Mario Turns 40: Here's How Nintendo’s Fire-Tossing Plumber Changed Gaming

Photo Courtesy: Nintendo

While Mario Bros., the first official installment in what would become the Mario multimedia franchise, made its way into arcades in 1983, Nintendo's now-flagship character actually made his on-screen debut two years earlier. In 1981, the Mario character came onto the scene in the arcade game Donkey Kong

Yes, Mario is something of a spin-off character. And clearly that spin-off tactic proved successful for Nintendo: these days, the Mario franchise is the ninth highest-grossing multimedia franchise of all time. In fact, Nintendo's Pokémon, which is the highest-grossing multimedia franchise of all time, is the only other video game-based franchise to crack the top 10. 

So, to celebrate Mario's (and Donkey Kong's) 40th year in the pop culture zeitgeist, we're taking a look back at the fire-tossing, high-jumping plumber that, against all odds, helped make Nintendo a household name.