“It’s-a me, Mario!” Pretty much everyone knows who Mario is. The mustached Italian plumber with a penchant for jumping and saving princesses. Not only is he the mascot for Nintendo but he’s also the gaming industry’s most recognizable character. We all know the Super Mario franchise. Unless of course you’ve been living under a rock for the past 30 years.
When the first Super Mario Bros. game was released in 1985, it made the side-scrolling subgenre of the platform video game even more popular. Due to favorable reviews and big sales, the game spawned countless sequels, turning into a mass-market franchise over the years. As of September 2015, 310 million copies in the Super Mario franchise have been sold around the world, making it the best-selling video game franchise ever.
The first game in the Super Mario franchise may have come out over 30 years ago, but it still remains hugely popular to this day. It’s stood the test of time and boasts a legacy that has immortalized it. And yet despite the franchise’s extensive history, there still remains plenty of secrets and lesser-known information surrounding the series. We may know all about the finished products that were released, but do we know about its origins? The features that could have potentially ended up in the final copy? If you’re curious to know more about one of the most popular video game franchises in history, then check out this list of 15 things you didn’t know about Super Mario.
15. Super Mario 64 Has Been Shown To Improve Spatial Orientation, Memory Formation, Motor Skills And More
Whoever said video games couldn’t be educational? Super Mario 64, a classic in the Super Mario series, has proved it can be just as educational as it is entertaining. A few years ago, a study was done at the Max Plank Institute for Human Development and Charité University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus. Researchers had 23 adults play Super Mario 64 on a portable Nintendo console for 30 minutes a day for two months, so they could determine the effects of video games on the brain. A control group didn’t play video games for the two-month period. To the surprise of the researchers, the group that played video games showed an enlargement of gray matter in their right hippocampus, right prefrontal cortex, and the cerebellum, compared to those in the control group. As a result, activities involving spatial orientation, memory function, strategic planning and motor skills of the hands were enhanced.
14. The Game Croc: Legend Of The Cobbos Started Out As A Game Featuring Yoshi
The friendly green Yoshi known as, well, Yoshi, may have already starred in various video games in the Mario franchise, but he could have had one more to add to the list. The game in question is Croc: Legend of the Cobbos, a 1997 platform video game that follows a crocodile named Croc, as he tries to rescue furry creatures known as Gobbos from an evil tyrant. But before Croc became the protagonist of the game, the role initially belonged to Yoshi. British game developer Argonaut Games, pitched a 3D platform game to Nintendo featuring Nintendo’s own Yoshi as the main character. However, Nintendo wouldn’t let an outside company use their characters, and the deal fell through. Argonaut took their prototype game and made some modifications on it, creating a new protagonist that was similar to Yoshi. The finished product was named Croc: Legend of the Cobbos, and would become the company’s highest-selling game.
13. In Super Mario Bros., The Invading Koopas Turned The Inhabitants Of The Mushroom Kingdom Into Blocks
Yeah, that’s right. Those blocks scattered throughout all the levels of the game are actually the innocent citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom who were unfortunate enough to be cursed and transformed into inanimate objects, unable to save themselves or call for help. The instruction guide for the game outright states this in the game’s instruction guide, so it’s not some absurd fan theory meant to explain the numerous blocks popping up everywhere. Which means Mario is a murderer since he probably destroyed thousands of blocks on his journey to save Princess Toadstool from the clutches of the nefarious Browser. An accidental murderer, perhaps, but still a murderer. Before you destroy another block in a Super Mario Bros. game, please think about the inhabitants of the Mushroom Kingdom first.
12. Super Mario Bros. 3 Is Actually A Stage Play
What was once a fan theory was confirmed to be true by Mario series creator Shigeru Miyamoto. Apparently, Super Mario Bros. 3 never really happened. Mario was never really in any danger. The game was really a play and we were the audience. The proof? The game kicks off with a curtain opening with shadows on the backdrop. Blocks are seen fastened to the background and more shadows appear in the skyline. One can even go “backstage” during particular levels if they wish. Platforms are suspended from the roof by way of hidden machines located behind the set. And once you finish a level, it appears as if you are leaving a stage. The whole thing makes for a pretty elaborate performance.
