Written by Luke Hackett & Kyle Glatz (Read more on Superluigibros.com)
HOW MARIO BEGAN
Long ago, during the classic era of console gaming in the eighties, came a title called Donkey Kong (1981), and I’m sure most of you will know what that is as the Donkey Kong series of games continues to this day. The aim of this game was for ‘Jump Man’ to rescue his girlfriend Pauline from the evil clutches of a large monkey named Donkey Kong
At this time the little guy with the red overalls and the red cap was not a plumber, but a carpenter, a tradesman non-the less…. I was having a little play at Norske Automater and the thought randomly came across my mind… why was he called Mario? well here’s why…
One of the more creative Nintendo workers later on realised that Jump Man was not too dissimilar to the owner of their offices, who was named Mario Segale – Mario Segale burst in demanding rent payments during a Nintendo meeting, and it was from that day they decided to rename “Jump Man” to “Mario”.
As you can probably tell by the name Mario Segale was an Italian, which is why today our favourite Nintendo superstar has an Italian accent. The first starring game of ‘Mario’ where he was actually known as Mario was the sequel to Donkey Kong, known as Donkey Kong Jr.
But why a flat cap and overalls? How was this decided? Simply put this was due to the graphical capabilities of the time, Putting blocky hair on the top of this heroes head would not have gone down at all well, covering it up with a cap however would’ve been a much easier task. The overalls were put there to ease animation of the character, the arm colour of Mario had to differentiate from that of the overall, yet still show an arm… And that’s how Mario became Mario!
MARIO’S EARLY YEARS (1981-1989)
We see our first signs of Mario’s graphical development from Jump Man in Donkey Kong, to the more detailed sprites of Mario on the NES, which overall due to higher resolution capability gave Nintendo the capacity to enhance Mario’s sprite.
Mario Bros (1983)
This was an arcade style game, you could either play 1v1 battle mode vs. your brother Luigi. Or you could play on a multi-height level, with 2 pipes at the top, where a unlimited amount of turtles and other assorted enemies would descend upon you, the aim was to get the highest score (by killing more and more enemies). This was the first game in which Mario was a Plumber and saw the introduction of his brother, Luigi.
2 years after Mario Bros came Super Mario Bros which was the first visit to the Mushroom Kingdom, where Mario had gone to rescue a princess in distress, who had been kidnapped by Bowser
Super Mario Land (1989)
Although Super Mario Land was released later than Super Mario Bros. 2, the sprites for the Gameboy games always seemed to be a generation behind those of the consoles, the sprites of Mario weren’t too dissimilar to that of Mario’s sprites from Donkey Kong (1981) and Mario Bros (1983) in the sense that his eyes were 1 pixel in size, and due to technical limitations of the time he also had very sharp features such as his pointy nose and cap.
(Article continues, but you have the idea)