It’s a Me Jumpman? The Journey of Everyone’s Favorite Plumber

Mario in Super Mario Bros., one of the first g...
Mario in Super Mario Bros., one of the first games he starred in. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mario is one of gaming’s most iconic and favorite mascots. But where exactly did the little Italian plumber come from? Well today we are going to explore that and we take a retrospective on Mario and all his glory. We’ll take a look into the plumbers humble beginnings into how he’s become a mega star in the gaming industry.



Mario was a a concept designed by resident Nintendo gaming genius Shigeru Miyamoto. Miyamoto originally wanted to make an arcade game based around the hit cartoon Popeye, but however could not get the licensing to do so. So instead of using Popeye Bluto and Olive Oil in his game, he created new characters known as Jumpman (Mario), Donkey Kong and Pauline. Originally Miyamoto wanted to name him Mr. Video and use him in every game he would produce, but opted instead for Jumpman. However in 1981 when the game was being localized, the warehouse’s landlord Mario Segale came and demanded the back rent from the company. After a heated discussion, the company and Segale came to an agreement that led to Jumpman being remade into Mario, after the warehouse’s owner.


In 1981 Donkey Kong was released and the world was introduced to Jumpman, the protagonist of the game. Originally Jumpman was a carpenter and he owned the ape known as Donkey Kong. This is why the game originally took place in a construction site, to match Jumpman’s occupation. However in Donkey Kong’s sequel Donkey Kong Junior  which released in 1982, Jumpman was renamed into Mario.  Miyamoto decided that after renaming the character to Mario and after deciding that the Mario Bros. would take place in a more underground environment, that Mario should be a plumber. He also decided that Mario should be from New York and be Itailan-American, to better connect with Mario’s mustache. Due to the limitations of game development/graphics Miyamoto decided to make Mario wear a red shirt with blue overalls to contrast each other, as well as adding a cap so he wouldn’t have to draw the eyebrows and hair of the character. So then in 1983, Mario Bros. is released and the world is introduced to Mario and his brother Luigi.


After the release of his arcade game, Mario would become instantly popular with the gaming community. Mario would  continue his rise after the Nintendo released Super Mario Bros. in 1989 (85 for Japan) for their first home gaming system the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). This game would be a pack in title for the NES and gamers ate it up, loving Nintendo’s new mascot. Mario would continue to see success on the NES with Super Mario 2 and coming out on the same system, both of which showing a more detailed and refined version of Mario such as showing him with white gloves and brown shoes as well as showing him with the signature M on his cap. 

Mario also had many cameo’s and appearances in other games. Mario in 1982’s Donkey Kong Junior was the main antangonist, for the first and only time in his history. He would also appear in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out (or Punch Out feat. Mr. Dream) as the referee.


In 1991 (90 for Japan) Mario would make his debut on Nintendo’s next gaming system the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in Super Mario World. With the graphical improvements, the plumber looked more detailed such as serving as the groundwork for how he’d would  appear in future titles. He would also appear in 1995’s


in 1996 with the release of Nintendo’s first 3D system in the Nintendo 64 (N64), Mario would appear for the first every time in a 3D envrionment. Mario would star in the game Super Mario 64 and the graphics would blow everyone’s mind. Mario would have the same concepts such as he did in Super Mario World, but he would be seen being more realistic and having a sharper look than usual in his previous 2D games.  There were also those that saw the graphics and changes to Mario as a bad thing saying he looked too diffrent from his 2D sprite, and too polygonal.



Mario would have a drought of main games, having been in a ton of spin off games for the N64 such as Mario Kart and Mario Tennis. However that would change in 2001 as Mario would return to star in Mario Sunshine for the Nintendo GameCube. IN this game Mario no longer looked polygonal such as he did in Mario 64,  but rather he looked more life-like and sharper. He also would use this look in all his next adventures from this point on.

Mario after 2001 would continue to be Nintendo’s go-to-character for everything. He would go on to star in over 100 games from 2002-present. He also shows no signs of slowing down as many still love the iconic plumber weather it be his simplistic game play, or the challenge of figuring out each stage, we will continue to see Mario in almost everything Nintendo produces.

There is a brief history and retrospective of Nintendo’s beloved Italian Plumber. The company shows no signs of slowing down  with Mario, so expect more and more of him as the future unfolds from Nintendo.