Is there a more beloved and iconic video game character than Mario? Sorry Sonic fans, but there is not.
Everybody who’s ever picked up a controller knows just who Mario is. And those same people all know the classic traits and mannerisms of this ever-busy plumber – including his legendary moustache. But why exactly was Mario given a moustache in the first place?
Shigeru Miyamoto is the man responsible for creating so many all-time classic video games – from Donkey Kong, to The Legend of Zelda, to Super Mario Bros. as just three prime examples – and this member of gaming royalty is the person who made the call to give Mario his trademark ‘tache.
Mario made his debut in 1981's Donkey Kong, of course, and the plucky plumber was originally known as Jumpman and then Mr. Video. As a fun fact for you, Miyamoto originally wanted Popeye as the protagonist of that first Donkey Kong, but licensing issues prevented that.
In all of his 8-bit glory, it soon became apparent that it was impossible to properly depict a mouth on Mario’s face.
Whatever Miyamoto and his team tried, Mario’s mouth consistently continued to look like a moustache. And so, deciding to stop battling the tide, the call was made to just go with it and have Mario be moustachioed.
With the advancements in graphics from 8-bit to 16-bit and beyond, it obviously became possible to scrap Mario’s moustache and give him the clearly defined mouth that was originally planned. But by then, the plumber’s iconic look was well and truly established – to the point that it’s now impossible to think of Mario without his trademark face fuzz.
And while we’ve got your attention, the reason that Mario is called Mario is because Nintendo of America decided to name the character that as a way to placate a warehouse landlord called Mario Segale, who the firm owed back rent to.
The more you know.