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Corks are objects in the Mario franchise that are often used to block important areas.
Super Mario series
Super Mario Bros. 2
A cork is first found at the end of Super Mario Bros. 2 when the player defeats Wart. Closing the vase that contains Subcons is the Cork that acts as a lid to keep the Subcons from getting out. When Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool or Toad defeat Wart, they go to the outskirts of the castle and find the vase. They then pull the cork out of the vase, the Subcons fly out, and the game ends.
Super Mario Sunshine
A giant cork also plays a vital role in the game Super Mario Sunshine. In the first episode of Noki Bay, the waterfall is clogged by a giant cork, and the Noki fisherman believes that is the reason for the pollution of the water around the bay. When Mario reaches the top of the cliffs and the giant cork, he finds that a Monty Mole mans a cannon on the giant cork. Mario proceeds to defeat the Mole, causing the cannon to explode. The extreme force of the waterfall then throws the cork and the cannon with the Monty Mole into the sky. The waterfall is now uncorked, but this is not the reason for the pollution. With Mario now having access to the waterfall, he can travel underwater to face the real threat, Eely-Mouth, in episode 4.
New Super Mario Bros.
A cork also makes a minor appearance in the game New Super Mario Bros. in level 2-6. Near the end of the level, a Piranha Plant on a cork blocks the pipe to the exit. Mario or Luigi must jump on the nearby pump device three times. On the third jump, the cork will go flying into the air and take out the Piranha Plant with it. Mario or Luigi can then access the pipe leading to the exit of the level.
Paper Mario: Color Splash
A cork appears as a Thing in Paper Mario: Color Splash. It is found blocking a pipe entrance in Vortex Island, and Mario must remove it to gain access to the parallel universe. This cork has to be used later during the battle against Larry Koopa on the Sunset Express, in which it blocks the train's chimney, preventing Larry from healing himself with heart smoke coming out of it.