2020 is a year apparently designed to make many of us feel old. It all started with Mario celebrating his 35th anniversary. However, gaming’s most famous plumber isn’t the only one turning 35 this year. Due to the launch windows for various systems, lots of icons are celebrating this hallmark birthday. So, for this Siliconera Speaks Up, we’re celebrating not only Mario’s 35th anniversary. We’re talking about multiple series’ special days!
This is the granddaddy of them all, complete with a funky overworld theme that has wormed its way into everyone’s hearts. Super Mario Bros. may have owed some of its success to its status as a bundled game alongside the NES, but countless analyses of the game’s level design and controls show that the game’s success is no fluke. Even though Mario has been in grander adventures with wider scopes in the 35 years since, this game remains one of those eternal titles that you can always pop in, press start, and feel like you’re home. Run and jump, man! – Alistair
One of the great things about early video games is that we ended up having a lot of educational ones that were genuinely fun. Or, well, maybe I’ve just reached that age where maybe I remember games like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? as being more fun than they really were? Anyways, in 1985, this educational mystery game taught us all about geography while tasking us with tackling Carmen Sandiego’s criminal syndicate. The adventure game made you think critically when trying to find out what she and her minions stole and where they had gone. The original PC game ended up flourishing, resulting in more games, books, and TV shows. – Jenni
There are a whole bunch of these games celebrating their 35th, but only a few spawned an entire genre that has thrived ever since. The first is, well, Super Mario Bros., but the one I want to talk about is one that hasn’t received nearly as much attention in recent years: Gauntlet. While other franchises like Diablo have largely reaped the success, Atari’s arcade game popularized the idea of co-op dungeon crawling and, through follow-ups like Legends, continued to define how they should work with instanced runs and different-feeling classes. It’s also why games like it have done well on mobile (hi, Dragalia Lost!): it was born as a quarter-consuming cabinet and that translates gracefully to free-to-play microtransaction elements. There’s still something so charming about the original, though. – Graham
In the current gaming climate, I’m honestly shocked a whole ten years have passed since we’ve seen a new Ghosts ‘n Goblins game. That series was all about ludicrous, deliberate difficulty well before roguelikes were cool. It’s also in Capcom’s top ten best-sellers overall, even with its more troubled recent attempts to come back. Even though these games are hard, there’s a real charm to them, from the way Arthur’s goofy body language adds humor to failing, to the kickass main theme that has carried the series’ identity over 35 years. To be fair we did get recent rep for Ghosts ‘n Goblins in Marvel vs Capcom, but that rub didn’t go well for obvious reasons. Capcom is on a tear now; perhaps once we run out of Resident Evil games to remake Arthur (or Maximo) could get another shot? – Lucas
I am trash at Excitebike, constantly red-lining my bike and wiping out, but I love it anyway. I love it BECAUSE I am terrible at it, but so is my brother, and all we would do is make custom tracks in the game to make each other miserable. It was nothing but full-on torture tracks designed to make the other person tumble over the handlebars as frequently as possible. It’s a fun racing game, but that ability to make your own track and subject another player to it was just astounding at the time. Even if all I did was use it to create the most awful races known to man. – Joel
While Mario and the others celebrate their 35th anniversary, one game that managed to sneak its way inside the party is Paperboy. In Paperboy, you play as a… well, a paperboy, who must deliver newspapers down an absurdly long suburban street that changes for each day. You must deliver papers through Sunday to win the game. The objective is to make sure newspapers are delivered to the subscribing customers who live in the bright and colorful houses while avoiding the terrible non-subscribers who live in gray and depressing homes. While it sounds easy, you have everything from break dancers, skateboarders, armed robberies, and even tornadoes that get in your way. The game taught me that vandalism is okay as long as it is against non-subscribers, and doing so will get you extra points. It also taught me that video games can be unfair and you never know when a grim reaper might be waiting for you at the corner of the street to disrupt your paper route. – Sato