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  • Crawling through underground pipes.

  • Racing to catch a mushroom.

  • And saving Princess Peach.

  • All things you did in the Mushroom Kingdom.

  • You might think you know everything about your favorite high-pitched, turtle- squashing, Italian plumber but, you have no idea.

  • Let's start from the beginning, the very beginning.

  • Guess when Nintendo was founded.

  • In the 19th century, 1889 to be exact.

  • They started out as playing cards manufacturer and, as years passed, expanded their lines of products.

  • Going from toys to instant rice and even taxi services.

  • Fastforward to the 1970s, the company is in dire financial straits and is looking to reinvent itself. With the golden age of video games in full swing, Nintendo saw an opportunity to join the fray.

  • So, they entrusted a young artist to lead their initiative.

  • A man that would ultimately change video games forever.

  • This is Shigeru Miyamoto, the world famous creator of the world famous character Mario.

  • And this is how Mario got his look.

  • [Back then, everything was monochrome, and we were using 8 or 10-bit images.]

  • [I was always drawing pictures, trying to see how I could convey the image to screen.]

  • [I wanted to create an image that looked like a moving person.]

  • But that was quite a challenge in 8-bit.

  • [Drawing a face was complicated, so I started with a nose.]

  • And one thing let to another.

  • [In order to distinguish the nose, I added a mustache.]

  • [Drawing hair was also complicated, so I made him wear a cap.]

  • [That's how Mario was conceived.]

  • Now our character needed, well, a name.

  • [I first named him "Mr. Video," as he was a character in a video game. ]

  • That video game was Donkey Kong.

  • [A game where gorilla kidnaps a protagonist's girlfriend.]

  • [There is a silly hero who is chasing the gorilla to rescue her.]

  • And that silly hero had a signature move.

  • [He cannot stop, but he can jump.]

  • Mr. Video become Jumpman, a carpenter climbing ladders on a construction site.

  • But, he needed a more relatable name.

  • [I wanted to create a character who could be easily understood by people around the world.]

  • [When we shipped "Donkey Kong" to the U.S. market, Japanese staff went to the U.S. to help with the release.]

  • To a warehouse in Seattle to be precise.

  • And what happened there?

  • [The warehouse's landlord was named Mario, and he also had a mustache.]

  • That landlord was Mario Segale, and he looked like this, with a mustache.

  • [He looked like the character,]

  • Wait, so that guy inspired Mario's name?

  • [I thought it was a nice name, and it might work.]

  • So, we had a funny idea: We wanted to look for Mario Segale.

  • That elusive landlord, turns out he still lives in the Seattle area, and he's still in real estate.

  • In fact, he's quite a mogul.

  • His name is even on a street sign.

  • We tried to call him to ask about Mario, but he didn't want to comment on the matter.

  • What happened in that warehouse stays in that warehouse.

  • (Mario sound effects)

  • After Donkey Kong, our hero was ready to be a star on his own, so Miyomoto set out to design him his own world.

  • [I created the character and wondered, "Would it be more fun if he could turn right and left or move diagonally?"]

  • ["What if he could jump twice?"]

  • Mario was jumping over pipes.

  • So naturally, he became a plumber.

  • [I never feel like drawing masculine superhero characters.]

  • Instead, Mario was kind of a chubby, blue collar hero.

  • [I think that type of character is more relatable to players.]

  • And players got to enjoy even more of Mario with his doppelgänger.

  • [Mario has a younger brother, Luigi, and he is just a color swap of Mario.]

  • Like Mario, his name has quite a story.

  • [I looked for the second most popular Italian name after Mario, and it was Luigi.]

  • And it was meant to be.

  • [It happens to mean "similar." phonetically in Japanese.]

  • Although the Mario brothers have a lot in common, Mario, he remained the true star.

  • And ultimately, he's more than a video game character.

  • [People grew up with Mario, and both father and son are familiar with him.]

  • We see him pretty much everywhere.

  • But, we'll never look at the Nintendo mascot the same way.

  • Mario is a legend, and so is his creator.

  • [It's important to create what you desire to, not what people expect you to.]

Crawling through underground pipes.

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How Mario Got His Mustache and His Name

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    Evangeline posted on 2021/03/16
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