The Inspiration For Super Mario Bros
Editorials / Features
When it comes to articles about what aspects of popular culture have inspired the Mario series, anyone who's a series fan will know exactly what to expect. Talk about Mario as based on Alice in Wonderland, talk of Mario being named after the Landlord of Nintendo of America's offices and maybe some talk about how the Koopa was based on the Kappa from folklore. This is all well and good, and it's all true, but it's been done to death. So how about some interesting examples of the Mario series getting inspiration from, and being based on some clever, albeit more obscure things?

First off, Super Mario Land. It's been said before on another gaming blog I visit, and a few people have pieced this whole thing together, but the weird enemies and names are nowhere near as out there as they actually seem. Take the enemies, which are based on Japanese or general Eastern folklore (this pattern continues with the monsters in the Pumpkin Zone in the sequel, and all things considered makes it seem like the folks at Nintendo were getting a little bored of the stock monsters usually found in the series). The pionpi is a Chinese Vampire, the Haunted Lantern is a Chochinobake (paper lantern which comes alive on it's 100th birthday) and even the Tamanoripu is based on an obscure Famicom system character in Japan (it's the bear thing on a ball found in the Mario Zone). 

But what about the worlds and stuff? Well, those too have a rather clever theme which got lost in translation.  Birabuto for example means 'Pyramid', which explains all the Sphinx styled monsters and Egyptian theming, but have you noticed an ongoing theme here? Every one of these places is based on an Earth place which has some urban legend/mythological connection to aliens in some way! Egypt and the pyramids of course is often referenced as being built by aliens in the various crazy conspiracy theories and folktales, Muda is based on the Bermuda Triangle, where ships and planes are supposed to go missing (and many people attribute this to extraterrestrials abducting people with UFOs), Easton is based on Easter Island, with the Moai heads and statues often having being attributed to alien intervention, and considering Super Mario Bros in general takes all myths as true in part of the background story (if there's a supernatural creature or event in the real world, it will have it's equivalent in the Mushroom World, it makes for good boss battle and platforming opportunities). But what of the Chai Kingdom, aka the equivalent to China? Well, it's based on extremely old folklore and legends here, but one of the old names used to describe the country was the Celestial Kingdom. Another was the middle kingdom, and another meant 'all under heaven'. The heavens in Super Mario Land? The final level!  The space/celestial part? Tatanga and such not. Nice space/alien theming there, albeit something nearly everyone will miss.

For another example, what about the professor from Wario Land 4? This is someone even Artemendo and Waluigious didn't understand the purpose of, or the source of, (He's right.) but he's not an original character. Do you remember Link's Awakening, which had a character called Prince Richard?  He's from a game called Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru or 'For the Frog the Bell Tolls'. The professor is from the same video game, and he's yet another character (I think he might be a villain there). There's certainly an awkard similarity between him and this guy, correct?

But again, this will pass many people by, because I don't think the game ever got an English release, so to them the two characters mentioned are the entire content of what they know about of the game. 

You also can't forget all the elements in the RPGs. Those are basically whole games worth of homages to other genres, with all the relevant parodies and references needed. It shouldn't be too hard to spot all the inspiration for where Nintendo got the idea of Chapter 7 in Super Paper Mario, it's one extremely long Greek Myth/Biblical reference. Things like the Underwhere, Underchomp, Grambi, Jaydes and Charold are in plain sight, and easily recognizable as references to myth and legend. But Bonechill? Well, he's obviously an ex-Nimbi, and he looks nearly identical to Stallord from Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess (is that a coincidence? Not sure, might be a a deliberate reference), but he's also the equivalent of Lucifer/Satan in the Bible. Note he's a fallen angel. Note he's sealed away in what's basically the deepest part of ***. Note he's got ice powers, and then note Lucifer in the Divine Comedy was sealed away in ice, and you've got a fairly non subtle reference here. 

Also, as a certain site has known for a few years now, the final area in the Mario Zone ain't Lego, it's NB 'blocks'.  That's not trying to cover up copyright you know, it's actually a line of Lego clone toys Nintendo manufactured at one point before getting into the video game business.

Yet another interesting thing many don't know is what things inspired Yoshi's Island DS. Sure, it's not the best game by far, but it's got quite an interesting reference, albeit an extremely subtle one in the names of certain levels. Bowser's Castle for example, is called 'At Last, Bowser's Castle!' This seems fairly standard, the usual excited episode title naming as you'd find in many Japanese anime series for example. But it's not, the name for Bowser's Castle in the original seems standard, so what is it a reference to?

It's a reference to the Japanese name for the Bowser's Castle level in the originally, which is called 'At Last, It's Koopa's Castle'. Not something you'd ever figure out without a translation guide, right?

Finally, there's something very interesting about the original I first learnt from the official Nintendo Magazine, and that's where the game's swimming mechanics came from. Everyone hates swimming levels, right? Well, as they point out, there's a possible reason in that the mechanics were basically taken straight from the Balloon Trip mode in Balloon Fight, albeit with the additional of a weapon if you have a Fire Flower. You can almost see exactly what those Jelectro levels were trying to replicate here if you think about it hard enough, and exactly why most people hate them (do you know many people who've even got over 100 points in Balloon Trip?)

In conclusion therefore, forget the old Alice in Wonderland and Nintendo of America Landlord elements and how they inspired the series, they're about as old fashioned now as everyone saying how Super Mario Bros 2 was once a game called Doki Doki Panic. There was some real Mario *** trivia for you, and stuff to potentially impress anyone who's ever liked the series in thinking you're the most hardcore Mario know-it-all in existence!

~Waluigious: We're taking away the magic of the unknown!

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