Debuting as Jumpman
The first game that Mario appeared in wasn’t even his own game; our favorite plumber made his gaming debut in the arcade game Donkey Kong in 1981. Back then, his name was simply Jumpman.
Jumpman’s task in Donkey Kong was to save Pauline, not Princess Peach as he would later in his own games.
It wasn’t until 1982 when Jumpman was renamed Mario in the game Donkey Kong Jr. Playing as Jumpman in Donkey Kong was the world’s very first taste of playing as this beloved character, and it was the iconic moment that started it all.
Becoming a Doctor in Dr. Mario
Mario sure is an eclectic character, because when he’s not being a plumber or saving princesses, he’s…being a doctor? Who gave this man a medical license?
In Dr. Mario, you help the title character by moving capsules as they fall down the screen in order to eliminate viruses. It was successful enough to warrant several follow-up games, and a version of the game even released on mobile devices last year.
I’m not sure where Dr. Mario obtained his medical degree, but the game is pretty addicting, which counts for something. Becoming a doctor was so iconic that he became his own fighter in the Super Smash Bros. franchise.
Teaming up With Yoshi in Super Mario World
Mario had many adventures saving the princess after his debut, and he didn’t meet Yoshi until 1990 in the game Super Mario World. Who could forget when he set foot on Dinosaur Land and met Yoshi for the first time?
This was the first time that he and Yoshi teamed up, and they had a common goal: not only had the Koopas kidnapped Princess Toadstool, but they had captured Yoshi’s dinosaur friends as well. He and Yoshi worked together to free them all, and they’ve been a great duo ever since.
Becoming Superstar Mario in Yoshi’s Island
I know we just said that Mario met Yoshi in 1990, but they must not have remembered when Yoshi saved him as a baby in the events of Yoshi’s Island, which released in 1995. Technically a prequel, this time, the Yoshis work together to carry Baby Mario to save and reunite with his brother Luigi.
Although the Yoshis are the ones in charge for most of the game, Baby Mario has an unforgettable moment when he grabs a Super Star: he puts on a cape, hops off of Yoshi, and runs towards his goal. It’s so much fun to run up the walls and even on ceilings when he’s in this mode, which earns it a spot on this list.
Defeating Bowser in Super Mario 64
Super Mario 64 was an iconic game on its own—it was the very first time that his adventure took place in a 3D environment. A series that was once limited to side-scrolling was forever changed, and Super Mario 64 introduced millions of fans to so many new possibilities on a 3D console.
The ending of Mario’s first 3D adventure was a moment that would define gaming forever. The final battle against Bowser had him spinning the villain around by his tail, earning him the star to free Princess Peach from the stained glass on her castle.
It was a pivotal moment for all gamers, especially those who had been following the red-capped hero on his journeys since the beginning.
Becoming Cat Mario in Super Mario 3D World
Mario has had many power-ups over the years, but one of the most iconic is the Super Bell that allows our hero to transform into a cat. Not only is it totally adorable, but it changed the way players would approach puzzles in a side-scrolling environment.
With the Cat Suit, it was now possible to do more than just jump. This transformation into a feline enabled him to run faster and even climb walls. This was unlike any other power-up that had come before it, and it provided so much more freedom and creativity for puzzles.
Starring in New Donk City’s Festival
Mario’s most recent adventure in the game Super Mario Odyssey has a ton of memorable moments, but none are greater than when our hero starred in “A Traditional Festival.”
After he restores power to New Donk City, he recruited musicians to perform in the festival. While Pauline sang “Jump Up, Super Star,” he climbed up to the top of the tower in a platforming section that referenced Donkey Kong, the very first game he appeared in as Jumpman.
This part of the game was incredibly iconic, not only because of the catchy song and clever references but because it combined 3D and 2D platforming in a brilliant way.