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He has a propensity for hallucinogens. He jumps over imaginary creatures named "Goombas." He's our favorite Italian plumber: super Mario. His name being inspired by Nintendo's Seattle warehouse landlord back when they were initially trying to get into this whole "games" business.

Funny how things have turned out.

Current video games try so hard to grow up, be taken serious, and stress "maturity" yet the most memorable icon for our favorite past time remains a character that shoots straight out of a tunnel — magically arising from the sand — at the outset of my franchise favorite, Super Mario 64.

Mario is a character that's lived through it all. He made it through the 80s arcade era jumping over Donkey Kong's barrels, ran after the Princess Peach in multiple 2D adventures, made the jump to 3D in stride, water-pack hovered (wahhhh??) in Sunshine, and his latest quest has him running across a seemingly endless "galaxy" armed with nothing but his butt stomps, jumps, and the occasional power-up.

He's never spoken a word, yet has more character than the stereotypes found in the typical third-person shooter protagonist. 20+ years in the making and he's still young, spritely, and continues to epitomize what gaming can be about: pure fun.

And as great as titles like God of War 3 and Red Dead Redemption are, super Mario has always proven that strong, fundamental game mechanics can be the narrative not just the means to push forward the latest story featuring an anti-hero in a gloomy, post-apocalyptic wasteland.