Despite making his professional gaming debut way back in 1981’s arcade classic Donkey Kong, there are still quite a few things that people don’t know about everyone’s favorite high-flying, mustachioed plumber.
We’ve done a seriously deep dive into Super Mario Bros history to bring you some information that, honestly, probably would have gotten our butts shoved into a locker back in high school. Fortunately, this is a safe space, and if you somehow already knew all ten of these deep-cut Nintendo nuggets, you definitely hold a special place in my nerdy little heart.
1. Super Mario Bros. had a cheat for infinite lives
Early video games were notorious for being difficult. Battled your way to that final boss only to lose your last life before finishing him off? Start over from the beginning, pal. You’re further than you’ve ever gotten but your mom says it’s time for dinner? No save files here, buckaroo.
Super Mario Bros. was no different… or wasn’t it? Most folks think it’s back to ol’ World 1-1 when your lives drain down to zero, but what they don’t realize is that by holding the A button and hitting Start, you can start back at the beginning of the World in which they died. What?!
It’s true. It says so right in the Official Nintendo Player’s Guide. Seven-year-old me is furious.
2. “Yoshi” isn’t Yoshi’s Full Name
Just because Yoshi gets roped in as a tool for Mario’s bidding immediately following being hatched from an egg (as a fully-grown, shoe-wearing adult, I might add), doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give him the courtesy of acknowledging him by his full name.
Rediscovered by Blake Harris back in 2014 via an internal character guide, the bipedal green dino’s actual name is “T. Yoshisaur Munchakoopas.” No word yet regarding what the ‘T’ stands for yet—Tyrannosaurus? Transportation? Tanner?
If it stands for Tanner, I don’t even feel bad for tossing him into that pit.
3. Jackie Chan indirectly influenced Super Mario Bros.
Designer Shigeru Miyamoto has previously said how much the game Kung-Fu influenced his work on Super Mario Bros. The games’ bright colors and smooth side-scrolling are clearly reminiscent of each other, but most people don’t know the Jackie Chan connection.
While the US version of Kung-Fu featured a random guy named Thomas (cue the eye-rolls), the Japanese version was directly licensed under the Jackie Chan film Spartan X (known in America as Wheels on Meals). Unfortunately, the face-punching wasn’t one of the things added to Mario’s repertoire of moves.
4. Mario was originally going to shoot guns and ride a rocket
Just because punching guys Jackie Chan-style wasn’t ever really in the works for Mario, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a much more badass version of him in development at one point in time. Before he was the turtle-stomping, mushroom-eating hero we know and love, Mario was less ‘plumber’ and more ‘John McClane.’
Early concepts of the game armed our hero with a beam gun and rifle and split the game between on-foot stages and shooting stages in which Mario rode on a rocket or cloud. This likely inspired aspects of the shooting stages in Super Mario Land on the Gameboy.
5. The Warp Zones exist solely because of Excitebike
Have you beaten the original Super Mario Bros? Okay, okay… but have you beaten is without warps?? If not, you owe your success to a certain motocross game on the NES.
Excitebike was Shigeru Miyamoto’s last game before hitting it big with Mario and Zelda, and the game featured a course selection screen that the game designer really appreciated. If you wanted to try your luck on the hardest course on your first try, there was nothing stopping you.
Miyamoto wanted to implement a similar feature in Super Mario Bros but was worried people would skip right to the end before honing their jumping skills in earlier levels. The solution: Warp Zones… but not before getting a feel for the game in Worlds 1-1 and 1-2.
6. The firebar was taken from Legend of Zelda
If you’ve ever taken a stroll through one of Bowser’s many, many castles (seriously, who is this guy’s real estate agent?), you’ve undoubtedly noticed these spinning fiery death traps.
What you might not have realized was that the same obstacle can be found in 1991’s A Link to the Past. Originally created for 1986’s The Legend of Zelda before both Mario and Zelda were either in the public eye, the firebar eventually made its way from Hyrule to the Mushroom Kingdom to give us even more grief.
7. All Toads are genderless
Probably something none of us ever really needed to know, but it’s true. The squat little citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom cannot be identified by any specific sex despite the traditional gender norms you might associate with their colorful headgear.
