Mario video game franchise

Mario, Nintendo's mascot, has been around for over 30 years and still stars in many games, saving Princess Peach from Bowser's numerous plots. Mario is the best selling video game franchise of all time, with an estimated 200 million Mario games sold world-wide.



Super Mario | Mario Kart | Mario RPG | Mario Party | Paper Mario | Mario Tennis | Mario Golf | Mario Strikers | Mario Baseball | Dr. Mario | Mario Artist | Mario & Luigi | Mario vs. Donkey Kong | Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games | Mario Galaxy


Yoshi | Wario | Picross | Super Smash Bros. | Donkey Kong | Peach | Luigi | Luigi's Mansion | The Mushroom Kingdom | Toad | Goomba | Bowser | Mario


Mario was the creation of Shigeru Miyamoto back in 1981. Since then he has been one of the most recognizable figures in video games to this day. He has inspired games, movies, cartoon shows and is still going strong. He has even branched out from his platform gaming origins into several new franchises, such as Mario Tennis, Mario Party, Mario RPG, Mario Kart and more.


Mario was first featured in the 1981 arcade title Donkey Kong. The concept of the game was that Mario (then named Jumpman) had to save his girlfriend from his pet gorilla; Donkey Kong. The player would walk up slanted floors, climb ladders and avoid barrels on his way to the to save his girlfriend.

In 1983, Nintendo developed and published Mario's second game, an arcade game titled simply Mario Bros. The game was primarily a competitive two-player focused title, featuring Mario and his brother Luigi. The object of the game was to kill more enemies (and collect their coins) than their counterpart while doing everything possible to inconvenience or kill the other player. This was accomplished by stomping on the heads of some enemies, using the POW Block to knock some over so they could be kicked or jumping into the floor underneath enemies to knock them upside down. The game was notably included as a mini-game in the GBA Super Mario Advance releases.

Following Mario's arcade success came Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985. This was one of the first side-scrolling platforming games and featured Mario and his brother Luigi trying to save Princess Peach from Bowser. After three levels the player was faced with a castle with Bowser waiting at the end, after the player defeated him he was told that the princess is in another castle, starting a new set of levels.

Super Mario Bros. 2 was released for the NES in 1988. This game was actually a modified version of Doki Doki Panic, an unrelated Japanese platformer that was converted into a Mario game. In this game, the player was given a choice to play as Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Toad. Each had their own unique way of handling; Luigi had the highest jumps, Peach could glide for several seconds, Toad had the most powerful jump but the least height and distance and Mario was the middle ground. In this game, Mario and his friends had to stop a frog named Wart from taking over Dream Land.

Super Mario Bros. 3 was released in the United States in 1990, after being featured in the film The Wizard. The game was a return to the "run and jump" mechanics of the first Super Mario Brothers, and required Mario or Luigi to save the Princess and the rulers of 7 kingdoms by obtaining the wands that the Koopa kids had stolen. This game introduced the world map to Mario games, as well as new items like the raccoon tail and the Tanooki suit.

In his first Game Boy game, Super Mario Land, Mario had to save Princess Daisy of Sarasaland from Tatanga, an alien that had captured her. The gameplay for this game was very similar to the previous installments, but the fire flower was changed to fire superballs, which bounced off walls, ceilings, and floors. They could be used to obtain hard to reach items.

Super Mario Land had a sequel named, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. This game was the first appearance of Wario, Mario's evil counterpart, who had taken over Mario's castle in his absence, during the events of the first Mario Land. He put all the inhabitants into a hypnotic state, making them believe Wario was their master. To enter his castle Mario had to find six golden coins scattered through the world, defeat Wario and free his people from Wario's spell.

Wario later starred in his own game, Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, the first in the Wario series of games.

Super Mario World was a launch title, and pack-in, for the Super Nintendo, featuring Mario and Luigi fighting Bowser and his kids in various worlds. Accompanying them was Yoshi, a dinosaur that Mario and Luigi could ride. Yoshi could eat enemies and, after eating shells, would gain a new ability. Blue shells allowed him to fly, red shells made him spit fire, and yellow made him land with a damaging puff of smoke.

In Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, Mario took a back seat and let Yoshi take the helm as the game told the beginnings of Mario and Luigi. Kamek, Bowser's sorcerer, foresaw that Mario and Luigi would cause trouble for Bowser in the future, so he tried to kidnap them as the Stork delivered them, but only managed to grab Luigi. Mario fell toward Yoshi's Island where a group of Yoshi's rescued him and set out to save Luigi, returning them both home. The gameplay in Yoshi's Island kept the platforming aspects of Mario games intact but added a feature that when Yoshi is hit, baby Mario would fly off his back to be reobtained before Kamek could take him. Yoshi was also able to fire eggs at his enemies.

