He has been known as Nintendo's company mascot. Mario is considered by many to be the most well-known video game character in history, appearing in hundreds of games, many of them bestsellers. He first appeared in the video game Donkey Kong as Jumpman. After his rise to glory starring in the classic Super Mario Brothers game, he took on role of mascot of Nintendo and has been extensively merchandized. Mario appeared on television, in comic books, and in feature film where he was played by Bob Hoskins. Mario's supporting characters include Luigi, Princess Peach Toadstool, Toad, Yoshi, and King Bowser Koopa among others.
Mario is an Italian-American man, born in the Mushroom Kingdom, and raised in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States. He wears a red uniform and is a plumber, although he has experience in demolition and cement work. He spends his leisure time eating, playing tennis, golf, and racing.
Mario first appeared in the
1981 Donkey Kong arcade game, while
Mario's brother Luigi first appeared in
Mario Bros., the arcade game. The Mario
franchise has, as of August 11, 2005,
sold 180,000,000 games (making it by far
the biggest selling franchise in the
history of video games).
Mario's full name is believed to be Mario Mario, while his brother's full name is believed to be Luigi Mario, thus making them the "Mario Bros". This is generally accepted as canon. According to Shigeru Miyamoto, the Mario Bros. movie, and the television series, their surname is Mario, but this has rarely been officially supported by Nintendo (two known instances are a reference in Paper Mario, a video game produced for the Nintendo 64 console, as well as a mention of this in an issue of the Nintendo Power magazine). However, in Luigi's Mansion, King Boo refers to them as "you Mario brothers", in the build-up to the final battle of the game.
Mario was named after the Italian landlord, Mario Segali, at Nintendo of America back when it was headquartered in New York in the early 1980s (it is now located in Redmond, Washington). After interrupting a conference, he angrily demanded that the rent be paid. The upsetting and furious tone of the man's voice, as well as the unexpectedness of this had an impact on the participants, and it was brought up that the warehouse manager and Jumpman resembled one another, and by the production of Donkey Kong Junior, an arcade game in the style of Donkey Kong, Jumpman officially became Mario.
The current voice actor for Mario is Charles Martinet, though in the past he has been voiced by Captain Lou Albano, Walker Boone, Peter Cullen and Tôru Furuya.
Despite his lengthy history, Mario is in many ways an undeveloped character, with many details of his accepted biography having been created through a complex lore spawned from the imaginations of comic book artists, cartoon writers, and fans.
Officially, Nintendo producers have stated that Mario's biography is kept simple in order to make the character versatile, and reusable in many different games and situations. Mario is one of the most underdeveloped characters in the Mario universe however, with characters such as Bowser and Princess Peach having more complex,consistent and unique back stories.
In his first appearance as Jumpman in Donkey Kong, all that was stated was that he was a carpenter who had to save Pauline from Donkey Kong. His next appearance in Mario Bros. changed his profession to plumber, which was more fitting with the pipe theme of that game. Here, Mario and his brother cleaned out the sewers of Brooklyn. This fact, in addition to both the cartoon series and the movie, led many to believe that Brooklyn was Mario's original home. Newer games and manuals, however, state that he grew up in the fictional Mushroom Kingdom. Some have suggested that the brothers were taken to the "Real World" at an early age, while others disregard it because it contradicts the other games and the Super Mario 64 guide which was written after Yoshi's Island.
Over the course of his many games, Mario has rescued a number of women from captivity (including Pauline, Princess Peach, and Princess Daisy) and has become regarded as a great hero in the Mushroom Kingdom. There is no definitive timeline for the events in the various games, most of which could be placed in nearly any order.
For the Famicom/Nes game also known as Mario Baby, see Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa.
Baby Mario is the infant version of Mario, although he has appeared alongside his older self in Nintendo sports titles such as Mario Golf, Mario Tennis, Mario Superstar Baseball and Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. However, it is generally accepted that these games are outside the continuity of the main Mario series, and therefore do not suggest that Mario and Baby Mario are separate characters in the main storyline.
He first appeared in the Super NES game Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island where with the help of the Yoshi's he saved his brother Luigi from Kamek the Magikoopa. In Yoshi's Island, Baby Mario has a rather passive role, essentially being carried around by different Yoshis for most of the game. However, in some levels, a power-up resembling a star allows him to transform into Super Baby Mario, giving him very high speed and relative invincibility.
More recently, Baby Mario appeared in Yoshi Touch & Go for the Nintendo DS. Reclaiming the role he held in Yoshi's Island, Baby Mario falls from the sky, this time held up by balloons, as the player guides him by drawing clouds down to the ground where Yoshi waits to catch him. He then rides on Yoshi's back for the rest of that level of the game. In some game modes, Baby Mario can again finds the power-up that turns him into Super Baby Mario, making him temporarily invincible.
