There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the spectrum of gaming is forever in debt to Mario. Since his debut, climbing up scaffolding to rescue Pauline from an angry Donkey Kong, he’s been providing gamers with endless amounts of entertainment. But it’s when his games made it into our homes when he truly made an impact.
Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System was a revolutionary title that saved the gaming industry from the brink of collapse. Since then, each game he’s appeared in has featured joyous music, pitch-perfect gameplay, colorful worlds, and humorous characters. And it’s strange to think how different it all could have been.
For every Mario adventure, there exists a multitude of what-if scenarios. What if Nintendo had given us these levels? What if Nintendo had included these power-ups? And what if Nintendo had given Mario a weapon from the very beginning as they intended, basically altering the DNA of a character we now know and love?
Yes, while some of these changes may be small, there are others that could’ve changed the path that has led Mario to become one of the most well-known video game characters on the planet. And though some of them are small, they still could have altered future titles as they were taken out relatively early in his career.
Essentially Nintendo’s Mickey Mouse, there is no doubt that Mario’s star power will continue to burn bright for years to come. But here are 25 amazing things deleted from his classic games that could have changed everything.
25 Super Mario Bros.: Sky Segments
There are a few major details that could’ve changed the way we see Mario had they been implemented in the first game. And one of those details was the inclusion of sky segments.
Since this was the first game, there was no basis to go off of.
Nintendo’s original idea was to divide the game between playing on the ground and in the sky. Mario would’ve ridden on either a cloud or a rocket, shooting enemies along the way. But that’s far from the most extreme aspect they could’ve included. Concept sketches of this idea can be found online.
24 Super Mario Bros. 3: A Top-Down Perspective
Super Mario Bros. 3 became the new gold standard for Mario upon release with exciting new power-ups and better level design. Though early on in development, Nintendo had an idea that would’ve made it play entirely different.
The idea was to have the game be played from a top-down perspective, similar to The Legend of Zelda.
It’s totally fine for the non-jumping Link. But Nintendo wisely realized that giving the game this feature would have made jumping and platforming needlessly difficult and thus scrapped the idea.
23 Super Mario World: A Different World Map
You can learn a lot about what a game could’ve been by looking at old pre-release footage and screenshots. For Super Mario World, the first Mario adventure for the SNES, the original layout for Dinosaur Land was much different than what we got.
But the most interesting change wasn’t the layout.
The game was originally going to include Toad Houses and Castles similar to those in Super Mario Bros. 3. But Nintendo must have wanted to differentiate this game from the previous series. Also, the full title of the Japanese release is Super Mario Bros. 4: Super Mario World.
22 Super Mario 64: More Levels
As the first 3D Mario title, Super Mario 64 was bigger than any other adventure that had come before it. And Nintendo seemingly and naturally wanted to make it as big and perfect as they could. While there are 15 worlds that can be explored in the final version, the development team had worked on a whopping 32.
Due to space limitations on the cartridges, however, Nintendo decided to instead feature far fewer worlds, but make them bigger and enhance the sense of exploration. This resulted in the series of sandboxes we now know make up Super Mario 64.
21 Mario Kart 64: The Feather
The feather was a handy little item seen in the original Super Mario Kart for SNES that let players jump over obstacles. While not as exciting as a red shell, it was a way to help you play more strategically. And according to early screenshots, the item was meant to make a return in Mario Kart 64.
It’s unclear why the item was removed from the final version, but it would’ve made the game a bit easier and perhaps saved a couple of friendships. The item actually wouldn’t be seen again until Mario Kart 8 in that game’s battle mode.
20 Mario Party: Scrapped Minigames
A game that was arguably responsible for more ruined friendships than Mario Kart 64 was Mario Party. It combined the competitiveness of board games with Mario, a blend that is still going strong today.
The first game in the series featured 50 unique minigames, but there were five more that were scrapped. The names, which are included in the game’s code, are All or Nothing, Tour de Mario, Bungee Jump, SameGame, and Yoshi’s Tongue Meet. There was also a random play mode planned, where you could play random minigames without going through a board.
19 Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island: A Completely Different Style
After Yoshi blew up in popularity thanks to Super Mario World, Nintendo decided to give him a starring role in the game’s prequel. But they also wanted the game to look much different than what was seen in the final version.
Nintendo almost forced Shigeru Miyamoto, Mario’s creator, to include pre-rendered 3D sprites similar to Donkey Kong Country.