Mario's first 3D appearance was in Super Mario 64. In this installment Mario went to the Princess' castle, only to discover that she and her servants had been captured by Bowser. Mario had to enter various paintings in the castle to obtain stars, unlocking more levels of the castle, thus enabling him to get closer to saving the Princess and defeating Bowser. This game defined 3D platformers for quite some time and gave Mario a new set of moves and items, he was now capable of punching, Triple Jumping, performing backflips and jumping off walls, he could now also obtain a Wing Cap, Metal Cap, and the Vanish Cap.

Super Mario Sunshine featured Mario, Princess and her retainers going on vacation to Delfino Island. They arrived to find a Mario look-alike vandalizing the town with paint. As a sentence for his crimes, Mario had to clean up the entire town using the FLUDD. This was a device capable of spraying a stream of water, spraying downward for limited flight, rocketing Mario in the air with a burst of water giving him a boost of speed to help him skim on the water and ground. Mario ventured into different sections of Delfino Island and obtained Shines for completing certain tasks.

New Super Mario Bros. was a classic 2D Mario game for the Nintendo DS. In this game, Peach had been kidnapped by Bowser and his child Bowser Jr. Many of the items were the classic items from the Mario series, the fire flower, starman, and super mushroom were present, but new additions included the mega mushroom which made Mario grow several times his regular size and become invulnerable to everything but lava, acid, and pits.

The sequel to the game, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, had new enemies, new friends and was now on the Wii.

Super Mario Galaxy was the first Mario adventure game on the Wii, the story revolved around Bowser once more kidnapping Peach and stealing stars to create his own galaxy. Mario had to help Rosalina, "The Watcher of the Stars" to stop Bowser. The gameplay in this game was unique because it is set in space as Mario ran, jumped and blasted onto small planets. Since each planet had its own gravitational pull Mario could circumnavigate each planet and jump at others nearby and be pulled to them by their gravitational field.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the follow up to Super Mario Galaxy. The sequel builds upon the foundation of Super Mario Galaxy with a plethora of new gameplay features. New features include the ability to ride Yoshi who will have different powers depending on the fruit consumed, and there are new powerups like the Cloud Suit and Rock Suit. The game was released in America on May 23, 2010, May 27, 2010 in Japan and June 11, 2010 in Europe with an Australian release to follow not too long after.


The Mario franchise has had its fair share of spin-offs. Mario has been in just about every genre since his game debut, from puzzle games to fighting. In addition, several popular characters have had their own games.

Mario has starred in numerous RPG franchises, the first being Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, otherwise known simply as Mario RPG. Mario RPG was released in 1996 for the Super Nintendo as the result of a partnership between Nintendo and Squaresoft, resulting in one of the most critically acclaimed RPGs on the Super Nintendo. Paper Mario debuted in 2000 on the Nintendo 64. Developed by Intelligent Systems (of Fire Emblem fame), Paper Mario had a new style for Mario, with a more "hand-drawn" feel. The Paper Mario franchise has had two sequels since then: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and Super Paper Mario. In 2003, Nintendo released AlphaDream's Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, the first in the Mario & Luigi franchise. This Game Boy Advance game retained key gameplay elements from both Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario, as well as introducing its own unique style and humor. The Mario & Luigi franchise also has had two sequels since then: Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time and Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story.

One of the most popular Mario spin-off franchises is Mario Party. Mario Party began in 1998 on the Nintendo 64. Hudson Soft has developed every title in the franchise (except for the mysterious Mario Party-e). Mario Party has a much more family element to the franchise, with each "game" taking place on a "board." Minigames have also been in every Mario Party game, with each one featuring minigames unique to that system's features, such as motion controls (Mario Party 8), touch controls (Mario Party DS), or even a microphone (Mario Party 6 and Mario Party 7). Despite critics and fans complaining about lack a of originality in Mario Party games, the series continues to be profitable.

