Why an Italian plumber?

I would be interested to know how Nintendo came up with the concept of an Italian plumber called Mario. I mean, really. How/why did they opt for that concept? Any insider information lingering out there?


  1. Nintendo’s flagship character was created by Mr. Shigeru Miyamoto, who joined the company at the age of 24 after graduating from college in Japan. Mario first appeared in the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong as Jumpman and became an instant celebrity during the period when more than 60,000 arcade machines were sold. In the 1982 arcade sequel, Donkey Kong Jr., he was renamed Mario by Mr. Minoru Arakawa, the president of Nintendo of America, who named Mario after the owner of Nintendo’s first warehouse, Mario Segali. The 1983 arcade game Mario Bros. was the first game to feature Mario as the title character; the game also featured the first appearance of Mario’s brother, Luigi. Which is why they made him a plumber, because of the pipe theme that game had. which give some backstory to the character instead of simplybeing a “jumpman”.

  2. whoa interesting….thanks 😀

  3. Excellent insight Rene. Much appreciated. Any other bg info floating around out in cyberspace?

  4. Mario, also known as Super Mario and originally Jumpman in Japan, is a video game character created by Shigeru Miyamoto for Nintendo, named after the Italian landlord, Mario Segali, at Nintendo of America. He is one of Nintendo’s best-known characters and considered by many to be the most well-known video game character in history, appearing in hundreds of games, many of them bestsellers. He is currently voice acted by Charles Martinet, though in the past has been voice acted by Captain Lou Albano, Walker Boone and Tôru Furuya. Mario first appeared in the 1981 Donkey Kong arcade game. Mario’s brother Luigi first appeared in Mario Bros., the arcade game. According to The Super Mario Bros. Super Show and the Super Mario Bros. movie, Mario’s full name is Mario Mario, while his brother’s full name is Luigi Mario.

    Little is known about Mario’s history. Mario games specifically lack over-complicated plots or too much character development so as to not limit Mario’s future roles. According to some older American instruction manuals and gameplay, Mario and his brother are Italian Americans born and raised in Brooklyn, New York City. He is said to be a plumber (though he has held several other blue-collar jobs in his lifetime) and wears a red shirt and cap and blue overalls. Newer games and manuals, however, state that he grew up in the fictional Mushroom Kingdom. Some have suggested that the brothers were taken to the “Real World” at an early age. In an episode of The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, Mario discovers a mummified prince who looks just like him, suggesting a long family history in the Mushroom Kingdom.

    Mario’s supporting characters include his younger, taller brother, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, Yoshi, and King Bowser Koopa, the main villain of the series, among others.

    Many contend that Mario first appeared in the video game Donkey Kong as Jumpman (Shigeru Miyamoto, his creator, contends that Mario is a descendant of Jumpman and not Jumpman himself). The game was surprisingly successful, and when the Nintendo Entertainment System was released, Mario was given the starring role in the revolutionary Super Mario Bros. game.

    Mario’s distinctive look is due to technology restrictions in the mid-’80s: with a limited number of pixels and colors, the programmers could not animate Mario’s movement without making his arms “disappear” if his shirt was a solid color; they did not have the space to give him a mouth; and they could not animate hair, so Mario got overalls, a moustache, and a cap to bypass these problems. Mario’s creator Shigeru Miyamoto has also stated when interviewed that Mario wears a cap because he finds it difficult to draw hair.

    Miyamoto created many of the elements in the Mario world from ideas he had seen in other media. One of his most recognizable contributions to his Mario universe is the Super Mushroom, which would enlarge Mario until he got damaged by an enemy. This idea was derived from the “Eat me” cakes and “Drink me” potions in the Lewis Carroll story, Alice in Wonderland. The concept behind warp pipes, colored tubes which sometimes transport Mario to another area, was adopted from Star Trek.
    In Super Smash Bros. Melee, Mario acquired a more realistic look that stayed unique to that game.

