Mario's Time Machine (Super Nintendo Entertainment System)

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Mario's Time Machine
Mario's Time Machine Box Art.jpg
Developer The Software Toolworks
Publisher The Software Toolworks
Platform(s) SNES
Release date December 1993
Language(s) English (United States)
Genre Educational
ESRB:K-A - Kids to Adults
Mode(s) Single-player
Super NES:
Game Pak
Super NES:
Serial code(s) SNS-8M (U.S.)

Mario's Time Machine is an educational game developed by The Software Toolworks that was released for the SNES 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. 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, 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.

Bowser plans to destroy his time machine, deliberately planning to irreversibly damage history and send the world back to the Dark Ages.[1]


Mario in Mario's Time Machine (SNES)

Being a port of the PC release, this version has a few changes to the original game. There is less content overall, so Mario travels to fewer time periods, and there are some graphical changes such as the design of the time machine. During the sequence on time's waves, Mario can move in all directions rather than just forward due to the use of Mode 7 on the water, and he must go in a whirlpool after collecting ten mushrooms. The true ending is similar to the DOS version, only Bowser's puddle remains on the ground throughout the entire credits, and in addition, Bowser only gapes upon noticing the T-Rex foot coming down on him.

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)
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.[30]
  • The same librarian says that Gutenberg loved to read books as a kid, but not much is actually known about Gutenberg's early life.[31]
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,[32] this recording was not publicly available.
  • A hotel owner mentions Edison's creation of an alkaline battery, which he only patented in 1904.[33]
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[34]) and her coat of arms was only granted to her on June 2.[35]
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.[36]
  • Also, though the game spells his name as "Del Cano", which is a misspelling.[37]
  • Mario gives a Telescope to Juan, despite them being first patented in 1608.[38]
  • Mario receives a Rat Trap holding a spring-loaded bar from the ship's bosun, despite this being first patented in 1894.[39]
  • 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.[40][41]
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[46]), 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[47])
    • 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,[48] it is generally difficult to precisely determine when each play was written.[49]
  • 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[50] and 1920,[51] respectively.
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.[52]
  • The history pages claim that Ludwig gave his first concert at age eight, when he was actually seven.[53]


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.[54] 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.[55] 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.[56]

Reviewer, Publication Score Comment
Steve Grant, SomethingAwful -42/-50 "Defining Moment: Beethoven telling me to "Go away." As always, I should have listened."
"The Cubist", Nerd Bacon 5.5/10 "In the end Mario's Time Machine is just another educational game as advertised, but it exceeded my expectations as such, if nothing else due to its strengths compared to Mario is Missing! and its relatively robust dissemination of historical information of note. Much like Mario is Missing!, this isn't really a game you'll need or even want to play, though it's a decent example of education done right, at least mostly so."
Nintendo Power 10.6/20 "Unlike Carmen Sandiego games, you don't have to know the subject to play the Game. You can actually learn a thing or two. [However,] Non-intuitive commands can make the game frustrating to control. Players expecting a traditional Super Mario game will not find it here."
Compiler Platform / Score
GameRankings 60.25%


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.[57] 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.[58] 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".[58]

References to other games[edit]

  • Super Mario World: Most of the music cues are direct arrangements of music cues from Super Mario World: for example, the title screen music is an arrangement of the Vanilla Dome theme which also incorporates the melody from Super Mario World's Castle theme.





Pre-release and unused content[edit]

In the first page of the instruction booklet, there is a very rough version of Bowser and his Koopas with the Timulator; the latter resembles the DOS version, although it is still a different design.


Help:MediaHaving trouble playing?


Main article: List of Mario's Time Machine staff


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