The plumber’s facial hair and wisdom had meant that many people had thought he was at least middle aged.
The moustachioed plumber had been presumed by most of his fans to be in middle age, largely based on his moustache and wise face. But a newly unearthed interview with his creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, says that in fact the only thing definitely true about the character is that he in his mid 20s.
Discussing the creation of the character in an interview on the Nintendo website, Mr Miyamoto said that Mario is just “24 or 25” years old.
In fact, that is the only thing that was decided about him at his beginnings. Over time, his backstory has been filled in more – including his profession as a plumber and his family, like his brother Luigi – but his surprising age was the only thing ever set in stone.
“I think it was fortuitous that we didn’t put any restrictions on Mario as a character,” said Mr Miyamoto said in a Japanese interview in 2005. “Normally when you create a character and present him to the world, all the details get filed in: what’s his favourite colour? what kind of food does he like to eat?”
But just the one detail was decided about Mario, he said. “Aside from the fact that he’s about 24-25 years old, we didn’t define anything else”.
Mr Miyamoto said that the decision was taken so that Mario could be used in later games, and that adding any backstory would potentially interfere with their story.
“When we make a game we take care not to add incongruence to that game’s world,” he said, explaining the decision to leave most of the backstory undecided. “With that caveat, I’d like to keep using Mario in future games.”
In those future games, Mario does appear to be the same age. Though he may always look a lot older than 24 or 25, his age doesn’t appear to progress in keeping with time outside of the game, and he has appeared mostly the same age since he first appeared in 1981.