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Super Mario celebrates his 30th birthday this year and over those three decades the character has become recognisable to people from all over the world. Such is Mario's fame that when a group of Russian artists known as ArtFacade was commissioned to paint murals across damaged walls exposed by the removal of advertising panels, he was chosen as the theme for the 165-foot tall side of one building.

As Nintendo Russia's Yasha Haddaji recounts to Kotaku, the whole process began when the newly-elected mayor of Moscow decided that parts of the city needed a facelift, and this involved tearing down advertising panels:

However, when they removed those big panels, the walls behind were not in such great shape, so there came this group of young people who decided they would create murals, a team called ArtFacade.

Haddaji suggested a Nintendo mural. As you might expect, convincing Nintendo was tricky. The company was initially hesitant, stating that such a project had never been attempted before. However, shortly afterwards Nintendo sent an artist to Russia who had worked with Mr Miyamoto as "gatekeeper of the assets" and "had done many, many different drawings of Mario", and the wheels were set in motion.

The next stumbling block was the residents of the block of flats on which the mural was to be painted. ArtFacade had painted the wall previously with an image of a Russian soldier playing ice hockey on Crimea, the region which Russia controversially annexed in 2014 - an act which triggered global criticism and remains a sore topic between Russia and its neighbor, Ukraine.


The Nintendo mural was, in that respect, an effort by ArtFacade to win over the residents who had been so upset by the contentious military image. However, another issue was encountered when it was discovered that Moscow city board wasn't prepared to deal with commercial entities, while Nintendo wouldn't allow the mural to go up without its logo being present.

Thankfully, a compromise was reached - Nintendo could use its logo but the main text would need to be a slogan which could be understood by anyone, even people who didn't know who Mario was. Haddaji and the rest of the Russian Nintendo office eventually settled on 'Reach for the stars'.

With this decided, progress was rapid, although Nintendo HQ still insisted on having some control. Haddaji had to send over the resumes of the people who would do the actual work as well as examples of their previous art. He also had to stay nearby for a week so that he could take pictures of the of the mural as it developed, sending them to Nintendo's HQ in Japan for approval.


Haddaji says that at the next Nintendo global management meeting his peers were impressed that the mural was completed, and he says that on Instagram the image is constantly being photographed by Moscow residents. Even Nintendo of Europe president Satoru Shibata has dropped by to view it.

[source kotaku.co.uk]