First game Donkey Kong (1981)
Created by Shigeru Miyamoto
Designed by Shigeru Miyamoto Yōichi Kotabe Shigefumi Hino
Voiced by (English) Ronald B. Ruben (1991) Marc Graue (1994) Charles Martinet (1995- ) Peter Cullen (Saturday Supercade) Lou Albano (The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!) Walker Boone (The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World)
Voiced by (Japanese) Tōru Furuya (1996-1998; Super Mario Bros.: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach! and Amada Anime Series: Super Mario Bros.)
Portrayed by Lou Albano (The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!) Bob Hoskins (Super Mario Bros.)

Mario  is a fictional character in the Mario video game franchise by Nintendo, created by Japanese video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto. Serving as Nintendo’s mascot and the eponymous protagonist of the series, Mario has appeared in over 200 video games since his creation. Depicted as a short, pudgy, Italian plumber who resides in the Mushroom Kingdom, he repeatedly rescues Princess Peach from the Koopa villain Bowser and stops his numerous plans to destroy him and take over the kingdom. Mario also has other enemies and rivals, including Donkey Kong and Wario.

Mario is said by many to be the most famous character in video game history. Mario games, as a whole, have sold more than 210 million units, making the Mario franchise the best-selling video game franchise of all time. Outside of the Super Mario platform series, he has appeared in video games of other genres, including the Mario Kart racing series, sports games, such as the Mario Tennis and Mario Golf series, role-playing video games such as Paper Mario and Super Mario RPG, and educational games, such as Mario Is Missing! and Mario’s Time Machine. He has inspired television shows, film, comics and a line of licensed merchandise. Since 1995, Mario has been voiced by Charles Martinet.

Concept and creation

Shigeru Miyamoto created Mario while developing Donkey Kong in an attempt to produce a best-selling video game for Nintendo; previous titles like Sheriff had not achieved the same success as titles like Pac-Man. Originally, Miyamoto wanted to create a video game that used the characters Popeye, Bluto, and Olive Oyl. At the time, however, Miyamoto was unable to acquire a license to use the characters (and would not until 1982), so he ended up making Jumpman (later known as Mario), Donkey Kong, and Pauline. In the early stages of Donkey Kong, Mario was unable to jump, and the focus was to escape a maze. However, Miyamoto enabled Mario to jump, saying “If you had a barrel rolling towards you, what would you do?”

Seen on his hat, Mario’s emblem represents him in the interfaces of many of the games in which he has appeared.

Miyamoto originally named the character “Mr. Video”, and he was to be used in every video game Miyamoto developed. According to a widely circulated story, during localization of Donkey Kong for North American audiences, Nintendo of America’s warehouse landlord Mario Segale confronted its then-president Minoru Arakawa, demanding back rent. Following a heated argument in which the Nintendo employees eventually convinced Segale he would be paid, they opted to name the character in the game Mario after him.

Miyamoto commented that if he had named Mario “Mr. Video”, Mario likely would have “disappeared off the face of the Earth.” By Miyamoto’s own account, Mario’s profession was chosen to fit with the game design. Since Donkey Kong was set on a construction site, Mario was made into a carpenter. When he appeared again in Mario Bros., it was decided he should be a plumber, since a lot of the game is played in underground settings. Mario’s character design, particularly his large nose, draws on western influences; once he became a plumber, Miyamoto decided to “put him in New York” and make him Italian, lightheartedly attributing Mario’s nationality to his mustache. Other sources have Mario’s profession chosen to be carpenter in an effort to depict the character as an ordinary hard worker, and make it easier for players to identify with him. After a colleague suggested that Mario more closely resembled a plumber, Miyamoto changed Mario’s profession accordingly and developed Mario Bros., featuring the character in the sewers of New York City.

Due to the graphical limitations of arcade hardware at the time, Miyamoto clothed the character in red overalls and a blue shirt to contrast against each other and the background. A red cap was added to let Miyamoto avoid drawing the character’s hairstyle, forehead, and eyebrows, as well as to circumvent the issue of animating his hair as he jumped. To make him appear human onscreen despite his small size, Mario was given distinct features, prominently a large nose and a mustache, which avoided the need to draw a mouth and facial expressions on the small onscreen character.

Miyamoto developed Mario with the idea of using him as a “go to” character that could be put into any title as needed, albeit in cameo appearances, as at the time Miyamoto was not expecting Mario to become popular. To this end, he originally called the character “Mr. Video”, comparing his intent to have Mario appear in later games to the cameos done by Alfred Hitchcock within Hitchcock’s films. Over time, Mario’s appearance has become more defined; white gloves, brown shoes, a red “M” in a white circle on the front of his hat and gold buttons on his overalls have been added. The colors of his shirt and overalls were also reversed from a blue shirt with red overalls to a red shirt with blue overalls. Miyamoto attributed this process to the different development teams and artists for each game as well as advances in technology as time has gone on. Nintendo has never revealed Mario’s full name, stating only that it was not “Mario Mario” despite the implication of the Mario Bros. series’ title, its use in the live-action film adaptation, and information given in the Prima official Guidebook to Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga.

