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Early Installment Weirdness / Super Mario Bros.

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Super Mario Bros., being the epitome of the video game long-runner and spanning a constant stream of games and other media across multiple platforms, has evolved drastically in characterization, gameplay, and designs over the course of its decades-long history.


Examples, let's a go!

  • The original Donkey Kong is very different compared to the mainstream Mario and Donkey Kong games. Mario's jumping skills were less impressive than in later games, as Mario had to climb ladders if he wanted to go up a level. Unusually for a 2D Mario game, Mario can suffer from Falling Damage (which in practice, as Mario was also a One-Hit-Point Wonder, was more like Falling Death). The game seemed to take place in the real world rather than a fictional one, like the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario had to rescue not Princess Peach, but his regular girlfriend Pauline. The game's backstory also revealed that Mario was kind of a dick, as he was the abusive owner towards Donkey Kong. He was even the Big Bad in Donkey Kong Jr.! Also, DK completely lacked his trademarked tie, though this is explainable if you believe that the DK in this game is Cranky Kong.
  • Mario Bros.:
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    • In the original arcade game, the Goomba Stomp didn't work — you had to knock the enemies on their backs before you could take them out. For players coming from later Mario games, this could become a problem as early enemies include turtles that closely resemble the Koopas in the later games; they can't be stomped in Mario Bros. This is why some Nostalgia Levels based on Mario Bros. replace the enemies with The Spiny, which was firmly established as the standard non-stompable enemy.
    • And in most versions of the game, Mario's hat was blue!
  • The Mario Bros. manual for the Atari 2600 and 5200 versions states the pipes in Mario the carpenter and his brother Luigi's house are blocked by crawling creatures, meaning this game is a depiction of their version of Earth. The story is absent from the manual in the NES version.
  • Super Mario Bros. (and by extension, Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, unless otherwise noted):
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    • Story: The manual offers some lore, most of which is never brought up at all in later games. The Koopa are a tribe of turtles, or Turtle Tribe, known for their black magic, which they use to turn the Mushroom People into stones, bricks and horse-hair plants. The daughter of the Mushroom King, the Princess, can undo this spell, which is why you must rescue her from the Koopa turtle king and save the Mushroom People from the Koopa's black magic (in contrast to future games, where Bowser kidnaps Peach mostly just to lure Mario into traps). The seven Mushroom Retainers, originally in the Princess' court, have been put under the spell of the Koopa King. Magic Mushrooms, Fire Flowers, and the Starman are Mario's friends, and have been turned into bricks or have been turned invisible, referring to invisible blocks; hitting those blocks has the power-ups rewarding you with their power. To make it clear what you'll be facing, the manual explains, "Along the way are mountains, pits, sea, turtle soldiers, and a host of traps and riddles." You are outright told to kill, not just defeat, the Turtle Tribe, including Little Goomba, a mushroom who betrayed the Mushrooom Kingdom, Koopa Troopa, a soldier of the Turtle Empire, Spiny, a "wild fighter," Bloobers, man-eating Pirana plants, and Podoboos who emerge from a lake of fire and protect Bowser the sorceror king.
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    • Character designs: What we'd call "Small Mario" in later titles appears to be his normal height in the first game. Indeed, in the game's manual, Mario's mushroom-less form is called simply "Mario" and is treated as Mario's canonical size, with big Mario referred to as "Super Mario". Later games would reverse this, calling big Mario just "Mario" and Mario's mushroom-less form "Small Mario". In addition, Mario has red overalls and a brown shirt in the first game, while Luigi has white overalls and a green shirt, instead of their trademark blue overalls with a red/green shirt and White Gloves. Due to palette limitations, Luigi's hair also appears green. With fire power, the brothers look identical. In Super Mario Bros. 3, Mario and Luigi lack the blue color on their clothes, although Super Mario Bros. 2 managed to get the colors right. Super Mario World has Mario wearing defined jeans with back pockets, which wouldn't be shown in detail again until Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
    • Level designs:
      • The first game, The Lost Levels, and Super Mario Land use Ratchet Scrolling, which prevented players from going back. The way the levels were compressed required this. Most Mario games afterwards abandoned this type of scrolling for Auto Scrolling Levels in a few places while allowing backtracking in everything else. The only other time Ratchet Scrolling is used in the series is in New Super Mario Bros., which includes it for "Challenge Mode" in a homage to the first game. The first game didn't have any vertical areas either (they weren't seen until Super Mario Bros. 2).