11. Mario Was Voiced By Optimus Prime At One Time
What do Mario and Optimus Prime both have in common? They both share the same voice actor. The Italian plumber has been voiced by more than one person over the years. There was Walker Boone in Super Mario World and The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, Lou Albano in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, and Charles Martinent, the current voice actor for Mario. But at one point during the franchise’s history, he was voiced by Peter Cullen in the Donkey Kong shorts on Saturday Supercade aired in 1983. Peter Cullen was the voice for Optimus Prime in the original Transformers animated series aired in the 1980s, and he reprised his role for the live-action Transformers films starting in 2007. Mind=blown.
10. The Donkey Kong Game Was Supposed To Be A Popeye Game
Donkey Kong may be one of the most recognizable video game characters in the gaming industry, but there’s a lot of information surrounding the franchise that isn’t well-known to the public. For one thing, the original Donkey Kong game was initially designed to be a Popeye game. Mario was originally Popeye, Princess Peach was originally Olive Oyl, and Bluto was originally Donkey Kong. But Nintendo was unsuccessful in garnering the license to Popeye, so Miyamoto decided to take the classic love triangle and combine it with a King Kong theme for the new game. Donkey Kong would not only be credited with single-handedly saving Nintendo’s American arcade division, but it would become one of the company’s most iconic games.
9. The Mushrooms From Super Mario Bros. Are Based On Mushrooms In Real Life
There have been some Super Mario fans that have said Mario is high due to the all the mushrooms he keeps eating. And their speculation may be rooted in fact. The red cap mushrooms speckled in white dots commonly seen in the franchise are based on a type of mushroom in real life. Its scientific name is Amanita muscaria, but it is more commonly referred to as a “fly-agaric” mushroom. It’s a British fungus that is well-known for its toxicity and hallucinogenic characteristics. One of the chemical compounds found in fly-agaric mushrooms, known as muscazone, can cause visual distortions and can make it seem like one grew in size after eating it. Sound familiar? Whenever Mario eats a mushroom, he grows in size. So technically speaking, Mario is high while he’s going on missions.
8. Tom Hanks Declined The Role Of Mario In The Super Mario Bros. Live-Action Movie
If you didn’t know, the Super Mario Bros. series received a live-action film adaption in 1993 that starred Bob Hoskins as Mario and John Leguizamo as Luigi. For those of you who do know of the live-action movie and have seen clips of it at least, it’s most likely something that you want to forget ever seeing. The movie is largely regarded in the Super Mario fan community as a terrible film that can barely call itself a film adaption; they’re the same in name only. So we don’t blame Tom Hanks for turning down the role of Mario to act in the trial drama Philadelphia, a movie that received much better ratings than what the live-action Super Mario Bros. film received. I also don’t blame Arnold Schwarzenegger for turning down the role of King Koopa (aka Browser).
7. Mario Was Originally A Carpenter
Mario didn’t always start off as a plumber. In his early days on the arcade, his profession lied in the carpentry industry. In the Donkey Kong game, he was a carpenter who worked in construction that had to scale the building Donkey Kong was at the top of to save his girlfriend. It was decided this way so Mario could fit in with the game’s design, which took place at a construction site. It was for the original Super Mario Bros. arcade game that Mario’s occupation was changed from a carpenter to a plumber as pipes and sewers became a focal point of the game. It was also because a colleague told Miyamoto that Mario’s attire resembled the attire a plumber would wear instead of a carpenter and the game designer changed Mario’s profession accordingly.
6. Mario Was A Villain
In nearly every game he appears in, Mario is a brave and heroic figure who possesses a strong sense of justice and morality. Nearly. You may be surprised to know that Mario was the bad guy in one of the franchise’s games. That game was Donkey Kong Jr., which was released on the arcade system in 1982. The game follows Donkey Kong Jr. on his journey to rescue his father Donkey Kong from Mario, who has him locked up in a cage. At the end of the game, Donkey Kong Jr. defeats Mario and walks away with his newly-freed father. But looking at the first Donkey Kong game, it’s really not that surprising that Mario would be the antagonist in Donkey Kong Jr. since the manual for Donkey Kong explicitly says that the gorilla was Mario’s pet and Mario was mean to him, which is why Kong breaks free and kidnaps Mario’s girlfriend.
