The legends of Mario are heard across the world. Starting as a plumber to now becoming a movie star, it’s interesting to see where the Super Mario Bros started. Here’s a timeline of everything in the franchise.


The Origins of the Super Mario Bros

The first introduction to Mario we see is not in his own game, but in the 1981 release of Donkey Kong. In this arcade video game, players take the role of Mario as he jumps between platforms and barrels. The aim of the game was to save Pauline, who some may remember from more modern games, from the grips of the giant gorilla – who is obviously the infamous Donkey Kong. Mario would have to ascend 100 meters while Donkey Kong tried to get in his way. Players would score by avoiding obstacles and would win by saving Pauline – who was Mario’s girlfriend at the time.

After the success of Donkey Kong, Mario would receive his own arcade game in 1983 called Mario Bros.. This was the first time Luigi was introduced. The Italian brothers had the job of exterminating creatures that emerged from the sewers by knocking them upside-down and kicking them away. While this was originally a spin-off of Donkey Kong, this success then lead to the continuation of the franchise.

Super Mario Bros. then came to the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985. It was here that many of the main staples of the franchise were made – such as Goombas, Koopa Troopas. Bowser, and Princess Peach. The term “super” in this name came from the introduction of a new power up – the Super Mushroom. It only continued to grow in popularity, and Super Mario Bros. became known as the best selling video game of all time. The franchise only became bigger and bigger.

photo of man playing super mario bros
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The Mario Bros Become 3D

In 1996, the world saw the first 3D rendered Mario in Super Mario 64. It marks not only the first 3D game in the franchise, but also the first open world game. It was also a launch game for the Nintendo 64 console. In this Mario game, players would jump through paintings and explore worlds of the free will with no time constraints. The aim of the game was to collect Power Stars to unlock more game features and eventually save Princess Peach.

Other games followed such as Super Mario Sunshine, which introduces further new mechanics with the contraption of F.L.U.D.D., a hose like contraption which helps Mario clean up the island that an evil clone of his vandalized.

The Mario Bros then become 2.5D?

Most games once leaving behind their 2D routes then remain in the realm of the third dimension. However, the Mario Bros. franchise did something different – becoming 2.5D. This is when the models are 3D, but the gameplay and backgrounds remained 2D. However it mostly stays true to the franchise in terms of characters, power-ups, and enemies.

A lot of games in the Super Mario Bros. franchise then followed a similar structure, including:

  • Super Mario Galaxy
  • New Super Mario Bros.
  • New Super Mario Bros. Wii
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2
  • New Super Mario Bros. 2
  • New Super Mario Bros. U
  • Super Mario 3D World
  • Super Mario Maker
  • Super Mario Run

Some games are not like the others. For example, Super Mario Maker gave players the power to invent their own levels – which was insanely popular, with a lot of people taking it upon themselves to make the hardest levels possible. Mario’s popularity only increased with additional spin-offs such as Luigi’s Mansion and everyone’s favorite friendship killer, Mario Kart.

turned on red and green nintendo switch
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Mario and The Future of Open World

Super Mario Odyssey brought the return of open world games to the Mario franchise. In this game, players take the role of Mario and are free to explore the world as they see fit – free of jumping platforms and 2D backgrounds. It took inspiration from earlier games in the franchise, such as Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. Considering a lot of games are opting for more open-world experiences, this style of gameplay might be here to stay.

Mario has then of course got his own movie. You’ve likely seen it online – either from the animation style or the all-star casting crew. It just goes to show how popular Mario continues to be, even over forty years on.


So what are your experiences with the Super Mario Bros. franchise? Do you remember the first game featuring Mario you played, or maybe even your favorite? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!