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List of rumors and urban legends about Mario

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Screenshot of the courtyard plaque in Super Mario 64 that created the famous "L is real 2401" rumor

There have been several rumors, misconceptions, and urban legends regarding production history, fictional details, and gameplay elements within the Mario franchise. This article is a list of the history of Mario rumors and details the extent to which they are true. Each section is supported by one or more references that detail the spread or debunking of their respective topics.

While the origins of some rumors remain a mystery, others stem from unsourced edits on articles from Wikipedia, or from the Super Mario Wiki. Others have been spread through misinterpretation, or gags being received and spread as fact.

Production

Donkey Kong's name origin

The origin of Donkey Kong's name has been the subject of several conflicting explanations over time. One popular myth states that the original Donkey Kong game was intended to be titled "Monkey Kong", and was actually named "Donkey Kong" due to either a mistranslation[1] or typo.[2] However, the words monkey and donkey are completely different from each other in Japanese, so it is unlikely to be a translation error. Additionally, while typos resulting in popular names do exist, the accuracy of the latter claim is questionable considering the conflicting viewpoints surrounding it.

Another explanation states that donkey was used to avoid copyright issues with the character King Kong. The etymology of the word "donkey" can be traced back to the word ass, which can also mean fool, with the word fool traditionally being the opposite of the word king. This may suggest that the name "Donkey Kong" was intended as a subversion of "King Kong", and a way to refer to the movie and character without violating copyright law. However, Nintendo was sued by Universal Pictures in 1982 for the exact reason that Donkey Kong was too similar to King Kong. Notably, a written statement produced in 1983 regarding this lawsuit states that Nintendo employee Shinichi Todori came up with the name "Donkey Kong" towards the end of May 1981.[3]

Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Donkey Kong, has claimed multiple times that he found the name from a Japanese-English dictionary when looking for something "stubborn" or "stupid".[4][5] While "donkey" is not usually considered to be an adjective or a synonym of those terms, the animals themselves are often associated with those traits. In an interview published in 2016, Miyamoto stated that he was informed by Nintendo of America staff that "donkey" does not mean "stupid" as the dictionary said, but that he ignored their feedback, as he liked the sound of the name "Donkey Kong".[6]

The usage of the name "Jumpman"

The flyer containing the first public usage of the name "Mario"

Due to Mario initially being referred to as "Jumpman" in the arcade version of Donkey Kong, it is sometimes believed that he was not given the name of "Mario" until the release of Donkey Kong Jr., the game produced immediately after Donkey Kong. This theory is supported by the name "Jumpman" being common throughout English material related to the game, appearing in its operation manual[7] and several graphics containing instructions for play, including a page, card, and banner.

While no Japanese material included the name "Mario" until Donkey Kong Jr. as the theory states, a flyer with story information was released to arcades internationally, in which the protagonist was referred to as "little Mario" in its English localization, proving that he was known as "Mario" to the public before games other than Donkey Kong had released. All subsequent ports of Donkey Kong to home console removed the name "Jumpman" in favor of "Mario", with the exception of Arcade Archives: Donkey Kong on the Nintendo Switch.

Inspiration for the Super Mushroom

Some rumors have questioned the origin of the Super Mushroom, suggesting that it was inspired by real-world drugs such as the magic mushroom,[8][9] or Amanita muscaria.[10] While the spores of the latter species look similar to the Super Mushroom and other items such as the 1-Up Mushroom, no evidence has confirmed that this was an intentional design decision.

On June 19, 2015, the nonprofit organization NPR published an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario, in which he mentioned the story Alice in Wonderland in relation to the origin of mushrooms in Mario games.[11] However, in an earlier Iwata Asks interview, he stated that there was no influence from Alice in Wonderland, simply citing "a relationship between mushrooms and magical realms".[12] This more generic explanation also appears in an interview from October 2010 in the magazine Famitsu, in which Miyamoto describes that "you see people in folk tales wandering into forests and eating mushrooms all the time".[13]

An article on the website for the newspaper The Guardian contains an unsourced claim that Miyamoto drew inspiration from "enchanted foodstuffs in myths and folklore" to create the Super Mushroom.[14]

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", which has led many to believe that Mario and Luigi's last names are actually "Mario". This theory was supported by The Super Mario Bros. Super Show live-action episodes "Dance" and "Treasure of the Sierra Brooklyn", and, more famously, the 1993 Super Mario Bros. live-action film, all of which used "Mario" as the brothers' surname. Several other sources, such as the Mario Party 2 Prima Games guide and a promotional flyer for the Donkey Kong/Donkey Kong Jr./Mario Bros. arcade cabinet, also use the "Mario" last name. Charles Martinet, Mario's current voice actor, has given it as his response when asked about Mario's last name.[15]

Various Nintendo employees and representatives, including series creator Shigeru Miyamoto, have stated that Mario and Luigi do not have a last name at all.[16][17][18] However, Miyamoto later retracted this stance, stating during the Super Mario Bros. 30th Anniversary festival held in Shibuya that Mario's full name is "Mario Mario".[19]

Gunpei Yokoi is the creator of Wario and Daisy

Due to being the most notable member of Nintendo's former Research & Development 1 department and having a role as producer for many of their games, Gunpei Yokoi is often attributed as the sole creator of its franchises and characters up to his departure. This has led fans to credit Yokoi for the creation of the characters Princess Daisy and Wario, two main characters of R&D1's Super Mario Land games.[20][21][22] In reality, Yokoi has never been credited as a character designer in any of the games he was involved with, and no report done during Yokoi's lifetime or modern interviews with former R&D1 staff stated he created any characters for its games.

While no specific creator has been attributed to Princess Daisy, Satoru Okada, the director of Super Mario Land, would be a more likely candidate, as well as Hirofumi Matsuoka or Masahiko Mashimo, graphic designers for the game. Hiroji Kiyotake, director and graphic designer for Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, is the creator of Wario, as stated by multiple interviewees in a 2004 interview in the magazine Nintendo Dream;[23] he is also credited as the original designer of Wario throughout the WarioWare series.

Shigeru Miyamoto's opinions on Donkey Kong Country

The cover of the Electronic Games issue that allegedly contained the quote from Miyamoto

In 2001, author Steven Kent published the book The Ultimate History of Video Games, in which he discussed the development of Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. On page 518, the book details that Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Donkey Kong, became frustrated after the original graphical style of Yoshi's Island was rejected for having "not enough punch" compared to the pre-rendered graphics of Donkey Kong Country. Alluding to an interview he conducted with Miyamoto and Tim Stamper, the director of Donkey Kong Country, Kent stated that "Miyamoto was a bit hard on Stamper", and included a quote from Miyamoto saying "Donkey Kong Country proves that players will put up with mediocre gameplay as long as the art is good".[24] This created the rumor that Miyamoto disliked the Donkey Kong Country series.

The interview in question originates from the May 1995 issue of the magazine Electronic Games. However, according to Frank Cifaldi, founder of the Video Game History Foundation, the supposed quote from Miyamoto is not present in the magazine.[25] This led to doubts as to whether Miyamoto said it at all, or if it was merely a false memory from Kent.[26]

Following the announcement of Donkey Kong Country Returns at E3 2010, the gaming website IGN conducted an interview with Miyamoto in which he alluded to the rumor and declared it to be false, saying "And apparently recently some rumor got out that I didn't really like that game? I just want to clarify that that's not the case, because I was very involved in [the game's production]."[27]

Donkey Kong Country 2 for the Virtual Boy

The Scribes fan letter and response

On August 10, 2001, in response to a letter sent to Rare's Scribes website about a Donkey Kong Country game on the Virtual Boy, Rare employee Leigh Loveday stated that a Virtual Boy port of Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest had been in development, but that it "didn't get very far".[28]

However, an article on the DK Vine fan website showcased that subsequent statements were made by former Rare artist Steven Hurst and, more notably, engineer Paul Machacek, employees who worked on the project. They clarified that there were no concrete plans for any Donkey Kong Country game on the system, and that what Loveday referred to was a short demo to test the capabilities of the Virtual Boy, which consisted of a short stretch of land featuring reused Donkey Kong Land and Battletoads graphics. No evidence suggests this demo was ever planned to become a full game, and DK Vine assumed that it was ultimately scrapped after it became clear that the Virtual Boy was a commercial failure.[29]

Super Mario FX

A rumor suggests that a 3D platformer named "Super Mario FX" was in development during the lifetime of the SNES, which would have used the Super FX chip to display 3D graphics. Variants of this rumor claim that the game became, or was otherwise the inspiration for, Super Mario 64.

An article on the fan site SNES Central by Evan G elaborates that there is no proof that such a game was in development.[30] Early claims regarding the topic surfaced on video game forum websites, such as the Lost Levels forum in 2004.[31] These theories were supported by a feature on the gaming website IGN in 2007 claiming that "Miyamoto spent years trying to build a fully 3D Mario platformer for the SNES before he finally admitted the technology just wasn't there for him".[32] While IGN did not list a source, the Wikipedia page for Super Mario 64 at the time had referenced an interview with Miyamoto in the January 1996 issue of Nintendo Power, which IGN may have misconstrued. Miyamoto stated that "I first had the idea to do a 3-D Mario game when I was working on Star Fox. That was five years ago".[33] As Star Fox released on the SNES and used the Super FX chip to display full 3D graphics, this may have led to the conclusion that Miyamoto was referring to a 3D Mario title using the same hardware, even though he never specified that the idea was for any console in the interview. Additionally, this interpretation would suggest that Miyamoto was developing a title for the SNES years after the Nintendo 64 hardware had begun development, as 'Project Reality', the codename for the console, was announced in August 1993, only about half a year after Star Fox was released.

In their article, Evan G details that they contacted Dylan Cuthbert, the designer of the Super FX chip and lead programmer of 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.[34]

Peeka and Lahla in the Japanese version of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Peeka and Lahla's appearance in the Japanese version (left) compared to international versions (right)
Peeka and Lahla's appearance in the Japanese version (left) compared to international versions (right)
Peeka and Lahla's appearance in the Japanese version (left) compared to international versions (right)

In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, there is a regional difference involving the Boo sisters Peeka and Lahla. In the Japanese release, they both wear a headband with fake bunny ears resembling the Playboy Bunny, the icon of the adult magazine Playboy, but international releases replace the bunny ears with cat ears. This change was likely made either to avoid a reference to adult headgear or out of legal concern, as the Playboy Bunny is a copyrighted icon.

On the unused-content wiki The Cutting Room Floor, the regional differences page for Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door originally listed that only Peeka underwent this change. This was potentially due to Lahla not being a mandatory character to see to complete the game, meaning that Lahla wearing bunny ears may have gone unnoticed for an extended period of time. In reality, both sisters wear identical accessories in all versions, and the wiki page was edited to reflect this once it was discovered.[35]

Yoshiaki Koizumi and Donkey Kong Country

In February 2005, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat producer Takao Shimizu and co-director Yoshiaki Koizumi conducted an interview with the official Nintendo Online Magazine in Japan regarding the game.[36] An English translation of the interview was produced by the fan website N-Sider, and was shared by the gaming website IGN as part of a partnership between the two websites. One of the questions in the interview was about the game characters, and the English translation stated Koizumi's answer as "All the characters outside of Donkey Kong and the banana are completely original. We don't really feel the past look of Donkey Kong was fresh enough for today. We really gave our new development team the chance to really create something unique and stylish.."[37] Due to its dismissive implications, this statement was the subject of substantial negative backlash from Donkey Kong fans.

As recorded on the DK Vine fan website, a post by the Super Mario Wiki Twitter account in April 2019 prompted DK Vine informant Johnnie Kong to translate the text themselves.[38] In doing so, he uncovered a more accurate interpretation of Koizumi's statement: Koizumi chose to use a mostly original cast because the tone of the game was very "uncharacteristic" compared to that of previous Donkey Kong titles; he also hoped Jungle Beat would represent the "personality" of the newly-formed EAD Tokyo team.[39] The gaming news website Source Gaming would verify this interpretation by sharing their own translation on Twitter shortly after this.[40]

Notably, N-Sider translations of Japanese material have been found to contain mistranslations and forgery.[41]

French title of the Donkey Kong Country animated series

The earliest accessible edit to the Wikipedia page for the 1996 Donkey Kong Country animated series states that the original French version was titled La planète de Donkey Kong (translated as "Planet Donkey Kong").[42] In May 2010, the text was edited to say "Created by France 2 and Nelvana, it was originally titled 'La Planète de Donkey Kong' ('The Planet of Donkey Kong' in English translation)."[43] This sentence, and the introductory paragraph it came from, would be copied verbatim across multiple summaries of the TV series on different English databases.[44][45] The mistake was also cited as fact on an edit made to the series' page on the Donkey Kong Wiki fan site.[46]

"La planète de Donkey Kong" actually refers to a programming block (later renamed to "DKTV") which aired from 1996 to 2001 exclusively in France, and hosted the Donkey Kong Country series alongside a large number of other children's programs. As with other regions, the Donkey Kong Country cartoon itself was named "Donkey Kong Country" when it aired in France and Québec, with some ads and TV listings shortening the title to simply "Donkey Kong".[47]

Super Mario Galaxy logo hidden message

SMG Logo.png
The logo for Super Mario Galaxy 2
Preliminary logo of Super Mario Odyssey.

On September 16, 2007, shortly before the release of Super Mario Galaxy, a post about the game's logo art was made to the forum site NeoGAF.[48] It noted that some letters of the logo contained a small twinkle; if these letters are singled out and read together, the end result is "UR MR GAY" (You are Mr. Gay). This led some to suggest that the twinkles may be a hidden message created by the logo artist.[49]

In Super Mario Galaxy 2, these sparkles are still present in the game's logo, but have been rearranged. They now spell out "UR MI AY", although this can be interpreted as "YA, I M, R U?" (Yeah, I am, are you?) if read backwards.[50] The preliminary logo of Super Mario Odyssey contains similar sparkles, which spell out "MARIO DYS" (interpreted by some as "Mario dies").[51]

It is most likely that all three logos simply arrange the twinkles to be aesthetically pleasing, with any "messages" being entirely unintentional.

Super Mario Galaxy DS

A screenshot from the hoax video

On December 9, 2007, a video showcasing a downloadable, Nintendo DS version of Super Mario Galaxy was uploaded to YouTube.[52] The footage showed a hidden galaxy unlocked by collecting all 121 Power Stars as both Mario and Luigi and feeding them all to a Hungry Luma, which would allow the player to access the Nintendo DS version of the game using the Download Play feature. The player used the stylus to control Mario, and both brothers were shown in the game's galaxies simultaneously, implying a co-op mode. The video also stated that each Power Star collected in the Nintendo DS version would be redeemable for 10 Wii Points on the Wii Shop Channel.

About ten days after the video's release, an article on Engadget proved the footage to be faked by discovering a shorter but cleaner version of the same video on the video site Stage6. The video was posted by psycho3ler, the username of Pablo Belmonte, who had previously created a hoax video of a "Nintendo ON" console in 2005 (the original Super Mario Galaxy DS video even showed a Nintendo ON planet, adding credibility to this theory).[53] Belmonte himself would later upload a high-quality version of the video, explaining in the description that it was created for a school project involving designing a viral video.[54]

Norton AntiVirus: Dr. Mario

The box art for Norton Antivirus: Dr. Mario, of unknown origin

In 2008, Symantec Corporation announced a new version of their Norton AntiVirus software. Subtitled the "Gaming Edition", it used less computer resources to make it easier to play video games while the antivirus was running. However, when an article about the software was published to gaming site Kotaku on November 11, 2008, it was accompanied by a picture of a different software, labeled Norton AntiVirus: Dr. Mario.[55] No text in the article mentioned or alluded to Dr. Mario nor this image.

Other news websites would later republish the image;[56] some mistakenly stated that the software was directly related to Dr. Mario, likely due to them interpreting the image as the official art created for the software.[57] While the Gaming Edition version of Norton AntiVirus was officially published, it did not contain any connection to Nintendo nor the Mario franchise.

The original source of the image remains unknown. Due to the lack of evidence, it is most likely that the art was faked using image-editing software and presented to Kotaku as a genuine product, leading it to be spread and believed as such by other news outlets and their readers.

Larry Koopa's namesake

On April 30, 2010, the Official Nintendo Magazine in Great Britain published an article to their website stating the name origins of the Koopalings, with Larry Koopa said to be named after the talk show host Larry King.[58] This was contested by former Nintendo of America employee Dayvv Brooks, who named all of the Koopalings during the production of Super Mario Bros. 3. According to Brooks, Larry is named after a musician like his siblings, in this case the inspiration being Larry Mullen, Jr., the drummer for the rock band U2.[59]

However, on December 29, 2015, the gaming site Kotaku published an interview with Brooks contradicting this action. Brooks asserted that all of the Koopalings were named after real-world figures except Larry, stating that "there’s no real-world equivalent—he’s not Larry Mullen Jr. from U2 or Larry King—he just looked like a Larry."[60]

Yoichi Kotabe's involvement in Super Mario 3D Land

On August 10, 2012, an edit was made to the Wikipedia page for the long-time Mario artist Yoichi Kotabe stating that his latest work was for Super Mario 3D Land as an illustrator.[61] This claim may have inspired an unsourced edit to the same page on the Super Mario Wiki on September 7, 2012 stating that Kotabe had returned from retirement to draw the artwork for Princess Peach's letters in that game.[62] While both claims were eventually removed, other websites cited the error as fact.[63][64]

While the art style of the letters is similar to Kotabe's Mario artwork, his name is not listed in the staff credits for Super Mario 3D Land, nor is he mentioned in the two Iwata Asks interviews dedicated to the game.[65][66] The artwork was actually drawn by current Mario artist Shigehisa Nakaue, who does appear in the credits of the game and was credited under "Illustrations" for it by the January 2012 issue of the Japanese magazine Nintendo Dream. Nakaue also appears in the in-game credits of Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8 and Mario Party: Star Rush.

Donkey Kong 64 only required the Expansion Pak to fix a memory leak

On May 28, 2013, former Rare employee Chris Marlow published a Let's Play video of Conker's Bad Fur Day in which he shared an anecdote revealing that Donkey Kong 64 was allegedly not initially planned to support the Expansion Pak RAM expansion. Marlow explained that Rare found a memory leak to occur after a short amount of playtime and, as they were unable to pinpoint the exact cause of the issue before release, were forced to bundle the Expansion Pak with the game as a quick fix.[67] The story was immediately picked up by video game news websites,[68] and was presented as fact on the Super Mario Wiki page for Donkey Kong 64.[69]

Mark Stevenson, a developer of Donkey Kong 64, would deny this claim in a November 2019 interview, stating that Rare's management instructed the game's developers to support the Expansion Pak early in development to accommodate advanced graphical effects.[70] (Dynamic lighting was specifically cited as a feature that made use of the Expansion Pak in another interview with Stevenson.[71]) He added that while Donkey Kong 64 did contain a game-breaking bug during development, it only affected one revision of the Nintendo 64 hardware, and was eventually resolved. Stevenson speculated that these two stories were likely conflated into one, creating the memory leak rumor.[70]

"Wii Music U" patent

An image from the patent document
A Bugband session

On May 22, 2014, the United States Patent and Trademark Office approved a patent application filed by Nintendo describing a music-based game using the Wii U GamePad.[72] The user Rösti created a thread on the video game forum NeoGAF about the patent, speculating that it was related to a sequel or follow-up to the Wii game Wii Music.[73] In response to this thread, video game news websites ran articles stating that a sequel to Wii Music was rumored to be in development.[74]

In reality, the patent did not pertain to a sequel to Wii Music or any other standalone game, but instead a small feature in Game & Wario. The Cluck-A-Pop mode features a series of prizes in toy capsules labeled with the name Bugband, and each one is a sound test where each layer of a song is represented by characters which the player can isolate, remove or interact with from the Wii U GamePad screen. This matches the description and images found on the patent.

Another indicator that the patent was for Game & Wario is that the inventors listed are Goro Abe and Takehiko Hosokawa, the director and assistant director of the game, respectively. Both worked for Nintendo SPD rather than Nintendo EAD, the developer of Wii Music, and neither had any involvement in Wii Music. Goro Abe is also listed as the inventor on several other patents filed around this time, all of which clearly describe aspects of Game & Wario: one patent application is for the Pirates minigame,[75] another describes Disco,[76] and a third depicts Bowling.[77]

Mario Party: Star Rush cover artwork

The tentative cover of Mario Party: Star Rush (left) and the original stock art used as its basis (right)
The tentative cover of Mario Party: Star Rush (left) and the original stock art used as its basis (right)
The tentative cover of Mario Party: Star Rush (left) and the original stock art used as its basis (right)

In June 2016, shortly after Mario Party: Star Rush was announced during E3 2016, a post on Twitter was made joking about Nintendo reusing art from cans of Campbell's Spaghetti-Os. The tentative cover art of the game appeared to be based off of artwork used on cans from a Super Mario promotion between Campbell's and Nintendo.[78] This post quickly gained popularity and was shared by several popular gaming websites,[79][80][81][82][83] giving off the impression that the artwork was directly taken from the can.

However, the original artwork used on the can is simply stock promotional artwork. Before the announcement of Nintendo's collaboration with Campbell's in late November 2013,[84] the art had made many prior appearances. It was used on a standee[85] and banner images used on gaming news websites[86][87] advertising "The Nintendo Experience", an event where customers could access playable demo versions of Wii U games, including Mario Kart 8 and Super Mario 3D World, at select Best Buy locations on June 12 and June 15 of 2013.[88] It was then used for a small advertisement image on the Wii U website[89] and the webpage the image linked to[90] promoting a similar 'Nintendo Experience Tour' event held at Simon Mall locations from August 31 to November 3 of 2013. The art has also been used on the official Super Mario Brothers 2013 Wall Calendar, which was released on August 1, 2012,[91] a Facebook application designed for use during E3 2013,[92] in a generic banner image besides the Nintendo logo used as press material in news stories since 2015,[93][94][95][96] a set of three Nintendo eShop gift cards,[97] and on the North American,[98] United Kingdom,[99] and Italian[100] varations of Nintendo's child-oriented websites, including Play Nintendo and Nintendo Kids Club.

