Currently, I’ve placed nine games in the Super Mario series into a coherent timeline. Before I figure out where number ten goes, I have to skip over some games that don’t quite meet my criteria to be considered as part of the canon. In the spirit of transparency, I am going to briefly discuss these games and why I consider them non-canon.
Although Mario is featured prominently on the box of the NES title Pinball, he’s only actually present in a small mini-game here and most of the game is instead played on a generic pinball table. In this mini-game, Mario must play a Breakout-style game to try to free a trapped Pauline... for some reason. There’s no story or setting in Pinball and no context given to this scenario. As such, it’s impossible to say what exactly is going on and how it fits into our story. Best to just leave this one out.
Mario Bros. Special
Basically an altered port of Mario Bros., this game was developed by Hudson Soft and released only in Japan on non-Nintendo consoles. The game is largely similar to the Mario Bros. we are familiar with but replaces coins with dollar signs and makes heavy use of conveyor belts. Because Nintendo had no hand its development, it is considered non-canon.
Punch Ball Mario Bros.
As you might notice, this game looks very familiar. That’s because it is another Hudson-developed title, released around the same time. Punch Ball Mario Bros. again feels like a bootleg version of the Nintendo title, this time with the added ability to pick up and throw “punch balls” at enemies. It’s considered non-canon for the same reasons as Mario Bros. Special.
A Nintendo-developed NES game, Golf prominently features a character who looks an awful lot like our friend Mario. Nintendo eventually seemed to confirm that this mustachioed golfer is Mario when they put him front and center on the box of the Gameboy port of Golf. So why isn’t it canon? There just isn’t any story here that allows us to place it into the larger narrative. It’s just straight up golfing. Because there are plenty of later golf titles in the Mario series, the “events” of this game can basically just be rolled into any of those entries and aren’t really worth considering on their own.
Donkey Kong 3: Dai Gyakushū
Hudson is at it again and this time they get really wild. More of a sequel than a port, this game sees Stanley and Donkey Kong battling across the cosmos as they are seemingly abducted by aliens and travel to various strange locales. For the same reason as the other Hudson games, I thankfully don’t have to try to find a way to make this bizarre game fit into the series.
That’s it for now! I will try to post similar articles on other non-canon titles as I come to them. For now though, I am working on figuring out where Donkey Kong Circus fits into the Mario legacy. Stay tuned!
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