      • The lava originally worked very differently: It was originally depicted as essentially red-tinted water drawn over a Bottomless Pit, and Mario/Luigi would die by simply falling into it rather that either dying and being flung off the screen or jumping back out and only suffering a little damage.
      • The game is considerably less generous about coins and 1-Ups than later games in the series are (unless, of course, you make use of the famous Koopa shell glitch). Getting more than 9 lives makes the lives counter display glitchy symbols, and it's quite difficult to witness this without cheating. There are also fewer power-ups available, to the point that you may have to play most of the game as Small Mario. Whereas power-ups tend to be much more plentiful in later games, and even mandatory in some cases.
      • The Mario series is likewise known for every possible thing having eyes, even hills, but this wouldn't happen until The Lost Levels, which was made without much input from Miyamoto; before that, the only thing that had eyes was Lakitu's cloud and Invincibility Stars, which are also called Starmen for that purpose. It's worth noting that later games produced with Miyamoto's input, such as New Super Mario Bros., feature inanimate objects with eyes much less if at all.
    • World designs: The first game, as well as The Lost Levels and the obscure sequel Super Mario Bros. Special, all lacked the distinct biomes that would appear in later games. It's pretty weird to enter World 2 and find it to be another grassy field-esque area after seeing desert after desert occurring in the series, for one example. Later worlds in the All-Stars remake add an icy palette, though it doesn't affect gameplaynote . They're also the only main 2D Mario games where the boss in each world is always the same (Bowser, even if only one of the iterations of him is real), and until the All-Stars remake no boss music was implemented. Lastly, until Super Mario Bros. 3, world maps are absent, which Super Mario Bros. Deluxe made a point to add.
    • Enemy designs: The early designs were very different from the ones used today. For example, Bowser was originally drawn without any hair on his head (although he did have hair in the game's official artwork and in the SNES remake), Koopa Troopas were depicted as quadrupeds instead of bipeds (they inexplicably revert back into quadrupeds in Galaxy and Galaxy 2), Goombas were originally drawn without mouths, and whenever a Lakitu is killed, he will actually take his cloud with him instead of leaving it behind. Last, but not least, the game featured enemies in locations in which they're normally not found in, such as Buzzy Beetles in full daylight, and Goombas and (live) Koopa Troopas in castles.
    • Game mechanics:
      • When you get attacked as Fire Mario, you go straight to Small Mario. This was made more generous in later games, where getting attacked as Fire Mario or with any other special power-up would cause Mario to revert to Super Mario first, then to Small Mario if you were attacked again, giving the player an extra hit point. The Japanese NES version of Super Mario Bros. 3 retained the aspect of going straight from Fire Mario/suit powerup to Small Mario, but in the international release and all remakes, the damage system was changed to match with later games. By contrast, there is no Video Game Remake for the first game that changes the damage system; both All-Stars and Deluxe keep it as Fire Mario to Small Mario.
      • Other oddities: Bouncing on enemies gives you barely any height at all — massive Goomba Springboard boosts wouldn't appear in the Mario series until The Lost Levels, which may lead to some Damn You, Muscle Memory! in the first game. The timer also ticks away at a much faster rate than in later games, making it almost necessary to speedrun the few lengthy levels and almost spelling certain death if you kept taking the wrong path in some of the more labyrinthe castles. Shells also cannot be grabbed by holding the B button (a feature that was introduced with Super Mario Bros. 3). Likewise, ? blocks cannot be hit underwater; Mario just bumps into them as if they were plain.
    • The characters that would later be called "Toads" are known here as "Mushroom Retainers", a title justifying the mushroom-hat costume that would later become standard for all Toads at all times; here, they wear their distinctive outfit because they are members of the royal court, a detail gradually forgotten in later games. Accordingly, it's not clear at all that the Mushroom Retainers are their own species, as the Toads appear to be in future entries; there's nothing indicating the Mushroom Retainers aren't human like the Princess, and indeed, their being human would resolve the oddity of a human princess ruling over an entirely non-human kingdom.
