Mario's Time Machine (PC)

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Mario's Time Machine
Developer The Software Toolworks
Publisher The Software Toolworks
Platform(s) MS-DOS
Release date USA 1993, 1994 (re-release)
Europe 1994[1]
Language(s) English (United States)
French (France)
Genre Educational
ESRB:K-A - Kids to Adults
Mode(s) Single-player
Home computer system:
Optical disc
Home computer system:

Mario's Time Machine is an educational game developed by The Software Toolworks that was released for MS-DOS in 1993. It is the successor to Mario is Missing! It is intended to teach younger players basic world history and was the last game in the Mario Discovery series. The original PC release was distributed via floppy disks, but there was a Deluxe version provided as a CD-ROM in 1994 which added voice acting and a Library reference file featuring Bowser's mother. This game is mostly based on Super Mario World, which was a common theme of the Mario Discovery series and Super Mario educational games.


In the year 1993 (1994 in the Deluxe re-release), Bowser uses a time machine called a "Timulator", traveling backwards to different points in human history and stealing significant artifacts to place in his personal museum inside his castle. With his collection nearly completed, Bowser gloats that not even Mario can stop him now. Mario realizes that history will change forever if he does nothing, so it is up to Mario to use Bowser's own device against him by returning the artifacts to their proper places in time.


Malleo in Mario’s Time Machine (MS-DOS).png
Mario time traveling

The central hub of Mario's Time Machine is the museum within Bowser's castle. The museum is three floors high, and on each floor lies five artifacts, giving Mario a total of fifteen periods of time to travel to. Mario must take an artifact from a pedestal, look at the date and location labeled on it, and then program that information into the time machine and travel to that point in the timeline. Mario surfs the ripples of time, collecting mushrooms and avoiding hazards.

When the player arrives in the time period, he must explore and converse with the various residents that live there. In doing so, the player learns about the artifact, the time period, and the person associated with it. To get more information, the player must receive items that some residents possess and give them to others in order to satisfy their needs. For example, in Vienna, one resident will complain about the heat until Mario retrieves a fan and hands it to the person, who will then continue to give information. After the player has talked to everyone, the player fills out a History answer sheet. The answer sheet consists of a two-page biography about the person associated with the artifact and the time period, with blanks replacing several words. The player must use the information they received to correctly fill in the blanks. If the player fills in the wrong answer more than twice, they are forced back into the present; if they succeed, Mario can return the artifact to its owner and return back to the present. After all of the artifacts on a floor have been returned, Mario moves upward to the next floor.

There are three different endings which are decided by how many points the player has scored and the order in which the artifacts are returned. If the player spends too much time returning all the artifacts or returns any artifacts in the wrong order, there is a non-standard Game Over in which Bowser escapes to "Paradise" using the time machine; or Mario gets sent to the Cretaceous Period where he looks in different directions of the screen (both being notable for being the only ways to get a Game Over). A message reminding the player to return all the artifacts either in a more timely manner or in the correct order appears on the screen. After that, the player must start over from the beginning, or use a password to go back to a previous point. However, if they meet these two objective conditions, the time machine overloads, self-destructs and sends Bowser to the Cretaceous Period where he gets stepped-on by a Tyrannosaurus Rex (humorously, right beforehand when he notices it, his eyes shrink with realization of what will happen to him and he meekly opens an umbrella in the hopes it will protect him), and a raptor then grabs his squished remains and throws them like a Frisbee.

Time periods[edit]

Here is a chart of the location and artifact in chronological order.

Historical inaccuracies and other errors[edit]

Despite Mario's Time Machine being intended as an educational game, it contains many errors in regards to its historical facts.

