Originally published on September 12, 2015.
The question of who the greatest video game athlete of all time is a hard one. Many go with Bo Jackson, with good reason. Still others (such as the Cespedes BBQ duo) wisely go with the Secret Weapon himself, Pablo Sanchez. But for sheer variety, none can defeat Mario, the most versatile athlete in video game history, who, by coincidence, celebrates the 30th anniversary of the release of Super Mario Brothers today!
And today, to honor National Video Games Day, which I just found out exists like ten minutes ago on Twitter, I’m running down every single sport Mario has ever played.
(Go below the jump for more)
Is golf a sport? That all depends on your definition of sport. However, it most definitely is something that Mario has played. In fact, it’s the first sport he played, all the way back in 1984 in the ingeniously named NES game Golf:
Since then, of course, he’s gotten his own series of Golf games.
As amazing as it sounds, hockey was the second sport that Mario was seen to play, in a fairly obscure Game & Watch handheld released in 1984 that featured him and Donkey Kong. Mario has also played hockey in Mario Sports Mix, at least one of the Mario Party games, and in the Mario & Sonic At The Winter Olympic Games series.
Mario has raced F1 cars, monster rally cars, (most famously) go-karts, human-size slot cars, drag-racing cars, mopeds, snowmobiles and motorcycles (both in a obscure Excitebike spinoff and in later parts of the Mario Kart series).
Mario’s first tennis game was on the ill-fated Virtual Boy, but he later had a truly successful series.
In 2005, Mario actually took the court against NBA players in the Gamecube version of NBA Street V3. He later played basketball in two of his own games, and has also had basketball related stuff in some Mario Party games and Mario & Sonic Olympics titles.
Of course Mario would play baseball! He’s had two baseball games of his own and has also played some baseball in Mario Party, and has used the baseball bat as a weapon in Super Smash Brothers.
He first did it in the Gamecube version of SSX on Tour and also has done some in his Olympic tie-ins.
Mario has played soccer in his own Strikers series, which is preferable to actual soccer in that Mario Strikers is not so much soccer as it is a no-holds-barred, everything-is-permitted rumble that happens to have a soccer ball thrown into the mix. Good times.
(Deep breath) Swimming, Running, Archery, Long Jumping, Triple Jumping, High Jumping, Pole Vaulting, Hammer Throwing, Javelin Throwing, Fencing, Sculls Rowing, Skeet-Shooting, Table Tennis, Gymnastics, Ski Jumping, Alpine Skiing, Freestyle Skiing, Bobsledding, Skeleton Sledding, Snowboard Half-Pipe, Figure Skating, Ski Cross, Speed Skating, Crosscountry Skiing, Biathlon, Luge, Cycling, Discus Throwing, Synchronized Swimming, Equestrian, Badminton, Beach Volleyball, Shot-Putting, Water Polo, Wrestling, Judo, Boxing, Taekwondo, Sailing, Canoeing, Weightlifting, Triathlon, Modern Pentathlon and, starting in the next installment, Rugby.
Those 44 sports or disciplines, some of them GREATLY CONDENSED (“running” could just as easily mean a marathon as it does hurdles or dash), have appeared in the Mario & Sonic Olympics series and I hadn’t mentioned them yet.
Featured in Mario Sports Mix.
Featured in Mario Sports Mix.
(Deep breath again) Bowling, Tug of War, Ornithopter Racing, Competitive Eating, Sumo Wrestling, Speedboat racing, Submarine racing, Football, Hovercraft racing and Rock Climbing
These ten sports/activities were in Mario Party games.
The Martial Art of Super Smash Brothers. No rules, knock the opponent as far off the stage as possible.
So, looking over everything, Mario has played AT LEAST 65 sports in his video game career, some of which don’t even exist in the real world, and that’s with many events or disciplines combined for simplicity. You could easily make an argument that Mario has done over 100 sports or athletic events. And while many of his allies and foes have also done many of these, ONLY Mario has done them all… AND found time to referee Boxing. The answer is clear. The Jim Thorpe of Video Game athletes is….