there are hundreds of Mario games that exist, and even more that don't
July 31, 2021 5:47 AM   Subscribe

jan Misali, amateur linguist, asks a seemingly simple question: how many of the Mario games are "Super Mario" (or 'mainline') Mario games? It turns out to be surprisingly complex, because of the dozens of Mario games released over the years, there's only universal consensus on three.

You'd think that the 3D games, starting from Super Mario 64, would be obvious inclusions, but there is disagreement, and it only gets harder to tease out from there. Does Super Mario Galaxy 2 count? At what point do the Gameboy Super Mario Lands stop counting as they turn into Wario Land games? At what point do the New Super Mario Bros. games count? Does Bowser's Fury count (as part of the rerelease, or on its own)?

Almost everyone agrees that, even though they are doing their very best and we are very proud of them, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is not a Super Mario game.

If this sort of thing appeals, perhaps you would also enjoy:
a deep dive on the history of the letter 'w'
why hangman is a weird and kind of broken game
or his series reviewing conlangs, Conlang Critic

If you would like to know more about Mario, boy that's a big question
posted by Merus (24 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Super Mario RPG wasn't a mainline game, but it should have been!

I still can't believe that, 25 years later, we still haven't seen a proper successor. #justiceForMallow
posted by schmod at 7:24 AM on July 31 [2 favorites]

I’m shocked that this has never been the subject of a Brian David Gilbert video.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 7:40 AM on July 31 [5 favorites]

I don't have time to watch the video, but I have a feeling that Kyle Orland would have opinions about it. I'd tweet the link at him if I wasn't taking a Twittercation.
posted by May Kasahara at 7:58 AM on July 31

Okay, next I want a linguist to try to figure out the usage of "RPG" and "Adventure" for classifying video games. ("Roguelike" is too hard and should not be attempted.)
posted by straight at 9:16 AM on July 31

I'm really surprised at Galaxy 2 being included in the "completely unambiguous" list. It's so unambitious, it's almost a DLC pack of random missions.
posted by simmering octagon at 9:42 AM on July 31

this person pronounces SNES as "sness"
posted by glonous keming at 10:40 AM on July 31

The correct pronunciation is obviously shnezz.
posted by thedward at 10:47 AM on July 31

this person pronounces SNES as "sness"

Which is officially correct!
posted by Dysk at 12:39 PM on July 31 [3 favorites]

This is eerily reminiscent of debates about which books to include in the Bible, and which to consider apocryphal.

Well, except for the repeated exhortations that it’s cool to disagree.

People with strong convictions about what counts as scripture and what doesn’t, generally speaking, tend not to think other opinions are a-okay.
posted by Kattullus at 12:48 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]

Okay, next I want a linguist to try to figure out the usage of "RPG" and "Adventure" for classifying video games. ("Roguelike" is too hard and should not be attempted.)

RPG - any game that in part or whole determines success via numbers that define a given character's abilities.

Adventure - any game that primarily involves mechanics other than direct physical action or violence, IE solving puzzles, engaging in dialog, managing an inventory.

PS, "Roguelike" isn't really that complicated, it's just any game that uses mechanics that Rogue used, specifically random level generation, deep simulation and interactivity, and permadeath. The real question is what is the difference between a "Roguelike" and a "Roguelite"
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:54 PM on July 31 [2 favorites]

The Wa- version of Yoshi (think Wario, Wa-Luigi) is Satoshi. Bitcoin is a Mario game.

