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"Darkness" redirects here. For information about the substance from Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope, see Darkmess.
Darkness NSMBUDX
The dark in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe
First appearance Super Mario Bros. 3 (1988)
Latest appearance Super Mario Bros. Wonder (2023)

In the Super Mario franchise, the dark is a recurring obstacle, representing player characters' reduced range of vision in low light.

Player characters and other important entities, such as enemies, coins, and power-ups, often appear lit to remain visible to the player. In this case, the dark mainly obscures the terrain, leaving pits unmarked and making projectiles' trajectories harder to predict. The exact lighting effect used for this has depended on hardware limitations and stylistic considerations. Many games use a spotlight effect.

Emissive objects increase the range of vision in the dark. Some, such as Light Boxes, can also defeat light-sensitive enemies. After touching a Super Star, Invincible Mario illuminates the entire screen, clearing the dark until the invincibility expires.

The dark has a more aesthetic than mechanical effect in some games. For example, in some games in the Mario Kart series, karts' headlights will turn on in dark areas, but the visibility is relatively good regardless.


Super Mario series[edit]

Super Mario Bros. 3[edit]

In Super Mario Bros. 3, the third overworld screen of Dark Land is shrouded in darkness, with only the player's vicinity lit in a circle. Unlike later games, the levels themselves are not darker than expected.

Super Mario World[edit]

In Super Mario World, the final room of Bowser's Castle before the battle with Bowser is dimly lit. A spotlight[1] below the Item Stock casts a beam of light down across the center of the screen, rocking back and forth. The dark room is accessed directly though the Back Door, with slight alterations from the Front Door layout.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii[edit]

Darkness NSMBW

The dark occurs in multiple courses in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. It is first present in the main underground area of World 2-3, which demonstrates that it is warded off by the fireballs of Fire Mario, Fire Piranha Plants, Fire Snakes, and Fire Bros, as well as torches in the ground.

Glow Blocks increase the holder's range of vision. They appear in World 2-5, World 5-Ghost Icon.png, World 6-6, and World 8-4.

World 8-4 introduces bioluminescent enemies: Bulbers and Jellybeams.

Super Mario Galaxy 2[edit]

In Super Mario Galaxy 2, Flash Black Galaxy is pitch-black; a flash of light illuminates the course every eight beats of the background music. Entities that are not part of the terrain proper, such as player characters, items, enemies, and Empty Blocks, are always shown at full brightness. Parts of the background are also dimly lit, which can provide contrast with the pitch-black terrain. However, the back wall of the tower makes this less effective.

New Super Mario Bros. U / New Super Luigi U / New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe[edit]

The dark returns in New Super Mario Bros. U, New Super Luigi U, and New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, serving as the same visual hazard as in New Super Mario Bros. Wii in all three games. The player(s) are able to temporarily push back the dark with Glowing Baby Yoshis.

Super Mario Maker 2[edit]

In Super Mario Maker 2, dark sub-areas occur with the Underwater (night) and Ghost House (night) course themes. A small radius around player characters and certain objects is lit up; this radius changes based on the state of the ON/OFF Switch.

Super Mario 3D World[edit]

In Super Mario 3D World, the dark occurs in Switchblack Ruins, illuminated by Torches, lava, and Fire Piranha Plants. It returns in later levels, A Beam in the Dark and Deep-Black Jungle Drift, where players can use the Light Box to cast a beam of light.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder[edit]

There are two types of darkness in Super Mario Bros. Wonder: the first and most common renders all elements as silhouettes, causing objects on the same plane to blend into one another and obscure most identifying details with some exceptions, such as characters' eyes or Piranha Plants' teeth. An area can appear this way by default, or darkness may be turned on or off by a Wonder Flower or ON/OFF Switch. The second type obscures the entire level in darkness except for the player. Elements such as fire and electricity can light the way; enemies that walk through electric currents become light sources themselves. In Pull, Turn, Burn and High-Voltage Gauntlet, their respective Wonder Effects can grant the player a firey shield or the Metal Mario transformation (allowing them to conduct electricity) to light the way.

Hotel Mario[edit]

“You bring a light?”
Luigi, Hotel Mario

In Hotel Mario, Roy's HardBrick Hotel has flickering lights due to a room full of toasters using too much electricity. In hallways with windows, the visibility is unaffected by the power going out.

Some stages of Larry's Chillton Hotel also feature the dark. Floors other than the one that Mario is currently on are dimly lit.

Super Paper Mario[edit]

Underwhere Road

In Chapter 7-2 of Super Paper Mario, the Underwhere Road, the dark obscures certain rooms. The dark is stylized as an animated scribble around the player character.

Mario Party 10[edit]

In Mario Party 10, it occurs in the minigame Murky Maze, wherein the players use Glow Blocks to navigate a dark maze.


Names in other languages[edit]

Language Name Meaning
Japanese くらやみ

See also[edit]


  1. ^ M. Arakawa. Nintendo Mario Mania Player's Guide. Page 147.