A screenshot from Nintendo's "Super Mario Bros."
(USA TODAY) -- Nintendo's classic Super Mario Bros. is right up there with Pac-Man and Space Invaders as one of the most recognizable video games ever made.
Yet, according to this fascinating piece by industry website Gamasutra, nobody can seem to nail down exactly when the game launched.
Check Wikipedia and it gives Super Mario Bros., which launched on the Nintendo Entertainment System, a release date of Nov. 17, 1985.
Not so fast. Gamasutra writer Frank Cifaldi reached out to Nintendo, and they gave an official launch date of Oct. 18, 1985. However, his report suggests there is no documented evidence that this day marked the exact arrival of Nintendo's hit.
So where did all the confusion begin? Cifaldi explains in the article by breaking down how Nintendo tried to convince retailers to stock the NES:
"Instead of waiting for buyers to warm up to the idea, Nintendo risked everything by offering stores an unbelievably sweet deal: Rather than being stuck with unsold inventory, Nintendo would buy back any unsold merchandise. They would even come in and set up the displays and demonstrate the games. All a store would have to sacrifice would be shelf space.
"This all culminated in a test market launch limited to the areas surrounding New York City lasting from October of 1985 through Christmas Eve. A sort of "SWAT team" of Nintendo employees worked out of a rundown rented warehouse in Hackensack, N. J., delivering inventory and decorations by hand, setting up and tearing down displays, and showing off the games to any shoppers who would listen. Even company President Minoru Arakawa himself could occasionally be seen running a TV set up a flight of stairs."
It was during this October test period, Cifaldi explains, that the game may have been available to purchase. So, copies could have been scooped up any time during that window.
The article delves further into the variety of launch dates available, based on research of newspapers and other documents. However, none of it seemed to turn up a definitive launch date for the block-breaking, turtle-stomping platformer.
"We still don't know the release date for one of video games' greatest literary works," writes Cifaldi.
Brett Molina, USA TODAY