From Sonic Retro
He is easily one of the most recognised video game icons of all time, particularly in Japan, but in recent years his popularity has diminished slightly due to new competitors in the video game market, specifically Sony and Microsoft.
He is currently voiced by Charles Martinet but in the Super Mario Bros. Movie he was voiced and played by Bob Hoskins.
He debuted in the game "Donkey Kong" with the name "Jumpman." He had to rescue his girlfriend Pauline from the clutches of an evil, gigantic ape (DK). He was supposedly named after Nintendo of America's landlord, to whom he bore a striking resemblance. The preceding games usually involved him saving Princess Peach, and the Hollywood movie based on the game followed this theme, but used Princess Daisy instead.
Mario and Sonic both experienced the peaks of their careers at the same time, and as a result they were seen as fierce rivals and are often used to represent each company in the battle between the Sega Mega Drive and the SNES. Mario is often seen as the opposite of Sonic, despite both sharing similarities in their playing styles.
After SEGA gave up on creating consoles, Yuji Naka and Shigeru Miyamoto have both expressed an interest in creating games together, including the possibility of a game with both Sonic and Mario in it. The two earliest Mario and Sonic games were Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, which was published by Nintendo in Japan and Sega elsewhere to tie in with the Beijing Olympics of that summer. The other is Super Smash Bros Brawl. A third title, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games, was first released on October 13th, 2009 in the US; and a fourth was released ahead of the following Summer games, Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
After the success of the Mario & Sonic games, director Takashi Iizuka explained that the next mainstream Sonic title, Sonic Colours, was made to appeal for fans of Mario games.  As such, the game is played in mostly 2D, and replacing objects for Sonic to interact with while running are a variety of different blocks, which are used as obstacles and parts of the level layouts throughout the game. Several of the game's new Wisp power-ups also seem to be inspired by the Mario series, such as the Blue Wisp, which appears to be derived from a similar item in some Mario games known as the P-Switch.