Super Mario Bros.

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Super Mario Bros.
Box art of Super Mario Bros.

As was typical of NES games in America at the time, the cover shows a scene from the gameplay.
Developer(s) Nintendo
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Designer(s) Shigeru Miyamoto
Series Mario series
Release date(s) NES version
JP September 13, 1985
NA October 18, 1985
EUR May 15, 1987
FDS version
JP February 21, 1986
Genre(s) Platform game
Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer
Rating(s) ESRB: E (Everyone) (2004 NES Classics re-release)
Platform(s) Famicom/NES, GBA, Virtual Console
Media 40  KB cartridge

Super Mario Bros. is a video game released by Nintendo in late 1985 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Universally considered a classic of the medium, Super Mario Bros. featured bright, expansive worlds that changed the way video games were created. Often wrongly credited as the first scrolling platform game (there are at least a half dozen earlier), it is the first console original in this genre to feature smooth-scrolling levels, which made it a landmark in home videogaming.

Super Mario Bros. is listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling video game of all time, and was largely responsible for the initial success of the Nintendo Entertainment System, as well as ending the two year slump of video game sales in the United States after the video game crash of 1983. It has inspired countless imitators and was one of Shigeru Miyamoto's most influential early successes. The game starred the Italian plumber Mario and his slightly younger brother Luigi, the former who would eventually become one of Nintendo's most well known mascots.

The game was succeeded by a direct sequel in Japan (later retitled Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels in North America), and by Super Mario Bros. 2, a Mario-themed port of Doki Doki Panic, elsewhere in the world.


The player takes the role of Mario, or in the case of a second player, Mario's brother Luigi. The ultimate object is to race through the Mushroom Kingdom, evade or eliminate King Koopa's forces, and save Princess Peach (or "Princess Toadstool" as she was commonly known in North America until 1996).

Mario's primary attack is simply jumping on top of his enemies, which kills the mushroom traitors, known as Goombas, and sends the turtle soldiers known as Koopa Troopas into their shells. Mario can then kick these shells into other enemies, which will conveniently dispatch them; but conversely, kicked shells can bounce back off walls or other vertical obstructions and hit him. Jumping on enough enemies in succession or kicking a shell into enough enemies in succession (combos) results in double points earned with each enemy killed, eventually earning Mario a 1-up, an extra life and another chance to pass the level. Some enemies, though, such as Spinies, can be killed only by fireballs or shell impact; stomping them will hurt Mario.

Aiding him in his quest are several powers. Mario can be hurt if he touches an enemy. If he takes a hit from an enemy as Super Mario or Fiery Mario, he simply reverts to regular Mario and the game continues. However, if he takes a hit as regular Mario, falls down a pit (regardless of status), or if the time clock runs out, he loses a life and starts again. The point where Mario continues depends on how far he ran through the level before dying: either from the very beginning or at an invisible "checkpoint" partway through the level. There are no checkpoints in castles or in world 8, the final world. Mario can also collect a star and become invincible. While invincible Mario is impervious to the touch of enemy characters and most obstacles, he will still die if he falls in a pit of lava or time runs out.

The game consists of eight worlds with four levels in each world. Though each world is substantially different, there are basic similarities: typically the first sub-world is a generic above-ground (overworld) level, the second is in an underground dungeon or underwater (or in the overworld with a unique challenge), the third is a series of platforms suspended high in the sky, and the fourth is always a fortress or castle. The third and sixth worlds take place at night, and all other worlds take place during the day. At the end of each castle level, Mario fights "King Koopa" (who, until the final level, is actually a lesser enemy disguised as King Koopa) across a bridge over a pool of lava. In the later worlds (worlds 6-8), King Koopa throws hammers as well as occasional jets of fire breath. King Koopa may be defeated in one of two ways: either by touching the axe at the edge of the bridge (thereby dropping King Koopa into the lava) or, as Fiery Mario, throwing fireballs at him to defeat him directly and reveals what enemy is in disguise. At the end of each world save the last, Mario is greeted with the words, "Thank you Mario! But our princess is in another castle!", spoken by a Toad retainer, which became a popular quotation among gamers.

After beating the game, the player is given the option to start the game again in "'Hard' Mode", where all Goombas are replaced by Buzzy Beetles (Koopa Troopa-like enemies who cannot be killed by fireballs), and all enemies walk faster. In addition, the elevator-style lifts are about 60% their original size throughout, as opposed to the original size until world 5-3 and 60% after.

