List of rumors and urban legends about Mario
Being a long-running and popular franchise, there have been many rumors, misconceptions, and urban legends regarding fictional elements, production history, and gameplay elements within the Mario franchise.
Donkey Kong's name origin
Over the years several purported explanations for the origin of Donkey Kong's name have surfaced. The popular myth states that the original game was meant to be titled "Monkey Kong", but was called "Donkey Kong" due to either a mistranslation or typo. Monkey and donkey are, first, two completely different words in Japanese, so it is unlikely to be a translation error, and while typos resulting in popular names do exist, the myth's multiple variations make this explanation dubious at best.
However, Shigeru Miyamoto himself has claimed numerous times that he found the name from a Japanese-English dictionary when looking for something "stubborn" or "stupid". While "donkey" is not usually considered to be an adjective, the animals themselves are often associated with those traits.
Inspiration for the Super Mushroom
Rumours have questioned the Super Mushroom's origin, and it has been suggested that they are inspired by real-life drugs. Similarities to both mushrooms in Alice in Wonderland and Amanita Muscaria have been pointed out. Miyamoto himself has denied a connection to Alice in Wonderland, and said he drew inspiration from enchanted foodstuffs in myths and folklore. Miyamoto and Iwata have talked about how the Super Mushroom was first meant to be a gameplay mechanic that would appeal to the player as a "good item".
Larry Koopa's namesake
Several articles (such as this one by the British Official Nintendo Magazine) purports that Larry Koopa is named after the talk show host Larry King, perhaps due to the writer's inability to think of a famous musical "Larry". According to former Nintendo of America employee Dayvv Brooks, however, Larry is also named after a musician like his siblings: in this case, Larry Mullen, Jr., the drummer for the rock band U2.
Mario and Luigi's last names
With the introduction of Luigi as Mario's brother, the pair began to be collectively referred to as the Mario brothers. Because of the title, many have been led to believe that Mario and Luigi's last names are actually "Mario". This was further pushed by the Super Mario Bros. Hollywood film released in 1993, which uses "Mario" as the brothers' surname. Several other isolated cases have also appeared that use the "Mario" last name, such as the Mario Party 2 Prima Games guide, and the promo flyer for the Donkey Kong/Donkey Kong Jr./Mario Bros. arcade cabinet. Charles Martinet, Mario's current voice actor, has also given this as his response when asked about Mario's last name. However, various Nintendo employees and representatives, including series creator Shigeru Miyamoto, have stated several times over the years that Mario and Luigi do not have a last name.
Super Mario FX
A rumour suggests that a 3D platformer named "Super Mario FX" was in development for the SNES, which would have used the Super FX chip to display 3D graphics. Variants of this rumour claim that the game became or was otherwise the inspiration for Super Mario 64.
As SnesCentral elaborates, there is no actual proof that such a game was in development (which would have been unlikely due to the timetable of Super Mario 64's development), and claims of its existence seem to originate from IGN misinterpreting an interview in the January 1996 issue of Nintendo Power, where Shigeru Miyamoto stated he got the idea of developing a 3D Mario platformer (without specifying platform) while developing Star Fox, a game released on the SNES that used the Super FX chip to display full 3D graphics. Furthermore, said article's writer contacted Dylan Cuthbert (a game programmer who designed the Super FX chip and collaborated with Miyamoto on Star Fox), who confirmed that no 3D Mario platformer was in development for the SNES and that "Super Mario FX" was actually a codename for the chip itself.
Super Mario Galaxy DS
In December 2007, a video showing a supposedly downloadable, Nintendo DS version of Super Mario Galaxy emerged. The footage showed Mario and Luigi jumping from the Wii to the DS using a previously unknown, hidden galaxy unlockable after collecting every Power Star as both Mario and Luigi and the DS' Wi-Fi download capabilities. It also shows both brothers in the game's galaxies simultaneously, implying a co-op mode. The video also stated that each Power Star collected in the DS game would be redeemable for 10 Wii points. When asked about this, Nintendo stated that they do not comment on rumors. A slightly shorter, more stable version of the same footage was later posted on the video-sharing site Stage6 by user psycho3ler. It was shown to belong to Pablo Belmonte, a video editor behind a "Nintendo ON" hoax video posted in 2005. The extended footage on Stage6 even shows a Nintendo ON-shaped planet.
