Super Mario Bros. is one of the most popular and recognizable gaming franchises. Every time Nintendo shows off a new game in the main series, people immediately lose their minds. The Italian plumber continues to innovate and pioneer the 3D platforming genre, and we love every minute of it.
Due to the popularity of the character, few people ever stop and wonder how the world of Super Mario actually works. After some careful reflection on our part, we realized that a lot of the principles in the Mushroom Kingdom and beyond don't make a lot of sense. However, because of the love the series has gained over the years, people just skim over the details (generally speaking).
With the recent showcase of Super Mario Odyssey, we thought it might be fun to take a look at the series as a whole and see where its laws and rules don't exactly add up. Any game in the Mario series is fair game as we explore 15 times Super Mario made no sense and nobody noticed.
Mario Kart 8 boasted the most characters that the series had seen yet. However, it was stuffed with all of the Koopalings and unnecessary alterations on existing characters (cough, Tanooki Mario, cough). While most of them are just annoying, there is one who just makes no sense whatsoever: Baby Rosalina.
The existence of Baby Rosalina is a little controversial enough, but we'll let it slide knowing that she does have an origin (as shown in Super Mario Galaxy 2). Where the two stories contradict is where it's shown that Rosalina had red hair as a child, but in Mario Kart 8, is depicted with yellow hair and a blue dress, like adult Rosalina. It's not continuity breaking by any means, but it's different enough to raise an eyebrow.
Super Mario Odyssey is a delightfully weird game, but with it comes some interesting questions. The first question is raised when we see Mario parading around a bustling place known as New Donk City. It's there that we see Mario walking alongside actual humans. Like, real, lifelike humans.
What makes this extremely confusing is the fact that Mario himself is a human. His cartoony style led many to believe that's how humans looked in his world. Clearly, that may no longer be the case. Another issue with this is that it contradicts a lot of information put together when trying to discern Mario's true height (sorry, MatPat). Regardless, New Donk City looks to be a fun and purposely weird setting that we'll eventually get to explore this October.
A Mario and Sonic crossover was bound to happen at some time, but never did we expect that it would result in Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games. While the franchise has certainly overstayed its welcome at this point, people were fairly excited when it was first announced. However, many people simply glossed over an important fact in the game.
One look at the cover art and you'll see that Mario and Sonic are both hurdling and trying to beat each other. The issue here is that, in a race, Sonic would destroy Mario in a matter of seconds. Yet, in both the art and the game itself, Sonic and Mario are seen racing at the same pace. I understand that they had to balance the game, but it's just embarrassing to see Mario beat Sonic at a foot race.
Let me ask you a question: why in the world is Mario a plumber? Does it take the central theme of his games? Has he legitimately done anything in the sewers past the Mario Bros game on the NES? No? Then what's the point?
When it comes to video games, we are willing to accept things that aren't too out of the ordinary, but that doesn't make that they make more sense. The fact that Mario is still described as a plumber is confusing for many reasons. The first is that there are no mechanics or features in the games to suggest that Mario has any plumbing skills whatsoever. The second is the fact that he spends his time saving the Mushroom Kingdom. Where along the way would a plumbing profession be relevant or useful to that?
Believe it or not, Mario wasn't always the hero. In his first appearance, Donkey Kong, Mario was an unkind person. The entire reason Donkey Kong kidnapped Pauline was that Mario treated him very poorly. Then to make matters worse, Mario became even more sadistic for Donkey Kong Jr.
After rescuing Pauline, Mario decides to kidnap Donkey Kong and it's up to his son, Donkey Kong Jr., to rescue him. However, Mario unleashes all kinds of traps in an attempt to kill the young gorilla. Yet, Nintendo deemed him popular enough to turn him into the hero of the Mushroom Kingdom and nobody batted an eyelash. Are we just going to forget that Mario tried to brutally murder a baby gorilla? Even in his newer games, he still destroys turtles by jumping on them.
Let's talk about Super Mario Galaxy for a hot minute. Yes, I know it's a marvel of platforming and all that, but there's an aspect of it that makes no sense at all, and that's the fact that Mario and numerous other characters (from the planet Earth, mind you) can breathe in space with no problem.
It's explained that Mario is able to breathe because a Luma stays with him to allow it, but even that doesn't make any sense. How does a sentient star carry the power to let someone else breathe in space? Furthermore, Yoshi, Luigi, Toad, and more can all stand in deep space with no problems whatsoever. While it does make for a great game, the setting isn't the most logically solid premise in gaming.
While we're talking about how Mario can breathe in space, let's take a moment to address his swimming skills. There are numerous levels in the Super Mario series that force Mario underwater where he then has to dodge all sorts of fish and creatures (and somehow hits them with fireballs at the same time, which already is enough to raise an eyebrow or two).
The head-scratching part of this is that Mario breathes underwater with no problem. While most people would be able to last several minutes, Mario can stay there indefinitely and just mosey on through as fast or slow as he likes. This ability of his has led to many thinking there's more to Mario than we actually know (and that he may be more than just human).
