Posted by: joha5 | September 14, 2010

Happy 25th Birthday, Mario!: A Look Back at What Makes Mario So Great

As if you didn’t already know that time flies, I just wanted to offer up a little nugget of information that will make the vast majority of us feel much older than we probably are.  It’s hard to believe, but a certain running, jumping, mustachioed plumber named Mario turned 25-years-old today.  You read that right.  Twenty-five

Originally called Jumpman from his days on Donkey Kong , Mario was ‘born’ on September 14th, 1985.  It’s hard to imagine those days of old where technology wasn’t so recreational and how easy it was to be thrilled by tiny bleeps and bloops on a television screen but Mario was really one of the original characters that helped bring recreational technology and video gaming to the masses in the mid 1980’s. 

Little 'Baby' Mario in 1985

Whether you like video games or hate video games, I can bet that you can identify exactly who Mario is.  In fact, a national survey done last year found that Mario was the most readily identifiable popular culture character beating out the likes of Tom & Jerry, Mickey Mouse, and even the Simpsons.  His likeness resonates with us all on such a deep cultural level even if you have never touched a video game system in your life because his growth in the realm of video games mirrors our own growth in dealing with and feeling comfortable around technology. 

I would probably have a hard time finding somebody in my generation who doesn’t have their own story or experience with Mario.  In fact, I would probably have a difficult time finding people in my parent’s generation who couldn’t recount their own experience’s as well.  As far as home entertainment and video games is concerned, Mario was the standard vehicle of delivery in the mid 80’s.  Of course now there are hundreds of semi-iconic video game characters that many would be able to identify and that many would never have heard of and it is truly a testament to Mario and his cohorts that they have remained so relevent and iconic for the past 25 years. 

I personally didn’t discover Mario until Christmas of 1987 when I was 5 years old and my parents got me a Nintendo Entertainment System.  I don’t really even know how I knew to ask for it but I knew that whatever it was that I wanted in…

…and Santa delivered.  I think it took something like 4 hours for my parent’s to be able to hook it up to our old boxy television set but when I turned it on something magical happened.  I was actually interacting with the television.  It changed my whole notion of what was possible in the world.  This may sound stupid now because we interact with the television every time we flip the channel on our remote control or every time we record something on the DVR but back then the only way you could interact with the TV was by sitting on the sofa and staring at it.  This captured my imagination right from the beginning and I was off and running.  I was transported to this magical land where mushrooms came to life and there were dragons that had to be slayed, princesses that needed to be rescued, and a whole world in front of me for which to explore.  I delved in and never looked back.  

The Original Dream Machine

25 years later, much has changed.  Now I can waggle something called a ‘wiimote’ in front of my television, the graphics and storylines are of cinematic quality, I can play online with people around the world, and the level of interaction is beyond anything I could have ever imagined back when I was controlling a little man with moustache those 23 years ago.  I suppose as I grew up, my appetite for newer and bigger improvements grew with Mario.  I suppose that I would never have wanted Mario to remain the same as he was 25 years ago – and he hasn’t.  Yet when I look back on his 25 year history, it is hard not to be transported back to a simpler time when I relied on my imagination and the difficulty of the levels to keep me happy.

Mario at 25...my, how they grow so fast!

An internet genius has put together this incredible short video illustrating Mario’s growth over the years.  I must admit that I have not played all of these games and I probably never will.  I will bet the same goes for you as well.  However, I want you to watch it and let it transport you back to a time when you were younger and you were more easily thrilled by this little man named Mario jumping around on the screen, and when your wants and needs were probably a bit simpler as well. 

Watching this video is like opening up a time capsule.  Don’t think too much about it.  Just watch it.  Enjoy those memories.  And let’s hope Mario keeps going for another 25 years.  Happy 25th ‘Birthday’, Mario. 

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Responses

  1. Happy birthday Mario 😀

    • Happy birthday, Mario…indeed! If they haven’t messed him up or ruined him by now then I don’t see how they can in the future. Here’s to more Mario!


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