In the world of video gaming, few titles command as much respect and nostalgia as the original Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). This iconic game, which first saw the light of day in Japan in 1983, was the brainchild of a remarkably small team of five individuals. The quintet comprised of director Shigeru Miyamoto, assistant director Takashi Tezuka, programmers Toshihiko Nakago and Kazuaki Morita, and musician Koji Kondo. In an era where video games were a nascent industry, the compact size of development teams was not uncommon. However, what is truly remarkable is the enduring presence of this original team within the Nintendo ecosystem.
Fast forward to the present day, and all five members of the original Super Mario Bros. team are still actively involved in the development of the franchise. Their latest project, Super Mario Bros. Wonder, bears the creative fingerprints of each of these industry veterans. Miyamoto, the original director, served as a supervisor on the project, while Tezuka took up the mantle of producer. Nakago lent his expertise as a special level design advisor, and Kondo reprised his role as the maestro behind the game’s sound. Morita, one of the original programmers, is acknowledged in the special thanks section.
The fact that four out of the five original developers are still holding major supervisory roles in the franchise, 38 years after its inception, is a testament to their enduring passion and commitment. This might just be the most extraordinary example of developer continuity in the history of gaming. The longevity of the original Super Mario Bros. team is not just a nostalgic nod to the past, but a testament to their ability to adapt and evolve with the times.
As Max Nichols from Bungie pointed out on Twitter, “The people who are making Mario have been doing it in an unbroken streak since most of the creative leadership at other companies today were kids.” However, it’s important to note that the creation of Super Mario Bros.
Wonder was not solely the work of the original team. The project involved a much larger team, including some less familiar names in key roles. One such individual is director Shiro Mouri, a Nintendo veteran of over 25 years. Despite his long tenure, Mouri only recently had the opportunity to lead a full, original game of his own. Prior to this, he served as the programming director on New Super Mario Bros. U and the main director on the Switch port of the same game. The game industry is known for its volatility, and it’s rare to see legendary game designers continue to work on the series they made famous after so many years, especially in Japanese studios.
Yet, the Super Mario Bros. franchise has managed to retain its original creators, who, as evidenced by the Super Mario Bros. Wonder review, have not lost their touch. The enduring appeal of the best Mario games, which have stood the test of time better than most of their contemporaries, is a testament to the creative genius of its original creators. Their ability to adapt, evolve, and continue to captivate audiences nearly four decades later is a remarkable feat in the ever-changing landscape of the gaming industry.