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Mario in Super Mario Galaxy
Game series Mario
First game Donkey Kong as "Jumpman"
Created by Shigeru Miyamoto
Designed by Shigeru Miyamoto (Donkey Kong)
Yoichi Kotabe (Super Mario Bros. series)
Shigefumi Hino (Super Mario World)
Voiced by (English) Video games
Ronald B. Ruben (1991-1997)
Mark Graue (1994)
Charles Martinet (1995-present)
Peter Cullen (1983-1985)
"Captain" Lou Albano (1989-1990)
Walker Boone (1990-1991)
Voiced by ( Japanese) Video games
Charles Martinet (1995-present)
Toru Furuya (1986)
Live action actor(s) "Captain" Lou Albano ( The Super Mario Bros. Super Show)
Bob Hoskins ( Super Mario Bros. The Movie)
Takashi Okamura (Hot Mario Bros.)

Mario (マリオ ?) is a fictional character created by game designer Shigeru Miyamoto who serves as Nintendo's mascot. He is arguably the most recognizable video game character of all time. Mario has appeared in over 200 video games since his creation. Though originally only appearing in platforming games, currently Mario appears in many genres of games, such as racing games, puzzle games, role-playing games, fighting games, sports games, and many others.

Mario is depicted as a short, pudgy, Italian plumber who lives in the Mushroom Kingdom, where he is regarded as a hero; he is best known for constantly thwarting the plans of the evil King Bowser to kidnap Princess Peach and subjugate the Mushroom Kingdom. He is well known for his plucky personality, enthusiasm and spirit in the face of enemies, unexpected physical agility, cooperation with his brother, Luigi, and his close relationship with Princess Peach whom he has repeatedly saved. He has an evil doppelgänger by the name of Wario.

As Nintendo's mascot, Mario is one of the most famous characters in video game history, and his image has become synonymous with video games. Mario games, as a whole, have sold more than 285 million units, making the Mario series the best-selling video game series of all time. Outside of the platformers with which he is traditionally associated, Mario has appeared in video games in different genres, including the Mario Kart racing series, Nintendo's arcade sports games (such as the Mario Tennis and Mario Golf series), and Nintendo's series of Mario role-playing games (including Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Paper Mario, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Super Paper Mario, and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and its sequel, Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time). Outside the original games, television shows, film and comics, he spawned a line of licensed merchandise.

Conception and creation

Mario first appeared in the arcade game Donkey Kong as a character named "Jumpman" according to Nintendo of America. In Japan he was known as "Mr. Video Game". Since the Japanese name was not properly communicated to the American branch, Nintendo of America named him Mario after Mario Segali, who closely resembled the character. Segali was the landlord of Nintendo of America's office, and once barged in on a meeting to demand an overdue rent payment.

The name stuck, and the game was surprisingly successful. Mario later paired with his brother Luigi in another arcade game entitled Mario Bros. When the Nintendo Entertainment System was released, Super Mario Bros. was the launch title for it with Mario as the protagonist.

With limited pixels and colors of the 8-bit NES, the games' programmers could not animate Mario's movement without making his arms "disappear". Making his shirt a solid colour and giving him overalls fixed this. They also did not have the space to give him a mouth or ears, and they could not animate hair, which resulted in Mario getting a moustache, sideburns, and a cap to bypass these problems. Mario's creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, has stated when interviewed that Mario wears a cap because he finds it difficult to draw hair. Mario is currently voiced by Charles Martinet, who also voices Luigi, both their evil counterparts, Wario, Waluigi and other characters such as Toadsworth.

Mario has taken on the role of Nintendo's mascot and has since been extensively merchandised. Mario's major rival was Sega mascot Sonic the Hedgehog who debuted in 1991. The two mascots competed head-to-head for nearly a decade afterwards, until around 2001 when Sonic Adventure 2: Battle showed up on a Nintendo console due to Sega's new third party status, ending a lengthy rivalry. Mario and Sonic officially appeared together in a crossover sports game, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, and are together again in Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. Brawl.


Mario made his debut in the arcade game Donkey Kong in 1981. In Donkey Kong Junior in 1982, he was the villain, and in the ending cinematic, he is knocked out (although he is not dead because he is in future games). The games were so successful that he carried over into an arcade spin-off, Mario Bros. in 1983, which boasted a simultaneous two-player mode and introduced his taller yet younger brother Luigi. His next appearance was in Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

Overall, Mario games have sold more then 200 million copies worldwide, with Super Mario Bros. 3 holding the record for most copies of a non pack-in video game sold, selling well over 18 million copies. Mario and his friends also appeared in the later Game & Watch games. Mario has explored almost every genre of video games. Aside from action platformers, he has starred in puzzle games, racing games, sports games, fighting games, role-playing games, and even educational games.

