For history of a hero this week, we turn to a slightly unorthodox hero, but arguably one of the most heroic heroes of all time: Mario.
Since his original incarnation in 1981, Mario has appeared in over 200 games, and the Mario series in its entirety has sold over 210 million units, making it the best-selling video game franchise in history.
Some may ask, what makes Mario a hero. Quite simply, his continued efforts to save the Princess Peach. In the majority of the Mario games, Peach is kidnapped by one of Mario’s arch nemeses. As all villains do, they plan to take over the world, kill Mario and kidnap the Princess. But what always gets in his way? A small plumber with overalls, a moustache to be proud of and an Italian accent.
Mario was first born in the original Donkey Kong game in 1981, created by Shigeru Miyamoto. In this game he played the main protagonist, but he was originally named Mr Video, and was actually designed to look like a carpenter. The game had astonishing success, and the American team who reviewed it for the American market ended up naming this little red carpenter Mario, after their Boss of the time, Mario Segale.
It was during the creation of Mario Bros that they made him a plumber. The name Mario stuck, and due to the game being based underground, it made more sense for the protagonist to be a plumber. Due to hardware limitations of the time, Miyamoto clothed the character in Red overalls and a blue shirt, so that there was a contrast with each other and the background. A red cap was added to avoid the issue of animating hair and designing a hair style. His prominent features, i.e. his nose and moustache, made the need to have facial expressions on the small character almost non-existent.
Miyamoto designed the character as a go-to character that could be easily fed into a game as a cameo appearance. Miyamoto did this because he didn’t expect Mario to become that popular. Over time, as Mario’s influence grew, his clothing became more detailed. They added a Red M in a white circle on his hat, and gold buttons to his overalls.
Despite the growing success of Mario, Nintendo has never revealed Mario’s real name, only stating that it was not ‘Mario Mario’ as insinuated in the Mario Bros game title.
After the original Mario Bros came Super Mario Bros. This was the first game that had Mario saving the princess (who was then known as Princess Toadstool) from the evil King Koopa. Then Came Super Mario Bros 2, where the player could change between Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad, each character having a different special ability. Bowser didn’t first appear until Super Mario Bros 3. Then came Super Mario land, where Peach was kidnapped by an Alien known as Tatanga, and Mario fights his way to the Alien ship and suitably destroys it. Then came Super Mario World, where Peach is again kidnapped by Bowser from a dinosaur world. This game introduced the Yoshis, dinosaurs from the dinosaur world, and they help rescue Peach by letting the brothers ride on them.
The sequel to Super Mario World came in 2 parts, 6 gold coins, which introduces Wario to the team, and ‘Yoshi’s island’ where baby Luigi is taken and baby Mario is dropped on Yoshi’s island, home to the Yoshis.
Mario made the jump into 3D in Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64. Princess Peach writes a letter inviting him to her castle for cake, but yet again the rather gullible sounding Princess is kidnapped, and Mario must fight his way around the castle to find 120 power stars so that he can save his beloved Princess once more. In this game, portraits within the castle are portals to other worlds where Bowser’s minions guard the stars. As he gains more stars he gains access to more portals, and he traverses 3 obstacle courses that lead to Bowser battles. Upon defeating Bowser the first 2 times, he gains a key to another part of the castle, which holds more portals and thus more stars. Once he beats Bowser for the 3rd and final time he gets a key to rescue Princess Peach, who thanks her saviour by baking him the cake that she promised.
Then the series soared through. Games like New Super Mario Bros came out, followed by Super Mario Galaxy, then Super Mario Galaxy 2 and so on.
Throughout this time, Mario had many spin-offs to the series. Super Mario Kart, Mario Golf, Mario Tennis, Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games and many more titles. Obviously, with 200 games to his name, I’d be a fool to try and name them all.
So there you go a brief history into the Princess-saving plumber and his creation. I think Mario deserves to be a hero purely because of his determination to rescue someone who get’s kidnapped every time a bad guy comes within 100 miles of her.