Mario is the granddaddy of video games. His may not have been one of the first games, but the influence Mario has had on the gaming industry is unmatched by any other video game title. For generations of gamers, their first introduction to the world of video games was a fat little plumber who could jump really high and had a dragon for an arch-enemy.
The Super Mario Bros. franchise was the centerpiece of Nintendo's dominance in gaming. It is still the most successful video game series ever. It's not just Mario who won the hearts of gamers, but his brother Luigi as well, and an assortment of colorful supporting characters that often joined the coverall-clad brothers on their various quests.
Once Mario and Co. became the unofficial mascots of Nintendo, their faces were plastered on every piece of merch that the company could think of. The brothers got their own cartoon show, their own movies, and so, so many gaming sequels. The Mario fandom has expanded into a worldwide phenomenon. There are web pages upon web pages of Mario lore on the internet patiently compiled over decades by fans from every corner of the world.
With so much time spent on Super Mario Bros., details get revealed all the time that have hitherto remained undiscovered. So for all the fans of the mustachioed plumber, the scourge of turtles and toadstools, the mushroom enthusiast, the vanquisher of dragons, here are 30 details from his games you might have missed completely:
28 That's An Axe You Use To Cut The Bridge
Another part of the gameplay that players often remember wrong is near the end of the castle levels after you have managed to get past Bowser onto the other side of the bridge. Here you find what appears to be a switch. You pull the switch to swing back the drawbridge and send the dragon plunging into the fiery depths.
In reality, that's an ax at the other end of the bridge. You use it to cut the ropes at the end of the bridge and collapse the entire structure under Bowser's weight.
27 Player 1 Can Pause Player 2's Game... But Not The Other Way Around
In a two-player game, you can pause the game using the first controller, but not the second controller. What this means is that if you control Mario, you can pause the game even when it's Luigi's turn to play. This might seem like a harmless glitch, but it often took the form of expert trolling among friends.
Crossing a stage is all about maintaining a rhythm.
If you find Luigi randomly getting frozen in pause mode, it destroys your rhythm and makes you feel distracted and on edge. That's no way to win the game.
26 Sorry 90s Kids: All-Stars Was Easier
As basic as Mario Super Bros. in terms of technology, it was still an insanely hard game. This was mostly thanks to the limited number of lives and the plethora of enemies shooting projectiles at you, any one of which can instantly end your life if it so much as grazes you.
The Super Mario All-Stars re-release of SMB took heed of complaints about the original's difficulty level and made the game easier. You start out with two extra lives. Podobo fireballs shoot up higher to make passing under them easier. And warning sound effects help you navigate the mazes without getting lost by playing a different tune if you enter the wrong maze.
25 The Lowest Possible Score Is 500
Everyone has had bad runs on Mario Super Bros. Runs where you completed the game, but missed out on several power-ups, left several enemies undefeated and missed the hidden coins. Even with all those missed opportunities resulting in a low score upon winning the game, one guy most probably beat you to claim the title of lowest score.
Earning that title meant winning the game with a score of only 500!
In order to score so low, the player had to carefully avoid all enemies and coins, and wait for the clock to run to zero before completing the levels.
24 The Number Of Fireworks Depends On Your Time
At the end of every level, you get a nice little fireworks display to signal your completion of the stage. What few gamers notice is that the number of fireworks you get is dependant on your timing! If you touch the flagpole near the end of the level with 1, 3 or 6 levels left, you get that many fireworks. So 113 seconds left on the timer will get you 3 fireworks, and so on.
But you know, we have to wonder who releases said fireworks to celebrate Mario's journey, when the entire mushroom kingdom is apparently under Bowser's control...
23 The Fire Balls Are Actually From The Legend Of Zelda
Some people might be surprised to find that Legend of Zelda was a major influence on Mario Bros. But both the games were developed by Miyamoto's team side by side. And Zelda was actually finding it easier to create its distinct look back when Mario was still a mess of faulty controls and a shapeless blob in place of the main character.
Zelda had quite a few influences on Mario's design, especially in the castles and dungeons sections. In fact, the iconic firebars encountered in Bowser's castles were taken from Zelda and appropriated for Super Mario Bros.
22 Unlimited One-Ups
Make your way to world 3-1. There you will find the Super Mario power up. Near the end of the level is the staircase leading to the end flag. Two Koopa Troopas are coming down the stairs. Avoid the first Koopa and land on the second Koopa. The Koopa will hide inside its shell as you jump back to the stairs.
Push the shell against the stair. It will keep rebounding back towards Mario so that he constantly jumps on the shell without touching the ground. Your points will keep adding up so that you receive innumerable 1-ups.
21 Yes, There Is An Infinite Lives Cheat
The worst part of playing Mario used to be getting to a really advanced world stage and then running out of lives. Many controllers have been smashed in a rage over having to start the game over again from stage 1.
Turns out the cheat for infinite lives was always right there in the official Nintendo guide. If you've used up all your lives at an advanced stage and have to start over, press the Start button while pressing the A button. This lets you start the game in the first level of the world you finished on.
