Super Mario: The super success story of a plumber

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The world's most successful video game franchise

Super Mario is a well-known leading man among children and adults alike (above at the 2017 Gamescom fair in Cologne). Since 2005, he has had a star on the Walk of Game, a spin-off of the Walk of Fame, which can be found in a San Francisco shopping center. But the famous Hollywood sidewalk could still yet be a possibility...

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Creator Shigeru Miyamoto

The brains behind Super Mario also came up with other video game success stories like "The Legend of Zelda" and "Pimkin." After a short interlude as CEO in 2015, Miyamoto is currently Creative Fellow at Nintendo, an honorary position for the legendary game designer.

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It all started with an ape

In the 1981 arcade game "Donkey Kong," the girlfriend of an overall-wearing carpenter (Mario had a previous handyman career before becoming a plumber) is captured by a gorilla and must be saved. The game was Nintendo's breakthrough into the American market, becoming the second most-successful arcade game in the US after Pacman.

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Mario becomes a star

Mario's design was significantly influenced by graphic capabilities. A mustache was easier to portray than a mouth, and the hat spared designers the complicated work of depicting hair. Mario also wasn't always the little man's name. His previous monikers include "Mr. Video" as well as "Jumpman."

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The dream team of Mario und Luigi

Mario's brother Luigi made his appearance in the 1983 "Mario Bros." But it was only with the next game, the 1985 "Super Mario Bros" that the plumbing brothers made video game history. Today it remains one of the most successful video games of all time. It had a profound influence on the Jump'n'Run genre and inspired many future designers. It also introduced Princess Peach to the world.

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Big screen problems

TV series and a feature film followed on the heels of the console game's success, but the other mediums didn't do nearly as well. Despite famous actor Bob Hoskins in the role of Mario (above) and co-star Dennis Hopper, the 1993 "Super Mario Bros." movie flopped in cinemas. The confusing plot and the gloomy setting may have turned off viewers.

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Mario, Mario and, once again, Mario

However, the subsequent "Mario Bros." games found success, and not just in homes. The games were played on the 1990s most popular mobile console, GameBoy, as well as on the Nintendo Wii console, introduced in 2006 and complete with motion sensors. Mario also appeared in 3D and an extra Mario Kart series was developed. And as of 2016, you can find Mario games on your Smartphone, too.

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'It's-a-me-Mario'

Everyone may have a little Mario inside of them, but there is only one true Mario voice, that of Charles Martinet. Since 1995, the US actor has lent his voice to the pudgy plumber and given him his calling-card motto. You can also hear Martinet in the Japanese version of the game. The actor can often be spotted at gaming events around the world.

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Mario universe

The number of characters in Mario's world have grown significantly over time. Yoshi, Bowser, King Buu Huu - more than 37 friends and acquaintances can be found romping around the Mario universe.

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The adventure continues

"Super Mario Odyssey" is the latest gaming escapade. The game was designed for the new Nintendo console Switch and will be released at the end of October. In the meantime, Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto is working on a new Mario theme park in Japan. It should be finished by the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. In Mario's own words, "Mamma mia!"

He is the world's best known video game character. But the mustachioed plumber was almost a nondescript side figure. DW takes a glance back at Super Mario's fantastic career - and also checks out what's ahead.