(WHTM) — For the most part, we’ve all grown up playing at least one Mario game in our lives, whether it was at an arcade or sitting on the couch.

Older generations will remember hooking up the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and playing Super Mario Bros. While younger generations grew up playing a wide variety of Mario games ranging from Super Mario Maker to Super Mario Odyssey.

No matter how you’ve played Mario games, you can’t deny that Mario is one of the biggest and most recognizable characters in the world of gaming. But how did Mario come to be?

March 10 is Mario Day (or MAR10 Day). What better way to celebrate the day than to learn about the history of the plumber himself?

Mario’s First Appearance

According to imore.com, Mario actually had his first appearance in Donkey Kong. You may remember going to the arcade and sitting down to play the game. This game was created in 1981 by Shigeru Miyamoto and it features a large monkey throwing barrels down slopes, while a character named Jumpman runs to the top to save the princess.

At the time Popeye, the television show that follows the adventures of a cartoon sailor, was very popular. Miyamoto actually wanted to create a Popeye game; however, Nintendo wasn’t able to get the licensing required to make the game. This led to the creation of Donkey Kong, Jumpman (now known as Mario) and the princess.

The Inspiration behind Mario

So now you may be wondering, how did Jumpman evolve into Mario? According to imore.com, Mario was actually named after a real man.

In 1981, Nintendo decided to rent out a warehouse in Tukwila, Washington. This location would act as their American headquarters. According to NPR, a real estate developer named Mario Segale stormed into their offices at the headquarters and demanded late rent. Segale was wearing overalls and was very short. His presence, short stature, and overalls left an impression on the Nintendo tenants.

Mario’s Occupations

Throughout the production of video games focusing on the overall-wearing plumber, Mario has held a wide array of jobs besides plumbing. According to imore.com, Mario has held the following occupations.

  • Carpenter
  • Plumber
  • Doctor
  • Racer
  • Martial Artist
  • Baseball Player
  • Soccer Player
  • Basketball Player
  • Pro Golfer
  • Tennis Player
  • Construction Worker
  • Olympic Athlete

Mario truly has done it all.

You may argue and say that Mario hasn’t done it all, because he has never been a villain. Well, you’re wrong. In the arcade game released after the original Donkey Kong game, Mario was actually portrayed as the villain. In this game, Mario got revenge on Donkey Kong and trapped him in a cage. Players play as Donkey Kong Junior and work to save Donkey Kong.

The History of Bowser

The most recent villain in Mario games is Bowser the turtle. Did you know that Bowser was originally supposed to be an ox?

Miyamoto’s fellow designer, Takashi Tezuka thought that the drawers of the ox character looked like a turtle. So, the team scratched the idea of an ox and decided that Bowser would be a turtle-like Koopa leader.

The Voice of Mario

Mario has a very unique voice, however the man who voices Mario showed up a little too late to the audition. The audition crew was already putting away their gear when Charles Martinet showed up, asking to audition. Martinet was actually urged by a friend to try out for the role at a Las Vegas tradeshow. Lucky for him, he was able to audition last minute and landed the role as the voice of Mario, Luigi, Wario, Waluigi, and more Mushroom Kingdom characters.

His audition went really well, and Martinet has been voicing these characters since 1995. During the audition, Martinet was asked to interact with children at the event while voicing Mario. He went with a New Yorker accent and started talking until the tape ran out. His audition was the only tape that was sent to Nintendo and he’s voiced Mario ever since.

Mario is an Icon

Over the past 40 years, Mario has appeared in nearly 255 games and there are still more to come. Mario has been a staple in pop culture, becoming a recognizable voice and face to many.

Upcoming Mario projects include The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which stars actor Chris Pratt and is set to release on April 7, 2023. The most recent Mario game that was released was Super Mario 3D World: Bowser’s Fury, according to Nintendo.