Nintendo's Mario series is arguably one of the most influential in the realm of video gaming. Super Mario Bros. on the NES almost single-handedly turned the 2D platformer into the world's genre of choice, while the transition to 3D in Super Mario 64 achieved a similar impact and resulted in countless clones and copycat titles.

Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune has been speaking to IGN as part of its "Mario Memories" piece and speaks of the series in glowing terms:

If any creator has not played Mario, then they’re probably not a good creator. That’s something I can say with 100 percent confidence. Mario is, for game creators, the development bible. There are so many hints about good design, about cute characters, about innovation in using an existing gameplay system. It’s something you have to constantly look at and examine and take hints from as a game creator. It’s the anchor that grounds almost all games.

Inafune also has praise for Mario's creator:

I have total respect for Miyamoto, to the point where… It’s very strange that there are national cultural treasures – they’re traditionally sportsmen. I think it’s very strange that somebody as famous as Miyamoto hasn’t been designated one of those people. He’s talked about in all different countries. Lots of people know him. He’s pushed forward Japanese culture and interest in Japan all over the world. He’s somebody that deserves everyone’s ultimate respect, and a lot of that is due to being able to create Mario. And Super Mario Bros. 3, of course, within that, was a fantastic game.

[source uk.ign.com]