Started on NeoGAF, the "hidden" message in the boxart of Super Mario Galaxy can be found in the logo of the game. If one singles out all the letters with a small twinkle, the message apparently reads "UR MR GAY" (You are Mr. Gay), leading some to suggest that it may be the sneaky work of the cover artist. Nevertheless, in the sequel, the sparkles have been rearranged to spell out U R M I AY, although this can be interpreted this as YA, I M, RU? (Yeah, I am, are you?) Both title logos' arrangement of the sparkles in aesthetically pleasing areas spelling out an unintended message is likely a case of confirmation bias.
It is commonly claimed among online fans that Ashley is 9/10-years old in Japanese WarioWare material and that her age was "changed" for the western localization. The claim was featured for a time on the wiki's Ashley and Red page, although it was later removed for being unsourced.
While there are hints that Ashley is meant to be younger than 15-years old (such as her voice and Ashley referring to herself in the third person in her Miiverse Sketch Masterpiece Collection video, a verbal tic that usually denotes young, immature characters in Japanese media) she has no specific stated age in any Japanese WarioWare media, including the official Japanese WarioWare: Touched! website.
A popular rumor has that an unspecified UK Nintendo magazine issue once joked that Bowser's wife is named "Clawdia Koopa". However, despite the rumor's popularity, no scan or direct quotation of the statement has surfaced. Furthermore, most sites making this claim attribute it to "Nintendo Power UK", a publication that does not exist in that region.
The idea that Bowser has a wife named Clawdia Koopa likely originates from the Mario fansite Lemmy's Land. Lemmy Koopa, the webmaster, created an original character named Clawdia to play the role of Bowser's wife in his fanfiction. She appeared on the site as early as 2002. As Lemmy Koopa has always been open about Clawdia being his original character, it's most likely that a third party started the "Nintendo Power UK" rumor.
King K. Rool's costumes are separate characters in Japan
King K. Rool's trophy description in Super Smash Bros. Brawl states that "His brother, Kaptain K. Rool, made an appearance in the game Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest". This lead to several fans wondering if this was a change in the Japanese localization of the Donkey Kong Country games, which, due to the broken telephone effect, was morphed into a "fact" that King K. Rool's disguises are separate characters in Japan. In truth, Japanese material for the Donkey Kong Country series also have K. Rool's aliases being mere disguises, and thus the trophy description is merely an error.
The Mario characters are actors
In September 2012, Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka held an interview with gaming magazine Game Informer, which was reported by several sites. Among other information, the interview had Shigeru Miyamoto stating he pictured the Mario cast as "[...] a troupe of actors". As many who reported the interview omitted the context of the statement (with at least one site running it as the headline), this lead to several assuming that the statement was meant to be taken literally, that is, the Mario characters are actors playing a role and that their adventures are not "real" in the context of the Mario universe.
Miyamoto's answer, however, was of a different nature. When asked by the interviewer why Mario and Princess Peach partake in friendly sporting competitions with Bowser despite their antagonistic relationship in the platforming games, Miyamoto responded that he pictured the Mario cast as being similar to old comic and cartoon characters (specifically mentioning Popeye), which frequently changed time period and occupation depending on the scenario with no explanation, concluding that he envisions them as "one big family, or maybe a troupe of actors.".
Interviewer: Time and again, Bowser kidnaps Peach. Why do Mario and Peach still race go-karts and play tennis with him??
On November 17, 2014, GameSpot posted an article featuring a segment of an interview with Koichi Hayashida on Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, who, when discussing the Toad's genders, stated that, "[...]we never really went out of our way to decide on the sex of these characters, even though they have somewhat gendered appearances." This led the article's writer and many others to conclude that the Toad species is a genderless race. Other more direct sources reveal, however, that Toads are not exactly genderless. An interview with Shigeru Miyamoto, for instance, has clarified that when Toads were designed, the developers did not focus on their genders until Toadette, who was clearly designed to be female, was introduced, and then players began assuming the Toad character as male. In other words, Toads were more likely viewed with an ambiguous gender at first rather than being flat-out genderless as the GameSpot article seems to imply.
Chunky Kong in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U
Around the time the Super Smash Bros. for Wii U demo was available at select North American Best Buy locations, Smashboard user wildvine47 reported that he saw Chunky Kong as an Assist Trophy character while playing the demo at the Schaumburg Best Buy. He described Chunky's effect as making bananas fall from the sky. While the report was corroborated by another poster and initially seen as credible, its veracity was questioned due to there being no video or image captured of the supposed Assist Trophy. The rumor was finally confirmed false when both versions of the game were released, with no sighting or mention of Chunky Kong as one of the Assist Trophies in either version.
On December 22, 2014, wildvine47 admitted in a forum post that he had invented the rumor, both to see which fake "leaks" would pick up on it, and for his own amusement.