Mario’s iconic sprite from Super Mario Bros. (1985)

Mario debuted as “Jumpman” in the arcade game Donkey Kong on July 9, 1981. He is shown as a carpenter that has a pet ape. The carpenter mistreats the ape, so Donkey Kong escapes and kidnaps Jumpman’s girlfriend, originally known as the Lady, but later named Pauline. The player must take the role of Jumpman and rescue the girl. The character was later renamed “Mario” in the 1982 arcade game Donkey Kong Junior, the only game in which he has ever been portrayed as an antagonist. In the 1983 arcade game Mario Bros., Mario and his younger brother Luigi are portrayed as Italian-American plumbers who have to defeat creatures that have been coming from the sewers below New York.

In Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Mario saves Princess Toadstool (later known as Princess Peach) of the Mushroom Kingdom from King Koopa. To save Princess Toadstool, Mario conquers the eight worlds of the Mushroom Kingdom by going to the castle in each to defeat a minion of King Koopa. To reach each castle, Mario battles through three sub-worlds by defeating King Koopa’s henchmen. If Mario successfully fights his way through the castle and defeats the minion, he frees a Mushroom Retainer. Inside the eighth castle, Mario has a final fight with King Koopa and frees Princess Toadstool. In Super Mario Bros. 2, the player could choose between Mario, Luigi, Toad, or Princess Peach. Each character possesses unique abilities (Luigi has stronger jumping ability, Toad can dig the fastest, and Peach can float), with Mario being the most well-rounded. In Super Mario Bros. 3, Mario quests to save the rulers of seven kingdoms from Bowser and his children, the Koopalings, and Mario travels across eight worlds to restore order to the Mushroom World and to rescue Princess Peach. Mario is introduced to new power-ups that augment his abilities.

Mario, aka Jump Man (1981) 
These are some Sprites of Mario from Donkey Kong on the NES.

Sprites from Donkey Kong (1981)

Mario Bros (1983) 
This was an arcade style game, you could either play 1v1 battle mode vs. your brother Luigi. Or you could play on a multi-height level, with 2 pipes at the top, where a unlimited amount of turtles and other assorted enemies would descend upon you, the aim was to get the highest score (by killing more and more enemies). This was the first game in which Mario was a Plumber and saw the introduction of his brother, Luigi.

2 years after Mario Bros came Super Mario Bros which was the first visit to the Mushroom Kingdom, where Mario had gone to rescue a princess in distress, who had been kidnapped by Bowser

Super Mario Bros 2 (1988)
This was not originally a Mario game, it was once called Doki Doki Panic, all Nintendo did was simply replace the four players from Doki Doki Panic and insert the Super Mario Bros and their buddies Toad and Princess as playable characters.. Simple as that, this was the only game to feature Wart as the main boss. Mario uses vegetables and potions to defeat his foes in this game as opposed to the classic mushrooms and fire-flowers etc. You had the option to play as Princess Toadstool, Toad and Luigi too.

Sprites of our new, rounder Mario from Super Mario Bros. 2 (1988)

Super Mario Land (1989)
Although Super Mario Land was released later than Super Mario Bros. 2, the sprites for the Gameboy games always seemed to be a generation behind those of the consoles, the sprites of Mario weren’t too dissimilar to that of Mario’s sprites from Donkey Kong (1981) and Mario Bros (1983) in the sense that his eyes were 1 pixel in size, and due to technical limitations of the time he also had very sharp features such as his pointy nose and cap.

Sprites from Super Mario Land (1989)
Sprites from Super Mario Land (1989)

 Super Mario Bros 3 (1989) 
Another of the Princess Toadstool rescuing platformers, this one however outsold any platform game in the world, even Super Mario World (Which imo is better). You play Mario (or Mario & Luigi in 2 player) trying to track down Bowser, you must also return the Wands of Power that control each lands to there Kings by defeating the Koopa Kids.

Another rounder-rendition of Mario from Super Mario Bros 3 (1989) ]

With the release of the SNES, a significantly more powerful platform than the NES in all respects, Mario’s creators could finally make the colourful, more detailed sprites that we all know and love today.

The sprites were made in significantly more detail and able to utilize a much greater colour pallet. Re-releases of SMB1,2,3 were bought out with remastered graphics and sound under the compilation “Super Mario Allstars” – the re-release of these titles with better graphics thanks to the more powerful platform would leak to a peak of Mario popularity – a fine hour indeed.

