Why Mario is Video Game's Most Beloved Character

In terms of video game history, no other character has been more famous or possibly more beloved than Nintendo’s mascot, Mario. With his awesome red hat, handlebar mustache, and Italian name, Mario represents a major video game company to millions of dedicated gamers.

Not that much about Mario's character is known. Nintendo explains that “Mario's biography is kept simple in order to make the character versatile, and reusable in many different games and situations.” Nintendo has used Mario’s name and image to its fullest, placing him in over 100 video games to date, including Super Mario Bros., Mario 64, Mario Kart, and many more. Together, games that feature Mario have sold nearly 275 millions copies, making him the best selling game character of all time.

Nintendo Entertainment SystemMario first became famous when he was introduced on the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES. You may recall that the NES was first launched in the United States in October of 1985, and was one of the biggest reasons the video game industry came out of the video game crash of 1983. Mario’s first appearance on the NES was Super Mario Bros., and came out simultaneously with the NES (called a “launch title”). While the game had very high sales, it was mainly because it was packaged with the NES. This meant that when you bought the console, you were also buying the game. Although many claim that this is the sole reason for Super Mario Bros. success, the game also received very high marks from acclaimed sources, like Game Informer (a popular gaming magazine), who named the game the second greatest game of all time.

Curious as to why Mario was so popular, so I decided to investigate for myself what made Mario such a success. Playing around with some of the Mario games, you’d probably notice that they have never particularly excelled in graphics. So why are Mario games so popular? The biggest reasons for Mario games’ popularity are that his games are simple and fun.

If you watched the video at the top of this article, you will notice that the game is a 2D side-scrolling action-adventure game. 2D games are very simple because there’s only one way to go. After all, how hard is it to just go in one direction? Despite this obvious limitation, Mario games also contain enough obstacles and challenges so that you’ll most likely find Mario’s original and new 2D games to be challenging. (That is, unless you know how to do Mario speed runs. People who do this can complete the entire game in less than 6 minutes.) You can find videos of them here: Mario Speed Runs

Super Mario Bros.Super Mario Bros.

The first Mario titles introduced many things to video games. Most notably, Mario inspired thousands of future computer programmers to get an education in video games. Mario has also inspired hundreds of music bands with its monumental soundtrack composed by Koji Kondo. Mario launched the action-adventure genre into popularity, and made the NES one of the most famous systems of all time, and even saved the video game industry from demise from the video game crash of 1983.

Mario is clearly one of the video game industries most recognizable characters. Until Nintendo stops making consoles, which can’t be anytime soon, you should know that more great Mario games are headed your way.

Whether you buy them or not is up to you, but either way, Mario is one of the most popular and best video game characters of all time.

Matt Wood


Mario is a character of Nintendo.
Nintendo's Home Page


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Aug 17, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

What about Sonic the Hedgehog?

Okay, he is dated, but wasn't he once the most recognized video game character?

Aug 19, 2006
by Matt Wood


Yes, he was at one point. That is until the Dreamcast miserably failed.

Unfortunately, Sonic was originally chosen to rival Mario during the NES/SNES timeframe. Sega used Sonic as their mascot, but unfortunately, their Sega Dreamcast hit the market too early, and the PlayStation 1 forced the Dreamcast into failure. This cause Sega to go bankrupt.

If you want to compare recognizability, Sonic has sold almost 44 million copies of games with him in it, and Mario (as mentioned) sold almost 275 million.

Not to mention Nintendo is still around, and Sega isn't.

That's why Mario is more significant than Sonic.

Sep 21, 2006
by Jameson (not verified)


Sega actually IS still around. They've never stopped making games. They just dropped out of the console business.

Nov 13, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

Incorrect info...

Sonic's popularity peaked with the Genesis titles where he was considered the most recognizable character among preteens in a 1995 poll, beating out Mario, Michael Jordan, Mickey Mouse and even Bart Simpson.

His popularity died during the Saturn days when no "proper" Sonic game was released.

His Dreamcast games did well, and the Dreamcast was abandoned by SEGA of Japan when the PS2 garnered more attention in Japan.

Secondly you must consider that Sonic also has had many successful comic book and cartoon series. Sonic comic books are some of the best selling, and the cartoon series (multiple ones) have been quite popular ratings wise.

So if you compare popularity, Sonic could easily be argued as more popular. SEGA and Sonic Team have not been able to capitalize on this popularity to turn into games sales, but he is still contributing a lot of revenue in all other facets.

Nov 22, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

What about Crash Bandicoot?

Despite him being a third-party character now, Crash games have still been similar to Mario's games such as Crash Tag Team Racing and Mario Kart: Double Dash!

Jun 21, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

I agree

Mario is the best. So what if Sonic beat him in popularity one year. Mario beat him all the others. Mario's been around longer, and has a more famus sound track (Sonic's most famus song is Green hill zone.). Sonic also has less abilatys than Mario (Yes Mario has a "super" form, Mega Mario from New Mario Brothers). Mario also has a side kick, too. His side kick is Luigi. Also he has Yoshi. Mario also has a more well known villain: Bowser.

Best three characters:




Dec 20, 2008
by Anonymous

Sonic Had Sold far more

Sonic Had Sold far more games on to wii then Mario did
also kids now know Sonic more
I baby-sit a 5 year old girl who loves Sonic
Sonic is just a more lovable charater