Nintendo is Ushering in a New Era of Mario

Obviously and not so obviously, our favorite plumber, Mario, has changed–as many long-lived mascots do. The change I’m describing isn’t the minor cosmetic tweaks through each game iteration, as that can be expected as technology improves. With the leap to The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Charles Martinet’s retirement as the voice of Mario, and the upcoming Super Mario Bros. Wonder, we are looking at the dawn of a new era.

The Mario We Knew

Most individuals in the gaming sphere know old-school Mario, the Mario whose first video game appearance wasn’t even his own in 1981’s Donkey Kong (technically he was “Jumpman” back in the day).

Image Credit: Nintendo via MarioWiki

There was little to no personality back then, but he was a means for a player to jump, slide, and hurl fireballs until our heart’s content. The Mario franchise became famous for its platforming prowess, and the character was nothing short of endearing. This eight-bit mustached hero has permanently solidified his style and identity through the eighties and nineties until the first major transformation–3D Mario.

Image Credit: Nintendo

Mario’s first major evolution was seen with Super Mario 64. No doubt the leap to 3D flung those double doors open for innovative gameplay, but Nintendo’s mascot entered a more modern era with that adorable face that you could pull on in the title screen. Also, most people first hear Mario’s voice in Super Mario 64. Technically Charles Martinet first voiced Mario in Mario Teaches Typing (and likely Super Mario Bros. Pinball). This “new and improved” Mario was further fleshed out and solidified himself as a company mascot that could rival Mickey Mouse at Disney.

Charles Martinet voiced Mario for a little over two decades, and for the most part, Mario’s character model remained consistent in subsequent 3D games like Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy, and Super Mario Odyssey. Now two decades is a long time–an entire generation.

The “New” Mario?

Three major events that occurred or will occur in 2023 are clear signs of a new Mario. The first was The Super Mario Bros. Movie. While Nintendo worked with Illumination for some time, it took the world by storm in 2023. Not only did Mario look a little different, but he was voiced by Chris Pratt, for better or for worse. Many fans of the franchise lost their cool when they learned Martinet was only a cameo.

But how could someone other than Charles Martinet voice our beloved Mario?!?

Image Credit: Nintendo

Then, Nintendo announced Martinet’s retirement from voicing Mario. Although this news was received with heavy hearts, it wasn’t a complete surprise given his respectably lengthy career, the release of the movie, and an up-and-coming new game.

Image Credit: Nintendo

This game, and the third and final factor in Mario’s latest metamorphosis, is Super Mario Bros. Wonder. Our plumber in red returns in a colorful 2D game in October 2023 with yet a newer design and voiced…not…by Charles Martinet. The recent Nintendo Direct showcased new and exciting gameplay elements. New gameplay, new voice, new look…The keyword is new.

These three factors, in my opinion, herald a new era of Mario. Nintendo is evolving and growing, and I believe they understand a new generation of Mario fans is within their grasp. Perhaps they felt a refresh was needed to engage an even wider audience and keep Mario’s legacy running. Although I personally hate change, I am at peace with it because Nintendo treats Mario with utmost respect. They would not allow the quality of their prized mascot to suffer.

As I mentioned earlier, his evolution reminds me a lot like Disney’s Mickey Mouse. He went from black-and-white Steamboat Willie to Fantasia Mickey to a stylized version in 2013. The media is slightly different, but Mickey is still a company mascot, and we all notice his evolutions over the decades.

With Love and Respect

With love and respect, I eagerly await for Super Mario Bros. Wonder and keep my 90s Mario in my heart always. Nintendo really breathed life into Mario by giving him that iconic voice and more expressive features and personality. Whenever large changes like this occur, it is always nice to acknowledge the past and look forward to the future. I know Nintendo has a lot in store for Mario for the next twenty years–if you really think about it, perhaps we are still early in the golden age phase. With the open of Super Nintendo World in Los Angeles, the pending release of Super Mario Bros. Wonder, and likely plans for more movies, Mario will leap into our hearts in more ways than one!

Do you feel like the tides are changing? How did you feel when you learned Charles Martinet is retiring? Please share your thoughts with us on our Boss Rush Facebook Group or our Boss Rush Discord.

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Featured Image Credit: Nintendo and IMDB

Sources: Wikipedia, Jotform

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