    • Minigames are completely absent. The first game to introduce a minigame of any sort was Super Mario Bros. 2 (namely the gambling minigame to earn lives with the coins gathered in each level), and subsequent games would follow suit.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2: Originally conceived as Doki Doki Panic, the game marked the debut of several enemies that would become regulars in the Mario series, but some of them are portrayed here differently. For example, the two red dots on the Ninji sprites are depicted in both the game's official artwork and The Super Mario Bros Super Show! as red fangs, but later Ninji portrayals reinterpret those dots as big buttons or cheek-blushes. Bob-Ombs have arms and lack the familiar windup keys from their backs (from Super Mario Bros. 3 onwards, it's the other way around, with some exceptions). Pokeys are colored green instead of yellow, and can be mounted safely (in Super Mario World, the only way to ride them safely is with the Spin Jump). Lastly, Shy Guys have a slightly shorter height, looking more like Waddling Heads; later games made their torsos look more visible.
  • Super Mario Bros. 3:
    • This is the only game in the entire series to give Luigi the raccoon tail and Tanooki Suit forms instead of his unique fox tail and Kitsune Suit forms found in later appearances, even in All-Stars (which otherwise solidified Luigi's Divergent Character Evolution) and Advance 4.
    • This is the first game to have the "athletic" levels have a separate theme than the game's normal level theme. It's also the only game with an athletic theme that's not a remix of the game's main theme.
    • In the Japanese version, the Koopa Kids (Koopalings) are nameless; their musician-themed monikers were introduced for the English manual, and later imported back into the Japanese games.
    • This is the only Mario game to refer to Bowser as "Koopa" in the English version, both in his letter at the end of World 7 and in the end credits. While the manual still uses "Bowser", that name wouldn't appear in-game until Super Mario World.
    • Thwomps, which made their debut here, can move up and down, side to side, and even diagonally in some cases. In most later games, they can only move up and down.
  • Super Mario Land:
    • Mario's jump physics are noticably different from the sequel and the Wario Land games: For instance, when Mario jumps diagonally, you can't control how it moves (although you can when it jumps straight up) and he maintains no momentum.
    • This game saw the debut of Princess Daisy (ruler of Sarasaland), but none of the traits seen in later games (such as having a shorter hair than Peach's, or her Tomboy Princess personality) are portrayed here. In fact, she's the Damsel in Distress, and it's Mario instead of future Implied Love Interest Luigi who rescues her.
  • Super Mario World:
    • When Spike Tops were introduced in this game, they had six legs and different-shaped shells from Buzzy Beetles. In all later appearances (when they were more clearly established as a sub-species of Buzzy Beetle), they have only four legs and look identical to Buzzy Beetles except for their spikes (and sometimes their color).
    • Additionally, many spiky enemies (like Grinders) could be spin jumped on here. In later games with the ability (like Super Mario Maker), this isn't the case.
    • Another interesting example comes in the form of the Skewers (giant spiked columns) found in the castles in the game. In their original appearance, they're treated as part of the level geometry, so being caught underneath one is an instant kill. In later games on the other hand, they're treated like enemies/sprites, so Mario and co will only ever take normal damage from being caught underneath/in the path of one.
    • Yoshi's body is longer and thinner than in later games, and the English version can't decide if he's a dragon or a dinosaur (later media would settle on "dinosaur"). Also, the Japanese version refers to him as "Yossy".
  • Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins:
    • Wario's design is somewhat more grotesque and deranged than in later games, and is depicted here as being about three times Mario's size. Additionally, his small form looks more goblin-like than in subsequent appearances.
    • This game is one of the few where Wario is a straight-up villain rather than an Anti-Hero or The Rival, the only other instances being Mario & Wario and Wario's Woods. These three games are also the only ones to feature Wario's hypnotic powers, which he uses to control his minions. It's also implied that he's a Sorcerous Overlord of sorts whose very presence curses the land, Fisher King-style, an aspect of his character that was completely dropped from later games.
    • This is the only game where Wario is depicted using a Fire Flower, like Mario.
