Mario, along with Sonic, Pikachu, and Tingle are some of gaming’s most important figures. If it weren’t for them, who knows what the gaming landscape would look like now. 

Mario is a very busy man and with a strange history of plumbing, capturing gorillas, and taming dinosaurs, his past becomes rather hard to make sense.

For this reason, here’s a timeline of some of his most important moments. 

Mario’s Most Important Moments

First debuted in Donkey Kong in 1981 by the name of Jumpman, Mario was an amalgamation of Popeye, a carpenter and, most importantly, an Italian plumber. 

Before this, he was unnamed, then titled Mr. Video before landing his eponymous role as Mario.

His iconic red overalls and cap were chosen to make him distinctive without having to draw hair and other features due to graphical limitations.

He didn't take up his iconic moniker until Donkey Kong Junior in 1982, the one and only time he played the role of the villain. 

It wasn't until 1983 when Mario would receive a title with his own name in it, the arcade title “Mario Bros.” featuring him and his brother Luigi fighting creatures from the sewers under New York City. 

Two years later, in 1985, we would get the classic “Super Mario Bros.” complete with side-scrolling platforming and princesses in other castles. King Koopa and Princess Toadstool would become Bowser and Princess Peach, respectively.

Super Mario Bros 2 in 1988 marked a change in the formula taking after Doki Doki Panic in visuals and gameplay, which was followed up by Super Mario Bros 3 that same year, a more traditional Mario game widely considered one of the best to this day. 

In 1989, Mario made his first appearance in handheld form in Super Mario Land followed by Super Mario Land in 1992.

In the period between these two games, Mario took up a white coat in Dr Mario, went missing in Mario is Missing, started racing in Mario Kart, took after Jurassic Park in Mario and Yoshi and engaged in several other endeavours.

Mario was a very busy man!

Super Mario World featuring Yoshi and a more choice-driven level system released on the SNES in 1990, followed by Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island five years later.

In 1993, a combination of titles and Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (never seen outside of Japan) released in Super Mario All-Stars for the SNES.

The last Mario game to be featured on the SNES was Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars in 1996.

Like some of his endeavours before it, this showed Mario was not afraid of acting outside of the strict constraints of platforming. 

After years of steady growth for the franchise and huge sales, the release of the N64 in 1996 marked a big change for Mario.

The upgraded hardware of the Nintendo 64 came with an upgraded vision encapsulated in the class Super Mario 64.

Super Mario 64 had a much more open-ended level structure with lots of ways of getting stars and non-linear progression. This sold 11 million copies as of May 2003. 

With Super Mario 64 came a slew of non-mainline Mario games such as Mario Kart 64, Yoshi’s Story, Mario Party, and more.

As well as follow-ups to Mario Party and new sports titles, Paper Mario was released in 2000, another RPG Mario with great visuals. 

Gamers had to wait till 2001 to get the GameCube and 2002 to get Super Mario Sunshine, the sparkly water-filled return of mainline Mario series. It sold over five millions copies worldwide by 2006. 

The GameCube also saw the return of titles such as Mario Kart, Mario Golf, Mario Party, and Super Smash Bros before making way for the DS in 2005 and Wii in 2006. 

In 2005, Mario returned in RPG form with Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time.

With the inception of the Nintendo DS came New Super Mario Bros. in 2006 which was a simplistic, yet addictive entry to the Super Mario series. 

Alongside a few side titles like Mario Strikers Charged, Super Paper Mario, and Mario Party came Super Mario Galaxy in 2007, one of the most well-revered Mario titles to this day.

With its gravity-driven puzzles and crazy traversal, it's easy to see why it managed to sell 12.8 million copies by 2020. 

In 2009, a number of Mario games were released including New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games, and Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story.

The ‘10s furthered the trend of less frequent but higher quality Mario Games and started us off with Super Mario Galaxy 2, but not much else. 

In 2011, Super Mario 3D Land, Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and Mario Kart 7 hit the shelves. 

The solid but fairly unremarkable New Super Mario Bros. 2 landed on the DS in 2012 along with New Super Mario Bros. U and the release of the Nintendo Wii U.

2013 was a great year for Mario with Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Super Mario 3D World, Mario Party: Island Tour, and Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, all seeing a spot in our game selection.

Super Mario 3D World was the first mainline Mario game in a while and was a very solid title if a little underwhelming in contrast to Super Mario Galaxy. 

Mario took a bit of a back seat in 2014 in exchange for Captain Toad to flourish alongside Mario Kart 8 and Yoshi’s New Island.

Super Mario Maker came out swinging in 2015 to hoards of adoring fans and tons of impossible levels. This was further backed up with Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, Mario Party 10, and a new Dr. Mario

Super Mario Maker was so good it found its way onto the 3DS in 2016. Paper Mario: Color Splash and Mario Party: Star Rush also released in 2016.

The launch of the Nintendo Switch in 2017 brought promises in the future as well as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and the incredible Super Mario Odyssey.

Odyssey offered wonderful worlds and even better controls. 

2018 was a quieter year for Mario with Mario Tennis Aces, Super Mario Party, and the rather fantastic brawler Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

In 2019, the long-awaited follow up to Super Mario Maker launched with the plainly titled Super Mario Maker 2 as well as New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe on Switch. 

Finally, in 2020, Paper Mario: The Origami King released and charmed old and new fans alike.

With the release of Super Mario 3D All-Stars, a love letter to some of Mario’s most iconic outings, this trend shows no signs of stopping.