Mario gets creative new format for 30th birthday

Mario's creator Shigeru Miyamoto posing with the game's iconic stars Mario and Luigi. To mark 30 years since its initial launch, Nintendo is releasing a new version of the game with a creative format.
Mario's creator Shigeru Miyamoto posing with the game's iconic stars Mario and Luigi. To mark 30 years since its initial launch, Nintendo is releasing a new version of the game with a creative format.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

So beloved is Mario that Nintendo has sold more than 310 million units featuring him, since he first hit the screens under his own name in 1985.

PARIS • Mario, the hyperactive little plumber who has become one of the best-known characters in video game history, celebrates his 30th birthday today, and Japanese video game giant Nintendo is marking the event with the release of a creative new format.

With his blue overalls, red cap and fulsome moustache, Mario is instantly recognisable - a rare quality in the games market, matched only by a handful of characters such as Lara Croft, Sonic the Hedgehog and Pac-Man.

So beloved is Mario that Nintendo has sold more than 310 million units featuring him, since he first hit the screens under his own name in 1985.

Even before the first Super Mario Bros game was released in Japan on the Famicom console, on Sept 13, 1985, the character had already made an appearance in the Nintendo arcade game Donkey Kong, but under the name Jumpman.

The Mario monicker came from the landlord of the warehouse where the US arm of Nintendo was based.

The landlord's physical appearance made the programmers think of a video-game character.

Mario's creator, game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, said: "I had it in mind to make him an Italian when I was drawing the character, so I decided to officially call him Mario."

To mark the three-decade milestone, Nintendo is releasing Super Mario Maker on the Wii U console, which allows players to create their own worlds for Mario, or use those created by other players and shared on the Internet.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 13, 2015, with the headline 'Mario gets creative new format for 30th birthday'. Print Edition | Subscribe