    • This game introduced the Space Zone setting into the Mario series. But unlike in future games with levels of this type (such as Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario 3D World), here Mario has to use a space suit.
  • Super Mario 64:
    • The game is, to date, the only 3D game where both the oxygen meter (for swimming) and the health meter were one and same (they get separate meters in Sunshine, the two Galaxy games, and Odyssey). This created a loophole which allowed Mario to regain health simply by jumping into water and coming up for air.
    • The game was more non-linear. While a certain amount of stars are needed to access the game’s later levels, and while you could select a particular star to pursue within the levels, the game would generally not actively prevent you from going after other stars. Selecting certain stars would sometimes make changes to the world that makes a star accessible or inaccessible, but you could otherwise get most of the stars in a level in any order. Starting with Super Mario Sunshine, whatever mission was picked had to be done, and could not be bypassed (save for the occasional levels with secret stars in them). It would take until Super Mario Odyssey, 21 years after Super Mario 64, for a 3D Mario game to do this again. Also, the star missions in Mario 64 lack introductory cutscenes, which renders their locations less obvious (bar, at times, the missions' titles).
    • The 100-coin star could be collected without having to leave the level, meaning you could get the 100-coin star and another star in the same run. In Super Mario Sunshine you had to leave after collecting the 100-coin shine, as it would end the level the same way a regular star/shine mission would. The Galaxy games make the 100-coin star an actual mission and used purple coins instead of the yellow ones used in 64 and Sunshine.
    • Some of Mario's moves from this game are missing in later ones, most notably the ability to punch and other physical attacks on command.
    • In some respects, the game was an instance of Early Installment Weirdness for much of 3D gaming. For a lack of other games to compare with, entire levels quite visibly hanging in the middle of nothing were perfectly fine back then, but would have been considered signs of an Obvious Beta mere years later. It was also very cubic, even by later N64 standards, and thus unusual in a series that tends to prefer round shapes whenever possible.
    • The remake for the DS has four playable characters: Mario, Luigi, Yoshi... and Wario, being playable in a mainstream Mario game for the first time. And to date, the last time: this game came out just a year after WarioWare completely changed the character's paradigm and resulted in the "classic" Wario relegated to spinoffs only. Seeing Wario playable in a headliner game like Super Mario 64 is very odd to a player nowadays; if the game were made now, a character like Toad or Toadette would be the likely choice for a fourth character.
  • New Super Mario Bros.:
    • This is the only game in the New subseries to not have the Koopalings as the main bosses, but unique opponents like Giant Goomba and Petey Piranha. Bowser also appears as early as the end of World 1. In the other games, he doesn't appear until the final boss battle, and in this game he doesn't have a second phase where he turns into a giant. Bowser Jr. appears as every tower boss, and also lacks his Koopa Clown Car.
    • Unlike later NSMB games, Bowser was voiced by Peter Cullen, via archival audio taken from a sound library; his roars had already been recorded and used decades earlier in films such as King Kong (1976) and Jaws 2. This was actually the standard for Bowser since Super Mario 64 ten years prior. Following this game, Bowser's voice would instead be provided by a variety of in-house voice actors. Additionally, the "power-up loss" and "coin" sounds are reused from Super Mario Bros. rather than Super Mario World.
    • The first game also uses a different soundtrack from the one that debuted in the Wii game and was reused to varying degrees in the 3DS and Wii U entries. Despite the Koopalings’ absence in the first game, a remix of their boss fight from SMB3 is used for the end bosses, whereas the Wii and Wii U games use another remix of the SMB3 fight for the mid-bosses instead. The 3DS game, meanwhile, features a remix of the Koopaling fight from Super Mario World for its mid-bosses.
    • The game lacks a post-finale Special World, instead opting for bonus lettered levels within the existing worlds that can be unlocked pre-finale (although NSMB2 has both the lettered levels and bonus worlds).
    • Unlike the later three games, there is no multiplayer for the main campaign. Instead, the only multiplayer is for the 'Mario vs. Luigi' mode, which uses exclusive courses. There are also minigames instead of alternate game modes.
    • There is no quicksave feature, so you'll have to replay a tower/castle level or take advantage of Sleep Mode if you want to save before you beat the game.
