'Super Mario' takes giant leap in March 2015 YouTube rankings

The N64's "Super Mario 64" was both a critical and commercial success

The "Super Mario" franchise leapt into the top 10 for YouTube's most watched game franchises in March, powered by fan interest over an unauthorized "Super Mario 64" remake.

Recreating the first level from "Super Mario 64" within the versatile Unity engine, programmer and software engineer Roystan Ross had posted his "Super Mario 64 HD" as a technical demonstration that solved a number of core programming challenges.

But the demo was so polished in its homage to one of Nintendo's all-time greats, that it soon generated a great deal of interest from players, YouTube creators, and spectators alike.

In addition, "Super Mario 64 HD" arrived not long after Nintendo announced its own restrictive policy for its originals being featured in YouTube videos, a policy whose conditions were not well accepted by the community.

And though Ross was clear that he had no plans to recreate further levels nor monetize his efforts so far, "Super Mario 64" is still being sold by Nintendo as a Virtual Console download for Wii and Wii U -- thus, the demo was taken down upon request.

March also saw the launch of "Mario Party 10" on Wii U and "Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars" across Wii U and 3DS.

Several notable YouTubers joined in with more Mario-themed content, including PewPieDie's time with a "Garry's Mod" level inspired by "Super Mario 64," Spanish-speaking Willyrex looking at a Mario-themed instance of "Minecraft," and Smosh spoofing both "Mario Party 10" and "Mario Kart 8" in its Honest Game Trailers series.

Data provided by Octoly and Newzoo had the "Super Mario" jumping by 450m views for the month, propelling it to eighth place, with an estimated 99.6% of its 547m views being of fan-made videos rather than official Nintendo content.

Ten other titles in the top 20 achieved a fan video percentage above 99%, showing enthusiastic interest in the properties. Those games were "Garry's Mod," "Counter-Strike," "Dota 2," "DayZ" and "Destiny," in addition to each member of the top 5. Conversely, "World of Tanks" had the highest percentage of official video at 10.8%.

Top 20 Game Franchises on YouTube March 2015
1. Minecraft (3,934m views / 32% of Top 20)
2. Grand Theft Auto (1,393m / 11%)
3. Five Nights at Freddy's (1,273m / 10%)
4. Call of Duty (851m / 10%)
5. FIFA (770m / 6%)
6. Garry's Mod (690m / 6%)
7. League of Legends (667m / 5%)
8. Super Mario (574m / 4%)
9. Counter-Strike (362m / 3%)
10. Dota 2 (282m / 2%)
11. Clash of Clans (259m / 2%)
12. Battlefield (177m / 1%)
13. Just Dance (169m / 1%)
14. Arma (156m / 1%)
15. World of Tanks (134m / 1%)
16. DayZ (134m / 1%)
17. Team Fortress (131m / 1%)
18. Halo (127m / 1%)
19. Mortal Kombat (123m / 1%)
20. Destiny (118m / 1%)