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Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America

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3.80  ·  Rating details ·  3,236 ratings  ·  477 reviews
The story of Nintendo's rise and the beloved icon who made it possible.

Nintendo has continually set the standard for video-game innovation in America, starting in 1981 with a plucky hero who jumped over barrels to save a girl from an ape.

The saga of Mario, the portly plumber who became the most successful franchise in the history of gaming, has plot twists worthy of a
...more
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published August 4th 2011 by Portfolio (first published August 1st 2011)
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Jeff Ryan i don't think there's enough about Luigi to merit a whole book! If he were a real person, maybe -- life as the less famous sibling has to be tough. Bu…morei don't think there's enough about Luigi to merit a whole book! If he were a real person, maybe -- life as the less famous sibling has to be tough. But he's fictional, and part of the weird Luigi appeal is that he's been around for so long as all we know about him is he's Mario's less successful brother. (And the death stare, which knowing all that makes him seem like a seething cauldron of anger and resentment.)(less)

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Matthew
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I grew up on Mario so this was a nostalgic road trip for me. Because the content was close to my heart, I enjoyed it quite a lot. But, I will warn you – unless you have an interest in video games or grew up on Mario, you will likely not enjoy this book. But, honestly, finding someone my age who did not grow up on Mario is probably next to impossible!

I was close to giving this book 5 stars, but one single element kept bugging me throughout. When discussing the American version of Super Mario Brot
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unknown
Aug 30, 2011 rated it liked it
I like video games, but I am not a gamer. Gamers scoff at me, because the only current generation system I own is the Wii, which everyone knows is for little kids and nursing homes and your mom (How much does your mom love Wii bowling?). No, I am not a gamer.

But I freaking love Mario games.

If a new Mario game is released, be it 3D or old school, I will buy it and play it and play it until I have unlocked every secret bonus. Then I will play it some more, this time with my wife, provided it isn'
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Nathan Davis
Jan 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
Well this should be an interesting review if nothing else.

My wife picked this pick up for me for Christmas knowing that I enjoy computer and business history books. Most of the content I was pretty familiar with from either David Sheff’s excellent book “Game over” or any number of articles I’ve dug up on the Internet. Still, it’s fun to go through and do a review of material sometimes, right? Less so with Super Mario.
Right off the bat it’s obvious that the author is a well practiced and skill
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Steve
Sep 19, 2011 rated it did not like it
A few suggestions for future editions:

p. 25: "With a hammer...[Jumpman] could pound away on obstacles with a well-timed wallop of the (now dual-) action button."

The hammer in Donkey Kong swings automatically; no button-presses are necessary.

p. 47: "Mario attacks not by hammer or bug spray, but by jumping on enemies."

Mario does not jump on enemies in "Mario Bros." (He does in "Super Mario Bros.")

p. 88: "The lizardlike villain became Bowser once again."

The main villain in "Super Mario Bros. 2" is
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Rob
Nov 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Nintendo in the 80s & 90s
Executive Summary: I found this a much more enjoyable read than Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation, but then I was firmly a Nintendo kid growing up, and barely touched a Sega.

Audiobook: Ray Porter does a fine job. As a nonfiction book, there isn't really much a narrator can do to impress. He has a clear and easy to hear reading voice, and the volume quality was fine. That's about all you can ask really. This is a fine option for audio, but not a must listen.

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Adam
Jan 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: orient, truetales
A high level review of Nintendo's rise/success in the video game industry. Primary focus was on the American experience and Mario was used as lens. Much like how "Salt" gave us a history of the world, but thru the lens of salt.

The material was delightfully detailed in the start and became too scant later. This, however, would make a bit of sense, yes? We'll need a few more years to better understand and have more documented thought on the "now" of Nintendo.

Sadly, the book was marred by the auth
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Sara Dee
Dec 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
it was a really fun history of the company Nintendo and how their character Mario changed gaming and the world!

totally fun, had a blast reminising. there's a few errors throughout the book, but only noticeable to a gamer....which is the target audience....lol...

there was one particular comment the author made that pissed me off. when referring to the gap between legend of Zelda a link to the past and Ocarina of Time....he said little boys everywhere had to wait 5 years before they could play a n
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Joshua
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recently had a LOT of spare time on my hands and someone close to me gave this book while I weathered a particularly nasty storm. Because of this, my review might be a tad biased.

I really enjoyed this book largely because I grew up playing Super Mario World on my parents SNES when I was a kid. Mario has always been a sort of background character in the zeitgeist even when he seems to be absolutely everywhere. I wanted to understand then where Mario came from, who were the people who made him, wh
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Ramon van Dam
Jul 31, 2019 rated it liked it
A pretty fun read, but only for people who have a history with Nintendo games. Ryan is mainly very good at expressing how innovative Miyamoto is and how that has lead to some of the best videogames of all time. Besides that several pretty well-known rumors are confirmed/debunked, although they are not really backed up by sources.

