March 10th is nearly here, which can only mean one thing—it’s Mario Day!
For years now Mario Day (March 10th a.k.a. Mar10) has been a global celebration of Mario, perhaps the most recognizable character in video game history. To honour the occasion, let’s take a trip down memory lane to see how Mario became such a phenomenon, and explore ways you and your family can level up your Mario Day!
Retro-spective on Mario
One of the most iconic characters in pop culture is a plucky little plumber named Mario, earning a spot in gaming and our hearts following his first appearance in 1981. The video game icon’s popularity began in earnest, first known as Jumpman, a character who appeared in the original arcade game Donkey Kong. He bravely avoided hurled barrels from an irate ape to save a pixelated princess in distress. Mario was created by Nintendo’s legendary designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, who originally intended for him to be a complimentary character in other titles, but fate had bigger plans for him.
His first game, Super Mario Bros., was a smashing success on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in July of ‘83. The title went on to sell 40 million copies. Mario and Miyamoto popularized the 2D side scroller, and their success has been synonymous with that of Nintendo’s for decades. As Nintendo’s mascot, he’s appeared in 200+ games over multiple decades and media platforms.
The Cultural Impact of Mario
For me, and I’m sure many gamers alike, no video game character has had a larger cultural impact than Mario. He’s a Japanese creation, with American-Italian heritage who is loved all over the world. This mustachioed plumber is a combination of Eastern and Western values and speaks a language we can all understand, fun. His immense popularity has spawned a television show, a cult-classic 90s film, comics, and an upcoming Universal Studio park attraction aptly named Super Mario World. On top of all this Mario has another Hollywood film on the way from the creators of the Minions. This plumber knows how to keep 1-UP-ing himself!
Super Mario Games
With all Mario’s star-power it’s no wonder he continues to appear in some of the most critically acclaimed games of the modern era. I’m so happy Mario games were a part of my childhood, and now I get to share some of these family-friendly experiences with my 4-year-old son. Here are my favourite Mario games in recent years that would be great for celebrating Mario Day!
Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo Switch) [ESRB Rating: E10+]
A classic that is near and dear to my heart as it’s the first Mario game my son and I completed together. Super Mario Odyssey is fun, creative, and wraps decades of iconic platformer moments together in one game, while also introducing new mechanics and characters the entire family will enjoy. The game includes a great feature called “Assist Mode” where one player takes control of Mario and the other, his hat, Cappy. This allows players young and old to team up and experience one of Mario’s greatest adventures together!
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Nintendo Switch) [ESRB Rating: E]
Mario Kart is another classic franchise I’ve been playing since it was introduced on the SNES in 1992. The racing game has grown and evolved over eight different titles on multiple Nintendo home and handheld platforms. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe synthesizes all these amazing titles into its greatest outing yet. It’s another favourite in my household that always has my son asking, “Daddy, let’s play the Mario racing game!” We’ve put dozens of hours into the game, and I highly recommend this classic for some unparalleled family racing fun!
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe (Nintendo Switch) [ESRB Rating: E]
Mario revolutionized the 2D side-scrolling platformer, and with Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe the classic fun lives on! Take on two family-friendly adventures with up to three players as you try to save the Mushroom Kingdom. The game includes New Super Mario Bros. U and the more challenging New Super Luigi U DLC, with two new playable characters. If you are hoping to get up to four people in on the fun, don’t forget to pick up an extra Joy-Con controller.
The digital version is also available online, good luck saving the Mushroom Kingdom!
Super Mario Party (Nintendo Switch) [ESRB Rating: E]
The latest instalment of the Mario Party franchise has landed on the Switch! The board-game inspired experience will have you and your family playing through mini-games in a race to see who can accumulate the most stars! If you are hoping to get up to four people in on the Super Mario Party action, you’ll need an additional Joy-Con controller.
Walmart Canada offers the digital download version online so you can start playing right away!
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Nintendo Switch) [ESRB Rating: E10+]
The Mario and Rabbids universe collide in a zany unique role-playing game experience with a cast of new and familiar characters. It’s up to Mario and the Rabbids crew to restore order to the Mushroom Kingdom after a mysterious vortex transports chaos into their realm. Venture out either solo or with a partner and use turn-based strategies to contain the wild Rabbid menace while you explore four worlds filled with puzzles, combat and other Rabbid-based surprises.
You might also like: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Review
Mario Tennis Aces (Nintendo Switch) [ESRB Rating: E]
The game features its own story mode complete with missions and boss battles that will help hone your virtual tennis skills. In my household, we love using the Joy-Cons to perform “Zone Shots,” which allow you to slow down time and slam the ball at the perfect moment. Another great mode for young players is “Swing Mode” where the Joy-Cons are used to simulate a virtual racket much like in Wii Sports’ Tennis.
Living the Super Mario Lifestyle!
Along with games, movies, and comics, Mario has made his way to many fun lifestyle products. Check out the selection below to make your home feel like the Mushroom Kingdom.
Inspired by Super Mario Odyssey, the “Caps Off” comforter will bring a splash of Mario’s world into your child’s bedroom. It features a reversible design with Mario, Cappy, and Capture abilities on one side, and Moe-Eye, Lava Bubble, Bullet Bill, and Goomba on the other. Sweet dreams await on the Odyssey!
A Mario plushie is a great companion on the couch for hours of gaming, or to pair with Mario décor throughout your home. Just don’t leave him near your Piranha plants!
Classic characters on a classic board game, what’s not to love? This Super Mario Chess set adds a fun twist to the classic game with its 32 custom, hand-painted Super Mario Bros. figurines and a colourful blue and white board. The themed chess edition would make a fun addition to any home that can’t get enough of Mario (like mine!) Just make sure Bowser doesn’t try to take your queen!
Make Walmart Canada part of your Mario Day, and celebrate with the world’s favourite plumber in style!
See also: Best Switch Games of 2018