Apart from his platform-game appearances, Mario has appeared in many other games, and has made guest appearances in non-Mario games, such as in Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! where he is a referee. Apart from these guest appearances, Mario has appeared in non-platform games as the protagonist of other successful series, such as the Super Smash Bros. series. These games are published by Nintendo, but developed by another company, such as Hudson Soft or Camelot Software Planning. Mario has even appeared as a playable character in NBA Street V3 and SSX On Tour, both from Electronic Arts. In some appearances, he is not an in-game character at all: in The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, Mario appeared on a portrait (as well as in Ocarina of Time), and in Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes he, along with Yoshi, appears as a small statue.

After the relatively unknown Game & Watch title Mario Bombs Away, Mario's first non-platformer game was released in 1990. Dr. Mario's gameplay was similar to Tetris, which was later ported to nearly all of Nintendo's consoles. Mario was later used in other genres; two examples include the educational game Mario Paint, which appeared in 1992 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and Mario Pinball Land for the Game Boy Advance. 1996's Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System marked Mario's first role-playing game, since then, five role-playing games have followed: Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga for the Game Boy Advance, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door for the Nintendo GameCube, Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time for the Nintendo DS, and Super Paper Mario for the Wii. Outside of the platformers with which he is traditionally associated, Mario has appeared in more sport-oriented video games, such as Mario Superstar Baseball and Super Mario Strikers series.

Mario's multiplayer games represent a more important sub-range of Mario games. The Mario Kart franchise began with 1992's Super Mario Kart for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and still continues to be the most successful and longest-running kart-racing franchise today, having sold over 30 million copies worldwide. Apart from racing, the Camelot sports game franchises Mario Golf and Mario Tennis also feature Mario's visage. In 1999, the Hudson-designed video game series Mario Party was began on the Nintendo 64 platform. The games revolve around a set of mini-games and is playable for up to four players, with the most recent incarnations being Mario Party 8, which was released in May 2007 in the U.S. for the Wii; and Mario Party DS, which was released in November 2007.

The The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! TV series and the live-action movie loosely based on the video game series called Super Mario Bros. brought the character into the TV and film entertainment realms. The show starred "Captain" Lou Albano as Mario, and the movie starred Bob Hoskins. Outside the original games, television shows, film and comics, he has spawned a line of licensed merchandise and made appearances in popular culture. The Nintendo Comics System series, along with the Nintendo Adventure Books, were created as well.


Mario was originally portrayed as a two-dimensional sprite, but in later games he is a three-dimensional, polygonal model. He is depicted as a 155 cm portly plumber who lives in the fictional land of Mushroom Kingdom. He is the older, shorter brother of Luigi, and they are both Italian plumbers. In the television series, Mario and Luigi hail from Brooklyn, although Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island implies he was born in the Mushroom Kingdom.

Physical appearance

Mario's basic appearance has changed little over the years. He is consistently portrayed as a short, stubby man wearing a hat with an 'M' on it, brown hair, black moustache, an abnormally large and bulbous nose, white gloves, and denim overalls. In most appearances, Mario wears a red hat and shirt with blue overalls. However in the original Super Mario Bros video game, Mario wears a brown shirt and red overalls.

Mario's outfit often changes to suit the game. For example, in Super Mario Strikers soccer game, Mario wears a football kit as opposed to overalls, and in Super Mario Sunshine, a game with multiple tropical themes, the character wears a red T-shirt and can optionally put on sunglasses and a Hawaiian-style shirt. In some games, Mario can transform into different forms, each with a different costume.


Mario is portrayed in games and other media as being a kind-hearted and brave hero with archetypically heroic aspects, with a love of pasta and pizza. Mario's cheerful personality is reflected in his high pitched voice. Since Mario's Game Gallery, it has been provided by Charles Martinet. In the games, although he largely speaks in English with a thick Italian accent, he has been known to sporadically break into Italian. In other media portrayals, he has carried a more Brooklyn-styled accent. Mario's speech is usually limited to short phrases like: "Okey dokey!", "Woohoo!", "Let's a-go!", "It's-a me! Mario!", and more, though in the Mario sports titles however, he has full speech capabilities. However besides these short phrases, Mario never makes any conversation in any official games, leaving the talking to other characters. He does however speak fully in the DiC animated cartoons and the anime series.

Occupation and hobbies

Mario's given occupation is that of being a plumber. With the exceptions of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and the original Mario Bros., he is almost never seen carrying out his occupation in the games. Pipes have, however, remained a mode of transportation. Mario was most often seen plumbing during the animated series. He was very knowledgeable about tools and fixing pipes in the movie. In the original Donkey Kong games however, when Mario was called Jumpman, he was in fact a carpenter.

