The Mario games have been a core part of Nintendo fandom for decades now. Mario as a solo sibling has been around for even longer than his own series, first appearing — of course — as Jumpman in 1981's Donkey Kong.
Despite having his name in the title, the Mario franchise isn't about the Italian plumber alone. He was joined by his faithful brother Luigi in the first Mario Bros. arcade game in 1983, who also has a successful franchise of his own with the Luigi’s Mansion series. As well as that double trouble duo, you've got Princess Peach, Toad, Yoshi, and a bunch of antagonists to bop on the head as you run and jump your way through the Mushroom Kingdom. This cast of characters can also get quite competitive, whether playing Tennis or Golf or screaming around the track in a Mario Kart.
Given their position as video game royalty, the Mushroom Kingdom clan are naturally incredibly popular picks for cosplay, too (only recently, the lovely Zion from our video team bumped into that classic character Metronkey Zelkong at PAX). Below is a list of ten of the top Mario series cosplayers from around the world.
Waluigi is the slender purple and black/blue dungaree-wearing counterpart to Luigi. Whilst he is not as well known as Luigi, or even Mario’s other nemesis, Wario, he has proven to be a tough adversary and a fan favourite. First appearing in the Mario Tennis on the N64, Waluigi is a mainstay playable character in many Mario multiplayer games.
Jackbotnik captures Waluigi’s character perfectly with the high brows and menacing expression. Jackbotnik loves to cosplay villains (he tends to 'main' Sonic's nemesis, Dr. Robotnik) and has been a fan of the Mario series for most of his life, so cosplaying Waluigi was only natural. Jackbotnik modified regular dungarees to fit his character here, but the stylish moustache seen above is his own.
Wario is Mario’s arch rival (well, apart from that Koopa chap with the fire-breathing) and appears as a villain in Super Mario Land 2 and in loads of Nintendo multiplayer games. He also stars in his own franchises with the Wario Land and WarioWare series.
Steven’s take on Wario combines a classic look with a warfare approach Wariofare?) that really suits the character. The cosplay was inspired by the YouTube series of videos Mario Warfare by BeatDownBoogie, as well as Call of Duty. Steven likes the various Wario designs, but being a fan of the WarioWare games, he decided to choose a design similar to that. With a lot of his outfit painted or dyed himself, the props are Steven’s favourite part of the cosplay, as he can really get into character with them.
Luigi is often viewed as the cowardly 'sidekick' brother of protagonist Mario, but when Luigi’s Mansion hit GameCube in 2001, it was his turn to be the hero. With his famous dungarees and Poltergust, the ghoul-capturing vacuum cleaner, Luigi battled King Boo and many other ghosts through a trilogy of games.
Changeling is a Luigi superfan and has cosplayed many versions of the tall Italian plumber. His favourite cosplay is the Luigi’s Mansion version. Changeling loves how we see Luigi taking the centre stage and facing his fears. Changeling’s dungarees are vintage '90s Clockhouse bought from Depop, and the Poltergust G-00 is a real vacuum cleaner filled with green butter slime and an LED light to make it glow. As part of his Luigi cosplays, he made his own fake nose and moustache.
Ah, here's the main antagonist from the Mario franchise, Bowser (sorry, Wario).
Also known as King Koopa, this fire-breathing baddie is the leader of the turtle-like underlings that constantly try to kidnap Peach and take over the Mushroom Kingdom. Appearing in most of the main Mario games and plenty of spin-offs, Bowser is a staple villain of the series.
Groosetastic loves the scary and goofy side of Bowser, and wanted to be able to incorporate that fun side to stomp around in their cosplay of him. They designed and crafted their own version of Bowser, using identifiable characteristics added to the design, such as his horns, shell, and colour scheme. Groosetastic also wanted to emphasise the King Koopa side of Bowser, with the cape and tabard design reflecting this and giving a unique spin to the cosplay.
6. Princess Daisy
Cosplayer: Illusion Optics
Photographer: Alexis Cameron Photo
Princess Daisy is the lesser-known princess of the franchise, having only ruled Sarasaland since her first appearance in Super Mario Land on Game Boy in 1989. Daisy is often rumoured to be the girlfriend of Luigi, even though Mario is the 'hero' in her games. The character has gained popularity over the years after featuring on many a multiplayer roster (she plays a mean game of soccer) and having a more tomboy reputation than Peach.
Daisy's sporty nature is the reason that Illusion Optics is a fan of the character, and her pick when playing Mario Kart. The cosplay above was one of Illusion Optic’s more recent larger projects. It is mostly handmade, from sewing the gown and its structural layers like the petticoat, to casting the gems from resin and styling the wig. Illusion Optics went with her more simplistic design over her more detailed ones features in games such as Smash Bros. because she loved the traditional cartoon style of that costume.