Mario (マリオ Mario?) is a fictional character in the Mario video game franchise by Nintendo, created by Japanese video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto. Serving as Nintendo's mascot and the eponymousprotagonist of the series, Mario has appeared in over 200 video games since his creation. Though originally only appearing in platform games, starting with Donkey Kong, Mario currently appears in varied video game genres such as racing, puzzle, party, role-playing, fighting, and sports.
Mario is depicted as a short, pudgy, Italian plumber who lives in the Mushroom Kingdom. He repeatedly rescues Princess Peach from the turtle-like villain Bowser and stops his numerous plans to destroy him and take over the kingdom. Mario also has other enemies and rivals, including Donkey Kong and Wario. Since 1995, he has been voiced by Charles Martinet.
Shigeru Miyamoto created Mario while developing Donkey Kong in an attempt to produce a best-selling video game for Nintendo; previous titles like Sheriff had not achieved the same success as titles like Pac-Man. Originally, Miyamoto wanted to create a video game that used the characters Popeye, Bluto, and Olive Oyl. At the time, however, Miyamoto was unable to acquire a license to use the characters (and would not until 1982), so he ended up making Jumpman (later known as Mario), Donkey Kong, and Pauline. In the early stages of Donkey Kong, Mario was unable to jump, and the focus was to escape a maze. However, Miyamoto enabled Mario to jump, saying "If you had a barrel rolling towards you, what would you do?"
Miyamoto originally named the character "Mr. Video", and he was to be used in every video game Miyamoto developed. According to a widely circulated story, during localization of Donkey Kong for North American audiences, Nintendo of America's warehouse landlord Mario Segale confronted its then-president Minoru Arakawa, demanding back rent. Following a heated argument in which the Nintendo employees eventually convinced Segale he would be paid, they opted to name the character in the game Mario after him.
Miyamoto commented that if he had named Mario "Mr. Video", Mario likely would have "disappeared off the face of the Earth." By Miyamoto's own account, Mario's profession was chosen to fit with the game design. Since Donkey Kong was set on a construction site, Mario was made into a carpenter. When he appeared again in Mario Bros., it was decided he should be a plumber, since a lot of the game is played in underground settings. Mario's character design, particularly his large nose, draws on western influences; once he became a plumber, Miyamoto decided to "put him in New York" and make him Italian, lightheartedly attributing Mario's nationality to his mustache. Other sources have Mario's profession chosen to be carpenter in an effort to depict the character as an ordinary hard worker, and make it easier for players to identify with him. After a colleague suggested that Mario more closely resembled a plumber, Miyamoto changed Mario's profession accordingly and developed Mario Bros.,featuring the character in the sewers of New York City.