The Super Mario series is now officially over 30 years old. However, if we count Mario’s first canonical appearance in Donkey Kong, the plumber is over 35 years of age. Most of this time was spent with Mario being a relative celebrity, at one point even being more recognizable than Mickey Mouse. Just like with any celebrity, people gossip, and rumours spread like wildfire. Since Mario has been around since before the Internet existed, those hearsay were difficult to prove wrong. Eventually, many of the rumours took root and became facts in the mind of many people.
Since not everybody shares the same level of obsessiveness when it comes to Nintendo’s franchise player, it becomes hard to distinguish the truth from the fiction. This list, while in no means intended to be the definitive guide to Mario, is meant as a companion piece to this other article by fellow writer Jerrad Wyche. While my colleague was looking to expose some of the little-known facts about the mustachioed man, I intend to rectify some of the most common misconceptions about the character and the series. Who knows? Maybe this will all be useful at a pub trivia night in your near future.
15 Mario Hits Bricks With His Fist, Not His Head
The poor resolution of early televisions and the speed of the animation of a jumping Mario are both causes for this rumour. For the longest time, I too thought that Mario was headbutting every brick in sight. It might not be good for a regular person, but nobody can jump ten times their height either, so I just assumed it was another one of the Mushroom Kingdom’s intricacies. It has also been the subject of numerous memes, jokes and comics over the year.
If you look closely at Mario’s sprite, however, it becomes easy to see that he puts his fist above his head, thus punching the bricks instead to running headfirst into them. His arm being raised is not a celebratory pose, it is simply protection. Anyone who has ever tried it in real life might ask if punching a bunch of bricks with nothing but a white glove for protection is that much better, but I would argue that it works for some people.
14 His Earlier Name Was Even Lamer Than “Jumpman”
Most gamers by now know that Mario’s first name was “Jumpman,” until he was renamed after Nintendo of America’s landlord, Mario Segale. However, one should not assume that “Jumpman” is the only generic name that was ever given to the plumber. Early on, Shigeru Miyamoto, Mario’s creator, thought that he had for sure the name which would make his baby famous: Mr. Video.
According to an Iwata Ask interview with Miyamoto himself, his intention was to plug his creation into as many games as possible, so he wanted a name which would work in any situation. Now we know that this is what ended up happening anyway, and that “Mario” is much more marketable. Indeed, games like “Mr. Video Kart” and “Mr. Video Party” do not have the same ring to them, and Miyamoto himself wonders if the series would have ever taken off had he stuck with the generic name. From the same interview, we also learn that the development name for Mario was “Ossan,” which means “middle-aged man” in Japanese, but that one never made it past the concept stage.
13 The Super Mario Bros. Super Show Was Not Mario’s First Cartoon Appearance
Many kids born in the 80s grew up not only with an NES and a Super Mario Bros. cartridge almost permanently fused to the system, but also with the Super Mario Bros. Super Show as part of their week-end morning routine. The show, which also spawned two sequels based on Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, is often thought of as Mario’s introduction to the world of cartoon, as it was the first one produced by DiC Entertainment.
The truth is that Mario appeared as a cartoon character in 1983 and 1984 as part of CBS’ Saturday Supercade, a cartoon show which featured characters from the popular arcade games of the time. This means Pac-Man and Q-Bert, but also Mario and Pauline, who must run all over the world to catch the escaped Donkey Kong. While Mario more or less looks like himself, the characterization is all wrong, as he speaks without an accent and works for a circus. After watching a few episodes, you’ll see why it is not remembered as fondly as Super Show.
12 Mario And Peach Are Not A Couple
Mario and Peach’s relationship is the reason why Facebook has an “It’s complicated” option. While they have kissed many, many times, there has never been any indication that they were anything more than friends. Those kisses are never more than a peck on the nose or cheek and, in fact, every time that the subject has been brought up in-game, they both deny any kind of relationship.
For example, in Super Paper Mario, Mario denies that Peach is his “lady friend” when asked by Luvbi. In Super Mario Galaxy, Rosalina refers to them as only being “special” to each other. There are simply not enough evidence to confirm that they have ever been a true item. Nintendo has never released any official answer to this question, preferring to keep things ambiguous. So for now, just assume that Peach and Mario are nothing more than really good friends, and don’t believe any of the weird stuff you might find on deviantart.
11 Mario And Wario Are Not Related Either
While we are on the complicated subject of Mario’s relationships and family tree, many fans are still confused when it comes to Wario. Is he an evil twin? A cousin? Are they even related at all? And what about Waluigi? Well, there are two answers to this question, and both point to Mario and Wario not being related in any way. The first one, from an official character guide from 1993, claims that Wario is nothing more than a childhood friend who turned bitter. Indeed, it looks like Wario simply became jealous because Mario was such a good plumber and so good-looking, so it’s not like their friendship was hanging on much.
