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The All-Time Most Memorable Mario Moments in Honor of Mario Day

Oh hey, it’s Mario Day (March 10th, Mar10, see?), and that means it’s a great time to get all nostalgic and have a look back at the history of the world’s favorite plumber/doctor/kart driver/fighter/Olympian/cat. Mario has been with a lot of us for as long as we’ve been gaming, if not even longer depending on how old you are, and he’s also been at the forefront of a lot of cool moments throughout pop culture history. There’s a reason we named him and his games as the best video game franchise of all time.

To truly give this old man a proper bit of respect, we’ve decided to go ahead and list some of our favorite memorable Mario moments of all time. We’re going to look at everything as broadly as possible, so you might even learn something new along the way, from NES and the SNES all the way to his best moments and games on the Nintendo Switch.

So in honor of Mario Day, We’ve listed these moments in chronological order because choosing between them just feels cruel. Here we go!


The First Time He Flew – 1988

Video games are one of the best ways to live out strange dreams. While newer games may well be better at letting you do so than retro games, old-school games had quite the flair for the absurd.

While there are plenty of wonderful moments in Super Mario Bros. 3, like dropping down behind the scenery in some levels, the biggest moment for any Mario fan was their very first flight. As a platformer, flying felt as though it went against everything you were meant to be doing in a Mario game. And yet, somehow, it also made total sense. It felt so good to fly high above a lot of the problematic areas, and the first time it happened we were completely blown away. Though Mario has too many abilities to count at this point, flying still remains one of his coolest and one of our favorites. In true red-and-blue plumber fashion, it was a very memorable Mario moment.

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When He Whipped Out a Canvas – 1992

Mario Paint is an absolute oddity of a game that Nintendo release back in 1992 on the Super Nintendo. It was designed to be used with the Super NES Mouse peripheral. For some people, that might have been the first time they ever used a mouse, because PCs weren’t all that common in a lot of homes.

The game was meant to help kids learn how to paint, but also featured a mini-game where you swatted flies called Gnat Attack. The game allowed people to use the mouse to create original bits of art from 15 colors and 75 different patterns. It’s a wholly unique game on the SNES, and remains one of the coolest invitations for creativity on those early consoles.

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That Weird Live-Action Flick – 1993

For some reason, a film loosely related to the Mario games was released in 1993. From a casting perspective, it’s kind of a powerhouse. You’ve got Bob Hoskins as Mario, John Leguizamo as Luigi (both perfect), and Dennis Hopper as King Koopa. Back at this point, Bowser was called King Koopa a lot of the time.

Despite the strong cast, the film itself is, well, it’s worth watching, but it’s not good, you know? Despite that, the film stands as kind of a cult icon of bad video game movies alongside the Street Fighter film from 1994. If you’re looking for not just a memorable Mario moment from the past, but rather a memorable video game moment, we suggest watching them both in succession for a “wow, these are bad” double bill of video games films.

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When He Crossed Over Into a New Dimension – 1996

Super Mario 64 will always be one of the biggest moments in gaming. 2D gaming had been the way for such a long time, that the idea of true 3D gaming was bordering on magic for most people. Despite that, Super Mario 64 came out and showed us all the path forward.

The opening moments of the game are etched into many people’s memories. You get a letter, turn up at the castle, and find that things have gone awry. You then set out on an epic journey through painted world after painted world to find stars, and eventually save the day. The platforming still feels incredible to this day, and there was no better example of how powerful that extra dimension could be in gaming.

Super Mario 64, along with Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy, were recently re-released on the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo took the games off of the eShop, but you can still find hard copies on Amazon and eBay for relatively affordable prices. If you’re looking to see Mario’s growth over the past few decades, we highly recommend picking this one up.

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When He Threw Down with Pikachu (and Everyone Else) – 1999

While there’s a little bit of violence in most Mario games, we’re not sure anyone expected to see him and other classic Nintendo characters properly throwing down. Super Smash Bros. was released in 1999, and it was the first time we saw this style of platforming fighting in the mainstream, and it’s changed so much of the fighting game scene since.

Smash Bros has gone from being a fun little curio into one of the best games on nearly every Nintendo console. It’s easily one of the best multiplayer games for parties, younger players, and even more serious competitions if you want to really settle some scores.

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That Time He Got A Gun – 2017

Rabbids are the annoying video game version of Minions. They’re loud, stupid, and like sand, they get everywhere. Despite that, Nintendo and Ubisoft decided to team up to make a game that featured not only our mustachioed friend but also these weird little rabbits.

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle took Mario and gave him a gun, and also equipped a bunch of other characters, too. Then, it puts all of those characters into a tough tactics games like XCOM. Weirder still, it’s one of the best games in the genre and is still one of the most enjoyable Switch games out now.

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The Whole Bowsette Thing – 2018

Back in 2018, an item was revealed in a presentation for New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe that would go on to take over the internet for a bit. That item was the Super Crown, which could turn little old Toadette into a more human being called Peachette. The thing is, this is the internet, so it didn’t stay there.

Instead, a comic artist called Ayyk92 drew Bowser putting on the Super Crown, which turned Bowser into Bowsette. From here on, Bowsette has become an intensely popular cosplay character for, um, reasons. It’s one of those things that went way beyond gaming, and it feels as though it’s informed some PR decisions from then on, too.


This Recent Existential Crisis – 2020

One of the most recent Mario games is Paper Mario: The Origami King. The Paper Mario series has always had a strange personality when compared to other Mario games. They tend to lean more towards humor than anything, and that’s probably why one moment with a party member hits so hard. During the course of the game, you end up teaming up with a Bob-omb called Bobby.

Bob-ombs are the bomb-esque creatures that chase you around in Mario games and explode when you’re not paying attention. Likewise, you can sometimes use them to blow up walls and platforms to open up hidden pathways. Generally speaking, they’re usually the bad guys. But in this latest installment of Paper Mario, a Bob-omb becomes your friend.

In the game, you eventually come to a point where the path is blocked, and Bobby the Bob-omb puts a fuse on his head and says his goodbyes to Mario and co. The Bob-ombs’ only purpose is to explode, and Bobby knows this. Bobby is then gone from your party, having fulfilled his ultimate purpose. It’s an intense moment that is shockingly heavy given the nature of these games in general, and it’ll stick with you for a long time. It also points to the level of growth we’ve seen in the series over the years. What started out as a silly game of sliding down warp pipes and saving the princess has developed into a world of its own, complete with characters pursuing their own goals and fates. Bobby’s sacrifice may be minor in the course of all the Mario games, but it’s a memorable Mario moment nonetheless and makes us excited to see where the red-and-blue mustachioed plumber will go next.

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