The Mario Kart spin-off franchise launched in 1992 with Super Mario Kart on the Super Nintendo. The game was critically acclaimed for its unique use of the Mode 7 engine on the Super Nintendo, as well as its exciting and fun gameplay. Since then, the Mario Kart franchise has had several sequels. Mario Kart 64 (Nintendo 64, 1996), Mario Kart: Super Circuit (Game Boy Advance, 2001), Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (GameCube, 2003), Mario Kart DS (Nintendo DS, 2005), Mario Kart Wii (Wii, 2008), Mario Kart 7 (Nintendo 3DS, 2011), and Mario Kart 8 (Wii U, 2014 with a Deluxe version for Nintendo Switch in 2017). Each new installment of the franchise came with new features, such as new characters, items, and tracks.

Outside of the console market, three Mario Kart games had a limited release in Arcades, Mario Kart Arcade GP, Mario Kart Arcade GP 2 and Mario Kart Arcade GP 3. The games allowed the player to take a photo of themselves, so while racing, players could see their picture on top of their kart. On top of that, for the first time in the series' history third party characters, such as Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, and Blinky from the Pac-Man series were featured as playable characters.

Technically, the Mario Golf franchise began with Golf on the NES in 1984, but the first "official" Mario Golf game was Mario Golf on the Nintendo 64. Camelot has since headed the franchise, with Mario Golf on the Game Boy Color in 1999, Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour on the GameCube, and Mario Golf: Advance Tour on the Game Boy Advance. The franchise has been generally well-received, and Camelot has since gone on to develop golf titles for other companies (such as We Love Golf! for Capcom).

The Mario Tennis franchise began on the commercial failure Virtual Boy in 1995 with the release of Mario's Tennis. A similar version of the was later released on both the Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Color, with the moniker Mario Tennis. Camelot also headed this franchise, with several more sequels coming out after the franchise's beginning. Mario Power Tennis on the GameCube was one of the first New Play Control! games on Nintendo's Wii, along with Pikmin. Mario Tennis: Power Tour was later released for the Game Boy Advance, and is comparable to Mario Golf: Advance Tour. The newest entry, Mario Tennis Aces will be released on the Nintendo Switch in June 2018.

One of the newer Mario spin-off franchises, Mario Strikers began in 2005 on the GameCube with Super Mario Strikers. It had similarities to other Mario sports titles, such as the ability to use items. The arcade-style gameplay of the Mario Strikers franchise is praised, in contrast to a more realistic environment. The game was relatively well-received and led to a sequel in 2007 on the Wii titled Mario Strikers Charged. This game was one of the first Wii titles to feature the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.

The Mario Baseball spin-off franchise is another newer franchise. The first game, Mario Superstar Baseball, was released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2005. The game was developed by Namco (the company had previously developed other titles for Nintendo, such as Star Fox Assault). The game was a more arcade-style presentation of baseball, rather than more realistic simulators. A sequel was later released for the Wii titled Mario Super Sluggers, also developed by Namco. Mario Super Sluggers was released in 2008.

Mario & Sonic spin-off franchise began as a collaboration between Nintendo and Sega (Nintendo's fiercest competitor during the Genesis and Super Nintendo era). The two companies' mascots star in the first game, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. The game was released in 2007 and 2008 (for the Nintendo Wii and DS). The game was developed by Sega Sports. It was a collection of Olympic-based minigames, set in the Beijing Olympics. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games is a sequel to the game which takes place in Vancouver, site of the 2010 Winter Olympics. This game has 20 characters, 2 new modes, and all new events. The third installment, Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games takes place in London this time as they compete in all new events for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Dr. Mario is a puzzle game franchise, similar to the Tetris franchise. Every game in the franchise has similar gameplay, with only minor graphical and gameplay updates. Falling "pills" are color coded, and when stacked in a row, erase viruses of the corresponding color. The franchise consists of four games: Dr. Mario (the first game in the franchise, released on the NES and Game Boy. It introduced many things that have since become standard for the franchise), Tetris & Dr. Mario (a Super Nintendo compilation of the NES games Tetris and Dr. Mario, with graphical updates), Dr. Mario 64 (a version of the game released for the Nintendo 64, which features various gameplay and graphical updates), and Dr. Mario Online Rx (the latest game in the franchise, released for WiiWare. It features a new Virus Buster mode). A version of Dr. Mario is also included in Nintendo Puzzle Collection and Dr. Mario & Puzzle League.

Being one of the most popular characters in video game history, Mario has naturally been in a wide variety of other spin-offs. One of the first such was before the original Super Mario Bros. was even released. 1985 saw the release of Wrecking Crew, a puzzle game starring Mario. Mario's goal was to smash blocks and avoid enemies. A sequel was released on the Super Famicom titled Wrecking Crew '98 in 1998.