The second source, slightly less official than the first one, comes from Club Nintendo, a German magazine. This one is a bit more bizarre, turning Wario into an accidental clone of Mario, created by Mega Man’s Dr. Light. This version is pretty casual with its handling of intellectual properties, so we’ll go with the “childhood friends turned enemies” explanation as the canon one.
10 Super Mario Was Not Inspired By Alice In Wonderland
The magic mushrooms, the strange land, your main character growing in size… it’s easy to make the connection between the Mario franchise and Alice In Wonderland. In fact, a few years ago, an interview came out where Shigeru Miyamoto talked about the connections between his creation and the classic novel. So there’s your answer! The mushrooms are straight out of the fairy tale! This myth has since been making the rounds, and nearly became accepted as fact.
A few years later, during an Iwata Asks interview, Miyamoto got to talk about the Alice In Wonderland connection again. Turns out that his original answer was mistranslated and that while he sees the connection, his inspiration actually came from traditional myths and folklore, which often grant a relationship to mushrooms and magical worlds. As for everything else that is weird in the Mushroom Kingdom, such as the fire-breathing turtles and the leaves that turn you into a raccoon, we are still waiting for an explanation.
9 Mario And Luigi Are Plumbers, But They Are Not From Brooklyn
It can be difficult to make sense out of Mario’s background and origins. After all, he speaks with an Italian accent, but he lives in a world which is probably not even on Earth. There’s also this persistent fact that keeps being brought up: Could Mario be originally from Brooklyn? After all, the live-action portions of Super Mario Super Show make mention of this tidbit and the 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie also incorporates it in its story.
According to Nintendo, those stories are not part of the official canon. The official origin story of Mario and Luigi can instead be found in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. The game mentions that the characters are to be brought to their parents via stork delivery, when they accidentally tumble to the ground below. They then get rescued by Yoshi and are reunited with their parents by the end of the game. Therefore, unless Yoshi’s Island is right next to Staten Island, there’s a good chance that Mario is simply from “Mushroom Kingdom”, wherever that may be.
8 Super Mario Bros. Is No Longer The Best-Selling Game Of All-Time
For a long time, this was a fact that could safely be used in any article about Mario: Super Mario Bros. is the best-selling game of all-time. It might have been helped by the fact that it was bundled with every NES sold over the first few years of its release, but it still means that there are over 40 million copies of SMB in circulation all over the world, which is nothing to sneeze at. Since 2006, however, there are a few games which managed to surpass that number, and what game holds the new title depends on what criteria you decide to use.
When it comes to a single game on a single system, Wii Sports nearly doubled SMB’s number, selling over 82 million copies. If we count games sold on multiple systems however, that number was crushed by Minecraft, which has now sold nearly 107 million games over the course of its existence. Finally, the all-time winner is Tetris, which in the process of being ported to anything from the original Game Boy to wrist watches, managed to sell 495 million copies. Still, Super Mario Bros.’ record held up for a long time, so there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
7 Mario's Incursion Into Subcon Did Not Stop After Super Mario Bros. 2
Super Mario Bros. 2 is rarely recognized in the same vein as the rest of the games in the series. Its gameplay is different, the setting is strange, and in the end, Subcon (the world in which the game takes place) is revealed to be nothing but a dream. If that is the case, then there’s no real reason to go back to that well, which is probably why Mario and friends never revisited the place… in North America, at least.
In Japan, a sequel called BS Super Mario USA was released on the Satellaview, a little-known system which attached to the Super Famicom. The sequel reveals that Subcon is not only Mario’s dream, but the collective subconscious of the entire population of Mushroom Kingdom. Somehow, Wart the evil frog monster re-invades the place, so Mario and the rest of the cast must save Subcon all over again. The game reused most of the assets from the original Super Mario Bros. 2 (called Super Mario USA in Japan, thus explaining the title of the sequel), but introduced some nifty little cut scenes to explain the story. Since the game was only ever playable through the Satellaview, it remains obscure to this day.
6 Mario Is Not A Middle-Aged Man
It would be normal to assume that Mario has to be nearing his 40s, if he isn’t past that point already. The moustache, the gut, and especially his earlier depictions all scream “middle-age”. At some point, he was even shown as being bald underneath his hat. As it turns out, we were all wrong. According to Shigeru Miyamoto himself, Mario is around 24 years old and always has been.
According to a Japanese interview from 2005, Mario’s young age is the only thing that he was ever sure of when it comes to his creation’s backstory. Over the years, the graphics have gotten better, but Miyamoto claims that Mario did not age. His current design was more or less made official in 1988, when the colour of his overalls was switched from red to blue, which means Mario has been 24 years old for almost 30 years now. While moustaches have long been acceptable for men of a certain age, young people growing them is a fairly recent phenomenon. Yet, Mario has been sporting his since the 80s, making him both a trailblazer and a hipster.