Alexandria (47 BC)
  • This section centers on returning Cleopatra's staff to her so that she can reign over Egypt; however, she first reigned in 51 BC (despite one of Cleopatra's guards saying that she was "crowned" in 52 BC) at the bequest of her father and alongside her brother, Ptolemy XIII. She then took sole control after a civil war between her and her brother in 47 BC.[2]
  • Cleopatra also says that her staff was passed down from her ancestors, although no such item exists in real life.
  • Julius Caesar claims that he is allergic to cats; though his family line, in general, was afflicted with asthma,[3] Caesar is not known to have been allergic to or even afraid of cats.[4]
  • Caesar also boasts about having conquered Pompeii, despite the town having been acquired by Roman general Sulla during the Social War in 89 BC,[5] before Caesar held any power.
  • One of Cleopatra's guards asks Mario to give one of Cleopatra's handmaidens a Wooden Snake to demonstrate his love for her, and after receiving the gift, she makes a comment about being bitten by the "love scarab". Neither animal is associated with romance or love: snakes are the aggressive guardians of royalty,[6] and can also symbolize chaos, [7] while scarabs symbolize the arrival of the Sun and the reincarnation of humans.[8]
  • Throughout several lines of dialogue, it is stated that "Ptolemy XI" is Cleopatra's father and "Ptolemy XII" is the brother that campaigns against Cleopatra. However, the numbers in their names are off by one: Ptolemy XII was the father and Ptolemy XIII was the brother.
  • Several characters also use dates with before Christ; for example, when the handmaiden says that Caesar arrived in Egypt "in 48 B.C.". Though these dates are not incorrect, they would have not been used by people who lived close to fifty years before the birth of Jesus, and furthermore, this dating system was not created until 525.
  • The history pages mention that Cleopatra had three sons with Mark Anthony, despite one of her children, Cleopatra Selene II, being female.
Athens (369 BC)
  • Aristotle is depicted as an old man in-game, but as Aristotle was born in 384 BC,[9] he would have only been fifteen years old. With that in mind, the rest of the interactions with him become anachronistic, as he only became Plato's student when he was seventeen or eighteen,[10] and thus, he has not yet formulated any of the theories that are discussed in-game.
  • A councilman mentions that Plato's Academy was founded "in 387 B.C." - while technically correct, a dating system based on Jesus would not have been used by someone who lived over three hundred years before he was born.
  • The same councilman also claims that the Academy will last for over nine hundred years. In reality, the Academy was destroyed in 86 BC.[11]
  • He also does not know whether the god of wine's name is Dionysus or Bacchus, despite "Bacchus" being the name adopted by the Romans.
  • The history page describes the Academy as the first "university", which is incorrect as it did not offer any degrees to its students.
Cambridge (1687)
  • The discovery of calculus is attributed uniquely to Newton, despite Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz also discovering calculus around the same time as Newton, albeit independently; this led to a debate as to who should receive recognition for the discovery.[12]
  • Several characters state that Newton's Principia has not yet been published, for example, when Edmund Halley says that he is still working on the rough draft, but the book was published on July 5,[13] even though the game takes place on December 25.
  • Halley also says that he tracked a comet which orbited around the Earth in 1862. This is a typo; the comet passed by in 1682.[14]
  • A lecturer says that, while Newton was in his twenties, he said that his mind was "remarkably fit for invention." This quote seems to have been sourced from Leon M. Lederman and Dick Teresi's The God Particle,[15] but the actual quote is "All this was in the two plague years of 1665 and 1666, for in those days I was in the prime of my age for invention and minded Mathematics and Philosophy more than at any time since."[16]
  • If Mario offers Halley an apple, he replies that he has already eaten one today "so as to keep the doctor away." The proverb of "an apple a day keeps the doctor away," however, first appeared in the 1860s.[17]
Florence (1503)
  • Raphael Sanzio mentions that he is working on a portrait of the Pope, despite his portraits of Pope Julius II and Leo X being painted in 1511–12 and 1518-19, respectively.
  • Raphael also says that Michelangelo Buonarroti's David is thirteen-and-a-half feet tall, but it is actually seventeen feet tall.
  • An unnamed painter says that Michelangelo left the tutelage of Domenico Ghirlandaio simply because he was bored, but Ghirlandaio sent him to Lorenzo de' Medici as one of his best pupils.[18]
    • The history pages erroneously state that Michelangelo himself "broke his contract" with Ghirlandaio solely because he wanted to study the statues in Medici's garden.
  • The same painter also gives Mario some "Renaissance Purple" Paint in what is visibly a modern paint can. Additionally, the term "Renaissance" first appeared in 1858.[19]
  • He also says that Michelangelo is interested in sculpting the Pope's tomb; although he approached the task enthusiastically, he was specifically commissioned by the Pope to construct the tomb.[20]
Florence (1505)
  • An old fresco painter describes Leonardo da Vinci as a "Renaissance Man". The term "Renaissance" was not used during the period,[19] and the whole expression first appeared in 1906.[21]
  • The history pages say that Europe was in a 1000-year "slumber" before the Renaissance, which brought a new age of science and art. However, this completely ignores how the Middle Ages contained Renaissances of its own, including the Carolingian Renaissance and the Renaissance of the 12th century.
Gobi Desert (1292)
  • Kublai Khan suggests that his father was Ögedei Khan, despite his actual father being Tolui.
