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 King Bowser to kidnap Princess Peach and subjugate the Mushroom Kingdom. He has an evil doppelgänger named 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 the platform games he is traditionally associated with, Mario has appeared in video games in other 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. Outside the original games, television shows, film, and comics, he spawned a line of licensed merchandise.
The name stuck, and the game was successful. Mario later appeared with his brother Luigi in another arcade game titled Mario Bros. When the Nintendo Entertainment System was released, Super Mario Bros. was the launch title for it with Mario as the protagonist.
With the limited pixels and colors of arcade technology at the time of Mario's conception, the games' programmers could not animate Mario's movement without making his arms "disappear". Making his shirt a solid color 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, their evil counterparts (Wario and Waluigi, respectively), 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 again in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Mario debuted 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. The games were so successful that he carried over into an arcade game titled 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), which would quickly be one of the most famous games on the console.
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 also appeared in the later Game & Watch games. Mario has appeared in almost every genre of video games, including platform, puzzle, racing, sports, fighting, role-playing and 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: in both The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Mario appears on a portrait, and in Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes he and Yoshi appear as small statues.
After the 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 later appeared 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 platform games, Mario has appeared in sport-based games, such as Mario Superstar Baseball and Super Mario Strikers.
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 began on the Nintendo 64. 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, released in May 2007 in the U.S. for the Wii; and Mario Party DS, released in November 2007.
The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! TV series and 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 appeared in popular culture. The Nintendo Comics System series, along with the Nintendo Adventure Books, were also created.
Mario's outfit often changes to suit the game. For example, in the 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.
In the Dr. Mario series of puzzle games, which debuted in 1990, Mario has been depicted as a medical physician. In 2001, Mario appeared in Dr. Mario 64, an updated version of the original puzzle game. Dr. Mario appeared 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 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.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis reveals Mario has a toy-making company that earns him income.
Mario has rescued Princess Peach multiple times since Super Mario Bros., often receiving a kiss as a reward. In a bit of role reversal, Peach rescues Mario in Super Princess Peach. 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. In Super Mario RPG Peach, after almost being forced into marriage with a villain, looks toward Mario and says "Although I do hope to marry someone someday".
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 is usually a companion on many of Mario's adventures and the character whom 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 evidence to suggest 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. In Mario Kart Wii, Luigi and Daisy hold hands in Daisy Circuit.
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins for the Game Boy saw the arrival of Wario, Mario's 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 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, Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Mario Super Sluggers, and Mario Kart Wii. These games imply 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 along with Baby Luigi, Baby Peach, and Baby Bowser, which could explain the separation of the two characters. Like the older Mario, Baby Mario is voiced by Charles Martinet.
Mario's most commonly portrayed form of attack is jumping to stomp on the heads of enemies, first employed in Mario Bros., 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 a considerable amount of strength, being able to lift, carry and throw the Super Mario 64's first boss, King Bob-Omb, who was much larger than him, and even toss Bowser dozens of feet.
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 allows him to propel himself to higher heights by kicking off walls.
A recurring theme in the Mario series' power-ups is the fact that many items give Mario a semi-animal appearance, sometimes related to the item depiction itself, for example Super Mario Bros. 3's Frog Suit, which turns Mario into a frog, and Super Mario Land 2's Power Carrot, which transforms Mario into a rabbit. Other times the item may not be related to the power; for example, the Raccoon Leaf 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 to 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 has several few power-ups with a water theme. He is granted a F.L.U.D.D. (Flash Liquidizing Ultra Dousing Device) pack that performs his primary form of attack, squirting paint and enemies with water, named the Squirt Nozzle. He has three other expansion packs including the Hover Nozzle, which allows him to hover relatively short distances, 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 reimagined. 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 three more life wedges; the Rainbow Star, granting him brief invincibility; the Fire Flower, which made its 3D 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 often picks up and throws various projectiles around him, however, starting in Super Mario Bros. 2. He tosses items such as vegetables, giant blocks, and Bob-ombs.
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.
Mario's legacy is recognized by Guinness World Records, who awarded the Nintendo Mascot, and the series of platform games he has appeared in, 7 world records in the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008. These records include, "Best Selling Video Game Series of All Time", "First Movie Based on an Existing Video Game", and "Most Prolific Video Game Character", with Mario appearing in 116 distinct titles (not including remakes or re-releases).