(This kind of topic can get contentious..My Satoshi joke continues: If you're posting in a troll thread, be too big to fail or bail out.)
posted by k3ninho at 3:28 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry I did not watch the video but as a Gen Xer I ask, aren't they all Donkey Kong?
posted by latkes at 5:04 PM on July 31 [5 favorites]

No, Super Mario is a spinoff of Donkey Kong so they're not included in the mainline Donkey Kong games.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:23 PM on July 31 [4 favorites]

It's nice to see jan Misali on here! I was thinking about making a FPP for hangman is a weird game or there are 48 regular polyhedra a while ago, but I'll take the opportunity to be lazy and just recommend both of them here :)
posted by wesleyac at 11:18 PM on July 31

Yeah, jan Misali is great! Can thoroughly second the recommendations for the hangman videos and w.
posted by Dysk at 1:17 AM on August 1

The real question is what is the difference between a "Roguelike" and a "Roguelite"

Roguelites can be completed in polynomial time.
posted by Sparx at 7:42 PM on August 1 [2 favorites]

Related question (because I hear him doing it and it recently came up in conversation with my kids): Do people say "Super Mario Brothers" or "Super Mario Bros"? As a person who pumped a lot of actual quarters into non-Super Mario Bros. (get off my lawn) back in the day, I feel pretty qualified to have an opinion ("Brothers") but it sounds like I may be in the minority.
posted by The Tensor at 1:08 AM on August 2

this person pronounces SNES as "sness"

Which is officially correct!


Not necessarily.

First, the Japanese on the linked slide says, "The overseas edition. It's called NES." The katakana furigana over "NES" is indeed ネス (nesu, or ness as English speakers would say it). However, because Japanese is based on syllables (well, morae, technically) rather than individual phonetic units as in the English alphabet, they often transliterate or pronounce English abbreviations/acronyms differently than English speakers do to make them work in the Japanese pronunciation scheme.

An example is "personal computer", for which English speakers use the abbreviation "PC" but Japanese use パソコン (pasucon, or passcon). Indeed, an example going the other way is the NES itself: the full official name of the device in Japan is the Family Computer, which English speakers would probably abbreviate as FC but the Japanese call ファミコン (famicon).

All this is to say that it's possible that the "nesu" pronunciation written on that slide is just a Japanese pronunciation guide for the English abbreviation "NES", not that it's the official way that the English abbreviation is supposed to be read for English speakers. It could just be a function of the differing language systems and that sounding out the individual letters N E S as English speakers do doesn't really work in Japanese.

Second, even if it's true that NES is officially supposed to be pronounced "ness", it doesn't automatically follow that the SNES should be read as "sness". In Japan the device is called the スーパーファミコン (suupaafamicon, or super famicon), so even if NES is ネス as above, SNES could (and likely should, given the official Japanese name) be スーパーネス (suupaanesu, or super ness).
posted by star gentle uterus at 11:27 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]

For another example where the Japanese pronunciation maybe shouldn't determine the English pronunciation: the Japanese guitar manufacturer Ibanez officially spells its name アイバニーズ (ay-bah-nee-zoo), even though it's named after a Spanish luthier whose name has an established (Spanish) pronunciation (something like ee-BAH-nyez). (But Americans seem to have nevertheless settled on AY-bah-nez.)
posted by The Tensor at 2:36 PM on August 2

I know, I know, I've just always said "ness/sness" and it's good vindication (see also: NESticle) even if it doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

I still maintain that "nezz/snezz" is a weird unintuitive pronunciation.
posted by Dysk at 4:02 PM on August 2

I deff say "Super Mario Brothers." In fact I was thinking about just that here recently on some other video thing someone posted where the narrator/star/vlogger/documentarian pronounced it as "bros" and I was "aww hell naw" and quit watching immediately.
posted by glonous keming at 10:18 PM on August 4

Turns out, "bro" as a simple abbreviation of "brother" is really old, like 17th Century old, but the modern popular slang usage likely comes, perhaps unsurprisingly, from white folks co-opting black speech to sound hip:
posted by glonous keming at 10:26 PM on August 4

I once met someone who called it super Mario "bross" (like the name "Ross" with a b in front). I've always said brothers. "Bros" sounds even more wrong than the "bross" abomination in my ears (in this context).
posted by Dysk at 2:09 AM on August 5

I’ve heard British people say “Super Mario Bross”, and I wonder if that is because of the band Bros, who did pronounce their name that way, and were famous at around the same time the Super Mario games were breaking through in Europe.
posted by Kattullus at 2:33 AM on August 5

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