Mario Creator Reveals How Mickey Mouse Inspired The Series' Evolution

Shigeru Miyamoto had a surprising reaction to the news that Mario was better known than Mickey Mouse 30 years ago.

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Super Mario Bros. recently celebrated its 35th anniversary, and the series continues to be extremely popular to this day. The character of Mario is particularly iconic--30 years ago, a poll outside of Japan found that the character was more recognizable than Mickey Mouse, the head Disney mascot.

Nintendo has just published their Q & A summary from Nintendo's corporate management policy briefing for the current fiscal year, and Mario's creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, has reflected on this poll. His reaction to having made such a popular character is surprising--but he also details how the character's popularity galvanized him.

Asked about 35 years of Mario, Miyamoto notes how much each major platformer in the series differs. "We often hear our consumers saying that each title in the Super Mario Bros. series feels like a meaningfully different game," Miyamoto says. He then reflects on the Mickey Mouse poll, and how he felt about it. "I felt bad that Mickey Mouse, who had been hugely popular among fans, including myself, for 60 years at that point, was even being compared to Mario, who had just been around for a few years back then."

He continues, explaining how this direct comparison has influenced the series. "Even so, considering that Mickey Mouse had grown up alongside the evolution of animation technology, I resolved that we would help Super Mario grow up alongside the evolution of digital technology," Miyamoto says.

"In fact, every time, every time Nintendo has launched new hardware, we also released a new title in the Super Mario series so players can experience a new type of entertainment that new technology allows us to achieve."

Miyamoto goes on to talk about how new members of each Super Mario development team have unique relationships with the series. "When asked about their experiences with the Super Mario series over the past 35 years, their responses ran the gamut from 'The first Super Mario Bros. was the best' to 'I like the newest one the best,'" he says. He also says that the upcoming Super Mario movie will expand the character's reach even further.

A new collection of classic Mario 3D platformers has been released on Switch, called Super Mario 3D All-Stars. It brings together Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy.

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