There is a pretty big issue with this book though; I came across quite a number of factual errors that I know for certain to be not as described here. If I caught those,
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Martti
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
A short history of first seven generations of the gaming consoles with a focus on Nintendo - the company with three best selling consoles of the generations (NES, SNES and Wii). Seems that I have unknowingly also aided them on their success and maybe even with failures, because I never had a N64, GameCube or Wii U that didn't really appeal in any way.

"A late game is only late until it launches, a bad game is bad until the end of time." - - Shigeru Miyamoto

Fun fact: Nintendo didn't want Tom Hank
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Dani Peloquin
Aug 22, 2011 rated it liked it
It is very hard to write a book about Nintendo for various reasons. Firstly, the company is still powerful today; continuing to crank out fantastic games and be on the cutting edge of gaming. Secondly, it was a trailblazer in the early 1980s and people of that generation (like myself) think of it fondly. In fact, we may even think of Mario as one of our childhood friends. Lastly, it is a company that was built on fun and entertainment with little to no scandals. It is because of this that a book ...more
Peter Derk
Aug 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great book for Nintendo fans. I can't say how people who didn't grow up with Nintendo would feel about it because, well, Nintendo was like a second father to me. Actually, more like a first father. Nintendo, for all it's dusty-cartridge issues, was still a lot more reliable than its biological competition for World's Best Dad for most of the 90's.

The thing I really love about this is that I think it points out some of the things that Nintendo has done that other game makers haven't, or that they
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Adam
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2017
Covering Nintendo's extensive history, Super Mario expertly shows the immense success Nintendo has had over the past few decades with this truly quintessential character. And I never realized how many Nintendo products and games I've owned over the years, proof of Mario's popularity and success. Great book.
Maggie
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018, nonfiction
It’s past midnight as I write this review, but I just wasted 2 weeks of my life reading this poor excuse for a book, and this needs to be said. Harsh? Maybe, but that’s nothing compared to the verbal abuse I suffered at the hands of the author.
Where do I begin?
From the beginning, the author comes off as pretentious, arrogant, and all around not the kind of guy I would want to be spending my free time with. In the introduction, he tells us how he sort of stumbled upon the position of writing abou
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Michael
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book about the company behind Nintendo!
Josephine
Dec 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
You knew when my sisters and I were playing Super Mario Brothers — you could hear it.

Every time pudgy little Mario accidentally fell off the ends of the earth into a gaping black nothingness or was singed by a fire spitting cactus or impaled by a hammer-throwing Koopa, you’d hear an agonizing scream — as if we were the ones coming to an untimely end.

I still remember the day my parents went out and got an NES — this after months of obsessively playing Super Mario Brothers on our cousin Oliver’s s
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stormhawk
Jun 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to stormhawk by: netgalley.com
I love video games.

I have't spent as much time playing video games as I have reading, but video gaming cuts seriously into my reading time.

Most of my video gaming happens on some flavor of a Nintendo system. I haven't had all of them, but I've had enough of them to know the characters, games, and Nintendo executives that make up this story of "How Nintendo Conquered America," and in truth, it did.

I've played the NES, owned the SNES, a Game 'n Watch game (Fire), N64, Gameboy Pocket, Gameboy Co
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Scarlett Sims
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wow I loved this book so much. Every day I would tell Hunter all of the fun little facts and tidbits I learned. This is the first audiobook in a while that I actually made time to listen to it. I'm finally understanding people who listen to audiobooks to clean. The narrator is the same person who reads Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker, and I think his voice and expressions are really well suited to the casual tone of the book. Obviously this book is probably ai ...more
Rachel
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
When there are typos and spelling errors in a published book, I am immediately suspect of how factual the facts are within it. I don't mean one or two, this had the quality I would expect from a self-published e-book. Unfortunately(?) I'm not an expert on Nintendo, so I'm not sure how the book stacks up on the factchecker scale, though a quick perusal of other GR reviews confirm my intuition. Having read this immediately after "The Ultimate History of Video Games" which is full of first-hand quo ...more
Ob-jonny
Jan 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It was so much fun to learn about the history of video games with the emphasis on Nintendo games like Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros. To learn the details on how the early games were designed was fascinating. For instance, the reason why they chose Mario for the name of the good guy in Donkey Kong was funny. It's fun to hear details about games you played as a kid and just sort of accepted without thinking about what was really going on. To read about how Super Mario Bros. was the first game t ...more
Renee Doucette
Nov 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-reading
This book felt like I was learning the backstory behind everything I loved about gaming as a kid. The history of the consoles and games were both fascinating, and the story reminded me why I love Nintendo. Great read.
Travis
Oct 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Just what it says it is. A history of Nintendo.
Liv
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting, colloquial read about the history of this iconic character. Really enjoyed it and it makes me all the more excited to play the NES Classic.
Nathan
Aug 19, 2013 added it
Shelves: non-fiction
Being an avid fan of Super Mario, Nintendo itself, and "making of" type notes and documentaries, Jeff Ryan's book Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America was a shoo-in (which, shouldn't that be "shoe-in"? As in, a shoe in the door?) for my small personal library. Immediately upon holding it for the first time, I was filled with the nostalgia and youthful bliss. Memories of Super Mario Bros. 2, Donkey Kong Classics, and of course, the original Super Mario Bros. (the version attached at the hi ...more
John
Fun book; I wish I could give it a higher score. Unfortunately, it does a far better job of being entertaining than being accurate.
Other reviewers have listed in detail the numerous mistakes in this book: factual inaccuracies, exaggerations, technical misinformation, confused timelines, etc. Not being much of a gamer, I wouldn't catch many of these mistakes on my own, but even I could tell you Bowser is not the villain of SUPER MARIO BROS. 2 and that you don't need to push a button to swing Mari
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KC
Dec 02, 2018 rated it liked it
A fun little history of Nintendo starting in the arcade era of Donkey Kong to the current post-Wii timeframe, with a focus on the American market.

