Mario is a video game character created by Japanese game designer Shigeru Miyamoto and the official mascot of Nintendo. He has appeared in over 100 video games since his creation, more than any other character. Originally used for platforming games, he has also found his way into racing games, puzzle games, role-playing games, fighting games, sports games, and many others.
Mario first appeared in the video game Donkey Kong as a character named "Jumpman". The game was surprisingly successful. Mario also starred in an arcade game simply called Mario Bros and when the Nintendo Entertainment System was released, Mario was given the starring role in the revolutionary Super Mario Bros..
"Jumpman", the protagonist of Donkey Kong, was called "Mario" in certain promotional materials for the game's release overseas. His namesake was Mario Segale, the landlord of Nintendo of America, who barged in on a meeting in the company's Redmond, Washington facility to demand an overdue rent payment. In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Mario is given the stage name of "Great Gonzales" during his battles in Glitzville. Before a battle, one of the audience members refers to Mario as "Jumpman," a joke about Mario's first identity. Mario's nickname in Mario Hoops 3-on-3 is "The Jumpman", again making reference to his original name. Mario is currently voiced by Charles Martinet, who also voices Luigi, both their baby counterparts, Wario, Waluigi, and other characters such as Toadsworth.
Restrictions in the mid-1980s; with limited pixels and colors, the programmers could not animate Mario's movement without making his arms "disappear". Making his shirt a solid color and giving him overalls fixed this. They also did not have the space to give him a mouth or ears, and they could not animate hair, so Mario got a moustache, sideburns, and a cap to bypass these problems. Mario's creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, has stated when interviewed that Mario wears a cap because he finds it difficult to draw hair.
The surname "Mario" (which would make his full name Mario Mario) was first used in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, and then 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". This surname theory has never been employed officially by Nintendo, and it is broadly accepted that Mario and Luigi are collectively called the Mario Bros. simply because Mario is the head-liner of the pair.
Mario has taken on the role of Nintendo's mascot and has since been extensively merchandised. Mario's major rival was Sega mascot Sonic the Hedgehog who debuted in the early 1990s; the two mascots competed head-to-head for nearly a decade afterwards, until around 2001 when a Sonic game (Sonic Adventure 2: Battle) showed up on a Nintendo console due to Sega's new third party status, ending a lengthy rivalry. Sonic and Mario officially appeared together in a crossover sports game, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, and will be together again in Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Mario was one of the first video game characters to be honored at the Walk of Game in 2005, alongside Link and Sonic the Hedgehog.