Veteran game character Mario keeps newcomers at bay

He may have been around for more than a quarter of a century, but the red-capped Mario was the most popular game character in Japan in 2010 while his New Super Mario Bros. Wii took first place for game of the year.

A survey of Yahoo! Japan users put the hard-working Nintendo character's game ahead of the latest offering in the Pocket Monster game series - Pokemon Black/White for the Nintendo DS hand-held system - and, in third place, Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker for the PlayStation Portable.

Remarkably, New Super Mario Bros. Wii was nearly 3,000 votes ahead of the second-place title, receiving more than 12,000 votes.

Yahoo! based its rankings on the number of web searches that were conducted for the characters and the games, page views on Yahoo! Japan's games site and the amount of media coverage the games and characters received between November 2009 and October 2010.

In the poll for the most popular character, Mario came out ahead of Naked Snake, from Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker, in fourth place, and Reshiram, from Pokemon Black, in the seventh spot. The majority of the remaining characters are largely unknown to overseas gamers, including the make-believe girlfriend Anegasaki Nene in Love Plus + and Date Masanume from Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes, who ended in third place.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii became the first game for the Wii system to sell four million copies in Japan, just over 12 months after it was released in late 2009.

In early November, Nintendo Co. marked the 25th birthday of arguably its most iconic character by releasing a bright red version of its Wii game system - a nod to Mario's famous hat and shirt.

Mario first appeared as "Jumpman" in the 1981 release Donkey Kong and has gone on to enjoy huge success around the world.

More than 40.24 million Super Mario Bros. games had been sold when Nintendo celebrated Mario's birthday, although part of that success is due to the game being part of the basic package offered with the original Nintendo Entertainment System.

Yahoo! Japan Users' Top Games of 2010:

1. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)
2. Pokemon Black/White (DS)
3. Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker (PSP)
4. Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes (PS3/Wii)
5. Yakuza 4 (PS3)
6. Love Plus + (DS)
7. Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 (DS)
8. The Legend of Heroes: Zero no kiseki (PSP)
9. God Eater (PSP)
10. Monster Hunter Frontier Online Beginner's Package (360)

Yahoo! Japan Users' Top Game Characters of 2010:

1. Mario - New Super Mario Bros. Wii
2. Hatsune Miku - Hatsune Miku DIVA Project 2nd
3. Date Masamune - Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes
4. Naked Snake - Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker
5. Airu - Monster Hunter Diary: Poka Poka Airu Village
6. Reshiram - Pokemon Black
7. Wadadon - Taiko no Tatsujin DS Dororon! Yokai Daikessen!!
8. Anegasaki Nene - Love Plus +
9. Tutoria Helmold - Atelier Totori: Alchemist of Arland 2
10. Black Heart - Hyperdimension Neptunia