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Mario is a fictional character in the Mario video game franchise, owned by Nintendo and created by video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto. Serving as the company’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, his adventures generally center upon rescuing Princess Peach from the Koopa villain Bowser. His younger brother is Luigi.
The Mario franchise is the best-selling video game franchise of all time. Over 210 million units of the overall Mario series of games have been sold. Outside of the Super Mario platform series, other Mario genres include the Mario Kart racing series, sports games such as the Mario Tennis and Mario Golf series, role-playing games such as Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario, and educational games such as Mario Is Missing! and Mario’s Time Machine. The franchise has branched into several mediums, including television shows, film, comics, and licensed merchandise. Since 1995, Mario has been voiced by Charles Martinet.
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 with Popeye), 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?”
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 American audiences, Nintendo of America’s warehouse landlord Mario Segale confronted his 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; blue eyes, 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 did not initially reveal Mario’s full name. In a 1989 interview it was stated not to be “Mario Mario” despite the implication of the Mario Bros. series’ title. The first notable use of “Mario Mario” was in the 1993 live-action film adaptation. This was again used in two of Prima’s official strategy guides, in 2000 for Mario Party 2 and in 2003 for Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga. In 2012 after Charles Martinet voiced Mario declaring himself “Mario Mario” at the San Diego Comic-Con the next month Satoru Iwata said he had no last name, which Shigeru Miyamoto agreed with the month after. Two months after Iwata’s death in July 2015, Miyamoto changed his stance September 2015 at the Super Mario Bros. 30th Anniversary festival, confirming that his name was indeed Mario Mario.
Mario debuted as “Jumpman” in the arcade game Donkey Kong on July 9, 1981. He is shown to be a carpenter and has a pet ape called Donkey Kong. The carpenter mistreats the ape and Donkey Kong escapes to kidnap Jumpman’s girlfriend, originally known as the Lady, but later named Pauline. The player must take the role of Jumpman and rescue the girl.
Jumpman was later renamed “Mario” in the 1982 arcade game Donkey Kong Junior, the only game in which he has 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 City.
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 can 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.
In Super Mario Land an alien named Tatanga appears, hypnotizes the inhabitants of an area called Sarasaland, and kidnaps its ruler, Princess Daisy. Mario sets out to rescue her, traveling through the four geographical areas of Sarasaland and defeating Tatanga’s minions along the way. He corners Tatanga in the skies of the Chai kingdom, bringing down the alien warship and rescuing Daisy. In Super Mario World, Mario and Luigi take Princess Peach for a vacation in Dinosaur World sometime after the events of Super Mario Bros. 3; during the vacation, Peach is kidnapped by Bowser. Mario and Luigi meet the Yoshis, dinosaurs that live in Dinosaur World, and they help rescue Peach by allowing Mario and Luigi to ride them. In Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, whose events take place immediately after the original Super Mario Land, Mario’s evil counterpart Wario has put an evil spell over Mario Land while Mario was away in Sarasaland, renaming the area Wario Land. The inhabitants are brainwashed into thinking that Wario is their master and Mario is their enemy. Wario’s motive behind this sudden attack was to take control over Mario’s castle in order to have one of his own. To stop Wario, Mario finds the 6 Golden Coins throughout Mario Land and regains access to his castle. In Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, a stork carries Baby Mario and Baby Luigi across the sea, but the evil Magikoopa Kamek steals Baby Luigi, and Baby Mario falls onto an island called Yoshi’s Island, home to Yoshis. After Mario meets the Yoshis, the group journeys through the game’s six worlds to rescue Baby Luigi and the stork from Baby Bowser and Kamek.
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 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 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 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 saving 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 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.
Mario games of other genres include various Game & Watch games; Mario Pinball Land, a pinball game for the Game Boy Advance; various educational games; and the Dr. Mario puzzle video game, (with Dr. Mario itself first released in 1990). In these games, Dr. Mario throws vitamins that the player must align to destroy the viruses that populate the playing field. 1996’s Super Mario RPG is the first Mario role-playing game; nine games have followed, including four in the Paper Mario series (Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door for the GameCube, Super Paper Mario for the Wii and Paper Mario: Sticker Star for the Nintendo 3DS) and five in the Mario & Luigi series (Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga for the Game Boy Advance, Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time and Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story for the Nintendo DS, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team and Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam for the Nintendo 3DS).
