(This was written entirely due to boredom, as explained in the final paragraph. It deals with the main Mario series and just some of my general thoughts about it.)
Mario is probably the most iconic video game hero ever conceived, I don't have statistics so I can't say 100%. Of course whenever a Mario game comes out the world rejoices.
No wait, it doesn't really do that anymore does it?
Mario's initial non-platformer games were pretty low-key. Most people didn't really know about them, or just didn't really care. I mean some were probably pissed if they accidently bought Mario is Missing or whatever, but most people were only exposed to the core series. After the N64 was released Mario flooded the market.
Tennis, Party and Golf, the first three major Mario side games. All with at least two sequels , and the Party series just refuses to die. At least it's finally worth a look again now with waggle control thanks to the Wii and apparently the DS version is pretty fun with friends. But this is besides the point.
When Super Mario Bros was released everyone believed that video gaming at home was alive again, it single handedly resurrected a nearly dead practice. Well, not single handedly really, but it was possibly the biggest influence for people to buy an NES before they learned of other awesome games like Zelda and Metroid. The sequel was released and everyone bought that up as quickly as possible. The fan base was split, some liked this new game, others didn't so much. Years later when a thing called the internet came into being people found out that this was really Doki Doki Panic and completely different game and Shigeru Miyamoto decided to turn into a Mario game (He seems to have a fetish with revamping games... at least Doki Doki Panic was released in Japan, Dinosaur Planet never had a chance). When 3 was announced people weren't sure what to expect. Of course when it was released it became the best selling Mario game of all time and is just plain fucking amazing. It added so much to the Mario formula, it reinvented platforming games (Actually the Mario series has done that quite a fucking lot). If you don't know how popular/amazing this game is, you're an idiot. Go play it and you'll understand.
This was quite possibly the "golden age" for the Mario series as 3 and it's successor, World, are in an eternal war between which is the best Mario game. World came out for the SNES and was incredibly well received, being up there with 3 as most popular and amazing Mario game. It also reinvented platforming to a degree. It took was 3 offered and perfected it. The next core Mario game was Super Mario Bros. 64. Now I personally don't like it that much, but without this game 3D would suck, or would have for a long while. Thanks to this game 3D became a conceivable reality (Want proof? Go play Bubsy 3D). Again it reinvented platforming and invented successful 3D platforming.
Sadly 3D had to ditch the old fashion linear level progression or map. They had to add a hub world (Peach's Castle) which linked (via paintings) to other worlds (the meat of the game) where you could gain stars (the things you're looking for). You enter the world and leave once you got the star you were after. Pretty much every 3D platformer has used this system or a similar system to this.
This style of gaming is not really preferable to me. I don't like having to enter and exit over and over again, it just makes it seem like I'm constantly reentering the same world and it makes it really boring. I really liked how Banjo-Kazooie handled it. Basically it's exactly the same, but when you got a Jiggy (the things you were looking for in BK served the same purpose as stars in SM64) you were able to continue searching for the other 9 Jiggy's and you could leave whenever you felt like it. Of course, probably just to spite me, Nintendo has continued to use this same "1-star at a time" system. It's not really a major flaw, but it makes the worlds incredibly boring to me, and I'm sure (read: hoping) I'm not the only one who thinks this.
The next game is the most looked down upon Mario game released in the core set. Super Mario Sunshine for the Nintendo Gamecube. The Gamecube was Nintendo's chance to release whatever the fuck they wanted to pretty much. Sunshine was a major risk, that most people don't like, Wind Waker was a major risk, that most people hated at first but eventually allowed it, Metroid Prime was a major risk, which was very successful, and so on and so forth. This era was basically reestablishing all of Nintendo's franchise's. Sunshine along with all of Mario's side excursions are the main reason's Mario games are not such a joyous moment. Of course games like Galaxy come out and make us feel bad that we were almost not excited for new Mario games.
Super Mario Sunshine was supposed to reinvent platforming again. The bigwigs at Nintendo apparently thought that the FLUDD water mechanic would breath new life into platformers, however it really didn't. They were able to pull off an entire game with the water gimmick, but most people viewed as just that, a pointless gimmick. Many people don't really feel like it's a Mario game, and every fucking world is based on a beach. It gets incredibly old incredibly quickly that way. Even the cliche world progression (forest, ice, lava, swamp, jungle, airship, water, dark, whatever worlds) doesn't get as boring and almost tedious as Sunshine's levels do. Personally I enjoy Sunshine more that 64, but I'm almost alone in this regard.
The latest game to be released in the core series of Mario platformers is Galaxy. This game is fucking amazing, a current gen 3 or World. The gravity mechanic and wondrous worlds they shoved into the game is really awesome and beautiful, almost serene. Really it's a game that demands to be played by all. The only detractor for me is the same sort of "1-star per world" design. I understand that by doing this they can specially tailor the world so that it fits the mission you're currently on, but it just makes me feel like I'm being forced to revisit the same world I just beat. It again drains the wonder out of the worlds I encounter, but when the first couple of times I visit I'm in awe.
But wait! There's more!
I didn't cover the sports games (Tennis, Baseball, Soccer, Basketball, Golf, Kart and Party) nor the RPG's (the excellent Legend of the Seven Stars and the brilliant Paper Mario series which sadly lost a bit of luster with each installment and the clever Mario and Luigi game with the most boring sequel ever) nor the educational games, I even skipped over some of the platformers (Yoshi's Island and it's sequels, Super Mario Land 1-3 and the Wario Land series which spawned from that) but I just wanted to take a look at the core series.
I don't really know the point of this, it's just basic, general, not deep at all video gaming knowledge. If you know anything about games you probably know at least half of the information I put in this. I just wanted to write and I just got done playing Sunshine. Oddly enough, I like Sunshine a lot, but it leaves a sour taste in my mouth, and shine gathering seems to take forever compared to Galaxy's and 64's relatively quick pace. I might add on to this later, or write another little... erm... article(?) about the Mario series... I left a lot out. The difficulty of the series overall, the games I didn't talk about, the general effect of Mario outside of video games, and the movie which I personally love. I feel I've written enough, so if you read all of this, thanks and I hope you enjoyed your time. read