The launch of Nintendo Co Ltd’s ‘Mario Kart Tour’ marks the latest game to feature mustachioed Italian plumber Mario who for nearly four decades has gripped gamers as he dodges flying turtles, jumps chasms and rescues Princess Peach.
Across multiple franchises spanning dozens of titles, Mario’s evolution tracks the development of Nintendo’s gaming business — and the broader industry — as his environment evolves from linear games played on bulky arcade systems to the open-world offerings of today, via puzzles, sports and role-playing.
The following are milestone titles in Mario’s history:
DONKEY KONG (Arcade, 1981)
Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto’s first title featuring Mario, then a carpenter known as Jumpman, stood out for its addictive, barrel-dodging, ladder-climbing dynamics that helped establish the “platformer” jumping game genre.
SUPER MARIO BROS (NES, 1985)
Platforming is widely seen as reaching a new peak with this game’s fluid, side-scrolling worlds featuring snapping plants, warp pipes and magic mushrooms.
Backed by memorable music and underscored by precise jumping mechanics, the game shifted more than 40 million copies and turned Mario into a pop-culture icon.
SUPER MARIO KART (SNES, 1992)
Mario expanded his repertoire in the first instalment of this long-running series in a formula that has remained largely unchanged at its core. Franchise characters including Mario’s brother Luigi and adversary Bowser race their karts while dropping bananas and collecting coins.
SUPER MARIO 64 (Nintendo 64, 1996)
Mario took full advantage of the Nintendo 64’s enhanced processing power and made the jump to 3D graphics, re-imagining the platform genre by giving players the freedom to roam an open world where Mario explores a sunken ship and races a penguin down an icy mountain.
SUPER MARIO GALAXY (Wii, 2007)
Nintendo took 3D gaming to a new level of playfulness as Mario goes galactic, with players employing the motion-sensing Wii Remote, flinging the plumber between planetoids and exploring new worlds amid shifting gravity effects.
MARIO KART 8 DELUXE (Switch, 2017)
A retooled version of the tried-and-true kart formula, the game features the ability to race while defying gravity. It has become the Switch’s top selling game, moving more than 17 million copies and demonstrating the ongoing appeal of the karting series.