Several other sub-series of Mario video games, especially those inspired from sports, have been released. The Mario Kart franchise, which began with Super Mario Kart for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1992, is the most successful and longest-running kart racing franchise. Other Mario sports games include the Camelot-developed series Mario Golf and Mario Tennis, and, respectively, the baseball and soccer games Mario Superstar Baseball and Super Mario Strikers. In 1999, Hudson Soft developed the Mario Party series, which began on the Nintendo 64. The games revolve around a set of minigames and are playable with up to four players. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, released for both Nintendo DS and Wii, is a collection of 24 events based on the 2008 Summer Olympic Games from Beijing, in which characters from Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog series compete with Mario characters. This was followed in 2009 by Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games on both systems, based on the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Two more sports games for the Wii were released in 2011, Mario Sports Mix and the third Mario & Sonic game, Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games while the latter was released for the Nintendo 3DS in February 2012, which is based on the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The fourth edition of the Mario & Sonic series for the Wii U is called Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, which is based on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. A fifth title, Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, which is based on the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, was in 2016 for the Nintendo 3DS, Wii U and arcade.
Apart from his platformer and spin-off game appearances, Mario has made guest appearances in non-Mario games, such as Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, where Mario is a referee. Mario appeared as a playable character in NBA Street V3 and SSX on Tour, both by Electronic Arts. He makes cameo appearances in both The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as a portrait, and in Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, he appears as a small statue.
Mario has appeared in every game of the Super Smash Bros. series, in which he is considered a well-balanced character. The game includes other Mario characters, items, and stages. Mario’s alter egos Dr. Mario and Metal Mario have made series appearances as well.
The first appearance of Mario in other media than games was Saturday Supercade, an animated television series produced by Ruby-Spears Productions in 1983. Each episode was composed of several shorter segments featuring video game characters from the golden age of video arcade games. Mario (voiced by Peter Cullen) appeared in Donkey Kong segments where he and Pauline would try to recapture Donkey Kong.
Mario starred in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! produced by DiC Entertainment. The television show starred “Captain” Lou Albano as Mario in the cartoon and live-action parts of the show.
Mario appeared in the live-action film Super Mario Bros. that starred Bob Hoskins as Mario, a plumber who finds himself in an alternate universe in which dinosaurs rule where he must save the Earth from invasion. The film was a huge flop at the box office.
Outside the original games, television shows, and film, Mario has influenced the creation of a line of licensed merchandise and has appeared in popular culture. The Nintendo Comics System series, along with the Nintendo Adventure Books, were created due to Mario as well.
Mario was planned to make an appearance in Wreck-It Ralph, but director Rich Moore wanted his presence to be organic and unforced. Though Mario was referenced by Fix-It Felix Jr. when he assumed that Mario arrived “fashionably late as usual” to the party celebrating the game’s 30th anniversary, when it was actually his nemesis Wreck-It Ralph that arrived. Rich Moore confirmed that Mario will appear in the sequel which will be released in early 2018.
On August 21, 2016, in the 2016 Summer Olympics closing ceremony, during a video which showcased Tokyo as the host of the 2020 Summer Olympics, a segment shows Japanese prime minister Shinzō Abe transforming into Mario and jumping into a warp pipe which takes him from Shibuya Crossing to Rio de Janeiro in a timely manner, where Abe emerges from the pipe in the center of the Maracanã Stadium.
Mario was originally portrayed as a two-dimensional sprite, but in later games, he is shown as a three-dimensional, polygonal model. He is depicted as a portly plumber who lives in the fictional land of the Mushroom Kingdom with Luigi, his younger, taller brother. In the television series and film, Mario and Luigi are originally from Brooklyn, New York. Little is known of Mario’s childhood, though the infant version of Mario, Baby Mario, first appeared in 1995 in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, and has often appeared in Nintendo sports games since that time. Baby Mario has a major role along with Baby Luigi in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time and appears in Yoshi’s Island DS. He, along with the adult Mario, is voiced by Charles Martinet. He wears a longsleeved red shirt, a pair of blue overalls with yellow buttons, brown shoes, white gloves and a red cap with a red “M” printed on a white circle. In Donkey Kong, he wore a pair of red overalls, and a blue shirt. In Super Mario Bros., he wore a brown shirt with red overalls. He has blue, eyes, and, like Luigi, has brown hair, and a dark brown or black mustache.