20 Beware The Negative Warp Zone!
The Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2 has a warp zone near the end of world 3-1. Here you find a trampoline that can get you cleanly over the exit if you are able to time your jump perfectly.
On the other side is a classic Mario warp pipe with the number 1 over it.
Turns out that entering the pipe doesn't take you forward, but actually sends you back to the start of the game! Now you have two options: start the game again, or jump into the nearest pit to return to the start of 3-1.
19 There Are 256 Extra Hidden Levels!
For this trick, you'll need an original copy of SMB, a copy of Tennis, and a top-loading Nintendo Entertainment System. Insert SMB into NES and start playing. In level 1-1, pull the cartridge out of the system with the game still going on. Replace the Mario cartridge with the Tennis cartridge and press the reset button. Start a one-player tennis game and move around.
After a minute, take out the Tennis cartridge and put back SMB.
Hit reset. Now when the game loads, it will load one of the 256 secret levels in the game. Every time you go through this process of replacing cartridges will reveal a new secret Mario level. Be warned though, doing this trick too many times might damage your NES and game cartridges.
18 The Fake Bowsers Real Identities
With each successive world that you conquer in your quest, you discover that the Bowser waiting for you at the end of the castle is actually a decoy. There is no Bowser or Princess Peach in the first seven castles. The real Bowser is much larger than the decoys, and you only get to meet him at the end of the final stage.
The first seven Bowsers reveal their true identity if you hit them with fireballs. In order of appearance, they are a Goomba, Koopa Troopa, Buzzy Beetle, Spiny, Lakitu, Blopper and , ammer Bros.
17 The Real Reason Why Mushrooms Are Everywhere
A lot of people have wondered why mushrooms are such a central part of Super Mario Bros. You're in the Mushroom Kingdom. You're fighting mushrooms along the way. You eat mushrooms to grow bigger or gain various other powers. And you occasionally even wear mushrooms as some kind of fashion statement.
At least one part of the mushroom motif was explained by Shigeru Miyamoto himself.
According to Miyamoto, he chose mushrooms as power-up items because folktales are full of accounts of people who wandered into forests and ate mushrooms, usually with some kind of magical consequence.
16 The First Level Is Actually A Tutorial
Nintendo has always been into providing extensive tutorials for their more challenging video games, so even less hardcore gamers can find their titles accessible. At the time when Super Mario Bros. was released, providing in-game tutorials was generally looked down upon in gaming circles.
Nevertheless, the very first stage of the game is basically a tutorial for the rest of the levels. Level 1-1 lays emphasis on repetition and escalation rather than providing truly challenging obstacles. The main aim of this stage is to familiarise the player with Mario's abilities, power-ups and how to deal with various enemies.
15 Music Is An Important Part Of The Story
At the time when the game first came out, players were struck by how atmospheric the various stages of the game managed to be, without quite being able to put their finger on why.
A lot of it had to do with the background music.
Back then, music for video games was a vastly underdeveloped industry, with most games having generic music slapped onto the gameplay at the final stage of development.
But music composer Koji Kondo was involved with creating music for Super Mario Bros. right from the start. He managed to create music that matched the mood of the gameplay. His beats meshed perfectly with whatever situation Mario found himself in, which added immensely to the overall gaming experience.
14 The Jackie Chan Influence
In Japan, Jackie Chan's hit movie Spartan X (known as Meals on Wheels in the West), was licensed to be turned into a video game. The game followed the exploits of Jackie's character as he jumped, kicked and punched his way through a colorful world full of bad guys to save the day.
Sounds familiar? The Spartan X game development team had as one of its members a young Shigeru Miyamoto, who would later go on to create Mario. He has often cited the influence of the Jackie Chan game on the Mario game's overall look and design.
13 A Lot Of Stuff Gets Repeated
We can look at the original SMB game today and be amused by its 256KB memory and the pixelated world it gave us that takes up less space on a disk than a regular-sized image today. But it took years of effort on the part of the development team to make Super Mario Bros.
With so much work to do, the team cut corners where they could.
So the sprite for the bushes is the same as the sprite for the clouds. Also, the big final castle is stitched together from multiple previous smaller castles.
12 The Hammer Bros. Follow You
The Hammer Bros. were some of the trickiest enemies you could encounter in SMB. For one thing, there were usually two of them. They threw hammers at you in arcs, which were much harder to anticipate and avoid. Also, they could jump up and down levels, which meant they would hit you from any angle or height if you didn't take them out quickly.
If you dilly-dally too long, the Hammer Bros. also move away from their spot and actually chase you across the screen! Their ability to go mobile makes them all the more dangerous.
11 Mario Doesn't Actually Save The Mushroom Kingdom
You may think that rescuing Peach means you've saved the Mushroom Kingdom. But read the instruction manual that comes with the game. It details how Bowser's dark magic turned the people of the Mushroom Kingdom into bushes, blocks, and mushrooms. Goombas are also corrupted former denizens of the Kingdom.
