Super Mario Bros: The ultimate video game icon

Since then, Mario has remained an unmistakeable character across all kinds of incarnations, including a flying tanuki (Japanese raccoon dog, in Super Mario Bros 3, 1988) to a bee (in Super Mario Galaxy, 2007) and a cat (Super Mario 3D). World, 2013). His roles have ranged from Dr Mario (for a 1990 puzzle game) to artist/composer (Mario Paint, 1992) and athlete (in racing, football, and tennis games, besides Nintendo/Sega crossover series Mario & Sonic at The Olympic Games) . In Super Mario Odyssey (2017), even Mario’s cap took on a life of its own. Meanwhile, Mario’s surrounding cast has grown increasingly vast, yet even when these characters front their own games, they’re ultimately defined by their bond to him: as sibling (Luigi); sidekick (Princess Peach; Yoshi); or adversary (Donkey Kong; Bowser; Wario).

The sound of Mario has also proved a literal game-changer. Composer Koji Kondo’s now legendary music and movement effects have accompanied Mario’s quests since Super Mario Bros. [1985]and US voice actor Charles Martinet has developed his cartoonish catchphrases (“Let’s-a-go!”), but even the first Mario Bros. game featured snappy motifs that immediately bring the character to mind.

“That ‘coin drop’ sound – I think it’s just two very high keynotes – is so recognizable and simple,” says musician and founder of the London Video Game Orchestra, Galen Woltkamp-Moon. Mario always looked iconic, even in very low-res pixel art, but I also remember being able to sing his soundtracks when I was maybe six or seven years old, which I couldn’t do with any other game at the time. music is very accessible for all ages; it’s changed up every other bar or so, and it keeps the audience engaged.”

On the big screen

Translating a beloved videogame character to the movie screen has often proved risky, though there’s clearly a new wave of adaptations (including the rather limp Sonic the Hedgehog films). The live-action Super Mario Bros. feature (1993) proved a clunky flop, despite a talented cast and high-end FX; Bob Hoskins played Mario, later describing the film as “the worst thing I ever did” (in a 2007 interview with The Guardian). In advance of its release, the new Super Mario Bros Movie has apparently provoked a fan backlash to Chris Pratt’s voice acting as CGI Mario, though co-director Aaron Horvarth insists it’s in the right spirit.

“When you play the game, if you don’t give up, Mario will succeed,” Horvarth told Total Film. So we transferred that player experience from the game to a characteristic that [movie] Mario would have… [Chris Pratt] is really good at playing a blue-collar hero with a tonne of heart.”

Mario has endured in all kinds of realms, inspiring blockbuster appearances (as per Miyamoto’s original concept, he’s a playable character in numerous games including Super Smash Bros and Fortnite, and a background detail in many others) to internet memes (besides the surreal “Italian”). Elon Musk’s parody account) and conceptual art. The US visual artist Cory Arcangel’s video installation Super Mario Clouds (2002) modifies Super Mario World; In 2015, an artist working under the pseudonym Samir Al-Mutfi created a “Syrian Super Mario” platform game, depicting the challenges faced by refugees seeking safety. Increasingly, Mario features in the collections of major galleries and institutions.

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo