How Old Is Mario and What Game Did Mario Appear in First?

Want to hear some mildly interesting Mario facts?

With over 40 years of Mario behind us, there is still a ton of questions we don’t have direct answers to.

If you’ve ever wondered how old is Mario or what game did he appear in first,  below you’ll find everything you need to know about Mario along with some in-depth and fully researched answers.

How Old Is Mario?

A screenshot of the Japanese Smash Bros trophy and text reading "His age is around 26 years old."

Mario is around 26 years old. If that sounds a little vague, it’s intentional.

Back in the day, Mario creator and superstar developer Shigeru Miyamoto said in an interview with Nintendo that Mario is somewhere in the region of 24 to 25 years old. Again, vague, but we work with what we’ve got.

Here’s what Miyamoto said:

“I think it was good that we didn’t put any weird restrictions on it,” says Miyamoto.

“When a character is born and it becomes known to the world, the setting is decided in detail, such as ‘What is your favorite color?’ ‘What is your favorite food?’ But we hadn’t decided on anything else aside from the fact that he’s about 24-25 years old.”

This 24 to 25 region also appeared in the Japanese version of Super Smash Bros. Melee. In that version of the game, there’s an unlockable Mario trophy that includes an interesting nugget of info that reads: His age is around 26 years old.

So in short, Mario’s age currently sits in the region of 24 to 25 years old.

What Game Did Mario Appear in First?

Image showing three Donkey Kong screenshots.

Believe it or not, Mario’s first appearance wasn’t in Super Mario Bros. or the two-player battler Mario Bros., both of which were released in 1983 on the same day.

In fact, Mario’s first appearance came two years earlier in 1981’s Donkey Kong. He wasn’t even called Mario either! Back then he was simply known as Jumpman due to his power of, well, being able to jump.

The Donkey Kong game took its cues from the movie King Kong. In it, the villainous Donkey Kong has kidnapped Jumpman’s then-girlfriend known only as Lady, who was later named Pauline.

Speaking of renames, did you know the original Donkey Kong isn’t the same Donkey Kong you play as in Donkey Kong Country and beyond? The original Donkey Kong became Cranky Kong in those games. He’s probably bitter after being whopped by someone named Jumpman. We would be too, to be fair.

To summarize, Mario’s first appearance was Donkey Kong, but he wasn’t the Mario we know and love until Super Mario Bros.

Who Created Mario?

Mario was created by the legendary Nintendo developer Shigeru Miyamoto. The story of how Mario came to be is proper wild as well.

Originally, Miyamoto wanted to create a character similar to Popeye. Only instead of creating a carbon copy, Miyamoto decided to make the character more blue-collar. While many know Mario as the titular plumber, he originally started out as a carpenter.

But in the US, the carpenter profession and simplistic original name of ‘Jumpman’ wasn’t working. After being taxed with coming up with a new name, Miyamoto turned to his fellow developers at Nintendo.

Co-workers at the time had given Jumpman the nickname ‘Mario’ due to his uncanny resemblance to the property’s landlord Mario Segale, so Miyamoto decided to let the name stick.

“They started calling the character Mario, and when I heard that I said ‘Oh, Mario’s a great name — let’s use that,’” Miyamoto said to NPR back in 2015.

What Is Mario’s Real Surname?

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Now here’s a point of contention. In western naming conventions, using a name followed by ‘bros’ normally means that’s the bother’s surname.

So when a game named Super Mario Bros. comes along, that means the characters’ surname is Mario. Logically, anyway.

That means Mario’s full name is Mario Mario and his twin brother’s name is Luigi Mario.

Wild, right? And not at all silly.

This issue came to the forefront when Mario was asked his name in the 1993 live-action movie Super Mario Bros., to which he replies “Mario Mario.”

Here’s where the contention comes in. Some people took this revelation as fact, or think it’s so silly it should be canon. The truth, though, is Mario doesn’t have a surname.

In an interview with GameInformaer, Shigeru Miyamoto fielded a question about Mario’s surname.

“This is an old story, but Hollywood did a film version of the Mario Bros. many years back,” said Miyamoto.

“There was a scene in the script where they needed a last name for the characters. Somebody suggested that, because they were the Mario Bros., their last name should be Mario. So, they made him “Mario Mario.”

“I heard this and laughed rather loudly. Of course, this was ultimately included in the film. Based on the film, that’s [how] their names ended up. But, just like Mickey Mouse doesn’t really have a last name, Mario is really just Mario and Luigi is really just Luigi.”

So there you have it. Mario doesn’t actually have a surname. Poor guy.

How Powerful Is Mario?

Nintendo has never said how powerful Mario is, but based on the 40 years of Super Mario games, it’s possible he’s a demigod capable of wielding multiple types of magic.

Mario’s main ability is transference – when he finds an item, he can imbue himself with its hidden power. If he finds a fire flower, he gains the ability of pyrokinesis, leaves allow him to fly, mushrooms – which grow fast in real life – allow him to manipulate his size, and so on.

But Mario’s magic comes with a cost – he can wield the power for as long as he wishes, but if he gets hit, those powers fade away instantly.

Along with the power of transference, Mario can also resurrect himself at an earlier point in time to avoid the pitfalls he experienced, his infinite lung capacity allows him to sprint without ever stopping, and he’s able to pick up any profession with zero prior training – think tennis, kart racing, or soccer.

Mario may lack the vortex power of fellow Nintendo character Kirby, someone who’s capable of destroying universes, but as far as human characters go, he’s one of the strongest out there.


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Wesley Copeland

Wesley Copeland is a gaming and tech journalist with over 10 years of experience writing online. Originally starting in video games before specializing in tech and toys, you can find his bylines at IGN, VG24/7, Kotaku, Tech Radar, Games Radar, PC Gamer, and many more. He's also highly passionate about how tech can be used to better our day-to-day lives.