Mice, Monitors, & Mario
A long time ago, a famous Japanese company by the name of Nintendo created a character named Mario. Since then, Mario has been best known for his 2D platforming adventures on the various Nintendo consoles. In case you’re not familiar with this relatively obscure character, Mario generally travels from castle to castle, collecting coins, and continues fighting the evil King Koopa and his minions.
But, what’s that? You say Mario was on the personal computer? Mario also starred in games that were nothing like his 2D platforming adventures? You’re absolutely right! Read on, as we go over the many Mario games that have graced the PC platform.
In 1991, Nintendo graced PC’s with the Interplay developed Mario Teaches Typing. An educational game, the goal was to help children develop their typing skills. One could “play” as Mario, Luigi, or Princess Toadstool. 1996’s follow-up, Mario Teaches Typing 2 however, featured a story where the player guide Mario and Luigi after they discover a magical typewriter. Mario, attempting to destroy Bowser’s castle by typing in a magic phrase, manages to type it incorrectly, which then causes the typewriter to explode into three pieces. Only by typing correctly can you get the typewriter back together, and defeat the evil Bowser.
1992 also saw the release of Mario is Missing! The game, one of the few Mario titles to feature Luigi as the main playable character, was unique in its development. Three individual versions were produced; a NES, SNES, and PC version. While each version features a story in which Bowser steals landmarks around the world, so that he may sell them in order to buy hair dryers…so that he can melt Antarctica…and flood the world…well, I never said the game was good. Each game begins with Mario, Luigi, and Yoshi approaching Bowser’s Antartic castle, only to have Mario captured. This is where differences begin. The SNES version features a pit opening up as the group approach the castle. The NES version alternately has a Koopa throw a bag over Mario on his way to the castle. The PC version, however, is much more elaborate in its opening. Luigi, afraid of entering the castle, is left behind by Mario who enters the castle alone. Failing to heed Luigi’s advice of not taking candy from strangers, Mario eats some when offered by Bowser, which results in his capture. I should also state, this game is also notable for being horrible, regardless of platform. It is sadly the first Mario game I was ever introduced to. A sequel was eventually released on PC (and SNES) in 1993, titled Mario’s Time Machine.
1995 saw the release of Mario’s Game Galaxy, which was a collection different games. Here one could play Mario themed checkers, backgammon, Go Fish, dominoes, and yaht (a variation on Yahtzee). While the game is considered to be horrible, it is notable for introducing Charles Martinet to the world of Mario. Mario’s Game Galaxy would be the first game in the series to have Mario voiced by Martinet, who continues voicing the character to this day. While most attribute his first role to Super Mario 64, the fact is most people overlook this sub-par PC release, thus the misattribution.
So what have we learned today? The 1990’s were a troubled time for Mario. Nintendo, thinking they could make some quick money, essentially whored the character out to third party developers. The result was a slew of sub-par games which did nothing but tarnish the series. Oh Mario, the personal computer was just not meant for you.