Mario's Troubled Past: An Insight Into His Skeleton Filled Closet

Super Mario has had a wonderful existence with some of the greatest and most memorable games of all time. He’s not only a gaming icon, but a pop-culture icon. But even some of the most respected and well-loved people can have a troubled past and it seem’s that Mario is no different. Read on to experience some of the things that Mario would only reveal after a couple of bottles of red wine and a Leonardo DiCaprio film marathon.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie
Our journey starts in the early 90's with the Super Mario Bros. movie - It's a well known part of Mario history but for all the wrong reasons. It’s like the time you bleached your hair as a teenager and told everyone you were polyamorous and mis-understood – We all know it happened, we just choose to forget.

In this bleak moment of Mario’s past, it was decided that our perky hero would lose any ounce of optimism and instead be portrayed as an irritable and ageing plumber (Bob Hoskins) struggling to make a living in Brooklyn before going down the sewers and being teleported to an alternate lizard/dinosaur dimension in a bid to help his brother Luigi (who doesn't even have a mustache) find the beloved relatively unknown series Princess, Daisy. 

Whilst Mario’s depiction in the film is pretty terrible, he's bizarrely one of the best cast characters as we have Toad portrayed as a homeless guy playing guitar, Goomba’s which are suddenly, for no apparent reason, massive mutated lizards with tiny heads and a big black woman in leather who is... well, we’re not sure who that’s based on but we think by this point the directors didn’t know either.

To this day it’s not quite certain if the directors of the film had ever played a Mario title, as Daisy’s dad (Peach is above this sort of thing) is portrayed as a giant piece of goo hanging from the ceiling whilst Bowser (Dennis Hopper with a bad haircut) is some sort of Kim Jong-un of the Mario underworld.

With its very gothic themed world - chains and industrial stairways littering the sets and leather-clad characters as far as the eye can see, it's a bizarre look into an alternate dimension where adult Mario films are common-place and Yoshi is not the only thing being tied up and abused. It also led to the creation of a song about Dinosaurs by George Clinton and 'The Goomba's' which, when watched, could be considered a form of torture/masochism. 

As a lover of terrible movies though, this one is definitely worth a watch. On a scale of Dragonball Evolution (1) to Twilight (10), this has to be a Double Dragon (7). 

Super Mario Compact Disco
After Mario cracked the movie industry (and subsequently Bob Hoskins' sanity), his next venture was into the world of music. And what could be more rad in the 90’s than a compact disc? That’s right... A Compact Disco!!

Sonic has arrived on the scene with his sassy attitude and totally rad sneakers so Mario needs to up his game – Them overall’s aren’t tubular and neither is that old cap of his. But just how can Mario be marketed to this new era of baggy clothes, tower PC’s and skateboards? Give him some DJ decks and make him rap... What could possibly go wrong?

Now for the N-E-S, at its best
The Mario Brothers are free, but fresh
8-bit, and packed with a boom
And you're off to the kingdom of the Magic Mushroom
So get with the flow and act like you know
Or you may as well be playing Bingo
'Cause it's official, 'cause every test it passes
Mario Brothers are cool like sunglasses

Now fly, swing, jump, or climb
With the best-selling game of all time
You got so many heroes from coast to coast
But then, Superman won't even come close
So for Koopa and his villainous crews
I ain't got nothin' except for bad news
'Cause it's official, and every test it passes
Mario Brothers are cool like sunglasses

...Ok, a lot can go wrong. But one thing is for sure, Mario really likes his sunglasses.

From the Ambassadors of Funk comes this 1993 album, sampling songs from Super Mario Bros and Land and mixing them with rap. The lyrics are pretty awful and ‘MC Mario’ will really start to grate on you after a while but... some of the backing tracks are suprisingly good.

I hate myself for admitting this but Daisy’s track ‘Save Me With Your Charm’ is pretty kick-ass, with an amazing beat and a Princess Daisy that could give Sonic R’s TJ Davis a run for her money. If you’re a fan of 90’s dance music you may, whilst trying your best not to and never actually admitting to it in public, enjoy some of the tracks on this bizarre album.

Releasing around the same time as the movie (Which is why this album is also obsessed with Princess Daisy and not our beloved Peach), it clearly came out at a time when Mario’s quality control had gone a bit AWOL.

Say no to drugs Philips

As it happens, the 90s in general was a very turbulent time for our portly hero. Whilst they were undoubtedly some of his best years, with the likes of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario 64 spanning that wondrous decade, it was also a time of mass turmoil.

Sure, on the outside, the stuff he wanted you to see, the Mario Kart's, the re-invention of gaming with the introduction of 3D worlds, they were all fantastic, but deep down, like some hidden addiction or sordid affair, there were plenty of wrong-doings and regrettable choices.


We've touched upon some of the most blatant and shocking already, but there were plenty more. In 1994, as his former arch nemesis and, for a brief period, captive pet Donkey Kong went on to do great things in his CGI Rare adventures, Mario was left in a sketchy deal with tech company Philips, appearing in an awful spin-off game 'Hotel Mario' that consisted of constantly closing doors and not much else.