Baby Mario will also star in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time with his brother, his older self, and his brother's older self. His abilities in battle appear to be identical to those of his older self. The game explains the co-existence of the two sets of brothers in this game by saying that Mario and Luigi are sent back in time to a period when they were still babies.
Mario first appeared in the video game Donkey Kong as Jumpman. The game was surprisingly successful, and when the Nintendo Entertainment System was released, Mario was given the starring role in the revolutionary Super Mario Bros. game.
Mario's distinctive look is due to technology restrictions in the mid-'80s: with a limited number of pixels and colors, the programmers could not animate Mario's movement without making his arms "disappear" if his shirt was a solid color; they did not have the space to give him a mouth; and they could not animate hair, so Mario got overalls, a moustache, and a cap to bypass these problems. Mario's creator Shigeru Miyamoto has also stated when interviewed that Mario wears a cap because he finds it difficult to draw hair.
When Mario was first conceived, he looked, more or less, as he does today: a short, plump man with the trademark hat, brown hair, black mustache and overalls. He normally wears blue overalls on top of a red shirt, but such was not always the case. Originally, he wore red overalls on top of a blue shirt — almost exactly opposite what he wears now. The American Super Mario Bros. 2 was the first appearance of his modern outfit (the box had the red overalls-on-blue shirt, but the game itself had a blue overalls-on-red shirt); however, it was Super Mario Bros. 3 that standardized today's blue overalls-on-red shirt outfit. (Incidentally, the original Super Mario Bros. has neither in-game; Mario wears a brown shirt with red overalls).
Mario's outfit rarely changes, though he's known to change it on occasion if the situation calls for it. For example, in Super Mario Sunshine, Mario wore short sleeves instead of his usual long sleeved shirt, and could even forgo this entirely in favor of a more tropical shirt design worn over his normal shirt, which he always wore with sunglasses.
Miyamoto created many of the elements in the Mario world from ideas he had seen in other media. One of his most recognizable contributions to his Mario universe is the Super Mushroom, which would enlarge Mario until he got damaged by an enemy. This idea was derived from the "Eat me" cakes and "Drink me" potions in the Lewis Carroll story, Alice in Wonderland, after he was forced to shrink the original sketches of Mario because they were too big.  The concept behind warp pipes, colored tubes which sometimes transport Mario to another area, was adopted from Star Trek.
The surname "Mario" (which would make his full name Mario Mario) was first used in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, and then in the 1993 feature film Super Mario Bros. This was meant to explain how both Mario and his brother Luigi could be known as the "Mario brothers". The canonity of this fact in the games is not yet confirmed.
Mario has taken on the role of mascot of Nintendo and has since been extensively merchandised. Mario's major rival was Sega mascot Sonic the Hedgehog who debuted in the early 1990s; the two mascots competed head-to-head for nearly a decade afterward, until around 2001 when a Sonic game showed up on a Nintendo console due to Sega's new third party status - thus ending a lengthy rivalry.
Mario is generally kind hearted and heroic. In Mario vs. Donkey Kong, it is shown that he tends to speak his native Italian tongue when he's angry.
Abilities and techniques
Despite his apparently chubby appearance, Mario's most prominent feature is his athletic jumping ability. At first, that was the extent of it — just jumping — but more abilities were built on top of this. When he runs fast, he jumps higher than normal, which, given the right power-up, is required to fly; in later games he will stick his arms out behind him when at maximum speed to signify the proper jumping time. Super Mario Bros. 3 secretly gives little Mario (before a Super Mushroom) the ability to jump off of a wall to attain even more height, notably in the sixth world. Super Mario World added the ability to spin-jump, which allows Mario to break bricks beneath him if he is of sufficient size to do so, without the requirement for another power-up or a Koopa Shell. Later, Super Mario 64 added the ability to jump higher with consecutive jumps, as well as a long jump, a back-flip, and a ground pound. It also made jumping off of walls much simpler to accomplish. Sunshine then re-introduced the spin jump, which makes Mario fall slower than a normal jump (though he jumps no higher).
When Mario obtains a Super Mushroom, he becomes Super Mario. In this form Mario has the ability to break bricks with his fist, at the cost of possibly being unable to maneuver in small gaps. If an enemy hits him, he turns back into normal Mario again. This is one of the most common power ups in the series, although the 3D games have not used them (the remake of Super Mario 64, Super Mario 64 DS, adds this powerup).
