Mario is the hero of the Mushroom Kingdom and Nintendo's Mascot.
Years before video gaming exploded into mainstream popularity, prominent game designer Shigeru Miyamoto designed the original arcade game Donkey Kong in 1981, debuting Mario as the main playable character and Donkey Kong as his in-game nemesis. Mario's character design was heavily influenced by the extreme technical limitations of digital games at the time; as a small batch of pixels, Mario was given a mustache under his big nose to show he had a face, and suspenders with his shirt to show a distinction between his arms and body. In this game Mario was originally known as "Jumpman" in the initial Japanese release, and he was portrayed as a carpenter whose girlfriend Pauline (originally "Lady" in Japan) was held captive by the colossal ape Donkey Kong, and must jump his way over the barrels and flames DK throws at him to rescue Pauline.
After his initial appearance in this pioneering game, Mario, under his proper name for the first time in Japan, was introduced in the sequel, Donkey Kong Junior, and identified as of Italian ethnicity by Nintendo's president Hiroshi Yamauchi. Mario was named as such due to his comical resemblance to Nintendo of America's landlord Mario Segale. Then Mario and his newly introduced brother Luigi starred in the 1983 arcade game Mario Bros. as plumbers.
Miyamoto's next game was the world-famous Super Mario Bros. for the Famicom/NES, the game that single-handedly brought video gaming into the mainstream and made Nintendo a major company in a now major industry. Many iconic aspects of Mario and his franchise were established: Mario and Luigi are no longer plumbers, now they are heroes and now live in the magical Mushroom Kingdom ruled under Princess "Peach" Toadstool and her mushroom-retaining Toad servants, and the Koopa king Bowser kidnaps the princess for Mario to rescue. Mario must bound across side-scrolling platform stages to rescue her, jumping on the heads of common enemies like Goombas and Koopa Troopas to defeat them. He starts out tiny but can grow to double his size if he grabs a Super Mushroom powerup, gain the ability to shoot out fireballs by grabbing a Fire Flower, and turn invincible for a short period of time by grabbing a Super Star. Super Mario Bros. became a franchise with these elements lasered into video game iconography, consistent in future games in the Mario series.
For over 20 years afterward, Mario would star in many games for various Nintendo systems. Mario and his accompanying franchise can be viewed as Nintendo's thematic tileset with which to create games of a whimsical, colorful, and light-hearted nature. Mario himself is meant to be a character anyone can enjoy playing as, and can fit well as a protagonist figure and/or main balanced character in many genres of games. To this end, he is not portrayed as a character that undergoes development like what players would see with a character in an epic RPG's story. He is, in fact, rarely depicted speaking coherent English sentences. In contemporary Mario games, his high-pitched Italian voice, provided by Charles Martinet, is used mainly for grunts and yells and the occasional catchphrase, such as "Mama-mia!", "It's-a me, Mario!", "Let's-a-go!". As a semi-silent, optimistic protagonist, Mario is inherently easy for players of his various games to appreciate, and he is usually the most balanced selectable character in any game he appears in, including the Smash games.
Genres of games in which Mario appears in a playable role include the traditional 2D side-scrolling platformer, including various sequels to Super Mario Bros., the famed Super NES launch platformer Super Mario World, which introduced Yoshi as a mount of sorts for Mario, and the DS homage to these games in the form of New Super Mario Bros.; 3D platforming adventures such as the especially seminal Super Mario 64 adventure game launching for the Nintendo 64, which is one of the most influential and best-reviewed games ever, followed up by Super Mario Sunshine for GameCube and Super Mario Galaxy for Wii; the Mario Kart series of power-up and obstacle course-based racing games; a long-running series of multiplayer-based party games named Mario Party; various series of Mario-themed sports titles such as Mario Golf and Mario Tennis; hands-on RPGs such as the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi series; and a puzzle game named Dr. Mario, where Mario in the garb of a medicine man throws pills into a bottle to combat viruses (his persona in this game is also a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Melee, see Dr. Mario). A baby version of Mario, who's often treated as a separate character, has also appeared in many of these games. Mario made his first appearance in a fighting game in 1999's Super Smash Bros., and has appeared traditionally in all subsequent installments of that series. Mario is mostly silent protagonist with mainly just grunts and yells but he has some dialogue like "Let's-a-go". According to Nintendo this is for players to put their own personality in Mario. But from what we see him do he is a very kind, brave, polite, and intelligent man who is very humble.
Fireball: Shoot a Fireball from his hand.
Star Spin: Spin around like a Tornado.
Super Jump Punch: Soars upwards and punches at the same time.
Ground Pound: Jumps and do falls into the ground.
Fire Burst: Makes a Mega Explosion with a Super Fireball.