Mario (マリオ, Mario) is Nintendo's flagship character and is the long-running eponymous hero in the extensive Mario series of video games. Unanimously viewed as the mascot of Nintendo, Mario is said to be the most well-known and most popular video game character in the world, having appeared in over 200 video games. As a member of the "perfect-attendance crew", Mario appears as a main playable fighter in all five (six if both versions of Super Smash Bros. 4 are counted separately) Super Smash Bros. games and is depicted as the most basic traditional fighter of the series and always receives first billing among the cast, much like his position within Nintendo itself. Mario was also the rival to Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog in the 1990s. His voice actor in all five Super Smash Bros. games is Charles Martinet, who also voices Luigi, Wario, Waluigi, and Toadsworth, all of whom are other characters from his series.
Years before video gaming exploded into mainstream popularity, prominent game designer Shigeru Miyamoto designed the original arcade game Donkey Kong in 1981, debuting Mario as the main playable character and Donkey Kong as his in-game nemesis. Mario's character design was heavily influenced by the extreme technical limitations of digital games at the time; as a small batch of pixels, Mario was given a mustache under his big nose to show he had a face, and suspenders with his shirt to show a distinction between his arms and body. In this game Mario was originally known as "Jumpman" in the initial Japanese release, and he was portrayed as a carpenter whose girlfriend Pauline (originally "Lady" in Japan) was held captive by the colossal ape Donkey Kong, and must jump his way over the barrels and flames DK throws at him to rescue Pauline.
After his initial appearance in this pioneering game, Mario, under his proper name for the first time in Japan, was introduced in the sequel, Donkey Kong Junior, and identified as of Italian ethnicity by Nintendo's president Hiroshi Yamauchi. Mario was named as such due to his comical resemblance to Nintendo of America's landlord Mario Segale. Then Mario and his newly introduced brother Luigi starred in the 1983 arcade game Mario Bros. as plumbers.
Miyamoto's next game was the world-famous Super Mario Bros. for the Famicom/NES, the game that single-handedly brought video gaming into the mainstream and made Nintendo a major company in a now-major industry . Many iconic aspects of Mario and his franchise were established: Mario and Luigi now live in the magical Mushroom Kingdom ruled by Princess "Peach" Toadstool with her mushroom-like servants known as Toads, where the Koopa king Bowser kidnaps the princess and Mario must rescue her. Mario bounds across side-scrolling platform stages, jumping on the heads of common enemies like Goombas and Koopa Troopas to defeat them. He starts out small but can grow to double his size if he grabs a Super Mushroom power-up, gain the ability to shoot out fireballs by grabbing a Fire Flower, and turn invincible for a short period of time by grabbing a Super Star. Super Mario Bros. became a franchise with these elements lasered into video game iconography, consistent in future games in the Mario series.
For over 30 years afterward, Mario would star in many games for various Nintendo systems. Mario and his accompanying franchise can be viewed as Nintendo's thematic tileset with which to create games of a whimsical, colorful, and light-hearted nature. Mario himself is meant to be a character anyone can enjoy playing as, and can fit well as a protagonist figure and/or main balanced character in many genres of games. To this end, he is not portrayed as a character that undergoes development like what players would see with a character in an epic RPG's story, but is a character defined by the player's actions with a few defining traits of his own such as his cheer, whimsy, desire to help others, and humorous high-pitched Italian accent provided by Charles Martinet. As such, Mario is a semi-silent protagonist, who is rarely (but occasionally) depicted speaking coherent English sentences. In contemporary Mario games, most of his vocalizations are grunts and yells and the occasional catchphrase, such as "Mama-mia!", "It's-a me, Mario!", "Let's-a-go!", although he is shown to speak at length in some spin-off games and official interviews. Likewise, while Mario largely serves as a "blank slate" protagonist, he will occasionally show bits of characterization; for instance, the ending of Super Mario Odyssey has Mario comfort his longtime nemesis Bowser even after both have been rejected by Peach in marriage, showing him to be a selfless person who sees the best qualities in others. As a semi-silent, optimistic protagonist and the flagship character for both his series and company, Mario is inherently easy for players of his various games to appreciate, and he is usually the most balanced selectable character in any game he appears in, including the Smash Bros. games. While Mario's definitive, Martinet-voiced depiction was codified by Super Mario 64, most auxiliary media prior to that game (such as the live-action film and various cartoons produced by DIC Entertainment) provided different portrayals of the iconic plumber, typically as a mild caricature of a working-class Italian-American with a gruff Brooklyn accent.
Genres of games in which Mario appears in a playable role include the traditional 2D side-scrolling platformer Super Mario Bros. as well as its various sequels, the famed Super NES launch platformer Super Mario World, which introduced Yoshi as a mount of sorts for Mario, and the DS homage to these games in the form of New Super Mario Bros.. Mario has also had various 3D platforming adventures such as the seminal Super Mario 64 adventure game launched for the Nintendo 64, followed up by Super Mario Sunshine for the Nintendo GameCube, Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii, Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U and Super Mario Odyssey for the Nintendo Switch, with all five games being critical successes and 64, Galaxy and Odyssey being considered among the greatest and most influential games of all time. Spin-off titles include the Mario Kart series of power-up and obstacle course-based racing games, a long-running series of multiplayer-based party games named Mario Party, and various series of Mario-themed sports titles such as Mario Golf and Mario Tennis. There have even been hands-on RPGs such as the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi series. Finally, there was a puzzle game named Dr. Mario, where Mario in the garb of a medicine man throws pills into a bottle to combat viruses. His persona in this game is also a playable character in the Super Smash Bros. series. A baby version of Mario, who is often treated as a separate character, has also appeared in many of these games. Mario made his first appearance in a fighting game in 1999's Super Smash Bros., and has appeared traditionally in all subsequent installments of that series.
