While Mario lived up to his role as the mascot for Nintendo by appearing across several titles in varying capacities for the launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy, his presence was downplayed somewhat when the company entered the 16-bit era with the Super NES. This could be in part due to the previously talked about one-time intent to use F-Zero and its star, Captain Falcon, as the console’s primary showpiece.
Mario would retain his rightful throne, however, as Super Mario World would be the pack-in title for what was then Nintendo’s latest console. And while his appearances in other games weren’t as widespread as on the Portable Power platform, he did nonetheless appear in one other Super Powered launch title when the Super NES arrived on store shelves in North America: SimCity.
It was less common at the time to see Mario appear officially in titles that were not from Nintendo themselves, which makes the plumbing protagonist’s appearance in Maxis’ city-building simulation seem like an odd occurrence at first glance. But for this version of the game, Nintendo took matters into their own hands as they developed and published the game, adding in some of their own flourishes along the way.
Flourishes such as a statue of Mario. Upon achieving a population of 500,000 citizens, players are rewarded with this full-color tribute to their mayoral prowess and the company’s biggest star.
Of course, reaching such a lofty goal is no easy task. Fortunately for those interested, there is another cameo from the Mario series that is a little more prominent and a bit better remembered — and for good reason.
Featured in a full page of the game’s instruction manual, it’s revealed that none other than Mario’s own chief nemesis, Bowser, is also a part of the game. Rather than summoning a Godzilla-like beast from the depths to wreak havoc across the city, the King of the Koopa will emerge to lay waste to the landscape instead.
Making things a little more interesting is that according to the mayor’s adviser, Dr. Wright, Bowser’s rampage is on account of his fruitless search for Mario and Luigi. Disappointingly, there doesn’t seem to be any special occurrence if you happen to turn Bowser loose on a city that has a Mario statue.
Finally, there’s one other touch to put a final bow on this Mario-fied package.
Freeland, the game’s unlockable eighth scenario, is the location in the American Midwest where the player is tasked with building “Marioland.” There’s no water around, just flat lands as far as the eye can see — save for the cluster of trees that just so happens to be shaped like the head of the man for which this new city will be named.
Unfortunately, while other games in this series have other ways to play them beyond obtaining the original release, that is not the case with SimCity. It was released on the Wii’s Virtual Console on November 19th, 2006, but removed from the service on January 2nd, 2013, purportedly due to an agreement with franchise owner Electronic Arts coming to an end. Of course, that’s all but a moot point now, with Nintendo now preparing to shut down the Wii Shop Channel for good.
On the upside? SimCity for the Super NES was a Nintendo Player’s Choice title with more than a million copies sold, so tracking one down shouldn’t be too difficult.