News Article

The Mystery of the Super Mario Bros. U.S. Release Date

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

If you know for sure, let us know

Occasionally, an enthusiastic researcher will embark on a quest to find information on obscure gaming facts, so it's surprising that one of the great unknowns in video game history is the U.S. release date for Super Mario Bros. on NES.

Considering the fact that this is one of the most successful and iconic video games in the history of the industry, it's fascinating that its U.S. release date is still a source of debate. As explained in great detail by writer Frank Cifaldi on Gamasutra, Nintendo's official release date of 18th October 1985 is contradicted by other evidence, mainly related to what games were available for the 'trial' launch of the NES in New York and the subsequent national release in 1986. Identifying whether Mario's iconic platformer was available in the New York trial release seems to be the key issue to resolve.

After extensive research that takes into account media and eye-witness reports alike, it seems that it's impossible to definitively say when Super Mario Bros. was first sold in the United States: though the article does seem to narrow down the possibilities. As well as getting the full details on Gamasutra, linked below, it's also worth reading an article from fan-site The Mushroom Kingdom, called 'Super Mario's Release Date is Missing!', which was one of the first attempts to solve the mystery once and for all.

It's amazing that such an important fact in the brief history of video gaming is unknown. In the unlikely event that any of you happen to have definitive evidence of this famous launch date, we'd love to hear about it.

[via gamasutra.com]

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User Comments (46)

Rawk_Hawk

#1

Rawk_Hawk said:

I remember seeing Super Mario Bros. vs in the arcade before I played the NES version.

6ch6ris6

#2

6ch6ris6 said:

nintendolife.com says this:

13th Sep 1985 (JPN)
17th Nov 1985 (USA)
15th May 1987 (UK/EU)

not a reliable source if you ask me ;)

KeeperBvK

#5

KeeperBvK said:

@#3: The mystery has been solved!...do you really think, nobody of those guys doing the research has ever checked Mario All-Stars? It's more complicated than that.

ThomasBW84Admin

#6

ThomasBW84 said:

@6ch6ris6 There is a line of thought that says 17th November 1985, due to a slight delay in manufacturing, patenting etc.

@3Dangerous3Dash - 18th October is the date that Nintendo gives, yes, but as researchers have discovered, it may not actually be accurate, though the linked articles can explain it in greater detail :)

Tasuki

#7

Tasuki said:

I actually like have the October 18th date for the released date of course it has nothing to do with that also being my birthday ;)

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#9

Philip_J_Reed said:

I remember it well. I pre-ordered it. It came with a keychain, and a rubber ball shaped like Mario.

I'm not telling you the date though. It comes to my grave!!

The_Fox

#10

The_Fox said:

I always wondered why I've seen different release dates over the years for SMB. Interesting read.

Ras

#11

Ras said:

I don't know when the NES came out in the Dallas area, but I could swear SMB wasn't one of the original titles on the shelves. I remember Kung Fu and Hogan's Alley, but my memory is being excited later on when SMB showed up on the shelves after I'd already had the NES a little while. But, that's 27 years ago, so I could be wrong.

armoredghor

#12

armoredghor said:

Some of you guys that remember the 80's-Was it generally a nationwide standard release date in the 80s? Maybe it wasn't standard which could lead to the controversy.

grumblegrumble

#14

grumblegrumble said:

I remember playing this in a grocery store in 1986 and got it that year with my very first NES home console for Christmas... so I would say 1986, I always assumed though it was released in 1985 like the game intro screen says.

heebeegeebee

#16

heebeegeebee said:

There's absolutely no way it could have been released on Nov. 17th 1985, because that was a Sunday. It had to have been released sometime in October 1985, because it was one of the 4 games I got along with the NES as a present for my 6th birthday the day before Halloween that year. I've tried to change the info on Wikipedia a couple times before but it keeps getting changed back to the incorrect date!!!

rodoubleb

#17

rodoubleb said:

I'm sure Nintendo would like to claim it was there on launch, but I don't believe that was the case based on real live memories of 1985.

Azaris

#18

Azaris said:

I don't really have any evidence just personal experience my dad bought me a copy of smb in october of 1985 so it had to come out at that time or before that time.

FonistofCruxis

#19

FonistofCruxis said:

The European release date doesn't seem definitive either. The listed release date of SMB for Europe in many places (including this site) is 15th May 1987 but I've heard reports of its original EU release date being sometime in 1986.

zapdinos

#20

zapdinos said:

Well we know the game was released in '85 but both october 13th and the 18th fit the mario scheudule. If you look at every major Mario release they fall mainly around friday and saturday with a few out of place. But looking at the games maybe the 13th is alot more believable since alot of Mario games seem to come out on Sunday in NA

tanookisuit

#22

tanookisuit said:

It came out as a launch game along with the not yet dubbed but was to be called 'Deluxe Set.' My mom happened to buy us the test launch system out of California that year for Christmas and hit it away along with SMB and Hogan's Alley so we had 4 games on Christmas day to play with.

Alienfish

#23

Alienfish said:

It's not an important fact. It's obscure and frankly, it doesn't seem like something we should lose any time or sleep over. It's a good game, that's all that matters to me.

