Tradie, adventurer, rescuer of princesses… Mario does a lot. He’s also proven to be a dab hand at whichever sport he turns his attention to, and there have been many over the years. With Mario Golf: Super Rush arriving this month, we thought we’d take a look back at Mario’s stellar sporting career.
It was actually a golf game that first showed us Mario’s sportier side. That was 1992’s NES Open Tournament Golf on the Nintendo Entertainment System, which was known as Mario Open Golf in Japan upon its original launch in 1987. Surprisingly, it wasn’t until 1999 that Mario returned to the links, this time in Mario Golf, initially on Nintendo 64 and soon after on the Game Boy Advance. Ensuing years saw a few more rounds played by Mario, mainly on handheld. Mario Golf: Super Rush marks his first console-based golfing exploits since the GameCube back in 2003.
Gaps in his golfing endeavours can easily be explained, for Mario was busy trying out other sports. A man only has so much leisure time!
KART AND SOUL
Perhaps the most notable of Mario’s forays into the sporting world are his Mario Kart adventures. These began with 1992’s ground-breaking Super Nintendo outing Super Mario Kart, after which you couldn’t keep Mario off the track, with all major Nintendo consoles and handhelds boasting Mario Kart games. These ranged from Mario Kart 64 on the N64, through GBA, GameCube, DS, Wii, 3DS and Wii U iterations, right up to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Switch. Recently, Mario even escaped into the real world with the release of Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, combining a real RC kart with the Switch to being racing quite literally into your home.
A TRUE ALL-ROUNDER
While his karting exploits kept Mario busy on-track, he still found time to master other sports. Next came tennis, with Mario’s Tennis making its debut on Nintendo’s ill-fated Virtual Boy. The host may have been a flop, but the game concept wasn’t, with Mario later swinging racquets on the N64, Game Boy Colour, GameCube, GBA, Wii, 3DS and Wii U, before the latest (and greatest) arrived in Mario Tennis Aces for Switch.
Getting Mario to stand still is challenging, especially so in 2005’s GameCube days when he made his debut playing baseball (Mario Super Star Baseball) and soccer (Super Mario Strikers). He also plugged – and slugged – away at the two sports on the Wii, but hasn’t made a return to dedicated baseball or soccer games since.
Other sporting dalliances have come and gone, including basketball with 2006’s DS release Mario Hoops 3-on-3, and games compendiums Mario Sports Mix on the Wii, and Mario Sports Superstars on 3DS. These saw the moustachioed wunderkind throwing his cap into the ring for a wide world of sports including dodgeball, volleyball, ice hockey and even horse racing.
After years taking on pretty much any sport you could name, it wasn’t a surprise when Mario headed to the Beijing Olympics. What was a surprise, however, was that he teamed with former mascot sparring partner Sonic the Hedgehog – all in the spirit of friendly competition, of course!
Since Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, the pair have united for both the London and Rio games, as well as the Tokyo’s 2020 event (proving that virtual Olympics definitely have their advantages). These outings have seen Mario taking on numerous Olympic events, yet he still wanted more! Two years after his first summer jaunt, Mario teamed with Sonic for the winter Olympics in both Vancouver and Sochi, although they sat out 2018’s PyeongChang event.
MARIO’S NO FLOG!
Back to the links this month, Mario Golf: Super Rush sees the introduction of ‘Speed Golf’, alongside a story mode and a choice of motion or button controls. Somehow, we doubt that it’s our last time seeing – and playing – Mario’s sporting side…
Mario Golf: Super Rush releases June 25 exclusively on Switch. Pre-order now at JB Hi-Fi.