  • The Mario RPGs:
    • Super Mario RPG is the only Mario RPG to be a standalone title, but it is still very much the black sheep out of all of them. This is because the game was designed by Square and borrowed heavily from the Final Fantasy series. Paper Mario was originally envisioned as a sequel, and while it is still considered to be its spiritual successor, they still have very little in common. And while the Mario & Luigi games developed into their own series, they are similar in tone to the Paper Mario games and are clearly influenced by them.
    • The first Paper Mario is your standard Mario plot with RPG elements, and the "Paper" aspect is merely an art choice with no effect on the gameplay, whereas the sequels each had their own paper-related gimmick (The shapeshifting curses in Thousand Year Door, the 2D-3D switching in Super Paper Mario, the stickers in Sticker Star, and the coloring/paint mechanics in Color Splash).
    • The Mario & Luigi series was very different back in Superstar Saga:
      • The graphical style is nearly completely different from how it is in the later games. It's not so much noticeable with Mario, Luigi, Bowser, or Fawful, but for the normal enemies the differences are easy to spot. For example, early Dry Bones designs had them as quadrupeds like the Koopas from Super Mario Bros., while the Boos looked outright cartoony and the Boomerang Bros were actually tall, birdlike creatures rather than using their standard designs from the main series, and even mushrooms were white with red spots instead of the other way around. Dry Bones were the only enemies that weren't changed in some way in the Bowser's Minions remake; the Boomerang Bros. kept their designs but were reclassified as a separate type of enemy called Beanerang Bros., while most other classic Mario enemies, such as Hammer Bros., were changed to more standard designs, particularly as they appeared in other 3DS Mario & Luigi games. Compare that to Bowser's Inside Story where the enemies generally look like they do in other Mario spinoffs. In another choice not seen in any other game before or since, Toadsworth is wearing a blue vest, similar to that of a regular Toad.
      • Compared to the sequels, the Bros. attacks are fairly mundane and physical compared to the more creative, item-based specials of later games, though they do return with minor alterations in the remake. They were instead based on the field moves that the brothers had. Partners in Time shifted the attacks into something much closer to their modern forms, although they became consumable items rather than relying on the BP system that all other titles would use.
      • The first game is the only one where Mario and Luigi can switch their positions. In every following installment, Mario always takes the lead, and Luigi always sticks behind him. In the remake of the first game, the Mario Bros. cannot switch positions at will, and only do so depending on which field move is selected, with the default (normal jumps) having Mario in front.
      • Superstar Saga has fire- and lightning-based field moves, the Firebrand and Thunderhand, which never reappeared until the game's 2017 3DS remake.
      • Beans also worked very differently back then. In the first game, the bros needed to trade them for a coffee in the Starbeans Cafe in order to get a drink that'd give them the stat boost; they couldn't be eaten raw from the item menu. Partners in Time reduced beans to currency for Fawful's shop, which was odd in itself. But in later games, the beans were simply eaten raw like a mushroom or nut, and the whole drinks part of the game was gone.
  • Super Mario Kart, the first Mario Kart game, is different in many ways from its sequels:
    • The game had five races per cup instead of four like in the later games. It also featured Donkey Kong Jr. as one of the playable characters; Donkey Kong himself wouldn't appear in the series until Mario Kart 64 (as Rare wouldn't create the iconic new Donkey Kong in Donkey Kong Country until 2 years after Super Mario Kart's release).
    • Super Mario Kart featured the Feather item, which allowed players to jump super high and over walls. The item didn't reappear until Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and even then it's only used in Battle Mode, most likely because in 64 it would have caused problems with the already-sketchy collision detection system and allowed massive shortcuts, and from 7 and up the hang-glider portions of the tracks served mostly the same purpose as the Feather, but in a more controlled way.
    • The game had the coin system linked to your speed and the mechanic wasn't used again until Super Circuit, and didn't become permanent until 7. The first game even had the item boxes NOT regenerate after someone takes it, respawning only after every other item box on the course had been taken (which was especially annoying if one of the boxes was hard to get to, such as the second Battle Course that had a few behind walls that you needed a feather to get to).
    • 150cc difficulty was locked, whereas it is freely open to players in the later games.
