When it comes to characters that defined the video game industry, no one can touch Mario. Sure, Sonic the Hedgehog, Lara Croft and others did great things, but Mario has been around for over 30 years, with a number of adventures that fans consider legendary. He continues to thrive on the Wii U and 3DS, with games like Super Mario 3D World, as well as upcoming releases like Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8.
With this in mind, here are our favorite Mario moments.
When he defeated Donkey Kong
Nintendo released the original Donkey Kong arcade game in the early 80s, introducing us to two icons that still remain popular. Mario (known then as Jumpman) wound up beating DK at his own game, causing the ape to crash onto a pile of girders. Meanwhile, Mario reunited with his first love, Pauline.
When Mario turned evil
You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. Mario took this to heart with Donkey Kong Jr., trapping the large ape and forcing animals to stop his son from rescuing him. We’re not sure what made Mario turn heel, but thankfully, it was only temporary.
When Mario explored the Mushroom Kingdom
In 1985, Mario entered a brave new world with Super Mario Bros., a superb platformer that survived the test of time. Featuring classic gameplay, plenty of dastardly enemies to defeat and lots of hidden items (including 1ups), it became one of Nintendo’s most popular games – and for good reason.
When Mario returned to form in Super Mario Bros. 3
After Super Mario Bros. 2 broke away from the series’ traditional gameplay, Nintendo returned to form with Super Mario Bros. 3 in 1990. Featuring an all-new flying power-up, more hidden collectibles and a memorable presentation, the game became one of the company’s biggest sellers to date. It’ll arrive on the Wii U and 3DS Virtual Console on April 17th.
When Mario became a doctor
Mario wasn’t limited to platform games. He expanded his horizons in 1990 with the puzzle game Dr. Mario, where players dropped pills to eliminate pesky viruses. The game turned out to be a good alternative to the more popular Tetris, and would later return to the Wii U as Dr. Luigi, featuring Mario’s brother. The original game was released for the Wii U Virtual Console as well.
When Mario got his own show
In 1989, Mario hit the airwaves for the first time with the Super Mario Bros. Super Show, featuring a combination of animated and live-action scenarios, with Captain Lou Albano stepping in as the iconic plumber. The show became a cult success, more so than the 1993 live-action film featuring Bob Hoskins and Dennis Hopper.
When Mario earned his driver’s license
After his 16-bit debut in Super Mario World, Nintendo upped the ante by placing the popular plumber and his friends in a 3D racing game called Super Mario Kart. A true party favorite, the game led to several sequels on the Nintendo 64, GameCube, Nintendo DS, 3DS and Wii. It will continue next month when Mario Kart 8 makes its debut on the Wii U.
When Mario made the jump to 3D
In 1996, Mario said goodbye to 2D platforming action – for the time being, anyway – to make his long-awaited jump into 3D on the Nintendo 64. Super Mario 64 was a tremendous seller for the system, with its beautiful levels and advanced gameplay. Of course, it was also a lot of fun, especially when it came to hurling Bowser out of the ring.
When Mario tackled his first RPG
Even though Mario’s Nintendo 64 debut was the bigger title in 1996, Nintendo teamed up with Square Enix to deliver a classic to the SNES audience that same year – Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. The game became an instant hit with fans, and even though we never received a proper sequel, Mario continued to venture forward years later with the Paper Mario series.
When Mario became a sports legend
Mario’s antics weren’t limited to platforming and driving. He also took part in several sports games over the years, starting on the Nintendo 64 with Mario Golf and Mario Tennis, which became two household favorites for the console. Later, Mario tackled other activities, including snowboarding (SSX: On Tour for the GameCube), basketball (NBA Street Vol. 3 on the GameCube), soccer (Super Mario Strikers), baseball (Mario Superstar Baseball) and even the Olympics alongside his former rival, Sonic the Hedgehog.
When Mario battled his friends
When it comes to Super Smash Bros., there can only be one winner – which would explain why Mario threw up his fists against the likes of Luigi and Peach. In addition, other Nintendo characters joined the fray, including Link, StarFox, and Kirby, among others, in a series that would become insanely popular amongst the fighting community. The latest entry in the series, pictured above, comes out this year.
When Mario and Luigi began new quests
Mario had plenty of role-playing action on his plate between Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario. However, that didn’t stop Nintendo from introducing a great new series produced by AlphaDream, where he teamed up with his brother Luigi for all-new adventures. Between Superstar Saga for Game Boy Advance, Mario & Luigi: Partners In Time and Bowser’s Inside Story for Nintendo DS, and Mario & Luigi: Dream Team for the 3DS, the developer struck gold with fans.
When Mario reached for the stars
In 2007, Nintendo wowed us once more with the release of Super Mario Galaxy, one of the biggest Mario adventures to date. The plumber travels from planet to planet, taking on enemies and eventually reaching the point where he needs to save the universe from Bowser. Super Mario Galaxy 2 followed a couple of years later, offering even bigger levels and the debut of his faithful dino steed, Yoshi.
When Mario grew in size and destroyed everything, Godzilla style
Defeating enemies is one thing, but completely obliterating them is another. In New Super Mario Bros. for Nintendo DS, Mario picked up a giant-sized mushroom that transformed him into a behemoth, letting him stomp on everything – enemies, terrain, power-ups – in his path. Hey, it sure beats using a plain old invincibility star.
When Mario explored with friends
Mario usually does everything by himself, but Nintendo decided to add a multiplayer component to the mix with New Super Mario Bros. Wii. The game supports up to four players, adding a competitive side to the platforming action. It would eventually lead to the release of a sequel on the Wii U, New Super Mario Bros. U, just a few years later – and yes, it’s still fun.
When Mario put on a cat suit
Last but certainly not least, Mario likes his suits. Why wouldn’t he? A frog suit, a raccoon suit, a cloud suit…they give him new abilities. Perhaps the neatest of them all is the suit featured in Super Mario 3D World, which dresses him up like a cat and lets him scratch enemies. He can also climb up walls, making it easy to grab secret items, like out-of-reach stars and 1ups.
Now check out the 15 greatest moments in Sonic the Hedgehog history!