5 Mario Is Not Even Human
Mario’s features might look human on the surface, but he starts looking downright cartoonish when put next to a real human being. There’s a reason why that Super Mario Odyssey trailer was so jarring, putting Mario in the middle of a real city with real people which towered over him. Some people might have simply assumed that he is a very small person, but the truth is that Mario is not even from the same species as you and me (for the sake of brevity, I am assuming that anyone reading this is a human being and not a robot, or one of those funny dogs with glasses).
According to the same official Nintendo guide which confirmed Wario’s status, Mario is a “homo nintendonus,” which would explain the disproportionate head-to-body ratio. But wait, there’s more! Mario is not the only one whose species has been misclassified this whole time. Everyone assumed that Yoshi is a dinosaur, since he is originally found in a place called Dinosaur Land, but he is more accurately described as a “T. Yoshisaur Munchakoopas.” Even though most of my knowledge of dinosaurs comes from repeated viewings of Jurassic Park, I will go ahead and assume that it’s not an official classification.
4 Shigeru Miyamoto Had Absolutely Nothing To Do With Super Mario Land
Since Shigeru Miyamoto has been involved with most Mario side-scrollers since the beginning of times, many people think that the Game Boy hit Super Mario Land is also a product of his creative mind. This is strange, because while not a bad game in any way, Super Mario Land feels different from every other Mario platformer in existence. Its sequel returned to the more well-known format, but the original still stands out with its jumping, which feels just a bit off, and its unique enemies and setting.
That would be because Miyamoto had nothing to do with the game. Super Mario Land was created by Gunpei Yokoi, Miyamoto’s mentor and designer of the Game Boy. The game was supposed to show off his new product and while it had to sacrifice some of Mario’s most recognizable elements in order to fit on the smaller screen, it was incredibly successful in the end. Selling 18 million units worldwide, SML proved that decent platforming games could exist on handhelds.
3 Super Mario Run Was Not The First Mario Platformer Released On A Non-Nintendo Console
Mario games have been appearing on non-Nintendo consoles for a long time, but those games traditionally only used the characters without the classic Mario side-scrolling gameplay. For example, Hotel Mario was a puzzle game for the failed Philips CD-I, while Mario Is Missing!, which appeared on various computer systems, is an educational game. Super Mario Run, for iPhone and Android on the other hand is often praised as the first full-on Mario platformer to bring the traditional formula to a non-Nintendo technology
While this is a first in North America, there was a Mario platformer released in Japan for various computers in 1986, and it was called Super Mario Bros. Special. It is similar to the original Super Mario Bros., and it even pre-dates The Lost Levels, making it the first officially licensed follow-up to SMB. The game mixes assets and enemies from Mario’s different apparitions to that point, including the hammer from Donkey Kong as a power-up and the flies from Mario Bros. as enemies. Sadly, the game does not play as smooth as its predecessor, since the computers of the time could not handle the smooth scrolling of the NES. It is also seriously ugly, severely limiting the palette of colors available and making it look like a cheap knock-off.
2 It Is Possible To Jump Over The Flagpole!
It is known for a fact that it is possible to jump over the flagpole at the end of some of the courses in many Mario games, most notably The Lost Levels, but also in most games from the New Super Mario Bros. sub-series. A debate has been going on however regarding the original Super Mario Bros.: it has been demonstrated that the flagpole can be bypassed by glitching the game, but what about legitimately? And what would happen if a player was to continue passed the intended exit?
It was long thought that the feat was impossible, but persistent gamers kept trying, their hopes stoked by the many people who claimed to have done it once or twice, but couldn’t reproduce the feat in front of witnesses (probably the same kind of people who swore that you can play as Luigi in Super Mario 64). The rise of the internet made it possible for the tenacious ones to prove their claims, which is why we can now claim, without the shadow of a doubt, that it is indeed possible to jump over the flagpole. This can be accomplished with good timing, and a bit of luck, on level 3-3.
As for what comes after the flagpole? Just an endless repetition of the background pattern.
1 The Minus World Is Not The Only Secret World In Super Mario Bros.
By now, everyone knows about the Minus World. Not everyone can do the trick properly (I for one was never able to get the timing right), but most people have witnessed the Minus World through the internet or via live demonstration. What most people do not know however is that Super Mario Bros. also hides a plethora of secret worlds which are less famous, but just as weird. In fact, there are 256 such worlds hiding in SMB, but you need the right equipment and a lack of regard for your game’s well-being in order to reach them.
First, please know that there is definitely a chance that you will damage your hardware should you attempt this trick. Second, if you decide to press on, you will need the top loader version of the NES which was released in the mid-90s, as well as a copy of both Super Mario Bros. and Tennis. As for the actual trick, you start with Mario, then take it out of the system without turning it off. Put Tennis in, reset, serve once, then switch back to Mario. Reset the game, press A and Start at the same time, and there you go. Which one of the 256 secret levels you get seems to be a bit random, but you did it. Sure, the levels are glitchy as hell and some might even be unfinishable, but if you are the type who likes to live dangerously, this could be right up your alley.