Additionally, the original stock art has been featured on products that have continued to be sold after the soup cans and Mario Party: Star Rush, such as a travel case for the Nintendo DS family of systems,[101][102] a "Step Into Reading" children's book by the publisher Penguin Random House,[103] Super Mario fruit snacks by Kellogg's,[104] file folders[105][106] and a special trading card[107] sold by Yamada Denki, and various wholesale party favors and decorations.[108][109][110][111][112][113][114][115]

Gallery of stock art appearances

Fiction

The breakable bricks in Super Mario Bros. are transformed Toads

The quotes from the instruction manual that dispel the rumor

The "Game Description" section on page 2 of the instruction manual for the original Super Mario Bros. states that the "Mushroom People" of the Mushroom Kingdom were "turned into mere stones, bricks and even field horse-hair plants".[116] The mention of "bricks" led many to assume that the Brick Blocks that Mario can break throughout the game were transformed Toads, supporting the idea that Mario is "murdering" the Toads by breaking these blocks.[117] However, page 8 of the same manual states that "mushrooms who have been turned into bricks" will "reward you by giving you a power boost" upon finding them, implying that the blocks that were transformed Toads were specifically the Brick Blocks, ? Blocks, and Hidden Blocks that produce power-ups upon being hit, which cannot be destroyed.[116]

Despite Mario being able to break these blocks in later games, such as by using the Mega Mushroom in New Super Mario Bros., no other game besides Super Mario Bros. has Bowser transform Toads. However, in single-player New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Toads are trapped in blocks that, when hit by Mario, free the Toads.

Princess Toadstool was intended to be a Toad in early production of Super Mario Bros.

The guide image depicting Princess Toadstool as a Toad

In 1990, five years after the release of Super Mario Bros., author Jeff Rovin published a strategy guide for the game titled How to Win at Super Mario Bros.. This guide contains an illustration of Princess Toadstool designed similarly to her subjects, leading to the impression that Toadstool was intended to be a Toad at some point during the development of the game, as the illustration was mistaken for concept artwork.[118]

After Peachette was revealed in a Nintendo Direct presentation in September 2018, gaming news websites used the image in their discussions and analysis of the character, theorizing that the artwork hinted at a connection between Toadstool and Toadette.[119][120][121]

The guide was written and illustrated by people outside of Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development, and was likely illustrated based on vague descriptions given to the illustrator. Because these illustrations were not produced by Nintendo employees, and created years after the game released, they have no impact on the development history of Super Mario Bros..

Super Mario Bros. 3 is a stage play

An image shared throughout the Internet highlighting the connections to a stage play

Several design elements in Super Mario Bros. 3 suggest that the events of the game are a stage play rather than a real adventure. These include the rising and closing curtains at the beginning of the game, the end of each stage being a black void representing an exit stage, several platforms being visibly suspended by cables and some being bolted into the background and casting shadows onto the sky.[122] On September 10, 2015, Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario, would claim that the theory is true in a YouTube video discussing various Mario rumors and myths.[123] However, this does not appear to be true of the Super Mario All-Stars and Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 versions of the game, due to their more realistic backgrounds, the removal of platform shadows, and the latter containing an introductory cutscene rather than curtains opening.

Clawdia Koopa

The panel of the character believed to be Koopa's wife

A popular rumor states that an issue of a Nintendo magazine in the United Kingdom said that Bowser had a wife named "Clawdia Koopa".[124][125][126][127] However, despite the popularity of this claim, no scan or direct quotation of the statement has surfaced. Additionally, most websites that make this claim attribute it to "Nintendo Power UK", a publication that does not exist (the official Nintendo magazine of the UK went through a variety of names, but none related to Nintendo Power).

Many of these sources also show an image of a female Koopa as proof of Clawdia's existence. However, the image is actually of a Nintendo Comics System single-panel comic named Koopa's High School Yearbook, in which the character is unnamed and their relationship status with Koopa is not stated.

The idea that Bowser has a wife named Clawdia Koopa likely originates from the Mario fan website Lemmy's Land. The user Lemmy Koopa, the owner of the website, 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.[128] As Lemmy Koopa has always been open about Clawdia being his original character, it is 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

The trophy description for King K. Rool 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 ". While Donkey Kong Country 2 was developed by Rareware in Twycross, England and subsequently localized to other regions, the inclusion of the term "brother" in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, a game developed in Japan and localized into English, led to fans wondering if Kaptain K. Rool being a separate character was a change made during Japanese localization of the Donkey Kong Country games. As this theory was shared, it may have been subject to a broken telephone effect, becoming the 'fact' that King K. Rool's disguises are seen as separate characters in Japan.[129] In truth, Japanese material for the Donkey Kong Country series also has K. Rool's aliases being mere disguises.[130] Therefore, the trophy description is merely an error. On September 20, 2013, Rare's official Twitter account would make a post affirming this, citing a developer stating that "It's the same character in different clothes".[131]

The Donkey Kong Country animated series featured Kaptain Skurvy, a pirate-themed character who uses the same model as General Klump with different textures, and who is eventually revealed to be Klump's long-lost brother. As the Donkey Kong Country series was relatively popular in Japan, the developers of Super Smash Bros. Brawl may have conflated this relationship with the one between King K. Rool and Kaptain K. Rool.

