Gaming Retrospect – February 16th

Where DID those video game characters really come from? You’d be surprised to hear that a lot of people believe that their favorite game characters began in their series, but in reality, they actually first appeared in games that might surprise you! Let’s take a look in the roots of five of our gaming heroes!

#1: Mario!
Mario, the coveted hero from the Mushroom Kingdom actually didn’t begin his journey hopping on Koopas and taking down Bowser, in fact his first game was actually the popular arcade game Donkey Kong (1981).
It looks like Mario needed a little R&R after Donkey Kong on the Jersey Shore to buff up and get a little color to topple Bowser (for the next 30 years)

#2: Banjo!
Banjo was not originally the adventuring bear that everyone knew from games like Banjo Kazooie and it’s sequels for the Nintendo 64 and Game boy systems. A lot of people were pretty angry when Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts was released for the Xbox 360, claiming that taking the pair and adding Mario Kart to the mix was a horrible idea. Well, I hate to be the bearer (haha look at that poor excuse of dry humor) of bad news, but Banjo first appeared in Diddy Kong Racing (the underrated competitor to Mario Kart 64) for the Nintendo 64 as the bear many have grown to love today –

Kazooie was exempt from Diddy Kong Racing, because at the time, nobody at Rare was genius enough to stick a talking bird in a bear’s backpack.

#3: Ness!

In case you forgot, Ness was that one character from Super Smash brothers that made a lot of people scratch their heads – “Hey wait, who is he and why is he in this game with all these characters I actually recognize?” Well, Ness is fairly well-known, just not so much in America. His roots began in the Super Nintendo role-playing game, Earthbound (or “Mother”, in Japan). Earthbound was a game that followed the adventures of four children: Ness, Paula, Jeff and Poo. While it didn’t achieve a lot of popularity in the U.S, Earthbound was big in Japan, picking itself up a re-release for the Game Boy Advance in early 2000.

#4: Captain Falcon!

It seems that spin-off video games make characters look more awesome then they were before. Captain Falcon is a prime candidate for this theory. That’s right, Captain Falcon wasn’t always screaming catch phrases while he attacked his foes, he actually got his breakthrough, like banjo, as a lowly race-car driver…except he was from space.

That’s right, before he was delivering Falcon Punches, he was driving the Blue Falcon in circles..and circles….henceforth qualifying him to become a warrior and guaranteeing him a spot the Super Smash Bros. games.

#5: Kirby!
It feels almost shameful to have to list Kirby on here, but it’s understandable. With Kirby’s roots being set back in the early 1990’s and never really emphasized (Kirby’s spinoffs up to Kirby 64 didn’t receive a lot of attention) it’s easy to get lost in what he was born to be:


Pictured is Kirby’s first game for the Nintendo Entertainment System: Kirby’s Adventure

Since his first game, Kirby didn’t get as much popularity as HAL Labs (Kirby’s creators) expected, and for that reason, they tried branching off Kirby into other genres, which didn’t end up working as well as they assumed. Kirby has appeared in all three Super Smash Bros. games, a pattern I’m sure will continue with his popularity when it comes to fighting (yet not adventuring)!

Of course, this is not all of the characters that have their roots in other games, honorable mentions include 90% of Kingdom Hearts, the Marvel vs. Capcom series and vast other “mash-up” games. If you know of any others, feel free to post them here!