Some could say the repetitive and depressing gameplay within Hotel Mario is similar to the kind of psychological trauma you experience in nightmares or anxiety riddled individuals re-counting a particularly hard day. Others simply see it as a dire gaming experience that was poor even for the time.

Then there's the Super Mario Bros. Super Show, a cartoon that is perhaps just ever so slightly less insulting to the brand than the infamous movie. With a crude art style, poor animation and questionable voice acting (though Yoshi was also the voice of Lisa Simpson), it's often wondered whether the title 'Super Show' is some sort of sick joke.

So after such a bumpy ride, it's no wonder that with the dawn of a new millennium Mario wanted to start over, a clean slate, a clean start, a CLEAN millennium. Little did we know... dirty is certainly better than clean.

The future is bright dirty CLEAN

Nintendo are collared for their often bizarre and perhaps misjudged advertising efforts on a regular basis. Nothing quite beats this squeaky clean look into the world of Mario from 2002 though. It's so shocking that you'll be praising the recent infamous 'Squid now' song as an ingenious bit of television history.

Yes, pushing forward into the 128-bit era was Nintendo, keen to shun some of that childish image they had been known for over the years by releasing a purple lunchbox and heavily promoting Mario Sunshine.

It's not the game in question that's the problem though, it's a very high quality platformer and did rather well both critically and commercially (no thanks to this, I'm sure) but it's the song that – whether intentional or not – is one of the most horrible and haunting things you will ever hear.

Children, adults and an old lady on a mobility scooter happily skip, jump and roll their way across a sunny field singing about how 'clean is better than dirty', joined by a shoddy looking Mario outfit that wouldn't look out of place in the Super Mario Bros. movie.

It's dark times like this that Mario yearns for his earlier 90's career as M.C. Mario, no way would this have made the mix-tape. Perhaps that's why we don't hear much of Daisy these days, she's far too street for this garbage. She'd be the one making the place dirty.

Hot Mario Bros.

As you might have gathered by this point, Mario just can't resist anything a bit sordid and so to redeem his street credibility after the 'clean is better than dirty' mishap he decided to lend his name out to a bunch of dashing men the world over, wielding mustaches and going by the monica of 'Hot Mario Bros.' ready to take on the world with their Mario Kart skills.

Yes, as Nintendo's official foray into online gaming (before this point, only third-parties such as SEGA had pushed Nintendo online), it was decided that the best way to portray the world of online match-making was to show you that, all across the world, hot versions of Mario are just waiting to take a pounding.

Alas, it actually isn't anywhere near as bad as the earlier blunders mentioned, and for some, myself included, seems to be one of the times Nintendo got advertising right. But there's still a few reasons why the words 'Mario' and 'hot' don't seem right in the same sentence, at least 34 reasons.

Another movie? ...Never Say Never!

a mario jpg

There is a happy ending for our hero though. Despite his recent shenanigans with McDonalds toys, whereby, according to one father with a wild imagination, the removal of Mario's boomerang makes it look like he's doing an unspeakable act - Mario's reputation seems to have cleaned up massively.

Indeed, after the Super Mario Bros. movie in the early 90's and subsequent merchandise following that, Nintendo have been very strict on the Mario name and been shy to licence many products with the plumber.

In fact, they've been known to turn down many big opportunities including the hit film Wreck It Ralph, where Mario's appearance was requested by the films creators yet Nintendo declined stating he shouldn't be included if there's no particular purpose related to the storyline.

N-Europe's favourite singer/songwriter Justin Bieber was also declined the Mario Bros. theme song for his movie Never Say Never, whereby he mimicks the plumber in a jovial conversation with his manager. It was intended for Koji Kondo's famous tune to be playing in the background of the scene but instead was replaced by random 8-bit era noises as Miyamoto wouldn't allow its inclusion.JustinBieber1

But it seems Mario's creator Shigeru Miyamoto and Nintendo themselves are finally, after two decades, ready to forgive outsiders for what happened to their beloved hero and once again start branching out into other areas. Nintendo have stressed a lot in the past year how they plan to extend the brand and have already taken steps. Mobiles will soon receive brand new games from the Big N and it can be assumed that Mario will surely be headlining one of them. They also revealed the creation of a Nintendo section in Universal Studios - But most exciting is Miyamoto's constant hints that he really wants to delve into the world of film and bring some of Nintendo's top names with him.

Mario's past with first-party games has been wonderful, his involvement in third-party films, cartoons and music not so much – but it seems those dark days are over and he's willing to forgive and forget. As Mario's 30th anniversary draws near, we can not only look forward to a future filled with more of the best platforming titles in the world but also to an exciting new era of Mario based media... with hopefully not an M.C. Mario in sight.

What do you think of Mario's troubled past? Let us know in the My Mario Memories thread in our forum or using the comments section below.

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