To make it big in video games, you need three things: looks, personality, and preternatural jumping ability. We're talking flea-like vaulting skills, here. (It's never really been explained why this is so crucial to game characters, but we just have to accept it, like the inevitability of death or those pointless and annoying flaps on butter.)
Have these three attributes on your stat screen and you're virtually guaranteed to hit the top eventually. But be warned: even the highest leapers don't make it up there right away.
Super Mario didn't waltz straight into the Mushroom Kingdom and starting murdering turtles like it was no-one's business; he had to slum it on a hazardous construction site first. Likewise, Duke Nukem was forced to side-scroll all the way to the right before he was allowed a third dimension.
Others have paid a price for fame. Butter was melt-proof in Conker's mouth before the pressures of celebrity unveiled his vulgar side, whilst a puffed-up Kirby's desperation for cosmetic perfection has left him unrecognisable.
Stardom corrupts. So too does 'Power Stardom'. In the most click-baity way possible: you'll never believe these video game characters before they were famous!!!
First Appearance: Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (1992)
Wario games have always been deceptively satirical social commentaries. Where his current line of micro-distractions is clearly a statement on the state of the easily-digestible but quickly disposable nature of modern media (hello pot), Mario Land 2 was a prescient parable for the crisis of affordable housing.
Just look at the plot. Even though he's supposed to be Mario's childhood friend, Wario is still forced to curse his plumber pal's castle just to have a place to call his own. Desperation makes devils of us all.
And don't miss the subtle allusion to the housing market crash; it takes Mario only the paltry sum of six coins to buy his home back. Astute.