Super Mario is the most successful video game series of all time. Debuting in the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong, "Jumpman" would go on to become the world's most famous character in the history of gaming. There have been over 100 installments, ranging from all different types of genres. One minute Mario will be stopping viruses as a doctor in the appropriately titled Dr. Mario using Tetris-inspired gameplay and the next he'll be participating in a grand RPG adventure like in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. Like other franchises, the hero doesn't come alone. He brings with him numerous allies and antagonists. From his older brother Luigi to his mortal enemy Bowser, there are many memorable characters in Mario lore.
The series doesn't look to be stopping anytime soon. With the Nintendo Switch, we'll be seeing the next game, Super Mario Odyssey, later this year and much like Super Mario 64 it looks to once again set the standard for platformers. Mario has the honor of being one of the few franchises where almost every main installment is critically acclaimed. Super Mario Bros., Super Mario World, Yoshi's Island, Super Mario Galaxy, and quite a few others have been considered as some of the greatest games of all time. Like all franchises, there are plenty of fun, little known facts and novelties. For this list we'll be taking a look at 20 Things You Didn't Know About The Super Mario Franchise.
20 Mario Once Wielded A (Super Scope) Gun
Beginning this list is an interesting sight: Mario wielding a gun or rather the famous Super Scope. In modern day it's mainly known for being a chargeable weapon in Super Smash Bros., but back in the '90s it was a peripheral for the Super Nintendo. It was the direct successor to the NES Zapper (which was used Duck Hunt) and compatible with a little over 10 games. The most well-known game might be Yoshi's Safari. In it, Princess Peach has Mario and Yoshi journey to a place called Jewelry Land to rescue its rulers. The gameplay is something that was, and still is, unique for a Mario adventure. It's played from Mario's perspective as he rides on Yoshi. The player points at the screen and shoots down various enemies, such as Paratroopas. There are even boss fights with the Koopalings, a mecha Blooper, and even Chargin' Chuck from Super Mario World.
Yoshi's Safari is starting to fade into obscurity unfortunately. Since it was made exclusively for the super scope, it seems unlikely it'll be re-released for the virtual console. (Unless, like Duck Hunt, the controller can be modified to fit the gameplay.) It would be a treat to see it re-released, as this game is probably the last time we see a Mario first person shooter.
19 Princess Peach Secretly Wants To Shave Her Hair
In one of the most recent games on this list, Mario & Luigi:Paper Jam is a crossover featuring Paper Mario (and many other paper characters) arriving in the main Mario world. Paper Mario teams up with his 3D counterpart and Luigi to stop both Bowsers from taking over. Toward the middle act both Princess Peach and her paper counterpart are captured and put in a cage. What follows is an interesting exchange between the two. After commenting on how their hair looks good against their dresses, 3D Peach says, "To be honest, though, I've always wanted to do something really drastic to my hair. Like chop it all off!" Paper Peach agrees and says she would like to also.
Hopefully we'll see more heart-to-heart conversations like this one in the future. Who knows, maybe Luigi secretly wants to shave his mustache.
18 Princess Daisy Is The Ruler Of Her Own Kingdom
Super Mario Land isn't as popular as the main 2D games. It was released in-between Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World in 1989 on the Game Boy. It didn't see a re-release until 2011 on the 3DS virtual console. The most unique aspect of this game (besides Mario riding in a submarine of course) is that it doesn't take place in the Mushroom Kingdom. The setting is a place called Sarasaland and it's ruled by its own princess, one by the name of Daisy. Daisy looks similar to Peach, but with a different hairstyle and yellow dress.
In modern day, Daisy has only been used in spin-off titles (though she was featured as a costume in Super Mario Maker) and is little more than an alternate character to Peach with little mention of her country. Maybe Nintendo will visit Sarasaland again at some point.
17 Mario Has Starred In Every Sport EXCEPT...
Mario Sports Superstars releases in March and it features soccer, baseball, tennis, golf, and even horse racing. Seven years ago there was Mario Sports Mix which featured basketball, volleyball, dodgeball, and hockey. Something is missing from these titles. The answer to that is football. Despite being in all the sports listed, and even boxing thanks to the recent Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympics, Mario has never been given the chance to score a touchdown (Unless rugby is counted).
