In case you’ve been under a rock, today is the 25ht anniversary of Super Mario Brothers original Japanese release. As I write this, “Mario Bros” is the #5 trending topic on Twitter. In addition to the usual suspects, a ton of mainstream press covered it. I even saw a headline about the anniversary on that screen in the elevator in my office building. Y’know, the one that everyone awkwardly stares at, so they don’t need to make conversation.
It’s appropriate that the anniversary happens to fall on the release date for the latest Halo game, Reach. These two properties couldn’t be further apart.
Halo is the very essence of what drives the industry today – a multiplayer-focused shooter fueled by competition, favored by angsty teens (and ghastly teens-at-heart), where it’s not uncommon to count more epithets than bodies. I’ll admit it – I’ve never played much Halo. It just never appealed to me.
Mario games look downright quaint by comparison, with bright colors, squeaky clean character design, and all those side adventures in cart racers, puzzlers, brawlers, RPG’s…
Just take a look at their flagship characters. Halo’s Master Chief is a faceless cipher under that impenetrable helmet. He and his space marine buddies have now starred in 5 games, but are still mostly marketed around (and purchased for) the multiplayer experience. Besides, he just wouldn’t fit in a fun, happy-go-lucky cart racer.
Mario doesn’t speak either, outside of the occasional “it’s-a-meeee!’ or “let’s-a-go!” But his charisma and charm have moved 240 million games – just among the character-focused core series.
Mario has been a constant through some remarkable personal benchmarks. For those of you just joining us, some highlights: One of my first published reviews was on Mario 64. I broke the news to readers (and in turn, some of my friends) about my wife’s pregnancy via a post about New Super Mario Bros. Wii. And when it came time to take the baby announcement photos, my daughter had on a Princess Peach onesie. Mario was even mentioned twice in speeches at my wedding – one of those during the actual ceremony.
Playing a Mario game evokes much of the same feeling for me as watching my daughter play on the floor does now. There is an innocence, and a simplicity to it that will always be endearing. I can’t help but smile when it’s just me, and the jumping, and the coins.
Happy birthday, buddy.