Beginning with the Dr. Mario series of puzzle games, which first debuted in 1990, Mario has been occasionally depicted as a medical physician as well. In 2001, Mario appeared in Dr. Mario 64, an updated version of the original puzzle game. Mario was in doctor form as a secret character in the Nintendo GameCube game Super Smash Bros. Melee, and in another updated version of the original, Dr. Mario Virus Buster for WiiWare. In the Game Boy title Mario's Picross, Mario was even depicted as an archaeologist.

His most time-consuming activity seems to be saving Princess Peach, the Mushroom Kingdom, and purging villains, such as Bowser, from various kingdoms. As seen through character interactions in his role-playing games, Mario has achieved a level of fame among the kingdoms' populations due to his heroic deeds, as shown in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, where they are referred to as "superstars", or celebrities.

The installment Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis revealed that Mario has a toy-making company that earns him income.


Ever since his first game, Mario usually has the role of saving the damsel in distress. Originally, he had to rescue his girlfriend Pauline in Donkey Kong from the clutches of Donkey Kong. Pauline did not last long as a character and was soon replaced by new damsel-in-distress, Princess Peach, in Super Mario Bros. (she was initially referred to as "Princess Toadstool" or simply "the Princess" in English-speaking territories until 1993, when Yoshi's Safari debuted, even though the name was not widely used until Super Mario 64 was released three years later.) Pauline returned in the Game Boy remake of Donkey Kong in 1994, and later 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., often receiving a kiss as a reward. Although the true nature of their relationship is never revealed (as is typical of most characters in the Mario series), there is evidently a mutual affection between the two characters.

Bowser is Mario's archrival. However, the two will often reconcile and work together when they need to find a solution together, like in Super Mario RPG and Super Paper Mario.

Luigi is Mario's younger brother. He usually is a companion on many of Mario's adventures and is the character that players play as in two-player sessions of many of the video games. His demeanor is sometimes that of a "scaredy cat" who sets off to help Mario but instead needs rescuing himself, though he has also had to rescue Mario occasionally as displayed in Mario is Missing and Luigi's Mansion. Yoshi the dinosaur is another one of Mario's closest friends.

Mario rescued Princess Daisy in Super Mario Land for the Game Boy. There is no way to prove they were interested in each other, considering the fact they do not share chemistry in Mario Superstar Baseball. Although Daisy kissed him this was done probably to keep a classic Mario ending. In Super Smash Bros. Melee, the text explaining Princess Daisy's trophy states that "after her appearance in Mario Golf (this appears to be a trophy error, possibly referring to NES Open Tournament Golf or its Famicom release Mario Open Golf), some gossips portrayed her as Luigi's answer to Mario's Peach", although Luigi and Daisy were previously paired as a romantic couple in the live-action Super Mario Bros movie.

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins for the Game Boy saw the arrival of Wario, Mario's demented and greedy doppelgänger. Though there is no tangible relationship between the two, Wario was once referred to as Mario's cousin in Nintendo Power. Wario is designed to act, in a way, as an anti-Mario.

Baby Mario

Baby Mario (Birthday: March 14) is the infant version of Mario. He first appeared in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, released in 1995 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and has appeared in several titles since. Baby Mario has often appeared in Nintendo-sports titles, such as Mario Golf, Mario Tennis, Mario Superstar Baseball and Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. Strangely, these games implied that Mario and Baby Mario are separate characters, but those games are considered to be outside the continuity of the main Mario series. More recently, he has appeared in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, in which Baby Mario appeared via time travel, which could explain the separation of the two characters. Like the older Mario, Baby Mario is voiced by Charles Martinet.


During the development of Donkey Kong, Mario was known simply as "Jumpman", named for his keen ability to jump exceptional heights. This ability is still described as Mario's greatest talent in most forms of media in which he is portrayed, and jumping—both to access different areas of a level and as an offensive move—remains a core element of gameplay in most Mario games, especially in the Super Mario Bros. series.

Mario's most commonly portrayed form of attack is jumping to stomp on the heads of enemies, first employed in Mario Bros. (but his main attack in this game was to hit the floor underneath the enemy, flipping them up-side-down) but better known from the later Super Mario Bros. game and its sequels. This jump-stomp move may entirely crush smaller enemies on the stage, and usually deals damage to larger ones, sometimes causing secondary effects as well. Most notably, this attack often enables Mario to knock the turtle-like Koopa Troopas back into their shells, which may slide across the stage, damaging other enemies, or Mario. Jumping remains a core element of gameplay in most Mario games, especially in the platform games.Mario also possesses super-human strength, being able to lift, carry, and throw the Super Mario 64's first boss, King Bob-Omb, who was much larger than him.

