It may seem strange to envision a world without the Super Mario Brothers franchise, but that was indeed a reality prior to 1981. Over 40 years ago, the world was introduced to Mario through the original Donkey Kong. From this moment on, the character became a global icon in mainstream culture eventually getting his own spin-off games with Mario Bros and Super Mario Bros.
With more than 20 games in the series, each takes place in the fictional Mushroom Kingdom often with Mario as the playable character with only a few exceptions. All the games tend to have simplistic plots where someone is kidnapped and the hero must pursue them in order to save the day.
Clearly, Nintendo, the creators of Super Mario, have been doing something right as more than 380 million copies of Super Mario games have been sold making it the fifth-best-selling video game series of all time. As this game series has sold so many games, it’s safe to say that it has easily influenced popular culture.
A fashion icon
It’s strange to think of Super Mario as a fashion icon but the series has actually collaborated with countless fashion brands and companies throughout the years. In 2020, Nintendo joined forces with Levi’s to release a bespoke Super Mario fashion collaboration. From overalls to denim jackets, the collaboration had everything a fan of the series could ever want.
Similarly, the brand Dedicated also created a unique Nintendo collection with the Super Mario franchise being one of the stand-out games showcased in the clothing line. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the brand, Nintendo teamed up with Tag Heuer to release limited edition watches. High-street brands have also worked with Nintendo to release clothing lines with household names such as Next, Primark, Peacocks, Marks & Spencer and H&M to name just a few.
However, the biggest and most impressive fashion collaboration is easily Parco’s Super Mario collection. There is literally something for everyone as there are over 300 different items in this collection including limited edition yukatas (kimonos), ponchos, dresses and shirts.
It’s also worth giving praise to the Super Mario series for inspiring countless Halloween costumes and even cosplayers. Every year, there are literally thousands of people dressing up as Mario and Luigi with branded and knock-off costumes.
Cosplayers take this even further with intricate costumes designed to look exactly like their favourite characters. Whether in fashion or through costumes, the Super Mario series has left a huge mark on the fashion industry that can be seen wherever you look.
A star on the silver screen
Despite being seen as one of the worst films ever made, Super Mario Bros (1993) has become a cult classic in the following years as people have begun to appreciate the film. This film follows Mario and Luigi trying to rescue Princess Daisy from a dystopic parallel universe ruled by King Koopa aka Bowser.
Whilst this film was not what people were expecting, it offered fans something different in the form of a darker film. This film might’ve not been the success that Nintendo was wanting, but holds the proud achievement as the first-ever video game movie. No other video game had been adapted prior to this one showcasing just how popular the game series was.
Almost 30 years since the release of the live-action film, Nintendo is trying again with another theatrical release in an untitled Mario film starring Chris Pratt as the titular character. Not many franchises can say that it is just as in demand now as it was when it was released – but the Super Mario franchise can safely say this.
In terms of other movies referencing Super Mario, there are over 90 theatrical films paying homage to the series. The biggest ones include Bowser appearing in Wreck-It Ralph and the original Donkey Kong appearing as a villain in Pixels. The Super Mario franchise is so ingrained in popular culture, that referencing the game just comes naturally in movies.
A familiar face in gaming
The Super Mario series was born in video games, so it’s only natural that it has inspired other games within the industry. There are literally hundreds of games that have been influenced by Super Mario.
Whilst it wasn’t the first-ever side-scrolling platform game, the early games within the Super Mario franchise set the high standard of what players wanted and expected within the genre. Most side-scrolling platform games after the release of Super Mario Bros feature similar elements and clear inspirations from the series. A great example is Flappy Bird which literally contains the same pipes and cloudy background found in the original Super Mario titles.
It’s worth noting that it is not just side-scrolling platform games that are inspired by Nintendo’s Super Mario series. Bayonetta contains costumes inspired by Princess Peach and Princess Daisy whilst also including sound effects from the Super Mario games. Other references also appear in popular games such as Yakuza 0, World of Warcraft, The Sims 4, Rayman Legends and even Just Dance.
The iGaming industry has also taken inspiration from the Super Mario franchise which can be found in countless online slot releases. Snowborn Games’ Pile ‘Em Up is the most recognisable and beloved online slot that has taken inspiration from the Super Mario series as the game features familiar backgrounds with pipes, trees and flowers.
There aren’t many video games that can boast of influencing so many different mediums – but the Super Mario series is one of the rare few that can. The premise of Super Mario is simple but universal in the underlying tones throughout. It’s the typical tale of good vs evil – but done in an incredibly unique and stylish way that could only ever be achieved by Nintendo.