In an interview with Gamespot, Nintendo producer Koichi Hayashida revealed that “Toads are a genderless race that take on gendered characteristics.” Furthermore, he clarified that Toad and Toadette are not romantically involved at all, but are simply the closest of friends and “adventure pals,” which is pretty damn beautiful, too, right?
8. Bowser and Peach boozed it up in Super Mario Kart
There isn’t a lot of censorship that occurs in modern Nintendo releases, but some of the initial games that made their way across the Pacific to Western audiences included a few tweaks—one of which is a big fat NO to alcohol.
Apparently, worried about the backlash should they include booze in any of their G-rated games, Nintendo changed the victory animations for Bowser and Peach from guzzling champagne to something a bit more kid-friendly. Sure, I can fall into a deadly pit of lava or get completely crushed by a thwomp but a little bubbly is simply too much.
9. Goombas were the last enemy added to Super Mario Bros.
That’s right, the first baddie you ever encounter from Bowser’s army was, in fact, the last one added. In the final stages of production, Miyamoto decided the game needed a simple enemy that could be defeated with one hit. With very little memory left on the cartridge, developers created what was basically a little brown blob with eyes and one giant eyebrow, and the infamous goomba was born.
Bonus facts: In Japan, Goombas are referred to as “Kuribo,” which roughly translates to “Chestnut People.” So, imagining them roasting on an open fire is technically festive! And did you know Goombas have arms?
10. If you wait long enough, the Hammer Bros will chase you down
I wish I was lying. If you wait long enough, these hammer-wielding Koopas will eventually get sick of your shit and go straight into a berzerker-rage mode. Word to the wise: Don’t make the guy tossing around giant metal tools angry.
11. Mario’s full name is Mario Mario… kind of
It sounds like a joke a 5-year-old would make up, but it’s actually true. True Mario fans will remember the ridiculous line from the aptly named 1993 cult classic Super Mario Bros film when Bob Hoskins’ Mario claims his full name to be “Mario Mario.” Apparently, the joke tickled Miyamoto so much, he decided to roll with it.
“I heard this and laughed rather loudly,” he said in an interview with Game Informer. “Of course, this was ultimately included in the film. Based on the film, that’s [how] their names ended up. But, just like Mickey Mouse doesn’t really have a last name, Mario is really just Mario and Luigi is really just Luigi.”
12. A copy of Super Mario Bros. recently sold for over $100,000
Who says video games can’t pay the bills? This mint copy of Super Mario Bros is one of two “sticker-sealed” copies of the game produced between 1984 and 1985 specifically for test markets in New York and L.A., making it the rarest of rare.
Past games have reached five figures in various auctions but this bad boy was the first to break $100k.
13. The beta version of Super Mario Kart had very different music
Sure, it was just a placeholder before the final kickass version of the Mario Kart 64 theme was created, but it’s pretty fun to think about just how many versions of these games are produced before we finally get our greedy little hands on them.
Twitter user Forest of Illusion shared an alternate version of the intro music that was created for a prototype titled Mario Kart R.
Fun fact: For the early prototype builds of Mario Kart 64, Nintendo used this theme for the title screen of the game. The theme was likely used as a placeholder throughout development and first created for use in a 3D demo by SGI. (The company who developed the chip set for N64). pic.twitter.com/fmLtTRKE9G
— Forest of Illusion (@forestillusion) April 28, 2019
14. Super Mario Bros. is stored on a 256-kilobit cartridge
Yes, kilobits. And 256 kilobits is the equivalent of 32 kilobytes. This means you could fit roughly 250,000 cartridges-worth of Super Mario Bros on your 64 GB smartphone if you wanted to. But that would be silly and pointless so don’t do that. I said DON’T.
15. The Mario backstory is actually dark as hell
If you were one of the few who actually read the Super Mario Bros instruction manual, you were treated to one weeeeeeird narrative that few people know about. Apparently, Bowser and the Koopas are black magic-wielding wizards who have turned the denizens of the Mushroom Kingdom into bushes, blocks, and mushrooms. The remaining townsfolk were gruesomely transformed into the evil thrall-like chestnut men.
That means every block you smash and brick you shatter is actually an innocent person getting straight-up murdered. Congratulations! We’re all monsters.
These crazy facts are a part of our dad trivia series, where we drop some pop-culture science you can impress your dad pals with at the next BBQ.