CorbsAdmin

#24

Corbs said:

I got my NES system on Christmas 1985 when my mother got a friend of hers that lives in Santa Monica to pick one up for her and I was sitting at my TV playing Super Mario Bros. that morning. So we do know it was released during the early release in NY and LA. Now as to the exact date, that I don't know. :D

nindocrash

#26

nindocrash said:

hey people,Off topicly, i have a quick question, what do you think Mario would drink first Pepsi, or coke?

TwilightV

#31

TwilightV said:

Isn't this the case with a lot of NES games? Virtual Console and Super Smash Bros. Brawl lists some games only by their month of release.

DavidD

#33

DavidD said:

Thomas, thanks for the link to my article on TMK — but I think there's a small typo in the URL you're giving. Could you fix that? :D

http://themushroomkingdom.net/smb_release.shtml

Frank Cifaldi got several new sources, but sadly he ran into the same dead end I did... it's quite possible to get a vague idea of when the game was released, but no one has been able to provide the "smoking gun" to prove exactly when it was first available.

Yanchamaru

#34

Yanchamaru said:

Keep contacting NOA, Minoru Arakawa and checking store inventory records. The mystery will be solved someday. Personally, I believe Nintendo shipped the game to retailers on October 18th, 1985. When these stores acutally sold the product is a big ?

Ras

#36

Ras said:

@repplyguy67 hey people,Off topicly, i have a quick question, what do you think Mario would drink first Pepsi, or coke?

Now this, I can answer. New Coke replaced Coca-Cola on April 23, 1985. Coca-Cola Classic replaced it on July 10, 1985. This was definitely before Super Mario Bros. was released, and according to Wikipedia: "By the end of the year, Coke Classic was substantially outselling both New Coke and Pepsi. Six months after the rollout, Coke's sales had increased at more than twice the rate of Pepsi's." So, I think Mario would have definitely grabbed for a Coke Classic after a long day of stomping goombas.

(Now, if we go back to when he was still Jumpman, he was more into Dr Pepper)

Sakura_Moonlight2421

#37

Sakura_Moonlight2421 said:

Does it really matter what date games came out on beyond buying them the first day? Hell I can't remember what I did last week beside going to school.

Dreadjaws

#38

Dreadjaws said:

I had three years old in 1985, didn't play the game until I was 8 or 9. And I live in South America, which means I'm an even less reliable source. All I can say is that the first time I even heard of Mario was through the SMB3 saturday morning cartoon.

KingMike

#39

KingMike said:

It's kinda like the video game equivalent to nobody remembering the date of the moon landing. (people remembered that because they knew it was going to be historic in the making. Nintendo probably didn't think SMB was going to be.)
Due to, well Nintendo revitalizing the game industry after the crash, and Super Mario Bros. was undoubtedly one of the games that got them to their position in the console market.

Capt_N

#40

Capt_N said:

I'm just a few months older, than when the Nes was publicly available in the U.S. I have no ideas. I do know that thanks to modern technology, there is almost no excuse for well executed, timed, & planned/coordinated launch of any products.

I have a hard enough time trying to remember the exact year my sister, & I got our SNes,

Edit: For those this is really important to, just try to remember other things of 85/86 that can help sort of triangulate when the game was out, based on something, like say, a tv show existing, or not. Stuff like that.

Supereor

#41

Supereor said:

In 1985... I... wasn't there at all...
Here's another gaming unknown for that guy...
Why is Mario's costume red, when red generally represents enemies and second-players in local multiplayer games?

bonham2

#43

bonham2 said:

@LittleBigVita
It's been well documented through interviews with Miyamoto that Mario's appearance was solely due to the limitations of the graphics at the time. He has a mustache because mouths were too hard to draw. He has a hat because his hair was too hard to animate. And the color of his clothes were bold colors that made the character easily recognizable and different from the backgrounds.

nindocrash

#44

nindocrash said:

@Ras thanks for your answer, to my "mario" would drink coke, or pepsi, question. I generally came to the same
answer. I really appreciate, that you took some time to
Lookup some of thoes facts, and gave more meaning
to my small question, thank you.

StarDust4Ever

#46

StarDust4Ever said:

Um, Mario is more popular, therefore he drinks Coke.
Luigi is an underdog, so he will naturally reach for the Pepsi.

Since the videogame industry was still in it's infancy at the time, I really don't believe that they had standard release dates back then. Retailers likely just started selling stuff as soon as they got their hands on them. Nintendo was probably rolling things out as quickly as possible, and usually, the East Coast and West coast get stuff first, then is slowly spreads throughout the middle parts of the US, first the large cities get it, then it goes everywhere else. Different geographic regions would have gotten the goods on different dates, so there may have been literally dozens of geographic launch dates.

With modern launches, they usually have entire warehouses full of product months ahead of schedule. A month before Wii's launch, I saw insider photos of huge warehouse pallets full of Wii boxes, waiting to be shipped. Those products usually make it to the retail stock rooms in back of the store about a week ahead of launch. Retailers have a contractual agreement to withhold sales of product until launch day. Eventually, this culminated into midnight launch parties, etc which are heavily publicized...

I just don't believe they had that exact type of infrastructure back in the 80s. Little emphasis was placed on launch dates back then. Preorders were unheard of, because the retailers themselves had no way of knowing when products would arrive.

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