Laser Suit in Super Mario World
In late 2006, a video was posted on YouTube showing off a secret exit in the Top Secret Area reached by leaping into a "Warp Pipe" between the two left question blocks. Said warp would take the player to a hidden goal, which would in turn lead to a level on the island above called "???". In this level is a Message Block containing a congratulatory message from the Nintendo staff presenting the Laser Suit, which would have the properties of the cape and allow Mario to shoot lasers. The suit was actually created by Super Mario World hacker KPhoenix, who made the level and added the message "so people would be fooled on Youtube.".
Luigi in Super Mario 64 / "L is real 2401"
One of the most famous rumors surrounding Super Mario 64 is that Luigi is available as a secret playable character, often citing a statue with small characters that purportedly spelled "L is real 2401" as proof, (though the characters can also be read as "Eternal Star"). Many theories regarding the meaning of the "L is real 2401" message were circulated, such as doing 2401 laps around the statue in order to make Luigi appear. After receiving several fake methods, the review site IGN eventually offered a $100 (US) reward for an authentic method of unlocking Luigi, but as the staff suspected, Luigi's inclusion in Super Mario 64 was a myth, and no proof to the contrary was forthcoming. Nintendo itself acknowledged the rumours in the 1998 April Fools' issue of Nintendo Power, which stated that it would discuss the "L is real 2401" message on the non-existent page 128. While his presence in the original Super Mario 64 was nothing more than a rumour, Luigi was made a playable character in the remake, Super Mario 64 DS.
A variant of the "L is real 2401" rumor claims that the "message" instead refers to Paper Mario, a game that Luigi does appear in, though as a non-playable character. According to the rumor, the "2401" refers to the game's supposed North American release date of February 4, 2001, even though its actual North American release date was one day later, on February 5. In addition, the game was actually first released in Japan on August 11, 2000, the Super Mario 64 staff would have had no idea of the game's release date years in advance, and the game was originally scheduled for a December 26, 2000, launch in North America before being delayed to February 2001. The rumor appears to have originated from "Gamezworld93" in 2003, explaining the "L is real" rumor on its webpage.
Luigi's hanging shadow
In the game Luigi's Mansion, the player must go to the Telephone Room after beating the Boss Battle of the Area 3. Within these calls, the player must have Luigi holding the the phone and wait until a lightning strikes: Luigi's shadow appears to be much different from Luigi itself that it seems he has been hanged. After being noted, some speculation began to show up: some people think the shadow indicates that Luigi is really dead. Others have suggested that Luigi's Mansion was in production a more violent and dark game than the final product.
The shadow is most likely a result of the camera angle and the lighting properties: when Luigi phones, the camera slightly changes its position, angling up and zooming in. Since the lightning "strikes from the camera", the shadow is actually misplaced. The shadow matches Luigi's pose; one of his supposed arms is actually the tube of the Poltergust 3000, where the "rope" around Luigi's neck is the flashlight and the Game Boy Horror; the idea that he is being "hanged" based on the silhouette is possibly a case of pareidolia that matches the game's ghostly themes.
Marty the Thwomp
A popular rumor regarding Mario Kart 64 involves the green Thwomp (named "Marty" by fans) locked behind a cage at the beginning of Bowser's Castle. Rumors about using a complicated method to unlock him circulated, though it is unknown where the rumor exactly originated from. These videos are posted as an April Fools' joke. There is no evidence in the game's data to indicate that the Thwomp is a playable character, nevertheless.
Sometime after the release of Mario Tennis Open, a Nindori magazine scan with Rosalina's head over the QR code used to unlock Black Yoshi in the game started appearing on Japanese websites. At a later point, however, another scan appeared stating that she had been replaced with Luma.
Waluigi in Super Mario 64 DS
In 2007, rumors about Waluigi appearing in Super Mario 64 DS started, similar to the original Super Mario 64 Luigi rumours. Many fans even suggested that the original "L is Real 2401" statue would be involved in accessing Waluigi in the sequel, and various fake ways to unlock him were put forth.
One of the more popular pieces of evidence was a fake magazine scan titled "Purple Prizes." It stated that Waluigi could be unlocked by collecting every Power Star and becoming "the fastest foot racer in the land", then triggering a hidden switch to reveal his door and defeating the "Rabbit King" to collect the key; the page also described his standard and Power Flower abilities, as well as stating that he has a "special ending". The "scan" was created by Andrew Brown, who edited a custom-made Waluigi model into game screenshots and posted the image onto his DeviantART account as well as some small gaming forums as an April Fool's joke in 2005, though it quickly spiked in popularity. Some began to state that the image has been posted onto IGN and that the "scan" was from an issue of Nintendo Power.