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Editorial: The History of Mario, Part 6

Posted on Sun, Jun 20, 2004

Super Mario All-Stars
Released: 1993
System: SNES

Quite simply the king of compilations, Super Mario All-Stars featured Super Mario Bros. 1-3 on one cartridge, and even added the original Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 (titled on this compilation as “The Lost Levels”) for good measure. What’s more, these weren’t straight ports of the original NES games—each game had completely redone graphics to bring them closer to the quality of Super Mario World. So to put it simply, if you own an SNES and you don’t have this compilation…for shame.

Super Mario Advance series
Released: 2001-2003
System: Game Boy Advance

Want to know more about the Super Mario Advance series? Then re-read this feature, because it consists entirely of ports of the original Mario games (save for the first Super Mario Bros., which was already ported to the Game Boy Color as Super Mario Bros. DX). The most noteworthy facet of the Mario Advance series was the insane numbering; Nintendo did not release the games in the proper order and yet continued to number them, leading to such madness as “Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3”

Super Mario Kart
Released: 1992
System: SNES

Super Mario Kart was the first great Mario spin-off, and created the whole kart-subset of racing games. In the game, you would choose from eight classic Mario characters and race in go-karts around various Mario-themed tracks. The twist was in the diverse choice of weapons and items you could pick up while racing, such as the red and green shells that could be shot as projectiles, or the mushroom that would give you a speed-burst. You could also compete against a second player, either racing against them in the grand prix or combating them in battle mode. Released for the SNES, the game was composed of less-than-stellar Mode 7 graphics but featured cleverly designed courses with many shortcuts.

Mario Kart 64
Released: 1997
System: Nintendo 64

The sequel to Super Mario Kart, Mario Kart 64 was a refinement of the formula and added 3D levels, although the characters themselves were still 2D renders. Just as in the first game, you’d choose from eight classic Mario characters and race in go-karts while attacking the other racers with kooky Mario weapons and items. Mario Kart 64 improved the power-sliding technique so that a successful power-slide would give you a small speed boost, and also introduced new items like the upside down question mark box (which was really a bomb in disguise) and the three shells that would spin around your kart like a shield. While the four-player battle mode was a lot of fun (especially with the new weapons and items), some players still prefer the original Super Mario Kart due to its more exciting shortcut-filled tracks.

Mario Kart: Double Dash!!M
Released: 2003
System: GameCube

The latest in the Mario Kart series, Mario Kart: Double Dash!! brought forth an interesting alteration to the classic karting chaos: now, each kart has two characters, one driving and one handling the weapons and items, and their positions can be switched at any time. To further increase the strategy, each character gets a specific special item, and the kart you could choose is limited depending on how big your largest character is. While all the changes did make the single-player game more interesting, the real draw was the innovative two-player cooperative mode in which each player controlled one character on the same kart. You can check out Gamer Talk’s review of Mario Kart: Double Dash!! here.

Dr. Mario
Released: 1990
Systems: NES, Game Boy

One has to wonder why Mario bothers with plumbing at all if he’s apparently a doctor, too. Regardless, in this puzzle game, variously colored viruses would be littered in the playing field. Mario would toss various colored pills (made up of two units that weren’t necessarily of the same color), and to get rid of the viruses you needed to line up three pill units of the same color with the virus making up the fourth unit. Sounds complicated in writing, but like all good puzzle games, it was simple to pick up but difficult to master.

Mario Party series
Released: 1999-2003
Systems: Nintendo 64/GameCube

The original Mario Party was a pretty interesting new spin-off for Mario: it was, essentially, a board game featuring Mario characters. The real draw was in the 50 or so mini-games that players would be thrown into depending on what board space they landed on. While it wasn’t the most exciting single player experience, it was (as the title suggests) a great party game. The Mario Party series has got to be the most vigorous Mario spin-off series yet—it only started in 1999, and it’s already up to Mario Part 5, which works out to one Mario Party game every year for the past five years. It’s not very surprising considering that the formula is relatively simple (the major changes in every sequel were new boards, board features and spaces, and mini-games), but what is impressive is that the series still hasn’t lost much luster, as every sequel has, for the most part, been good if not entirely necessary games.


Part 1 - Overview
Part 2 - Super Mario Bros 1 + 2
Part 3 - Super Mario Bros 3 + World
Part 4 - Super Mario World 2 + 64
Part 5 - Super Mario Sunshine
Part 6 - Spin-Offs
Part 7 - Spin-Offs, Continued
Part 8 - Shigeru Miyamoto Biography

Posted By: Kris Pigna - 4136 Reads

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