  • Several characters reference Marco Polo's Book of Marco Polo, including a merchant who gives Mario a few pages from it. However, Marco only wrote it after returning to Venice, while he was imprisoned with writer Rustichello da Pisa.[22]
  • Also, they are insistent on its title being "Book of Marco Polo", but this is not the actual title of the book. It is Les voyages de Marco Polo[23] (The voyages of Marco Polo) or Le Devisement du Monde[24] (The Description of the World) in French, Il Milione (The Million) in Italian,[25] and The Travels of Marco Polo[23] in English. The closest name is an 1871 English translation by Henry Yule titled, The Book of Ser Marco Polo, the Venetian, Concerning the Kingdoms and Marvels of the East.[26]
  • A sage claims that China had glasses when Europe did not, but this is incorrect: they were first documented in Italy in 1306,[27] while none of Marco Polo's writings reference them.[28]
London (1595)
London (1831)
  • The Magnet item is supposedly an electromagnet, and yet it resembles a horseshoe magnet, which is a kind of permanent magnet.
  • A young boy says that Michael Faraday's first lecture within the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures was The Chemical History of a Candle. However, not only did he give several lectures before this one, he gave it in 1848.[30]
  • He also talks about how Charles Dickens wrote about Faraday's lectures, which he only did after Faraday had presented The Chemical History of a Candle.[31]
  • He also says that he is in line to become the King of England, but wants to become a scientist instead. This character is most likely intended to be either Albert, Prince Consort (who only married Queen Victoria in 1840 and was never King,[32] who he only met in 1836[33]) or Edward VII (who was born in 1841[34]); as such, neither candidate fits the time period.[35]
  • Charles-Gaspard de la Rive discusses a lecture in which Faraday demonstrates an electromagnet by throwing a shovel, a pair of tongs, and a poker at it. Not only did this lecture take place in 1856, but he threw a coal scuttle and not a shovel.[36]
  • Sarah Barnard characterizes Faraday's former mentor, Humphry Davy, as someone who was utterly jealous of Faraday's success and generally rude towards him, but that view is careless, ignoring much of the relationship between Davy and Faraday.[37][38]
  • She also remarks that Faraday noted that the date with the most happiness to him was the day that the two of them married. While this is true, he only noted so in 1847.[39]
  • Several characters are waiting for Faraday's upcoming lecture, but he did not give a Christmas Lecture in 1831.[30]
  • The history pages state that Faraday is the only scientist to have both an SI unit and a physical constant named after them. This is incorrect: Isaac Newton and Charles-Augustin de Coulomb both share the honor.[40][41]
London (1843)
Luoyang (105 AD)
  • Emperor Ho Ti says that Ts'ai Lun produced amazing weapons for him in AD 97, and he promoted him as a result; this actually took place in AD 89.[43]
  • He also gives Mario some Money specifically made of paper, despite the fact that the first paper banknotes were circulated in 1024.[44]
  • Several characters state that Ts'ai Lun is the first person to have created paper. Although he refined the process,[45] there are examples of paper before Ts'ai Lun's contribution.[46]
Mainz (1455)
  • Mario receives a Tea Bag from a librarian, despite tea bags first being created in the opening years of the 1900s and only being commercially available in the 1920s.[47]
  • The same librarian says that Gutenberg loved to read books as a kid, but not much is actually known about Gutenberg's early life.[48]
Menlo Park (1879)
  • A hardware store clerk says that he has all of Thomas Edison's phonograph records, including "Mary Had a Little Lamb". While Edison did indeed test his invention with the poem,[49] this recording was not publicly available.
  • A hotel owner mentions Edison's creation of an alkaline battery, which he only patented in 1904.[50]
Novato (1993/1994)
  • Mario travels to 1993 (1994 in the Deluxe re-release) and helps the development team finish the "Time Machine" game.
Orleans (1429)
  • Joan of Arc's Shield depicts her coat of arms, but the game takes place during the siege on the Tourelles (which took place on May 7[51]) and her coat of arms was only granted to her on June 2.[52]
Pacific Ocean (1521)
  • Juan Sebastian Del Cano describes Ferdinand Magellan's wanderlust, and how he wants to travel the world simply for the sake of it. However, from the start, his intention was to discover a route to the Maluku Islands.[53]
  • Also, though the game spells his name as "Del Cano", which is a misspelling.[54]
  • Mario gives a Telescope to Juan, despite them being first patented in 1608.[55]
  • Mario receives a Rat Trap holding a spring-loaded bar from the ship's bosun, despite this being first patented in 1894.[56]
  • Ferdinand suddenly decides to give the Strait of Magellan its name after an off-hand comment from Mario. However, he called it the "Estrecho de Todos los Santos" ("Channel of All Saints"), after All Saints' Day; his crew was the one who named the ship after their captain.[57][58]
Padua (1610)
  • When contrasting Galileo Galilei's ideas, the text-only discusses Aristotle's original geocentric model of the solar system's orbit while failing to bring up Tycho Brahe's Tychonic system, which was also prevalent at the time.[59]
  • The Compass that Mario obtains is described as being used for measuring "ratio and proportions", despite resembling the drawing instrument used for drawing circles and not a proportional compass.
  • A poet claims that the word "telescope" comes from the Greek words tele and scope; it is actually a combination of tele (τῆλε) and skopein (σκοπεῖν).
    • Also, the term "telescope" was first coined in 1612.[60]
  • The history pages state that Galileo listened to a lecture on astronomy that convinced him to pursue mathematics; the lecture was actually about geometry.[61]
Paris (1885)
  • A waiter claims that Louis Pasteur was the first person to discover microorganisms, ignoring the previous work of scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek.[62]