Now that we've addressed a lot of big concerns, let's backpedal to a core concept of the Super Mario franchise. Odds are that you've played one of these games and found a Mushroom. You simply touch it and Mario grows to a bigger size. Now stop for a minute. How in the world does it work like that?
I understand that it could be a reference to the fact that there is a mushroom that gives the sensation of growing, but for it to do this, in reality, is just absurd! Furthermore, Mario takes a hit and then shrinks. Yeah, that seems like the logical response. Don't get me wrong, I love the mushroom power-up, but the more I think about it, the less sense it makes.
The 3D Mario games are some of the greatest hits that Nintendo has ever created. Take a look at Super Mario Sunshine for example. Moving the series over to the GameCube provided some of the best visuals for the franchise as well as some unique gameplay mechanics that wouldn't have been possible previously.
Yet, the plot itself doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Mario and Peach go an vacation to Isle Delfino and it has been terrorized by a Shadow Mario for quite some time. Because Mario looks like Shadow Mario, he gets arrested and is tasked with cleaning up the world. The big problem here is that Shadow Mario had been tormenting the Piantas long before Mario ever got there. Knowing that he just arrived, they should've known that Mario wasn't the real culprit.
Mario Kart, for the most part, has a lot of sensible yet crazy tracks. Of all of the franchise, there is only one course that doesn't make any sense: Rainbow Road.
This track has reappeared in every Mario Kart game to date. For those of you that aren't familiar, the course is essentially a rainbow in space. There are no barriers, so expect to fall off the track often. It's no doubt a difficult course and one that invites a lot of challenge, but that doesn't mean it makes sense.
First of all, how do the racers get to Rainbow Road? There seems to be no way of actually arriving there reasonably. Secondly, how does everyone breathe in space with no problems? Lastly, why is there gravity? Everyone should be floating around deep space trying to pass each other instead of driving on a road and falling off.
Of all the things in Super Mario that make me question it, the Mushroom Kingdom itself is the most confusing. The place is ruled by Princess Peach (more on that later). Despite the fact that she is a fully realized human being, all of her subjects are the toads (little mushroom guys).
Regardless of the perspective you're looking at this from, it doesn't add up. If Peach was the princess of this crazy kingdom, shouldn't her subjects be human as well? On the flipside, it is the MUSHROOM Kingdom and its inhabitants are little mushroom people. Wouldn't it make more sense to have a mushroom queen on top of this? Then where does Bowser fit into this scenario? I have so many questions.
Another nonsensical aspect of the Mushroom Kingdom is the fact that Princess Peach is in charge. I already talked about how that's confusing when all of the citizens are mushroom people, but that's not the issue here. Instead, why is a princess ruling a kingdom? Why hasn't the Mushroom King/Queen shown up in any of the games? I don't think Peach's heritage is even talked about in the series (perhaps Mario just doesn't want to hear about the in-laws).
Keeping this in mind, one could say that the Mushroom King is absent or died long ago. If that were the case, then Princess Peach should instead be called Queen Peach. It doesn't make sense that a human princess would be perpetually ruling this world of Toads, turtles, and sentient bullets.
Going off of more power-ups, there are still a few more that don't make a lot of sense. The first one is the Tanooki Leaf. So, Mario travels through the Mushroom Kingdom, hits a block, and out comes a little brown leaf. He touches it and immediately turns into a Tanooki who can then fly using his new tail. Other games just had the Propeller Head or the Winged Cap.
Another power-up of this caliber is the Feather. First introduced in Super Mario World, this power-up gives Mario a cape that he can defeat enemies and reflect projectiles with. Then if he's feeling really daring, he can shoot into the sky and fly for long distances. Why a feather would result in this cape power-up, I'll never know.
When Mario first appeared in gaming, he had a lady named Pauline. After being kidnapped by the giant Donkey Kong, Mario had to work tirelessly in order to save her on more than one occasion. However, the dynamic with his lady changed once he made the jump to the Mushroom Kingdom in Super Mario Bros.
All of a sudden, Pauline was nowhere to be found and Princess Toadstool was instead the woman that Mario needed to save. This would've made more sense had there been some canonical explanation for Pauline's disappearance. Yet, to make things even more complicated, Pauline has since returned in the Mario Vs. Donkey Kong series, as well as Super Mario Odyssey.
The Super Mario series has a little bit of everything in terms of enemies. There are Goombas that you just jump on to kill them. Then there are the Koopas who get stuck in their shells that Mario has to then dodge. If you manage to get to a Haunted House, you'll encounter the Mushroom Kingdom ghosts, otherwise known as Boos.
What is extremely nonsensical about the Boos is that when Mario looks at them, they cover their faces and don't move as if they're scared. They only chase him when he's not looking. While this definitely leads to easier platforming, it doesn't make sense for a ghost to try and hide from a mortal that it's trying to destroy. If I were a ghost, I would pursue Mario without hesitation.