From the Super Mario Wiki, the Mario encyclopedia
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An emblem is a symbol that appears on an item used by a specific character in many of the Mario spinoff and main series titles, usually representing said character in some fashion; for example, Mario's emblem is the red M that is sewn on his cap, whereas that of Yoshi is his egg.
Emblems have been used as early as Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64, with each character's emblem inked on the strings of their respective rackets; the trend has been continued in all future Mario Tennis games since then.
Emblems would make an appearance in the Mario Kart series as well, starting with Mario Kart: Double Dash!!; certain karts have their respective character's emblem placed on the kart's body. Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii gives all characters that appear in either game a more streamlined emblem, most of which have been used in various other spinoff games since. Like in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, these emblems are applied on the kart, bike or ATV. Starting with Mario Kart 7, certain gliders would also depict the character's emblem. Mario Kart DS also introduced emblem customization, a feature currently exclusive to that game where players can create their own icons using the Nintendo DS Touch Screen, and is displayed during online matches.
In the Mario Party series, emblems first appeared in Mario Party 7, where they were used to denote who controlled Character Spaces (created when someone placed an Orb on a space); when using team-based rulesets, the game instead uses one of two (or four) preset team emblems. They also appear in Windmillville, denoting ownership of a particular windmill and the Stars tied to it. In Mario Party 8, an emblem appears next to the character to indicate when it is the character's turn during gameplay; Koopa's Tycoon Town also uses a similar mechanic to the aforementioend Windmillville, using each character's emblems to denote ownership of the hotels. The game also includes the minigame Stampede, where the player must stamp their emblem onto blank sheets of paper.
Emblems are featured on Goal Poles and Checkpoint Flags in more recent main series platformers, starting with New Super Mario Bros. Wii. When a character touches a Goal Pole or a Checkpoint Flag, the Bowser emblem on it will be replaced with their own, and the flag will change color to match the character as well.
Emblems also make an appearance in Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games and subsequent entries. The symbols appear on flags and Emblems (not the symbol itself) in these games. The Mario characters have their usual logos, but since all Sonic characters with the exceptions of Dr. Eggman and Eggman Nega don't have unique emblems, most have a one-colored silhouette of their faces at a different angle with a colored background.
Driver platform emblems
Mario & Sonic series (2007-2011)
Horn emblems (Mario Kart 8 only)