Worldwide sales

The game sold approximately 40 million copies worldwide, which still stands as a Guinness World Record. It has been estimated that this game, next to Tetris, is the bestselling game of all time. Although the game itself was very popular, its overall success can be largely attributed to the popularity of the NES itself. Super Mario Bros. was most often packaged with the NES console (usually in a dual cartridge with the shooting game Duck Hunt), just as Tetris was packaged with the Game Boy. Super Mario Bros. 3 is often cited as the best selling non-packaged game of all time.

Critical acclaim and legacy

Super Mario Bros. is often cited as the inspiration for many game designers; an example is the inspiration for the designers at id Software when they developed Dangerous Dave in Copyright Infringement and the later Commander Keen series.

Super Mario Bros. has also been critically acclaimed in retrospect; IGN named it #1 on its top 100 video games list twice (both in 2003 and 2005 ).

In February 2006, Electronic Gaming Monthly named Super Mario Bros. #1 on its list of the "200 Greatest Games of Their Time", as part of a 200-issue celebration. It beat many other Mario titles, including Super Mario Bros. 3 (14), Super Mario 64 (6), Super Mario World (88), and Yoshi's Island (83). The rankings on the list reflects their impact at release, not today.

Sequels and spin-offs

The success of Super Mario Bros. led Nintendo to choose Mario to be its mascot and eventually resulted in several TV series and two movies: one anime movie and one live-action movie. Mario himself became more recognizable among American children than Mickey Mouse.

The game's popularity eventually led to dozens of sequels and spinoffs, listed here.


The soundtrack, composed by long-time Nintendo composer Koji Kondo, is often sampled. While many bands have sampled the Super Mario Bros. soundtrack or otherwise recorded songs inspired by the game and its soundtrack, a Super Mario Bros.-inspired single by Japanese band The Tongari Kids, titled "B-Dash", reached as high as sixth place on the Japanese music charts. Mario's first "theme" kart in the later game Mario Kart DS is named the B-Dasher, presumably as an homage to the album.

Kondo's theme to Super Mario Bros. has also become a hit in the United States as a ringtone for cellular phones. In the late spring of 2006, the melody reached Number One on Billboard magazine's Hot Ringtones chart.

The theme is used during the opening credits of the game's 1993 movie adaptation and throughout both the live action and animated skits in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show.

Film and animation adaptations

In Japan in 1986, Nintendo released a 60-minute-long anime feature directed by anime industry veteran Masami Hata, titled Super Mario Bros.: Peach-Hime Kyushutsu Daisakusen (The Great Operation to Rescue Princess Peach). This film has never been released in the United States and is a rare, sought-after collector's item among both anime and Mario fans. Nintendo followed it in 1989 with a three-part OAV series which featured Mario and friends acting out the stories of Issunboshi, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Momotaro.

Meanwhile in 1989, on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, Nintendo and DiC made The Super Mario Bros. Super Show for syndication on U.S. television. 65 half-hour episodes of the series were produced. The series combined animated adventures with live-action sequences which starred Lou Albano as Mario; guest stars in the live-action sequences included Cyndi Lauper and Cher. Each half-hour show contained, along with the live-action sketches, two short animated stories featuring Mario and his friends along with one short based on The Legend of Zelda. This was followed in 1990 by a new series based on Super Mario Bros. 3 and in 1991 by another new series based on Super Mario World; both aired on NBC on Saturday mornings as part of Captain N: The Game Master.

The game was then adapted into the Super Mario Bros. movie in 1993. This film was produced by Hollywood Pictures and starred Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as Mario and Luigi respectively, and Dennis Hopper as King Koopa (Bowser).

Alternate versions

As one of Nintendo's most popular games, Super Mario Bros. has been re-released and remade numerous times, ranging from an arcade version released soon before the original NES release, to its inclusion as an unlockable game in the GameCube game Animal Crossing.

Famicom Disk System

In Japan, Super Mario Bros. was also released for the Famicom Disk System, Nintendo's proprietary floppy disk drive for the Famicom. This version was largely identical to the cartridge version, but was much cheaper because of the cheaper media.

Vs. Super Mario Bros.

One alternate version, Vs. Super Mario Bros., is nearly a separate game in its own right. This game, one of several games made for Nintendo's NES-based arcade cabinet, the Nintendo Vs. Unisystem (and its variant, the Nintendo Vs. Dualsystem), is based on Super Mario Bros., and has identical gameplay. The stages are different, however; the early stages are subtly different, with small differences like the omission of 1-up mushrooms or other hidden items, but later stages are changed entirely. (Many of these later, changed stages reappeared in the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2.) These changes have a net effect of making Vs. Super Mario Bros. much more difficult than the original Super Mario Bros.

