It's no exaggeration to say that Super Mario has become a pop culture icon. The red-hatted plumber has appeared in dozens, if not hundreds, of games and has arguably become the unofficial face of gaming itself. If nothing else, he's been the star of the best-selling video game franchise in history. It goes without saying that Nintendo owes a huge chunk of its success to Mario and that the character has touched the lives of countless people.

In a recent interview with GamesMaster, Takashi Tezuka – a producer for the series – spoke a bit about Mario and why so many people connect with the character. Tezuka believes that before people connect to Mario as a character, they're drawn in by the gameplay.

Personally, I think that even before people come to like Mario as a character, it's the gameplay of Super Mario that really resonates with them. We created Super Mario Bros paying close attention to intuitive feelings – things that anyone in the world can relate to – which users feel through the gameplay; running is fun, jumping high is something you want to do, falling is scary and spikes hurt you if you touch them, etc.

I think it all started with how the gameplay resonated with players. From there it's been how we've continued to make Mario games for so long, and all the work we have put into making sure that Mario is never used in an inappropriate way, that has allowed him to slowly become such a well-loved character.

Tezuka then went on to explain how important it is to the team that they maintain a consistent visual design and quality of gameplay, whether it's in a main series game or a spin off:

Ultimately it comes down to the quality of the gameplay. No matter how many Mario games we release, if players don't enjoy them, it can only be a bad thing for Mario. The quality of the visual design is also very important too; it's vital that we work hard to make sure that we present everyone with the same image of Mario across all these different games.

Finally, Tezuka voiced his optimism for the future of the character and what it might hold:

That Mario has been loved so much up to this point is nothing short of miraculous, although obviously this is in part the result of the untold work of multitudes of people, not limited to just the developers at Nintendo. It's impossible for me to imagine what Mario will go on to become in the future, so I am very excited to find out. However, I do hope that even after 30 more years, Mario continues to be Nintendo's lead videogame character.

What do you think? How has Mario had an impact on your life? Do you agree with what Tezuka thinks led to the character's success? Drop us a comment in the section below.