In 2004, Nintendo released Mario vs. Donkey Kong for the Game Boy Advance. This game was a continuation of the struggle that unfolded in 1994's Donkey Kong on the Game Boy, as well as the original NES game. The game followed Mario, as he controls several toy versions of himself, keeps them from harm and tries to get them to the end of each level. A sequel was released for the Nintendo DS titled Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis. The series made its debut on the DSiWare service for Nintendo DSi with Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! in 2009. This was followed up with Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! in 2010.

Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix was released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2005 by Konami. It was packaged with a dance mat (like all other Dance Dance Revolution games) and had mostly Mario-themed songs. Mario Hoops 3-on-3 was a basketball game (as well as another collaboration between Square-Enix and Nintendo) starring Mario and the gang. The game was released for the Nintendo DS in 2006. Mario Sports Mix is another sports game for the Wii this time with four classic sports. It had characters from the Final Fantasy universe as well, such as a Moogle and a White Mage. Mario Pinball Land was a Mario-themed pinball game based in the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario Pinball Land was developed by Fuse and released for the Game Boy Advance in 2005. It had Mario fighting bosses, collecting items, and gathering points. Mario Paint was one of the most well-known games that utilized the SNES Mouse. It was a program similar to Microsoft Paint, with a paint program and a music-creation tool.

Mario's Picross is another puzzle game franchise based on the Mario universe. The franchise began with Mario's Picross on the Game Boy in 1995. Developed by Jupiter, the game gives the player a 5x5 or 15x15 grid in which players must fill in squares to eventually uncover the picture beneath it. Later that year, the game got two sequels: Mario's Picross 2 (also on the Game Boy) and Mario's Super Picross (on the Super Famicom). Mario has been in a variety of obscure games as well. BS Excitebike Bun Bun Mario Stadium was a series of four downloads for the Satellaview attachment. It was a reimagination of the NES game Excitebike, except with Mario characters. Another Japan-only game, Mario & Wario, had Mario helpless. Using the SNES Mouse, players had to guide Mario around a stage designed by Wario.

When a deal involving a CD attachment for the SNES was scrapped, Philips ended up with the rights to some of Nintendo's characters. This included Mario, so they created a game starring him for their CD-i. Hotel Mario was and is considered to be an embarrassment for the Mario franchise as a whole, with cheesy cutscenes and horrible gameplay. The player guides Mario around a hotel. Mario has been in a wide range of educational games as well. Super Mario Bros. & Friends: When I Grow Up, Mario Is Missing!, Mario's Time Machine, Mario's Early Years: Fun with Numbers, Mario's Early Years: Fun with Letters, Mario's Early Years: Preschool Fun, Mario Teaches Typing, Mario Teaches Typing 2, and Mario's FUNdamentals are all examples of such educational games. They all taught various skills, from geography to typing skills.

Movie and TV shows

A film very loosely based of off the original Super Mario Bros. was released in 1993. It was billed as a family comedy. The movie starred Mario (Bob Hoskins) and Luigi (John Leguizamo) in a fight against King Koopa (Dennis Hooper). Instead of Princess Peach, this movie had Princess Daisy (Samantha Mathis). The movie took place in Brooklyn, in a dystopian future. The film involves two dimensions (one of which is ruled by an evolved humanlike race of dinosaurs). King Koopa is trying to merge the two dimensions, while Mario and Luigi fight to stop him. In addition, the film has a romance between Luigi and Princess Daisy. The film was considered to be a major flop (and a terrible movie), with it making only about $21 million, while the budget was around $42 million. Later, a soundtrack of the film was released.

The Mario franchise has had many television shows based off of the games. The first such show, Saturday Supercade, began airing in 1983 on CBS. It was produced by Ruby-Spears Productions, and aired on Saturday mornings. The show ran for two seasons, with each episode focusing on characters from popular arcade video games of the time. Starring characters included Donkey Kong, Mario, and Pauline (all from the Donkey Kong arcade game).

The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! was the first show based primarily on the Mario video games (rather than the industry as a whole). It aired from September 4, 1989 to December 1, 1989. The show was produced by DiC Entertainment, and was broadcasted by Viacom Enterprises (although Nintendo has since given the rights to DiC). Episodes were structured as partially live action and partially animated. Every episode began an ended with a live-action segment starring Mario (Captain Lou Albano) and Luigi (Danny Wells) living in Brooklyn, New York. Halfway in the episode, an animated segment would play. These would usually last about ten minutes long, based on the games Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2. The show also had The Legend of Zelda television show every Friday.

The live action King Koopa.