Mario’s occupation is plumbing, though in the original Donkey Kong games he is a carpenter. Mario has had several other occupations: in the Dr. Mario series of puzzle games, which debuted in 1990, Mario is portrayed as a medical physician named “Dr. Mario”; in the Game Boy game Mario’s Picross, Mario is an archaeologist; and in Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis, Mario is the president of a profitable toy-making company. Mario is an athlete in various Mario sports titles including Mario Sports Mix, Mario Strikers Charged, and Mario Golf: World Tour; as well as a kart racer in the Mario Kart series. Mario usually saves Princess Peach and the Mushroom Kingdom and purges antagonists, such as Bowser, from various areas. Mario has gained fame in the Mushroom Kingdom due to his heroic deeds, as shown in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, where the brothers are referred to as “superstars”.
Since his first game, Mario has usually had the role of saving the damsel in distress. Originally, he had to rescue his girlfriend Pauline in Donkey Kong from Donkey Kong. Pauline was soon replaced by a new damsel in distress, Princess Peach, in Super Mario Bros., but returned in the Game Boy remake of Donkey Kong in 1994, and in Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis in 2006, although the character is now described as “Mario’s friend”. Mario has rescued Princess Peach multiple times since Super Mario Bros. In a role reversal, Peach rescues Mario in Super Princess Peach. Mario rescued Princess Daisy of Sarasaraland in Super Mario Land, but Luigi seems to be more linked to her. In Super Smash Bros. Melee, the text explaining Daisy’s trophy states that “after her appearance in Mario Golf, gossips portrayed her as Luigi’s answer to Mario’s Peach”.
Luigi is Mario’s younger fraternal twin brother. He is a companion in the Mario games, and the character whom the second player controls in two-player sessions of many of the video games, though he occasionally rescues Mario, as seen in Mario is Missing! and Luigi’s Mansion. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins for the Game Boy saw the arrival of Wario, Mario’s greedy counterpart, who is often Mario’s antagonist or an antihero. Yoshi is a dinosaur whose species is also named Yoshi. They vary in color, though the original Yoshi is green. Yoshi serves as Mario’s steed in games such as Super Mario World, and is depicted as an independent character in games like Super Mario Kart and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island.
During the development of Donkey Kong, Mario was known as Jumpman. Jumping—both to access places and as an offensive move—is a common gameplay element in Mario games, especially the Super Mario series. By the time Super Mario RPG was released, jumping became such a signature act of Mario that the player was often tasked with jumping to prove to non-player characters that he was Mario. Mario’s most commonly portrayed form of attack is jumping to stomp on the heads of enemies, first used in Super Mario Bros. This jump-stomp move may entirely crush smaller enemies on the stage, and usually deals damage to larger ones, sometimes causing secondary effects. This attack often enables Mario to knock the turtle-like Koopa Troopas into or out of their shells, which can be used as weapons. Subsequent games have elaborated on Mario’s jumping-related abilities. Super Mario World added the ability to spin-jump, which allows Mario to break blocks beneath him. The Game Boy version of Donkey Kong allowed Mario to jump higher with consecutive jumps, and perform a back-flip. In Super Mario 64, Mario gains new jumping abilities such as these: a sideways somersault; a ground pound, which is a high-impact downward thrusting motion; and the “Wall Kick”, which propels him upwards by kicking off walls.
Mario uses items, which give him various powers, and differ between the games he is in. The first power-up Mario used was the Hammer in Donkey Kong.
Super Mario Bros. introduced the basic three power-ups that have become staples for the series, especially the 2D games — the Super Mushroom, which causes Mario to grow larger; the Fire Flower, which allows Mario to throw fireballs; and the Starman, which gives Mario temporary invincibility. These powers have appeared regularly throughout the series. Throughout the series’ history, there have been several kinds of Mushroom power-ups, including the 1-up Mushroom, which gives Mario an extra life; the Poison Mushroom, which causes Mario to either shrink or die; the Mega Mushroom, which causes Mario to grow very large; and the Mini Mushroom, which causes Mario to shrink.