Mario. He’s beyond a gaming mascot at this point. Even if someone has never played a video game in their entire life, they’re familiar with this guy and his turtle-hopping ways.
While the Mario franchise has amassed dozens of titles through the years, it’s interesting that it’s titles like Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, or Super Mario Galaxy that often at the center of conversations. That’s not to say that the game that started it all, Super Mario Bros., has been forgotten, but rather it means a lot of the game's quirks are largely unknown.
With the number of ports of the title that have been put out through the years, Mario fans are likely no stranger to taking the iconic character through the game’s memorable levels. Super Mario Bros. is more than just a simplistic take on the franchise’s platforming ways.
There’s a surprising amount of history and bonkers stories related to this modest platforming title by Nintendo. With the Switch’s Super Mario Odyssey’s release growing ever closer, it’s a perfect time to take a look back at the earlier side of the series’ history.
Here are the 15 Things You Never Knew About The Original Super Mario Bros.
15 It’s Hidden Away In An Animal Crossing Game
Animal Crossing might be one of Nintendo’s most beloved fringe properties at this point, but back when the title was premiering stateside on the Gamecube it went to some great lengths to get people’s attention.
One of the very generous, awesome customs from the Animal Crossing series is that the life-simulation title would pack in complete Nintendo games as a nice little ode to the company’s past. The characters in the game like to kick back with classic NES titles just as much as real people do.
Animal Crossing offers up a number of ways to obtain these classic Nintendo games, whether through Tom Nook’s lottery, finding them buried on the island, or a gift from Redd. Nintendo’s admirable e-Reader device also allowed access to these titles.
One game conspicuously absent though was Super Mario Bros., however through the use of cheating devices like a Gameshark, the title (along with The Legend of Zelda) were found hidden away in the game and were made playable by “hackers.”
The title was more available in the Japanese version of the game, but people going to such lengths to make it playable here just shows the dedication of its fanbase.
14 There’s An Arcade Version Of It
Nintendo went through a phase in the ‘80s where they took a number of their more popular Famicom games and ported them over to arcade cabinets. This Vs. Series that Nintendo played with also saw new elements being added to these classic games or the port being an opportunity to make changes to the original titles.
Vs. Super Mario Bros. is one of the better executions of this idea because not only does it add six new levels to the game, it also becomes a more difficult title. This arcade version puts fewer power-ups and warp zones in the game while simultaneously increasing the amount of enemies. It’s sort of a dream come true for the hardcore Super Mario Bros. players that are looking for a new challenge.
Interestingly enough, a very recent Nintendo announcement saw them saying that their arcade line of Vs. titles would slowly be added to the Switch’s virtual console. This means that soon enough gamers will finally have the opportunity to experience this interesting deviation on the classic game for themselves.
13 It Was The Best-Selling Video Game Of All Time
It’s one thing to be famous for being a highly influential video game, but Super Mario Bros. goes one step further in the sense that it wasn’t just important, it was also popular.
So popular, in fac,t that it held the world record for being the best-selling video game of all time. The Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition states that the flagship Nintendo game has gone on to sell more than 40 million copies worldwide.
Even though video games have become so much more popular in recent years, it’s rather telling that the game that moved the most units was a 8-bit platformer. Even something like Super Mario 64, which seems like it would be more popular, has only sold upwards of 11 million copies worldwide in comparison.
Even though Super Mario Bros. held this title for the longest time, it’s a minor consolation prize that the game that would usurp it was another Nintendo title, Wii Sports. In the case of Wii Sports, the game was sold with the console, meaning every Wii sale was also a sale for the game.
12 Hudson Soft Made A “Sequel/Special Edition” For PCs
It’s always exciting when Nintendo licenses their properties out to other companies, with the results sometimes being brilliant and at other times complete disasters.
Hudson Soft was given the Super Mario Bros. license so they were allowed to release the game for a series of Japanese computers, primarily the NEC PC-8801 and Sharp X1. Hudson Soft had been allowed the same luxury for Nintendo’s previous title, Mario Bros., so there’s a little bit of a relationship here in that sense.
Hudson Soft’s efforts led to Super Mario Bros. Special, which takes the core of Nintendo’s game but then actually improves upon it. Hudson Soft goes ahead and expands the title into a richer experience by increasing the difficulty and throwing new enemies into the mix.
The game even inserts Mario’s hammer from Donkey Kong in some sly connecting of franchise dots. It’s a little funny to think that one of the most “complete” version of Super Mario Bros. is on a Japanese PC.