The Koopalings being Bowser's children is a Western addition

A page of the Nintendo Official Guidebook for Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2 that refers to the Koopalings as the children of Bowser in Japanese

After the release of New Super Mario Bros. Wii in 2009, its Japanese website stated that the Koopalings are minions of Bowser rather than his children.[132] Additionally, a Game Informer interview with Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario, in October 2012 had Miyamoto state that "Our current story is that the seven Koopalings are not Bowser's children. Bowser's only child is Bowser Jr., and we do not know who the mother is."[18] These sources were used to support the claim that the Koopalings being Bowser's children in previous Mario games was a change made for their English localizations.[133]

On December 29, 2015, an interview on the gaming site Kotaku with former Nintendo of America employee Dayvv Brooks revealed information about the production of Super Mario Bros. 3, the first appearance of the Koopalings. Brooks changed their dialogue in its manual and gave the originally unnamed characters their names,[60] which have been used in the original Japanese versions of Mario games ever since.[134]

However, these changes were the only ones made to the Koopalings in localization. The fact that they were once considered Bowser's children in Japanese is evident in:

Ashley's age

On April 11, 2012, the Super Mario Wiki page for Ashley and Red was edited to include the unsourced claim that Ashley was a "six-year-old in the original japan version" of WarioWare: Touched!, with the same user changing the "six" to "eight" on the same day.[135] This statement that Ashley was eight years old in the original Japanese versions of WarioWare games remained on the page for over a year before being removed on November 1, 2013.[136] Various sources across the Internet would go on to either repeat the statement as fact or generally question Ashley's age between Japanese WarioWare titles and their English localizations.[137][138][139][140][141]

On the WarioWare: Touched! website, Ashley was stated to be "Fifteen going on 500",[142][better source needed] but its Japanese equivalent does not give a precise age to Ashley. There are signs that Ashley is intended to be a younger child of less than 15 years, such as her voice and the fact she refers to herself in the third person in Japanese material, a speaking pattern that usually denotes young, immature characters in Japanese media. However, she has never been given an exact age in any Japanese WarioWare media: while the Japanese description for the Crazy Galaxy badges in Nintendo Badge Arcade states that "[Ashley] looks like more of an adult", she is not given a reference point for this aging.

The Mario characters are actors

In September 2012, Game Informer published an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka, developers of Super Mario Bros. and many future Mario games, in issue 234 of their magazine. It was then reported on by several other websites, with a recurring quotation being that of Shigeru Miyamoto stating that he pictured the recurring Mario characters as "[...] a troupe of actors". Many who reported the interview omitted the context of this statement, with the gaming website Polygon using it as a headline.[143] Other websites then took the quote literally, using it as evidence that the Mario characters are actors playing a role and that their adventures are not legitimate in the context of the Mario universe. Additional evidence included the idea that Super Mario Bros. 3 is a stage play, and the use of the Audience in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.[144]

Analyzing the full statement, however, provides additional key context. When asked by the interviewer why Mario and Princess Peach partake in friendly sporting competitions with Bowser despite their antagonistic relationship in the platformer games, Miyamoto responded that he pictured Mario characters as being similar to old comic and cartoon characters such as Popeye the Sailor, who frequently changed time period and occupation depending on the scenario with no explanation. This shows that the phrase "troupe of actors" was used to highlight the malleability of the characters' roles rather than the legitimacy of their adventures.

Interviewer: Time and again, Bowser kidnaps Peach. Why do Mario and Peach still race go-karts and play tennis with him??
Miyamoto: If you're familiar with things like Popeye and some of the old comic characters, you would oftentimes see this cast of characters that takes on different roles depending on the comic or cartoon. They might be businessman in one [cartoon] or a pirate in another. Depending on the story that was being told, they would change roles. So, to a certain degree, I look at our characters in a similar way and feel that they can take on different roles in different games. It's more like they're one big family, or maybe a troupe of actors.[18]

Toads' genders

On November 17, 2014, the gaming website GameSpot posted an article featuring a segment of an interview with Koichi Hayashida, the producer of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. When discussing the genders of Toad and Toadette, Hayashida 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 to conclude that "Toads are a genderless race that take on gendered characteristics". [145]

However, an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario, in December 2014, contradicts this. Using a human translator, Miyamoto described that "we didn't really have in mind whether Toad was a boy or a girl" until Toadette was introduced. This led players to "take the impression that Toad was a boy because Toadette was a girl".[146] This shows that Toads were more likely viewed with an ambiguous gender at first, rather than being genderless as the GameSpot article states.

Gameplay

Luigi in Super Mario 64 / "L is real 2401"

The plaque on the star statue in-game (top) and its isolated texture ripped from game files (bottom)
The plaque on the star statue in-game (top) and its isolated texture ripped from game files (bottom)
The plaque on the star statue in-game (top) and its isolated texture ripped from game files (bottom)

A famous rumor surrounding Super Mario 64 was that Luigi can be unlocked as a secret playable character, with proponents often citing the star statue in the courtyard of Peach's Castle as proof. The statue contains a plaque with small, blurry characters that purportedly read "L is real 2401", which supports the idea that Luigi (the character "L" stands for) exists in the game. (The inscription has also been said to read "Eternal Star" by many, but this interpretation does not prove the point as clearly.) After the discovery of this plaque, many theories regarding the meaning of the "L is real 2401" message circulated, many being that the number "2401" hinted at the method of unlocking Luigi. These methods, which varied in levels of absurdity, included running 2,401 laps around the courtyard statue or collecting every single coin in the game (there supposedly being 2,401 coins in total).[147] On April 1, 2000, the user Hairball published several fake screenshots onto the blog site Super Mario 128 Central with their own explanation, claiming that unlocking Luigi would also unlock a co-op gameplay mode.[148]

On November 13, 1996, after receiving numerous fake explanations and controller input codes from fans, the gaming website IGN offered a $100 reward for an authentic method of unlocking Luigi in the game.[149] A week later, the staff would post an update stating that, while no legitimate methods had been found, the number of false submissions had significantly dropped. They concluded that Luigi's inclusion in the game was simply a myth.[150]

The unused model of Luigi found during the asset leak

Nintendo itself acknowledged the rumor in an April Fools' feature in the April 1998 issue of Nintendo Power, which stated that it would discuss the "L is real 2401" message on the non-existent page 128. During the same year, a fan sent a letter to Nintendo of America asking about the message on the statue. According to Game Play Counselor Michael D. Chandler's response letter, the message has no actual meaning and was only added as a joke to trick players into thinking that it had a hidden meaning.[151]

