On Sept. 13, 1985, Super Mario Bros. was released in Japan on the Famicom, the Japanese version Nintendo.
The game ushered in the era of play-at-home games, making Mario one of the most iconic characters and entertainment brands in the world.
The series is in the Guinness Book of Records as one of the top two most successful video games of all time. It now boasts global sales of over 40 million units, according to Nintendo.
Mario had previously appeared in the arcade games Donkey Kong and Mario Bros, but they didn’t provoke much interest.
In Super Mario Bros., the Italian plumber achieved icon status and contributed significantly to making video games commonplace in homes around the world – reversing the video game crash of the early '80s, according to Fortune Magazine.
“When Super Mario Bros. hit shelves, video games were in dire straits. Revenues were down nearly 97% – from $3.2 billion in 1983 to $100 million in 1985. Atari, which not long before had been the fastest growing company in U.S. history at the time, had filed for bankruptcy. And mall arcades were moving past their heyday,” the magazine recalls.
Super Mario Bros. reinvented video games, say fans. "Mario introduced a style of imaginative and delightful game play, which really hasn’t changed all that much in the three decades it has been out there,” John Taylor, managing director at Arcadia Investment Corp., told Fortune. "You could argue that the basic design is like the basic design for Monopoly. It doesn’t change – and yet people keep playing and playing. There’s something about the little surprises. There’s something about the quirky music. There’s something about the overall experience."
To mark the anniversary, this week, Nintendo released its newest Mario game, Super Mario Maker for the WII-U console.
Since its release in 1985, gaming has evolved as a tool for both entertainment and learning. In fact, the US Department of Education, seeing the influence video games have on young people, is seeking ways to incorporate games into schools.
"Now there is an opportunity to see games as solving real educational problems," said Erik Martin, of Games for Learning, to Tech Times. "Video games can really provide formative, quality assessment about how a kid tackles a problem and how they fail and overcome the challenges around a certain context a game provides them."