As a playable character
Main article: Mario (SSB)
Mario makes his first appearance in a fighting game in the original Super Smash Bros. as a starting playable character. He is based on his appearance in Super Mario 64. Like in many other games, he is touted as the most balanced character with no real strengths or weaknesses; therefore, new players of the game are encouraged to play as him first. In the competitive meta-game, he can combo well but lacks a multipurpose finisher. His lack of outstanding strengths make him only a mid-tier fighter, placing him at 7th in B tier on the SSB tier list. His neutral special move shoots a moderately fast, bouncing, low-damage Fireball in the direction he is facing; his up special move is an uppercut third-jump called the Super Jump Punch which can hit multiple times for minor damage (and coins briefly appear with each hit); and his down special move is the Mario Tornado, where he whirls his body to damage foes around him, before throwing them up into the air.
Mario's in-game character description reads as follows:
As a playable character
Main article: Mario (SSBM)
As a starting playable character in this game, Mario is touted as the most balanced character of the game's character roster, much like his appearances in other games, with no real strengths but no outstanding weaknesses either; therefore, new players of the game are encouraged to play as him first. His appearance is still based on his appearance in Super Mario 64 like in the previous game. His new side special move is whipping out his yellow Cape from Super Mario World to turn the enemy in front of him facing the opposite direction, which is useful for diverting enemy attack and recovery. In the competitive meta-game, he can easily combo opponents, has a long wavedash like Luigi, and is good at juggling opponents, but it is his lack of a reliable finisher that causes him to remain in the game's Middle Tier; his Smash attacks do not even feature all that much knockback and range, impairing his ability to fight like a character like Marth. He also has low grab range and bad recovery. It is notable that in both versions, Mario has great combo potential coupled with the lack of a good finisher.
Main article: List of SSBM trophies (Super Mario Bros. series)
In addition to the standard three trophies which playable characters in Melee get - a standard trophy won by defeating Classic Mode, and "Smash Red" and "Smash Blue" trophies won by beating the Adventure and All-Star modes, respectively - Mario, as Nintendo's mascot, also features on a number of other trophies as Dr. Mario (see Dr. Mario (SSBM)), Raccoon Mario, Metal Mario, Paper Mario, and Mario and Yoshi. The last trophy in particular is especially notable for being one of two "gift trophies" never found during normal play, only available at all in the NTSC version of Melee, and then only at special Japanese events or by using a hacking device. There is also a trophy for Baby Mario, a baby version of Mario that mostly appears in Yoshi games.
All trophies showing Mario, including his Baby Mario trophy, read as follows:
Mario [Smash] (Adventure Mode)
Mario [Smash] (All-Star)
Mario and Yoshi
As a playable character
Main article: Mario (SSBB)
Mario was again a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, ostensibly intended to be the most balanced character. His appearance is based on his appearance in contemporary Mario games, such as Luigi's Mansion and Super Mario Sunshine. He has undergone a visual redesign, like his Fireball, which looks more realistic, but he is essentially the same fighter as he appeared in Melee, retaining all of his moves (although his former down special attack, the Mario Tornado, has become his down aerial attack, its former slot taken by F.L.U.D.D.). Like all of the game's other returning characters, he incorporates a Final Smash attack which can be used once he collects a Smash Ball. His Final Smash is the Mario Finale, where he projects a colossal, intertwining fireball to engulf all opponents in his direction. The Mario Finale extends to both well above and well below Mario's position, so Smash Bros. DOJO!! recommends that he is standing on a moderately elevated platform for maximum effect.
Mario is ranked 31st on the current tier list in F tier. His tournament results have been very low, combined with his rather standard abilities are outshined by the abilities of characters who are higher on the list.
Mario has a trophy that is awarded each time Classic mode is completed with him on any difficulty. The player can get a Mario Finale Trophy each time the player completes All-Star mode with Mario. See Mario Finale for the trophy description of Mario's Final Smash.
As a playable character
Main article: Mario (SSB4)
Mario was buffed significantly from Brawl to Smash 4, resulting in a high tier list placement, currently ranking 9th place out of 55 characters, placing him within A tier, his highest tier placement to date. He received buffs to his speed, power and reach. His comboing game, while not as powerful as other characters like Luigi and Sheik, is still very solid, with the most notable example being down throw following up into multiple up tilts. His fast attacks give him a surprisingly threatening neutral game as well, as the generally low cooldown in his moves does not leave him too open to getting punished himself. His Cape and F.L.U.D.D. specials also grant him commendable edge-guarding capabilities. Nonetheless, Mario's weaknesses include some trouble dealing with characters with disjointed reach due to his own below average range, and a subpar recovery. Overall, Mario's little weaknesses, as well as his all-rounded and easy-to-play status, has allowed him be to very successful in tournament play, earning strong representation and results.
Mario + Standard Kart
Mario + Standard Bike
Tanooki Mario & Kitsune Luigi
Mario (With Propeller Box)
Mario Golf: World Tour
Flying Squirrel Mario
As a playable character
Main article: Mario (SSBU)
Mario returns in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, as the second character to be confirmed for the game in the March 2018 teaser trailer. While his moveset is near-identical to how it was in Super Smash Bros. 4, his animations and aesthetics have been updated to reflect his appearance in Super Mario Odyssey, including having Cappy in place of his usual hat and having two alternate costumes from the game. One of these two, the Builder Outfit, first appeared in Super Mario Maker.
Comparatively to other fighters, Mario has received very few major direct changes in his transition from SSB4 to Ultimate, possibly less than any other fighter. However, changes and overhauls to pre-established mechanics from SSB4 to Ultimate have impacted Mario to a higher degree, resulting in a healthy mix of buffs and nerfs overall.
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