The characters all have unique abilities which would make for a fun take on the sport. (Diddy Kong as a running back? Yoshi as a wide receiver? How about Bowser on the defensive line?) Since Nintendo has explored all these other sports, maybe they will consider throwing Mario and friends on the field for a Hail Mary pass.
16 There Is More Than One Super Mario Bros. Film
Usually when one mentions a Super Mario Bros. film, it's almost always referring to the infamous 1993 live action adaptation. There was however another film predating it. In 1986, just one year after the first Super Mario Bros. game, Japan released an anime adaption of the series. The title has been roughly translated to, "The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach!" It's about an hour long and follows the usual Bowser kidnaps the Princess storyline with a few differences (One difference is the opening, which has Mario meet the Princess via playing on the Famicom).
The ending is perhaps the biggest change, because a character exclusive to the anime named Prince Haru arrives in what is probably the most somber ending for Mario to date. Unfortunately the film has never been released internationally.
15 Donkey Kong 1981 Is Not The Same As Modern Day DK
In 1981, Nintendo started to change the video game industry by releasing the arcade game Donkey Kong. It wasn't until 1994, however, when the company released Donkey Kong Country that the titular ape became his own spin-off franchise. The intro to the first Country features a peculiar scene. We see an older Donkey Kong standing on a stage which clearly resembles the 1981 arcade game. Not only that, but he's also playing the classic theme on a phonograph. Then the modern day DK arrives and the screen changes to a forest background.
The older DK is called Cranky Kong in the game and, according to the game's official manual, Cranky "is actually the original Donkey Kong who starred in the many Donkey Kong arcade classics of the 80's." The main thing differentiating the two Kongs is that the original one didn't wear a necktie. Cranky Kong would go on to appear in all of the Country sequels.
14 Mario Appears As A Guest Character In NBA Street And SSX On Tour
In 2005, Nintendo had a deal with EA to include Mario characters in EA's franchises. Mario, Luigi, and Peach got to appear exclusively in the GameCube versions of NBA Street Vol. 3 and SSX On Tour. In both games, they even have their own court/level. The iconic sound effects aren't forgotten either, as you can hear Mario shouting "Wahoo!" and "I did it!" when he does a 360 (and other moves you'll have to play to believe) in SSX.
Seeing the three heroes perform a "game breaker combo" in NBA is a treat. It is admittedly strange (in a good way) to see the characters alongside the more realistic graphics of these games. Of course, if Spider-Man can appear in a Tony Hawk game, there's no reason why Mario can't dunk a shot over LeBron James.
13 Waluigi Was A Major Antagonist In One Game
Waluigi was introduced in Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64 as an anti-Luigi (Plus Wario didn't have a partner for doubles). Since then he has appeared in most, if not all spin-off titles (He even has his own levels, such as Waluigi's Island in Mario Party 3 and Waluigi Pinball in Mario Kart DS). His most notable appearance might be in 2005's Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix for the GameCube. Not only does the opening feature him with full text boxes of dialogue, (we learn he has ambitions of rising to power) he also is the one who sets the game's story mode in motion.
Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix is one of the more peculiar games in the franchise, as Mario has to dance his way to beating Waluigi and eventually Bowser. Though the game came bundled with a dance mat, it can be played with the regular GameCube controller.
12 Mario Has Raced With Pac-Man
Mario Kart might be Nintendo's most successful spin-off franchise. From 2005 to 2013 the company released arcade-exclusive installments titled Mario Kart Arcade GP. One of the most exciting aspects is that Pac-Man guest stars as a playable character in all three installments (Namco's mascot would also get his own kart racing game in 2006 titled Pac-Man World Rally). Pac doesn't jump into the Mario universe alone. He brings his wife Ms. Pac-Man and the red ghost Blinky for the first two installments (Pac-Man Jr. also makes a cameo in the second game). Pac also comes with his own race tracks called Pac Labyrinth and Pac Mountain. Like Mario, Pac is classified as a middleweight character.
The first two games featured Pac-Man's iconic World design and the final game featured his recent revamped look from The Ghostly Adventures. This wasn't the last time Pac-Man battled with Mario, as he was featured in the most recent Super Smash Bros.
