Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America

Super Mario Cover

As you may have gathered from the general contents of this website, I have a strong nerdy streak and an enjoyment of all things Nintendo. As such, this book was a natural choice when I saw it on a shelf in the library, and for the most part it was a good choice. Throughout the book Jeff Ryan uses Mario as a main thread to weave a complete story of the history of Nintendo (with a focus on Nintendo of America). Mario is, of course, a great choice for this as there could be little argument that Mario is the face of Nintendo and has been since his creation by Shigeru Miyamoto in 1981.

Starting with the roots of Nintendo in America, Ryan goes on to discuss the conversion of Radar Scope into Donkey Kong, the video game crash of 1983, Mario's success with the NES, and the variety of spinoffs and sequels it spawned. He wraps up by discussing the Nintendo Wii and theorizing about the future of Nintendo. In particular, he discusses the outreach to the casual gamer launched by Nintendo and the eventual merging of the casual and hardcore crowds. All throughout, the book is filled with interesting trivia and backstories for each of the events and games he describes. Even as a Nintendo fan for the past 10 years, this book was filled with information that was completely new to me, as well as the titles of a few games that I've since checked out and wrote about in the games section of the site.

Now, I seldom read books that I don't enjoy, and this one is no exception, but a post on it would not be complete without mentioning the things I didn't like along with what I did. Quite frequently I found the author would use esoteric terms and bits of what I am assuming was Japanese with no explanation, which left me with the awkward dilemma of looking up some random term or just skipping it and assuming it wasn't important (in most cases, it wasn't and skipping it worked fine). There are also a few sections, such as when the author is listing off various pieces of Mario merchandise where I got the point after 3 items but he listed another 30. These criticisms are small, and I certainly wouldn't suggest you avoid the book on their account.

Everything taken together, Super Mario is a good book that provides a lot of interesting information and was a big part of what influenced me to take a look at some of the old games I hadn't had a chance to play, and any book that gets people playing awesome games gets a thumbs up from me.