It has been 25 years since the legendary video game character Mario, made its debut with the game Super Mario Bros. Its creator says the little Italian plumber also plays an important role as a Cultural Ambassador.
Mario and his brother Luigi in their instantly recognisable red and green overalls may be Italian, but creator Shigeru Miyamoto, a Japanese by nationality, said that they have given many people their first taste of Japanese culture.
“There are a lot of unconscious Japanese references, for example, from Manga. Many children came in contact with it for the first time through my games,” said Miyamoto, who turns 58 this month. He also points to other cultural influences in the games, for example, the castles inspired by Germany.
The character was originally created for the game Donkey Kong. Super Mario Bros subsequently became the bestselling video game for decades. Even now, it remains one of the most recognised characters of all time, and has appeared in a slew of spin-off games and even a television programme and a film.
“Creating video game characters is very difficult because they must be both comic heroes and actors,” Miyamoto said. “I am often called the ‘father of Mario’, but I gave birth to him, so I’m really more of a mother,” he added.