Even if you’ve never played a video game before in your life you’re still surely aware that Nintendo’s mascot is that plucky plumber, Mario. With every new Nintendo system that’s come out, one of its major selling points will be the new Mario title that eventually accompanies it. Nintendo’s recent foray into mobile gaming saw them with one of the fastest selling titles of all time, simply because Mario was along for the ride.
Playing the latest Mario game is always a lot of fun, but it’s sometimes even more enjoyable when Nintendo slips the character into another franchise. Of course the character has appeared in other titles that exist within the Mushroom Kingdom, like Luigi’s Mansion, Super Princess Peach, or Captain Road: Treasure Tracker, not to mention the popular Super Smash Bros. series. But then there are also some titles where it’s a real surprise to see the guy. A well-placed cameo can really be a great treat, and so here are 16 Times Super Mario Crossed Over With Other Video Games.
This inclusion might be a little controversial, but it’s why it’s the entry that’s kicking off this list. One of the Nintendo 64’s greatest successes was the platforming title, Banjo-Kazooie, developed by Rare. While there isn’t nearly enough Mario and Banjo crossover to satisfy the hungry Nintendo enthusiasts out there, Mario does make an appearance—of sorts—in the game’s sequel, Banjo-Tooie.
Rare’s Banjo-Kazooie games are pretty self-aware to begin with, but a certain sequence in the Grunty Industries level sees Banjo and Kazooie needing to unclog their anthropomorphic toilet friend, Loggo. Upon hearing of Loggo’s predicament, Kazooie suggests, “Then call a plumber. I think Mario’s free at the moment,” to which Loggo responds, “I don’t think Mario does that kind of work anymore.” It’s a beyond cute name-drop and while Mario might not appear physically, this discussion on him still makes this feel like a worthy inclusion. It’s worth noting that in the XBOX 360 port of the title Loggo’s dialogue is changed to say “Italian plumber” instead because copyright law ruins everyone’s fun.
During Nintendo’s infancy it would not be unusual for the box art of some early Game Boy or Nintendo game to feature Mario on it in some capacity while his actual role in the title might end up being entirely hidden. Other games would see Mario included, but in an entirely superficial role that almost feels like Nintendo is just trying to re-use assets rather than create some connected universe. For that reason, it feels unfair to give any of these titles a spot of their own, but collectively they represent the same sort of Mario appearances that were typical of Nintendo during the late ‘80s/early ‘90s. Game Boy’s Alleyway might make you hunt out the details to learn that Mario is the game’s paddle pilot, but the NES’ Pinball throws Mario into their Breakout-style mode in a cute way. The alternate mode resembles Donkey Kong, with Pauline even making an appearance, too. Nintendo’s Tennis and Punch-Out!! adopt similar approaches by having Mario act as the referee in both titles. Surprisingly it would take Nintendo a good deal of time to figure out that people would actually like to see Mario playing these games rather than reffing them.
Believe it or not, Nintendo’s Mario and Namco’s Pac-Man actually have a bit of a history together. Pac-Man made his Nintendo debut in Mario Kart Arcade GP, remaining a mainstay in the Arcade version of the Mario Kart franchise before finally reaching home consoles in Mario Kart 8. The two have also duked it out in the latest Smash Bros. title for Wii U and 3DS. Pac-Man pops up as an Amiibo-unlockable costume for Super Mario Maker, too. Shigeru Miyamoto has even gone as far as saying that Pac-Man is his favorite video game character of all time! Clearly the groundwork has been laid here for Mario to pop up in Pac-Man’s universe, but this appearance is still highly unusual.
In the incredibly niche Gamecube title, Pac Man Vs. (it came as a bonus disc and must be played multiplayer and with the GBA link cable), Mario acts as the game’s narrator and color commentator throughout the matches. The Nintendo developed game goes as far as getting Charles Martinet, Mario’s steady voice actor, to provide his vocal talents for the enthusiastic performance. The mind reels at what a game with Wario commentary might sound like.
