12 times Mario appeared on non-Nintendo platforms
Super Mario Run is imminent, but Mario’s Apple debut isn't his first run outside the confines of Nintendo HQ.
Super Mario Run releases on 15 December as a free-to-play game (in limited form) with a single buy price of $14.99. From one perspective that’s a seriously pricey mobile game, but from another it’s Mario’s lowest cost new game since, well, ever.
It also marks Mario’s debut on a smartphone platform, but it’s far from his first adventure outside the comforting bosom of Nintendo’s own console hardware. While he’s been either the star or at least a cameo in countless Nintendo games, the fact remains that he’s also been rather promiscuous when it comes to appearing on other platforms. Don’t believe me? Here are a dozen Mario appearances on systems most definitely not made by Nintendo, but explicitly approved by the big N.
- Donkey Kong (Arcade, numerous 8-bit conversions)
Donkey Kong is the Ur example of Mario appearing on non-Nintendo hardware, albeit in a game that was designed and originally built by Nintendo itself. From Arcade to Atari 2600 to Commodore 64 to TRS-80, Donkey Kong was everywhere in the 80s, including numerous knock-off versions. Sure, he may have originally been called Jumpman, but Nintendo’s own revisionist history insists that this is the debut of the world’s most famous gaming plumber. Except in the Game & Watch version, where for some reason the manual insists he’s a carpenter.
- Hotel Mario (Philips CD-i)
One of the results of the aborted Super Nintendo/Philips deal of the early 90s was that Philips gained the licence for Nintendo characters for its own underpowered console, the CD-i. The games were generally awful, and Hotel Mario isn’t much of an exception, with clunky controls and cutscenes that... well, we’ll let you watch. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
- Mario Teaches Typing (PC)
Is there any more terrifying word in the English language than "edutainment"? We’re yet to find one. Mario Teaches Typing does what it says it will do, using Mario and his chums to teach you how to touch type by way of using familiar yet somehow warped Super Mario Bros visuals. There are worse educational Mario games, at least. It’s also a rare external Mario title, in that there’s even a sequel. You guessed it, it’s Mario Teaches Typing 2, because there’s really no way to sex up a typing game.
- Mario Bros (Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Apple II, Arcade, Amstrad CPC)
Before there was Super Mario Bros, the brothers Mario were just brothers who did some plumbing! Or at least they sort of plumbed, in that they were stuck in sewers bouncing turtles, flies and other foes onto their heads before kicking them offscreen. That's plumbing, right? You’ll find this game on the NES Classic Mini, because there’s a Famicom/NES version, but Nintendo also authorised versions for multiple Atari systems, the Apple II and even Amstrad’s CPC line of 8-bit computers.
- Punch Ball Mario (PC 8801)
It’s Mario Bros, just like above, but with balls!
No, not in that way. Mario has, for some inexplicable reason, brought large red projectile balls down into the sewers to help him with pest eradication. Some bug spray might have been more appropriate, but in this Hudson-soft developed spin-off for the Japanese-only PC-8801 system, balls it is. Ahem.
- Mario is Missing! (PC)
Once we hit the Super Nintendo era, it’s less common to see Mario in anything not explicitly wearing a Nintendo badge, but it’s not a totally unknown territory to plough. Mario Is Missing! is another (eugh) "edutainment" game, this time teaching kids geography through the lens of a plumber who can travel the world through sewer pipes. No wonder grunge was so big in the 90s.
- Super Mario Bros & Friends: When I Grow Up (PC)
Remember colouring books? Remember how they were fun? Probably not, because for most of us, colouring books lose their appeal once we’ve worked out not to stick the crayons up our nose. Some folks never get past that stage, and for them, maybe Super Mario Bros & Friends: When I Grow Up, an interactive colouring book game for PC would hold some appeal. Otherwise, it’s just an interesting footnote in Mario’s history that teaches kids about different adult jobs that somehow Mario and his cohorts are qualified to undertake. I’d be wary about giving your cat any pills that Luigi the Vet prescribed if I were you.
- Super Mario Bros. Special (PC-8801)
Super Mario Bros is the jewel in Nintendo’s 8-bit crown, and one it would guard jealously, right? Well, if you produced a knock-off version, a la the infamous Giana Sisters, it most certainly would, but not for the PC-8801 version of the game, which is entirely authentic. Once again, though, it was a pleasure reserved for Japanese gamers only.
Totally not derivative, we’re sure
- Nelsonic Super Mario Bros (Watch)
Mario featured in numerous first-party LCD titles under the Game & Watch banner, packing boxes, pouring cement, delivering bombs and juggling, to name just a few. We never knew that plumbing was such a varied job. There’s no sign of Super Mario Run for the Apple Watch just yet, but it doesn’t matter as Mario’s already made his wearables debut on a range of devices licensed by Nelsonic. They’re very collectible and rather expensive if you’re keen.
- Mario’s Time Machine (PC)
History never repeats, as Split Enz taught us, but it seems that Mario educational games do. While it also has both NES and SNES versions, Mario’s Time Machine, which teaches kids about history through the lens of platforming plumbers, originally saw life on MS-DOS. Kids, you might have to ask someone older about MS-DOS. Ignore the shuddering and tears when you do.
- Mario Kart Arcade GP (Arcade)
Yes, it’s the Mario Kart you love and adore, and sure, Nintendo had input into it, because of course it did. But it’s not a Nintendo platform, having been developed by Namco instead, which is why it also features familiar Namco mascot characters such as Pac-Man.
- Mario’s Game Gallery (PC)
Hey kids! What could be more exciting than a Mario game?
How about a Mario game that’s just a thin veneer applied over traditional board and card games for the PC?
Stop yawning in the back there! Play Mario at Checkers, Backgammon or a derivative Yahtzee game, because that’s what 90s-era kids were into apparently. It does have one bright spot, however, because the voice behind Mario in this game is none other than Charles Martinet, now firmly ensconced as the official voice of Mario in his first take at the role.
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