11 Wario Was The Star Of His Own Platformer
Wario made his debut as an antagonist in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. Since then he has starred in a few side-scrollers, (one of which, Mario & Wario, never released outside Japan) and the famous WarioWare series. He has also been featured in most, if not all spin-off titles. Back in the early Nintendo GameCube days of 2003, Mario's greedy rival starred in his own 3D platformer titled Wario World. In it, Wario has built a castle which houses many different treasures. Unbeknownst to him, one of the treasures called the Black Jewel is actually sentient and awakens.
The gameplay is similar to previous Nintendo platformers and Wario can punch his foes like Mario could in Super Mario 64. To date, this is Wario's only 3D platformer. If the Nintendo Switch does include a GameCube virtual console library, players could be given the chance to revisit or play this title for the first time.
10 Mario Has Been Battling Bowser Since They Were Babies
Donkey Kong might be the first Mario game Nintendo released, but chronologically Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island is the first in the timeline. Released in 1995, Yoshi's Island has the titular dinosaur helping Baby Mario rescue Baby Luigi from the clutches of Kamek. From Baby Mario's iconic crying sound effect to Yoshi's gameplay being the blueprint for most of his attacks in Super Smash Bros., Yoshi's Island is one of the most well known and beloved games on the Super Nintendo (The aesthetic is also one of the most unique to date).
Perhaps the most iconic part is the climax. Yoshi and Baby Mario run into Bowser's infant form. Baby Bowser calls Yoshi a "gween donkey" before ground-pounding Baby Mario. The battle is two phases, with the second being something to experience if you haven't already. Few rivalries start out as babies; Mario vs. Bowser has the honor of being one of them.
9 King Boo Has Defeated And Captured Mario Twice
Bowser might be the most iconic Mario antagonist, but that doesn't mean he's the most powerful or even most evil. In 2001, the GameCube launched not with a Mario starring game, but a Luigi one. Luigi's Mansion has the title character exploring a mansion full of ghosts. He eventually runs into his brother...who is trapped in a painting. The climax has Luigi battle the ruler of the Boos, appropriately called King Boo.
Twelve years later, the game got a sequel titled Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. In it, King Boo captures Mario once again and his ambition is to become ruler of the world. With his iconic laugh and having the honor of defeating Mario twice, King Boo ranks among the most powerful and sinister of the plumber's antagonists. The Boo leader was also featured in the Nintendo DS remake of Super Mario 64 (which chronologically makes it his first appearance) and numerous spin-offs.
8 Luigi's Mansion Box Art Resembles Home Alone
Since we're on the subject of Luigi's Mansion, let's take a look at a fun homage. Though it's hard not to draw comparisons to a famous 80's supernatural comedy since Luigi literally becomes a "ghost buster," the topic is on the box art. The Japanese and North American covers share one thing in common: both feature Luigi in a pose that looks to be inspired by the poster for Home Alone. The only difference between box art is that the North American one features some of the Ghost antagonists (This actually helps the cover look even more like Home Alone since it features head-shots of the villains).
7 Mario Appears In Pixels
In 2015, a film called Pixels was released into theaters. Directed by Chris Columbus and starring Adam Sandler, the story follows a team of champion gamers recruited by the government to stop aliens that are using arcade game characters to wreak havoc. The premise is a nostalgic trip and while the film's quality can be questioned, there's no denying the novelty of seeing characters like Centipede and Pac-Man (even Frogger) brought to life on the big screen for the first time. The film's climax features numerous classic arcade characters as the aliens unleash their last assault on Earth. If viewers are carefully watching they'll see Mario (or rather Jumpman) hopping in the background chasing an unfortunate civilian.
Of course, Mario isn't the only character from his respective universe to appear. Donkey Kong appears as the final boss and the protagonists have to jump over barrels just like in the game.
6 Mario Has An Ongoing Manga Dating Back To 1991
In 1991, one year after Super Mario World, Japanese manga magazine CoroCoro Comic began to publish the manga known as SUPER MARIO KUN. Like the Akira Himekawa Zelda manga, MARIO KUN focuses mostly on covering the games in the franchise, starting with Mario World (Presumably we'll be seeing an Odyssey adaption as well). Unlike Zelda, the writing and art style aims for more of an exaggerated, goofy tone. Mario himself appears to be portrayed as a little naive in comparison to his video game self.
The manga has never been licensed for release in North America and it doesn't seem likely at this point. Not too long ago however a SUPER MARIO KUN costume was added to Super Mario Maker, so at the very least players have the opportunity to play as the manga hero. There has been an American comic starring Mario, which ran in Nintendo Power. It was recently collected in the trade paperback Super Mario Adventures.