    • The history pages also assert that Louis was the first person to discuss that microorganisms travel through the air, ignoring both Leeuwenhoek and the analyses of Marcus Terentius Varro.[63]
  • The same waiter also says that Louis set up night classes for workers like him; though technically true, this is misleading, as his classes were open to the general public.[64]
Philadelphia (1752)
  • Mario obtains a Penny from a constable, despite the first American pennies only being minted in 1793.[65]
  • The same constable also suggests that Benjamin Franklin is responsible for cobblestone roads; cobblestone was used since Antiquity,[66] and Benjamin's contribution was to improving how the roads were maintained.[67]
  • Deborah Read sells Mario a postage stamp for a local library's mailing list, despite the first American stamps being introduced in 1842.[68]
  • She also attributes the quote "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise" to Benjamin, despite it appearing in a book published over 100 years earlier.[69]
  • She also attributes the quote "A penny saved is a penny earned" to him, despite there being no proof for him ever saying it.[70]
Philadelphia (1776)
Stratford-upon-Avon (1601)
  • Numerous characters quote lines from William Shakespeare's plays. For example, Anne Hathaway says "Is this a dagger I see before me, the handle toward my hand?" from Macbeth (believed to have been written in 1606[75]), and an unnamed man quotes "O brave new world, that has such people in't" from The Tempest (believed to have been written in 1611[76])
    • The wording of many quotes also slightly differ from their sources, though this was most likely done to better integrate them into the dialogue.
  • Richard Burbage claims that Shakespeare has written "some 24" plays; although certain sources line up with this statement,[77] it is generally difficult to precisely determine when each play was written.[78]
  • An unnamed man in Stratford-upon-Avon brings up the theories that Shakespeare's plays were actually written by Francis Bacon or by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. This is despite those theories first appearing in 1857[79] and 1920,[80] respectively.
Tuskegee (1915)
  • The game shows Booker T. Washington and Henry Ford working together, despite never meeting in real life.
  • Booker says that Carver was the "the first man of color to receive a master's degree in agriculture"; though he was the first black student of Iowa State University,[81] there is nothing to confirm that he was the first to receive that degree.
  • He also says that Carver was the first person to discover that rubber can be extracted from goldenrod, when Thomas Edison had already experimented with the plant after making the discovery himself.[82]
  • Henry Ford only met George Washington Carver long after 1915[83]
  • Henry Ford states that Carver was freed from slavery in 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation. Though technically true, Carver was born in Missouri, which was not part of the Confederate States of America, which was what the Emancipation Proclamation was specific towards; thus, Carver was only freed with the end of the American Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.[84]
  • He also says that Carver's inventions with peanuts are worth a lot of money, despite none of them turning a profit.[85]
  • The history pages claim that Carver was widely known as the "Root Doctor"; beyond the fact that he was very infrequently called that, a "root doctor" was a term that described people using Hoodoo (a kind of voodoo magic), and not a proper noun as the game uses it.[86]
  • They also claim that Carver turned down an offer to work at Thomas Edison's lab for a salary of $100,000. The offer was genuine, but the salary is likely an exaggeration on Carver's part.[87]
Vienna (1791)
  • Constanze Mozart says that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's father, Leopold Mozart, died "three years ago", when it was actually four years ago in 1787.[88]
  • An opera singer claims to be preparing to act in Wolfgang's Così fan tutte, even though performances for the opera ended in 1790 and only began anew in 1794.[89]
  • The same singer also mentions that the opera was commissioned by "the Emperor" (supposedly Joseph II), although modern evidence suggests this to not be the case.[90]
  • Joseph Haydn is shown to be still in Vienna in 1791, despite him leaving for London in 1790.[91] He also stayed there until Wolfgang's death in 1791.[92]
  • Haydn and the history pages claim that Mozart wrote his first symphony when he was six years old; he was actually eight.[93]
  • Wolfgang becomes instantly inspired to compose The Magic Flute after seeing a Flute, despite him actually pulling inspiration from a number of sources (none of which seemingly included a physical flute).[94]
  • The history pages state that Constanze's nickname for Wolfgang was "Wolfie". This comes from the film Amadeus, which is a highly fictionalized telling of Wolfgang's life. Constanze never once called him "Wolfie" in reality.[95]
  • They also say that Wolfgang was appointed as a concertmaster in 1769 when he was thirteen; it was actually in 1773 when he was seventeen.[96][better source needed]
  • They also claim that he was buried in an unmarked grave because he was poor, when this was standard practice at the time.[97]
  • They also claim that the location of his burial site is unknown; although it is not completely certain that Wolfgang rests there, he does have a burial site that was erected in the 1800s.[98]
Vienna (1824)
  • An innkeeper claims that Ludwig van Beethoven "threatened" to premiere his Ninth Symphony in Germany instead of Austria. This is slightly misleading: Beethoven considered performing in Berlin in response to (what he perceived to be) a decline in musical taste within Vienna, but in response, numerous Viennese citizens convinced him to stay while praising his talent.[99]
  • The history pages claim that Ludwig gave his first concert at age eight, when he was actually seven.[100]
Washington, D.C. (1863)