11 The Game Finally Adds Realism to Koopa Homicide
There’s a surprising amount of growth when it comes to the physics of Koopa fatalities in the Mario universe. This is something that is largely a mundane gesture that gamers take for granted, or even a clumsy means of leading to Mario’s death on countless occasions.
Some of the more perceptive players out there may have noticed a few changes take place in the process between Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros.
In the earlier Mario Bros., Mario receives damage when he jumps on a Koopa if he doesn’t first flip them on their backs. There may be some logic to this, but give the guy a break here. It seems like Mario would still come out on top in that scenario.
However, Super Mario Bros. allows Mario to jump on other Koopa shells as a means of taking out Koopas and loosens up the rules on the matter. The change was a results of the developers feeling their previous method didn’t make as much sense as it could, so it’s comforting to see just how much thought was put into this niche area.
10 There’s A Version Based Off Of A Japanese Radio Show
Some truly peculiar off-shoots of Super Mario Bros. are out there in Japan with All Night Nippon Super Mario Bros. being a prime example. This weirdness is courtesy of the popular Japanese radio program, All Night Nippon.
This rare item was made available through a raffle that the radio program was holding, but it also eventually becomes available in a retail capacity. Even still, it’s an elusive, bizarre collector’s item that still draws a large price tag from buyers.
All Night Nippon Super Mario Bros. is essentially a ROM hack that replaces a lot of the classic iconography from out of the Mario series with Japanese celebrities and mascots from the All Night Nippon family.
In this sense, the game is a very weird vanity project in many ways. Like imagine if a version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was given out by Conan O’Brien with a bunch of Late Night personalities worked into the game.
Other weird changes are also present in this version of the game, like the unusual decision to put Princess Peach in a geisha outfit.
9 Controversy Surrounds The Game’s Exact North American Release Date
Something as concrete as a game’s release date shouldn’t be a big mystery, especially over thirty years later.
However, the exact date that Super Mario Bros. was made available for North American audiences still manages to be a point of contention among video game historians. The game has a clear Japanese release date, but audiences in America are still debating whether the game came out in 1985 or 1986.
Many sources may cite 1986 as being the year that Super Mario Bros. came out, but official Nintendo materials, including the “Chronicle” section in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, seem to indicate the release as October 18, 1985.
Allegedly the game came out in conjunction with the release of the Nintendo itself, but this original release date has gone lost to time. October 12, October 19, and November 17 have all been listed as possible US release dates for the game.
8 It Has A Deluxe Edition For Game Boy Color
One of the biggest ways in which the Game Boy Color showed people that it was a serious piece of handheld hardware was with the release of its deluxe edition of Super Mario Bros.
It’s only appropriate that Nintendo would look back to its roots when releasing this pivotal piece of handheld gaming. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the original version of Super Mario Bros., but it’s just impressive to see how far the Game Boy Color goes with this deluxe edition.
Super Mario Bros. Deluxe offers up an identical port of the original game for the purists that are out there. The title also packs in a whole lot of new content like a Challenge Mode, an increased level of difficulty, and the inventive “You Vs Boo” option.
All of these new ideas add replay and innovation in a loving way that doesn’t take anything away from the original title. Having all of that in addition to the added feature that it’s also available on-the-go is really as good as it gets.
7 Mario’s Growing “Super Mario” Ability Is Due To Changes In Level Design
Mario’s ability to grow into his larger, more powerful form of “Super Mario” is pretty common knowledge at this point. It’s a trait from the platforming franchise that was pretty defining of the earlier Mario titles, while becoming less of a presence in some of the later games.
The visual (and the sound effect) of Mario growing when coming in contact with a mushroom power-up has found its way into becoming a key component of the series. It also happens to be a design feature that the developers stumbled upon as an afterthought.
When Super Mario Bros. was originally in development, the level designs were based around a prototype of Mario that was substantially smaller.
Once the team’s work was done, they intended to increase Mario’s size in the final version once the levels were complete. However, the idea of actually playing with Mario’s size as one of the power-ups became increasingly interesting to the team and slowly found its way into becoming canon.
6 It Was Originally Envisioned To Have “Run And Gun” Aspects
The Mario titles have such a distinct, influential style that has gone on to inspire countless other platforming series through the years.
So the news that Super Mario Bros. was close to being a “Run and Gun” game at one point is a pretty huge revelation. It’s even a decision that may have systematically changed the future of the Mario franchise.
