13 Mario Secrets You Never Knew

Mario, Luigi, Wario, and Waluigi are all voiced by the same man

After years of the gruff, Bronx dialect kids heard in the early ’90s, Super Mario 64 saw Nintendo choose a far cuter official voice that has stuck around ever since. The 64-bit generation saw Charles Martinet do all the “Woo hoo!” and “It’s-a me!” lines for Mario games that allowed voice samples, and he’s still at it today, but he’s not limited to just that. He handles all the strange Mario ‘family’ of characters, meaning Luigi, Wario, and Waluigi. Yes, that’s not quite as diverse as Mel Blanc handling almost every Looney Tunes character, but it’s still an impressive feat for Charles, I’d say.

Several Super Mario 64 moves debuted in Donkey Kong ’94


Super Mario 64 gave Mario an entirely new dimension to play in, and the hopping pile of polygons would need a new set of moves to get around. That included a pretty sweet triple jump and the ability to make a splitsecond backflip in the other direction; both of which were plenty useful in a world as big as 64’s. However, both of those abilities were born in 2D, as Miyamoto and his team first implemented them in the incredibly awesome Donkey Kong reboot for the Game Boy, known to many as Donkey Kong ’94. If those invaluable moves could work in 2D on such a simple system, you can see why the devs found them worthy of transplanting to 64.

Shockingly, there actually is a story connection between Donkey Kong and the Mushroom Kingdom

Speaking of Donkey Kong ’94, that really is an underrated gem of the Mario series that you should buy ASAP off the eShop. And once you finish that amazing throwback to puzzle platforming of yore, you’ll actually find the missing link in Mario mythology. If you always asked yourself how Mario goes from fighting an ape in a construction site to killing dinosaurs with mushrooms, you’ll find all the answers in this game. It also seems to promise a Donkey Kong Jr. reboot that never came. It’s not too late to change that, Miyamoto!

The first-ever d-pad was designed for a Mario game


Until the patent finally expired recently, Nintendo was the only game company with the rights to the plus sign-shaped d-pad that we all know and love. This ingenious design is from Nintendo’s R&D god, Gunpei Yokoi, who invented it out of necessity to make the first-ever portable Mario game. The twin-screened Game & Watch adaptation of Donkey Kong needed a simple way to move in the same way as a joystick, and Yokoi’s team came across the perfect X design along the way, which is still the best way to control 2D games (suck it, analog sticks).

A Japan-only version of Super Mario 64 can use the Rumble Pak


Speaking of Nintendo innovations, the Rumble Pak added a sensation to controllers that is now seen as a must-have for every new console, as Sony’s shitty SIXAXIS reconfirmed. Unfortunately, the Rumble Pak came too late for launch games like Super Mario 64 to enjoy any of that force feedback – in the west anyway. In 1997, Japan got rereleases of both Super Mario 64 and Wave Race 64 that were adapted for rumble functionality. Sadly, if you ever want to feel the pure Rumble Pak sensation of a Butt Stomp, you’ll need to import it yourself.

Super Mario Land 2 features Nintendo’s LEGO rip-off


Before getting into gaming, Nintendo was one of the top toy sellers in Japan, and in the late ’60s, LEGO was an international craze. But that European company can’t own the rights to all plastic blocks, so Nintendo made toy sets of its own called N&B Blocks, even beating LEGO in a lawsuit to keep selling the pieces. Though N&B are long gone now, they made a cute comeback in Super Mario Land 2, coincidentally directed by N&B toy designer Gunpei Yokoi, In a toy-filled world of the Game Boy hit, Mario runs on top of LEGO-type blocks, and the devs made sure to add in the N&B logo as a treat for the most diehard Nintendo fanatics.