Both Famicom Grand Prix: F-1 Race and its sequel, Famicom Grand Prix II: 3D Hot Rally are rather obscure titles. They were both exclusively released in Japan on the Famicom Disk System, but still contain some rather important Mario crossovers all the same. F-1 Race prominently features Mario on its title screen, but also has you driving as Mario within the game. The sequel ups the stakes by allowing you to play as both Mario and Luigi this time around, with it even being the first title to depict Luigi’s leaner, taller look.
The US releases of both Golf on the NES and Game Boy would designate the main golfer as Mario, in spite of the original versions not going as far to invite the comparison. However, NES Open Tournament Golf goes one step further with all of this. Not only are Mario and Luigi both selectable characters this time around, but there are plenty of references to the Mushroom Kingdom. Peach and Daisy are Mario and Luigi’s respective caddies, with Toad and Donkey Kong also showing up for good measure. It’s certainly an under known Nintendo golf title, but a nice early example of them refining a concept.
The Donkey Kong Country series was monumental for both the success of the SNES as well as Nintendo in general. The series marked a strong return to challenging platforming titles that rewarded dedication. These games are full of sly in-jokes with a rather wry sense of humor carrying through the titles. Cranky Kong himself is a gag about how much harder older games like the original Donkey Kong used to be. Donkey Kong Country 2 (as well as its Game Boy counterpart, Donkey Kong Land 2) has you hunting for DK Coins as an extra collectible, with the game throwing in a cute bonus for those that acquire enough of them. Cranky Kong frames your progress as a Video Game Heroes Hall of Fame, with the current high scores in the field belonging to Yoshi, Link, and Mario. Sadly, those who did not make the cut include Sonic the Hedgehog and Earthworm Jim, whose shoes and raygun, respectively, can be seen near the trash. While the moment might serve no practical function, it’s a great little cameo that pays respect to the character.
Kirby and Mario working together might seem like such a natural fit that it’s a little surprising that Nintendo hasn’t made some team-up platformer come to pass at this point. The two light characters make so much sense as a team. Gamers might have to wait for such a co-op title to see life, but in the meantime Mario has graced the Kirby world with his presence. Kirby Super Star and its DS update, Kirby Super Star Ultra, are seen as some of the most polished examples of Kirby gaming out there. The title offers up a number of bite-sized Kirby games and stories, all of which focus on different gameplay aspects. Mario makes one appearance as an enraptured spectator in the crowd during the Megaton Punch Contest, as well as when Kirby is fighting Dedede. On top of that though, another very cool Mario cameo takes place in the form of one of his possible rock formations when Kirby uses his Stone ability. For this one brief, startling moment Kirby is Mario and the universe stops and ceases to make sense.
This was such a big, defining moment in gaming during the early days of the Nintendo 64 that it’s almost sad to think of how forgotten and swept under the carpet it’s become over time. Nintendo’s Pilotwings series is classic for creating a feeling of relaxation where you can just take in some luscious scenery and some laid back gaming. Pilotwings 64 took these ideas to a lot of new heights with the system’s technical capabilities of the time. It was a great delight for many gamers to be serenely flying through the Little States level, passing Mount Rushmore, and all of a sudden realizing that Mario’s face has been added to the famous landmark. It’s a beautiful, surprising, iconic moment in gaming, but one that becomes even more special after learning that plastering poor Mario’s face with missiles prompts an unexpected remodeling. Mario’s face will turn into Wario’s if it’s shot at, acting as not only a nice joke, but contributing to the feeling that anything was possible on this system.