5 Koopa Kid Is A Forgotten Character
Forgotten characters are nothing new in video games. As most Sonic fans know, sometimes characters stop appearing and are never to be seen again in a game. The Mario franchise is no different and one primary example is Koopa Kid. He (or they, since there were a few of them) appeared in the original Mario Party. His last appearance was in Mario Party 7 (Party 7 was also the last Party installment on the GameCube). His role was to basically just wreak havoc on the players in Bowser's name. It's easy to mistake Koopa Kid for Bowser Jr., but Bowser's son didn't appear until 2002 in Super Mario Sunshine, four years after Mario Party launched.
After Party 7, Koopa Kid stopped appearing and was seemingly replaced by Bowser Jr. It wasn't clear exactly if the Koopa Kids were Bowser's children or just hired workers. Either way, it's unlikely they'll ever come back with Bowser Jr. and the Koopalings filling their roles.
4 Mario's Shadow Doppelganger Could Still Be Out There
Super Mario Sunshine released 17 years ago and its legacy is still being felt today (Series creator Shigeru Miyamoto recently brought it up as inspiration for the upcoming Super Mario Odyssey). Sunshine's ending features a peculiar scene. The game's antagonist is a Mario doppelganger named Shadow Mario, who turns out to be Bowser Jr. He was able to transform thanks to a "Magic Paintbrush." So, in the ending we see that same Paintbrush and another character looking at it. This character is II Piantissimo, a human disguised as a Pianta that Mario races with at different points in the game.
It seems to be implied that II Piantissimo takes the Paintbrush. Sadly this has not been touched upon to this day. Shadow Mario has appeared as an unlockable character in Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour and as Bowser Jr.'s Final Smash in the most recent Super Smash Bros., but II Piantissimo has yet to appear again.
3 Mario's Second Ever Appearance Was Being An Antagonist...And There Were Two Of Him
Mario has traveled across countries and even galaxies to rescue a princess. He has stopped alien threats from destroying the Mushroom Kingdom. He is the definition of a hero. That is why it's hard to picture him being portrayed as an antagonist. But that was the case in Donkey Kong Jr., the 1982 sequel to the very first game in the franchise. In Jr., players take control of Donkey Kong's son and the goal is to rescue the captured ape from Mario's clutches.
The gameplay is similar to Donkey Kong, but there's more of an emphasis on climbing and the level design is less like a construction site. Now for the bizarre part: in the game's arcade intro there are two Marios lifting and then carrying Donkey Kong's cage away. Luigi hadn't been invented yet, so it's unclear who exactly was that second Mario. Could the rumors be true that a third Mario brother exists? The world may never know.
2 Sonic's Shoes Were Featured In A Donkey Kong Game
The Mario/Sonic rivalry of the '90s is the stuff of legend. For a while, Nintendo was dominating the video game industry, but when Sonic the Hedgehog launched in 1991, Mario and friends had direct competition. One of the most humorous jabs at the hedgehog is found in the Donkey Kong Country sequel, Diddy's Kong Quest. In "Cranky's Video Game Heroes" ceremony, Cranky Kong shows Diddy a sort of Hall of Fame for heroes. #1 is naturally Mario; we also see cameos from Yoshi and even Link. At the bottom right Sonic's iconic shoes are clearly seen with the text "No hopers" accompanying them.
The Mario Sonic "war" is pretty much nonexistent nowadays, as the two characters have regularly starred together in the Olympic series. (There was even a Yoshi's Island Zone DLC for the Wii U version of Sonic Lost World.)
1 Super Mario Bros. 3 Appeared In a Film BEFORE Being Available To Play In North America
Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time. With its iconic level design and power-ups (it's hard to forget Frog Mario) many still consider it to be the greatest Mario installment. The game was released in Japan in 1988 and wouldn't come to North America until February of 1990. A very interesting thing however is that American audiences got to see the game in action before it became available to play in the States.
In 1989, Universal Pictures released a film called The Wizard. The story follows a few kids, one of whom has a talent for playing video games. The climax features a video game tournament where Super Mario Bros. 3 is the last game to be featured (Imagine being an audience member and getting to witness that iconic opening level for the first time). The film has become somewhat obscure, but remains a cult classic among some longtime gamers.