The lights are on
Mario is lovable and squeaky clean, but the original mythology for Nintendo's mascot contains a murderous secret that is rather surprising. This is the original story of Super Mario Bros.
Back in 1985, the Mario that we know and love today was virtually non-existent. There was no Yoshi. There were no cat, bee, or raccoon suits. Mario didn't play golf or drive around in go-karts. And Luigi was a generic green color swap of Mario. All we knew about Mario was that he was on a mushroom-fueled quest to save a princess through a pipe-filled fantasy world. If you really wanted to know more about Mario's lore, you had to go digging, and if you did you might have discovered that Mario was willing to take drastic measures to accomplish his quest.
Nintendo's 8-bit system wasn't capable of rendering high-end visuals, so players could extrapolate on Nintendo's graphics and come up with their own version on what Mario's world really looked like. For all we knew, Mario's adventure was a dark epic more in line with fables like Beowulf or Saint George and the Dragon. Interestingly, Nintendo's own manual for the game seemed to support this darker tone.
The opening pages of Super Mario Bros. tells Nintendo's original setup for the game.
Notice how the Koopa's used their black magic to turn the people of the mushroom kingdom into stones, blocks, and plants? That's pretty dark (and strange) in itself. However, whats even crazier is that Mario spends the entire game smashing blocks in an effort to rescue the princess. The sacrifice of the many apparently outweighs the good of one woman. (The comment about Mario only maybe being the hero of this story is also interesting.)
Still, the story doesn't end here. Here's the most disturbing fact. At the end of the Super Mario Bros. instruction manual there was a section that featured some tips and tricks about the game.
Check out this particular tip.
During Super Mario Bros., Mario was freely murdering helpless Toads, and Nintendo was encouraging gamers to do so! It's probably not surprising that Nintendo hadn't revisited this origin story.
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