For longstanding fans of the Mario game universe and its many main titles and spin-offs, the gameplay mechanic of collecting different colored coins will be very familiar to you. They feature in freemium mobile game Super Mario Run as well as recently released Nintendo Switch exclusive Super Mario Odyssey and in tropical adventure game Super Mario Sunshine.
Coins have actually featured in the series since the very beginning, making their debut as an uncommon item all the way back in 1983's Mario Bros. Collecting coins isn't exclusive to games that star Mario and Luigi, it's actually a fairly common game mechanic. But why exactly is that?
What Are Coins Used for in Mario Game Universe?
While collecting coins in games just feels good, the Mario game universe does actually give you the opportunity to spend them. The ways in which you can spend your coinage has changed over the years, though, shifting as player demands and the different ways we interact with games these days, as well as the scope of the game world, have all changed too.
In Super Mario Odyssey, for instance, you can collect and even farm coins in bonus courses such as the one accessible in Bowser's Kingdom. Coins in the game can be used to unlock new outfits for Mario, as well as additional Power Moons. In previous Super Mario games, though, coins are used to earn additional lives, add triple figures to your score, or even backgrounds and extra areas of the game. There are varied uses but the mechanic remains important.
What Other Games Use Coin Collection Mechanics?
But it's not just games in the Mario universe that feature coins in this way. Other titles, such as Pokemon GO, put a massive focus on golden 'PokéCoins' which are used to unlock things such as additional Poké Balls, lure modules (for attracting Pokemon) and additional inventory space. While these PokéCoins can be earned by playing the game (specifically by defending gyms), they can also be purchased with real money.
Some games, particularly slots, also use coin collection gameplay but it is more a part of the setting than it is a tangible, gameplay-affecting feature. In the Gold King slot, which is inspired by King Midas who loved the valuable element, the symbols are all plated in gold and the game is set against a backdrop of gold coins. The Sticky Bandits slot does something similar, as players try to "rob" a runaway train (by matching the slot's reels) in order to pick up bags of gold coins, which translates to big payouts for the player.
Why is Coin Collecting in Games So Popular?
The reason that collecting coins is so popular in games - whether that's as part of the setting or as a core gameplay feature is because it's familiar. Coins - but gold coins especially - are a sign of wealth and riches. You don't have to be a magpie to understand that something shiny is also worth collecting.
Coins eliminate the need to come up with new currencies for that game world. Coins are instantly recognizable as useful and players instantly recognize that the game wants them to collect them.