Although his first appearance was in the original Donkey Kong game in 1981, the character of Mario became widely-known only after the hit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) game Super Mario Bros. was released four years later. Since that epic adventure, Mario has starred in countless titles for Nintendo and has become the mascot for the long-running video game company. There is no doubt that without the stocky plumber, Nintendo would have been in deep water long ago.
At the beginning, there were only platform games for Mario and his brother Luigi. Jumps and occasional fireballs were all that Mario needed to rescue his always-captured love interest, Princess Peach. But as new titles hit the shelves, Mario continued to acquire more and more powers. With the additional abilities of flying, swimming, turning into statues and throwing hammers, Mario and Luigi continued to defend their kingdom from seemingly endless threats.
Although Mario made occasional appearances in other games for the original Nintendo system, he did not truly become omnipresent until the Super Nintendo arrived. Games such as Mario Kart and Mario Paint began to show that the plumber could succeed in titles that had nothing to do with the original gameplay of Super Mario Bros. Indeed, much of Mario’s current day success can be linked to his presence in games such as Mario Tennis, Mario Golf, Mario Strikers, a soccer game, and Mario Party.
That’s not to say that Mario’s original adventures have not seen their own natural progression. The Super Nintendo platform titles introduced new characters such as the dinosaur Yoshi to aid Mario on his quest. And the Nintendo 64, and beyond, titles saw the quintessential Nintendo character come to three-dimensional life for the first time! Just recently, Mario starred in an all-new adventure, Super Mario Galaxy, that proved that the plumber still has plenty of fans in his original genre.
But it is clear that Mario has become more than just the protector of Mushroom Kingdom over the years, he has become the protector of Nintendo shareholders. Not a year goes by without another title featuring the mascot being released. And previously minor characters in the series, such as Luigi, Baby Mario, and Wario, have had feature games themselves. No other video game company has the luxury of the Mario brand name.
Just looking at current events shows us the impact of Mario on Nintendo. His recent adventure in space has sold over six million units worldwide, while the new Mario Kart game is expected to do the same. Other titles featuring Mario that have thrived on the new Wii console include Mario Strikers: Charged, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Mario Party 8, and Super Paper Mario.
Without a doubt, the most recognizable video game character in the world is Mario. Known for his adventures started over twenty years ago, Mario continues to fuel the Nintendo spirit. And with his long-lasting success in the video game industry, there is little doubt that the moustached hero will be seen in many future titles as well.