Post-release interviews for the game would reveal that the developers had initially planned to include a cooperative multiplayer mode featuring Luigi, with early prototypes allowing players to run around in a large space simultaneously, but that this feature had to be cut due to hardware limitations.[152][153]

A variant of the rumor claims that "L is real 2401" 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,[154][155] even though the actual date was one day later, on February 5. In addition, Paper Mario was initially released in Japan on August 11, 2000, and was originally scheduled for a December 26, 2000, launch in North America before being delayed to February 2001.[156] As the development team of Super Mario 64 could not have predicted the exact release date of any game years in advance, it is highly unlikely that the text was foreshadowing Luigi's appearance in this game.

Eventually, Luigi was made a playable character in the remake of the original game, Super Mario 64 DS. Coincidentally, due to a large-scale asset leak of pre-release Nintendo games, a prototype model of Luigi in Super Mario 64 was found and assembled on July 25, 2020, 24 years and one month (hence, 24-01) after the game was released.[157] Additionally, the numbers that make up the day and month relate as well, with 7 (July) being all four digits added together and 25 being 24 + 01.

Ninja Mario in Super Mario 64

Former Nintendo Power columnist Daniel Owsen would state in a subscriber-exclusive feature of the magazine that one question he was asked many times was how to unlock "Ninja Mario" in Super Mario 64. Despite repeatedly confirming that such a form does not exist, fans continued to ask him about it. After some time, his answers went from tongue-in-cheek responses such as "A ninja never reveals his secrets" and "I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you" to actively flaming anyone who mentioned it.[158]

Luigi's Mansion early versions

Main article: List of Luigi's Mansion pre-release and unused content

Various rumors have circulated regarding earlier versions of and cut content from Luigi's Mansion, most of which claim that the game was meant to have a darker and more violent tone than the final version. Two recurring parts of these rumors are the presence of an in-game time limit[159] and a cut "hunter" Portrait Ghost.[160][161]

Time limit

During E3 2001, a playable demo of Luigi's Mansion featured an on-screen timer of 1 minute 30 seconds.[162] After this time elapsed, Professor E. Gadd would appear and return the player to the title screen, ending their time with the game. This time limit may have been subject to a broken telephone effect leading to the belief that original versions of the game featured a mandatory time limit, after which the titular mansion would disappear with Mario still inside. However, no evidence of a scrapped time limit exists in the data of the final release. Additionally, no other previews of the game mention or showcase it.

Another contributor to this rumor may have been a commercial for the game in the United States, in which the narrator states "You only have one night to save Mario."[163]

Hunter ghost

The Nintendo Power page mentioning a hunter ghost in the top-right corner

The October 2001 issue of Nintendo Power included a page with preview screenshots of Luigi's Mansion, including a screenshot of an earlier build of the Safari Room with the caption "When your ghoul-busting mission takes you to the trophy room, proceed with caution. If you meet up with the ghost of a hunter, he'll want to add Luigi to his collection." This created rumors that the Safari Room originally featured a hunter boss who wanted Luigi's head as one of his trophies, and players speculated that it was removed from the game for being too frightening to the target audience of children.

Similar to the time limit, no evidence of a hunter ghost is present in the game's data despite the presence of other unused ghosts, and no direct mentions of the boss exist in previews prior to the game's release in Japan in September 2001. The caption was likely an attempt at hyperbole rather than a serious indication that a hunter-themed ghost was in the game, as the article was written after Luigi's Mansion released in Japan, meaning all characters would have been finalized long before the article was published.

Luigi's hanging shadow

Luigi's raised shadow

In Luigi's Mansion, when entering Area 4 after defeating Boolossus, a blackout occurs, and Luigi must proceed to the Telephone Room. If the player waits while he answers a telephone, lightning strikes and reveals his shadow, which appears to be suspended from the ceiling. This led many to believe that it purposely depicted Luigi hanging himself, and the shadow became a source of creepypasta and speculation about the development of the game.[164]

The appearance of Luigi's shadow is simply a glitch caused by shadow positions being based on the angle of the in-game camera. Because the camera moves slightly lower while Luigi is answering a telephone, his shadow is projected slightly higher.[165] Additionally, what appears to be Luigi's arm to the right of his shadow is actually the shadow of the Poltergust 3000, which converges with Luigi's shadow in this instance. This graphical effect can be replicated while speaking to a Toad or Professor E. Gadd over the Game Boy Horror, as a similar camera angle change occurs.

In the Nintendo 3DS remake of Luigi's Mansion, the lighting system is improved, and shadow positions are no longer based on camera position; therefore, the error is not present.

Waluigi in Super Mario 64 DS

The "Purple Prizes" image

After Super Mario 64 DS released on November 21, 2004, its inclusion of multiple playable characters caused rumors to surface about Waluigi appearing in the game, similar to the original Super Mario 64 Luigi rumors. Various fake and sometimes very elaborate ways to supposedly unlock Waluigi were shared, some even involving the original "L is real 2401" statue.[166] However, no evidence in the game's files suggests Waluigi was ever planned to appear.

