Evolution of Mario

Before he was a household name, Mario was a generic, barrel-jumping man with a blue moustache. After making his debut in Donkey Kong as antagonist ‘Jumpman’, Mario would go on to star in a series of critically acclaimed platformers, zigzagging between 2D and 3D.

Mario through the ages: Tri-colour 2D sprite in Super Mario Bros. (1985), polygonal 3D model in Super Mario 64 (1996), refined rendering plus a novel sidekick in Super Mario Odyssey (2017)

His popularity became widespread, translating into kart racing spinoffs, sports games, collaborations with Yoshi, and even a minigame party franchise. Although Nintendo has stuck fairly closely to the original formula, choosing opportune moments to innovate (Super Mario Maker, Super Mario Run), there’s one thing that’s clear: Mario’s character has undergone significant changes since inception.

Colour palettes expanded. More attention was poured into establishing Mario’s facial features. Before long, Mario had transformed into an expressive, beautifully realised character that was not only a household name; Shigeru Miyamoto’s brainchild had become a global phenomenon.

It’s exciting to think that Mario’s upcoming appearance in Super Mario Odyssey could be another era-defining moment. And there’s not long left until we find out.