Super Mario Bros. 2′ Wart appears in Link’s Awakening


The vegetable-hating frog from Super Mario Bros. 2/USA/Doki Doki Panic was more or less a Bowser rip-off, and hasn’t done much outside of Mario’s dream world since he was defeated in those games. Wart actually has fit in one more Nintendo appearance in another oddbeat “only a dream” sequel. Wart isn’t even all that bad in the Zelda title. For just 300 Rupees he teaches Link the Frog’s Song of Soul, a pretty important piece to beating a game. Maybe if Kirby ever takes a nap, Wart will pop up again.

Luigi first appeared in a Game & Watch handheld


The pipes of the arcade original Mario Bros. may be where most folks saw Luigi pop his first POW block, but that wasn’t the first game featuring Luigi to be released. A flipbook style LCD handheld was also called Mario Bros. and came out in Japan a few months before the arcade game, though the actual games are pretty different beyond the name. Here Mario and Luigi are working at some kind of factory while preparing deliveries, which adds another working-class job to the sibling’s long resume.

The developers of Super Mario 3D World loved hearing “Meow”


If you’re a big enough Japanophile, you’ve likely seen an anime or manga where the onomatopoeia of a cat’s distinct call is done as “nyan.” That’s how Japanese folks traditionally vocalize the sound, and how the developers behind Super Mario 3D World expected to hear it when recording sound effects for the Cat Mario transformation. Soon they were surprised to hear “meow” from the American voice team, and instead of having them change it to Japanese style, they leaned into the American version, making meow the omnipresent noise in the game. As someone that interviewed the lead devs (icluding Miyamoto), I can tell you that the team couldn’t stop saying “meow” and giggling about it.

Each Bowser before the final one is a fake


When playing Super Mario Bros. and some of its sequels, you probably just hopped right over King Koopa and sent him falling to his death. Those skilled enough to make it to Bowser wielding fireballs will see that he is beatable with enough burning blasts, and then you’ll see the fallen lizard transform into a more mundane enemy, like a Goomba or Koopa. That’s because, until 8-4, you’re never facing the true Bowser, just crafty impostors. This trick returns when you face mock Bowsers in later games like Super Mario 3D Land. For a guy who loses all the time, that Bowser is smarter than he seems.

Got any more Mario trivia I should know? Want to tell me I got something wrong? Explain it all in the comments! Meanwhile, get some more Mario info reading about the top 7 Mario worlds (other than the Mushroom Kingdom), as well as what Donkey Kong Country looked like pre-release. And our YouTube page has tons of great Mario videos, like this one for Dr. Mario’s 25th anniversary‚Ķ

5 thoughts on “13 Mario Secrets You Never Knew

  1. Awesome article. The fake Bowers finally make sense now. As a kid, I always wondered what the hell was going on when Bowser changed to a normal enemy. Guess I didn’t bother to think about it again since the obvious conclusion would be that it was some type of magic or illusion.

    Great job Hank. Would love to see more Mario or Nintendo articles.

  2. I would like to see Donkey return to his roots as a Mario villain. Because this would erase decades of DK goodwill and heroics, they can just use the excuse that Bowser put some kind of brainwashing cap on him.

  3. I hate the “You Never Knew” in an article title as an obsessive nerd with Nintendo heard many of these or experienced alot of them myself.

  4. The real Bowser can also be noticed because he’s the only one in the game who both spits fire AND throws hammers.

    The Peach renaming is the best example of such a thing. The letter in SM64 is signed, “Princess Toadstool. Peach.” This clearly shows that her full name is Princess Peach Toadstool, and even if we never hear her full name again, the implication is because we’re not on a first-name basis with her, and that’s fun. (Incidentally, the Sonic series had the perfect blend of “Dr. Robotnik” and “Eggman” in Sonic Adventure games, where he called himself Robotnik, but Sonic and his friends called him Eggman like they were mocking him. But Sega went back on this and just had him named Eggman everywhere all the time, which still is disappointing. But I digress.)

    Also, I’ve always wanted Wart to show up again. And bring Mouser and TriClyde with him!

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