To celebrate Mario's 25th anniversary, Nintendo released a commemorative book that featured interviews with the developers of the first Super Mario Bros game. As part of these interviews, the devs dug out the original design documents they had drafted over two decades earlier. And in the process they revealed a few things that Nintendo probably wished remained a secret. You see, Super Mario Bros was originally nothing like how the final game turned out. How different? Well, for starters there were a lot more guns...
Mario Is Riding on A Rocket
Super Mario Bros was originally meant to be one of the final games released for the the Famicom (the Japanese version of the NES), as Nintendo was planning to shift over to a new console. As such, the game's designers wanted to make a game that pulled out all the stops.
Original Document of Rocket Mario Game Plan
They envisioned a run & gun action adventure, featuring a playable character with a hand-cannon, as well as the ability to hop onto a rocket and rain death upon his enemies, as he raced over the land.
However in the event that he ran out of ammo, the game included controls that would allow him to kick enemies, as passed them in mid-air. But, what was this pistol-toting, rocket-riding, protagonist's name? It was "Ossan," which is Japanese for "Middle-Aged Man."
Original Controls allowed Mario to Shoot a Gun & Kick!
Now, Let's Recap
The most iconic video game ever made started out as the story of one man dealing with a mid-life crisis by surfing on a rocket, while roundhouse-kicking monsters at mach 1, and blasting baddies with his boom-stick. That really doesn't sound much like a Mario game. However, I'm not going to lie: it does sound amazing. Seriously, if that game dropped today it would still probably sell a few million units. But, I digress.
So, why was this incredible idea scrapped?
Well, "Ossan" was only the star of this game on paper. In reality, the programmers were still trying to decide what the game's hero should look like. Then one of Nintendo's higher-ups remembered that one arcade game about an Italian plumbers fighting turtles sold pretty well, and suggested they just go with him. And, that's when everything changed.
Instead of trying to develop a revolutionary aerial combat game, the design team decided they'd much rather make the biggest Mario game they could pack into 256 kilobits. A game that would span entire worlds, and push the limits of the original game's jumping mechanics. Besides, ending the Famicom's run by returning one of its most memorable games only seemed fitting. The monsters became goombas and koops. The rocket mechanics were repurposed into flying enemies. And even the guns were turned into Mario's signature "Fire Flowers." Super Mario Bros was released on September 13th, 1985 and the rest is history!
Are you glad they made Mario they was they did?
Do you own the NES Mario Titles?
How many of you already knew about Mario's secret origins? How many of you are shocked by these revelations? And how many of you would have preferred the original design? As always, let me know in the comments. Me, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for a 3D "Super Ossan-Man" reboot to be announced at this year's E3.