The Mario Bros. Franchise

So today's big post is going to be about the Mario Bros. franchise (not to be confused with the Super Mario Bros. franchise)

The character of Mario first appeared in Donkey Kong, the protagonist trying to save the lovely Lady. Of course, all he could do at the time was Jump, Man. He, by this time officially named 'Mario', and his mysterious doppelganger then showed up again in Donkey Kong Jr, this time as the antagonist(s).

Afterwards, the second Mario was officially named Luigi, and the two headlined in a game under their own name: Mario Bros.

This is of course the famous Game & Watch title, not to be confused with the arcade game that came out some months later.

The game features the Brothers Mario working at a bottling plant, with the player having to help them manage multiple conveyors at once, assembling crates to go out for delivery without fucking it up too much.

In July of 1983, some months after the G&W title of the same name, the Arcade game Mario Bros. came out.

It featured the pair fending off turtles (and other enemies) while collecting coins in the sewers, jumping up to hit blocks above and jumping on enemies below. It was a bit of a trend-setter, you might say.

Variants of the title were also released later, such as Punch-Ball Mario Bros. and Mario Bros. Special, each essentially mods of the title that changed the objective but re-used all the same assets as the original game.

Other Game & Watch games that fell under the Mario banner included Mario's Cement Factory and Mario's Bombs Away.

The former involved the little Itallian working at a cement factory, and the latter, strangely, involved him in what appears to have been the Vietnam War, though I'm half convinced they just stuck Mario's name on it for marketing purposes, which was not an uncommon practice at the time (or now, for that matter).

The final blue-collar, non Super Mario title to come out before the big SMB hit shelves didn't even have Mario in the title! Wrecking Crew dropped in 1984 or 1985, depending on your sources for when the Arcade version was released, but either way the NES version predates Super Mario Bros by about half a year.

(Spanish box art, because it looks so much better)

The game features the Bros ironically doing the opposite of how Mario started. In Donkey Kong, Mario was a carpenter, a builder. In Wrecking Crew, he's, well, on the wrecking crew. The game sees Mario and Luigi tearing down construction sites with hammer and explosives while navigating obstacles, avoiding enemies, and fleeing the wrath of Foreman Spike.

This guy is interesting in that he's the anti-Mario from before Wario was a thing, though ironically Waluigi actually pays a lot more homage to Spike than Wario ever does.

Outside of Wrecking Crew, Spike shows up again in Wrecking Crew '98 (released for the SNES in 1998 (duh)) as a minion of Bowser in a game that took the Wrecking Crew premise, ignored it, and decided to be a weird Tetris Attack hybrid instead. In that game, they seem to have missed the point of the character's design and nixed the beard in favor of a generic Italian mustache.

He gets back to his old look in, of all things, Mobile Golf, a cell phone iteration of the Mario Golf franchise that for some reason chose to feature Spike instead of more recent characters.

Anyway, Spike's debut Wrecking Crew was the last of working man Mario before he started up his adventures in [s]Wonder Land[/s] The Mushroom Kingdom and ignoring all his friends (and foes) from times before.