Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America by Jeff Ryan | Audiobook Review

Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America by Jeff Ryan | Audiobook ReviewSuper Mario: How Nintendo Conquered The World by Jeff Ryan
Narrator: Ray Porter
Length: 8 Hours 25 Minutes
Published by Penguin on 2011-08-04
Genres: Business & Economics, Computers, Corporate & Business History, Games, Programming
Pages: 320
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

The first princess Mario saved was Nintendo itself.   In 1981, Nintendo of America was a one-year-old business already on the brink of failure. Its president, Mino Arakawa, was stuck with two thousand unsold arcade cabinets for a dud of a game (Radar Scope). So he hatched a plan.   Back in Japan, a boyish, shaggy-haired staff artist named Shigeru Miyamoto designed a new game for the unsold cabinets featur­ing an angry gorilla and a small jumping man. Donkey Kong brought in $180 million in its first year alone and launched the career of a short, chubby plumber named Mario.   Since then, Mario has starred in over two hundred games, gen­erating profits in the billions. He is more recognizable than Mickey Mouse, yet he’s little more than a mustache in bib overalls. How did a mere smear of pixels gain such huge popularity? Super Mario tells the story behind the Nintendo games millions of us grew up with, explaining how a Japanese trading card company rose to dominate the fiercely competitive video-game industry.

Why Did I Listen To This Book?

One of my favorite things to do while I am cleaning or showering or driving about is listening to audiobooks that give me knowledge AND make me feel nostalgic. Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America by Jeff Ryan perfectly blends these two needs, making me feel as though I needed to dig our SNES console out of the storage tub and hook it up beside our XBox 360. Furthermore, I totally wanted to listen to this book because I am shallow and just really love the cover. Friends, that cover makes me happy and fills me with good feelings.

What’s Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America About?

I love that lately with these audiobooks I am listening to the titles basically tell you exactly what the book is about. Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America by Jeff Ryan is all about how Nintendo became the it-list item in America and how the Mario brothers became popular and came about. It’s about how Nintendo was created. It’s about the different games and how they came about and the strategy behind becoming a hit console. It’s really all about how Nintendo has outlasted some of it’s competitors and how it revolutionized gaming.

What Did I Learn?

  • Nintendo was sued by Universal Studios over Donkey Kong and guess what, Nintendo won that law suit. Whoo hoo. Also, I just really love playing Diddy’s KongQuest.
  • Shigeru Miyamoto was pretty much the creator of Nintendo and was pretty heavily vested in the console and the games. He’s a fascinating figure.
  • The name Mario was chosen because it wasn’t hard for the Japanese people to pronounce and also because the warehouse owner’s name was Mario.
  • When the NES came out, it was bundled with Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt and that is what lead to it’s exploding popularity.
  • The thing about Donkey Kong is that it has an interesting backstory with Mario being a bad guy and capturing Donkey Kong and treating him badly.
  • Fans of Super Mario are basically awesome.
  • The Mario brothers are among the most recognizable trademarks and characters in the world.
  • Nintendo did not want their games adapted for other consoles, like the PC. In fact, they turned down an adaption made by the guys who made DOOM.
  • It all started with arcades.
  • At first, Nintendo was a failure and not selling all that well.
  • Nobody wanted to make a home console because it was such a big risk especially after Atari did so badly.

How’s The Narration?

Honestly, I really like Ray Porter’s narration style. Granted, I think his narration of The Silver Linings Playbook is better, but let’s be real, he did a superb job with Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America by Jeff Ryan. I think his voice works well for this sort of non-fiction. In fact the only narrator that would be better suited would be Wil Wheaton, but maybe he was busy? Either way, I thought Ray Porter was interesting to listen to. I thought that his voice had good inflection. The production values by Blackstone Audio were decent, no background noise or anything. I would have liked maybe some Mario theme music for a transition, but that’s because I am weird. The audiobook is a pretty quick listen too.

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

First off, I would recommend the audiobook of Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America to people who were obsessed with Super Mario 3, because you are awesome and also because there’s a whole section on that game and we all know it is the most fun ever. I would also recommend this book to gamers looking for their next read. Also to people who enjoyed Masters Of Doom and Ready Player One. I would also say this would be a good listen to people who are into nostalgia and popular culture history. OH! And for anyone who likes a good real life underdog story.

Sum It Up With A GIF:

Basically this was my life in childhood and college. Super Mario forever you guys. I have no time for NES or SNES haters.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I haven’t read too much nonfiction, but I can totally see myself nerding out with this book!

  2. Great! I need to check this book out. You make me add even more non-fiction to my tbr.:)

  3. I read this book a couple of years ago and loved it!! I’m so happy to see another blogger has read and enjoyed it too!

    • Isn’t it awesome seeing other bloggers review things that you loved but haven’t really seemed to caught on? I love that feeling. Glad you loved this one as well. 🙂

  4. Oh my gosh. This is bringing up so many memories of sitting in your old bedroom playing nintendo. Remember the weird basketball game? I always played the green alien looking dude. And omg that racing game we used to play all the time!! Plus the Wizard of Oz, Aladdin, Super Mario games! Oh man. Do you still have these games? I’m debating spending a night home this weekend maybe Saturday night. I could come over and play SNES with you after Easter dinner? 😀

  5. Okay, seriously April, you keep getting me wanting to read these nonfiction books about something I loved as a child. Like you said, it’s making me all nostalgic.

  6. I don’t know if I would be able to get into an audio book like this, but I’m a huge fan of Mario. Especially those old school ones. Just reading this review brings back memories. * ahhhh* I wish I still had my old game systems! I can’t tell you how many hours my brother and I spent playing those games.

    Especially Super Mario 3 and of course the Final Fantasy games. *sigh* Chocobo lover for life.

    Glad you liked this one. I’ll have to consider it just because of my gaming history. lol


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