Originally there were plans to have a level where Mario jumps into a cloud, which would then be able to fire projectiles at enemies. This concept could have then been expanded even further to encompass a larger aspect of the game.
Ultimately, the game’s focus on jumping and the utilization of the A button would slowly lead to the idea being dropped. Bonus levels that are set in the sky are still present, but the rest of the chaotic “Run and Gun” gameplay is gone.
Curiously, though, this sky-based combat angle would eventually turn up in select levels of the Game Boy’s Super Mario Land.
5 The Game’s First Level is Actually A Subtle Tutorial
Nintendo has always been pretty generous when it comes to tutorials and holding their audience by the hands. Some of this attitude results in extreme examples, like certain Wii and Wii U titles allowing you to skip challenges completely if they’re becoming too much of an obstacle.
Nintendo is also great with going in the opposite direction of this approach where sometimes it’s not even clear that the game is giving the player a tutorial. Such is the case with the introductory level of Super Mario Bros.
At the time of Super Mario Bros.’ release, in-game tutorials were no longer a popular game mechanic, with the title instead resorting to clever ways to indoctrinate gamers.
Level 1-1 is much more about repetition and escalation than it is about obstacles, while also helping the player figure out the difference between Goombas and mushrooms. Everything needed to understand the full scope of the game is present in that opening level.
4 It Has A Secret "Minus World"
If the normal challenges of Super Mario Bros. are no longer the onslaught that they once were, the game has a nifty little glitch world built in to answer these woes.
A hidden warp zone that’s present at the end of World 1-2 transports players to an unbeatable glitch world that gamers have colloquially dubbed the “Minus World.” Minus World, or World -1, is virtually identical to the layouts found in World 2-2 and World 7-2. The noticeable difference here is that the warp pipe at the end of the level instead loops you back to the beginning of the level.
The Famicom Disk System version of Super Mario Bros. actually allows the Minus World levels to be completed, with the results seeing lots of color palette swaps in these “new” levels. Who knows, maybe even more Minus World glitches are still hiding out there.
3 Koji Kondo's Score Work Helped Changed The Industry's Use of Video Game Music
Nowadays music in video games is taken pretty seriously and a huge industry in its own right, but there was certainly a time when the music from video games was not made a priority.
It was just sort of there to move things along, but hardly a driving force. In fact, the music was meant to not draw attention. The idea of soundtracks from video games actually being something that people want to buy was laughable at the time.
Rather than being hired later in the development process, Koji Kondo was present from the beginning and working directly with Super Mario Bros.’ team. The work that Kondo did with Super Mario Bros. was transformative in the sense that it showed people that music could be an active and participatory aspect of video games.
Opinions from test audiences even helped Kondo refine and change the music that he made for the series. It was a growing process that in turn would show other developers how music in games could be approached.
2 It’s One Of The First Platformers Directed By Shigeru Miyamoto
Shigeru Miyamoto might currently be a modern day legend, but it’s fascinating to look back at his more humble days when his career was in its earlier stages. Miyamoto has gone on to be responsible for a number of crucial Nintendo properties, but in the eyes of many fans he’ll always be a platformer guy.
Miyamoto would go on to see a very healthy career directing and helping pioneer many platformers throughout Nintendo’s history, but Super Mario Bros. is his first effort in the field!
Before Miyamoto jumped into the platforming genre, his only previous credits directing video games were on Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Junior, and Donkey Kong 3, all of which were arcade releases.
This also means that Super Mario Bros. is the first console title that Miyamoto directs. Miyamoto was admittedly more of a game designer than a director at this point, but his success with Super Mario Bros. opened many doors for the guy.
1 There's A "Super Luigi Bros." Port That Scrolls Right To Left
The recent NES Remix series is truly an underrated gem that does some remarkably ambitious things with classic video game titles.
The concept behind the Nintendo series is that each release offers up a handful of classic NES games that are then made more challenging due to a number of “remixes.” These range from things like restricted the gamer’s usual abilities in the title, or doing something radically different like inserting Kirby into a Zelda game.
One of the more exciting experiments in the series is that NES Remix 2 contains a remix of Super Mario Bros. called Super Luigi Bros. This new take on the game not only stars Luigi instead of Mario, but the title also plays in the jarring direction of moving from right to left.
While many of the ideas in NES Remix are just tastes of full games, Super Luigi Bros. is actually a full port of its original title making this an even cooler addition.
Are there any crucial tidbits about Super Mario Bros. that have slipped through the warp pipe and eluded us? Sound off and let us know in the comments!