Our story today starts with a very depressed plumber who always wanted to be a professional athlete!
When you're a kid it's important to try new sports. Even when you're knocked down, you still need to get up and try, try again. But maybe that sport isn't your thing. Maybe it's not football you're going to excel in, but rather baseball or tennis or kart racing. This is the conundrum our hero Super Mario finds himself in. For almost a quarter century Nintendo's beloved mascot has tried year after year to prove that he's a natural born athlete. But alas, he's just not good enough to go up against the big boys of baseball, football and basketball. Mario has a heart of gold, but he's not a strong athlete.
Need proof? I bet without batting an eye you can name me at least six sports Mario has tried out for. Heck, if I gave you a few minutes you could probably come up with a dozen or more names. That's not because he's great at any one of those sports, but rather because he just can't find his niche. Don't confuse this squad Italian with Bo Jackson; Mario
Regardless of whether this really is Mario or not, the fact remains that Mario did release several golf games with his name attached!
just isn't very good at competitive games. In all Mario has tried out for 14 different sports, some of which he did better at than others. Either way, I think it's time that somebody steps in and tells our hero the ugly truth - he's not going to be a professional athlete.
Believe it or not it all started 24 years ago. Before the Nintendo Entertainment System could even be launched in the United States, Nintendo was impressing arcade goers with their generically titled sports game, Golf. While there's some controversy as to whether or not Mario even stars in this game, it's hard to dispute that his likeness was used to attract attention. What's more, he later went on to star in a number of golf games, including titles on the Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Color. With its slow pace and simplistic graphics, Mario did the right thing by making golf his first foray into professional sports.
Thank god Mario didn't actually box in this game, he would have never made it to Super Mario Bros. 3!
Mario wasn't nearly as careful three years later when he decided to jump in the boxing ring. Don't worry fight fans, Mario decided against actually becoming a pugilist, but he was front and center as the referee in Mike Tyson's Punch Out!! for the 8-bit NES. To his credit, three years earlier he was a boxing spectator in the arcade version of Punch Out!!, so at least he decided to work his way into the ring this time around.
In 1990 Mario traded in the boxing gloves for a steering wheel. Although it was poorly received, Mario's cameo in F-1 Racing for the Game Boy cannot be forgotten. Like his brief stint at boxing, Mario wasn't ready to jump in the car and
Not even Pac-Man can keep modern Mario Kart games interesting!
do the actual racing. Instead he greeted you with the checkered flag at the finish line. He's not exactly the bravest athlete so far, but at least he's dabbling in the world of F-1 racing.
Two years later Mario decided that he didn't want to just watch the car race; he wanted to be a part of it. After playing only minor roles in the last two sports he took part in, Mario was ready to get all of his friends together and compete in the sport of professional kart racing. In 1992 Super Mario Kart was released to critical praise and huge fan support. Some people still regard this 16 year old racing game to be Mario's greatest sports spin-off. Unfortunately Mario's good name was unable to save some of the disappointing Mario Kart sequels, but there was a brief return to form recently when Nintendo released Super Mario Kart DS.
I don't care where he came from, if Waluigi is in your sports game then you know it's going to be bad!
After having a taste of speed, Mario had a rather bizarre request - he wanted to go big game hunting. Now I know what you're thinking, you want to know if big game hunting can actually be considered a sport. Well, I checked Wikipedia and it says in the first paragraph that "big game hunting is a popular sport in many countries." Unfortunately that doesn't mean that Mario is good at it. Case and point is Yoshi's Safari, which was shot down by the game critics and panned by animal rights activists. The problem was that Mario was using the Super Scope to do his hunting, which, we later find out, is actually a big no-no when going after big game. That simple violation of the rules meant that Mario had his hunting license revoked, effectively ending his hunting career.
After his unfortunate run-in with the Safari patrol, Mario decided to go back to traditional sports. In 1995 he decided to try and beat Martina Navratilova at her own game. Oddly enough he decided to do this on the ill-fated Virtual Boy. To be fair, 1995's Mario's Tennis was not actually Mario's first tennis game. Back in 1984 he observed a few rounds in the NES/arcade game, Tennis. But it wasn't until 11 years later that Mario really decided to take the sport seriously. Mario's Tennis was a solid first attempt, even with its black & red graphics and faux-3D. This tennis outing was just the first of many, including the similarly titled Mario Tennis (Nintendo 64) and Mario Power Tennis (GameCube).