For my all-encompassing “Who is Mario?” project, I was originally going to start with Donkey Kong and work my way through every game in chronological order. My thought process was to start with Mario at his simplest and purest – “look at him Jump, Man” – before moving into the myriad of games that have defined his character lo these thirty-plus years. Then I watched this video.
If you took the nine minutes or so to watch one very devoted Mario fan’s explanation of the Mario game timeline, you’re either in awe, as I was, or you’re shaking your head at the ridiculousness of it all (Too Long, Didn’t Watch? Check out this timeline image made by Scorpigator Films, the creators of the video). Either way, you have to admit: the connections between games, as posited by the video’s creators, make a surprising amount of sense. So much so, that I began to rethink how I wanted to approach this particular Mario project.
I want to use the timeline as a foundation for my progress, but I also want to add to it. My goal with “Mario Mario” is still to review every single game with Mario in it. For the most part, the Mario games covered in the video are the games with story, and as such, they miss out on many of Mario’s side projects. I want to figure out where random NES sports games like Golf and Tennis would fit and make a reason for Mario’s existence in said games. I want to understand why Mario and crew played street basketball against the Beastie Boys in NBA Street V. 3 before retreating to safer, kid-friendly territory with Mario Hoops 3-on-3 and Mario Sports Mix. I want to know why Fortune Street exists. Expanding on Scorpigator Films’ well-researched timeline and coming up with my own half-baked theories will be challenging, maddening, and hopefully, a lot more enjoyable than a simple chronological trot down Mushroom Lane.
I don’t mean to belittle the idea of exploring video games chronologically. Heck, that was the route I decided to pursue with my ongoing bonkers Sega project. But if I’m really going to pursue the exploration of Mario as a character, it only makes sense that I do it from the character’s beginnings i.e. Yoshi’s Island and not from the moment Nintendo first placed him into a game.
This structuring of Mario’s adventures is going to be a monumental task, and one that’s importance is questionable at best. I will press forward one game at a time in hopes that I can present to you, the loyal readers of Gaming Rebellion, the most fully realized portrayal of Mario ever. Let’sa go. Let’sa go indeed.
COMING UP NEXT (FOR REAL THIS TIME): Super Mario World II: Yoshi’s Island and the mysterious birth of the brothers Mario.