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When was Super Mario Bros. released in the US? Nobody knows!

When was Super Mario Bros. released in the US? Nobody knows!


Happy birthday, Mario — whenever it is

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Yesterday, Nintendo celebrated the 30th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. release in Japan on September 13th, 1985. The anniversary of the game release in the United States won't be quite as simple, because nobody knows exactly when Super Mario Bros. made its way here.

In 2012, former games journalist-cum-game developer Frank Cifaldi investigated why the release date of a cultural touchstone remains uncertain. Nintendo currently claims the first Nintendo Entertainment System, or the NES, was sold in New York City on October 18th, 1985. Most people believe Super Mario Bros. was available as a launch game, though some reports put its release up to a month after the hardware launch. Even if the game was available at launch, a couple first-hand witnesses told Cifaldi a story at odds with Nintendo's claim. Their story that pivots on a spicy brunch cocktail.

According to Gail Tilden, who ran Nintendo's PR and marketing during the NES launch, she and a couple colleagues snuck away after the sale of the first NES at FAO Schwarz for "celebratory bloody marys." In theory, this was Friday, October 14th. Except, there's one issue. "I wouldn't have had a bloody mary on a work day," Tilden told Cifaldi. "I'm quite certain it wasn't Friday."

Cifaldi's piece is as riveting and thorough as an investigation about a video games release date can be. Though the report never nails down a release date, it does provide a few alternatives that seem more concrete than the official date given by Nintendo.

Of course, this won't be an issue for Nintendo, who has been partying like its 1985 in the months leading up to the release of Super Mario Maker, a game that lets players create Super Mario Bros. stages.

Correction: The piece originally misstated Nintendo's official release date for Super Mario Bros. as October 18th, 2015. As that date would require time travel, it is clearly incorrect. The piece has been revised to include Nintendo's official release date of October 18th, 1985. Also, the story originally claimed Super Mario Bros. was bundled with the NES at launch. That didn't occur until 1986.