Since its release, Mario's Time Machine has received negative reception. It holds an aggregate score of 60.25% on Game Rankings based on two reviews. Nintendo Power gave it a 10.6 out of 20, while Electronic Gaming Monthly gave it a slightly better rating of 6.75 out of 10. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Good Game described it as one of many "awful" games that used the Super Mario license, and said that it was "too complicated" for its young target audience.[102] Similarly, authors David Wesley and Gloria Barczak include both it and Mario is Missing! in the "flood" of poor-quality 1990s Super Mario games and media made by third parties with no supervision from Nintendo, accusing these two games, Mario's FUNdamentals, and the Super Mario Bros. film of "nearly destroy[ing]" the entire franchise.[103] Patrick Felicia, who focuses on learning through video games, criticizes Mario's Time Machine and Mario is Missing! for their "mismatch" between the gameplay and the presentation, while also praising Super Mario Bros. due to everything being in service of platforming.[104]

Reviewer, Publication Score Comment
"EW Staff", EW B- "As much fun as the game can be, its graphics are incessantly ho-hum, and much of what the producers have the audacity to call music is downright annoying."


According to programmer Carlos Justiniano, Mario's Time Machine was behind schedule when he began working on it, and the team developed it over the course of several weeks.[105] Lead artist Maude Church, who worked primarily on adding animations to Mario's Time Machine Deluxe, also said that Nintendo did not interfere with the game's development; they were mostly concerned with how Mario looked.[106] The team was also focused on being historically accurate - though for the final level that featured the game's developers within the game itself, it was simply a "little personal moment with a laugh".[106]

References to other games[edit]

  • Super Mario Bros. 3: The sprite of Bowser appears to be based on the artwork from this game.
  • Super Mario World: Most of the non-time period music cues are direct arrangements of music cues from Super Mario World.
  • Mario is Missing!: The boxart of this game cameos in the scene with David Grenewetzki. In addition to that, Bowser's walking sprites the ending is based off of Bowser's walking sprites from the MS-DOS release of this game.



Box art[edit]



Pre-release and unused content[edit]

Despite not appearing in the game, aside from a banner with his head on it inside of Bowser's Museum, sprites for Ludwig walking are in the CD-ROM version of the game. They are stored as a bitmap file on the game disk under the name "MUSEUM/LUDW.BMP".


Names in other languages[edit]

Language Name Meaning
French Mario et la machine à remonter le temps
Mario and the time machine
German Marios Zeitmaschine
Mario's Time Machine


Main article: List of Mario's Time Machine staff


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