Nintendo celebrated the 30th anniversary of Super Mario, one of the best-known characters in video game history, at an event in Tokyo yesterday evening where artists played his theme music to fans dressed up as the hyperactive plumber.
Super Mario series creator Shigeru Miyamoto appeared on stage as a crowd cheered at a packed live-music venue that can house up to 700 people. He watched a human-size mascot Mario blow out candles on a birthday cake.
"I was touched when I sang a birthday song with all of you," Miyamoto said.
"Happy birthday, Mario!"
Video game music composer Koji Kondo played music used for newly released Mario software on a keyboard. Other musicians, including performers on a violin and an accordion, separately performed well-known Mario music.
Masako Iwata, one of the fans at the event, said she was looking forward to seeing Kondo, Miyamoto and Mario himself, whom she described as her hero.
"I love Mario. I've been playing the series since I was four or five," said the 26-year-old, sporting a hand-made Mario red cap and blue overall.
Since Mario first hit the screens under his own name on Sept. 13, 1985, Nintendo has sold more than 310 million units featuring the plucky plumber’s adventures, fighting off Goombas and Koopa Troopas as he races to save Princess Peach.
The character had earlier made an appearance in the Nintendo arcade game Donkey Kong, but under the name Jumpman.
With his distinctive uniform and mustache, he is instantly recognizable, a rare quality in the games market.
“Mario now has a status in popular culture equal to Mickey Mouse,” said Florent Gorges, the French author of a book on Nintendo’s history.
The Mario games have often been accompanied by technological advances, such as the fully three-dimensional format introduced by Super Mario 64 in 1996.
To mark the three-decade milestone, Nintendo is releasing Super Mario Maker on the Wii U console, which allows players to create their own worlds for Mario, or use those created by other players and shared through the Internet.
Nintendo is also eyeing the booming smartphone games market — a long awaited departure from its consoles-only policy.
The Kyoto, Japan-based company in March said it would create games based on its host of popular characters, but did not release any details about which characters would be made available to play on smartphones or tablets.
However, affiliate Pokemon Co has teamed with former Google Inc game developer Niantic Labs to offer a location-based title for mobile devices from next year, Pokemon president Tsunekazu Ishihara told reporters on Thursday in Tokyo.
Pokemon Go uses characters from the popular children’s card game, animation and video game series in an augmented-reality setting similar to Niantic’s Ingress game.
Niantic, a startup that announced its split from Google on Aug. 13, said Ingress has been downloaded more than 12 million times and attracted more than 250,000 people to live events worldwide.
Pokemon Go is to be available on Apple Inc iPhones and Google Android devices.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg
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