At Pocket Gamer, we love facts. We love fascinating, revealing, long-forgotten, and (some might argue) totally pointless factoids about video games. Yes, we love 'em.

With New Super Mario Bros. 2 out in Europe today, we thought it was high time to take a closer look at the man in red and reveal a few of the lesser-known facts about the world's favourite platforming hero and the games that he stars in.

Our top ten facts about Nintendo's dungarees-loving plumber are below, but feel free to share your own favourite bits of toadstool trivia in the comments section below.

Mario has been a villain

Yes: our squeaky-clean mustachioed marvel has, on occasions, played the baddie. Most noteworthily, in Donkey Kong Jr.

In this title, Mario has captured and imprisoned Donkey Kong in a cage. It's your job, then, as the titular hero to rescue your father.

Mario brandishes a whip, and in some promotional art even sports a dastardly curly moustache.

R.O.B. is Mario Kart's first non-Mario racer

Setting aside the Namco-produced Mario Kart Arcade GP for a second, Mario Kart DS is the first Nintendo-made title in the long-running series to feature a playable character on its roster who didn't originally find fame in a Mario game.

The Robotic Operating Buddy (or R.O.B.) received this great honour - not bad for an obscure NES accessory that only had two games made for it, and was never even released in Europe.

Just what is Mario's profession?

We generally think of Nintendo's mascot as a plumber, though he's had so many jobs over the years, he's more of a freelance Jack of all trades.

During his 'career', Mario has played hockey, tennis, golf, football, basketball, and been a referee in many more sports.

At one time or another, he's also been a kart driver, bomb disposal expert, juggler, cement factory worker, demolition chief, and teacher. Calling him a plumber's a bit reductive, really.

Mario is in Sonic The Hedgehog

Well, kind of. Take a look at the image above. Look carefully at the section of stone above the pillar. Recognise that cheeky grin?

It's rumoured to be a nod from the Sega design team to Nintendo's famous plumber / footballer / tennis player / etc., and it can be found in the first Sonic game on the Mega Drive during the Marble Zone.

Mario uses his fists to hit bricks, not his head

This is one of those facts that is as clear as day when you think about it (or simply pay close attention to the screen). Most people, however, believe differently.

Why mainstream society has always assumed Mario breaks blocks with his head is a bit of a mystery, but pause any Mario title you like and you'll notice that it's his hand that's reaching skyward towards the bricks and demolishing them.

Luigi's first appearance

Donkey Kong marked the first appearance of Mario, but his brother Luigi would have to wait another two years to make his grand entrance.

The younger of the two bros burst onto screens in 1983 in Mario Bros. - a single-screen platformer set in the sewers where, incidentally, Mario wore a blue hat and overalls.

Luigi's first actual starring role came in 1991. Yes, fact fans: in edutainment title Mario is Missing.

Theme from 1-1

The 'Mario Theme' isn't really called that at all. Mind blown, right?

The "da-da-da-da-da-DA... da" ditty that accompanies your first few steps in Super Mario Bros. is officially titled 'Ground Theme', and it was composed by the legendary Koji Kondo, whose credits also include The Legend of Zelda and Star Fox.

There was to be a Mario Land game on Virtual Boy

You can tell Nintendo was a bit embarrassed by its Virtual Boy blunder by the fact that a true Mario platformer never graced its red-and-black screens. But, there was definitely one in development.

VB Mario Land was cancelled early on in the production process, though we do know it would have featured 2D action with multiple layers of background to move between, much like Tomba!

Supposedly, there were some true 3D sequences planned, too, but none of this has ever been shown.

Bowser hasn't always been the main boss

This is most evident in the Super Mario Land games. Your archenemy in the first Game Boy offering is a creature called Tatanga, who pilots a spacecraft. You have to shoot him down in a side-scrolling shooter sequence. Remember? Yep.

In the follow-up title Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, it's implied that Tatanga was working for Wario to keep our hero distracted while he pinched his castle from underneath him.

Mario starred in a sewing game

One of a handful of non-Nintendo-developed titles bearing Mario's name, Mario Family is a brilliantly bizarre release for the Game Boy Color.

Plug in the cartridge, hook the handheld up to a specific sewing machine (the JN-100 or JN-2000), select a pattern, and this mishmash of gaming and embroidery goes about stitching designs onto fabric.

Predictably, the title was only released in Japan.