Happy MAR10 Day, everyone! It's that time of year when we honor one of our favorite Nintendo characters and his long legacy of games. If you've played any of Mario's adventures, then you know some of his up and downs through the years, but there are still some crazy things some players don't know about him. To celebrate this special day, I've put together a collection of 10 Mario facts. See if any of these are new to you.
1. Mario's first appearance was in Donkey Kong
The 1981 arcade platformer, Donkey Kong, was the first game created by Shigeru Miyamoto, but it was also technically the first Mario game. It involved a large monkey throwing barrels down slopes, and players had to control a character named Jumpman to the top of each level while dodging the monkey's projectiles to save the princess. Jumpman would later be renamed Mario.
Another interesting thing to note is that Miyamoto originally wanted to create a Popeye game starring the titular sailor man, Brutus, and Olive. When Nintendo wasn't able to get the licensing required, Donkey Kong, Jumpman, and the princess were created in their place.
2. Mario was named after a real estate developer in Washington
Yes, really. In 1981, Nintendo was renting out a warehouse in Tukwila, Washington, to use as their American headquarters. According to NPR, a man named Mario Segale left an impression on his Nintendo tenants when he stormed into their offices demanding late rent. Even Segale's predilection for overalls and short stature seems to have influenced Mario's design through the years.
Segale passed away in 2018, but he's left an everlasting impression on Nintendo, embodied by the gaming company's mascot.
3. Mario has held 12 occupations
Throughout his 35 years, Mario has taken on several different roles. He actually started as a carpenter in the original Donkey Kong game before being put in his iconic role as a plumber. Of course, we've also seen him doling out pills as a doctor, don a construction worker's hat in Super Mario Maker 2, and have also seen him take on quite a few athletic vocations. Here are his occupations to date.
- Martial Artist
- Baseball Player
- Soccer Player
- Basketball Player
- Pro Golfer
- Tennis Player
- Construction Worker
- Olympic Athlete
4. Mario was a villain in Donkey Kong Junior
This was the direct arcade sequel to the original Donkey Kong game. Fed up with Donkey Kong's kidnapping ways, Mario puts him in a cage. Little did he know Donkey Kong Junior would come to save his daddy. Players navigate the small ape through various levels until they save Donkey Kong.
Not convinced Nintendo intended for Mario to actually be a villain here? The Japanese gaming company had given him a slight redesign with a large nose, jutting chin, and a curly mustache. He basically was made to look like a spindly silver screen villain who ties women to railroad tracks. In fact, give him a purple hat and shirt, and he could be Waluigi.
5. Mario's nemesis was supposed to be an ox
Miyamoto originally envisioned an ox being Mario's biggest enemy after being influenced by an animated cartoon called Alakazam the Great. However, fellow designer Takashi Tezuka thought the ox character's drawings looked more like a turtle. After that, the two worked together to iron out a nefarious turtle-like Koopa leader who would go on to become Bowser.
6. Mario's video game voice actor showed up uninvited to the audition
Charles Martinet has voiced Mario, Luigi, Wario, Waluigi, and more Mushroom Kingdom characters since 1995. It's all thanks to a friend who urged him to go to an audition at a Las Vegas tradeshow that he had not been invited to. When Martinet showed up, the audition crew had already started to put away their gear. Fortunately, they still allowed him to try out for the role.
They explained, "You're an Italian plumber from Brooklyn, a character in a video game for Nintendo called Mario. So, make up a voice, make up a video game, and start talking, and when you stop, that's your audition." They further explained that they'd be using this real-time animation system where he'd have points glued to his face to make a cartoon Mario face on the tradeshow floor respond to his own facial movements. His job would be speaking to people of all ages as they passed by.
Initially, Martinet intended to go with a stereotypical rough New Yorker accent but changed to a lighter approach as he figured that would be a more friendly character for the children he might be interacting with. He says, "I started talking and didn't stop talking until the tape ran out." It turns out it was good that he showed up. His was the only audition tape that they sent back to Nintendo headquarters and he's voiced our favorite plumber from that point on.
7. Mario has a few Guinness World Records.
After 35 years, it's not surprising that Mario has set or even broken some records. Here are some of his most notable ones:
- The voice of Mario, Charles Martinet, holds the record for the most video game voiceover performances as the same character.
- As terrible as it is, the Super Mario Bros. film was the first-ever movie based on a video game.
- Mario holds the record for the most prolific video game character.
- He also holds the record for the longest-running video game character.
- The last big record Mario wins is for the best-selling videogame series of all time.
8. Mario is apparently killing Toads whenever he breaks a block
The real backstory for Mario and Mushroom Kingdom is actually pretty dark. This is taken directly from the manual for Super Mario Bros.:
The revelation that bricks and evil plants are actually Toads makes some sense. The Piranha Plants do have similar coloring to Toad's heads, and I mean, this kind of explains why you sometimes get a Mushroom when you hit a Block. Yeesh. It kind of makes you feel like a monster for collecting all those coins, doesn't it?
9. Mario doesn't have a last name
Many people have speculated Mario and Luigi's last names over the years. However, Nintendo officially says the brothers don't have one. Despite this, the 1993 Super Mario Bros. film had a funny solution. Since Mario and Luigi are referred to as the Mario brothers, that would mean their last name was, in fact, Mario, thereby making the plumbers' names Mario Mario and Luigi Mario. Miyamoto once explained to Game Informer how this part of the movie was amusing to him but isn't considered canon.
This basically means that Mario is on a Madonna or Cher level-tier of cool and doesn't need extra words to tie him down. I mean, it's true. You say Mario and everyone immediately thinks red hat and overalls.
On a side note, the princess in the movie was actually named Daisy, not Peach. Weird, huh?
10. Mario has been in over 255 games, with more on the way
Yes, Mario has been a busy man over the last few decades. Obviously, we know there are plenty of core Super Mario games out there like Super Mario Odyssey or the turn-based RPG series Paper Mario. Then there are all of the party games like Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart, Mario Tennis, and Mario Party. That's not even counting all of his mobile games, computer learning games, and others that fill out Mario's large repertoire.
Ranking Mario games always leads to a heated debate as people try to figure out which Mario games are the best of all time, but this just proves how much of an impact Mario has had on us through the years.
Obscure Mario facts
Hopefully, you learned something new about Nintendo's mascot. It's crazy to see where he came from and what has helped define who he is over the years.
Happy MAR10 Day, Mario! We look forward to playing your games in the following years.
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Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.