The History of Super Mario Bros

Posted on November 12, 2007 

The History of Super Mario Bros

After just three years, Nintendo’s aggressive move into the North American videogame market proved a complete disaster. Out of three thousand units built, its much-hyped, last-ditch arcade shooter Radar Scope only sold one thousand units. The rest gathered dust in a warehouse.

Minoru Arakawa, the man who placed the bold Hail Mary order, begged his father-in-law (Nintendo CEO Hiroshi Yamauchi) to reprogram the useless Radar Scope machines into a new hit game. Anything less would be the nail in Nintendo of America’s coffin. Yamauchi agreed, handing the job to Gunpei Yokoi, creator of the successful Game & Watch series, and his young protege, Shigeru Miyamoto… a graphic artist who’d never designed a game in his life.

For the first time, story came first and gameplay was designed around it. Miyamoto based his plot on the Popeye love triangle, a license Nintendo pursued and lost. Very quickly, a giant gorilla subbed for Bluto while Popeye the Sailor-Man became Jumpman, a carpenter leaping barrels and scaling his construction site to rescue “Lady.” Miyamoto wanted a linear progression through different stages. His four-man programming team didn’t want to code the same game four times. It was foolish, like redesigning a chess board every five moves.


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