I got into Nintendo in the early 90s with a Gameboy, and then with a SNES, and later revised and expanded my view into the landscape with emulators in the late 90s and beyond. I got myself a Wii after college, and enjoyed the social aspects of that type of gaming. I still have a Bluetooth SNES controller and run emulators on my phone, and sometimes enj
...more
Mark Catalfano
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
As a history of Nintendo, it's pretty interesting and informative. BUT as a history of Mario? It's rife with basic mistakes for just about every Mario title described. So how can I trust the rest of the information is accurate?

Donkey Kong does NOT require a "well timed" button press to use the hammer

Mario Bros does not allow you to kill enemies by jumping on then

Super Mario 3 doesn't let you fly with the Tanooki suit

Super Mario world has a cape not a leaf

And on and on and on. So, yeah. Just read
...more
Jason Lacy
Jul 26, 2019 rated it liked it
I was familiar with a lot of the history covered here but still found this to be an enjoyable read. While the style is not as entertaining as 'Console Wars' for example, I still found myself burning through each chapter. A fun exploration of Nintendo's past, and due to its publication, and interesting prediction of what may be to come. If you are looking for a quick read and want to pledge yourself to the Shrine of Miyamoto, why not start here?
John
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book covers the entire history of Nintendo from a company that sold playing cards through the Wii (this book came out before the Switch was created). It covers many of their games, not just those starring Mario, and was really informative. A fun read with lots of jokes and humorous observations I enjoyed it very much.
Andrew
May 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting history of Nintendo from it's early days to the Wii. Jeff Ryan is able to hold your interest through out. The final chapter with the author's ideas are a little strange, but over all definitely worth the read.
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Character 9 12 Oct 26, 2015 06:03AM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Super Mario by Jeff Ryan 1 12 Aug 05, 2015 10:31AM  

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Jeff Ryan is the author of A MOUSE DIVIDED: HOW UB IWERKS BECAME FORGOTTEN...AND WALT DISNEY BECAME UNCLE WALT and SUPER MARIO: HOW NINTENDO CONQUERED AMERICA. He has been published in Salon, Slate, Fast Company, Wired.com, Kotaku, and All Things Considered; and has been featured on NPR’s Marketplace, Time, Forbes, The New York Times, The Economist, The Independent, and Star Talk With Neil DeGrass ...more

News & Interviews

The must-read summer beach book is a kind of American tradition. The crash of the waves. The glare of the sun. The sand in the pages. Is t...
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“The other [video game] franchises let you experience the adrenaline and horror of war, or deep fantasy worlds, or pro sports. A Mario game lets you pretend to be a middle-aged chubster hopping onto a turtle shell.” 4 likes
“Nintendo not letting itself make a browser Mario game has not stopped a flash flood of in-browser Mario games. Super Mario Flash, New Super Mario Bros. Flash, Infinite Mario, and the amazing Super Mario Crossover, which lets you play the original SMB games using characters from Castlevania, Excitebike, Ninja Gaidan, and more. (If you like that, try Abobo's Big Adventure.) There are free (and unlicensed) Mario games where he rides a motorbike, takes a shotgun to the Mushroom Kingdom, decides to fight with his fists, is replaced by Sonic, replaces Pac-Man in a maze game, and plays dress-up. They receive no admonition from Nintendo's once-ferocious legal department. Why not? Iwata's explanation is commonsensical: "[I]t would not be appropriate if we treated people who did someone based on affection for Nintendo as criminals." This is also why no one has been told by lawyers to stop selling Wario-as-a-pimp T-shirts.” 2 likes
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