• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.

IGN: The Evolution of Mario On Screen


NeoGAFs Kent Brockman

Outside of the Super Mario Bros Supershow and the now infamous live-action movie, Mario has been adapted to the screen in more ways than you might know, from lost and canceled children's shows to government PSAs and even a brief stint on ice. We're taking a look at the evolution of Mario throughout the years, from his brief appearances on Saturday Supercade in the early 1980's all the way to 2023's The Super Mario Bros Movie.

  • 🕹️ Mario has been an iconic figure in video games, movies, and TV for the last 38 years.
  • 🕹️ Mario has been adapted to the screen in various ways, such as cartoons, government PSAs, and even ice skating shows.
  • 🕹️ The first time we hear Mario's voice is in the Saturday Supercade cartoon.
  • 🕹️ In 1986, the first feature-length Mario film was released in Japan called Super Mario Brothers: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach.
  • 🕹️ In 1989, Mario appeared in eight animated shows, movies, commercials, PSAs, and a made-for-TV ice skating special. One of the most iconic adaptations was The Super Mario Bros Super Show.
  • 🕹️ King Koopa's Kool Kartoons is a strange and lost media involving a live-action King Koopa giving away prizes to a studio audience while airing non-Mario public domain cartoons.
  • 🕹️ The next decade of Mario adaptations began with the Club Mario repackaging of the original Super Mario Bros Super Show in 1990, replacing live action segments with a group of Mario-obsessed teenagers.

The Evolution of Mario on Screen​

Over the past 38 years, the character of Mario has been a beloved and iconic figure in video games, movies, and TV. Mario has been adapted to the screen in more ways than people may realize, from children's shows to government PSAs and even a brief stint on ice. This article will cover the evolution of Mario on screen.

The Early 1980s: Mario's First Appearance​

As the video game industry was recovering from its collapse due to an oversaturation of less than desirable games and consoles, Nintendo needed to solidify its place as the dominant name in the industry. The latest video game craze to sweep the United States and Japan was called Nintendo, and what better way to do this than to make your mascot a mushroom-loving Italian plumber?

Not too long after his first appearance in arcades, Mario could be found on everything from lunch boxes to cereal to training cards and even a Saturday morning cartoon, appropriately called Saturday Super King. While Mario wasn't the main focus of Saturday Super King and his performance wasn't going to win him an Emmy anytime soon, what makes Saturday Super King so unique is that Mario is not only a secondary character to Donkey Kong, but this is also the first time we hear his voice. Well before his iconic Italian-American accent was ever established, we get a glimpse of the early Mario.

The Late 1980s: Mario in Film and TV​

In 1986, a Japanese feature-length film called Super Mario Brothers: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach was released exclusively in Japan. Unlike Saturday Super King, this hour-long animated film features a more traditional Mario and Luigi design and familiar elements from the games, such as Goombas, iconic locations, and Bowser as the main antagonist. The movie is a relatively faithful adaptation of the game's worlds, except for the ending in which the dog turns into an attractive prince that immediately steals Princess Peach from Mario.

1989 was a busy year for Mario. In addition to the Super Mario Brothers Super Show, Mario found himself in not one, but eight animated shows, movies, commercials, PSAs, and even a made-for-TV ice skating special in which a young Jason Bateman attempts to explain the plot of the Mario games to an even younger Alyssa Milano. One of the most recognizable Mario adaptations yet is the Super Mario Brothers Super Show. Even though the show is now set in the cultural Zeitgeist, it's hard to believe that something as iconic as this only aired for three months from September 4th to December 1st. The show featured everything you would find in an 80s children's show, from live-action segments to poorly drawn animation and most importantly, the Mario rap.

The 1990s: Mario's Evolution Continues​

The next decade of Mario adaptations kicked off with even more evolutions of the original 1989 Super Mario Brothers Super Show. Licensed and produced by Deke Entertainment, each iteration skewed slightly from its predecessor by repackaging integral segments or introducing new characters from the franchise. The first of these repackagings was released in 1990 and was called Club Mario. In true 1990s cost-cutting style, Club Mario repackaged the original Super Mario Brothers Super Show but swapped out the live-action segments with Mario and Luigi for a group of super cool totally rad Mario-obsessed teenagers, resulting in probably one...

Overall, Mario has had a long and varied history on the screen, with adaptations ranging from the faithful to the downright bizarre. Nonetheless, Mario has remained a beloved and iconic character throughout, and it's hard to imagine the world of video games without him.
Top Bottom