Why Mario Bros still rules gaming
How Mario Bros changed the face of gaming, and why it continues to be a huge presence after 30 years.
Story by PRI's Studio 360. For more, listen to the audio above.
When Nintendo released Donkey Kong in 1981, it was one of the only arcade games in which you did more than just blast space invaders. There was a story, a goal, in an entire world to explore complete with a damsel in distress and an unlikely hero: an Italian plumber named Mario.
Mario is perhaps the only character from that first generation of arcade games still to be a huge presence in gaming. Nintendo just announced that it is releasing Super Mario Bros for its new handheld console, the Nintendo 3DS. Having appeared in over 200 games with over 250 million units sold, Mario (in some circles) is more recognizeable than Mickey Mouse.
Maybe no one is more excited than Tom Chatfield, the author of "Fun, Inc.: Why Gaming Will Dominate the Twenty-First Century," who compares Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto to "Orson Welles, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas wrapped up" in one person.
"He just decided to build something that other people hadn't thought to build within video games," Chatfield said of Miyamoto. "Something that told a story, something about a man exploring a world."
The result, Chatfield says was a radical paradigm shift in video gaming.
"This was a new way of thinking about games," Chatfield said. "These miniature worlds that you could go into, as a person, and explore and enjoy controlling human actions in, rather than just shooting or manipulating like it was a machine."
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