The character Mario was created by Shigeru Miyamoto as part of the 1981 video game Donkey Kong. Shigeru would go on to design Luigi, who would appear in the 1983 arcade game Mario Brothers.
If you want to learn more about the humble beginnings of the man who created Mario and Luigi, keep reading.
You probably didn’t know that the game’s protagonist, Mario, did not make his Nintendo debut in this game. He had previously appeared in Donkey Kong, a popular arcade game.
However, it wasn’t until the NES that he achieved unrivaled Superstardom. Mario is now merely an icon, a mascot for Nintendo. Its name will live on in popular culture for the rest of the time. The games he appears in have also become mainstream hits.
The original sits comfortably atop the list as the best-selling Nintendo game with over 40 million units sold. Following the success of the first SMB, the company released additional titles.
Today, it has grown into a massive franchise with a revenue of more than $30 billion. You may have known Mario since the day he was released, but did you know the brilliant mind behind his creation? Here’s more information about the Super Mario Creator:
Shigeru Miyamoto: The Man Behind Most Famous Nintendo Superstars (Mario and Luigi)
Nintendo had been in the industry for a long time before Mario entered the picture. In 1889, the company began as a Hanafuda manufacturer. Hanafuda, for the record, is a type of Japanese gambling card.
Nintendo attempted to find alternative sources of income in 1889. In addition to love hotels, it also tapped into the home computer market because of Atari’s huge success with its console. In 1977, Nintendo released its Color TV-Game Home system, which was a commercial success. The company then sought out another niche to focus on.
Arcade machines were popular at the time. Nintendo recognized the opportunity and released 3,000 machines to play Radar Scope, designed specifically for the cabinets.
Unfortunately, the product was a commercial flop, with nearly two-thirds of the units remaining unsold. On the bright side, the blunder resulted in the creation of Donkey Kong and Mario, which marked the company’s triumph.
How Miyamoto Created Mario
Shigeru Miyamoto stepped in after Nintendo’s misfortune with Radar Scope. The company hired him to come up with something that could turn things around. What appeared to be his weakness turned out to be his strength.
Shigeru Miyamoto was never a programmer, so his approach to the game differed from what a programmer would do if given the job. He wasn’t too concerned with hardware or anything like that. Instead, he began by developing a compelling story. The project was inspired by the Popeye cartoon, which was already a household name at the time.
Of course, it wasn’t an exact duplicate. Donkey Kong was portrayed in the new game as an ape mistreated by his owner, Jumpman. Because he was still known as Jumpman, the name ‘Mario’ didn’t exist yet. Kong kidnapped a lady who turned out to be Jumpman’s love interest to exact revenge on his master. To set her free, he had to climb up ladders and platforms.
Donkey Kong was a success, but Nintendo wasn’t satisfied right away. Donkey Kong Jr, a sequel to this game, was released in 1982, and Mario appeared as an antagonist. This game was significant in his development because he was renamed Mario from Jumpman. His stint in the role was short-lived.
By the time Super Mario Bros. was released, he had turned back into the good guy. Meanwhile, Bowser has inherited the villain title that was previously bestowed upon him.
The Era of Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. became a catalyst for the titular character’s popularity. Mario received his own platform on a new system following the success of the Donkey Kong series. He was ported from arcade machines to a home console, the Nintendo Entertainment System, also known as the NES. Both the game and the console were a huge success.
Miyamoto stated that the project’s goal was to create a game with open sky and underwater settings. He also wanted to incorporate them into a side-scrolling design. Rather than computerized images, hand-drawn sketches were used in the early stages of development. When it comes to Mario, the main protagonist, he is portrayed as a plumber.
As we all know, his first appearance in Donkey Kong was as a carpenter because the game’s setting suited this profession better. However, because much of the game took place underground in Super Mario Bros., transforming him into a plumber made perfect sense
Mario’s Physical Appearance
Graphics in the 1980s were crude in retrospect. Characters were rendered in low quality, which Mario couldn’t avoid. He was designed with very simple graphics, unlike what we will see in the upcoming installments.
Because animating hair was difficult, they gave him a hat, which has now become a trademark for him. Mario is also known for his short stature, stubby build, rotund belly, and large nose. These were the character’s primary characteristics.
Having said that, Mario didn’t always wear the same outfit in each game. Although we can’t deny that he’s synonymous with blue overalls and a red hat, he does wear something different on occasion. For example, in the original Mario Bros., he wears red overalls. You can double-check the game to be sure.
Anyone who has been following Mario for a while will notice that he has changed over the years. As previously stated, blue overalls and a red hat are Mario’s go-to outfits nowadays. Still, in the original title, Mario wore red overalls. The gameplay would also set the tone for the rest of the series.
The original Super Mario Bros. series revolved entirely around 2D side-scrolling games. Although it has since branched into other genres, this playstyle has been preserved to this day. It’s even made an appearance in the New Super Mario Bros. series. He was on a quest to save Princess Toadstool from Bowser in the original Mario Bros.
Other characters, in addition to the ones mentioned above, appear in the subsequent games. The same is true for power-ups such as the Fire Flower and Big Mushroom.
In terms of mechanics, Super Mario Bros. 2 was a significant departure from its predecessor. In the original, Mario took center stage, but in this version, he shares the spotlight with three other playable characters: Toad, Princess Toad, and Luigi. The game, based on Doki Doki Panic, was released in October 1988.
Aside from a change in characters, the game also assigned Mario a new play style. He no longer stomped on enemies to kill them. Instead, he had to gather items and throw them at the evil creatures to kill them. Another distinguishing feature is Luigi’s stature. Luigi appeared in the first Mario game, but he was nothing more than a palette swap.
Luigi, on the other hand, looked completely different in SMB2. His features were more defined, allowing us to distinguish him from his fraternal brother. Luigi was depicted as being taller and skinnier.
Super Mario Bros. 3 was yet another attempt to diversify the game, and the company succeeded admirably. Mario received yet another makeover, which is visible throughout the game. In addition to his standard outfit, he can be seen wearing a raccoon suit, a hammer suit, and a frog suit. All of these suits have unique abilities, so it’s exciting to try them on.
Many other games followed, but perhaps the most significant breakthrough for the franchise in graphics was Super Mario Mario 64, which marked the character’s first foray into the true 3D experience. The entire thing took place in a 3D environment, and Mario’s moves extended beyond jumping and running. He could pound the ground, triple jump, crawl and do a variety of other things.
Mario and Luigi Inventor: Wrapping Up
Super Mario Bros. has come a long way. Only recently the game celebrated its 35th anniversary. Although it has spawned countless titles and spin-offs, Mario remains the most important character in the franchise. In fact, he’s touted as the face of video games thanks to its unprecedented impact on the industry. Back when people started to lose interest in video games, Mario brought back that spark again.
And now, the gaming industry is blooming with many new games flooding the market. The thing is Mario is here to stay. Shigeru Miyamoto did the right thing with this character. Not just Mario, you might be surprised to find out that he’s also responsible for other Nintendo’s masterpieces like the Legend of Zelda.
With all these achievements, it makes sense that he’s awarded the Person of Cultural Merit. It’s a prestigious title given by the Japanese Government to those who’ve made great cultural contributions to the country. Miyamoto is very deserving of the title because if it wasn’t for him, Mario wouldn’t have existed. And without Mario, we’d never know the state of video game industry today.