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September 13, 2005

No Beer 'Til Next Year, Young Man! (a.k.a. Happy 20th B-Day, Mario!)

Like Cabbage Patch Kids, Teddy Ruxpin, Tickle Me Elmo, Furby, Pokemon, the Razor Scooter, Bag O' Glass, and Super Bass-O-Matic '76, Nintendo was the must-have present for the 1985 holiday season.

EDIT: In the words of Ralph Wiggum, (and as a recently-engaged friend of mine is fond of saying) "Me Fail English? That's Unpossible!" I should have caught this earlier, but I just realized that I wrote that paragraph as though all of those items were from 1985 (and that incudes the Super Bass-O-Matic '76). My bad. Sure, I could just correct it, but then that would go against my policy of never passing up a chance to quote from The Book of Ralph (amen).

This feat was all the more amazing, given that the entire retail industry was beyond convinced that the video game "fad" was dead, after the arcade and home console crashes a couple years earlier.

So armed with an intrepid plumber as its mascot (and a savvy distribution deal with Teddy Ruxpin maker Worlds of Wonder), Nintendo hoisted the entire industry on its shoulders, and made it crystal clear that video games weren't quite ready to be buried (say, in an Alamogordo, New Mexico landfill) just yet.

While I could have put off my Mario 20th birthday post until October 1 (the 20-year anniversary of the U.S. launch on the NES), today seems to be the official "big day".

20 years ago today (September 13, 1985, for those of you who aren't in the mood to do the math), uber-mazing game designer Shigeru Miyamoto introduced Mario to an adoring Japanese public on the Nintendo Famicom (Family Computer) console, which is identical to the North American Nintendo Entertainment System, but with a different casing & color scheme.

In honor of the occasion, here are some nuggets & tidbits about the birthday boy:

  • ...the famous plumber was originally a carpenter...
  • ...his name wasn't even Mario yet. He was called Jumpman...
  • ...he later was renamed Mario after Mario Segali, who was the landlord of Nintendo of America's offices at the time...
  • ...legend has it that Jumpman and Mr. Segali bore a striking resemblance to one another...
Here's a visual Mario Timeline for you, courtesy of Gametopia.

Here's a more complete and info-licious timeline, but I forgot where I found this one.

Finally, Dark Watcher has even more on the graphic evolution of Mario.


  • I'll tell you this much: I know my kids and my nieces and nephews are much more familiar with Mario and his friends than said rodent. The same also unfortunately applies to a certain bunny from the Bronx...but I'll rectify that shortly with a choice DVD set or two. :)

    By Blogger WizarDru, at 9:01 AM  

  • RUN, do not walk, to IGN and check out the information about the Nintendo Revolution controller! (http://cube.ign.com/)

    Then, watch this video:


    I know I'M excited...and imagine the possiblities of this thing. Kids games could go in some very cool directions with this one. Wow.

    By Blogger WizarDru, at 6:36 AM  

  • Hey WD. Always a pleasure hearing from you.

    1) I see that you mentioned the Bronx. So what, Brooklyn don't get no love? Of course you know, this means war! :) Mel Blanc has said that Bugs' accent was a Brooklyn/Bronx combo.

    2) I'm still absorbing the shock of the "reveal". I haven't formed a coherent opinion yet, but it seems very cool (and definitely "Revolutionary"), and people are gonna be breaking a lot of lamps with that thing. ;) While I enjoy two-hand controllers (especially the Dualshock 2), it will be interesting to see if the remote-esque form factor attracts more casual gamers. As always, though, the software will sell the hardware.

    BTW, did you vote on Joystiq earlier today? http://www.joystiq.com/entry/1234000400059220/

    By Blogger Dan, at 11:07 PM  

  • I did indeed. I am, quite frankly, jazzed on the idea. The video is what sold me on it. Kotaku has apparently gotten his hands on it, as has 1up.com. Both describe it as comfortable to hold, which I would expect from Nintendo.

    Like I said to my friends, I think is a crazy move on Nintendo's part...Crazy like a fox. They are taking an end run around Sony and Microsoft, instead of challenging them head-on. Boy, I hope it works. Nothing that the 360 or PS3 is offering really sells me on them...I mean, I'm eager to play some of the new games as much as the next guy...but many of the new games for the PS3/360 are just bigger versions of existing games. Nintendo's the only one really pulling something out of a hat.

    Couple that with the highest number of family-friendly games...and there you go.

    By Blogger WizarDru, at 6:36 AM  

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