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Home / Features / Mario: How a plumber inspired today’s gamers and creators

Mario: How a plumber inspired today’s gamers and creators

We speak to names from Rockstar, Method Gaming and more

Super Mario

I was born a Sonic kid, but Mario was always the game that my friends had on their Game Boys. To me, it always felt something like a forbidden fruit. I shared a Sega MegaDrive with my brother Steve, and I begged and begged for my own console. When the Game Boy was released in 1989, it was all I could think about. After a major case of ‘squeaky wheel gets the grease’, my persistence was finally rewarded. 

I grew up playing my Nintendo Game Boy with many of my friends. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins was a favourite amongst our group. Between us all, we’d collect and swap different games. This continued well into my late teenage years, but sadly ended when my friends did not follow me into the wider gaming world. 

Flash forward to 2023, 34 years since the Game Boy was released, and there’s no slowing down for Nintendo. The Switch is king, and has sold over 120 million units to date.

It helps that Mario is the ultimate reinventor, rivalled only by Doctor Who and maybe Bowie. He’s a go kart racer, a flying squirrel, a shapeshifting hat, and on occasions he’s made of paper. In his latest iteration, Mario is a CGI film star voiced by Chris Pratt. Released on 5 April, Mario takes us on a journey through the Mushroom Kingdom to save Princess Peach from Bowser. It’s a story we know all too well, but seemingly can’t get enough of. 

The upcoming Super Mario Bros. movie made me think long and hard about my memories of the world’s favourite plumber brothers. Others, I discovered, felt the same. 

Chris Goodyear – Accessibility Advocate and Owner of Many Cats Studios

I think I always tied Mario with my Mum’s secret love of gaming when I was young. She would be the one who knew where all the hidden bits were, like warping ahead to a later level. 

Adam Skinner – Community and Social Media Manager of Kwalee Gaming

I really got into Mario games when I got a Game Boy. I remember getting my Game Boy as a treat to take on a family vacation to Spain in the early nineties. It came with Tetris, and my stepdad let me choose two other games as long as he could play Tetris occasionally. I chose WWF Superstars and Super Mario Land. I remember spending that holiday playing Super Mario Land non-stop.

Now that I’m fortunate enough to work in the games industry myself at Kwalee, a games publisher and developer, I’m even more aware of how games are evolving across multiple devices and platforms. As time has passed, I’ve noticed that Mario games have become increasingly user-friendly and approachable, which is fantastic. However, I do find myself nostalgic for the challenging nature of the earlier games. There was a certain sense of gratification that came from finally conquering a level after numerous attempts and failures. Which I’m somehow missing in newer games.

Antonio Martinez, Editor in Chief of Game Accessibility Nexus

Super Mario Bros.

For me, when I was finally able to have a really full experience, it was when I bought my Super Nintendo and it came with the Super Mario World game. The 16-bit graphics made a very important visual change on a qualitative level, and all the characters and worlds brought the game to life more than ever before. The sounds were much more powerful, clean and recognisable despite their simplicity. And the melodies were absolutely memorable. 

I still have some of them stuck in my mind, like when you caught the star and became invincible. Personally I preferred to play with Luigi than with Mario despite the fact that they were practically identical, but I think that I have always liked the colour green more than red. Yoshi’s incorporation was the cherry to top it all. As a fan of dinosaurs I was delighted and also his abilities were tremendously useful, with the floating Blue version being my favourite. He was the perfect partner. The evolution of the game was also palpable in powers and so on, my favourite being the feathered cape. Mario could now fly, glide and even dive to stun his enemies. I felt like a truly epic hero. All this made me play that game for hours and hours, always looking for the hidden doors to unlock alternate routes on the world map, which I fully completed. I admit that I didn’t have much luck in the minigame to get extra items or coins, but that added a factor of unpredictability that made it even more exciting.

Kexman – eSports caster and streamer for Method Gaming

I remember sitting down with my cousin (who’s a few years older) and being enthralled with the music and the colours on display! Add in the overworld they introduced later, and Super Mario Brothers changed the way I thought about gaming. 

Åsa Jönsson – QA Tester at Rockstar Games

I’d say my favourite memory concerning Mario is from when I was playing Mario Galaxy on the Switch during the flight when my partner and I went to Turkey this Summer. I’ve been struggling a lot with fear of flying, and those flights are longer than I’m used to. Playing such a happy and colourful game helped me relax a lot.

These excerpts from my friends across the industry show that everyone has a different memory concerning Mario and how this franchise has been tied up in holidays, childhood memories, hopes for the future and memorable ditties. I certainly know from my own personal point of view that as the kid who loved Pokémon – not even I was safe from the catchy tunes and bright colours of Mario – my partner’s Game Boy still lives on in the house and my nine year old is very fond of 6 Golden Coins. This shows that gaming history has come full circle in my house, and Mario will be an everlasting fixture for many years to come. 

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