It’s-a sad day for fans of Nintendo, and plumbers. The gaming giant has confirmed Charles Martinet, who has given voice to Super Mario since 1991, will step back from character work. They do explain that he’ll step into a new role. “Mario Ambassador,” a thing that they invented just for him. Mario Emeritus, if you will.
Martinet also confirmed the news on his own Twitter (which is what we’ll call it forever) saying:
“My new adventure begins! You are all Numba One in my heart! #woohoo !!!!!!!”
In addition to Mario, Martinet has provided the voices of Luigi, Wario, and Waluigi. He’s pretty much the entirety of video game plumbers. He has appeared in 151 games to date, plus he had a couple of cameo voices in the recent Super Mario Bros. Movie. Chris Pratt infamously took on the Mario role for that film, with Charlie Day as Luigi. Martinet was not involved in the upcoming Super Mario Bros. Wonder game for Switch, according to Variety. Thus, the movie is his final voice role for the storied franchise.
Nintendo’s statement went on to say, “[H]e’ll continue to travel the world sharing the joy of Mario and interacting with you all! It has been an honor working with Charles to help bring Mario to life for so many years and we want to thank and celebrate him. Please keep an eye out for a special video message from Shigeru Miyamoto and Charles himself, which we will post at a future date.”
Any time you’ve heard “It’s-a me!” “Let’s-a go!” or “Woohoo!” in the past three decades, it’s been Charles Martinet. His gentle, exuberant delivery and charmingly ridiculous stereotypical Italian accent has become part of the fabric of Nintendo. His work on the games will be missed, but he’s going out absolutely on top.