The plumber that represents Nintendo, Mario, has a thing or two you might not know about him. He's arguably been the face of video games for the better part of 30 years. Nintendo recently unveiled their next venture into the console realm, the Nintendo Switch. The Nintendo Switch will launch worldwide on March 3rd, 2017 alongside The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The handheld/console hybrid featured Super Mario Odyssey as a prominent part of the official presentation held on January 11th, 2017. It seems that even after all these years, Mario's still the main attraction when it comes to the world of Nintendo. However, Super Mario Odyssey has seemed to raise many more questions yet to be answered. Where is New Donk City? Is Donkey Kong the Mayor of this city? There's marriage in the Toadstool Kingdom? Who's the best man? Which one of Bowser's fingers is his ring finger? Is that one area a Mexico-inspired Mars or a Mars inspired Mexico?
Come this holiday, look for gamers around the globe to dissect every inch of this universe bounding Mario title. Hopefully all of my ridiculous, but seemingly purposeful questions have resolutions. Throughout the years there have been numerous pieces written about all of the things you didn't know about Mario. I'm now going to do my best job of curating it down to the 15 most interesting and least known facts you may or may not have read about. Let's hop, skip, and triple jump right into it!
15 Mario is a Drug Addict
There is a long running joke that due to the number of mushrooms Mario consumes, he is undoubtedly a drug addict. Usually jokes indicate that it's a funny observation, however, we've all been on the receiving end of some poor souls explanation of why Mario is simply a plumber on a bad acid trip. Apparently, your not so funny friend was actually drawing a relevant correlation. According to an interview with Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto, the use of mushrooms in Mario was heavily inspired by Alice in Wonderland. Many people feel as though the use of mushrooms in Alice in Wonderland is an obvious allegory for drug use. In a weird accidental way, the mushrooms in the Mario franchise do indeed represent hallucinatory drug use. Mario himself relies on the mushrooms to help him function and succeed on a normal basis. Therefore, Mario is indeed dependent on recreational drug use.
14 Popeye, the Original Mario?
Everyone remembers that the first appearance Mario ever made was as a character simply named Jumpman in the original Donkey Kong. What people might not know is that the game was originally pitched as a Popeye game. Nintendo tried for a very long time to acquire the rights to everyone's favorite sailor comic strip, Popeye. Eventually, the hunt was over and Nintendo moved forward with the game regardless. Instead of using the Popeye characters, they found themselves creating original characters that could withstand the tests of time. The relationship between the gorilla, carpenter, and girlfriend was seen as a direct mirror of the relationship between Bluto, Popeye, and Olive Oyl. The reasoning Miyamoto gave for making Bluto a gorilla was that an animal of its kind was intimidating, but not necessarily too evil or repulsive.
13 The Villain Formally Known as Mario
Donkey Kong Jr. was the second game to feature the mustached marvel now known to many of us as Mario. In this game, players saw Mario imprison Donkey Kong for his crimes in the first game. This was seen as justified punishment for the acts in which the gorilla committed. The game centers around Donkey Kong's son trying to free him while navigating through numerous deadly traps laid out by Mario himself. Many of these traps held little to no regard for Junior's life and show a side of Mario we have never really seen since. Many people wondered why the events of Donkey Kong Jr. played out the way they did and why Mario was so vengeful to Donkey Kong. Shigeru Miyamoto has stated that this was intentionally done to show the shades of gray in both Donkey Kong and Mario, with neither being particularly all good or bad.
12 The Unreleased Mario Volleyball Game
We all know that Mario and his lovable cast of friends enjoy playing various sports across numerous video game titles. Many people don't know that there was a Mario volleyball game in development that never saw the light of day. Players didn't even learn about this canceled Mario sports title until 2011. Next Level Games was the studio behind this Mario volleyball title that didn't serve the interests of Nintendo and was quickly spiked down. The only thing left of this game is a short demo video that serves as proof that it ever existed. Next Level Games did, however, create multiple sports games centered around Mario, Super Mario Strikers and Mario Strikers Charged. They were also credited with creating Punch-Out! for the Wii as well as Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon.
11 Mario had his own Excitebike Game
Mario has been featured in many odd and obscure games throughout the years. However, Excitebike is not a game you normally associate with the ageless plumber. Excitebike: Mario Battle Stadium was a game that was released on the Super Famicom Satellaview. This was an early venture into online gaming by Nintendo. It featured very few Mario characters, well at least any that the normal player was familiar with. The game was only available to download on this specific service and can only be currently obtained by not so legal means. Mario has been known to help Nintendo bring dormant franchises back into the limelight. We would not be surprised if Mario somehow makes his way back into Excitebike via a revitalization of the franchise in the coming years.
10 Chain Chomps are Terrifying
Many enemies of the Toadstool Kingdom are rooted in some type of real-world parallel. When you looked at the world in which Mario is tasked with returning to normalcy, you find yourself surrounded by odd creatures and difficult monstrosities. Chain chomps are the black mass of terror constantly teased by the man in overalls. They originally appeared in Super Mario Bros. 3 and bare a striking resemblance to a chained up canine. Like everything else in the Toadstool Kingdom, the Chain Chomp can be traced back to Shigeru Miyamoto's childhood. Miyamoto has stated that they were an inspirational result of being chased by his neighbor's dog up until it was yanked back by the collar around its neck. Apparently, experiencing traumatic events can indeed inspire some of the most bizarre enemies to ever grace a video game.
