The Mario series has been rebooted more times than a duff computer, so can we ever make sense of the real sequence of events in the Mushroom Kingdom? We dig through 25 years of gaming in an attempt to write the 'true' history of the Artist Formerly Known As Jumpman...
The Early Years
Attempting to arrange Mario's convoluted past into a coherent timeline is madness, but here's our take on it. Although Mario likes to present himself as 'one of us' - a bog-standard plumber who was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, this is, at best, LIES.
As Yoshi's Island (1995) explains, Mario and Luigi were in fact born (and spent their formative years, if Yoshi's Island DS (2006) is to be believed) in the Mushroom World. Despite being born into a dimension where battleships the size of entire levels exist, and people can travel from one galaxy to another simply by jumping into a floating star and shouting 'woo-hoo', that world's equivalent of the NHS suffered from budget cuts just as much our own, and as such the nappy-clad pasta-gobblers were delivered to their parents via the medium of Stork.
As ever, this journey did not pass without incident. Kamek, a standard-issue Magikoopa with ideas above his station, recognised the Bros as two of the seven 'Star Children' and tried to kidnap them. He managed to nab Luigi but Mario plummeted to the ground, where he was intercepted by a passing Yoshi. (Not, as is a common misconception, the Yoshi - he emerges from his eggy confines at the end of the DS adventure, which means that the star of the SNES original has been retconned into 'just some dino dude'.) After a fashion, the Stork was reunited with his package and he resumed his journey. Brilliantly, the butter-feathered Stork dropped his prize again (Yoshi's Touch & Go, 2004), but Not-Yoshi was on hand to save the day again.
Safely delivered, the Bros stayed in the Mushroom Realm for several years, even meeting their future selves during the Attack of the Shroobs (Partners In Time, 2005), before the family moved to New York. Mario's short time on Earth was relatively uneventful - if you can describe 'owning a circus, having your star attraction ape kidnap your girlfriend, recapturing him and then locking him up in a nearby jungle' as 'uneventful' - before duty called and Mario found himself back in the world of the bipedal turtles.
One World is Not Enough
No game has ever tried to explain how Mario manages to travel freely between the two worlds, as he does frequently. His most recent foray into our world came in 2005, when he got the itch to play basketball against Shaq and some bloke from the Beastie Boys (NBA Street V3). Common sense tells us that the answer must be some kind of warp pipe, but then again, common sense is what tells you Glade Plug-Ins will be super-yummy.
Since then, Mario has largely stayed by Peach's side, protecting her from a multitude of Koopa-nappings. He occasionally ventures off to aid other kingdoms such as Daisy's Sarasaland (Super Mario Land, 1990) and Subcon, the Land of Dreams (Super Mario Bros 2, 1986), but the looming presence of Bowser means he's rarely away for long. Occasionally, he goes on holidays with his beloved, but they often go horribly wrong, usually because he takes his work with him (Super Mario World, 1990) or because he gets leathered and ends up with a criminal record (Super Mario Sunshine, 2002).
When asked why he devotes his life to protecting Peach, Mario once replied: "I don't do it because I love her; I do it because I really enjoy crushing turtles with my rear end." Actually, that's a lie. We've never heard him say that. But it's possible that he did.