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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Mario Will Never Be the Same Again

Longtime Mario voice actor Charles Martinet will no longer voice the beloved plumber, but his role with the franchise isn’t quite over. In a video released this week, Martinet and Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto explained that the actor will essentially become a mascot—continuing to meet fans at events worldwide, beginning with the release of Super Mario Bros. Wonder on October 20.

Still, the version of Mario that fans have heard for the past 30 years is no more. Martinet has been every “let’s-a-go” and “mama mia” since Super Mario 64, as well as characters like Luigi, Waluigi, and Wario. Nintendo announced the news on Twitter in August, but details were scant.

The statement, just two paragraphs long, explained that 67-year-old Martinet would move into a brand-new role as Mario ambassador. Until this week, exactly what that role was had been unclear—apparently even to Martinet himself, who told a convention audience he had no idea what it was. Now, his role as globe-trotting mascot is a bit clearer. Though there are still no details on who will replace him as the voice of the world’s most famous plumber.

It’s hard to find a more iconic actor in video games than Martinet, attached to a long-running, successful franchise like Mario. Hundreds of games, endless merch, movies, and more—Martinet’s voice is on par with characters like Pikachu or Mickey Mouse in terms of recognition. And it’s a role Martinet has done with endless enthusiasm. “I want to voice Mario until I drop dead,” Martinet said in 2021. “If someday I think I am no longer capable of doing it, I will tell Nintendo to look into finding someone else.”

It’s a big role for someone to fill, and fans have a keen ear. After new footage from Super Mario Bros. Wonder was released, fans questioned whether or not Martinet still voiced the character. Nintendo has since confirmed that Martinet will not be the voice of Mario in the upcoming release.

Nintendo had already begun to move away from using Martinet as their frontman. When Mario and Luigi hit the big screen this year, they did so voiced by TV and film actors Chris Pratt and Charlie Day. Martinet voiced two minor characters in a cameo role. His new job as an ambassador is along the same lines.

As for the new voice of Mario, Nintendo isn’t talking. Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser recently told IGN that the company has no intention of revealing the new actor ahead of Wonder’s release. Players will “hear a different voice, and we'll let that play out, and that'll be within the credits.” If the game’s trailers tell us anything so far, it’s that we can rule out one actor: Chris Pratt.

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