Satoru Iwata, the fourth CEO and president of the Japanese video game company, Nintendo, passed away on Monday (July 13). He had witnessed the company’s growth over the years with franchises like The Legend of Zelda and Donkey Kong, and his death drew a flood of emotional tributes from gaming fans across the world. Nintendo Super Mario, synonymous with childhood for most of us, continues to dazzle players across generations with its simple gameplay and classic design. As an ode to Iwata, we reveal five facts about Mario you might not have known.
1) Think Mario, and you always picture an all-round good guy. Well, almost always. The 1982 arcade game, Donkey Kong Junior, featured Mario as the bad guy. It takes place after Donkey Kong is caught and thrown into a cage. His son now has to swing into action to set his dad free.
2) As it turns out, our moustachioed hero was not supposed to be this genteel. He was meant to wield a beam gun and a rifle in what was meant to be a badass action version of the game.
3) The character was renamed several times before Mario stuck. He was first called Ossan, which is Japanese for a middle-aged man. Then, Mr Video and Jumpman were considered before the team finally zeroed in on the name that the world today knows him by.
4) Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto, was designing The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario games at the same time. So he swapped elements between the two. For instance, the fire bar that gamers today find in the castles of Mario, was originally meant for The Legend of Zelda.
5) Though it might no longer be true, there was a time when Mario was more familiar to children than Mickey Mouse. Or, so revealed a national survey conducted in the USA in 1990.