5. The Chain Chomp Was Based Off Of A Traumatic Experience
There’s a reason why the iconic Chain Chomp enemy barks like a dog and behaves much like a dog, too. It’s practically a dog in everything but appearance. And it’s because the Chain Chomp was based off of a dog from Miyamoto’s childhood. During his childhood, Miyamoto was terrorized by a neighborhood dog who chased him and tried to bite him before being pulled back by a chain attached to his collar. This dog would later be the inspiration for the Chain Chomps in the Super Mario franchise, though they were originally intended to be used for The Legend of Zelda series first. Bonus fact: A Chain Chomp will break free if you let it tug on its chain 49 times in Super Mario Bros. 3. Try it out.
4. Mario Was Named After A Nintendo Office Landlord
Ever wonder where the name for gaming’s most recognizable figure came from? The answer may surprise you. Mario was originally known as Jumpman during his arcade days in Donkey Kong. It was during the time that Nintendo of America was looking to import Jumpman and make him the star of a franchise that his name was changed. Allegedly, Nintendo of America was behind on the rent on their Seattle office, but their landlord, Mario Segale, decided to let it slide, having faith that they would pay him later. As a sign of their gratitude to Segale for his generosity, and because someone saw that Jumpman resembled Segale, Nintendo of America decided to give Jumpman the name of Mario. Segale may not have received any compensation for having his name used, but he will forever be immortalized as sharing the same name with Nintendo’s mascot.
3. Playing Super Mario Sunshine Makes People More Kind In Real Life
Video games always get a bad rep for triggering violent and sociopathic behavior. But one certain video game can actually trigger the exact opposite. Just like how Super Mario 64 proved it could improve the functioning levels of the brain, Super Mario Sunshine has beneficial effects on the people who play the game. Several years ago, a study was done by researchers all over the globe to examine the correlation between video games and the behavior of gamers. Not only did they look at violent games, but they also looked at “prosocial games”, games in which players assist each other in nonbelligerent ways. Researchers studied middle school children in Singapore and found that students who played more prosocial games displayed more prosocial behavior in real life. Similar studies done in other countries yielded the same results. Maybe there should be more games like Super Mario Sunshine.
2. Yoshi Has An Evil Counterpart Named Boshi
Mario’s archenemy and villainous counterpart is Wario. Luigi’s archenemy and villainous counterpart is Waluigi. Yoshi’s lesser-known archenemy and villainous counterpart is Boshi. Boshi’s only appearance is in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, which was released in 1996. Whereas Yoshi is a brave and friendly individual who is always eager to lend a helping hand, Boshi is a loner with attitude who prefers to stick to himself, but enjoys competing against others and beating them. He wears a pair of sunglasses and a spiked collar and is the only known Yoshi who doesn’t wear shoes. During Legend of the Seven Stars, Mario and friends travel to Yo’ster Isle to relax where Yoshi informs them that Boshi, the champion of the Mushroom Derby, is stealing everyone’s cookies and not letting anyone race on the race-course. But after Mario and Yoshi beat Boshi in a race, Boshi sees the error of his ways and lets everyone back on the race-course.
1. Super Mario Bros. Was Originally Designed With A Shoot-Em-Up Level
There are a variety of different methods Mario can use to dispatch his enemies, including throwing fireballs, throwing boomerangs, using a ground smash, and the classic stomping on the enemy. But another way for Mario to destroy his enemies could have been shooting them in a scrapped shoot-em-up stage from the first Super Mario Bros. game. According to a Famitsu interview done with Miyamoto, Mario would wield a gun and shoot at enemies from a cloud. Not only that, but he would be equipped with a jetpack to move around with. The Up button was to jump, the B button was to dash, and the A button was to fire bullets. In the end, the early designs for a shoot-em-up stage were discarded in favor of more jumping action. The sky-based stages of the game are all that’s left of the scrapped stage.