Publisher: Nintendo Year: 1986 Genre: Static Platformer (Not to be confused with Super Mario Bros.)
We’ve already spoken of the origin of Mario and the glory that is Super Mario Bros., so it seems almost redundant (or ill-placed) that the prequel should come after the original, and yet – here we are, looking at Mario Bros., the game that introduced Segale’s digital doppelgänger to the world.
When it comes down to it, though, their most successful gigs have been in relation to the rescue of damsels in distress (DID for those of you in the biz). Today, I’d like to identify and examine the damsels of distress within the Mario franchise.
In this thrilling sequel (prequel?) to the original Donkey Kong title, you are Donkey Kong Jr., and you must rescue your father from Mario, who has locked Donkey Kong up, possibly for kidnapping Pauline in the previous game. Naturally, therefore, the best course of action would be to release him and allow Stupid Monkey to continue his rampage, possibly at an oversized greenhouse. I digress – as his son, it is your duty, and if you should knock some fruit down or injure some plumbers along the way SO BE IT!
Donkey Kong Jr., while not perhaps the most memorable or diverse game, was still a worthy addition to the Donkey Kong series and to the Donkey Kong family canon. The controls are well-composed, so movement feels natural and makes sense. The climbing mechanics are interesting and logical, and the power up are predictably fruit-flavored. The enemies consist primarily of some sort of living jaw-traps and, of course, the levels themselves, which are often built specifically to confound the physics under which our gorilla baby operates.
John’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5.0. It’s quirky, but generally loveable. It’s not exactly the sort of game that amounts to “hours of fun,” but I’ll often settle for “minutes of enjoyment” or “moments of nostalgia” in a pinch.
I skipped this in my alphabetical listing because, frankly, I wanted to finish 1985 with a game that did not suck. Super Mario Bros. spawned the most successful video game franchise in history. You noticed I didn’t say, “probably” or “one of” anywhere in that sentence, and it isn’t because I am biased (though I probably am): Mario is, empirically speaking, the greatest video game franchise of all to this day. Though its impressive 40 million units sold is due, in no small part, to it being bundled with the console, many of the sequels continue to be worldwide best-sellers to this day. To this day. When I say “to this day” I mean “it still moves preposterous numbers of units when sold without any changes on virtual console.”
I could go on gushing about this. I could wax eloquent about Mario’s origins, his first appearance, or any of that crap that people talk about when Mario is presented in a blog. In fact, I think I will.
Year: 1985 Publisher: Nintendo Genre: Puzzle Action
Back in 1985, someone at Nintendo decided that it would be a great idea to have a Mario game wherein Mario cannot jump. Probably the sensible thing to do with someone who made that suggestion is to sit them down circle-time style and explain to them that when Mario was introduced, his name was actually “Jumpman,” and that if Nintendo hadn’t been late with the rent payments, they wouldn’t have ever thought to name him Mario. Then, in full sight of all the other employees, that employee should have been shot in the back of the head and left there as an example.