Originally, there were few powerups for Mario to collect. The first game to feature a powerup was Donkey Kong arcade game. It has a hammer in each level that can be used to hit barrels. The later Super Mario Bros. includes the Super Mushroom, the Fire Flower and the Starman. The Fire Flower transforms either regular Mario (doubling his size) or Super Mario into Fire Mario. It gives him the ability to throw fireballs from his hands, and in later games, he is able to throw fireballs in a circle when he spins.
In Super Mario Land, instead of
fireballs, Mario throws superballs,
which bounce off walls. Like the Super
Mushroom, it has since disappeared from
the newer games. In remakes of the early
Mario games, Mario in a special form
will be transformed into Super Mario
instead of shrinking to regular Mario
The Starman gives Mario invincibility for ten seconds, also allowing Mario to defeat enemies just by touching them. It has not disappeared from the games entirely, in Super Mario 64 and Super Mario 64 DS, Mario (with help from Yoshi, Luigi and Wario in SM64DS) has to collect enough power stars to free the princess.
Super Mario Bros. 2 (the Japanese version) did not introduce new powerups, other than the Poison Mushroom (which is the opposite of the Super Mushroom, shrinking or killing Mario), making this the first game to add on to the list of powerups.
Super Mario Bros. 3 introduced several new powerups. It features the classic Super Mushroom, Fire Flower and Starman, and introduces several others, such as the Raccoon Leaf, which gives Mario the ability to fly, and swing a raccoon tail. Other popular powerups are the Tanooki Suit, the Hammer Bros. Suit and the Frog Suit. Super Mario Bros. 3 also featured the rare Kuribo's Shoe, which only appears in one level. The reason for its exclusiveness is that it would look blurry in a level with too few of a certain enemy, and the level in which the shoe is placed has many of them.
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins features the Fire Flower and introduced the Power Carrot, which causes bunny ears to appear on Mario's cap. When Mario flaps these ears, he is able to descend after a jump much slower than normal.
Mario using the Wing Cap in Super
Mario 64Super Mario 64 eliminated the
original powerups altogether. Mario has
three different powerups to choose from;
the Wing Cap, the Vanish Cap and the
Metal Cap. The Wing Cap allows Mario to
fly, the Vanish Cap allows him to go
through certain walls, and the Metal Cap
makes him sink in water. Super Mario 64
DS made some changes, making it so that
only Mario can use the Wing Cap. Luigi
gained the exclusive ability to use the
Vanish Cap, and Wario gained the
exclusive ability to use the Metal Cap.
Two new powers, the Balloon powerup
(from Super Mario World), which can only
be used by Mario, and fire, which, if
eaten by Yoshi, can be spit onto certain
Mario also has the ability to kick shells around to knock over enemies and break bricks. In Super Mario Bros. 2, he had to pick various objects from the ground and toss them at his enemies to defeat them, ranging from vegetables to his enemies themselves. Keys were also present for opening locked doors, but were also handy as a weapon or platform. Super Mario Bros. 3 implemented this act of picking things up, but instead of being on top of them to pick them up, Mario must come at them from the side with the pick-up button held, and release the pick-up button to kick it. Super Mario World extended this ability to include vertical kicking, as well as keys that could be picked up and put into keyholes to open secret levels.
Super Mario World also features Mario's ally, Yoshi, quite prominently. When riding a Yoshi, Mario can clear spiky terrain and stomp foes that he otherwise cannot. Also, Yoshi can eat almost any foe; if he eats a Koopa Shell, he can spit it back out, or swallow it for a possible special power. (In the Game Boy Advance re-release, Luigi, when controlling Yoshi, has the option of spitting out any opponent that would otherwise be eaten.) Blue shells make them fly for a short period of time, red shells make Yoshi spit fireballs, yellow shells make Yoshi conjure dust when he touches the ground from jumping, wiping out any enemies in his path, and a flashing color shell allows for all of these abilities at once. Yoshi usually comes only in the color green, but in Star Road he can be found in blue, red, and yellow, which, when fully-grown, will have the corresponding special shell effect as a default when any shell is eaten. In some other cases, the food he consumes can turn into eggs which provide various powerups for Mario. Yoshi's basic abilities were expanded upon for Yoshi's Island. Super Mario World introduced two items that have never appeared since: a moon that gives Mario three extra lives, and the magic feather, an item that gives Mario a cape and allows him to fly.
Mario wears the FLUDD in Super Mario Sunshine, which extends his jumping abilities further. Given enough water and the right nozzle, Mario can hover across large gaps (while going upward very slightly), propel himself upward with great force, or propel himself forward at phenomenal speeds. The game in question is centered heavily around this added jumping maneuverability, though it frequently takes away the FLUDD for a few jumping-only segments.