One of the most popular pieces of evidence that Waluigi was both present and playable in the game 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 image was created by Andrew Brown, who edited a custom-made Waluigi model into game screenshots and compiled them into a scan for a nonexistent magazine. He posted the image onto art-sharing site DeviantART and some small gaming forums as a joke for April Fools' Day 2005, but it quickly spiked in popularity and began to be shared as fact, despite his detailed explanation of how the image was created only two days after it was first uploaded.[167]

Marty the Thwomp

"Marty the Thwomp" in Bowser's Castle

A popular rumor surrounding Mario Kart 64 involves the Thwomp locked behind a cage at the beginning of Bowser's Castle. Its peculiar color and situation led fans to name it "Marty" to distinguish it from other Thwomps. While the exact origin of this name is unknown, it was popularized by the user Clay McElveen, who uploaded two videos to YouTube on March 24 and April 1 of 2007, showcasing complex methods to unlock Marty as a playable character in the game. Both videos involved playing as Bowser and making various complicated movements around the track, such as driving around a statue of Bowser or driving in reverse to a specific point of the track, before returning to the room with Marty, where the bars on his cage would rise, indicating that he was unlocked.[168][169]

There is no evidence in the data or code of the game to indicate that this Thwomp or any other character is unlockable. Additionally, no green Thwomp textures exist in the game, and the green appearance of this specific Thwomp is a result of the yellow light from its cage reflecting off of its surface.

Laser Suit in Super Mario World

Screenshot of Mario discovering the Laser Suit in the video
Screenshot of Mario using the Laser Suit in the ROM hack

On April 21, 2007, a video showcasing a secret exit in the Top Secret Area of Super Mario World was uploaded to YouTube. In the video, Mario jumps between the two right ? Blocks of the level and enters an invisible Warp Pipe. This takes the player to a hidden Giant Gate, which unlocks a new level titled "???". In this level is a Message Block containing a congratulatory message supposedly from Nintendo staff presenting the Laser Suit power-up. In this form, Mario has the gliding property of Cape Mario, but can also shoot lasers directly forwards.[170]

In reality, the power-up was created by Super Mario World hacker KPhoenix, who added the secret exit, new level, and Laser Suit in a ROM hack of the game. On an online message board, they stated that they included the Message Block "so people would be fooled on Youtube", and made the hack publicly available to download on February 4, 2007.[171] While this original download is no longer available, the patch files required to recreate the hack are downloadable on a database website by the user Zandro.[172] Additionally, in collaboration with the user wiiqwertyuiop, KPheonix uploaded an alternate version of the Laser Suit without edited level maps to the ROM hacking site Super Mario World Central on March 7, 2011.[173]

Rosalina in Mario Tennis Open

The magazine scan showing Rosalina's head edited over the QR code, with the katakana reading "Rosetta", Rosalina's Japanese name

Some time after the release of Mario Tennis Open on May 20, 2012, a Nindori magazine scan appeared on Japanese websites depicting Rosalina's head edited over the QR code used to unlock Black Yoshi in the game, despite Rosalina not appearing in Mario Tennis Open.

Chunky Kong in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U

In June of 2014, a playable demo of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U was available at select North American Best Buy locations. On July 28, 2014, Smashboards user wildvine47 reported that he saw Chunky Kong as an Assist Trophy character while playing the demo at a Best Buy in Schaumburg, Illinois. He described Chunky Kong Ground Pounding, after which bananas fell from the sky to damage opponents.[174] While the rumor was initially seen as credible, suspicion arose due to there being no video or image captured of the alleged Assist Trophy. The rumor was confirmed to be false when Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS 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 include the information as legitimate, and for his own amusement.[175] Smashwiki's "List of rumors" page contains additional information on this and other rumors relating to the Super Smash Bros. series.

Mario Party DS anti-piracy measures

The fake screen

On October 13, 2020, YouTube user Joey Perleoni uploaded a video titled "Mario Party DS Anti Piracy Screen", showcasing what appears to be piracy detection features in Mario Party DS. In the video, the minigame Cherry-Go-Round is played normally until an error message appears stating that a pirated copy of the game is being played. The game then cuts to the eponymous anti-piracy screen. On the bottom screen, an image taken from a story cutscene where Bowser shrinks Mario and friends and traps them in a cage is used, meant to evoke a prison cell in the video. The phrase "Piracy Is No Party!" and a message about video game piracy are displayed on the top screen.[176] During this portion of the video, ominous music plays in the background; an extended version of this track was uploaded by the same user on December 17, 2020.[177] While both videos became very popular, with both accruing at least 500,000 views on YouTube, there is no evidence in the game's files that this screen, music, or any anti-piracy measure exists in the game.

After the success of the first video, Joey Perleoni would continue to post several other videos showing additional supposed anti-piracy measures in Mario Party DS. On December 20, 2020, a second video titled "Mario Party DS Anti Piracy | Item Shop Dialogue/Secret Boss HD" was uploaded, in which Luigi enters the Item Shop, only for the Monty Mole to state "I don't serve criminals". The player is then taken to a boss minigame version of Mole Thrill with the name "RUN"; the rules state "There is nothing you can do", and the controls are "None". When the minigame starts, the Monty Mole burrows through the ground until it comes into contact with Luigi and, as in the previous video, an error message appears, followed by the game cutting to the anti-piracy message screen.[178] Other videos include one showing a version of the Final 5 Frenzy event where the player is unceremoniously squashed by a Thwomp, ending the game prematurely;[179] a self-reporting protocol that appears should the player wait on the anti-piracy screen for too long without turning the console off;[180] and a boss minigame called "Host Hoedown" which involves apologizing to a host named "DJ Hallyboo", inspired by MC Ballyhoo from Mario Party 8.[181] Eventually, a "finale" to the video series was uploaded, dropping any pretense of legitimacy in favor of a live-action black comedy short in which Hallyboo escapes into the real world and hunts Perleoni himself down for pirating the game.[182]

On December 21, 2020, the unused-content wiki The Cutting Room Floor's Mario Party DS page was protected due to vandalism related to the hoax.[183] Several other YouTube creators have since uploaded similar videos showing fabricated anti-piracy measures in many other Nintendo games and third-party games.

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