With The New Super Mario Brothers out for Wii, AP looks at the influence of Nintendo’s iconic game character on the game industry and pop culture at large. AP credits Nintendo and Mario as rescuing videogames during the mid 1980s, when poor choices by then game giant Atari were widely blamed as forcing the industry into a slump.  While Nintendo introduced Mario to Western gamers in the early 1980s arcade classic Donkey Kong, it was when the original Super Mario Brothers was bundled with Nintendo Entertainment System consoles that the character took on its game hero icon status. Nintendo’s console pushed the limits of what gamers could expect to play at home, and Mario was the first taste they got of the new experience. The NES went on to sell 60 million units.

Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto says the character ultimately became a convenient tool, as a lovable hero who was applicable to a wide range of games. AP talks to Scott Steinberg of DigitalTrends, who wonders if it isn t the similarity of Mario s physical attributes to most gamers that made him so approachable.