9 The inverted Colors of Mario
Two of the most iconic parts about Mario are his blue overalls and striking red accents. When he was initially drawn, however, his overalls were red and his shirt was blue. In Super Mario Bros. 2, these colors were switched to what we now considered Mario's iconic appearance. Though this color change was heavily implemented in the game with his sprite, this same change never quite made it to the box art. The art for Super Mario Bros. 2 still features a bright pair of red overalls and a classy blue undershirt. People still don't know if the color swap was a last minute alteration that left little to no time for the marketing team to correct the box art or if it was nothing more than a simple oversight.
8 Mario's Movie Didn't Impress his Creator
We all know that the Super Mario Bros. movie wasn't exactly Citizen Kane. Also, you figured that Mario's creator himself wouldn't be too proud of the big screen debut. It wasn't for one of the many glaring and obvious issues the movie suffered, however. Shigeru Miyamoto, in an interview with Edge Online, felt that the movie was too much like the game and was a major reason for its failure. Miyamoto stated that if it would have striven to be entertaining on its own merits, instead of being a movie about a video game, it could have easily flourished. This is a problem that seems to be the pitfall for many adaptations of video games into the world of film. If only someone would heed the advice of Mr. Shigeru Miyamoto.
7 Oh Baby, a Triple!
The triple jump is a staple of any proficient Mario player. It is used by many hardcore Mario players, as well as speed runners, to clear stages in a very quick and efficient manner. Many people don't realize that the famous leap made its debut in the form of a 2D adventure. The triple jump was first implemented in the Game Boy version of Donkey Kong, originally released in 1994. Mario even raises his hands to the sky after sticking the 3rd and final jump. There is no doubt that Shigeru Miyamoto and his team drew inspiration from this seeing as the triple jump and landing were two iconic parts of Super Mario 64, a Nintendo 64 launch title. Here's to seeing that same triple jump in 2017's Super Mario Odyssey.
6 Thank Mario for the D-pad
The directional-pad, oftentimes referred to as the d-pad, is a staple of gaming and one of the most important innovations that currently impacts the contemporary controller. Like almost every other key component of gaming, the d-pad can trace its creation and implementation back to the early days of Mario and Nintendo. Gunpei Yokoi and his team came upon the d-pad design during their development of a Game & Watch version of the classic Donkey Kong. They saw it as a simple way to control 2D movement in a straightforward manner. Nintendo still holds the patent for the d-pad, though it expired in 2005, and the simple concept is still utilized in every major video game controller to this day. Mario has been a hallmark of excellence and innovation throughout the years, but he even inspired concepts larger than Nintendo ever anticipated.
5 Mario was Originally Bald
Over the last decade or so, we've seen a hatless Mario with plenty of hair. In the early days of Donkey Kong, many artists in the United States drew Mario as balding. This may have been due to the fact that he seemed to be on the older side or maybe it just fit his character. Either way, it seems that since then Mario has either purchased an expensive realistic wig or dove into the world of hair transplants. It's the only explanation for his hair and mustache being completely different colors of hair. There isn't a very common occurrence where men's facial hair can be a completely different color or anything. How strange would it be to see Mario take off his hat to throw it in Super Mario Odyssey, only to reveal male pattern baldness?
4 The Italian Plumber is Actually French
It's always jarring and strange to see the men and women behind the world's most iconic characters. The man behind the mustache, Charles Martinet, is no different. Though Martinet is an American born voice actor, he's of French descent and is a fluent French speaker. He has voiced numerous characters for Nintendo, the most notable all calling the Toadstool Kingdom home. His range and energy are huge reasons as to why Nintendo keeps going back to Martinet for the lively performances he imbues into the many characters he portrays. Here's to many more years of Martinet voicing the hero of the Toadstool Kingdom.
3 Jack of all Trades, Mario of None
People will always recognize Mario as the world's most famous plumber. The correlation is blatantly obvious, he jumps through pipes for a living. In the early days as Jumpman, Mario was a working professional in an entirely different trade. In Donkey Kong, Mario (known then as Jumpman) was a carpenter working construction in the exact building Donkey Kong chose to scale the top of. As the focus of Mario Bros. heavily revolved around sewers and pipes, Mario's profession was changed to that of a plumbing variety. Maybe that's why Mario resonates with so many people. He's cute and interesting enough to capture the hearts of women and children everywhere, but relatable enough to the blue-collar working man.
2 Mario's Looks are a Cover-up
People have always felt that Mario's mustache was an obvious indication by Nintendo that their mascot is indeed Italian. The mustache was implemented as a workaround for the early graphical limitations of Nintendo's consoles. It was hard to draw a mouth with the minimal amount of pixels they were working with, so a mustache was a blatant workaround to convey a mouth. The design choices based on graphical limitations didn't stop there. Mario was given overalls seeing as it would help convey to players that Mario's hands were swinging when he walked and ran. His arms would pass over the yellow buttons, making it visually helpful to convey this concept. I know I wasn't the only one wondering why a plumber was wearing a pair of overalls.
1 Mario, Ruler of the Land
Just like his mustache, many people feel that his name was chosen purposely to convey his Italian inspiration. This is actually not the case, just like his mustache. Everyone knows that Mario's original name was Jumpman, but why was his name changed? Why did they choose Mario? Mario Segale was the name of Nintendo's landlord of their first American office/warehouse. According to stories, Nintendo was late on their rent and Segale was gracious enough to kindly look the other way. In return for his sincerity and generosity, Nintendo named their iconic mascot, the face of video games for many people, after their kind and understanding landlord. Of course, Nintendo would do something so quirky and weird. Imagine how the industry would look if their landlord had any other name.