How the Mario Franchise Epitomizes The Evolution of Gaming
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Mario 14122023

A gaming franchise surviving (and thriving) for nearly 40 years is super impressive, and the Mario franchise has done exactly that, reaching new audiences now with even more spinoffs in the form of a huge Hollywood movie. Mario, Luigi, and the whole gang are brilliant examples of how gaming has evolved in the last 40 years and go to show how technology has moved on, but the concept of a good game being a good game will never change – people still love the original games.

Nintendo’s Evolution From Card Games to Huge Titles

You’d be forgiven for thinking Nintendo’s rise came from early consoles through to the current generation, but this isn’t the whole story and people are often shocked to hear the Japanese gaming giants started making card games.

Hanafuda, an old game that originated in Japan, was the initial focus of Nintendo back in the 1800s (yes, you read that right) and the company eventually saw the potential of video games and pivoted to this area.

Maybe it shouldn’t surprise us, as plenty of games that are now played online and that use digital interfaces actually started hundreds of years ago. Poker has followed the same trajectory, and though it was originally played with physical cards, the digital age has changed poker, allowing people to play online through a simple interface and watch the cards fall on their screen rather than on a physical table.

Aspects of poker are different now when played online, and it is easier for players to follow the poker industry and develop a poker strategy based on other players, tips, and even YouTube channels and blogs about the game.

Mario Franchise Spans Multiple Genres

Developers working on the Mario games have had some serious fun, haven’t they? As well as Mario Golf, Mario Kart, Mario Party, Mario Tennis, and Luigi’s Mansion, there have been loads of other titles, too many to list, for many different consoles.

Mario has epitomized how the genre list has grown, and games that would have been hard to implement on early, 8-bit consoles, have become possible in recent years. Nintendo is no stranger to using technology like motion controls, so games on things like the Wii have captured the imagination, as this tech has grown, Mario seems to be there through all of it – most of us have played the Mario Kart game where you have to hold a physical steering wheel and try and navigate one of the absurd and magical tracks.

Inverse even attributes Nintendo as inventing genres such as the “kart racer” game which we’ve seen other top franchises try to replicate with varying levels of success.

You’ll realize there were even more potential genre-exploring titles when you see the list of games that were planned but not released, not everyone knows that these games were ever greenlit for development.

Characters Spanning Other Mediums

Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, and the whole gang have become characters that are instantly recognizable and have spanned loads of different media forms as Nintendo tries to maximize its reach. We see this with loads of other games and franchises now but it could be argued that the Mario franchise was the first to develop in this way.

Comic books, and of course the huge movies (which have been released with varying degrees of success) have been some of the best-known mediums where we’ve seen the characters but there have also been television shows and other spin-offs.

Mario Franchise Shows Technology Growth

Mario games may not be the most ambitious in every respect (that will potentially get some criticism from hardcore gamers). We need to explain that statement; the games are not necessarily huge open-world games with loads of detailed NPCs, and they don’t need to be, that isn’t what the developers are going for.

However, Mario is still one of the best franchises to show the growth in technology that we’ve seen over the last 40 years as gaming has gone from the simplicity of Pong to the complexity of Grand Theft Auto or No Man’s Sky.

You only need to look at how modern Mario games allow players to move, and control the characters, to see it is infinitely different from early games which were simple platformers. Now, people playing Mario games can also see the difference in graphics, and while the cartoon style is part of the charm (perhaps that’s why the live-action movie didn’t work) the graphics are so much better and more detailed now.


Sometimes games become culturally significant as well as just being great games, and the Mario characters have helped to show this, with many people identifying with the characters and loving the whimsy of the games, whether they’re playing the retro Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, or they’re playing the newest Mario Kart game. There’s something for everyone in the franchise.

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