How Popular is Mario - Why Mario?
Super Mario is one of the greatest games of all time, if not the greatest. It had everything that a great video game needs to have: simple controls, engaging levels, fun design and it captured what everyone loved about platformers before it - but then went on creating something new.
Super Mario Bros. was so successful in fact that many people hardly ever stopped playing it in every subsequent console generation after its release in 1985 for the NES. When Nintendo released their Gameboy in 1989, Super Mario Bros., with all its iterations included (the only game in the series to be present in every single Nintendo handheld), became synonymous with portable gaming even though there were many other fantastic games available on both cartridges and just plain old ROM format, like Tetris, Metroid, Kid Icarus, and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.
With each new console generation since the NES, Super Mario Bros. has changed to fit in with the times - but never forgetting its roots or why it was successful in the first place: low barrier of entry, simple controls and engaging level design. This is best illustrated by how Nintendo ported all their systems' most popular titles over into Virtual Console, where anyone can play any Nintendo game they want on their Wii or WiiU, even if just to try them out. And one such example is when Nintendo brought Super Mario Bros. (and other games like Zelda and Metroid or even Finnish casino themed slot games) back in 2011 for both Wii and 3DS - yet again ensuring that everyone who ever wanted to play the game could. It's safe to say Nintendo knows what they are doing when it comes to Super Mario Bros.
Nintendo didn't only release the original Super Mario Bros. for NES but also upgraded their port with better graphics and sound in 1993 for SNES. The two games are identical, but there are subtle differences that differentiate them from each other - which was not well-received by many gamers back then. However, it is worth noting that this version of Super Mario Bros. was actually released before the MS-DOS classic edition of Prince of Persia which had already showcased smooth side-scrolling in 1991. So in reality, Nintendo was just ahead of its time in trying to upgrade the port so players could experience a smoother gameplay experience. Also, Super Mario Bros. was a hallmark in graphical advancements that PlayStation and Sega Saturn would not achieve for years after 1993.
Nintendo attempted to push the limits of their 8-bit console even further with the release of Super Mario Bros. 3 in 1988, which is practically a different game altogether than its predecessor. Like Super Mario Flash 4, this version too has been ported over to Virtual Console so players can experience it today, but there are noticeable differences between the original NES title compared to this one: The powerups were better designed and more fun to use - like the frog suit and Tanooki suit; enemies had different designs and attack patterns; levels displayed more depth and were constructed differently than before, and new suits allowed Mario to transform into a Raccoon Mario and later on into a Hammer Bro.
But it wasn't until Super Mario World was released for the SNES in 1991 that players felt they finally had mastered all there is to this game: It's one of those times where you could play this for days and still not see everything the game has to offer. Each new level, whether it was fortress or ghost house, expanded your knowledge of how to control Mario and what he can do with his world around him - which meant each player would ultimately have their own unique experience playing as Mario compared to every other person who ever played Super Mario World.