Mario is Missing!
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Mario is Missing! is an educational game created for MS-DOS, the SNES, and the NES. The gameplay was widely panned by critics, although its Super Mario World music remixes have gained recognition. Mario is Missing! was released in floppy disk format for MS-DOS in 1992, with the CD-ROM Deluxe edition and console versions released the following year. A follow-up called Mario's Time Machine was eventually produced. This is the first game where Luigi is the main protagonist with Mario in a supporting role and it was the only solo adventure for Luigi until 2001 when Luigi's Mansion was released on the Nintendo GameCube.
Bowser decides to flood the Earth using hairdryers from Hafta Havit Mail-Order to melt Antarctica. In order to buy the hairdryers, Bowser has his Koopa Troopas travel all over the world and steal various important landmarks that he plans to sell.
Mario, Luigi and Yoshi follow Bowser to Antarctica to stop him, but when Mario goes on ahead he is captured by Bowser. The PC version is the most elaborate: Luigi is too scared to go inside the castle, so Mario enters alone. Despite Luigi's warnings against taking candy from strangers, Mario eats some candy offered to him by Bowser (disguised as a butler), and is then scooped up in a net. In the SNES version, Mario arrives last in Antarctica (Luigi and Yoshi are already present, and Mario had apparently warped to Antarctica by accident while he was distracted by the incomplete title in Dinosaur Land), and Luigi even seemed eager to go into the castle after appreciating that Mario "dropped in." with a pit opening up beneath him when the group reaches the castle, while in the NES version, a Koopa throws a bag over Mario while the latter is fuming about the title claiming he was missing as he walks through the snow and ice.
With Mario captured, the task of returning all the stolen artifacts and saving both his brother and Earth falls to Luigi, who bravely enters the castle, leaving Yoshi outside.
Story from console instruction booklet
Oh no! Bowser and his bad boys are back to a life of crime. This time, it's not Mario World — it's your world! From his Antarctic castle, Bowser hustles his cold-blooded crew of cantankerous Koopas into his powerful Passcode Operated Remote Transport And Larceny System (PORTALS). The twisted turtles transport themselves throughout the globe, where celebrated cities suffer shell-shocking crime waves, as turtles trash landmarks and loot ancient artifacts. With dough from his slimy scales, Bowser hoards hair dryers from the Hafta-Havit Hotline. His plot? Melt Antarctica and flood the planet! Whoa!
Will the brave brothers from Brooklyn permit this abominable snow plan? The boys say "Not!" Mario, Luigi and Yoshi trek across ice and snow to shellac the shelled ones' schemes. But Bowser's slick; in one last trick, he takes the dearest thing of all...Mario is Missing!
Luigi must stop the Koopas, foil Bowser's plan, and find Mario. Sneaking into each Portal, Luigi is transported to a city in trouble. There, Luigi needs to nab each Koopa, grab its loot, and return the artifact to its proper landmark. Along the way, Luigi explores the city, chats with the locals, reads maps, and solves puzzles. Help him do this before time runs out! Once he figures out where he is on the globe, Luigi must use the Globulator to call Yoshi. Only after Yoshi scares Pokey away, can Luigi return to Bowser's castle and lock the Portal for that city.
In the DOS version, Luigi takes Bowser's shell (which covers his tail in this depiction) off, causing Bowser to run off screen, embarrassed about his polka-dot boxers. This is the only time Bowser's been seen in his Beach Koopa form. Luigi shakes the shell to retrieve the key to Mario's cell, and then throws the carapace away. Bowser returns wondering where his shell is, Luigi then lies to him saying he threw the shell off the balcony; then, when Bowser leans over the railing to look for it, Luigi kicks him off and he lands in the snow. Luigi then opens Mario's cell and the two dance around in joy. They then go outside and shake Yoshi's hand, before walking off into the distance together. Bowser then pokes his head out of the snow, looking in their direction with his shell back on.
