Super Mario Bros. Turns 36 This Week

Just days before the Nintendo Gamecube turned 20 years old, another Nintendo property, Super Mario Bros., turned 36 years old, celebrating its original release in Japan and forever changing the world of gaming. Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of Mario and gaming legend himself, said the original Super Mario Bros. game was so simple because it was designed to be played with one button (the jump button). Celebrate Mario’s birthday, September 13th, 1985, by taking a stroll back in time with an overview of the biggest video game to ever exist.

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The most successful Mario game released by the Japanese game company Nintendo, Super Mario Bros. has sold 40.24 million copies worldwide. If you’ve been alive any time literally since it came out, then the tale of the mustachioed plumbed rescuing Princess Peach from the clutches of the Koopa King, Bowser, is something you’re quite familiar with.

But it may surprise you to learn just how many different antics Mario has gotten into since his first debut. From tennis, go-kart-racing, golf, doctoring, but even going as far as having Mario hold 7 official jobs that include being a martial artist, a professional baseball player, and a professional soccer player to boot. All those jobs, and still, Mario is turning only 36 (he is so accomplished for not even having a mid-life crisis yet).

The Mario franchise has plenty of spin-off series, of which, the most successful is the Mario Kart Series, with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe being the most sold game on the Switch for its entire lifetime, selling upwards of 33 million units since it was first released in 2017. The original Super Mario Bros. game has held the title of “Most Expensive Game Ever Sold” three separate times, most recently holding the title on August 6th, 2021 after being sold at auction for a cool $2 million dollars, making it the game to hold that title the most out of any other ever created.

A Nintendo Entertainment System LEGO set produced in honor of Mario's 35th anniversary last year

For the time, the original Mario game was bright and bombastic, with music that has set the tone for Nintendo for the past 36 years. Not only was the soundtrack something that made you want to keep playing even after death, but more than that, the game was the right balance of being intuitive and challenging. It allowed for younger siblings to have fun navigating the first level, while older siblings competed to see how fast they could master and fly through new levels. 

If you’re looking for a way to prove just how immersive Super Mario Bros. was when it came out, just ask anybody who has fond memories of raising the controller in real life whenever they wanted Mario to jump in the game. It feels like the majority of gaming for ten years following its release did everything they could to try and chase the high that Super Mario Bros. gave to it’s players, and while some have come close, the game is still fun to play to this day unlike most of those competitors, despite being old enough to be on a second marriage by this point. 

If you’ve never played the game (who are you??) or you are feeling the itch to play the game again in celebration, playing the game is nothing less than perfect on the original system. The original game is plentiful, as copies exist in the wild pretty frequently, and the fact that it was also included on tons of gaming compilations as well (famously partnered with Duck Hunt for instance) makes it a game that won’t be difficult for a rookie game collector to stumble across. There’s nothing better to celebrate Super Mario Bros. 36th anniversary than picking up a copy of the game that started it all.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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