As far as video game mascots go, Nintendo’s Mario is as prolific as it gets. It’s safe to say that even if you’ve never picked up a video game controller in your life that you can still identify Mario. Nintendo has been able to build many strong franchises and lovable characters over the years, but Mario has an everlasting appeal that’s hard to deny. His presence alone typically pushes a video game into the bestseller territory.
Mario’s main series of video games have experienced many evolutions through the years. Mario games take more risks, but Mario himself is a character that’s been allowed to step out of his own franchise and cameo in other titles. Accordingly, here’s a look at 20 times Mario has appeared in non-Mario video games.
1. Donkey Kong
Before Mario was headlining his own series he actually played the role of antagonist to Donkey Kong and his extended family. This version of Mario is much more grounded than the “Super” version that comes in later games. He still gives those giant apes a run for their money.
Punch-Out!! is one of the most popular games on the original Nintendo console. It’s also one of the most painfully difficult ones. Little Mac is the game’s distinguished fighter, but Mario makes a cute appearance as the boxing match’s referee. This is a much more domesticated version of Nintendo’s hero. Hey, everyone needs a side hustle.
3. NES Tetris
Tetris is a simple puzzle game and that’s exactly why it’s remained so popular over the years. There’s not a whole lot to the game’s formula and there’s no need to complicate what works. Mario doesn’t play a crucial role in the Nintendo’s port of Tetris, but he’s there. As a fun congratulation he and a bunch of other Nintendo characters party when you win the game.
4. Donkey Kong Country 2
Rare’s Donkey Kong Country games for the Super Nintendo are some of the best platformers of all-time. They even give Mario’s own games a run for their money. Not only are the Donkey Kong Country games highly fun, but they also boast a wry sense of humor. For instance, Donkey Kong Country 2 features a Video Game Heroes hall of fame. It doesn’t just reference Mario, but Sonic as well!
5. SSX On Tour
Mario has turned into a surprisingly athletic video game character over the years. He’s tried his hand at basically every sport that’s out there. Mario and some of his usual partners in crime make a surprise appearance as playable characters in the GameCube’s SSX On Tour. What’s so jarring about this is that Mario’s character model and aesthetic just doesn’t mesh with SSX’s realistic world.
6. NBA Street V3
Mario eventually gets his own basketball game, but that doesn’t mean that he still can’t make surprise appearances in other ones. NBA Street V3 is a gritty, realistic basketball game. Therefore, throwing the cartoonish Mario into the mix is a bit of a baffling decision. Mario’s appearance has strangely made the game a cult classic on the GameCube.
7. Animal Crossing
The Animal Crossing series has turned into one of Nintendo’s biggest hits. It’s very surprising that they almost didn’t localize the cute series in the first place. Animal Crossing creates a calming environment as it simulates simple, domestic tasks. Mario finds his way into the games as one of the many themes that you can adorn your home in. Mario chique.
8. Super Scope 6
The Super Nintendo’s Super Scope 6 was a game designed for the Super Scope, a massive bazooka-like peripheral that made the NES Zapper look like a peashooter. Super Scope 6 is a compilation of games that all take advantage of the complex light gun. During target practice in one level, Mario will pilot a plane as Lemmy Koopa pursues him.
Qix started as a hit in the arcades. Then, Nintendo decided to port it over to the GameBoy and give it their personal touch. Mario and friends make a surprising amount of appearances throughout the puzzle game. They happily congratulate you when you beat the game. There are also many game over screens that feature Mario in different regions of the world.
10. Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix
Dance Dance Revolution has turned into a phenomenon. The arcade-exclusive title finally found a way to break through to the console market. Instead of Mario just showing up as some background character in a Dance Dance Revolution game, he and his friends actually take over a DDR title. This Mario Mix exclusively features songs from the history of Mario games. It allows the plumber to really cut loose.
11. Minecraft: Wii U Edition
Nintendo has done a strong job over the years to improve their bonds with third-party developers and be a receptive home for other company’s games. Many fans got excited over the announcement that Minecraft would be available on the Wii U. Nintendo went one step further by providing a number of Mario touches to the experience.
12. Fortune Street
Don’t get Fortune Street confused with Mario Party. The two may look suspiciously similar, but Fortune Street is much more akin to Monopoly. The Fortune Street games have been popular in Japan for a while, but they’ve only recently made their way over to America. To help celebrate, Mario christened the board game and is a part of the festivities.
13. NES Open Tournament Golf
Before the days where Mario Golf was its own popular franchise, Mario and company were hitting the links in NES Open Tournament Golf. This classic golf game doesn’t reference Mario in its title, but he and the rest of his friends are all over the game. Even Toad is there for moral support. There are also plenty of hazards that would only show up in the Mushroom Kingdom.
14. Wrecking Crew
Wrecking Crew doesn’t seem very revelatory by today’s standards. However, it’s a formative piece of Nintendo history. Wrecking Crew is another game that features Mario before he had his own series or a personality to fall back on. This is just a mindless NES action title, but it marks the start of Mario’s rise to fame.
There are pinball titles that are set entirely within the Mario universe, but the approach taken with the NES game, Pinball, is much more subtle. This plays like a standard pinball game, but it utilizes Mario’s “construction” experience to have him moving the parts of the machine that keep the ball in play. It’s a clever idea.
16. Mario Excite Bike
Nintendo pulled off a few experiments that don’t really get a lot of attention, but were still the home for some interesting video games. The Satellaview was a rudimentary Internet of sorts for the NES. It contained a version of Excite Bike that was given a Mario makeover. It’s the perfect way to make the game accessible to a new crowd.
CBS Giant Bomb
In many ways the GameBoy game, Golf, plays more like a tech demo than a full video game. It’s extremely rudimentary, but it still manages to feel like golf. It’s implied that the main golfer in the game is Mario. This is really just because at the time Nintendo didn’t have a wide roster of characters to utilize. It’s hardly as thorough as his appearance in NES Open Tournament Golf.
18. Famicom Grand Prix: F-1 Race
Famicom Grand Prix: F-1 Race and its several sequels were a popular racing franchise for Nintendo. If Mario Kart never came along, then these would likely be the racing games that Nintendo would be embracing. Famicom Grand Prix functions like a proto Mario Kart in some ways as it gives players a taste of Mario characters in a racing game.
19. Mario’s Picross
The Picross puzzle games are very popular in their own right. However, there was a time when Nintendo was a little less sure over the appeal of the series. To remedy these fears, Nintendo inserted Mario into the Picross world and Mario’s Picross and Mario’s Super Picross were born in the process.
20. Yakuman DS
Yakuman DS is a mahjong game, which is likely why it never came to America. Nevertheless, it’s another extremely confusing Mario appearance. Yakuman DS functions as a straight-laced mahjong game, but then it features a whole lineup of crazy Nintendo characters. Even Mario loves some good mental stimulation.Next