With each successive title in the Mario Franchise, it becomes clear that the citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom are still trapped as Goombas, mushrooms, plants etc. Beyond saving Peach, you don't actually do much to bring peace to the ordinary citizens of her kingdom.
10 Yes, You Can Actually Jump Over The First Flagpole
This is a cool little trick you can use to jump over the flagpole in the very first stage of the game. It's technically a glitch, but one that you can execute without any hacking. Basically, you have to push one of the turtles found in this stage into a certain hole.
The turtle won't disappear but will walk alongside you under the ground.
Now time your jump near the flagpole so that the turtle is directly underneath you. You can jump onto the turtle's back, and use that extra boost to clear the flagpole.
9 Use Your Fists, Not Your Head
The image of Mario jumping high up in the air and smashing through the hanging bricks to discover coins and mushrooms is the most iconic scene from the original games. Yet most people remember that scene wrong. The majority of players assume Mario is using his head to smash the bricks into powder.
In reality, Mario is actually raising his fist to smash through the bricks with each jump. The whole action is carried out so quickly that you need to pause the game at the exact right moment to see Mario's raised fist.
8 Mario Grew Younger Over Time
In the original run of his adventures, Mario was envisioned as a middle-aged guy. That's quite evident from his dad bod and thick mustache. This is also why the movie cast an older Bob Hoskins in the role of Mario. But later, once the character's popularity took off, it was decided that he needed to be younger in order to appeal to the teen and tween demographic.
And so in later games, Mario's age was dialed back.
As of now, he is supposed to be in his mid-twenties, despite still looking much older.
7 Seriously: Bowser's Main Motivation Is His 'Crush' On Peach
Mario has fought Bowser many times to rescue Peach from him. But we never really got a good reason for why Bowser keeps on taking Peach. The matter was made somewhat clearer in Paper Mario 64, where Bowser made his intention of marrying Peach clear from the start of the game.
So it seems that Bowser's main motivation is a crush on the princess that he has long harbored. Even his son, Bowser Jr. seems to like Peach and even treats her like his mother. It seems all those attempts have drawn Peach, Bowser and Bowser Jr. very close together indeed...
6 Block Are Supposed To Be People — And Mario Doesn't Care
Anyone who has played the Mario Bros. games knows you basically have to smash through the entire mushroom kingdom in order to locate Bowser. Stones, bricks, plants. Nothing is safe from Mario's frenzied smashing to receive more power-ups and extra lives.
What you never realized was that those were actual people getting smashed by Mario.
As has been mentioned before in this article, Mario's Guest Book tells you that all the stones, brick and plants used to be citizens of the mushroom kingdom that were turned into inanimate objects by the sorcery-wielding turtles that work for Bowser. That's who Mario's been destroying.
5 Mario Was Meant To Be Popular In The West
Everything about the Mario games feels very western. The style of animation for Mario and the world he inhabits was consciously modeled after the western golden age of animation. Every time a character speaks in the game, he is voiced by western voice actors too boot.
The company that made Mario made an effort to create the game specifically for a western audience. And since Miyamoto was a big fan of western pop culture, he had a lot of memories of his favorite Hollywood movies and animations to draw from.
4 Super Mario Is Now Normal Mario
There was a time when Mario started out in a game as a tiny, deformed guy. He would then eat a mushroom and grow bigger, in the form that was known as 'Super Mario' at the time. But then the Super Mario form became the most popular and easily recognizable avatar for the character.
So now the normal Mario appearance is that of his Super form. Whereas the tiny Mario from the early games is referred to as his 'Small Mario' form. That's why he doesn't need mushrooms to change sizes in later games.
3 Before Mario Bros. 2, Luigi Was Just A Clone Of Mario
Things tend to stay pretty static for characters in the Mario universe. Bowser was taking Peach all those years ago, and he's still at it. Peach was getting stolen years prior, and she still is. Mario was a plumber/ adventurer then, and so he is now.
But Luigi has seen a lot of changes to his life.
He started out as little more than a clone of Mario with differently colored clothing. But as his popularity grew he developed his distinct personality, a personal backstory and his own set of video games. From being the guy you were forced to take because you had the second controller, he is now a best-selling character in his own right.
2 It Was All An Act
Super Mario Bros. 3 starts with a set of red curtains being drawn open. Then the characters bounce onto the stage. Let's not forget the bunch of silhouettes chattering behind the curtain at the start of Super Mario All-Stars, like performers waiting backstage for their turn.
All these clues (and more) support the idea that Super Mario Bros. 3 is actually a play being put on by Mario and friends detailing his adventures while rescuing Peach. When Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto was bluntly asked if the game was an elaborate performance, his response was a simple nod of affirmation.
1 When Touching An Enemy Doesn't End Mario
The rules of touching the enemy are usually very strict for Mario. The only way to defeat an enemy is to jump on its head. If you accidentally come into contact with the enemy in any other form, you instantly lose your life. Then there are those enemies on whom even jumping doesn't work.
But there is one particular circumstance that flouts the rule. As long as Mario is descending when he hits an enemy from below, he will bounce off the enemy instead of taking a hit. It's a handy rule to remember while playing the game.