Mario is a fictional character created by game designer Shigeru Miyamoto as Nintendo's mascot. He is arguably the most recognizable video game character of all time. Mario has appeared in over 200 video games since his creation. Though originally only appearing in platforming games, currently Mario appears in all types of games like racing games, puzzle games, role-playing games, fighting games, sports games, and many others.
Mario first appeared in the arcade game Donkey Kong as a character named "Jumpman". The game was surprisingly successful. Mario later paired with his brother Luigi in another arcade game entitled Mario Bros. When the Nintendo Entertainment System was released, Super Mario Bros. was the launch title for it with Mario as the protagonist. "Jumpman", the protagonist of Donkey Kong, was called "Mario" in certain promotional materials for the game's release overseas. His namesake was Mario Segali, the landlord of Nintendo of America's office, who barged in on a meeting to demand an overdue rent payment. Mario Segali was the owner of the first premises of the offices of Nintendo of America. In the time of its residence there, Nintendo of America was considering a name for its popular Jumpman. Jumpman was a carpenter with a red cap and a moustache. They realized that Mario Segali and Jumpman looked alike, so they changed the character's name to Mario.
With limited pixels and colors of the 8-bit NES, the games' programmers could not animate Mario's movement without making his arms "disappear". Making his shirt a solid color and giving him overalls fixed this. They also did not have the space to give him a mouth or ears, and they could not animate hair, which resulted in Mario getting a moustache, sideburns, and a cap to bypass these problems. Mario's creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, has stated when interviewed that Mario wears a cap because he finds it difficult to draw hair. Mario is currently voiced by Charles Martinet, who also voices Luigi, both their evil counterparts, Wario, Waluigi and other characters such as Toadsworth.
Mario has taken on the role of Nintendo's mascot and has since been extensively merchandised. Mario's major rival was Sega mascot Sonic the Hedgehog who debuted in 1991. The two mascots competed head-to-head for nearly a decade afterwards, until around 2001 when Sonic Adventure 2: Battle showed up on a Nintendo console due to Sega's new third party status, ending a lengthy rivalry. Mario and Sonic officially appeared together in a crossover sports game, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, and are together again in Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. Brawl.