An A to Z guide to Mario

On November 13, the strangely titled Super Mario 3D Land comes out on the Nintendo 3DS.

In case you needed a refresher on the realm of insanity that is the Mario series, I’ve compiled an A-Z guide covering everything on the mustachioed Olympian kart racing partying doctor plumber.


First introduced in Super Mario Bros. 3, the airships replaced the castles of the original Mario game with floating fortresses filled to the brim with death. Cannon balls, wrenches, and every other painful object you could think of fly through the air as the screen slowly scrolls over, forcing gamers to constantly stay on their toes. At the end, Mario faces off with one of Bowser’s children before falling a thousand feet to safety.


On my time on this earth, I have come to discover two universal truths: M&M’s do, in fact, melt quite easily in your hand, and Bowser steals Princess Peach. He has given himself a fairly shallow reputation as a villain because he continually kidnaps her, then does nothing. He does not kill her, or hold her for any sort of ransom. He just steals  her. Sometimes, when he is feeling really adventurous, he will switch the castle she is staying in. That’s…about it.

However, I think this situation warrants a closer look — what we actually have in Bowser is one of the most complex, complicated, and tragic gaming figures in existence. One day, he is kidnapping a princess and trying his best to finally kill his nemesis. The next day, he is participating in semi-friendly sports with Mario and the gang, driving around in karts, and providing special, decidedly un-deadly cameos in Mario’s parties. How twisted must Bowser’s mind be to one day try and kill Mario, then the next turn around and actually be a pretty decent guy? Is kidnapping the Princess just an unstoppable compulsion for him? Maybe he cries and night and wishes things don’t have to be that way? And while he’s crying, he stares at the poster of Mario on his wall, and yearns to play tennis with him every day, lamenting over his inability to shed his sinister façade. But he knows that when he wakes up in the morning, he will have to kidnap the Princess again, and send his life spiraling in the same perpetual, unbreakable cycle, until he either kills Mario, or Mario kills him.

Yeah, I bet that’s what it’s like.


Another new feature introduced in Super Mario 3, costumes reinvented the franchise, and became a mainstay in the series. From the mighty Tanooki Suit to the water friendly Frog Suit, each was great in its own way. Except for the Bee Suit. The Bee Suit can go to hell.

Donkey Kong

The original nemesis of Mario, Donkey Kong has one of the strangest character arches in gaming. First, he steals a princess, then tries to kill Mario by throwing, like, five million barrels at him. Then, he reforms, but an evil crocodile comes to his home and steals all of his bananas. And he refuses to wear anything more than a tie. Much like most Mario antagonists, the guy has some serious issues.

Extra Life

Achieved when Mario consumes a green mushroom. Pretty straightforward, and yet both the method and the term have become iconic.


Also known as Mario’s water-projecting yellow backpack, and a travesty that should never be repeated. While the talking hose didn’t ruin Super Mario Sunshine, it altered gameplay so drastically that it didn’t really feel like Mario anymore.


This poor species of creature is currently experiencing genocide via Mario and company. After being coerced into joining Bowser’s army despite very obviously having zero combat capability (these guys don’t even have arms), they have gone on to be some of the most ineffective enemies in gaming, period. Sadly, Mario shows no mercy on their pitiful souls, and even worse, they have yet to receive an invitation to any of Mario’s parties, sporting events, or race car…races. The most tragic figures in gaming? I think so.


Mario wears a red one. Sometimes, his hats provide special abilities, like flight, or a metal transformation.


Despite the ridiculous premise of Mario fighting Bowser through the depths of space, immune to the cold and complete lack of oxygen, Super Mario Galaxy has offered the most inventive and solid platforming action in this generation of gaming. Perfecting the mechanics introduced in Mario 64, Galaxy transcends the average Mario adventure by introducing new ideas and ways to traverse a level about every hour. Galaxy 2 manages to trump its predecessor, and while I don’t quite know how this is possible, I have learned to just trust Shigeru Miyamoto.


Mario’s original name in his first-ever gaming appearance, Donkey Kong. Now you know!


During the days of his life when he is not busy saving the Princess, Mario and Co. race Go-Karts across the Mushroom Kingdom. Why? Who knows.


Mario’s severely overshadowed sibling. I am still pining for a game in which Luigi is the star, and not a completely incompetent figure. This hasn’t happened since Super Mario Bros. 2. I know about Luigi’s Mansion and Mario is Missing, but remember, I said “not completely incompetent.” Something like his role in Super Mario Galaxy, but not as a secret character that makes the game harder. I’m still holding out, Luigi. Maybe one day you’ll show the world what you are really capable of.


