First Released: NES (1985)
Now Available On: Virtual Console (500 Nintendo Points)
We as gamers will forever be in Nintendo's debt. The Japanese powerhouse is responsible for some of the most important innovations in the medium and continues to push the boundaries with its hardware and software creations. There are many factors behind the company's success, one of them being the strength of its flagship Super Mario brand.
The portly plumber hit the big time in 1985 when the original Super Mario Bros debuted on the Nintendo Entertainment system. Released as a pseudo-sequel to the 1983 arcade title Mario Bros, the game was originally intended as a swansong for the cartridge format ahead of the release of the Famicom Disk Drive, but instead helped proliferate the storage method and reinvent the platform genre.
Super Mario Bros was designed by Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka, two men who would go on to great things in the gaming industry, to put it lightly. This is the part where we'd usually describe the backstory and core gameplay of the title in question, but if you aren't aware what the Super Mario series entails, you probably have no business browsing a gaming blog.
However, what you might not be aware of is that Super Mario Bros was almost an entirely different game. Miyamoto and Tezuka were originally working on a project built around shooting mechanics with radically different controls - a far cry from the koopa-stomping formula that has since become iconic.
Somewhere along the development cycle, this concept was dropped in favour of a focus on jumping mechanics, and the shoot-em-up gameplay was relegated to a mere bonus level before being ditched entirely. We can but wonder what the Super Mario series would have gone on to become had the original been released as a shooter title.
So many of the iconic franchise's hallmarks can be traced back to this very game. Powers-ups including the mushroom, fire flower and starman were popularised by Super Mario Bros, as were gameplay staples such as block-breaking, enemy-stomping and coin-collecting and characters like Bowser and Princess Peach.
To put it simply, Nintendo hit the bullseye with Super Mario Bros. Gamers back in 1985 had never seen a platformer done so well. Not only was it more colourful and vibrant than most other games on the market, the controls were inch-perfect, and the gameplay instantly infectious. Many believe the NES began to fulfil its true potential some years later with the release of Super Mario Bros 3, but the original's influence cannot be overstated.
The game was littered with memorable moments. Who can forget discovering those Warp Zones hidden beyond the underworld level exits? Or how about the brutal difficulty of world eight? Then there was Koji Kondo's original score, which has never grown tiresome to this day.
Super Mario Bros went on to shift 40.24 million copies worldwide, a figure that makes it the second bestselling video game of all time behind Wii Sports. Its success has influenced Nintendo to reissue the game at virtually every opportunity, from early rehashes such as Super Mario Bros Special for NEC PC-8801 and Sharp X1 machines to the Super Mario All-Stars collection on SNES, and Super Mario Bros Deluxe for Game Boy Colour.
The game went on to spawn some of the most innovative and important platformers ever released. Its third sequel, Super Mario World for SNES, defined the genre in the 16-bit era while N64 launch title Super Mario 64 helped establish it in 3D. Then there came highly influential spinoffs such as Super Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros.
The Super Mario series remains one of the biggest guns in Nintendo's arsenal, and the fact that the firm has reverted to the basic 2D formula for recent instalments is testament to just how effective the blueprint laid down by the original was. Did 2D platformers ever get any better than Super Mario Bros? Not much!
> Nintendo retrospective: Nearly three decades of consoles
Do you have any fond memories of Super Mario Bros? Post a comment below.