Rumor has it that Mario is more widely recognized than Mickey Mouse. It’s hard to deny such claims when he’s been such a prominent figure of pop culture for the last thirty years. Mario has hopped from from a faceless pixelated arcade character to a 3D chatterbox.
Love the classic games all you want, but there’s no denying that there have been a few rough spots in the Mario legacy along the way. Everyone has their ups and downs, but here’s a peek at seven misguided games of yesteryear.
7 – I Am a Teacher: Super Mario Sweater (Famicom Disk System)
At least the music is good.
Mario has made appearances in over a hundred games. This is definitely one he should regret. Released only in Japan, this game sought to teach children how to knit their own Mario merchandise. The graphics look like a broken port of Mario’s Picross. Allegedly, this release is considered quite rare. Somehow, I find it hard to believe that this one didn’t fly off store shelves. This is also the game that started bad spin-off games from the Mario world. Did you really need another reason to not like it?
6 – Mario’s Tennis (Virtual Boy)
Being released exclusively for the Virtual Boy, Mario’s Tennis is guilty by association. This 3D game was usually the game featured on in-store demos and is the only experience most people have had with the failed system. Of all games to make great use of a 3D effect, it’s hard to understand why Nintendo thought tennis would be a great way to showcase the Virtual Boy’s capabilities. Virtual Boy games had two colors: black and red. At least the gaming giant learned their lesson and didn’t bother leading the 3DS with any type of Mario release.
5 – Mario Teaches Typing (DOS, Mac)
Mario once again teaches us a useful skill. After all, you can’t blame a plumber for wanting to advance his career in the teaching industry. For those of you who can’t remember a time before personal computers, children were encouraged to learn home row key typing. The dark ages have passed, making this game obsolete. Besides, where are you going to find a working 5.25” floppy drive to play this one?
4 – Mario Bros. II (Commodore 64)
Mario Bros. II is so obscure, I didn’t even know about it before researching material for this article. No, this isn’t the American release of Super Mario Bros. 2 or the famous Lost Levels. Instead, it is kind of a port of a Mario Bros. title from the Game & Watch series. In other words, it’s one step away from being a game based on the Super Mario Bros. watch you used to sneak into school. The plot of this game sees Mario and Luigi baking cakes and throwing them on conveyor belts. As an added bonus, Mario Bros. II features some fantastic artist renderings of everyone’s favorite plumbers.
3 – Hotel Mario (Philips CD-i)
Hotel Mario: The reason Nintendo stuck with cartridges.
If you know your Internet memes, you’ve definitely seen clips of this game by now. Hotel Mario begins with a short cartoon of Mario and Luigi discussing spaghetti. Somehow this felt like a proper lead-in to a game in which they must rescue the princess from a hotel. Most people missed this title because it wasn’t even released on a Nintendo console.
This game was developed as a way for Philips Media to stick it to Nintendo. Philips was developing a CD-ROM attachment for the Super Nintendo, but the plans fell through. The company went on to create the Philips CD-i console, which was doomed from the start, and found that their contract allowed them to use Nintendo characters. They also produced equally horrible Zelda games.
2 – Mario is Missing (DOS, NES, SNES)
Koopa kidnapped Mario and, for some reason, Luigi feels obligated to save him. To do this, he travels the world and collects artifacts. That’s about as much justice as I can do explaining this game.
The educational disaster that is Mario is Missing makes a convincing argument as to why Luigi is not a leading character. Come to think of it, Luigi wasn’t a playable character for several years after this release. Perhaps the title should have been Luigi Will Go Missing. This was basically a rip-off of the Carmen Sandiego games and, unfortunately, not a very good one.
1 – Mario’s Time Machine (SNES, NES)
In the Mario universe, the only thing worse than a bad game is a sequel to a bad game. The gameplay is very similar to Mario is Missing, but Mario is actually a playable character this time. A good video game is one that can be played without reading a manual or instructions first. This game offers no advice on how to control the time machine, instead leaving players very confused about surfing to collect mushrooms which help generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity needed to operate the flux capicitor… or something. The controls are so confusing that most players never made it past the first level, even though the game was targeted to five year olds.
Did we miss some of your favorite Mario mishaps? Tell us about it in the comments below!