The most recognizable mascot in the world. When he is not saving the Princess, he spends his time playing a variety of sports, participating in parties, driving karts, or…viciously fighting fellow Nintendo characters. If you don’t already know all of this, you are probably reading the wrong column. Don’t let that make you stop reading it, though. I’m just saying. Keep reading.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii

Released in 2009, NSMBW included four player co-op, and marked the first time since the Super Nintendo that a major console received a traditional side-scrolling entry. A great way to ruin friendships. “Help Weegee!”


Sure, “Octopus” is not their official name, but there are not a lot of things that begin with O in the Mario universe, so you have to bear with me. Besides, you know what I’m referring to — those frustrating, white, squid-like things that always appear underwater in Mario levels. When Mario sinks, they sink. If he tries to swim over, they rapidly rise. Personally, these guys are some of the most anger-inducing enemies in the series.


Apparently, Mario is a plumber. I only know of this profession because I have been told; there is actually no evidence in any of the games that states this. What, because he can use warp pipes, he is automatically a plumber? If tomorrow I find a huge green pipe and fall in it, that doesn’t make me a plumber. I don’t know, maybe plumbers have magic that make these pipes work, and if I tried it, I would just fall into a space vortex or something, but it just seems like a really arbitrary profession for the world’s most iconic gaming figure.

Question Mark Blocks

These blocks contain helpful items like fire flowers, mushrooms, and coins, and are activated when Mario slams his fist into them.


Super Mario RPG starts like any other Mario title: The heroic plumber makes his way into the depths of Bowser’s castle, only to fight the giant dinosaur-tortoise atop some chandeliers. Then a giant (expletive) sword named Smithy falls out of the sky and takes control of the castle, a plot turn which eventually finds Bowser teaming up with Mario and party to take it back. Recently, a new Mario RPG game was released that finds Mario and Luigi as miniature heroes fighting from the inside of Bowser’s body. The Mario RPG series, including the beautifully rendered Paper Marios, puts emphasis not only on solid battle mechanics, but also a penchant for tongue-in-cheek humor that is very refreshing for the franchise.

Shy Guys

Making their debut in Super Mario Bros. 2, these masked…things have become series mainstays, especially in the Yoshi’s Island installments. As far as Mario enemies, they are a few notches more dangerous than Goombas (so, not dangerous), but some of them have annoying abilities, like walking on stilts. Which, again, is not dangerous at all. If I’m Mario, and I have a choice to face turtles that throw lethal hammers at me, or slow, fairly immobile masked guys that walk on stilts, I go with the stilts.


Appearing as the main nemesis in the original Super Mario Land, Tatanga is an strange alien that comes down to earth and, despite his knowledge of advanced alien spacecrafts and his origin of “not even from this planet,” he still insisted on capturing a (expletive) princess. In the Mario universe, stealing Princesses is the universal language among villains.


Apparently, this is the name of the giant eel in Super Mario 64. I knew him better as “the God-forsaken invincible huge ass fish thing that killed me repeatedly as I drowned.”


Mario combats this virus in his puzzle game, Dr. Mario. I have so many questions — what does this virus do? What happens if it gets out? When did Mario get his doctorate? — but I’ll let them slide because of how awesome this game is.


Making his first appearance in Super Mario Land 2: The Six Golden Coins, Wario can best be described as an evil doppelganger of Mario. Well, kind of evil. While he made his debut as a refreshing new villain in the Mario franchise, he has become more of a comedic figure as of late, with his name more associated with “mini-game collections” than “I’m going to ruin your life with my sinister-ness.” For Galaxy 3, my suggestion is return Wario to the nemesis spotlight, and give Bowser a much needed vacation with his annoying son.


The main group of enemies in Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, this secret society attempted to steal Princess Peach (what else?) to try and conquer the world. Or something. Personally, I’m just happy they exist to give me something that starts with the letter X. Dodged a bullet on that one.


Yoshi was introduced in Super Mario World as the green little horse dinosaur with an unfathomably long tongue that Mario rides. With a saddle. When Yoshi eats enemies, he can produce eggs, which he can then fire at enemies. Despite these strange and impressive abilities, the real wonder is how Yoshi didn’t take a gun and put a Bullet Bill through his head after seeing Baby Mario fall yet again onto his island. As if once wasn’t enough, Baby Mario later brings his other baby friends along, and it’s up to Yoshi to save the day/babysit again.

Zane, Billy

Oh my God, wouldn’t it be neat if Billy Zane voiced Mario in the future? Maybe for the next movi…okay, you caught me. I couldn’t think of anything good for Z. Let’s face it; no one actually made it this far down this list, anyway. I can basically write anything I want down here and be free from any consequences. Expect my plot to take over the world at the bottom of my next column.

2 thoughts on “An A to Z guide to Mario

  1. You can’t drink wine all day and then wonder why the heck things are the way they are, right? Hope it’s good wine at least!

Join the Conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s