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It’s the greatest game series of all time, and Super Mario is 25 years old today. To celebrate, they put together 25 Mario trivia pieces. Take some blue dungarees and take on an imprecise Italian accent, it’s Mario time!
1. Mario was developed by Shigeru Miyamoto and appeared in the game designer’s first title, the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong. Miyamoto was hired as a graphic artist by Nintendo in 1977 and hired to develop a game after several of the company’s early coins failed to make an impact in the lucrative arcade market. Donkey Kong was made with the hardware of an old arcade title called Radar Scope that sank without a trace in the United States. Miyamoto dropped the shooting theme and added monkey barrels and scrolls. The success came, of course.
2. Mario was originally known as Jumpman. However, when Nintendo’s US office tried to come up with a better name for the game’s American release, they were interrupted by landlord Mario Segale, after whom they named the character.
3. Mario was originally a carpenter, not a plumber. He also stepped as a doctor in the 1990 flop title Dr. Mario and its sequels.
4. Mario’s appearance is all about the graphical limitations of the hardware at the moment. He has a hat because his realistic hair was difficult to depict, a mustache to accentuate his nose, and a feather to make his arm movements more visible. In Super Mario Bros., he wears a brown shirt under his overalls – a look that was quickly abandoned.
5. Donkey Kong Jr, the 1982 sequel to Donkey Kong, is the only game that Mario is officially an antagonist. He’s locked poor Donkey Kong in a cage and the monkey’s son has to save him. In the game’s promotional material, Mario even gets a specially twirled mustache to emphasize his unhealthy nature.
6. By contrast, Bowser, the main antagonist of the Super Mario Bros. franchise, came across as a good guy too. He helps Mario in the 1996 title Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.
7. Super Mario Bros. preceded the arcade game Mario Bros. in 1983. Designed by Miyamoto and Game Boy creator Gunpei Yokoi, it is set in the New York sewers and features Mario’s brother Luigi.
8. Bowser was originally sketched as an ox by Miyamoto, but his drawings were misinterpreted as a turtle by animator Yoichi Kotabe. The duo worked together on the final idea and the Bowser we know today was born. However, he is definitely a turtle and not a dragon as some believe.
9. Mario’s unearthly version – Wario – first appeared as an enemy in the Game Boy title Super Mario Land 2. It was designed by Hiroji Kiyotake, who also created Samus Aran, the heroine of the Metroid series. Wario’s name mixes Mario with the Japanese adjective “warui”, which means evil.
10. The first Super Mario Bros. game sold 40.24 million copies, although that number is skewed by the fact that it came with the Nintendo Entertainment System console. However, it was considered the best-selling game of all time until recently. It was pushed to second place by Wii Sports with 41.65 million units.
11. Super Mario Bros. was the first game in Mushroom World, Miyamoto’s long and evolving fantasy realm. When Mario “eats” a super mushroom, it grows in size and skill. Miyamoto denies that he was influenced by Alice in Wonderland, claiming instead that the idea came from foods enchanted in myth and folklore.
12. Mario made his first appearance in a sports simulation in the 1984 game Nintendo Golf Entertainment System. So so. The original character was simply similar to Mario, while the later NES Golf Open Tournament featured Mario specifically as a golfer. On the cover he appears in red and white overalls, with a starry blue shirt. A great outfit.
13. The Nintendo composer Koji Kondo provided the legendary Super Mario Bros. soundtrack. The main theme, known as the “Ground Theme,” is one of the most famous songs ever recorded. The tune stayed on Billboard’s ringer boards for 125 weeks and was performed in concerts by live orchestras.
14. The original Super Mario Bros 2 was designed and released as the harder version of the first game to support the Famicom Disk System, a new addition to the Japanese version of the Nintendo Entertainment System. However, it was deemed too difficult for the western version, so the US and Europe received a tweaked version of the 1987 title, Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic. The game was hastily put together with Mario characters in a kind of digital cut-and-close job. In 1993, the real SMB2 was finally released in the west as Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels, part of the Super Mario All-Stars collection.
15. The AQ score exam in the early nineties found that Mario was more recognizable to American children than Mickey Mouse.
16. The Super Mario Bros 3 film appears in the climax scene of the haunting 1989 film The Wizard, about an emotionally withdrawn gaming champion. Since this was the first chance for US Nintendo fanatics to see the game, the film effectively acted as an advertisement for the release.
17. The new Chain Chomp enemies in Super Mario Bros 3 look like black steel balls with sharp teeth. They were inspired by an incident in Miyamoto’s childhood when a neighbor’s dog chased the terrified genius before being pulled back from his chain.
18. Elsewhere, the Whomp characters of Super Mario 64 were inspired by a mythological being known as Nurikabe, a “wall spirit” who misleads or hinders travelers at night.
19. … and the versions of Boo’s ghost enemies found in Super Mario 64 are based on the wife of game co-designer Takashi Tezuka. As Miyamoto explained in an interview with Nintendo Power magazine, “Mr. Tezuka came up with the idea of bringing his wife into the game. His wife is very calm, but one day she exploded, crazy for all the time he spent at work. There is now a character in the game who will shrink when Mario looks at him, but when Mario walks away he will grow and threaten. “
20. The Game Boy title Super Mario Land, released in 1989, was the first major Mario game to be developed without Miyamoto. However, producer Gunpei Yokoi didn’t do much harm: the game moved over 18 million times. The game also features a new female character, Princess Daisy, who replaces Mario’s usual love interest, Princess Peach.
21. The 1993 film Super Mario Bros. was Hollywood’s first attempt at making a video game. For Bob Hoskins and Dennis Hopper, it was a critical and commercial failure that resulted in giving the game a darker, more adult look. Apparently, Dustin Hoffman became interested in the role of Mario since his kids were fans of the game.
22. Since 1995, Mario’s voice has been provided by the American voice actor Charles Martinet. He also speaks to Wario and Luigi.
23. The Wii hit Super Mario Galaxy was inspired by a tech demo called Super Mario 128 that was shown at the 2000 Nintendo Space World event. The demo showed dozens of tiny Marios walking on a slightly curved surface. When designing the Gamecube Galaxy, Yoshiaki Koizumi thought that spherical levels would be an interesting setting for Mario, but Miyamoto apparently wasn’t convinced at first. Eventually Koizumi showed several levels of testing and the project went green for the Wii.
24. The Super Mario Bros series is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the most successful game franchise of all time. Over 240 million units are now sold worldwide.
25. Mario has appeared in over 200 video game games.