitive battle royal sphere, and “Super Mario Bros. 35” will look to replicate that formula for success by having 35 players go head to head in a race to be the last Mario standing. It looks to be an appealing clash of old and new gaming mechanics that will do the franchise’s anniversary justice. “Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury” is an enhanced version of the well-received game from the now forgotten Wii U console. This game will feature co-op play for the first time, and while there is little news of what the “Bowser’s Fury” add-on is, it will surely get fans of the original fast-paced platformer a reason to buy it on the Switch.
“Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit” is a new take on the beloved “Mario Kart” series by turning players’ home into a customizable virtual track. Better yet, Nintendo plans on releasing real-life toy karts for players to control within the game, which is an example of Nintendo’s willingness to innovate, think outside of the box and deliver a product that reaches a realm beyond the boundaries of virtual gaming.
Nintendo has also partnered with several different brands to celebrate the longevity of “Super Mario Bros.”, including a clothing line from BlackMilk Clothing, super sneakers from Puma and several new Mario-themed LEGO sets. This showcases Nintendo’s desire to make the most out of this celebration by branching out into different sectors beyond the gaming industry, and the hope is other popular brands can team up with Nintendo and create products for fans to showcase their love for the video game icon.
The headline for this anniversary is a collection of historic 3D Mario games, appropriately titled “Super Mario 3D All-Stars”, and is easily the biggest reveal of the year for Nintendo. This collection includes three classic Mario adventures all optimized for the Nintendo Switch.
Arguably the most popular title in the collection is “Super Mario 64” – a launch title for the “Nintendo 64” in 1996 and is widely regarded as the best Mario game, if not one of the best video games of all time. The core elements fans loved from the 2D Mario games of old were implemented into a groundbreaking 3D world for players to explore in unprecedented ways and joyfully complete challenging missions.
“Super Mario Sunshine”, released on Nintendo GameCube in 2002 was one of the best games to ever grace the console. It isn’t held in the same regard as “Super Mario 64”, but it certainly has a strong fanbase that vocally enjoy the creative direction Nintendo took by giving Mario a water pistol.
The Nintendo Wii is Nintendo’s highest selling console, with the then-revolutionary motion controls taking over family living rooms with ease. In 2007, “Super Mario Galaxy” was released to much acclaim by making use of the motion controls in creative and enthralling ways, and it gave players the chance to trek through space in ways that were fresh and inviting for the 3D Mario series.
This collection gives younger Mario fans and general gamers the chance to experience some of the best games in a franchise that set the gold standard for not only 2D and 3D platformers of today, but video games as part of culture. I’m planning on picking up the All-Star collection and one or two LEGO sets myself, but there is at least one item from the celebration catalogue that is sure to be in the hearts and minds of all Nintendo fans. Simply put, Mario is a quintessential character within the gaming world and beyond, and fans old and new have a lot to look forward to in the coming months.
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