I daresay that there are very few people out there reading this who don’t know who Mario is. The lovable little American-Italian plumber is arguably the most iconic gaming character in history and polls suggest he’s even more famous than the cartoon figurehead Micky Mouse. But what do you really know about Mario? Probably a lot more than me, I’ve only played a handful of his games, but for those also lacking, here’s a brief history of the moustachioed star.
Despite being the mascot of Nintendo for as good as three decades, the famous Mario actually started out playing second fiddle as an unnamed character (titled only as ‘Jumpman’) in 1981’s ‘Donkey Kong’ and it wasn’t until a year later he became Mario (in ‘Donkey Kong Junior’ – the only game Mario has ever been an antagonist).
The Mario we know and love today came into being in the 1983 ‘Mario Bros’ which also introduced his long suffering younger brother Luigi. However it was 1985’s ‘Super Mario Bros’ that really expanded on the universe by introducing the Mushroom Kingdom and tasking Mario with saving Princess Toadstool. Today this single branch of the Mario series has sold more copies than any other complete games series.
The games led to numerous sequels and spin offs (such as the delightful Super Mario Sunshine which I played on the GameCube where you basically go around cleaning pollutants and graffiti) and there seems little the plucky little plumber can’t do – he’s even been to space. There is literally nothing Mario won’t do to save Princess Peach, especially if it means beating arch-nemesis (and serial kidnapper) Bowser or his childhood rival Wario.
Mario has also had several successful trips into Sport-themed games taking on both friend and foe on the race track in the phenomenal ‘Mario Kart’ series, clashing with Sonic (the megastar of Nintendo former-rival Sega) at both the Summer and Winter Olympics as well as knocking seven bells out of other famous gaming characters (ranging from Pokemon’s Pickachu to the lovable ‘Kirby’) in ‘Super Smash Bros’. As well as being an award winning sportsman in his free time, jumping and plumbing are far from Mario’s only skills and over the years he’s also worked as a soldier, demolitionist, Doctor, Baker and President of Mario Toy Company.
Mario has been recognised as one of the most prolific characters in gaming. In 2009, the Guinness World Records found Mario had appeared in 116 distinct titles (not including remakes or re-releases) spanning every single year from 1981 until now (2014). According to Wikipedia, the Mario series of games is the best-selling of any game series with over 445,000,000 sold games; putting this in perspective, the next best-selling series is ‘Pokemon’ which has sold around 245,000,000 so it has a very healthy lead indeed. And all this is without even mentioning the comics, tv shows or film (yeah, FILM) in which he features.
And if you still don’t think Mario is cool, then you clearly don’t know he’s been on the side of lunch boxes for years. And that is the epitome of coolness.
Post Script: Many thanks to Google for the images.