If you played any video games in the 90s, you were more than familiar with Super Mario Bros 3. The game was everywhere, and with good reason. Between a host of power ups, dozens of enemies, and epic bosses spread across 8 massive worlds, it was an 8-bit magnum opus. It's no exaggeration to say that this game defined the childhoods of a generation. Yet, considering how many millions of collective hours were spent playing Mario 3, you'll be amazed that in 2015 there were still a few secrets that no one had yet discovered.
These are the things you never knew about Super Mario World 3:
IT WAS PACKAGED IN LIES!
When you think about the game's box, chances are all you remember is a blank yellow background with Raccoon Mario sitting smack-dab in the center. It's an image that's simple, direct, and iconic. What you might not remember so well was the back of the box that displayed a screenshot from a level that's not even in the game! Whoever designed the packaging goofed big time, because the featured screenshot was from an early build of the game that was never intended for a retail release.
YOU HAD IT EASY!
If you thought Super Mario Bros 3 was tough, be glad you weren't playing the Japanese version. The American version of Super Mario Bros 3 is a cakewalk by comparison. Nintendo feared that Western audiences would find the game too frustrating to beat, so they actually redesigned multiple levels to be easier. But that's nothing compared to how they handled in-game damage. In the original game, it didn't matter how many items Mario had collected, one hit would reduce him to his tiny, vulnerable Mario state. Two hits would always kill. The American Mario could take somewhat more punishment, and consequently made the game infinitely more forgiving.
ALL THE BOSSES WERE NAMED AFTER MUSICIANS!
Remember how you had to battle all of Bowser's henchmen in Super Mario Bros 3? They were all drawn as caricatures of the Mario design team. I'm not sure what this says about Nintendo's office dress code, but it wasn't a joke that the American team thought would translate well. So, they instead named all of the Koopalings after various musicians. Some like "Iggy" and "Ludwig" were fairly obvious references to Iggy Pop and Beethoven. "Morton" was a shout out to the outspoken Morton Downey Jr. "Roy" was a nod to Roy Orbison. "Lemmy" got his name from Motörhead legend Lemmy Kilmister. "Wendy" is a reference to the less than family-friendly punk icon, Wendy O. Williams. And "Larry" is a reference to U2's drummer, Larry Mullen Jr.
MARIO WAS GOING TO BE A CENTAUR!
Okay, this one isn't quite as weird as it might originally sound. Remember that Racoon suit that allowed Mario to fly? That's actually based on a mythical Japanese creature called a Tanooki. However, early in the game's development the design team considered a lot of other mythical creatures to be featured as a new power-up. Their initial favorite: the half-man, half-horse centaur. Why this appealed to them, we may never know. Ultimately they went with the magical flying raccoon idea, and I think we can all agree the game is better for it.
THE ENTIRE GAME NEVER ACTUALLY HAPPENED!
Okay, this one's nuts. So, please bear with me. Remember the ending of Super Mario Bros 2, where (SPOILERS) it turned out that the entire game was just one of Mario's dreams? Super Mario Bros 3 has a very similar twist. But, it wasn't confirmed until only a few months ago. During an interview to celebrate Mario's 30th anniversary, the game's director stated that the entire game is meant to be a stage play that the Mario cast is performing for the player. This is why the game begins with a curtain opening, and why so many of the stage backgrounds are designed to look like they are either nailed in place or are suspended by wires. Allegedly, this twist was intended to make the game more family friendly since it would mean that Mario was never actually in any real danger. However, considering that I never knew anyone who picked up on this plot point, I'm not sure how successful it was in conveying that message.
Get Super Mario Bros. 3 Here!
So, did any of you Nintendo historians out there already know these tidbits of Mario trivia? What is your take on Centaur Mario? As always, let me know in the comments.
And hey, if this has got you feeling at all nostalgic, why not check out our 123 Pak to revisit the Mushroom Kingdom all over again?