Luckily, this didn’t happen. The hand drawn/storybook art style in Yoshi’s Island built the foundation for future installments, evolving into worlds made of wool and crafts. This may not have happened had Nintendo gotten their way.
18 Super Mario RPG: So Many Unused Enemies
Super Mario RPG was a completely different type of Mario game when it was released in 1996 for the SNES. Developed by the wonderful RPG-crafting team at Square, it blended the bright and colorful world of Mario with the strategic gameplay of RPGs.
With this game came a slew of fun and interesting enemies that were brand new to the Mario series. But there are many others that were left out of the final game. Most were just different colors for existing enemies but there were a few others, like Drill Bit, that Mario never got to fight.
17 Super Mario Bros.: Checkpoints
The original Super Mario Bros. is one of the harder games in the series as it doesn’t offer the player any way to save their progress. It also doesn’t offer the player checkpoints throughout levels. At least, not any ones we can see.
Seeing that little flag in levels for later Mario titles would strive players to push onward. In the original, there are invisible checkpoints. If you make it far enough, then lose a life, Mario starts back at a certain section. It’s a small feature that Nintendo opted to delete from the first game, but an important one.
16 Super Mario Bros. 3: Centaur Power-up
Before Cappy from Super Mario Odyssey eliminated the need for power-ups, they were one of the most exciting things about playing a new Mario game. And one of the most iconic and popular is the feather from Super Mario Bros. 3 that gave our hero raccoon features and the ability to fly.
But this was not the first power-up idea Nintendo had.
They originally planned to give Mario a centaur power-up, but this was scrapped before it was put into the game. They thought that giving Mario the power of flight would be more interesting. Good call.
15 Paper Mario: Unused Enemies
Deleting enemies from an RPG must be fairly common, as the Mario series definitely isn’t the only one to see some be removed. Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64 featured a delightful storybook art style and terrific gameplay even outside of the battles as it let players switch between 2D and 3D while traveling the world.
Just like Super Mario RPG before it, Paper Mario had several enemies that didn’t make it into the final game. Some are palette swaps, like the Aqua Fuzzy, while others were in the game yet couldn’t be fought, such as Albino Dino.
14 Dr. Mario: Harder Gameplay
Before Mario was made the star of Nintendo’s Tetris-like puzzle game, it was simply known as Virus during development. The gameplay remained largely unaffected by his inclusion: you match up the color of the pills Dr. Mario throws down with the viruses (three colors in a row) to eliminate them and move on to the next level.
If one half of a pill disappears, the other half falls down until it lands on something. But there was originally an option to turn that off, meaning that half would hang in midair. This would’ve made for an obstacle and higher difficulty.
13 Super Mario 64: Multiplayer
One of the most widespread rumors regarding a Nintendo game revolved around finding Luigi in Super Mario 64. There were all manner of tricks that stated it was possible, yet all the rumors turned out to be false.
But Luigi came very close to being in the game.
Nintendo had tested out a splitscreen version early on with Mario and Luigi entering Peach’s castle separately. Due to the hardware limitations of the Nintendo 64, they had the choice of keeping him as a playable character or creating more elaborate levels. So Luigi, sadly, had to be taken out.
12 Mario Party 2: More Unused Minigames
Mario Party was a surprisingly fun spin-off for the Mario series and its sequel improved on it in nearly every way. But just like the first one, there were a few minigames that didn’t make it into the final version.
Text explaining how to play these six challenges can still be found in the game’s code. One, called Lucky Coin Grab, would’ve been a 1v3 game where players tried to catch falling coins while riding on gems. Another, called Tug O’ War, would’ve been a 2v2 game where players alternated which buttons they pressed to pull the other team down.
11 Super Mario World: Red Switch Palace
The different colored Switch Palaces hidden throughout Super Mario World are used to turn box outlines in levels into blocks that Mario can either hit to get a power-up or walk across to reach a hidden area.
The Red Switch Palace, for whatever reason, was removed from the final game.
It’s still possible to access the hidden level though. It’ll just get you stuck inside an endless bonus game. There are also 15 other deleted levels that can be found in the game’s ROM, though most of them are unremarkable, unfinished, and short.
10 Super Mario Bros. 3: Helpful Koopa Troopas And Hammer Bros.
One of the most helpful new features that Nintendo included in Super Mario Bros. 3 were Toad Houses, where Mario could get aid from Princess Peach’s servants by opening chests for power-ups or playing a minigame for extra lives.
