Mario has appeared in over 200 games. However, not all of them are as well-known or as enjoyable as the likes of Super Mario Galaxy Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario 64. Although when we think of Mario we tend to think of the top-class, big budget titles, there have also been a heap of videogames that for whatever reason never became popular because they were either released on an obscure console, were cheap PC education titles or were simply a pile of garbage.
So, just to make sure that we've covered every nook and cranny of Mario's long and distinguished career, here's a selection of the rarest Mario games in existence, the majority of which never saw the light of day here in the UK. Which, in some cases, is no bad thing...
Wrecking Crew (NES, 1985)
Perhaps not as rare as the rest of the games here, Wrecking Crew has been included for the simple reason that not many people realise it's a Mario game. Yes, many people tend to list off Donkey Kong, Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. as Mario's early games but they tend to miss out Wrecking Crew. Actually released a few months before Super Mario Bros., Wrecking Crew sees Mario and Luigi (who's strangely decked in purple) going round building sites and destroying ladders, columns and blocks in a particular order to clear the level. It was later remade for the SNES in Japan.
Super Mario Bros. Special (NEC PC-8801)
Did you know that a version of Super Mario Bros. exists that wasn't programmed by Nintendo? See, Nintendo used to license the
rights to their games to other developers so they could reproduce Nintendo games on other systems (case in point: Donkey Kong on the Atari systems). One such game was Super Mario Bros. Special, a version of Super Mario Bros. that was developed by Hudson and released on the NEC PC-8801 (the Japanese equivalent of the ZX Spectrum or Commodore 64). The system was so weak however that it couldn't handle the NES game's side-scrolling action, so the game was played over a number of still screens. We've played it and while we think it's a pretty impressive technical achievement considering how the PC-8801 was much less powerful, it's still pretty awful.
All Night Nippon Super Mario Bros. (Famicom Disk System, 1986)
The radio show All Night Nippon is extremely popular in Japan, and continues to run to this day. Think Chris Moyles, only at night, with Japanese people, and with an actual presence of natural talent. In 1986 a special version of Super Mario Bros. was released in which all the enemies and Toads in the game were based on famous music stars and All Night Nippon DJs. The game's levels were a mixture of those from Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2 (aka The Lost Levels). Only given away in raffles on the All Night Nippon show, this is one of the rarest Mario games out there.
Kaettekita Mario Bros. (Famicom Disk System, 1986)
Translated as Mario Bros. Returns, this is an enhanced version of the original Mario Bros. game (not the Super one, mind), released for the Famicom Disk System add-on for the Japanese NES. As well as improved graphics, levels that were more faithful to the arcade original and the ability to change your direction mid-jump (woo-hoo), the game was also sponsored by Japanese food company Nagatanien, meaning players were 'treated' to adverts for Mario curry in between each level. One of the first occurrences of video game advertising, we reckon.