    In original artwork for Super Mario Bros. (and Japan’s SMB2) Mario had a blue shirt and red overalls, as in the Donkey Kong arcade games (the original reason for those particular colors was that they contrasted better on a black background). Since SMB3, the colors were switched to blue overalls and red shirt (similar to the Mario Bros. arcade game, but there his hat was blue), though the original color scheme remained the same in the DiC cartoons. (Ironically, on the Saturday Supercade, he had his modern color scheme, which had not yet been conceived.) Super Smash Bros. and its sequel, Super Smash Bros. Melee also featured a reversed version of the modern Mario color-scheme in which Mario has a blue cap. Ironically, this is how Mario was also depicted on the the cover of the first issue of Nintendo Power, which concerned the release of SMB2.

    The surname “Mario” (which would make his full name Mario Mario) was first used in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show and in the 1993 feature film Super Mario Bros. This was meant to explain how both Mario and his brother Luigi could be known as the “Mario brothers”. Shigeru Miyamoto himself has confirmed this.

    Mario has appeared in over 100 games. The Mario series is the top-selling series of video games of all time, with over 152 million copies in total.

    The original Super Mario Bros. series pioneered many concepts in modern video games, such as warp zones, power-ups, end-of-level bosses, and multiple endings. Even to this day, many adventure games operate in the same so-called “hop and bop” style gameplay that was first developed for SMB.

    Shortly thereafter Mario took on the role of mascot of Nintendo and has since been extensively merchandized. Mario’s major rival was Sega mascot Sonic the Hedgehog who debuted in the early 1990s, and the two mascots competed head-to-head for nearly a decade afterward. In 1996, with the release of the Nintendo 64, Super Mario 64 marked Mario’s 3D debut and made him the very first 2D established video game character to appear in a full 3D game.

    Mario has appeared on television in several cartoons, in comic books, and in a feature film where he was played by Bob Hoskins. He has also appeared on lunchboxes, t-shirts, in candy form, and as a plush toy. There was even a book series, the Nintendo Adventure Books.

    In the earlier days of the NES and Game Boy, Mario did several cameos, usually in the early sports-titles on both systems. Often he was depicted as the referee, such as in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! or the Game Boy version of Tennis, but was also the playable character in both versions of Nintendo’s early Golf-title. However some of his other cameos were more bizarre, such as the one in the Breakout-clone Alleyway which featured Mario on the game’s box-art and also at the beginning of each stage where Mario jumps “in to” the paddle. He was also featured on the Game Over screen for the Game Boy version of Qix dressed in Mexican clothes, playing a guitar in the desert next to a cactus with a vulture perched on it.

    Mario is the official video game mascot for Nintendo, and is almost synonymous with the Nintendo brand. Because of this, Mario only appears in Nintendo games on Nintendo systems. There are a few small exceptions; he has appeared in several PC educational titles in the United States, and some very early games for non-Nintendo systems such as the Atari 2600, but these are rare deviations.

  5. “In 1996, with the release of the Nintendo 64, Super Mario 64 marked Mario’s 3D debut and made him the very first 2D established video game character to appear in a full 3D game.”

    Duke Nukem beat him by about six months.

  6. They named the character after their italian landlord – but I’m not sure why a plumber – maybe he did some pluming work around the building.

    Thats what I heard anyway… I think it was an iterview with Myamoto.

  7. “Duke Nukem beat him by about six months.”

    Requote: “In 1996, with the release of the Nintendo 64, Super Mario 64 marked Mario’s 3D debut and made him the very first 2D established and WIDELY POPULAR video game character to appear in a full 3D game.”

    Just sayin.’

  8. … And let’s not forget established.

  9. Duke Nukem is superior to Mario in every way.

    Kidding! Kidding. Jeez.

  10. SUUUURRRE…and Michael Jackson is black. 🙂

  11. He is of African descent, therefore, in a way, he is black.

  12. “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mario”

    Scroll up–it’s easier.

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