Super Mario World (1991) 
The first Mario Game on the Super Nintendo, another kidnap of Princess Toadstool, This adventure however is not set in the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario is in Dinosaur Land which consists of several playable zones including Yoshi’s Island, Donut Plains, The Bridge areas, Vanilla Dome, Star Land, The Forest of Illusion, Chocolate Island, a Sunken Ship, and finally the Valley of Bowser

Harnessing the power of the 16-bit revolution Nintendo were finally able to combine the new rounded Mario with many different colours and much more detail. Sprites from Super Mario World (1991)
Harnessing the power of the 16-bit revolution Nintendo were finally able to combine the new rounded Mario with many different colours and much more detail. Sprites from Super Mario World (1991)

Super Mario Kart (1992) 
This was the first ever Super Mario racing game, it was released on the Super Nintendo and featured three different cups (Mushroom, Flower and Star, you could also unlock a fourth, called Special Cup), three different racing speeds (50cc, 100cc, 150cc) and three different modes (Battle, Grand Prix or Time Trial). The available characters in this title were: Donkey Kong, Bowser, Mario, Toad, Luigi, Princess, Yoshi and Koopa Troopa. Yet again the sprites of Mario in his Kart had come on leaps and bounds from their pre-90’s predecessors.

A year later in Super Mario Kart Mario takes on a non-side scrolling roll, and we start to see Mario from different views other than the side. Sprites from Super Mario Kart.
A year later in Super Mario Kart Mario takes on a non-side scrolling roll, and we start to see Mario from different views other than the side. Sprites from Super Mario Kart.

Mario 1996-2002

Mario made his 3D debut in Super Mario 64. Princess Peach sends Mario a letter inviting him to join her at her castle for cake; however, when he arrives, Mario discovers that Bowser has invaded the castle and imprisoned the princess and her servants within it using the castle’s 120 Power Stars. Many of the castle’s paintings are portals to other worlds, in which Bowser’s minions guard the stars. Mario explores the castle and these other worlds to recover the stars. He gains access to more painting portals as he recovers more stars, and he traverses three obstacle courses that lead him to battles with Bowser. Defeating Bowser the first two times earns Mario keys that open new levels of the castle, while the final battle releases Peach, who rewards Mario by baking the cake that she promised him.

In Super Mario Sunshine, Mario, Toadsworth, and Princess Peach take a vacation to Isle Delfino, a tropical island. A person resembling Mario, known as “Shadow Mario”, vandalizes and pollutes the entire island using a magic paintbrush. The vandalism has also caused the Shine Sprites to flee from the island’s main city, Delfino Plaza, and blanket the island in darkness. Blamed for the mess, Mario is arrested by the island authorities and ordered to clean up Isle Delfino. Mario is equipped with FLUDD, a robotic hosing device invented by Professor E. Gadd, which he uses to clean up the pollution and collect the Shine Sprites. Meanwhile, Peach is kidnapped by Shadow Mario, who reveals himself to be Bowser Jr., one of Bowser’s children, having stolen the paintbrush from Professor E. Gadd. Mario eventually confronts Bowser and Bowser Jr. and rescues the princess. With the island cleaned up, Mario and Peach begin their vacation.

Mario 2006–present

Mario went to 2.5D in New Super Mario Bros. While Mario and Peach take a walk together through the Mushroom Kingdom, Bowser Jr. kidnaps Peach and flees. Mario gives chase, venturing through eight worlds. Mario eventually catches up, defeating both Bowser and Bowser Jr. and rescuing Peach. In Super Mario Galaxy, Mario is invited by Princess Peach to the centennial Star Festival in the Mushroom Kingdom. Upon arrival, Bowser invades the kingdom and rips Peach’s castle from its foundations and lifts it into outer space. After failing to prevent the princess from being kidnapped, Mario meets star-like creatures called Lumas and their companion, Rosalina. Rosalina tells Mario that Bowser has stolen the Power Stars, the source of power for Rosalina’s mobile observatory, and has taken Peach to the center of the universe. Mario then travels to various galaxies to reclaim the Power Stars to restore power to the observatory and reclaim Princess Peach. In New Super Mario Bros. Wii, another 2.5D game, Mario, Luigi, and two Toads are attending Princess Peach’s birthday party when Bowser Jr. and the other seven Koopalings ambush the princess and kidnap her. Mario, Luigi, and the two Toads chase after them across eight worlds, defeating each Koopaling as they progress. The quartet eventually confronts Bowser, defeating him and reclaiming the princess. In Super Mario Galaxy 2, Bowser, who has transformed himself into a giant using the Power Stars, attacks the Mushroom Kingdom and abducts Peach, taking her to the center of the universe. With the help of the Lumas, Mario pilots Starship Mario, a mobile planet in the shape of his head, in order to travel to various galaxies and gather the Power Stars, used to fuel the ship. After multiple battles against both Bowser and Bowser Jr., Mario eventually arrives at Bowser’s lair at the center of the universe, where he defeats him and rescues the princess. In 2012, Mario returned in New Super Mario Bros. 2 where he collects several coins scattered across the Mushroom Kingdom in addition to saving Princess Peach from the evil clutches of Bowser and the Koopalings. Mario returns once more to defeat Bowser and his minions in New Super Mario Bros. U. Mario is one of the playable characters in Super Mario 3D World, having average running speed and jump height.

For more information on the Super Mario series you can visit Super Luigi Bros

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