In the Macintosh version, Bowser doesn't run off after his boxers are revealed, and Luigi smacks him off the balcony with his own shell.
In the SNES version of the ending, Luigi pulls a lever to reveal Mario behind a wall. Bowser then jumps down from a distant ledge, but Luigi pulls the same lever, causing Bowser to fall down into a cannon. He is then launched out of the castle and into the snow, where he freezes instantly and then shatters. In the NES version, Luigi and Bowser have a boss battle and "Bowser" turns out to be a normal Koopa Troopa in disguise, who turns the key to Mario's cell, freeing him.
In each level, Luigi must retrieve several artifacts which were stolen by several Koopa Troopas within the city and return them to their rightful places. Luigi must jump on the Koopa Troopas to defeat them and reclaim the artifacts, which he then takes back to the landmarks they were stolen from. He must answer trivia questions about the landmarks before the curators will take the wares back. In the SNES version, all the information kiosks are manned by women resembling Princess Daisy (complete with crown), although this is an unconfirmed appearance.
The DOS version adds a videophone aspect to gameplay, and Luigi must call the help number provided at the landmarks to get in touch with his friends, answer the questions, return the artifact, and receive a monetary reward. The mayor of the city also phones Luigi when he arrives, asking for his help in stopping the Koopas; he later phones when Luigi secures the city, thanking him and wishing him luck in finding Mario. The red plumber himself even manages to phone Luigi, giving him advice on his journey as well as updates on his capture and the Koopas' struggle to maintain their plot as planned. The DOS version also has a Taxi feature, in which Luigi collects little Taxi tokens around the city and then exchanges them for rides across town. The SNES version instead uses more Warp Pipes to facilitate speedy travel.
As well as returning the artifacts, Luigi must also deduce what city he's in so that he can use the Globulator and call Yoshi to his aid for double the walking and running speed. Without Yoshi, Luigi cannot finish the level, as the exit pipe is occupied by a large Pokey. Yoshi proceeds to gobble the Pokey up in the DOS version, whereas the Pokey is merely scared away by Yoshi's presence in the SNES release.
Once Luigi has secured all the cities whose doors are located on a floor of the castle, Luigi must use a Fire Flower collected in the cities to defeat them using their only weakness - Fire. The console releases remove the Fire Flower in favor of a small boss battle. However, the bosses cannot hurt Luigi, and must be stomped on a certain number of times to be defeated in the SNES and NES versions. The console versions also differ in that the Koopa Troopas are not defeated when they are knocked about and forced to leave in an undignified manner, but rather a sound stomp with destroy them upon impact (including the shell). The SNES version also has them literally fall to pieces, like a collapsing building.
In addition, there was a later enhanced edition for PC known as the CD-ROM Deluxe version. It included full-on voice acting to go along with the dialogue, although not all of the in-game text matched the audio exactly. The voice actors are known (Kathy Fitzgerald, Rob Wallace, Bob Sorenson, Nicholas Glaeser, David Gill), but the game does not specify which of them supplied which voices. There are also some graphical changes, such as loading screens when the screen is black, and icons of Princess Toadstool, Toad and Donkey Kong replace a recurring phone call NPC (although the old dialogue was not changed on-screen). The viewings of every historic spot in particular were originally recreated and shown in garish coloring. The CD-ROM Deluxe version replaces most of these pictures with realistic photographs and even live-action video clips to represent the landmarks, with some exceptions carried over from the floppy disk version.
Pre-release and unused content
Dialogue intended for the ending of the game is discovered in the CD-ROM Deluxe edition of the game: Game ending reconstructed with voices.
It also appears that Lemmy and Morton were going to appear in game, as their unused dialogue was found in the Deluxe version's data. In the final game, Lemmy is mentioned as having run off to play in the snow while Morton is not mentioned at all.
In an August 1993 press release, Software Toolworks claimed that sales of the console versions of Mario is Missing! exceeded $7,000,000 for the fiscal quarter and that the game boosted the company's revenue during a slow quarter.