Every story has a beginning. But Mario’s origins are a little humbler than you might expect. And, no, we’re not talking about Donkey Kong. We’re talking about the first time Mario headlined a game as the protagonist, not its antagonist.
Beginning life as a somewhat obscure arcade game, the Super Mario Bros. franchise was nothing like what it would become when it made its debut. Arriving to arcades in 1983, Mario Bros. Arcade introduced a lot of the elements we see in Mario games today in terms of characters, but the gameplay was radically different.

Not only that, but 1983 was not the best year for new video games to arrive. A monumental year for the industry, it saw no less than the home console market’s crash and the release of the Famicom in Japan. Mario’s attempt at breaking out from under Donkey Kong’s shadow couldn’t have come at a worse time. Still, it is hard to imagine that just a few years after this somewhat obscure premier that Mario would go on to not only dominate Nintendo’s console, but video games in general.

As Mario (or Luigi), you ran around a screen reminiscent of the Donkey Kong series and eliminated enemies by knocking them over onto their backs which allowed them to be kicked off the screen. These stages are supposed to represent the sewers of New York City according to press from the time. For those players that debate whether or not Mario actually is a plumber, this arcade game would seem to confirm his real profession.
Enemies range from the Koopa troopas we know and love to what looks like a prototype for a Spiny. There are also environmental hazards like fireballs and icicles that Mario has to avoid.
Making its first appearance in this game, the POW block lets Mario knock