Later entries in the series further defined the genre. In the early days of platforming, gamers would move from one level to the next in a specific order, warp pipes and secret passageways aside. Even then, there was little in the way of between-level action. However, with titles such as Super Mario Bros. 3, Mario helped popularize the idea of getting to pick what level would be played next by moving around an overworld map. Super Mario World helped further expand the idea by giving players an option to play through levels they had already beaten.


In time, the technical limitations that brought about the 2D origins of the platformer were broken, sparking the desire to explore the now wide-open third dimension. As with the 2D platformer, Mario wasn't the first one to the party. However, he was among the first to get it right and show that the old guard of the 2D era could make the leap into a larger world.

Among the biggest keys to this success was the way Mario moved. The analog stick of the Nintendo 64's oddly shaped controller gave the plumber a greater level of movement accuracy than ever before.

Super Mario 64 also had influence beyond the platformer genre. Strange as it may seem, even games from other genres took notes from Mario's 3D debut, such as the first person shooter. "The idea for the huge variety of missions within a level came from Mario 64," said Martin Hollis, the lead designer behind GoldenEye 007. While he also stated that there was a change from the "collecting one star per play-through" style used for in Mario 64 to allow players to attempt multiple mission objectives in GoldenEye, it still remains that Mario's influence was there.

As with both platformer dimensions, the genre that the Mario Party series inhabits wasn't invented by Nintendo. In fact, even party games themselves weren't all that original - just look at Bomberman for an earlier example of how to get several people together in a room around a console for great competitive multiplayer action. Nor were mini-games themselves that original by the time the first Mario Party made its debut. Arguably, the roots of the title and the genre it would popularize can be traced back to the earliest days of gaming itself when titles were both simple to play and learn.

However, it was the Mario Party series that popularized the idea of taking a large random collection of short bite-sized games and mixing them up into a single, larger title specifically designed to be played by as many people as possible. Once again, it proved to be immensely popular. Enough so, it got a new title nearly every year up until after the release of Mario Party 8, when it took a hiatus to make room for Wii Party, which is effectively a Mario Party title with Mario and friends swapped out for Miis.

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