Star plumber Mario turns 25



by  Zach Walton

I’m sure many of you are enjoying Halo Reach this week, but did you know that if it wasn’t for one tenacious virtual plumber there would be no video games industry at all?

The original Super Mario Bros. was released on the Famicom in Japan on Sept. 13, 1985. That would make Mario a 25-year-old and he’s ready to celebrate a career only befitting of the most successful video game franchise of all time.

As many of you may not know, the United States video game market crashed in 1983 due to a number of reasons. The biggest reason was an over saturation of the market as a whole with too many products and not enough demand to meet the abundance of games for a multitude of systems. The entire market collapsed and the general public viewed video games as just a fad that would never be heard from again.

Nintendo, formerly a playing card company, released the Family Computer (Famicom) in Japan in 1983. The immediate popularity of the console made Nintendo realize they had to go global. They set up shop in Redmond, Wa, as Nintendo of America and set to work on marketing the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to retailers across America.

The reaction to the NES was at first cold. Many retailers still had a grudge against video games because of the 1983 crash. After a lot of false starts and retailer negotiations, Nintendo was able to conduct a market test in New York City during the holidays of 1985. Leading the new console was R.O.B., a battery-operated robot that would respond to screen flashes, and Super Mario Bros.

The success of the console was promising, but soon after word of mouth spread about the NES and one game, Super Mario Bros. Mario was launched to stardom and singlehandedly revived an industry many called a fad that was never going to come back.

Mario has since starred in 11 main franchise games with at least one game on every console. On top of that, Mario has starred in more than 200 other games including the sports spinoff titles like Mario Golf, the role-playing games like Paper Mario and his many cameos in games like Punch-Out where he was the referee. Mario games have sold more than 210 million copies making them the most successful video game series of all time.

Next time you are enjoying your favorite game franchise, whether it be Halo, Call of Duty, Castlevania or even Super Mario Bros., remember that Mario made it possible for those game to exist. Without him, the NES could have very well failed and video games would be stuck in the annals of fad history with the likes of the Furby, bell bottom pants and Crystal Pepsi.

Remember to celebrate a little this week for the virtual plumber who saved the industry and will continue saving princesses for hopefully another 25 years.