Defining Mario Games also known as the Super Mario Bros. series of games is both easy and challenging, mainly due to the sheer breadth of titles on offer under that family name. The mascots for Nintendo and, ostensibly, video games at large, the Super Mario Bros. have done everything from race karts to plumb the depths of a haunted mansion. There are puzzle offerings such as Doctor Mario and odd games such as Super Mario Typing.
If you’re thinking about crowd games then look no further than Mario Party. While not a Mario game itself, Super Smash Bros. often features most of the cast of the Mario games so, in a way, it is part of that universe. And, of course, there is the traditional platformer Super Mario Bros., the game type that most of us are familiar with and the one that drew many of us into to gaming with its debut all the way back in 1983.
These titles are a master class in game design and have probably inspired as many clones as id Software’s DOOM itself. Each new Mario game features a central conceit around which the gameplay of the title is built and it is this tradition that keeps the Mario mainline series of games fresh and relevant year in and year out.
But, really, even the mainline games do not themselves define a Mario game because that can be almost anything. And perhaps that is the point on Nintendo’s part. They want gamers to associate Super Mario Bros. games with video games in general, whether it is platforming, racing, puzzle games, or something else – Mario means games.