Mario is probably the most widely recognised character from a video game in the world.
When Super Mario Bros. hit the shelves, the video game industry was desperate. In just two years, from 1983 to 1985, income had dropped 97% from 3,200 million dollars to 100 million dollars.
Atari, the United States’ fastest ever growing company, had declared bankruptcy. It was a concerning time for all involved.
On September 13, 1985, everything changed. It was the day that Super Mario Bros. launched, though it is actually Nintendo’s second game featuring Mario.
What’s the story of the legendary Italian plumber?
Mario was created by Shigeru Miyamoto, a titan of the video games industry. He joined Nintendo just changing their focus in 1977 and he helped to create some of the most critically acclaimed games of all time. His love of manga encouraged him to join the video game industry.
The aim of Mario’s development was to create a successful game for Nintendo after previous efforts like Sheriff had failed. The majority of Mario characters were designed to simplify their animation with the fewest pixels possible. That’s why his hat hides his hair, removing the need to animate the movement of his hair. Equally, his moustache covers his mouth to avoid any further animation. His clothing (originally a blue shirt with red overalls) also has the same idea in mind.
He was originally named Mr Video. According to Miyamoto, Mr Video would have been forgotten had he not changed his name to Mario. Supposedly, the name was inspired by Mario Segale, the owner of the warehouse that Nintendo worked from in the US. Curiously, Mario wasn’t designed to represent an Italian, but his moustache led to that link.
The idea was that Mario would be used in all of Miyamoto’s games from that moment on, with different design teams adding their own changes to the central character. Mario grew into 3D when graphics allowed for it and more detail was added to his appearance, with blue eyes and a switch in colouring, for example.
His first star appearance
The first game that Mario starred in was Donkey Kong in 1981 when he was a carpenter. He wasn’t always a plumber, in fact in some games he could be a doctor or an archaeologist.
More than 200 Mario games have been made
Mario Bros was launched in 1983 to give Mario his own game alongside his brother Luigi as they looked to overcome creatures that appeared in the sewers of New York.
One of the most important moments of the franchise’s history, besides the creation of a princess, was Super Mario World in 1990, when Yoshi came into existence as a green dinosaur. He was able to eat many enemies and eat different coloured shells to gain special powers.
Later Mario games improved on the graphics and spread Mario’s abilities even wider, with the launch of educational games such as Mario Teaches Typing and Mario is Missing, based on geography. The legacy of Miyamoto seems to be eternal and the Italian plumber will continue to be one of the most recognisable video game characters across the globe.
What you should know about Mario:
Mario was originally called “Mr. Video”.
Donkey Kong Junior is the only game where Mario is the villain.
Princess Peach was originally called Pauline.
Mario isn’t just a plumber, he’s an archaeologist, doctor and everything that a game could need from him.
His nationality was attributed to him due to the moustache, not the other way around.
Mario has appeared in over 200 games.
His games are some of the best sellers in the world. Super Mario Odyssey on Nintendo Switch online sold 11.17 million dollars.
Mario’s full name is Mario Mario, Miyamoto confirmed in 2015.