When I think of what to write about Mario games, I can not help but think about just how much they actually define a new kind of culture driven by groups of people who are motivated to a certain degree by self-fulfillment, nostalgia, and a desire to experience something old being made new. They do this by using their talents to accomplish their dream of creating new games with the help of an old friend who is constantly and faithfully being made new with the passing of time and the development of new gaming technology. We live in a time when Mario games are no longer definately conceded to consoles and cartridges but can now be anywhere there is an Internet connection and can be created by anyone motivated enough to learn even the basics of game design or computer programming.
Today, many gamers take advantage of existing graphics, sprites, and game engines to put there own twist on their favorite games and game concepts. Of course, you will find varying styles and quality depending on the preference and skill of your respect gamer / developer, and while this gaming format does not guarantee that you will always find the best game play, it allows many to live out their dream of becoming a developer.
These developers publish web sites (and you're probably on one now) that archive their Mario games and the games of other developers, making all Mario games available to the Internet community at the click of a mouse. The production of these Web sites results in a twofold opportunity: on one side, the developer obtains a sense of fulfillment from knowing that a relatively large group of people will experience his work; on the other side, that group of people will get that fuzzy nostalgic feeling and experience the old being made new before their very eyes.
The Mario games that are being developed for the Web are all 2-D games that emulate the graphics from the original Donkey Kong to the New Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo DS, borrowing sprites from such games with similar game play, but you can also find much different game play / modes. Of course, you have the classic side-scroll games, but you also have puzzles and novelty games, timed games and endless games, and Mario games in which you have infinite opportunities to achieve ultimate victory.
People do what they want when they make these games. There are games where Mario and Luigi have guns, and other games are holiday themed. Some add blood and have Mario or Luigi's head fall off when they die, and some replace Mario with Sonic the Hedgehog. There are also games that emulate other classics and replace the original sprites and templates with Mario ones, making them in most respects Mario games.
For the most part, you will see all the original themes when playing these Mario games: Mario universe good guys fighting Mario universe bad guys with the same classic Mario universe variations on clouds, bushhes, coins, pipes, blocks, hills, trees, and castles as props and backgrounds. All in all, this is a good thing. Granted that not all of these games are going to be great or even good, it is worth while even if you only have a slight interest in Mario games to play them when you get a chance. Get a little taste of the culture that springs from an icon that is almost 30 years old and continues to grow and shape the imaginations of millions and millions of gamers and game developers around the world. And when you do it, have fun!