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Game Over? Charles Martinet Retiring As The Voice of Mario


Whether or not you’ve spent time in the gaming world, you probably have heard of Super Mario. This timeless franchise about an Italian plumber who lives in the Mushroom Kingdom is the most famous in the Nintendo universe. Mario has appeared in over 200 video games since his creation in 1981 as a playable character in Donkey Kong where he was used instead of Popeye because of licensing issues.

The adventures of the Mario brothers, Mario and Luigi, and their colorful friends have captivated players for over 30 years. Charles Martinet, the man who voiced many of the game’s beloved characters has announced his retirement from Mario this week. While Mario will go on for generations to come, the man who brought him to life will no longer be lending his voice to the pop culture icon.

The Announcement of His Retirement

In a surprising turn of events, the gaming community received news of Charles Martinet’s retirement from voicing Mario and other characters on August 21, 2023. There has been speculation as to what the reason is behind this decision but fans all over the world are reflecting on the impact of his departure. This is truly the end of an era and many wonder about the future of Mario’s voice.

Early Life and Passion for Theater

His journey is nothing short of inspiring. He was born on September 17, 1955 in San Jose, CA and lived in Paris and Barcelona where he enriched his cultural experiences but also added layers to his understanding of accents and dialects. Before we knew him as the voice of Mario, Charles Martinet’s attended the University of California, Berkeley with the intent to study international law but ultimately had a passion for theatre and the arts.

From Stage to Console

His first step into the arts and entertainment was taking acting classes at the encouragement of a friend, to help him overcome his fear of public speaking. This began a journey for Martinet that eventually led him to uncover his passion he didn’t know he had and to the Drama Studio London where he realized he had a talent for accents and dialects. When he says, “It’s a me- Mario!” or the iconic “woo-hoo”, the world doesn’t just hear the voice of a character, but all of his life experiences, passion and talent.

His decision to move from the traditional stage to the Nintendo consoles it was a leap of faith. But Martinet welcomed it with open arms, bringing the character to life and making it more than just pixels and bytes.

The Mario Legacy

Martinet first lent his voice for Mario in 1991 at trade shows as a live 3-D talking Mario (Mario in Real Time, MIRT), using facial motion capture. But his big debut was in 1996 with the release of “Super Mario 64”, where he forever became a part of the memories of gamers worldwide. This game wasn’t just a milestone for Nintendo, but how a voice could change a character and make it more than just pixels.

Mario and Luigi, the Italian plumber brothers loved by millions in games like "Mario Bros.", "Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga", "Super Mario Bros." and many more.

Beyond Mario

While Mario is hands down the most notable of Martinet’s roles, his versatile voice allowed him to give life to more characters. From the optimistic and energetic Luigi, rough and mischievous Wario, to the clever Waluigi. Although all of these characters are a part of the same universe, they have their own personalities, quirks and voice brought to life by Martinet. His ability to understand and differentiate these characters and demonstrate their unique personalities added more depth to the franchise.

Iconic Phrases and Moments

For many, “It’s a-me, Mario!”, “Mamma mia!” or “Here we go!” they aren’t just catchphrases or iconic lines but echoes of a childhood and hours spent in front of Nintendo console on adventures in the Mushroom Kingdom. They remind us of fond memories, moments of joy, victory and sometimes on those tricky levels’ moments of defeat.

The Changing Voice of the Mushroom Kingdom

As the Mario franchise continues to evolve, so too does the character’s voice. Recently fans of the Mario franchise have started picking up the changes in Mario’s voice in the latest trailers and games. This change was met with mixed reactions from fans, with some supporting it while others feeling like there is no one that fill the iconic Italian plumber’s large brown shoes.

The Super Mario Bros Movie

The recent release of “Super Mario Bros. Movie” was an important milestone for Mario, taking him from consoles to the big screen. In the movie Mario was voiced by Chris Pratt, which raised a lot of eyebrows initially. But the movie’s success speaks for itself, bringing in a total of $1.359 billion worldwide.

Chris gave the iconic character a new spin, combining nostalgia with a modern twist. Martinet made cameo appearances, surprising fans and assuring fans that the original voice of Mario was still a part of the movie.

Super Mario Bros. movie on a cinema screen

Martinet Becoming A Mario Ambassador

While Martinet is stepping back from being the voice of Mario, he will continue his work with Nintendo as a “Mario Ambassador”. This position will allow him to engage with fans, share behind the scenes stories and continue to be the face and voice of Mario, but in a different way.

The Future of Mario’s Voice

Now the question that everyone is thinking about is “Who will be the next voice of Mario?” This will be a tough challenge for Nintendo, as the new voice of Mario will have to be relevant to the next generations of gamers all while capture the spirit of Mario. The announcement of Chris Pratt as the voice of Mario “Super Mario Bros. ” movie had fans excited and curious about what this means in the long term. Social media has been flooded with fans sharing their opinions and guesses for iconic character’s future, highlighting the deep connection they have with Mario and the other characters Martinet brought to life.

Martinet’s Impact on the Gaming World

Far beyond vocal talents, Martinet has contributed so much to the gaming industry. He was able to make players feel Mario’s joy, frustration and determination through his highs and lows on every adventure. The expressive voice and identity that he has given Mario has made the character very personal to gamers everywhere. Martinet and his Mario voice is one of the largest contributions by a voice actor to the world on Nintendo and gaming in general.

Behind every iconic voice lies a collection of memories and stories of admiration and Martinet’s journey as Mario’s voice actor is no exception. From Nintendo creators, executives and fellow voice actors, these personal accounts demonstrate the impression he made on nearly everyone he worked alongside.

“Charles Martinet is such a talented voice actor. His work as Mario has brought so much joy to gamers around the world.”

– Shigeru Miyamoto, Creator of Mario and Nintendo Legend

“Charles Martinet’s ability to give distinct personalities to multiple characters within the Mario universe showcases his incredible talent as a voice actor.”

– Jennifer Hale, Voice Actress

“Charles Martinet’s portrayal of Mario transcends language barriers and cultures, making the character universally beloved.”

– Masahiro Sakurai, Creator of Super Smash Bros.

A moment that stands out is from a gaming convention where Martinet was talking with fans. One fan shared how Mario games helped him get through tough times, and Martinet in Mario’s voice responded with words of encouragement and love. This was a touching moment that showed beyond the impact of the character but also the heart of the man behind the voice.


Charles Martinet’s journey is one of passion, talent, and meeting the right people at the right time. But what does the future hold for our beloved Italian plumber? Only time will tell, but there is one thing we know for sure… Martinet’s legacy as the iconic Mario will always be a part of gaming history.

Fun Facts

Mario’s First Appearance

Mario’s first appearance was in 1981, in the arcade Donkey Kong. Originally named “Jumpman” and was tasked with dodging barrels thrown by Donkey Kong to save the princess. (Source)

Mario’s Real-Life Inspiration

Mario is named by a real estate developer in Washington, Mario Segale. He once stormed into Nintendo’s offices demanding late rent. and leaving a lasting impression. (Source)

Mario’s Last Name

Opposite to what people believe, Mario doesn’t have a last name. However the 1993 “Super Mario Bros.” movie as a funny thought suggested that his full name is “Mario Mario”. (Source)

Guinness World Records

Mario holds several Guinness World Records, including:
– longest running video character.
– Charles Martinet holds the record for most voiceover performances in a video game as the same character.
– the best selling video game series of all time.
– Super Mario Bros. movie was the first movie based on a video game.

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Matej Avramoski
Matej Avramoski
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