With Pokemon revolutionizing the use of the Game Boy’s link cable, it’s a little surprising to remember that the cable’s original purpose was for Tetris, of all things. The amount of people that played Tetris via link cable probably deeply paled in comparison to those that traded a Haunter in order to get a Gengar, but if you did you’d be treated to some healthy Mario fan service. In Tetris’ two-player link matches, Mario and Luigi represent the two players, adding some humanity to the sterile Tetris process. Other Tetris games incorporate even more Mario into them, with the NES version of the title featuring a congratulations screen that shows Mario partying along the likes of Peach, Luigi, Bowser, Donkey Kong, and even Samus and Pit. Tetris DS goes one step further by actually incorporating Mario themes into its first ten levels, while also utilizing a heavy Mario influence and aesthetic in its designs. That’s why you need to play seemingly drier titles like Tetris because you never know who might make a surprise appearance!
Forget about Mario Kart, wouldn’t Mario crossing over with the world of Excitebike be a whole lot more…exciting? Excitebike: Bun Bun Mario Battle Stadium might not be a title that’s on your radar, but that’s likely because it was released for the Super Famicom’s Satellaview download service. You know, that thing that was basically the Internet for your Super Nintendo? Mario Battle Stadium saw four different release versions, all of which added and improved upon the title. Not only is Mario Excitebiking here, but he also brings Luigi, Toad, Peach, Yoshi, Bowser, and some Koopas along for the ride.
So while this might seem like a full-out Mario title or some weird beta of Super Mario Kart, this does still feel like a crossover since Excitebike’s gameplay, mechanics, and track layouts are all still very much present. This is truly an updated remake of Nintendo’s Excitebike on the Super Famicom, with the game’s “normal” racers being swapped out for Mushroom Kingdom inhabitants. There’s no denying that the experimentation in play here would go on to make things like Mario Kart happen.
In spite of there being a few localized Mahjong releases to hit Nintendo’s handhelds over the years, the hobby has never become a huge hit across seas. It’s for reasons like this that titles like Yakuman DS only see release within Japan. Yakuman DS might be your standard Mahjong game, but it’s a little more unfortunate that this particular title didn’t receive a localization (or even see a release via the eShop) since it’s swimming in Mario iconography. This game isn’t being marketed as Mario’s Power Mahjong, but it could try and probably get away with it. The fundamentals of Mahjong are not jazzed up in any way, but there’s still a hearty roster of twenty Mario characters at your disposal. Even more ancillary characters like Toadsworth, Petey Pirahna, and Bowser Jr. make the cut. It might be a little harder to get your hands on this one, but if you’ve been on the fence about getting into Mahjong and are a huge Mario fan, this might be the perfect crossover for you.
Nintendo’s 1080 Snowboarding series might not be their most popular brand, but it’s made for a strong realistic sports addition to their roster to go alongside other like franchises such as Wave Race. The Gamecube’s entry in the series, 1080 Avalanche, is not only a reputable snowboarding title, but it also manages to sneak in some Mario appearances for good measure. If you’re playing as Ricky Winterborn and are using his “8-Bit Soul” board (and really, shame on you if you’re not), you can see a sprite of Mario circa Super Mario Bros. 3 on the bottom of his board. The alternate color model for the 8-Bit Soul board also features Luigi on its underside, just to make sure no one’s feelings are getting hurt. Winterborn himself sounds like he’d be all over this Mario crossover, with his bio stating that he “likes to play Nintendo games such as Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda.” And if you’re unable to get a good view of the bottom of Winterborn’s board, the end of the Midnight City course also features an ice statue of Mario in a victory pose. Just don’t crash into the thing.
System exclusives are a very real selling point for a number of cross-platform releases. Consoles will work hard to ensure exclusive character rights to make sure that their port is the one to get your money. Nintendo might not always have the strongest processing power to fall back on when it comes to Sony and Microsoft, but where they can make a difference is with their roster of available characters. For instance, someone might have little to no interest in snowboarding or the SSX franchise, but when you suddenly add Mario to the slopes they’re now considering the purchase.
