Mario (マリオ?) is a fictional character created by game designer Shigeru Miyamoto. Serving as Nintendo's mascot, Mario has appeared in over 200 video games since his creation. Though originally only appearing in platform games, starting with Donkey Kong, currently Mario appears in many genres of games, such as racing, puzzle, role-playing, fighting, and sports games, and many others. As Nintendo's mascot, Mario is one of the most famous characters in video game history, and his image has become synonymous with video games. Mario debuted in the arcade game Donkey Kong in 1981. In Donkey Kong Junior in 1982, he was the villain, and in the ending cinematic, he is knocked out. The games were so successful that he carried over into an arcade game titled Mario Bros. in 1983, which boasted a simultaneous two-player mode and introduced his taller yet younger brother Luigi. His next appearance was in Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), which would quickly be one of the most famous games on the console.

Mario is portrayed in games and other media as being a kind-hearted and brave hero with archetypically heroic aspects, with a love of pasta and pizza. Mario's cheerful personality is reflected in his high pitched voice. Mario's speech is usually limited to short phrases like: "Okey dokey!", "Woohoo!", "Let's a-go!", "It's-a me! Mario!", "'ere we go", "Mama mia!" and more, though in the Mario sports titles, however, he uses full speech capabilities. However, besides these short phrases, Mario hardly ever makes any conversation in any official games, leaving the talking to other characters. He does however speak fully in the DiC animated cartoons and the anime series.

During the development of Donkey Kong, Mario was known as "Jumpman". Jumping—both to access places and as an offensive move—is a common gameplay element in Mario games, especially the Super Mario Bros. series.

Mario's most commonly portrayed form of attack is jumping to stomp on the heads of enemies, first used in Mario Bros.. This jump-stomp move may entirely crush smaller enemies on the stage, and usually deals damage to larger ones, sometimes also causing secondary effects. This attack often enables Mario to knock the turtle-like Koopa Troopas into their shells, which can slide into and damage other enemies or Mario.

Subsequent games have elaborated on Mario's jumping-related abilities. Super Mario World added the ability to spin-jump, which allows Mario to break blocks beneath him. Later, the Game Boy version of Donkey Kong allows Mario to jump higher with consecutive jumps, and perform a back-flip. In Super Mario 64, Mario has several jumping abilities, such as a sideways somersault, a ground pound, and the "Wall Kick", which propels him upwards by kicking off walls.

Mario uses many items, which give him various powers. The most prominent of these is the "Super Mushroom", which allows Mario to grow to twice his size, becoming the eponymous "Super Mario", and can sustain damage before shrinking back down to "regular" Mario. Additionally, collecting a "Fire Flower" transforms Mario into "Fire Mario" and allows him to throw fireballs at enemies, and a "Starman" renders Mario temporarily impervious to harm.

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