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Mario, the jumping plumber

Mario is one of the most recognisable characters in the world of video games. He has a huge franchise and millions of fans behind him. So much so that a feature-length animated film was still dedicated to him in 2023... even though the character first appeared in 1981. At over 40, he remains a true champion.

An accident of birth at Nintendo

Did you know that Mario was never planned? In fact, the great Japanese video game creator Shigeru Miyamoto was concentrating on a Donkey Kong game, with the famous gorilla as stupid as he was evil. He needed a playable character to give the moronic primate a good thrashing, so he created a bunch of big animated pixels with a very basic humanoid appearance, without really knowing what he was doing.

In reality, Miyamoto had hoped to include Popeye in the game, but was unable to obtain the rights.

Surprisingly, the Japanese and international public fell in love with this pile of pixels: the blue and red colours suited him well, and the big nose (the size of a big pixel, in fact) gave him a friendly, recognisable look.

So we had to find a name for him: Jumpman? Mr. Video? Well...

Another accidental idea came up: the owner of the building housing Nintendo of America was called Mario Segale. In his honour, "Jumpman" was named Mario. And the character immediately came to life: a lovable Italian plumber called Mario, who leaps through levels of a platform game filled with hostile but zany creatures, with the aim of rescuing Princess Peach (or Toadstool), who has a nasty habit of being kidnapped by Donkey Kong, or even more often by the horribly evil Bowser.

The Mario universe takes shape

Mario games were soon appearing on the NES, Super NES and Game Boy, Nintendo's portable console.

The first game, Mario Bros, came out in 1983, and didn't really resemble the games that followed. In this arcade game, Mario was joined by his brother, Luigi, the green plumber. The aim of the game was to eliminate all the strange creatures in a platform level in the sewers. Mario had to jump and hit the platform above him to flip over an enemy on it. Then he had to hurry up and get on that platform and jump on the enemy until he got back on his feet.

Poor turtles... the Koopa Troopa took their toll, as did the Sidesteppers, Fighter Flies and Slipices, which could freeze a platform to make it slippery.

The sequel, Super Mario Bros, really launched the "Super Mario" franchise on Famicon and the NES: Bowser captures Princess Peach (or Toadstool) and the Italian plumbers have to rescue her. They travel through platform worlds in the Mushroom Kingdom, crushing enemies by jumping on them.

As a result of the game's success, we often think of Super Mario as THE platformer par excellence. Of course, there are those who love it, and those who hate it and prefer more dynamic games like Sega's Sonic franchise (Master System, Megadrive, Game Gear).

In fact, the 1980s and early 1990s were marked by the legendary rivalry between Mario and Sonic, the supersonic hedgehog... Nintendo VS Sega was stronger than a rivalry between football clubs.

3D Mario crushes Sonic

In the mid-1990s, a terrible battle was brewing: 3D video game consoles were arriving on the market. Who would win out over Nintendo or Sega... unless Sony took revenge on Nintendo with its Playstation?

Between 1996 and 1997, the Nintendo 64 console was gradually released in Japan, the USA and Europe. Its launch game was Super Mario 64. While the game's title may not have any obvious originality, it completely revolutionised the Mario universe.

The Super Mario 64 tutorial alone is more fun than some of the games of yesteryear. Mario jumps... in several ways, but he can also punch, kick, sweep, heel forward... are we playing Mario or Tekken here?

Even better, instead of just following a linear succession of platforms, Mario 3D evolves in an open world: in a typical world, he can go anywhere and can complete objectives in any order he likes, unless some have to be unlocked first. They have to solve problems, find treasure, face bosses (the bomb king, the great Whomp), race a giant koopa, survive trap-filled slides, climb mountains, explore a haunted mansion...

For the public at the time, there was no contest: Super Mario 64 was the ultimate game, the undisputed benchmark, the revolution. Of course, once again Princess Peach had to be rescued from Bowser, but the storyline isn't the main selling point of a Mario game. And there's no Luigi on the horizon, while Yoshi, the flying dino-dragon, only appears as an end bonus to announce a sequel.

Since then, Mario has been back on Nintendo consoles (GameCube, Wii, Wii U, Switch, DS), in new adventures. In particular, he has to face off against his evil brother, Wario. Funny how the upside-down M becomes a W and makes the word "war" in his name.

A failed attempt to bring Mario to the big screen in live action was made in 1993. Actor Bob Hoskins took on the role of Mario while John Leguizamo took on that of Luigi. They were to face off against President Koopa, played by Dennis Hopper, in this film by Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel. Although the film was a technical success, its script left so much to be desired that it failed at the box office.

The 2023 animated film was more commercially successful, despite the fact that the script was still too light. The voice of Mario is that of Chris Pratt, that of Bowser belongs to Jack Black, and finally Anya Taylor-Joy gives her voice to Princess Peach.

Mario goodies for all fans

The world of Mario extends far beyond video games, with a host of derivative products paying tribute to this iconic Japanese franchise. For collectors and fans alike, our geek shop offers a diverse range of Mario goodies, from articulated figurines to cuddly plush toys featuring characters like Yoshi and Luigi. Each figurine, available in limited edition or multicoloured, captures the essence of this enchanted world. T-shirts, for example, are a great way to show your passion for the Nintendo universe.

For fans of the Nintendo Switch console, we offer special items that perfectly complement the gaming experience, such as controllers in Mario colours or carrying cases adorned with Mario stars.

We strive to offer these collectibles at affordable prices. Once you have placed your order, your items will be dispatched quickly, as fast delivery is one of our priorities. New products are updated regularly to ensure that stock is always fresh.

Each product is a window into the joyful and colourful world of Mario, Luigi, Bowser, and their countless companions, now available just a click away. So don't hesitate to order and immerse yourself in the nostalgia and fun of these classic video games, embodied in every product we offer.