SSX On Tour adds Mario, Luigi, and Peach to the snowboarding title, in what’s a surprising fluid transition. The game even goes above and beyond by also adding a “Nintendo Village” course in the Gamecube iteration of the game. While this course is basically like any other track except for some classic Mushroom Kingdom designs being stenciled in lights and snow, it’s still an appreciated extra touch. If Mario busts out a snowboard in the next Smash Bros. game, you’ll know what they’re referencing now.
Much like in the case of SSX On Tour, NBA Street V3 also comes from EA Canada and follows a deal that the company signed with Nintendo that says they would insert Mario characters into their various properties. So if you purchase NBA Street V3—the third title in the NBA Street series—for the Gamecube, you’d have the luxury of adding Mario, Luigi, and Peach to your team. There is an additional Mario themed court that adds a bizarre cartoonish touch to the otherwise grounded game, too. It’s a little strange that in spite of there even being an actual Mario basketball game, Mario Hoops 3 on 3 (which weirdly features crossovers with Final Fantasy characters), the characters feel a little out of place in this universe. There’s something just off enough in the sizing of character models that just makes this awkward in a way that it isn’t in SSX On Tour. It's also kind of beyond ridiculous to see a realistic Shaquille O'Neal and LeBron James losing to Mario and Luigi's hook jump.
Yuji Horii’s Itadaki Street series made its first stateside release in the Wii game, Fortune Street, but there have been games being made in the series ever since the days of the NES. It’s kind of crazy that the game originally began as a minigame in Dragon Warrior III before Horii decided he wanted to expand it into its own series. The game plays a lot like Monopoly in the sense that you’re still buying and selling property, but the game also adds the concept of stocks that can be bought and sold that ultimately affect the value of property. With the board game series being developed by Square Enix, there have been a number of titles that have featured Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy characters to great success. Starting with Itadaki Street for the DS and then carrying over in Fortune Street, the series adds Mario characters into this stock market madness. So for all of those board game Mario enthusiasts out there, Mario Party followed up by plenty of Itadaki Street is your dream come true.
The attempt that was made for Nintendo gamers to experience a Metal Gear Solid game actually turns out pretty successful, with Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes for the Gamecube being a remake of the original Metal Gear Solid that’s made with loving care. While Mario actually appearing and dueling with Snake might be a little too ridiculous (or awesome?) for people to handle, he does still make an appearance that pays respect to his new stomping grounds. There is not only a Mario doll, but also a Yoshi one that are laying around in Otacon’s lab. If you shoot the Yoshi doll it’ll make Yoshi’s classic “Yoshi!” cry, but shooting the Mario totem will actually refill a little bit of your health while also making the famous 1-Up noise. It also seems like Otacon is a fan gaming though as a Gamecube is also seen in his lab. This is the perfect level of crossover that doesn’t take away from the Metal Gear Solid experience. That being said, if you want to make things substantially sillier you can make Psycho Mantis say, “You’ve been playing Super Mario Sunshine, haven’t you?” with the right save data on your memory card.
Minecraft has been one of those explosions in recent years where creativity and the need to create pair up with gaming in a beautiful way. Minecraft was already allowing people to virtually create anything and giving them alarming precision in their abilities. When Minecraft eventually migrated over to the Wii U, one of the most exciting announcements to follow was that a “Super Mario Mash-Up Pack” would be released and allow these two worlds and styles to intermingle. This resource pack really goes above and beyond though, with there being over 40 different Mario skins (with there also being less common inclusions like Tanooki Mario, Propeller Mario, and Mario with F.L.U.D.D.), as well as including series regulars, Luigi, Peach, Wario, Bowser, and even the Koopalings. Additionally, there’s a pre-made Super Mario World playground to get you going, as well as music from Super Mario 64 at your disposal. The whole thing comes across as a gigantic love letter to Mario and his world and it amounts to one of the largest crossovers of assets that you’ll come across.
Are there other games that Mario dropped into that need addressing? Have we missed some crucial crossovers? Let your thoughts be heard below!