Super Mario Bros. for the NES was one of the few games that made our list of the 15 most influential games without debate. Many may rightfully argue that Pitfall! for the Atari 2600 was the first game to introduce 2D platforming to the world, but Super Mario Bros. kicked the genre into full gear by forcefully evolving platforming games enough to inspire endless replications over the past 16 years. Super Mario Bros. established what would become the standard gameplay and aesthetical elements in all subsequent Mario games, and it produced the video game industry's first bona fide star. Perhaps most importantly, with the aid of the NES, Super Mario Bros. helped save the reeling video game console industry of the early 1980s.
Pitfall laid the groundwork for Super Mario Bros.
Outside of the racing and fighting genre, no other game ever released has influenced more clones than the first horizontally scrolling game, Super Mario Bros. Nintendo itself has duplicated the premise countless times, and the 2D platformer style of gameplay has become a proving ground for many a developer. Without Super Mario Bros. there would be no Castlevania; Metroid would be just a pipe dream; Crash would still be looking for a gig in the outback; and Sonic's addiction to lightspeed would cease to be. Structured into eight levels with four sections each, Super Mario Bros. also established how most video games in the future would be organized.
Mario's gameplay mechanics were ironed out in Super Mario Bros.
Shigeru Miyamoto's Super Mario Bros. for the NES laid the foundation for what would become the world's most popular video game franchise. It let Mario dispense of enemies by jumping on their heads; navigate harrowing platform jumps; use projectile weapons like the fire flower; collect mushrooms to power him up into a larger, alternate form; and use warps to proceed from one level to the next. Additionally, Super Mario Bros. included the first sighting of Bowser, Donkey Kong's tortoiseshelled replacement as Mario's archnemesis. It also perpetuated the "save the girl" storyline that was initiated in Miyamoto's arcade classic, Donkey Kong. Many of the enemies found in Mario games today--such as the koopas, hammer brothers, and goombas--were also introduced in Super Mario Bros..
Super Mario Bros. was the true beginning of Mario's world.
Super Mario Bros. is significant for several other reasons as well. After Atari had its run of success with the 2600, store shelves were flooded with low-quality Intellivision and ColecoVision products. In the early '80s, when the US economy was in a recession, the video game industry took a serious nosedive. Arcades were all but extinct, and video game companies were folding left and right. Nintendo took a chance on a flat market and released the Nintendo Entertainment System with Super Mario Bros. as a pack-in game. The strategy worked, as many bought the NES for the sole purpose of playing Super Mario Bros. Nintendo also began regulating the quality of games released on the NES to make sure that the video game crash of the early '80s would never occur again. Children's interest in video game consoles was rekindled, and the industry began its slow climb back to viability.
Where would Miyamoto be today without Super Mario Bros.?
Perhaps most importantly, without the success of Super Mario Bros., Shigeru Miyamoto may never have had the chance to share his gift of creativity with the world. All the innovative ideas he has brought to the fore over the past couple of decades are enough to cement Super Mario Bros. as one of the most influential video games of all time.
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