In the next Warped Pipes article, we will see everything change in Super Mario Bros. Before discussing that series-defining game, I want to briefly summarize the story as it stands and examine how we get to Mario and Luigi saving the Mushroom Kingdom. Keep in mind that this is all my own interpretation and, while I feel it is well researched, this is not supported by Nintendo. Our story starts during...

The War (Mario’s Bombs Away)

Mario carries a bomb across the battlefield.
Image: Moby Games

For unknown reasons, two human factions are engaged in a bitter armed conflict in a jungle region. One young soldier, named Mario, is given the harrowing task of carrying explosives across the battlefield in order to take out an enemy position. Though the stakes are high, Mario is up to the task and succeeds in eliminating the enemies and making it home alive.

Trouble at Home (Mario’s Cement Factory, Wrecking Crew, VS. Wrecking Crew)

Mario smashes a wall.
Image: Moby Games


Following the war, Mario takes up residence in a large city that neighbors the jungle. There he begins working a construction job with his brother, Luigi. This job is an absolute nightmare: understaffed sites, cruel bosses, dangerous environments and equipment. Mario appears to be miserable and this eventually even leads to a physical fight between the brothers.

The Infestation (Greenhouse)

Stanley fends off pests.
Image: In The Attic


Meanwhile, across town, a fumigator by the name of Stanley struggles to rid a greenhouse of a bug infestation that threatens to destroy his flowers. Although Stanley manages to keep the infestation at bay, he is unable to totally eradicate the pests and must continue to guard the greenhouse.

A Little R&R (Donkey Kong Circus, Donkey Kong Hockey)

Donkey Kong performs his act.
Image: Super Mario Wiki


Feeling downtrodden and despondent, Mario seeks some entertainment to take his mind off of things and finds himself at the local circus. At this circus an ape, plucked from the jungle as a prize of war, performs a dangerous juggling act. Mario is delighted by the antics of this ape named Donkey Kong and laughs hysterically whenever the ape messes up and drops the pineapples he is meant to be juggling. This is perhaps the first moment of levity Mario has had since before the war.

Mario and Donkey Kong face off.
Image: IMDB


When Mario is given the opportunity to interact more directly with Donkey Kong in a game of field hockey, he naturally jumps at the chance. Mario, of course, roundly defeats the ape and leaves feeling satisfied and confident while Donkey Kong is left with a seething anger.

Ape on the Run (Donkey Kong 3)

By some unknown means, Donkey Kong manages to escape the captors who forced him to perform. Disoriented by the sights and sounds of this massive industrialized city, Donkey Kong seizes upon the first familiar sight: a greenhouse filled with lush plants and vines from his jungle home.


Stanley battles with Donkey Kong
Image: Nintendo Life

The greenhouse’s defender, Stanley, does not take kindly to this new resident and tries to force the ape out. Donkey Kong takes advantage of the ongoing infestation of the greenhouse and irritates the bugs so that they attack Stanley. After a prolonged battle through the greenhouse, Donkey Kong is defeated when Stanley causes him to fall from a great height.


Nemeses Clash (Donkey Kong)

Mario chases Donkey Kong up the construction site.
Image: Simply Eighties


An injured Donkey Kong flees the scene of the greenhouse and roams the city until he again encounters a familiar site: Mario. Filled with rage, Donkey Kong approaches the construction worker who is with his girlfriend Pauline at an active construction site. Wanting to hurt Mario the way that he had been hurt, Donkey Kong grabs Pauline and begins ascending the scaffolding.

Mario springs into action to save his love and, after a spirited chase, is victorious. 100 meters into the air, he sends the ape again plummeting to the ground. This time, Donkey Kong doesn’t get back up.


The Journey Home (Donkey Kong Jr., Donkey Kong II)

Mario tries to fend off Donkey Kong Jr.
Image: Nintendo


By the time Donkey Kong regains consciousness, he finds himself restrained and being transported out of the city. Having moved past their dispute, Luigi helps Mario in moving the caged ape up into Mario’s hideout in the jungle. This hideout is probably a remnant of the war and makes for an excellent prison to contain the ape.

What Mario hadn’t counted on was Donkey Kong’s son, Donkey Kong Jr. Seeing his father again, DK Jr. swings into action to free the ape. While Mario puts up a valiant event, it is the young ape who is ultimately successful. As DK Jr. unlocks the last of the chains binding his father, a fail safe is activated, collapsing the structure holding both DK Sr. and Mario. Lucky for DK Sr., his son is ready to catch him. The less lucky Mario falls to the ground and is injured, giving the apes a chance to escape.


Life Goes On (Donkey Kong Jr. Math, Game & Watch Mario Bros.)

DK Jr. receives a math lesson.
Image: Nintendo Life


Home at last in the jungle, and reunited with his son, DK Sr. begins teaching math to the youngsters in his ape community using the abandoned hideout structure as a classroom.

Meanwhile, back in the city, Mario and Luigi’s aspirations for careers in construction have ended thanks to the Donkey Kong debacle. Instead, the brothers take up work in a bottle factory where Luigi, for the first time, dons a green set of work clothes.


The brothers struggle to keep up with the factory’s breakneck pace.
Image: Supper Mario Broth

Unfortunately, this work isn’t much of an improvement over their miserable construction experience. The brothers still find themselves overworked and ridiculed in this new field.


The Start of Something New (Mario Bros.)

Mario and Luigi encounter strange creatures coming from the sewer pipes.
Image: Escape Pod Online


Tired of bad bosses and unfair work conditions, the brothers decide to leave the factory and start their own business: a plumbing company by the name of Mario Bros.

Once again the plumbers soon find themselves in an unusual situation. While investigating a problem in the sewer system, the brothers find the pipes flooded with enemies, including strange turtle-like creatures. It quickly becomes apparent that this is not some normal infestation but, rather, the first wave in something much bigger...


Where We Go From Here

Mario Bros. marks a transition point from what I will be calling the Odd Jobs Era to the Koopa Wars Era of Super Mario Bros. There may be more Odd Jobs games added to the timeline in the future, but I do not expect them to significantly change my interpretation of events.


I would also like to note that new articles will likely get less frequent from here on. I like to fully research the games I talk about and that includes playing through them. That’s been relatively easy to do to this point given the simplicity of the games but, as the games get increasingly complex and lengthy, it will take me longer to produce fully researched articles. Expect this series to slide from a twice weekly to more of a twice monthly schedule. Rest assured that this does not mean Warped Pipes is going anywhere. On the contrary, our timeline is only going to get more exciting.

Click here to view all entries in the Warped Pipes series.

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