While Mario got his start in the arcades in 1981 with Donkey Kong, he was still present in the arcade scene even with Nintendo shifting focus to the home console market just not always in the form of the traditional type of gameplay you may expect from the series. Part seven features Mario games that were released in arcades in either the 1980s or 1990s.
- Vs. Super Mario Bros.– 1986: Arcade
The developers of Super Mario Bros. remade levels from the game; upping the difficulty and by removing some of the warp zones (the farthest players can get using them is world 6) and having power-ups appear less frequently. The six new levels made for this version of Super Mario Bros. would appear in its sequel, Super Mario Bros. 2: The Lost Levels. In fact going back and making SMB levels more difficult is what inspired the creation of SMB2: The Lost Levels. Unlike Lost Levels, the game still has a two player mode. At an early point in the game’s North American localization, this was going to be called Vs. Mario’s Adventure.
Would this game be worth playing? Yes. If you’re a fan of the original SMB, then you’ll probably enjoy this game, especially since the levels aren’t quite as mean as Lost Levels’ (most of the levels at least).
- Vs. Dr. Mario– 1990: Arcade
Hey look it’s Dr. Mario again…for like the fifth time. Like with Vs. SMB, Vs. Dr. Mario is a more difficult version of the NES original. In Dr. Mario’s case viruses yield less points when defeated, making getting the high score more difficult and the option for slow pill drops was removed.
Would this game be worth playing? Maybe? No? Considering all the versions of Dr. Mario, this may not be the best version to play. My recommendation for what Dr. Mario game to play still goes to Dr. Mario 64.
- Mario Roulette– 1991: Arcade (Japan only)
This Japan only Mario game was the result of a partnership between Nintendo and Konami; Nintendo would develop the game while Konami made the machines. The game uses Super Mario World’s visuals and bonus game for its graphics. The goal of this game is to win medals that can be either used to play again to potentially win more medals or be exchanged for a prize; similar to Pachinko. To win, players need to press the only button on the machine to stop the roulette “wheel” and the payoff is determined by how many similar icons appear in a row like how the bonus game worked in Mario World to get a bunch of extra lives. To further make it a game of chance, either a Peach or Bowser icon can appear if certain conditions were met after the button was pressed the first time. Peach is basically the “free” space while getting a Bowser results in the player loosing that round.
Would the game be worth playing? If you happen to find one in Japan, then sure, give it a go. I doubt the game will blow you away as it’s a simple pseudo-gambling game.
- Super Mario Bros./Super Mario Bros. Mushroom World– 1992: Pinball (USA only)
These two pinball machines were created by Gottlieb and were released just two months apart. The first machine to get released, Super Mario Bros., had the goal of becoming Super Mario by spelling out “SUPER” and to destroy the seven castles to rescue Princess Peach. SMB Mushroom World, its sequel, was based off of Super Mario Bros. 3. The objective is similar to the first pinball machine except now the player needs to make their way through eight worlds, and not only defeat Bowser but his Koopalings too to rescue Princess Peach. Being based off of SMB3, it not only has the mentioned Koopalings but some of the power-ups from the game too like the Tanooki Suit and Frog Suit. You’d think their’d be quite a few of these machines around since Nintendo and Mario were big in the ‘90s, but surprisingly both are pretty hard to find with only 4200 SMB machines existing and just 519 Mushroom World machines.
Would this game be worth playing? If you enjoy pinball games, then yes. I probably wouldn’t recommend getting one of these machines though unless you have the cash. I hate pinball, but I wouldn’t mind at least looking at one of these machines in person.
- Buzzing Mario– 1993: Arcade (Japan only)
Not a whole lot is known about this arcade machine. It was created by Banpresto, a company who makes a ton of video games based of anime and Tokusatsu shows like Ultraman and Power Rangers/Super Sentai. The player must drive while avoiding hazards like boulders and leap over giant pits all while Mario narrates. Peach will join you on your ride, but Bowser whisks her away not too long afterwards. While Mario and Yoshi follow Bowser on foot, the player has to avoid Mecha Koopas Bowser throws out of his Clown Car. After surviving the onslaught, the player is thanked for their driving skills.
Would this game be worth playing? If only to see the animations since the game sounds like it’d be interesting to watch. Unfortunately like with many of these obscure arcade games, it was only released in Japan and as of now, there is no gameplay footage of the game on Youtube. Going by the images, the game seems to be designed with kids in mind, not adults.
- Mario Unkurukai (Mario Undokai)– 1993: Arcade (Japan only)
Like with Buzzing Mario, little is known about the game but like said game, it was published/developed by Banpresto. Each play is 100 yen and the game is single player. Gameplay is similar to DDR and even has a pad that resembles a giant D-pad with two neutral spaces for the player’s feet in the center. The game is composed of three events: a 100m dash where you need to run in place as fast as you can to beat Bowser, Ludwig, and Morton. Next is Yoshi Race which looks similar to the previous event, except now the player needs to get Yoshi to eat fruit by stepping on the up button on the D-pad like pad. The final event is the 110m hurdles where players have to race Roy, Ludwig, and Larry Koopa to the finish line while jumping over hurdles, which is also done by stepping on the up button. During this race other hazards appear that Mario will have to jump over or on to move faster like fire breathing statues and conveyor belts. After completing all of the events and getting in first, the player is rewarded with a card to take. In the case of this video, it looked like an advertisement for Mario Party with a DK theme. Visually the game is based off of Super Mario World but with much larger and detailed sprites. Power ups like Stars can appear during an event to give Mario assistance.
Would the game be worth playing? It looks sort of fun but it seems like trying to jump over obstacles or eating fruit by pressing up would slow you down. Also finding a copy would be difficult due to its Japan only release.
- Super Mario World– 1993: Arcade (USA only)
Fabtek, Inc. developed and published this run of the mill shoot hoops and skeeball game. The only thing that makes this Mario related is the name and artwork around the game. Basically the only information about these games is from two flyers advertising it to arcade franchise owners. Depending on how many points players get, determines how many tickets you get like typical hoops and skeeball games.
Would these games be worth playing? No. There really isn’t anything separating this game from other skeeball/hoops arcade games other than the artwork.
- Donkey Kong & Mario Kart 64– 1996: Slot Machine (Europe only)
Both of these Europe only games were created by Maygay and were the first slot machines from the Mario and Donkey Kong series. The goal of Donkey Kong is to climb up to the jackpot at the top of the machine while jumping over barrels like in the arcade original. To win big in Mario Kart 64, players need to race around the track to get the super jackpot in the center of the track. The player uses power ups along the way and collects cash from various things like the slot’s reels, one of three prize trials, or the six-character based special features. The racers are Mario, Donkey Kong, and Yoshi. Interestingly, the actual Mario Kart 64 wouldn’t get released in Europe until the following year.
Would these games be worth playing? If you’re into gambling, then yes. The games look like a good way to burn a few minutes and cash. It should be noted that both of these machines are uncommon.
Quite the diverse set of games this time. Next week’s part will still be arcade focused but this time for games that were released after the new millennium.