Pride, Prejudice, and Plumbing: The Story of Mario (Part I)


Hey guys it’s Sam, and we all know that when you usually can’t find out about some source, you dive into your local library, in school or not, or try to trust online sources. And as we all know, you can’t trust anyone from the mouth, so should you be able to trust someone from the keyboard? Either way, you’re definitely gonna learn something today, because I’m gonna be teaching you about one of gaming’s biggest icons and mascots. Here are a couple hints: he’s short, pudgy, has a bushy mustache, wears a red cap, and has blue overalls. Does it ring a bell? He’s one of Nintendo’s most famed, familiar, and simply best characters ever created under Shigeru Miyamoto’s name. He is Mario, one of the coolest, sweetest plumbers I’ve seen…well, the only plumber I’ve seen.

Our beloved Red Rivet (c’mon, the Blue Blur was a sweet-enough nickname for Sonic) actually did not debut in the classic Super Mario Bros in ’85, nor was it Mario Bros in ’83, but it was actually Donkey Kong in ’81. In that platformer-pioneering game, Mario was originally known as Jumpman, and he was originally intended to make his way up to his kidnapped girlfriend and defeat his own pet ape that turned against him after mistreatment. In this game, Mario was only a carpenter, and his profession was altered in Mario Bros to the plumber he is today. Mario was given such bright clothing, like his overalls, to make sure his actions were visualized. His red cap came in because the limited mid-80s video game programming animation made it difficult for enabling Mario’s hair to wave when he jumped. Mario jumped into the platformer kind of game after originally being set to escape a maze lacking the ability to jump. Miyamoto, the man that created Mario in the first place, gave him a new genre tone because “if you had a barrel rolling towards you, what would you do?”

Miyamoto conceived Mario in the first place while developing Donkey Kong (no big surprise there), trying to think of a title that could sum up for all of Nintendo’s past coin-op failures, such as the game Sheriff. What is Sheriff? Well, exactly. Mario’s full name has not been fully announced by Nintendo, although it is not “Mario Mario”, despite the inference of the Mario Bros. series title, its use in the ’93 movie, and info from the Prima guidebook for Superstar Saga.

Title says all. The games in their chronological orders are: MARIO BROS. (1981), SUPER MARIO BROS. (1985), SUPER MARIO BROS. 2 (1987), SUPER MARIO BROS. 3 (1990), SUPER MARIO WORLD (1991), SUPER MARIO 64 (1996), SUPER MARIO SUNSHINE (2002), SUPER SMASH BROS. BRAWL (2008).

Mario originally intended to be named “Mr. Video”, and was also planned to appear in every Nintendo game that hit the markets. But the idea of the name “Mr. Video” was scrapped because Miyamoto believed that this name would make our hero “[disappear] off the face of the Earth.” And it was one regular day in 1981 for Nintendo, and they were hosting a meeting trying to conceive a name in time for a game’s release. Suddenly, their landlord burst in, angrily demanding and confronting that they pay for a long-overdue rent they had gotten far behind in. That landlord’s name was Segali…Mario Segali. And it was after this being that our precious plumber got his name, as long as Segali received his share of cash. Believe me, mister…your name did more than just christen a plumber.

Mario has since appeared in several kinds of games, including racing (Mario Kart series), puzzle, party (Mario Party series), role-playing (Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars), fighting (Super Smash Bros. series), and sports (Mario Tennis, Mario Golf, Mario Super Sluggers, Super Mario Strikers, etc.).

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Here is some stuff I bet you didn’t even know about Mario. When you find out about this, you’ll be totally fascinated. I should know. I’m the person that’s giving it to you!

  • The notorious antagonist of the Mario saga, Bowser, was originally sketched out as an ox by Miyamoto, but accidental interpretation by a fellow animator turned him into a turtle after the two worked on it. And honestly, I think being a turtle fits Bowser way better, compared to the species of usual Mario enemies.
  • Recurring character Birdo, supposedly Yoshi’s love interest, is somewhat officially a dude, as stated in the Mario 2 instruction booklet.
  • The name of “Wario”, the malevolent yin to Mario’s gallant yang, was derived from the Japanese word “warui”, meaning “bad”. Both were either way voiced by Charles Martinet, who has been giving Mario the spice to his voice for 17 years now. The same thing most likely applies to Luigi’s yin Waluigi.
  • Koji Kondo, the rightful composer and sound arranger/advisor of 13 Mario titles, has had music that is known worldwide, especially the Super Mario Bros theme and its countless fan-made renditions. Heck, there was even a Mariorock opera back in ’03! Other titles he has composed for or done work for include the original Legend of Zelda among other LoZ titles, the original PilotwingsStar Fox and its N64 reboot, and the original NES Golf and Soccer.
  • Super Mario Bros. obviously enough used to hold the title of the most bestselling game in history with 40.24 million units, until it was degraded to 2nd place in 2006 by the Wii’s launch title Wii Sports. Nintendo making the two most bestselling games created? It’s like James Cameron directing the two highest-grossing movies created.
  • In 1999, Mario Golf hit the markets 3 years after Super Mario 64 pretty much made gaming history. Believe it or not, this was not the first golfing game starring Mario. There was a character resembling Mario in the original NES Golf, but he surely made an official appearance later in NES Open Tournament Golf, as well as Luigi, and Princesses Peach and Daisy.
  • Princess Peach has appeared in more games than any other female game character in gaming history, even people you’d suppose, like Samus Aran or Chun-Li. She was also originally known as Princess Toadstool ever since her debut in ’85, and, in the west (aka us), she held that name for 8 years until it was changed permanently in Yoshi’s Safari.

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So THIS is the currency system in Mushroom Kingdom. Hey, could you hook me up with, like, 30 of those?

‘Twas pretty fascinating, huh? Oh, back to our learning.

Mario also had a career outside of his namesake series. That’s right, folks, Mario also had a non-Mario life. Surprisingly enough, he serves as the referee of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!, and he is also playable in NBA Street V3 and SSX: On Tour, both by EA. He also makes cameos in both A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time as a portrait, and in Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, he appears as a minuscule statue. So all the peeps that own some or all of these games, ya better start keeping an eye out if you haven’t been already! According to kids, Mario is a more known icon than even Mickey Mouse, and that dude’s hard to beat. Mario has appeared in over 200 games since his debut, but it would probably take up a lot of space counting them all. See why this is only part one? And speaking of part one, looks like this is the end of part one!

But don’t worry! If you like, rate, comment, and jump on dat subscribe button’s head regularly, part two will come sooner than you think. Trust me, behind the dashboard, it’s almost always rush hour. Anyway, thanks for watching our show! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I got some 64-bit racing to get to. Now, if only I could stop slipping on that banana!…

- Sam

Question o’ The Day: If you could come up with and interpret any idea for a Mario power-up concept, what new power-up would you conceive?

p.s. Bro, Mario is literally my research paper topic! No, literally, he is, and I got a load of online sources to prove it. That stuff is so thick, I could literally write a novel with all that info! But of course, that’s some sort of copyright violation, isn’t it? I hope I used the right sources, and I also don’t think there’s much informational books about Mario out now, is there? But honestly, isn’t Mario such a good topic? I could’ve chosen Link or Samus or Fox McCloud, but I specifically chose Mario, and that’s all that matters…

(p.p.s. If you subscribe, I’ll stop talking so much!)