I’ve been a Nintendo fan for many years, it was the N64 years that fandom really took hold - that was when I started to earn money and could afford their products; but I was always in awe of Nintendo’s consoles growing up. I desired them and their colourful games like only a kid can. Although back in the day Nintendo actually licensed their properties out a bit, and of course there was the clones. Some of my earliest gaming memories involve Donkey Kong and Mario Bros, along with a plethora of Game ‘N’ Watch and other handheld LCD titles. Mario has been a part of my gaming DNA since year one.
Yet I feel no pull from the new Mario games. I’ve had my fun with Super Mario Galaxy and 3D Land, but the magic wasn’t quite there for me. Obviously they are well regarded games, so it’s very probable the problem is me. I thought maybe I’m just feeling a bit burnt out, I have been playing those games for a long time… I began to wonder - just how many games has Mario been in anyway?
According to this Wikipedia article there have been 251 Mario titles, but a lot of those are ports and cameos so I decided to count the unique games that star Mario. Here are the rules I set for myself
- If “Mario” is in the title, it’s going in the list. Clearly they’re trading on his name.
- Ports count as one title - so I count Mario Bros once even though it was on every system imaginable. Nintendo didn’t restrict all of their titles to their own systems back in the 80s.
- Game and Watch titles don’t count as ports - because usually they just shared the name of the game they were “based” on and little else.
- Re-releases count as unique titles in my book. They are separately boxed, released later and are sometimes modified. Therefore they don’t count as ports and go on the list.
- If Mario is one of the playable characters, unlockable or otherwise, it goes on the list. So Wrecking Crew counts, but Mario’s role as the referee in PunchOut! does not.
- Virtual Console re-releases don’t count… Because they weren’t listed on the Wikipedia article and I’m too lazy to find them myself.
- Announced but unreleased games don’t count.
So according to that set of rules, Mario has been in 161 unique games. I was actually shocked at how high that number is. I know Nintendo have properly pimped Mario around but I never realised the extent of said pimpage. That works out at an average of 5 titles per year, but Mario’s busiest year was in fact 2005 with a total of 12 unique titles that year (2004 was the second busiest with 10 unique titles).
Mario starred in 11 games before he was ever in Super Mario Bros. He was in 14 different Game ‘n’ Watch/LCD titles, and 81 of those 161 titles were released before the year 2000. His most common genre is, rather unsurprisingly, 2D platformer with a total of 45 titles, followed by sports titles at a total of 24. Not bad for a short, fat plumber.
So it’s stating the obvious when I say Mario has been in a lot of games, but let’s see if I can put this into perspective a little…
In the last 10 years there have been 4 Gears of War games1, 6 Halo games2 (7 if we’re generous and go further back to count the original Combat Evolved from 2001), and 30 Call of Duty titles3. In comparison Mario has had a massive 64 games in that same time period.
For an even more random angle, a DVD case is 14mm in height. So if for some weird reason Nintendo were to repackage all Mario’s games into DVD cases and you were to get a copy of each and stack them together they would could to a total of 7 feet 4 inches (225.4cm). Whereas the tallest player currently in the Basketball Hall of Fame is Ralph Sampson who stands just shy of that at 224cm.
If we were to lay them lengthways (190mm) they would come to 100 foot 4 inches (3059cm, 30.48 metres) which is roughly the stopping distance of your standard car travelling at 60mph.
As I wrote this, I began to wonder if this is the reason I no longer I feel the same buzz when I hear about the latest Mario game? I remember reading about Super Mario 64 and marvelling at Metal Mario, the title screen, that castle… But now, Mario Galaxy 2 did little for me and the thought of buying a Wii U to play Mario seems preposterous. Some of this is me of course, I’m older, more jaded and cynical. I’ve seen the world, I’ve gotten married, bought a house and had kids. Oh when they’re a little older they’re going to LOVE Mario and his friends I have no doubt - even the worst Mario games aren’t bad (with the exception of the awful CD-i games of course), and his best games stand as some of the best games of all time. I still have appreciation of those games of course, it’s just… you know… 161. He’s been around and boy is he feeling it.
Want to see the list? It’s right here on Google Docs.