    • Tracks all have five laps per race while the rest of the games play with only three laps except in certain cases (such as if a track is very long or very short, as seen with Double Dash!!'s Wario Colosseum having two laps and Baby Park from the same game having more than three laps in all of its appearances). This was due to the tracks in Super Mario Kart being quite short while the tracks and their retro counterparts in later games were lengthened a bit to accommodate the new racing mechanics. Time Trials in Super Mario Kart had no item use at all compared to the later games where they allowed the use of Triple Mushrooms in Time Trials.
    • The Spiny Shell is so infamous in the Mario Kart community that it feels just weird that it didn't appear in the first Mario Kart game at all. It would make its debut in the second game, where it still had some functional differences compared to Double Dash!! onward, such as not flying, the impact not being too powerful, and the ability to hold it indefinitely on the back of your kart. While it did become wingless again in 7, in that game and 8 it still flies up and explodes when it reaches whoever's in first place.
    • Super Mario Kart is the only game in the series where the AI has their own items (some of the characters use the normal items you would get, like a green shell) and had infinite uses of them. The items unique to Yoshi (an unmovable egg), Bowser (a roaming fireball), and Toad and Princess Toadstool (a mushroom that shrinks whoever touches it) have not appeared in any other game. It wasn't until Mario Kart 64 that the AI was regulated to only using items the player could use, though they could still use items without actually having to grab an item box.
    • The first game did not allow the player to trail an item behind them like a shield — the only way to block an item coming at you was to drop it behind the player with the right timing. Also, items sent behind you were always dropped — no firing shells backwards like in later games. The second game allowed fake item boxes to act as a shield when trailed behind, which was dropped in subsequent games. Double Dash!! returned to the first title's idea of no item shielding, but added an alert for when an item was going to hit you from behind so the second player can shoot it backwards.
    • In the first game, the computers follow each other in a straight line and clip through hazards.
    • Super Mario Kart and Super Circuit didn't allow you to advance any further in a GP if you got fifth place or lower. If you retried the course you lost one of your three lives, which meant four losses was a game over. Mario Kart 64 didn't let you continue from a low position either, but they did get rid of the life system and you could retry as much as you wanted, though this led to an odd situation where it was better to get fifth place or lower and retry than to take fourth or higher (in which case the GP would go on with your less-than-perfect score).
    • The Japanese version has Princess Peach and Bowser both drinking champagne in their victory poses, complete with drunken blushes. Future Mario games are devoid of alcohol.
  • Mario Party:
    • The earliest games, the very first in particular, lack many features that would became standard to the series, such as collectible items, segregated story and party modes, and key board-level concepts like banking and dueling. The first game was also significantly more aggressive, where the winner of many mini-games was rewarded from the pockets of the losers. Some mini-games had the entire team working together, with no villain other than the stage itself. The first game was also the only one to have mini-games involving rotating the control stick, which would cause blisters; the second game excised these as well as coin-losing mini-games, but it also recycled many other mini-games from the first, which the third game (and all those subsequent) would make a point of avoiding. Finally, it wasn't until the Nintendo GameCube era that a wide variety of side games were available, probably for memory reasons.
    • The first four games have Donkey Kong as a Player Character, but in subsequent games he's made into a supporting character instead. It wasn't until Mario Party 10 when Donkey Kong was playable once again.
    • The Orb system used in Mario Party 5 has Orbs (which are called Capsules here) given at random by a machine with no way to buy them. All capsules can be thrown or used on yourself at a cost and any capsule space will activate when landed on, including those the player put down themselves. It was not until Mario Party 6 that the Orbs were divided into those used on yourself, those activated by passing, and those activated by landing on them, and you could not be affected by your own thrown orb.
  • The first Mario vs. Donkey Kong game plays quite differently from its sequels. You control Mario, instead of an army of windup Mini-Marios, in what is essentially a Spiritual Successor to the Game Boy version of Donkey Kong instead of an indirectly controlled Puzzle Game in the vein of Lemmings.
