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Mario, This Is Your Life

by Rick Powers - August 29, 2002, 9:01 am PDT
Discuss in talkback! Source: Nintendo Europe

22 years of the world's most famous video games character

Discuss it in Talkback!

The year is 1980 and a little known Nintendo artist by the name of Shigeru Miyamoto, creates a game called Donkey Kong. The hero of the game, Jumpman, is a moustached plumber racing to save his girlfriend Pauline from the clutches of an ape by the name of Donkey Kong as they race up a skyscraper. Jumpman must use all his skill and determination to dodge the traps laid by Donkey Kong if he is to climb the tower and be reunited with his beloved Pauline.

Sound familiar? Nintendo Co., Ltd later decided to rename Jumpman in honour of his resemblance to the landlord of the warehouse now established as Nintendo of America; a man by the name of Mario Segali.

Since Mario's first appearance in Donkey Kong the combined sales figures for all Mario titles have amassed over 165m units. That's more than 7m a year for every year of his life! So while you do your sums, here's the history highlights…


all dates are based on worldwide launch dates


Created by Shigeru Miyamoto in 1980, Mario's first appearance was as the hero in the original arcade game - Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong was the first arcade video game that incorporated a storyline and in which the main character could move across the screen. Originally called 'Jumpman', Mario first appeared in his red cap, moustache and dungarees on his mission to rescue his girlfriend. It could be said that Donkey Kong paved the way for the current video games.

1982 - Mario Bros was the first game to star Mario with his brother Luigi. This is the first two-player Mario title where the brothers must clear sewers from different monsters including Shell Creepers, Fighter Flies, and Sidesteppers. Players can clear the sewers by hitting them and then kicking them away.

Mario on his first handheld!!!! Mario stars in Mario Bros and goes on to appear in a series of Donkey Kong games as well as Mario's Cement Factory and Mario's Bombs Away. The Game & Watch series appeared in a variety of formats including Table Tops, Multi-Screen, Panorama and Wide Screen.

1985 - Mario leaps onto Nintendo's first home console - Nintendo Entertainment System - in Mario Bros. Armed with an array of skills from hopping onto enemies to defeat them and jumping blocks to access new bonuses, Mario reinvented and redefined the "platform adventure genre" for fans to experience.

The top selling Super Mario Bros. releases on the NES and goes on to clock over 40 million sales worldwide. This is the first game to feature Mario's lovely lady Princess Peach and her aide, Toad. However, Bowser's first appearance in a Mario game also means that the Princess never gets a rest as Bowser develops a long history of kidnapping Princess Peach to lure his nemesis, Mario, into traps. He leads an enormous group of mischievous creatures, not the least of which are his seven children.

With the success of Super Mario Bros. around the world. Studies show that children are as, or more, familiar with "Mario" as they are with Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny.

1988 - Mario takes flight and is able to fly! With a special yellow cape and also an exciting array of fun disguises (including a raccoon costume), fans get to experience the fun and frolics in Super Mario 3 for the NES.

1989 - Game Boy launches with Super Mario Land, as Mario propels onto the most popular console in the world (the Game Boy series has sold over 130 million units to date). This is the first game where Princess Daisy is introduced to the world of video games.


1990 - Mario becomes a doctor in Dr. Mario for NES. In the fast and frantic game, players can get to grips with an innovative puzzle game where they have to match the colours of the medicine.

In the same year, the world is introduced to a wonderful green dinosaur character named Yoshi in Super Mario World for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Yoshi quickly becomes an excellent sidekick to Mario. With a great tongue reach and an extra height to his jump, Yoshi is able to open a whole new way to Mario in defeating his enemies.

1992 - Mario gets to compose his first tunes and explores his artistic talent in Mario Paint on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

In the same year, Mario and an all-star cast of Nintendo characters including Yoshi, Luigi, Donkey Kong and many more go head to head in a race for pole position in Super Mario Kart. The game immediately won over gaming fans and is thought of as the most entertaining racing classic of all time.

1993 - All the Mario classics on one superb collection - Super Mario All-Stars launches on the SNES much to the delight of his fans. Browse and choose your favourite adventure and jump straight into the action.

1996 - Mario goes 3-D! The biggest Mario experience yet comes to the small screens as his new game launches on NINTENDO 64 home console. Representing both the worlds first realistic 3D home console game and the first game to feature analogue controls, Super Mario 64 is proclaimed by many as "the greatest video game of all time!"

