The Mario Games Family Tree

The Mario Games Family Tree

From his humble beginnings in Donkey Kong to his latest release in Mario Maker, we attempt to map out the Mario Games Family Tree.

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Family Tree Section Two Two

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One of the more important titles in this section is Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. Developed by Square and released in 1996, this was the first ever RPG to feature Mario and friends (and indeed enemies). Although the game was developed by Square, Shigeru Miyamoto acted as producer for the title. It was very well received and sold 1.47 million copies.

Two lines of games essentially sprang from this original title: there were four spiritual successors in the Mario and Luigi games, and the Paper Mario games - which feature several of Super Mario RPG's gameplay conventions - can also be considered descendants of the game.

Mario Paint on SNES is another key title in this section; it's the first cartridge creativity program ever made – one that shipped with a mouse peripheral and mat. The game isn't just a painting program, but also enables users to make simple animations and set them in time to music using Mario Paint's music generator. However, the only way to save animations at the time was by recording them onto VHS – something the game helped with by providing instructions on how to do so.

Mario Artist Polygon Studio

From Mario Paint came a quartet of Japan-only releases - the N64 Disk Drive Mario Artist series that included Paint Studio, Polygon Maker, Talent Studio, and a Communications Kit that enabled users to connect to "Net Studio," a now-defunct, subscription-only online network created by Randnet, where they could share their creations made with all Mario Artist programs.

Mario No Photopi

Also included in this section is Mario no Photopi, another creativity program that was released in Japan only. The game's cartridge has two slots in the top that accept SmartMedia cards, enabling users to import photos and other digital images into the game, which can then be embellished with fonts, borders, and artwork from the Mario series, and saved back to a card for export.

The deeply impressive Super Mario Maker is essentially a spiritual successor to these creativity titles, and that's why you find it included here.

Super Mario Print World

A rather unusual piece of Mario software is found in Super Mario Bros.: Print World. This Mario-themed printing program was developed by Codesmith, Inc and released under the auspices of Hi Tech Expressions. It's basically a print publishing program in which users can create signs, greeting cards, calendars and other such items and then print them out. Detailed instructions are included, making this in some respects a learning tool as well as a creativity program.

Since I've counted Super Mario Bros.: Print World as a teaching program, I've aligned a couple of typing programs with this title – both of them aimed at kids. Some may disagree with my categorization, and indeed enough people do, I'll update the Family Tree to reflect Print World as a title that stands alone. However, I believe that all these programs essentially belong together, since they are all educational and practical in nature.

Mario is Missing started out as a PC game, and was subsequently ported to SNES and NES. It's a globetrotting educational title in which Luigi plays the main role as he retrieves artifacts from various cities around the world. Although not very well received by critics, the game did have a spiritual successor in the form of Mario's Time Machine, another educational game which teaches its players about world history.

Super Mario and Friends: When I Grow Up

Also taking up a spot in this section is Super Mario and Friends: When I Grow Up. Published by Merit Software, it's basically a coloring book in which the player uses a palette of 16 colors to bring black and white pictures to life. Some of the pictures are really quite odd – all featuring Mario characters taking on different professions, including a firefighter, disc jockey, astronomer and travel guide. The picture that shows a chef and waitress features Mario cooking while waitress Princess Toadstool takes an order from a seated Link. Quite surreal!

Mario's Game Gallery, published by Interplay, and later re-released as Mario's FUNdamentals is a kid's title featuring simple games like Go Fish, Backgammon, Dominoes and Checkers. Since I count this as a board game collection, I've included two other board game titles in direct line to Mario's Game Gallery, namely, Itadaki Street, and its sequel, Fortune Street. The former is a Japan-only release on DS that was created by Square Enix, and is basically a Monopoly-style game that included some individual minigames, while the latter is its direct sequel.

An infamous title standing alone is Hotel Mario, a licensed game that was developed for the Philips CD-i by Philips Fantasy Factory following Nintendo's failed joint venture with Sony to create a disk drive peripheral for the Super Nintendo. It's basically a poor puzzle game that's known for being one of the least successful and enjoyable Mario games.

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