  • Wario Land:
  • The early Game & Watch games starring Mario portrayed him very differently. In most of Mario's Game & Watch games he's portrayed more as an Everyman with fairly ordinary jobs, much like Mr Game & Watch. Mario Bros shows Mario & Luigi working at a cake factory and Mario's Cement Factory is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Perhaps the most unusual one however was Mario's Bombs Away, portraying Mario as a soldier, complete with a uniform and green helmet, passing bombs over to his troops which would be used to blow up the trees the enemies are hiding in. Also noteworthy is that one of the fellow soldiers is even shown smoking, and will toss lit cigars onto some spilled oil on the ground which catches fire and can light your bomb's fuse prematurely. While the game is still cartoony enough that it's safe for kids, it's certainly a setting that you'd never see Nintendo touch with the Mario franchise today. The game was however unlockable in Game & Watch Gallery Advance.
  • The first Game & Watch Gallery game was much different compared to later releases:
    • The Gallery Corner only had the non-playable demos, which would become the Museum from 2 onward.
    • There was no star counter, as titles in the Gallery Corner required 400 or 800 points to open.
    • The heart in Modern versions was much smaller and harder to see.
    • Different sound effects played for pausing in Modern and Classic versions.
    • Getting a Game Over sent you back to the Mode Select screen, with no option to retry.
    • Once the Staff and Cast Credits played, there was no option to play either again.
  • The general lore and characterizations of the series has changed a lot since the 8-bit days:
    • The Japanese manual of the first game stated Toads were transformed into blocks. All other games ignore this concept.
    • Mario was originally written as a middle-aged man in his 40s or maybe even 50s in the arcade titles. In the earliest arcade titles, this was true in Japan as well, though around 1986, Mario started being depicted as a younger man with large youthful eyes and the suave Toru Furuya acting as his voice in animated productions. Outside of Japan, Mario continued to have gruff middle aged voice actors. By the mid-'90s, in the USA as well, he had been aged down significantly to be Peach's age. Word of God is that he is between 24 and 25 years old.
    • Early media tended to depict Luigi as several years Mario's junior instead of them being fraternal twins, which was first shown in Yoshi's Island.
    • Mario and Luigi were originally depicted as being from Brooklyn and getting transported to the Mushroom Kingdom (which seemed to be an alternate universe). As the series went on they started ignoring real-world countries and Yoshi's Island shows that the brothers were born in the Mushroom Kingdom. Occasional references to Brooklyn existed (though whether it's a country in-universe or in a separate is not mentioned), until Odyssey finally did away this piece of lore by introducing Metro Kingdom and New Donk City.
    • Peach having a father is referenced in early (English) material, but later games present her as the monarch of the kingdom. Her father, the Mushroom King, only appears in person in the Super Mario Adventures Nintendo Power comic.
    • In early games Bowser, Peach, and Luigi were clean-slates. It wasn't until the late 1990s and early 2000s, with games like Paper Mario and Super Mario Sunshine, that their personalities began being fleshed out. Peach was originally a standard Princess Classic even in Super Mario 64 but she eventually turned into a parody of the trope. Her lighter tone of personality was reflected in her voice becoming more high pitched starting with the GameCube era. Bowser was originally a generic Big Bad before the RPGs gave him a hammy personality and showed that he has a Villainous Crush on Peach. Luigi was originally a simple palette-swap of Mario until games like Luigi's Mansion and Superstar Saga established him as a Cowardly Lion and a Second Banana to Mario.
    • Characters' voices didn't become their current standard until the 2000s. Prior to Super Mario 64 both Mario and Luigi had Brooklyn accents to reflect their original backstories. Starting with the N64, both gained Italian accents to reflect their Italian heritage. Peach's original voices were deeper than her post-Sunshine ones, while Toad's voice was high-pitched and childish (especially in the Japanese version of Mario Kart 64) instead of raspy. Luigi had a voice that was higher-pitched than Mario's in the Japanese version of Mario Kart 64 and all versions of Mario Kart: Super Circuit and the first two Mario Party games, while the first two Super Smash Bros. games simply gave him a higher-pitched version of Mario's voice; he was given a deeper voice in other countries' versions of Mario Kart 64, finally being voiced by Charles Martinet, like Mario, but his voice wouldn't be the familiar, timid voice, till Luigi's Mansion. Wario lacked an Italian accent in the Japanese version of Mario Kart 64, and all versions of Mario Kart: Super Circuit and the first two Mario Party games and instead was presented as German; like Luigi, he wasn't voiced by Martinet during this time.
