The Mario universe refers to the Smash Bros. series' collection of characters, stages, and properties that hail from Nintendo's expansive and hugely successful Mario videogame franchise. The Mario universe is Nintendo's most lucrative franchise, and it is flat-out the most successful game franchise in global sales and in history. Mario himself is Nintendo's mascot and is considered the most well-known video game character in the world, and he and his many friends and nemeses have appeared in dozens-upon-dozens of Nintendo video games, many of them best-sellers and several of which are considered some of the greatest games ever released. The series started out in 1981 with Donkey Kong, and it has had great games ever since.

Franchise description

Nintendo created an arcade game called Radar Scope that was successful in Japan but not very much so in the United States. The Nintendo president at the time, named Hiroshi Yamauchi, turned to the young game developer Shigeru Miyamoto and entrusted him with the development of a new game, which would be built from units of the Radar Scope game. Miyamoto came up with the game Donkey Kong, the game that would be the debut for the characters Mario as the hero and the ape Donkey Kong as the enemy. Mario reappeared in Donkey Kong Jr. under his proper name, and he appeared again along with his newly introduced brother, Luigi, in the 1983 arcade game Mario Bros, battling the turtle-like Shellcreepers as also-introduced enemies.

It was not until the 1985 release of Super Mario Bros. for the Famicom/NES that the Mario franchise exploded into international renown. A side-scrolling platformer developed by Shigeru Miyamoto to feature far more attractive gameplay, graphical, and audio elements than any game beforehand, Super Mario Bros. became a worldwide hit, holding the Guinness World Record for best-selling game of all time (40 million units), cementing Nintendo as a world-renowned corporation by 1986, and single-handedly beginning a new era of video gaming that would evolve over many years to become what gaming is today. Super Mario Bros. introduced the Mushroom Kingdom as the fictional world that Mario and Luigi live in, and it introduced Princess "Peach" Toadstool as a main damsel-in-distress and Mario's love interest, as well as the turtle-like monster Koopa King, Bowser, as the consistent series nemesis, along with many other Mario-related elements such as Super Mushrooms and Starmen as power-up items, Goombas and Piranha Plants as enemies, Princess Peach's Castle as a location, and Toad as another character was introduced.

The 8-bit NES-era that took place as a result of Super Mario Bros. featured several Mario follow-up games. 1989's Super Mario Bros. 2 was modeled off a Japan-only side-scroller called Doki-Doki Panic and released in the U.S., thereby introducing Shy Guys as mainstay Mario enemies. Then Super Mario Bros. 3 was released in 1990 and introduced more elements to the Mario franchise, such as suit upgrades like Raccoon Mario and minor characters such as Bowser's seven children. Both games were massive successes as well. Then when it came time to release the SNES for the 16-bit era, Yamanouchi assigned Miyamoto to develop Super Mario World, once again a massively successful side-scrolling platformer. The game introduced Yoshi, a dinosaur that would serve forever afterward as Mario's mount and pet-like companion in subsequent Mario games, as well as a star of some of its own games, including the 1995 SNES sequel Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, which further introduced characters such as Baby Mario.

By this time, in addition, a Mario spin-off game for Game Boy, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, had introduced an "evil counterpart" to Mario, the series anti-hero Wario. Also by this time, Donkey Kong had successfully been integrated into his own series of games, starting with Donkey Kong Country. Nintendo's next system was the Nintendo 64. The primary launch game was the seminal Super Mario 64, the game to define the term "3D platformer" and therefore become one of the most influential games ever, contributing to the system's success and helping to permanently usher in an era of 3D gaming. Every Mario game released afterward, for pretty much whatever genre and system involved, would continue to conform to a generally high quality of design and would usually garner high-scoring reviews from the press, and the Mario franchise's appearances in 1999's Super Smash Bros. and 2001's Super Smash Bros. Melee would not be any different.

As a whole, the Mario franchise is essentially Nintendo's primary thematic tileset with which to create games of various genres that adhere to a colorful aesthetic. There have been a lot of games featuring Mario and his many cohorts and nemesis released regularly for the past two decades, and more recent games include side-scrolling platformers like New Super Mario Bros. and Super Princess Peach for the DS; 3D platforming adventures such as Super Mario Sunshine for GameCube and Super Mario Galaxy for Wii; a series of popular kart-racing games under the banner of Mario Kart; a long-running series of multiplayer-based party games under the Mario Party name; sub-series of Mario sports games such as Golf and Tennis, among other sports; Role-Playing games like Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story for DS and Super Paper Mario for the Wii; and of course, the Super Smash Bros. series of fighting games. Aside from the RPGs, however, Mario games rarely feature long, emotionally involved storylines to facilitate character development; the various characters and properties of the Mushroom Kingdom are generally meant to represent personalities in a game-like atmosphere rather than storybook characterization and plot progression such as that seen in a Fire Emblem game.

In Super Smash Bros. Crusade