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Mario (マリオ Mario) is a fictional character in his video game series, created by Japanese video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto. Serving as Nintendo's mascot and the main protagonist of the series, Mario has appeared in over 200 video games since his creation. Though originally only appearing in platform games, starting with Donkey Kong, Mario currently appears in varied video game genres such as racing, puzzle, party, role-playing, fighting, and sports. Mario is depicted as a short, pudgy, Italian-American plumber who lives in the Mushroom Kingdom. He repeatedly stops the turtle-like villain Bowser's numerous plans to kidnap Princess Peach and take over the kingdom. Mario also has other enemies and rivals, including Donkey Kong and Wario. Since 1995, he has been voiced by Charles Martinet. As Nintendo's mascot, Mario is said to be the most famous character in video game history. Mario games, as a whole, have sold more than 210 million units, making the Mario series the best-selling video game series of all time. Outside of platform games, he has appeared in video games of other genres, including the Mario Kart racing series, sports games, such as the Mario Tennis and Mario Golf series, role-playing games such as Paper Mario and Super Mario RPG, and educational games, such as Mario is Missing! and Mario's Time Machine. He has inspired television shows, film, comics, and a line of licensed merchandise.

Concept and creationEdit

Shigeru Miyamoto created Mario while developing Donkey Kong in an attempt to produce a best-selling video game for Nintendo; previous titles like Sheriff had not achieved the same success as titles like Pac-Man. Originally, Miyamoto wanted to create a video game that used the characters Popeye, Bluto, and Olive Oil. At the time, however, Miyamoto was unable to acquire a license to use the characters (and would not until 1982), so he ended up making Jumpman (later known as Mario), Donkey Kong, and Pauline. In the early stages of Donkey Kong, Mario was unable to jump, and the focus was to escape a maze. However, Miyamoto enabled Mario to jump, saying "If you had a barrel rolling towards you, what would you do?" Miyamoto originally named the character "Mr. Video", and he was to be used in every video game Miyamoto developed. According to a widely circulated story, during localization of Donkey Kong for North American audiences, Nintendo of America's warehouse landlord Mario Segale confronted its then-president Minoru Arakawa, demanding back rent. Following a heated argument in which the Nintendo employees eventually convinced Segale he would be paid, they opted to name the character in the game Mario after him. Miyamoto commented that if he had named Mario "Mr. Video", Mario likely would have "disappeared off the face of the Earth." By Miyamoto's own account, Mario's profession was chosen to fit with the game design. Since Donkey Kong was set on a construction site, Mario was made into a carpenter. When he appeared again in Mario Bros., it was decided he should be a plumber, since a lot of the game is played in underground settings.Mario's character design, particularly his large nose, draws on western influences; once he became a plumber, Miyamoto decided to "put him in New York" and make him Italian,lightheartedly attributing Mario's nationality to his mustache. Other sources have Mario's profession chosen to be carpenter in an effort to depict the character as an ordinary hard worker, and make it easier for players to identify with him. After a colleague suggested that Mario more closely resembled a plumber, Miyamoto changed Mario's profession accordingly and developed Mario Bros., featuring the character in the sewers of New York City. Due to the graphical limitations of arcade hardware at the time, Miyamoto clothed the character in red overalls and a blue shirt to contrast against each other and the background. A cap was added to let Miyamoto avoid drawing the character's hairstyle, forehead, and eyebrows, as well as to circumvent the issue of animating his hair as he jumped. To make him appear human onscreen despite his small size, Mario was given distinct features, prominently a large nose and a mustache, which avoided the need to draw a mouth and facial expressions on the small onscreen character. Miyamoto developed Mario with the idea of using him as a "go to" character that could be put into any title as needed, albeit in cameo appearances, as at the time Miyamoto was not expecting Mario to become popular. To this end, he originally called the character "Mr. Video", comparing his intent to have Mario appear in later games to the cameos done by Alfred Hitchcock within Hitchcock's films. Over time, Mario's appearance has become more defined; both a red "M" in a white circle on the front of his hat and gold buttons on his overalls have been added. Miyamoto attributed this process to the different development teams and artists for each game as well as advances in technology as time has gone on. Nintendo has never revealed Mario's full name, stating only that it was not "Mario Mario" despite the implication of the Mario Bros. series' title, its use in the film, and information given in the Prima official Guidebook to Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga.

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