Gamasutra recently posted one of the most hilarious articles you’ll ever read about video game history: a lengthy, detailed, time-consuming, and ultimately completely futile quest to determine what day, exactly, “Super Mario Bros.” first came out in the United States.
Seriously, nobody knows, not even Nintendo, apparently. But what makes the article worth reading is that Frank Cifaldi uses it as a jumping-off point to explore how Nintendo, now a toy company giant, managed to sell a game system to retailers still burned from the Great Atari Crash, and managed to define an entire generation of childhoods.
This isn’t Amelia Earhart or the Bermuda Triangle we’re talking about here: this is one of the highest grossing consumer entertainment products in history, introduced less than 30 years ago, and we can’t seem to get the date right.
I decided recently to try to set this right. I wanted to prove, once and for all, exactly when Super Mario Bros. invaded North America. I wanted to put this whole embarrassing mess behind us so that the history books of the future could be properly informed, and so that places like Wikipedia would have a definitive source to cite.
Did I find the answer? Well, sort of.
The piece actually goes right up to, literally, the first sale of the first Nintendo in America. It’s a genuinely fascinating and funny read, especially if you grew up with Mario, and it gives you an idea of how much the company had on the line. It may not be conclusive, but it’s an engaging and funny history.
(Image courtesy Nintendo)