Mario, a name some would say is more influential than Jesus Christ and Paul McCartney combined. The Italian plumber who looks suspiciously Mexican has gone through many different phases and changes since his first appearance in Donkey Kong, when he went by the name "Jumpman." He fought his way past a giant gorilla who threw barrels at him like an abusive father firing empty bottles at the kid he never really wanted. All this to get to the woman he loved.
I wonder if he would have changed his mind back then if he'd known how many more times she would allow herself to be captured. I like to think not, because that's who Mario was and is: a hero. Sure, he may have dabbled in arson and experimented with hallucinogens (sometimes simultaneously). He might be responsible for one of the worst movies adapted from a video game ever made. But none of this changes the fact the he's one of the most recognizable characters ever created.
In 1990, Dr. Mario came out, causing everyone to ask, "If you have a PhD, why are you telling people you're a plumber?" Created by Shigeru Mayamoto (meaning "winged turtle" in English) in 1981, Mario wouldn't receive his own title until 1983. Ah the 80's, when everyone's clothes were the color of sherbet flavors. In this game, Mario and his lanky fraternal twin brother Luigi are portrayed as Italian-American plumbers who have to defeat creatures crawling out of the sewers of New York. This is ironic, because since then Italians have become the creatures crawling out of the sewers of New York.
Mario wouldn't rise to notoriety until 1985 when Super Mario Bros. was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System. If you were born after 1991 you probably have no idea what that is. I pity you… but moving on. This would be the first time Mario would come up against his most well-known antagonist, Bowser, a giant turtle that breathed fire, and somehow had the upper body strength and hand speed to constantly throw hammers despite being a turtle. After defeating him eight times, Mario would finally rescue Princess Toadstool, whose name would thankfully later be changed to the much sexier Princess Peach. Imagine Kate Beckinsale. Now imagine her name is Kate Toadstool. Not as good right? But I digress.
After this, Super Mario Bros. 2 was released. I never really finished that one. There was an asexual monster that shot eggs out of its mouth, and turnips with faces on them. I'm not really sure what you were fighting for because the Princess was a playable character. Thankfully, Super Mario Bros. 3 would come soon after that—a masterpiece on par with The Beatles' Abbey Road and Van Gogh's Starry Night.
In 1990, Dr. Mario came out, causing everyone to ask, "If you have a PhD, why are you telling people you're a plumber?" Lead with the doctor thing and you might be able to find a woman who isn't addicted to the drama of being kidnapped over and over. Perhaps, like no real doctor anywhere, Dr. Mario was just too modest.
Super Mario would eventually introduce all of us to one of the most loveable indentured servants of all time: Yoshi, a historically accurate, trained dinosaur that survived by eating apples and villains. He was also kind enough to wear a saddle so Mario could ride him. Apparently the market for dinosaur saddles is pretty high in the Mushroom Kingdom.
Then there was Mario Kart, a racing game that has caused more profanity than any other video game in history. I like to think of the game as a take on what would happen if everyone in the Mario universe broke out of prison while killing multiple guards, then fled in an "every man for themselves" fashion. Rainbow Road is undoubtedly the product of some poor fool who locked himself in a room for days on end surviving on nothing but acid and his own urine.
Mario 64 was the chubby plumber's first foray into the world of 3D. Some people are still playing this game, having heard "It's-a-me, Mario!" enough times to sufficiently drive them insane. All the while hoping that one day they'll get the 120th star and finally make it to the roof of the castle where they'll find Yoshi, Jimmy Hoffa, and the answers to all of their hopes and dreams.
There were so many more Mario titles that trying to list and describe them all here would be like masturbating hand over hand. Mario may have been the best thing to come out of the Reagan Era. He's been around longer than most of the people who will read this, and he will be here after you're gone. He was responsible for the rise of the mustache (suck it, Burt Reynolds). He has fought for the same woman since the very beginning (although she has gone through a few name changes). His brother is a putz, he defends a world that is not his own, and sometimes he spontaneously sprouts a raccoon tail. But through it all, his patience is never shaken. Like Gandhi in overalls. Maybe the world would be a better place if everyone tried to be a little bit more like Super Mario.