Nintendo, before making the Mario Bros. "Super" but after having the elder brother square off against Donkey Kong, employed Mario and Luigi in Wrecking Crew, a platform-based Maze Game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985. It was the first game design job for one Yoshio Sakamoto, kickstarting a prolific career.
In this game, the brothers wield hammers (both the regular kind and the more powerful Golden Hammer), bombs, and falling oil drums as tools for demolishing various buildings. Posed against them is Foreman Spike, who sics Eggplant Men and Gotchawrenches on the Bros. while chasing after them himself. Mario and Luigi must dodge these enemies as they smash apart the demolition sites one wall, pillar, and ladder at a time. Every fourth level, they must race against Spike in a search for a hidden coin for extra points.
Like several other NES games, it was adapted into an arcade game running on the VS. System. However, it was one of the few VS. System games to actually predate the home release, as it contains a 1984 copyright. VS. Wrecking Crew is also quite unlike the NES game, and allows simultaneous multiplayer.
Nintendo released Wrecking Crew '98 in Japan only as one of the last games for the Super Famicom. This was a compilation of the original Wrecking Crew with an all-new competitive Match-Three Game. The story once again sees Spike, this time working for three-month younger Bowser, impeding Mario's demolition job. Foreman Spike himself would also reappear as an unlockable character in Mobile Golf, a Japan-only Game Boy Color entry in the Mario Golf series, and is also set to appear in Illumination Entertainment's Super Mario animated movie set for 2022, where he will be voiced by Sebastian Maniscalco. Later, this game would appear in NES Remix.
- Bonus Stage: The "find the coin" stage after every fourth level.
- Cartoon Bomb: Appears on some stages and can be used to demolish surrounding walls. The manual calls it "dynamite", however.
- Collision Damage: Touch a Gotchawrench or Eggplant Man and lose a life. Touch Foreman Spike and just get pushed around.
- Dolled-Up Installment: The arcade version was initially advertised as an original game starring nameless construction workers, as can be seen in Japanese flyers. The decision to replace the original protagonists before the arcade game's release with Mario and Luigi came from none other than Shigeru Miyamoto, who suggested that the game would be more marketable with the now iconic heroes.
- Dub Name Change: In Japan, Gotchawrench was Spanner Gon, Eggplant Man was Nasubi Kamen (Eggplant Mask), and Foreman Spike was... Blackey.
- Easter Egg: In Wrecking Crew '98, clearing three overlapping lines of the same color (a very difficult task) drops a giant Bowser sign on your opponent, defeating them instantly.
- Endless Game: Wrecking Crew loops back to the first level after the Bonus Stage following the hundredth level.
- Evil Counterpart: Foreman Spike.
- Head Swap: Foreman Spike is a head swap of Mario (and Luigi).
- Jump Physics: Wrecking Crew is a rare aversion for Mario, who has to climb ladders instead of being able to jump. Wrecking Crew '98 has normal jumping controls.
- Level Editor: Players can create up to four original levels.
- Our Monsters Are Weird: Living wrenches and eggplant people, this game is where the franchise's enemies started getting really weird.
- Palette Swap: Mario and Luigi are only differentiated in color. This also applies to Gotchawrench and Gotchawrench Jr.
- Power Up Motif: A rather awesome one when you get the Golden Hammer.
- Spelling Bonus: Players are rewarded with an extra life for finding the letters M-A-R-I-O (or L-U-I-G-I as the second player) in that exact order.
- Spin-Off: One of the first Mario games where the Bros. starred in a non-Platform Game spin off.
- Stalked by the Bell: Fireballs appear when Mario/Luigi is lingering on a floor.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: If one looks closely, neither Mario or Luigi appear to be wearing shirts.
- Wrap Around: A horizontal wraparound passage on every floor.
- Unintentionally Unwinnable: Due to your inability to jump, if you walk off the wrong ledge or destroy the wrong ladder before destroying every wall on that floor it becomes impossible to get back up. For the same reasons it's common for the game to become Unwinnable by Foreman Spike.
- Unlike most NES games, pressing the select button returns you to the title screen, possibly because of this.