11. Mario wasn't always called Mario (and he wasn't always a plumber)

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Anyone who's read a list like this probably already knows that in his early days, Mario was a carpenter (not a plumber) named Jumpman. A lesser but-still-substantial amount will have also probably read about a time in which Miyamoto wanted to call his flagship hero "Mr. Video." But the original incarnation of the character was called "Ossan," which means "middle-aged guy" -- which, we don't have to tell you, totally messes with the previous assertion that Mario is in his mid-20s. Hopefully Nintendo sets us straight soon with an official Mario timeline.

 

12. Bowser's kids are named after musicians (and they're not Bowser's kids)

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The Koopa Kids have shown up off and on throughout Mario games since Super Mario Bros 3, but they usually disappear just as quickly as they arrive. When you're a miniboss who dies in three hits, them's the breaks. It doesn't help that a lot of them look kind of similar to one another, and it's tough to keep those wacky names in line. 

What's up with those names, anyway? As Patrick Klepek over at Kotaku found out by talking to SMB3 localizer Dayvv Brooks, the Koopa Kids are named after musicians from wildly different genres.

The hairstyle on one of them reminded me of Ludwig von Beethoven for some reason and Ludwig von Koopa was born. Next was the one with the glasses--that has to be Roy Koopa in homage to Roy Orbison, who almost always wore glasses. Then Wendy O. Koopa (Wendy O. Williams) [and] Iggy Koopa (Iggy Pop). One looked like a loudmouth, so he was Morton Koopa Jr. from [the] loud-mouthed talk show host Morton Downey Jr. And then there was Larry. There's no real-world equivalent--he's not Larry Mullen Jr. from U2 or Larry King--he just looked like a Larry.

That brings us to Lemmy. In addition to being a great name, it's perfect for a video game character. This Koopaling struck me as being the kind of character who would do his own thing, no matter what anyone else thought. I think it was those crazy eyes. Lemmy Koopa was in the crew."

Yes, one of the Koopa kids was indeed named after Lemmy Kilmister, the late frontman for Motorhead. So I guess Bowser was listening to a lot of different music when he signed these birth certificates, right? Well, that would be the case, but Bowser isn't actually the real father of any of the Koopalings (with the exception of Bowser Jr). To hear Miyamoto tell it, no one knows who the mother is, either. That might sound a little unfair, but really, do you actually want to know?

13. All Toads are born genderless

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There's something going on with the Toads. The squat, bulbous citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom have been around from the beginning, but we still know so little about them. Contrary to what you might have seen on the Super Mario Bros. Super Show, the race's shroom-like noggins are more likely to be biological than just extremely trendy headgear -- but even that's still up for debate. One of the only things that we know for sure about the Toads came in a Gamespot interview with Nintendo producer Koichi Hayashida, in which it was revealed that "Toads are a genderless race that take on gendered characteristics." Hayashida also clarified that Toad and Toadette are not a romantic couple, probably because that would make everyone start wondering how they reproduce.

14. Bowser and Peach celebrate with alcohol in Japan's Super Mario Kart

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When it comes to censorship and localization, Nintendo usually doesn't have to do much to refit its games for the Western market. This is in large part due to the family-friendlieness of almost all of the company's franchises. What could be objectionable about Super Mario Kart, a game where the most brutal weapon is a banana peel?

Well, alcohol, for one. 

If the above doesn't look familiar to you, that's because you probably played the Western release of the original Mario Kart outing. However, in Japan, Bowser and Peach did in fact celebrate victories by guzzling champagne. It was something of a raceway tradition that was seen as harmless across the Pacific, but Nintendo successfully avoided controversy by nixing any alcohol references in its otherwise G-rated game.

It's a little hypocritical to keep up the family-friendly facade, if you ask me -- after all, this is the same series that introduced the blue shell and as a result inspired countless real-world murders across the globe. 

15. The 1986 Mario anime was insane (and it accurately predicted the future of the franchise)

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You're probably already familiar with the "first" Super Mario Bros. movie. You know, that live-action shitshow starring Bob Hoskins and Dennis Hopper? But years before that fiery garbage heap left a smoldering nuclear crater in movie theaters everywhere, an official Mario anime made it to theaters. Super Mario Bros.: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach! was released in 1986, and since then it's become pretty hard to find. Back then it was only available for rental, and only a few tapes have survived the decades since.

The hourlong movie never saw an official Western release, but since the internet exists, you can watch the whole thing on YouTube. You'll find a lot of familiar sights and sounds, but you should keep in mind that this was made just after the original Super Mario Bros. game, and before what the US knows as Super Mario Bros. 2. The Mushroom Kingdom and the characters within it weren't as well-defined as they are now, so no one was around to tell the animators not to make Luigi go nanners when he trips on shrooms. 

 

The whole movie is pretty nuts, on the whole. It begins with Mario playing an NES(!), after which Peach tumbles out, followed by several franchise baddies. Bowser does succesfully capture Peach, after which... Mario gets depressed and goes to work at a grocery store. The brothers do get dragged into an adventure in the Mushroom Kingdom and Bowser is naturally defeated, but Mario doesn't get the girl in the end. Instead, Peach reveals she's engaged to Haru, some bubblegum Prince Valiant lookin ass anime trope that has never been seen nor heard from again. 

So okay, someone made a weird Mario cartoon back before the games properly defined its characters. It's fascinating, but maybe not surprising. But what's especially interesting about the anime is what it gets right about the characters, long before any game. Check out Luigi below.

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Notice anything? Yeah, his color scheme is all off, but otherwise it looks pretty much like Luigi, right? But that's just it! This anime was made in a time when Luigi was portrayed on-screen as idential to his brother. Super Mario Bros. 2 (known as Super Mario Bros USA in Japan) did further define Luigi's appearance, but not until 1988 -- two full years after The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach. Unless I'm missing some obscure arcade cabinet art somewhere, this the very first time Luigi was portrayed as his tall and lanky self was in this anime that basically nobody has seen.

So was Nintendo inspired by the cartoon? It's tough to say without asking the folks in question. But it seems more and more likely, judging by the rest of the movie. 

As most fans remember, defeating Bowser in Super Mario 64 meant grabbing the spiny bastard by the tail and spinning him around before tossing him like an Olympic hammer thrower. This is the exact same way Mario dispatches Bowser at the end of the anime, a full decade prior to debut of the Nintendo 64. 

It very well may be that someone at the company kept this one in their pocket until the right moment, just like Miyamoto had design documents for Yoshi tucked away until the release of the SNES. I don't know about you, but I choose to believe in anime.


Tristan Cooper's early anime version can be found on Twitter.