- The world of Mario is returning to the big screen with The Super Mario Bros. Movie in 2023, and the first trailer (via YouTube) has shown off many recognizable parts of the franchise. Even so, there are some aspects of Mario lore that are often forgotten, and it remains to be seen if any of them will be referenced in the upcoming film.
With a history spanning over forty years and more than 200 games, Mario is one of the most popular video game characters of all time, if not the most popular. Though primarily a platforming character, the Mario franchise has featured games in other genres too, like the ghost-busting romp Luigi’s Mansion and the ever-popular racing game, Mario Kart.
Over so many decades of games and reiterations, Mario and his supporting cast of characters have grown considerably. Given this, there are lots of trivia tidbits that may get forgotten, overlooked, or swept away, and important facts about the lore that only super fans keep in the back of their minds.
Updated on October 28th, 2022 by Stacie Rook:
The world of Mario is returning to the big screen with The Super Mario Bros. Movie in 2023, and the first trailer (via YouTube) has shown off many recognizable parts of the franchise. Even so, there are some aspects of Mario lore that are often forgotten, and it remains to be seen if any of them will be referenced in the upcoming film.
Birdo’s Gender Has Changed
Early on in her tenure, Birdo was described as a male who believes she is female. In Sattela-Q, a game only released in Japan on a Japanese-exclusive console, she was presented as and voiced by an “Okama,” a Japanese term for a male who presents as female.
He/him pronouns were originally used to describe the character, switching later to “it” to avoid gendered pronouns. Nintendo has since embraced Birdo’s gender, now using she/her pronouns in all promotional material, and including her in a “Women of Racing” banner in Mario Kart 8.
Goombas Are People
The backstory behind the most basic enemies in the Mario canon is actually quite horrifying. In the story for the original Super Mario Bros on NES and Famicom, Bowser and the Koopas have cast magic that turned living members of the Mushroom Kingdom into bushes, clouds, and the very blocks Mario hits to get coins and power-ups.
Any who did not succumb to this fate were instead turned into mindless chestnut-shaped bipedal creatures to fight alongside Koopa’s army, known as Goombas. It’s not something that many casual players know, but it adds a sinister spin to the many types of Goomba found in the Mario universe.
Boo Was Based On A Developer’s Wife
Boo is the original, and one of the strongest ghost-like enemies in Super Mario. As reported by The Guardian, Shigeru Miyamoto based the idea for the mischievous enemy on the wife of co-worker and close friend, Takashi Tezuka.
Tezuka’s wife was reportedly mild-mannered and shy until one day, when Tezuka came home late after spending a lot of time at work, she got very angry and scolded him. In the game, Boos are similarly shy and bashful to begin with, but if ignored for too long will become deadly and cause harm to the player.
Bowser Was Originally An Ox
Mario’s primary antagonist, Bowser, went through some design shifts. In an interview for Nintendo, Shigeru Miyamoto reveals that early on in development he envisioned Bowser as more ox-like, drawing inspiration from the Ox King from Toei Animation’s Alakazam the Great.
When it was pointed out to him that his original design made him look more like a turtle, he leaned into it and created the strange, demon turtle dragon creature known and loved by gamers today.
Mario Was Once Bald
Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto has explained that initially, the iconic hat Mario wears came about as a way of avoiding drawing hair. This may have led to an interpretation by American artists that the hat was there to cover something– or rather a lack of something.
GameFragger, depictions in early American-made merchandise, including an official coloring book, showed Mario sporting a bald head beneath his hat, a look that changes the vibe of the character considerably.As compiled by
Yoshi’s Real Name Isn’t Yoshi
Yoshi is Mario’s companion who rescued him as a baby, and is one of the most likable characters in the Mario franchise. What most may not know, though, is that “Yoshi” is not even his true, full name.
As reported by Destructoid, according to a 1993 Nintendo character guide, Yoshi’s full name is T. Yoshisaur Munchakoopas – which is a mouthful even for the Dinosaur creature who can hold almost anything in his mouth. It’s understandable that he’d go simply by Yoshi.
Mario Was Named After Nintendo’s Landlord
For a while during the development of Donkey Kong, the character that would become Mario was simply referred to as “Jumpman.” Technologizer details that the Nintendo mascot and game protagonist owes his namesake to Mario Segale, Nintendo’s landlord at the time.
The story goes that during a meeting discussing names, Segale interrupted to scold the game developers over their rent. The developers then, for whatever reason, decided that “Mario” was a fitting name for the character, and the rest is history.
The Bros’ Names Are Puns
The names for the extended Mario-esque characters beyond Mario have clever twists to them. Take, for example, Luigi, Mario’s brother. While Luigi is a standard Italian name, his name is also a play on the Japanese word, “Ruiji,” meaning “similar,” making reference to the fact that originally Luigi is visually very like Mario, just color swapped.
On the other hand, evil duo Wario and Waluigi have names that combine the Japanese word “Warui” (which simply means “bad”) and the names of their respective rivals. Essentially, in Japanese, their names are puns that translate to “bad Mario” and “bad Luigi.”
The Mario Bros. Are Twins
With their difference in height and mannerisms, many may think that Mario and Luigi—one of the best video game sibling duos—are years apart in age. This perception also likely has to do with their portrayal in the live-action Super Mario Bros. movie, where the age difference between actors Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo is rather obvious.
Although in the games Luigi is often described as Mario’s younger brother, the two are in fact twins. They are described as such in Yoshi’s Island, when a stork is delivering the twin brothers to their parents before being separated, spurring Yoshi on to spend the game delivering him and his brother to the proper place.
Waluigi Is Not Wario’s Brother
The rivalry between Mario and Luigi and Wario and Waluigi is well known. Being that the former pair are brothers, and seeing a resemblance, many assume that Wario and Waluigi must be related in the same way. However, Waluigi is not actually related to Wario.
Though early games describe Waluigi as Wario’s younger brother, Nintendo’s official Japanese bio states that the two do not appear to be brothers. Waluigi is apparently a random stranger who hates Luigi, and who bonded with Wario over their hatred of the Mario Bros. In a now-archived interview for Kombo, Charles Martinet, the voice actor for all four characters, even described Wario and Waluigi as “two nice, evil guys who found each other.”
Donkey Kong Isn’t The Original Donkey Kong
The Donkey Kong arcade game marks the first appearance of Mario and Donkey Kong, or at least a Donkey Kong. The Donkey Kong from the original arcade game in today’s canon is in fact Cranky Kong, who makes appearances throughout the Donkey Kong Country and other game series.
The eccentric character will occasionally make references to the original game in his ramblings, mentioning an epic battle with a carpenter named Mario and how he’d kidnap Pauline several times a week. The Donkey Kong shown today in the self-titled game series and in appearances in Smash Bros, Mario Kart, and Mario Party, is actually the original Donkey Kong’s grandson.
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