Over the last couple of months, across two similar features, we’ve taken a look at the way some of gaming’s most iconic characters have evolved throughout their lifetimes from a visual perspectives. From minor iterative changes to complete reinventions to somewhere in between, we’ve seen examples of pretty much everything- and here, we’ll be looking at five more video game characters as we chart their visual evolution through the ages.
So let’s begin with the character that is perhaps anonymous with the very concept of video games more than any other.
MARIO (SUPER MARIO)
Mario has been at the top of the gaming pantheon for as long as gaming as we know it today as existed, and because of it (or maybe vice versa), his design has become iconic. The red hat, the bushy moustache, the blue overalls- these are all features that have collectively become immediately recognizable even to someone who isn’t too ingrained in video games. It makes sense, then, that Nintendo have largely kept Mario’s design the same- or at least the most important features.
Well, for the most part. For his very outing first in Donkey Kong on arcade machines, Mario sported his iconic attire, but things changed after that for a while. On the NES, Super Mario Bros was restricted by the limited number of colours the console could display, so everything from his clothes to his overalls to his hat to even his hair was all basically just different shades of the same colour. In fact, it wasn’t until Super Mario World on the SNES that we saw him donning the blue overalls for a look that much closely resembles what we now associate him with (though the box art of Super Mario Bros. 3 did indeed display that look as well).
Then, Super Mario 64 – his first ever 3D outing – was what really cemented his look, and since then, in all the sequels and the many, many, many spinoffs and offshoots he has appeared in, his visual design has mostly stuck to same fundamentals, right up until his more recent outings in the likes of Super Mario Odyssey and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. Of course, we’ve seen greater detail being added to that design as technology has progressed, which has allowed developers to really breathe life into the character’s look.