But Toad was not originally the one helping Mario out. Some early screenshots show that Mario could have found houses occupied by Koopa Troopas and Hammer Bros. The Koopas would offer a question block minigame while the Hammer Bros. would offer a dice rolling game. But as these characters are normally enemies, the switch to Toad was a logical one.
9 Yoshi's Island: A Game-Spanning Escort Mission
The gameplay of Yoshi’s Island consists of carrying baby Mario around on your back and protecting him from the dangers of each level. But an earlier idea Nintendo had would’ve made it a lot less fun.
The idea was to have both characters move independently of one another.
Players would control Yoshi and guide the infant through each level. While taking damage causes baby Mario to be put into a bubble and annoyingly wail until you free him, that’s probably still better than a game that’s just one long escort mission.
8 Paper Mario: An Intended Sequel
Paper Mario obviously wasn’t the first RPG Mario starred in. But its link to the first is a little bit more defined than some realize. While the game did star Mario and other Mushroom Kingdom characters, Super Mario RPG was developed by Square.
Paper Mario was originally titled Super Mario RPG 2, but due to pesky licensing issues with Square, who was moving on to make games for cheaper costs on the PlayStation, the name had to be changed. It’s unclear how much else was changed, but this essentially guaranteed we’d never play as characters like Geno and Mallow again.
7 Mario Kart 64: Kamek
Kamek is hand’s down one of the most annoying minions Bowser has at his disposal. He flies around on a broomstick and performs whatever magic he thinks will slow Mario down. But he almost got a moment to shine as something other than an obnoxious baddie.
In early screenshots for Mario Kart 64, Kamek was a racer that players would have been able to choose. But when the final version was released, he was nowhere to be seen. He was replaced with the much more popular Donkey Kong.
6 Super Mario Bros. 3: Unused Levels
There were a lot of things that made Super Mario Bros. 3 the greatest in the series upon release and the level design was one of the most notable. The way each area was balanced with the power-ups and the hidden areas that could be uncovered throughout provided a formula that would be used time and time again.
That doesn’t mean that every level made it into the game. There are fifteen unused levels that can be found in the game’s code. But the majority of them appear to be similar to levels that appeared in the final game.
5 Super Mario 64: A Bigger Role For Yoshi
Mario’s trusty dino pal was relegated to an Easter Egg in Super Mario 64 and could only be found on the rooftop of Peach’s castle after acquiring all 120 stars in the game. But it appears he may have played a bigger role at one point.
Yoshi’s egg, with him wriggling inside, can be found within the game’s code.
It’s unknown why he didn’t end up appearing as a more prominent part in the final game, though it may have been similar to the reasons why Luigi was excluded.
4 Super Mario RPG: Unused Items And Enemy Attacks
As one would expect, Super Mario RPG wasn’t as in-depth of a game as other big RPG franchises like Final Fantasy. Though there were still many items, attacks, and abilities that players needed to take into consideration.
But there are still some items and enemy attacks that were taken out of the final game. Text for various types of bombs is hidden in the game’s code, though it’s believed these were the developers’ way of testing out status effects on characters. But there are also some interesting enemy attacks that were cut like Toxicyst, Royal Flush, and Knock Out!
3 Paper Mario: Unused Partners
Much like the best RPGs, Paper Mario came with a bunch of partners that Mario could team up with on his adventure. You could find a new one in just about every town you visited and they each had their own special abilities and attacks.
But there are several characters in the game that may have initially been able to join Mario’s party. Their names and icons for Mario’s party menu can still be found in the game’s code. They are Goombaria and Goompa, Goombario’s younger sister and grandfather respectively, and Twink the Star Kid.
2 Yoshi's Island: Adult Mario
The Super Star in Yoshi’s Island works a bit differently than it does in other Mario games. Collecting one will put Yoshi into a big egg and give you control over Baby Mario, who is now caped, invincible, and super-fast. Yoshi’s egg trails behind and control switches back when the timer runs out.
But an early idea was something entirely different.
The Super Star would’ve turned Mario into the adult version we all know, but Nintendo thought this was a bit too strange. Having him turn into a caped wonder is much more adorable.
1 Super Mario Bros.: Guns
A simple change but something that would’ve had a massive impact on the entire series. When the first Super Mario Bros. was in development, before anyone knew what it would go on to be, Nintendo toyed around with the idea of giving Mario guns to shoot enemies.
Players would have been able to find and equip different ones, like a beam gun or a rifle.
The way Mario is today would have been forever changed by this inclusion. Imagine what Mario would be like as a first-person shooter. Utterly ridiculous and yet something I wish I could try.