    • Daisy being the loud Tomboy Princess she is known as didn't become a thing until the Gamecube era. She was a generic princess in her first game before being introduced as a klutz in Mario Tennis. She was more polite in the first three Mario Party games, but she was still shown be trouble when angered.
  • Character designs often started out differently:
    • Mario had a blue shirt and red overalls in Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Mario Bros., and Wrecking Crew; the colors wouldn't be swapped around until Super Mario Bros., though his in-game sprites in SMB1 and The Lost Levels had brown overalls. (Mario's sprites wouldn't accurately reflect his now-iconic color palette in artwork until Super Mario Bros. 2 came around.) The blue shirt and red overalls would eventually return in Super Mario Odyssey as an alternate outfit. Also, promotional artwork for Donkey Kong depicted Mario as a middle-aged balding man (which is also how he looked in the 1993 live-action film), but Nintendo has since retconned Mario into a twenty-something and shown him to possess a full head of hair underneath his plumber's cap. Mario's limbs were also much stubbier in early artwork, making him appear rather stocky, however modern art gives him longer limbs which gives the impression that he's actually lost weight in the intervening decades.
    • Likewise, Luigi had a brown shirt-green overall combo in his first appearance, and a green shirt and white overalls (resembling his Fire Flower form) in Super Mario Bros. Both of the remakes gave him back said brown shirt-green overall combo (or, in the case of the Super Mario All-Stars version, the blue shirt-green overalls), and made this costume his Fire Flower form instead. Luigi also started off as a Palette Swap of Mario. While the American Super Mario Bros. 2 was the first time Luigi was depicted with his current tall and slim look, he went back to being a palette swap in Super Mario Bros. 3. The original release of Super Mario World also had him as a palette swap. The Super Mario All-Stars + Super Mario World compilation and the GBA remake of Super Mario World gave him new taller and slimmer sprites. Likewise, the All-Stars remakes of the first and third games updated Luigi's sprites into his modern look, which has persisted in every game since.
    • Peach has her SMB1 sprite drawn with red hair and a white dress with red trim, using the colour palette as the Mushroom Retainers. Early official artwork also shows her much younger, possibly the age of a child - she wouldn't gain her proper adult appearance in the official art until The Lost Levels.
    • Both Bowser's official SMB1 artwork and his in-game sprite look considerably more bull-like than later appearances, with his bracelets and collar presumably inspiring his stereotypical dog name, "Bowser".
    • Daisy wore a purple crown in her older appearances, but somewhere around Mario Kart: Double Dash!! it was replaced with a golden one like Peach's one. Her hair was also long like Peach until it was cropped shorter in Mario Party 4. Daisy was Ambiguously Brown during the Nintendo 64 era but returned to her original tone for Mario Party 4.
    • Wario originally wore a long-sleeved shirt, but since Wario Land II he's often been seen wearing a short-sleeved one. He's consistently portrayed with short sleeves in Wario's own games, but alternated between them and the long sleeves in the Mario spin-offs before permanently settling on the short ones.
    • Pauline was originally depicted as a blonde in illustrations for the arcade and Famicom versions of Donkey Kong, but became a brunette in Donkey Kong '94, presumably to distinguish her from Peach (who at that point had already appeared in more games than Pauline and was a more recognizable character as a result). Her sprite always had her as a brunette anyway, though it may have originally been for technical limitations.
    • Yoshi was less-anthropomorphized in Super Mario World compared to how he would look later on. Certain spin-offs, such as Super Smash Bros., also stayed closer to Yoshi's original depiction.
  • Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the series had many adaptations, with many playing loose with their game accuracy. After the failure of Super Mario Bros. movie, they put a stop to the adaptations wth few exceptions (such as Super Mario-kun continuing to run). This slowly began changing in the 2010s with Bowser's cameo in Wreck-It Ralph and later an All-CGI Cartoon film being greenlit, but Nintendo is much more strict over their Mario adaptations than they once were.
  • In the early 2000s, the series toyed around with full voice-acting. This could be seen in games like Super Mario Sunshine and Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour. Since the late 2000s, the series has predominantly stuck to Voice Grunting and short, two or three word phrases.
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