Beyond this core mechanic, 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. Later, the Game Boy remake of Donkey Kong allowed Mario to jump higher with consecutive jumps, and perform a back-flip. Super Mario 64 gave Mario a variety of jumps, such as a sideways somersault, a ground pound, and the "Wall Kick," which allowed him to propel himself to higher heights by kicking off walls.


Mario makes use of a wide array of items in most games in which he appears that give him special powers. The most prominent of these is the "Super Mushroom", which allows Mario to grow to twice his size, becoming the eponymous "Super Mario," and can sustain damage before shrinking back down to "regular" Mario. Additionally, collecting a "Fire Flower" transforms Mario into "Fire Mario" and allows him to throw fireballs at enemies, and a "Starman" renders Mario temporarily impervious to harm.

A recurring theme in the Super Mario series' power-ups is the fact that many items give Mario a semi-animal appearance, sometimes related to the item depiction itself, e.g. Super Mario 3's Frog Suit that turns Mario into a frog and Super Mario Land 2's Power Carrot that transforms Mario into a rabbit. Other times the item may not be related to the power at all, e.g. the Raccoon Leaf that gives him raccoon ears, a tail, and the power of flight. Other power-ups are more practical; in Super Mario World, the Cape allows Mario to fly and glide, and a balloon in a later game in the series allows similar effects. New Super Mario Bros. introduced other types of Mushroom power-ups, such as the "Mega Mushroom," which causes Mario to grow to screen-filling proportions, and the Mini Mushroom that makes him shrink into a very small size.

When Mario reached the three dimensional format, Super Mario 64 introduced a feature that made Mario take extra damage without his signature hat on; in addition to this, different types of caps granted powers of flight, invincibility, and invisibility. Along with these basic features, caps gave more practical abilities as well. For example, the Metal cap allowed Mario to sink to sea floors and the Invisibility cap allowed him to walk through thin surfaces such as iron grates.

Super Mario Sunshine supplied only a few power-ups with the same theme: water. He is granted a F.L.U.D.D. (Flash Liquidizing Ultra Dousing Device) pack that performs his primary form of attack which was squirting strange paint and enemies with water, aptly named the Squirt Nozzle. He has 3 other expansion packs including the Hover Nozzle, which (as its name suggests) allows him to hover relatively short distances in lieu of the long jump, the Turbo Nozzle, allowing him to traverse faster and break through certain barriers, and the Rocket Nozzle which charges water up, then blasts Mario a great distance into the air.

Super Mario Galaxy introduced several new power-ups along with a few classic items re-imagined. These included the Bee Shroom, which allowed him to float short distances and stick to certain surfaces; the Boo Shroom, which made him capable of floating as well as traveling through walls; the Life Shroom, which gave him 3 more life wedges; the Rainbow Star, granting him brief invincibility; the Fire Flower, which made its 3-D platforming debut; and the Ice Flower which allowed him to solidify water, granting him access and mobility to otherwise unreachable or deadly locations. A hidden powerup is the Flight Star, which allowed Mario temporary flight.

Although Mario is not usually portrayed using conventional weapons in games, one exception is the use of hammers in numerous games, such as Super Mario Bros. 3, the original Donkey Kong, and Super Mario RPG. Said hammers are used offensively and for other actions, like switch activation and solving puzzles. He will oftentimes pick up and toss various projectiles around him however, starting in Super Mario Bros. 2. He will toss items such as vegetables, giant blocks, and bob-ombs, to name a few.

Reception and legacy

Mario in Kungsbacka, Sweden
Mario in Kungsbacka, Sweden

As Nintendo's mascot, Mario is considered to be the most famous character in video game history. The Mario series of video games has sold more than 200 million copies, making it the best-selling video game franchise of all time. Mario was one of the first video game character inductees at the Walk of Game in 2005, alongside Link and Sonic the Hedgehog. Mario was the first video game character to be honored with a wax figure in the legendary Hollywood Wax Museum in 2003. In 1990, a national survey found that Mario was more recognizable to children in the world than Mickey Mouse.

Since his creation, Mario has established himself as a pop culture icon having starred in numerous television shows, comic books, and in a feature film. He has appeared on lunch boxes, t-shirts, magazines, commercials, in candy form, on Shampoo bottles, cereal, badges, and as a plush toy. Nintendo of Japan produced a 60-minute anime feature starring Mario and his friends in 1986, although this film has never been released outside of Japan. The animated series The Super Mario Bros. Super Show featured a live-action series of skits starring former WWF manager "Captain" Lou Albano as Mario and Danny Wells as Luigi. There was even a book series, the Nintendo Adventure Books. In 2005, Jonathan Mann even wrote an opera based on the character, and performed The Mario Opera at the California Institute of the Arts.

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