Category Archives: Mario

#80: Super Mario All Stars

Iain wrote this one.


January 1994 – Super Mario All Stars

Our roadmap for AAA is very lightly sketched, but you can see two of our overarching, contradictory themes in entry #1 and entry #0. We grew up playing Dizzy; we’re trying to reclaim video game history as we and many other Brits lived it, to demonstrate how the American-led received wisdom is a rewriting of the record that doesn’t tally with majority experiences here. Yet at the same time as disputing a story that Nintendo swept in to replace a dying industry – neither happened here – you’ll have noticed our enthusiasm for many things Nintendo and accompanying sentiment. I have a NES Classic Mini, SNES Classic Mini and a Famicom Classic Mini sitting under my TV: loving recreations of consoles which I never owned.

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Posted by on December 20, 2017 in 1994, Mario, SNES


#68: Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

Iain wrote this one.


January 1993 – Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

It’s an interesting time to be looking at a Nintendo portable game, in 2017 and less than a week before they Switch off the separation between portable and home console and try to consolidate the best of both. With Super Mario Land, we looked at a simulacrum of Mario whose appeal was in being at least that, on the go. At some point well in the future we’ll see the New Super Mario Bros. series elide the differences to be the same reliable nostalgia trip whatever you’re playing it on. But here is a is a game which is not port, not knock-off, but adaptation.

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Posted by on February 28, 2017 in 1993, Game Boy, Mario


#59: Super Mario World


April 1992 – Super Mario World

What’s in a name? It could just as well have been titled Super Mario Bros. 4 (and indeed, in the original Japanese release, it was subtitled as such). But, somewhere along the way a decision was made that a new console meant a new naming scheme, a fresh start. It’s a decision that will be made many, many times over by various companies down the years; perhaps there is a fear that a large number at the end of the title might be seen as a barrier to entry for newcomers, or as an indication of a lack of creativity. Perhaps the shadow cast by Mario at this time was so huge that everyone just followed this decision in the hope of catching some lightning in a bottle, and then it just became the done thing. Whatever the reason, you don’t tend to to see game number suffixes reaching higher than about 5 (obvious exceptions aside). Many series graduating from the NES to the SNES went with tacking on the word “super” to the start of their titles and calling it a day, but that wasn’t really an option for Super Mario Bros., and so instead we have Super Mario World. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on November 3, 2016 in 1992, Mario, SNES


#51: Super Mario Bros. 3

Iain ultimately wrote most of this one, though it was something of a joint effort in conception. And hey, we’re back. You can expect weekly updates until we’ve seen out 1991, at the very least. Promise. 


August 1991 -Super Mario Bros. 3

This is the game where Mario learns to fly, tail flapping, perhaps on unseen wires in front of platforms casting shadows on a painted sheet sky. Like Super Mario Bros. 2 before it, Super Mario Bros. 3 presents some pretty explicit suggestion that its events are not meant to be taken as the depiction of reality, only this time, rather than a dream, it is instead a stage performance, literally opened with a raised curtain. All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. In this way, the reiteration of the same damsel in distress plot from the original Super Mario Bros. gains an extra layer of performativity that makes it a little harder to read as an uncritical embrace of the tropes within. That’s only reinforced by how peculiarly it functions in practice, not least in Princess Peach Toadstool providing helpful hints and items from captivity. It’s not clear exactly who is putting on the production, but there are shows within shows.

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Posted by on August 30, 2016 in 1991, Mario, NES


#47: Dr. Mario

Iain wrote this one.


April 1991 – Dr. Mario

AAA is a blog about video games, but it’s also a blog about successful video games, and sometimes it’s worth examining the success side specifically. Dr. Mario isn’t the first time Nintendo used Mario outside of main series platform games, but it’s a particularly substantial occurrence. It was followed in the next two years by the first Mario Golf and Mario Kart titles. After that, the deluge. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on May 30, 2016 in 1991, Mario, NES


#40: Super Mario Land


September 1990 – Super Mario Land

From a modern perspective, there’s a distinct oddness to Super Mario Land. Things don’t quite behave the way you expect them to. Everything is just a little bit off. Koopas explode like they’re Bob-ombs; 1UPs are represented by hearts instead of differently coloured mushrooms; collecting a star does grant you invincibility, but it plays the Infernal Gallop instead of the usual invincibility tune; and most bizarrely of all, in two of its twelve levels, Super Mario Land stops being a Mario game altogether and turns into a side-scrolling shooter instead. But taken in the context of its own time, as players in 1990 could not help but do, this sense of unease is pretty thoroughly erased. Put simply, it was only the third Super Mario game to be released, and it couldn’t possibly be weirder than Super Mario Bros. 2.

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Posted by on March 8, 2016 in 1990, Game Boy, Mario


#23: Super Mario Bros. 2

Super Mario Bros. 2

April 1989: Super Mario Bros. 2

At the end of each level of Super Mario Bros. 2, there stands the head of a great bird. It opens its mighty jaw wide, and you step inside, to be consumed, and thusly to enter a new realm. So, hang on a minute. Does the second level take place entirely within the innards of the bird at the end of the first level? But there’s another bird at the end of that level! What the heck! So, like, the twentieth level is inside the bird at the end of the nineteenth, which is inside the bird at the end of the the eighteenth, and so on? Whoa! Just how big is that first bird?! But, anyway, I digress. To prove yourself worthy to gain access to the gullet of these birds, you must first defeat an opponent in single combat. In most, though not all cases, the gatekeeper you must face down is Birdo, who is described as follows in the game manual: “He thinks he’s a girl. He shoots eggs from his mouth.” Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on August 19, 2015 in 1989, Mario, NES


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