As with many older arcade games, it is not clear exactly when this game was released; while the arcade boards themselves are stamped " 1985," the Killer List of Video Games and the MAME game listing list the game as having been released in 1986.

All Night Nippon Super Mario Bros.

All Night Nippon Super Mario Bros. is a version of Super Mario Bros. with graphics based upon a radio show, called ' All Night Nippon', that was very popular in Japan in 1986. It was released for the Famicom Disk System.

The game, which was released only in Japan, was a special promotional version that was given away by the Japanese radio station 'All Night Nippon' in raffles in 1986. The game borrows levels from Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2 (Japanese version), and Vs. Super Mario Bros. The enemies and the mushroom retainers at the end of Bowser's forts are replaced with Japanese music idols, famous recording artists, and DJs, as well as other people related to 'All Night Nippon.' It was published by Fuji TV, the same company that published Doki Doki Panic (which was later remade into Super Mario USA, a.k.a. Super Mario Bros. 2).

Multicart versions

While Super Mario Bros. is the best-selling video game of all time, one of the most common versions of the game is actually an alternate version, a multicart including both Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt. This version, first released in North America in November 1988, was only available packed in with the "NES Action Set", a bundle including the NES, two controllers, the Zapper lightgun, and the Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt double cartridge.

In December of that year, Nintendo also released a three-game multicart, including Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, and World Class Track Meet. This three-game multicart was only included in the "NES Power Set", a bundle including everything in the "Action Set" above, but with the Power Pad and the triple-game cartridge in place of the double-game cartridge.

Super Mario All-Stars

In 1993, Nintendo released an enhanced SNES compilation titled Super Mario All-Stars. It includes all of the Super Mario games released for the NES/Famicom. The version of Super Mario Bros. included in the compilation had improved graphics, redrawn to match the SNES's greater graphical capabilities, improved sound, and a save game feature. Several glitches from the original NES release were also fixed.

This compilation also includes later Super Mario games, including Super Mario Bros. 3, the North American/European Super Mario Bros. 2 (known as Super Mario USA in Japan), and the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 (known as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels in North America and Europe). A later version of this compilation, sold only as a bundle with the SNES, also includes Super Mario World.

Super Mario Bros. Deluxe

In 1999, Super Mario Bros. was released on the Game Boy Colour, under the title Super Mario Bros. Deluxe. It featured simultaneous multiplayer, a Challenge mode and also included the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 (which was released on Super Mario All-Stars as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels) as an unlockable. It also was compatible with the Game Boy Printer. However, the game did not feature any upgraded visuals (aside from some graphics such as water and lava now being animated rather than static), and since the screen resolution of the Game Boy Colour was smaller than the NES, the view distance of the player is reduced. To compensate, players can press up and down to see above and below the player. Pressing select during the game also places Mario/Luigi in the middle or off to the left of the screen so that player can see well.

Classic NES series

In early 2004, Nintendo re-released the game on the Game Boy Advance in Japan as part of their Famicom Minis collection and in the U.S. as part of the Classic NES Series. Unlike previous re-releases, these versions contain no graphical updates. Super Mario Bros. was one of the best-selling of these rereleases; according to the NPD Group (which tracks game sales in North America), this re-released version of Super Mario Bros. was the best-selling Game Boy Advance game in June 2004, and as of June 2004 the GBA's sixth-best-selling game overall. In 2005, Nintendo released this game again for the GBA as part of its 20th Anniversary with a special edition, which sold approximately 876,000 units.

Virtual Console (Wii)

Super Mario Bros. is slated for release on the Wii's Virtual Console. It will be available on launch in Japan, and there is no set release date for all other territories.

Other versions

Super Mario Bros. is one of the NES games included in the GameCube game Animal Crossing. The only known way to unlock Super Mario Bros. is by use of a game modification ("cheating") device.

Minus world

By passing through a solid wall due to a glitch, it is possible to travel to "World -1", often referred to as "Minus World." This stage is mostly underwater, and has no ending. Exploiting the same glitch in the Japanese Famicom Disk System is considerably different and has three levels, after which the player is returned to the title screen as though he or she completed the game. This glitch has been fixed in the Super Mario All-Stars remake as well as in Super Mario Bros. Deluxe. Super Mario All-Stars changes the default pipe layout to remove the Minus World pipe. There are also level 0-1 and -2.

Development staff

  • Directed by: Shigeru Miyamoto
  • Executive Producer: Hiroshi Yamauchi
  • Assistant Director: Takashi Tezuka
  • Original Music by: Koji Kondo
  • NOA Producer: Leslie Swan
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