The Mario video games franchise was created by Nintendo in 1981, with the release of Donkey Kong. The first Mario game to star the eponymous plumber was Mario Bros, two years later in 1983. Since then, Mario, Luigi and friends have been seen on just about every Nintendo console released, from the Super Nintendo to the Nintendo 64 and the Nintendo Wii U.
Though the games started out as simple platformers, Mario games have branched out in the past two decades to include role-playing games, party games, and racing games. One of the franchise's most popular titles is the Mario Kart series, in which players can take control of Mario, Yoshi, Toad, and others, throwing bombs at one another while hurtling around a karting track.
Like any popular gaming franchise worth its salt, Mario is also extremely popular for its merchandise too. It's not hard to find bags and gaming accessories with Mario or even Princess Peach on them, and Nintendo themselves manufacture plushy toys of everyone's favourite video game characters. Mario has taken Japan - and the rest of the world - by storm and carved himself a special place in history.
The Mario series has matured since its inception in 1981, and today the Mario games are some of the most anticipated games for each new Nintendo console. Each new game brings brightly-coloured fun and mayhem which can be enjoyed by kids and hardcore gamers alike.