Mario. You say the name and almost anyone will
instantly associate it with what is arguably the most recognizable character to
ever hit the videogame world. The theme
song is iconic, his features are undeniable, and slap the name on any product
almost guarantees instant success. But
how much do we know about the man besides his love for a variety of colourful mushrooms
and blondes in dresses (hey, sounds like a great Friday night, yaaaamean?? *wink

Well, lets start at the beginning of the hugely successful plumber
with the Italian accent (and we all love a man with an accent, don’t we?). Mario is 27 years old. He first made his appearance in the industry in
1981 with the instantly successful arcade classic, Donkey Kong,
appearing as a character called “Jumpman” who was trying to save his girl,
Pauline, from a large, barrel throwing ape. In 1985 Jumpman became known as Mario in the launch
title for the NES, Super Mario Bros. The character was named for Mario Segali, The landlord of the first offices for Nintendo
of America, who reportedly busted a meeting once just to demand the rent. After finding Mario Segali and Jumpman
shared strikingly similar features, they changed the name of the character to

Since 1995, the voice of our beloved icon has been provided
by a man named Charles Martinet, who showed up to the audition at the last
minute as the recruiters were gathering their stuff to leave. They gave him a shot, and the Italian Brooklyn
accent, softened for the sake of children, is what’s remained since. Martinet also provides the voice acting for
other notable characters, such as Luigi, Wario, Waluigi, and Toadsworth in most
games where these characters have speaking roles. His voice is also used in both English and
Japanese versions of Mario titles. However, we all know by now Mario is a man of very few words, tending to
lend himself only to a few very well known catch phrases such as “here we go!”
and “yahoooo!” and leaving the talking
bits up to the other characters involved. Even in games where all dialog is written, we find Mario still doesn’t
have much to say… as can be seen in Super Mario RPG. We have learned over what is almost 3 decades
this man is all action, little talk.

Mario’s never had a confirmed girlfriend since Pauline back
in 1981. Like most Nintendo characters,
relationships besides those of friendship remain ambiguous, most likely for the
kids. Oftentimes, the payout for
rescuing a damsel in distress is a simple kiss on the cheek as seen countless
times involving Princess Toadstool, and once in 1989 with Daisy. Despite what is quite obviously mutual
affection, we have never and probably will never receive any confirmation Princess
Toadstool and Mario are anything but friends. But this ambiguity doesn’t stop at loving relationships between
characters. Even the history Mario and
Bowser share is, at times, blurred. Even
though Bowser is always running off with Mario’s supposed love interest, they
have at times joined forces as a means of combating a common enemy, Super Mario
RPG comes to mind for this. Yoshi is
Mario’s most notable friend.

Mario’s only real rival in the industry was Sonic the
Hedgehog, who emerged as the posterboy for Sega in 1991. Up until Sega became a third party company in 2001, these two mascots
battled a bitter rivalry, but now appear in games together, such as the newly
released Super Smash Brothers: Brawl.

So there you have it, the ins and outs of one of the most
loved characters in gaming of all time. The sweet, gentle plumber, who accepts just a single kiss for risking
life and limb to save the girl, who says very little but represents so very
much, who has captured the hearts of millions, is likely to remain around for still decades to come. One thing is for sure: they don’t make ‘em
like they used to.

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