1999 - Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64 showcases Mario like never before. In a clash of the titans, Mario and Nintendo's stable of famous characters are thrown into fight arenas to battle it out against memorable Nintendo landscapes. Fans can use wacky objects such as sledge-hammers and even throwing Poké balls to achieve victory.


2000 - Mario wins 6-4, 7-6, 6-0 in the action-packed tennis title, Mario Tennis, for the NINTENDO 64. Facing some of the most familiar Nintendo faces in the industry, this fun-filled sports game celebrates the great multi-player release published by Nintendo.

2001 - Mario turns 21 - and to celebrate his birthday, not only does he make his debut on Nintendo's latest consoles but stars in a host of hot games.

For the release of the next generation handheld Game Boy Advance, Mario scores his own Super Mario Advance series as well as appearing in the multi-player smash hit Mario Kart: Super Circuit.

Nintendo's launch of NINTENDO GAMECUBE console sees his brother, Luigi, make his starring debut in Luigi's Mansion as he rescues Mario who is trapped in a haunted painting.

2002 - This is the life! Sunshine, sea and sand play a major part in Mario's starring debut in Super Mario Sunshine on the NINTENDO GAMECUBE, but he is framed for spraying graffiti and paint on the beautiful vacation island. With a special new water cannon, Mario goes to investigate the crime and cleans up the island with his new aqua device. At Japanese launch, Super Mario Sunshine sold a phenomenal 400,000 in just 4 days, according to an independent survey in Japan!!!

More than 160 million units of the total Mario series have been sold worldwide to date (as of March 2002)

Mario - Nintendo Software Appearances*

*All dates are based on worldwide launch dates

Arcade Game

1981 Donkey Kong

1982 Donkey Kong Jr.

1983 Mario Bros.

1984 VS. Tennis

1984 VS. Wrecking Crew

1984 Punch Out!

Game & Watch

1982 Donkey Kong (Multi Screen)

1982 Donkey Kong Jr. (Wide Screen)

1983 Donkey Kong II (Multi Screen)

1983 Mario Bros. (Multi Screen)

1983 Mario's Cement Factory (Wide Screen)

1983 Donkey Kong Jr. (Table Top)

1983 Mario's Cement Factory (Table Top)

1983 Donkey Kong Jr. (Panorama Screen)

1983 Mario's Bombs Away (Panorama Screen)

Nintendo Entertainment System

1983 Donkey Kong

1983 Donkey Kong Jr.

1983 Mario Bros.

1984 Tennis

1984 Pinball

1985 Wrecking Crew

1985 Super Mario Bros.

1988 Super Mario Bros. 2

1988 Super Mario Bros. 3

1990 Punch Out!

1990 Dr. Mario

1991 Mario Golf

1991 Mario & Yoshi

1992 Super Mario USA

Game Boy

1989 Super Mario Land

1989 Alleyway

1989 Tennis

1989 Tetris

1990 Quicks

1990 Dr. Mario

1990 F1 Race

1991 Mario & Yoshi

1992 Super Mario Land 2

1992 Yoshi's Cookie

1994 Wario Land : Super Mario Land 3

1994 Donkey Kong

1995 Mario's Picross

1997 Game Boy Gallery 2

1999 Game Boy Gallery 3

Game Boy Gallery 4

1999 Mario Golf

2000 Mario Tennis

Super NES

1990 Super Mario World

1992 Mario Paint

1992 Super Mario Kart

1993 Super Mario All-Stars

1993 Yoshi's Safari

1995 Yoshi's Island

1996 Super Mario RPG

1998 Tetris & Dr. Mario

Virtual Boy (Japan & USA only)

1995 Mario's Tennis

1995 Mario Clash


1996 Super Mario 64

1996 Mario Kart 64

1999 Super Smash Bros.

1999 Mario Golf

1998 Mario Party

1999 Mario Party 2

2000 Mario Party 3

2000 Paper Mario

2000 Mario Tennis

Game Boy Advance

2001 Super Mario Advance

2001 Mario Kart: Super Circuit

2001 Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2

2002 Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3


2001 Luigi's Mansion

2001 Super Smash Bros. Melee

2002 Super Mario Sunshine

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