In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, as opposed to power-ups, Mario has "curses" placed on him by Demons in black chests. These curses are actually helpful, giving him new abilities. The first curse gives the ability to turn into a paper airplane at certain points, allowing Mario to fly through the air. The second curse gives the ability to turn sideways, allowing Mario to go through small passageways. The third gives the ability to roll up into a roll of paper in order to get under some obstacles, and with the final ability Mario can turn into a paper boat at certain points, allowing him to traverse through the waters.
In "Super Smash Brothers Melee", Mario gained a new ability, though not closely related to the original games. The cape, with the ability to deflect attacks, and the ability to use fire as a close ranged weapon. And, the tornado, closely related to the spin he does in the original games. He also has an attack called Super Jump Punch. This attack makes coins appear in midair when it connects, and it hits multiple times. It also is useful in order to get back onto the edge of the arena.
Mario's first appearance was a prominent role in 1981's Donkey Kong. The game was so successful that he was given a starring role in the first game for Nintendo's Nintendo Entertainment System. Super Mario Bros. sold over 40 million copies (pack-in copies included) and overall, Mario games have sold over approximately 152 million copies worldwide, with Super Mario Bros. 3 holding the record for most copies of a non pack-in video game sold, with over 17 million copies sold.
The Mario series has created or made popular many features seen in modern games, including multiple endings, minibosses, warp zones, etc. Many platformer games such as the Pac-Man World series also use the "jump on platforms and enemies" method for play created by Nintendo.
Super Mario 64 was the one of the first games to feature an established 2D video game character in a 3D environment in 1996 (Mario's main rival, Sonic, had some cameos in Daytona USA and BUG! prior to Super Mario 64, but it would be a long time until his first truly-3D game). The premise was to collect the 120 Power Stars in 15 worlds to free Princess Peach from Bowser. Since then, all console-based Mario games have been in 3D.
In leaping from two to three dimensions, Super Mario 64 replaced the linear obstacle courses of traditional platform games with vast worlds set up with multiple and diverse missions, with an emphasis on exploration. While doing so, it managed nonetheless to preserve the feel of earlier Mario games, including many of their gameplay elements and characters. It is widely acclaimed by critics and players alike as one of the greatest games of all time.
Mario games have also been released in genres besides platform games. Mario starred in many educational games by Interplay in the mid-1990s (such as Mario is Missing!, which was Luigi's first starring role in a Mario-themed game), RPGs (Super Mario RPG, Paper Mario), sports games (Mario Golf, Mario Tennis, Super Mario Strikers, Mario Superstar Baseball), racing games (Mario Kart), puzzle games (Dr. Mario), party games (Mario Party series), Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix and over 100 other games.
Mario has appeared on his own television show, comic books, and in a feature film where he was played by Bob Hoskins. He has also appeared on lunchboxes, t-shirts, in candy form, and as a plush toy. There was even a book series, the Nintendo Adventure Books. In addition, a monthly comic based off of Super Mario World was included as one of Nintendo Power magazine's first regular comic series.
In the earlier days of the NES and Game Boy, Mario did several cameos, usually in the early sports-titles on both systems. Often he was depicted as the referee, such as in Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! or the Game Boy version of Tennis, but was also the playable character in both versions of Nintendo's early Golf-title. However some of his other cameos were more bizarre, such as the one in the Breakout-clone Alleyway which featured Mario on the game's box-art and also at the beginning of each stage where Mario jumps "in to" the paddle. He was also featured on the Game Over screen for the Game Boy version of Qix dressed in Mexican clothes, playing a guitar in the desert next to a cactus with a vulture perched on it.
In 1999, Mario was included in the cast for Nintendo's popular fighting game, Super Smash Bros., for the Nintendo 64. He returned with the cast from the original in the 2001 GameCube sequel, Super Smash Bros. Melee. He is sometimes considered a well-balanced character and is easy for most players to use. His brother Luigi appears in both games as a secret character.
There are a few small exceptions; he has appeared in several PC educational titles in the United States, some very early games for non-Nintendo systems such as the Atari 2600, and on the Philips CD-i (Philips made several games (including Hotel Mario) featuring Nintendo characters for their Philips CD-i, which was the result of a compromise with Nintendo over failing to release a joint CD-ROM product).
He has also recently acquired his own set of game programs playable on the TI-83 graphing calculator.
Mario has been Nintendo's silent protagonist in such role-playing games as Super Mario RPG, as well as the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi series.
This Mario Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub