Press shots from the highly acclaimed new Mario game Super Mario Odyssey feature our big-konked hero done up like a Mafioso don strolling the streets of New York. Reviews explain that the game sees him become a superhuman shape-shifter capable of ‘capturing’ and transforming into playable characters including frogs and, um, a wall-climbing fork. It’s just the latest incarnation of probably the most famous and successful character in video game history, so let’s look back at the Marios we’ve known, loved and teased to double height over the years.
Mario The Monkey Exterminator
The older Mario manipulators amongst us first met Mario in actual video arcades in 1981, jumping barrels and scrambling up ladders to reach Donkey Kong, little more than a slightly cuter space invader gun. So innocuous was he that he was known simply as Jumpman in Japan, and Princess Peach was but a glimmer in developer Shigeru Miyamoto’s eye – in Donkey Kong, Mario was tasked with rescuing his girlfriend Pauline.
Mario The Mushroom Muncher
Like the record label receptionist who gets turned into a major star, someone at Nintendo clearly spotted Mario’s star potential and gave him his own game. 1985’s Super Mario Bros. set the blueprint for many Mario games to come, as our tiny protagonist raced along his side-scrolling worlds in search of Princess Toadstool (later Peach), head-butting bricks for money and inspiring many an optimistic drunkard’s concussion.
They gave him a fox suit, a lizard to ride and all manner of mushroom powers to enjoy, but by 1992 the question was starting to itch – just who was Super Mario? What are his hobbies? What does he like to do when he’s not kicking turtle shells all over Yoshi’s Island like a maniac? So Nintendo began to give us a bit of Mario’s down-time backstory. He was a keen golfer and a…