“If I Game Over, does that make Mario the ghost of a ghost?”
Nintendo seems to love to mess with its consumers, evidenced by endless self references to its own games and a particularly cheeky social media manager (likely Shiggy himself).
Perhaps one of the funniest ways, however, Nintendo has gone about messing with people, is by featuring the brave and valiant plumber, Mario, on the cover of the original Super Mario Bros. game, as he’s about to take a dip in the lava. That’s right; before you even got the game out of the box as a kid on Christmas, Mario was dead from the get-go.
I imagine few people – if any – realized this in Nintendo’s hayday, and there’s even bound to be a few people who will read this that were none the wiser before they got here. Nonetheless, it brings to light an even stranger question: if Mario dies on the cover of the game, does that mean we’re playing as his ghost every time we fire up the ol’ NES/emulators?
Sure, one could argue that the cover is unrelated to the game’s story, much in the same way that Hyrule doesn’t tout a giant floating, flashing ‘Legend of Zelda’ logo over a waterfall in some random location (unless Hyrule Castle has a waterfall, which would explain why Ganon never has a hard time finding Zelda).
The cover can also symbolize one of infinite possible parallel universes that scientists are always yammering on about. Hell, it could even be a previous incarnation of Mario that died trying, and now it’s up to YOU, and your Mario (if you wanna go the Japanese Buddhism route).
But it’s not. Despite its Japanese origins, it’s creators clearly were going with a Western-Christian twist, adding purgatory to a would-be classic in the form of a sweet little “Jumpman” trying to save his beloved princess. Why do you think he can die infinitely and come back?
And before you say “because it’s a video game, duh!”, just… no.
Logic need not apply here.
Nintendo nixed the halo, because they wanted to shed any religious references to avoid controversy, but just like the Illuminati, they just couldn’t resist flaunting their dirty little secrets in our faces. Mario dies on the cover, doing who knows what, for God knows what reason (he looks like he’s flying OUT of the lava, but we know, not even a star is gonna save him from a lava bath).
Unfortunately, we were the bunch of pigeons that bought into the whole facade, without even knowing it.
We were playing as a dead plumber craving mushrooms, saving an imaginary princess, from a lizard that only existed in Mario’s presumptuous afterlife. Slapping the reference right on the cover, like the all-seeing eye that mocks us on every dollar we earn, Shigeru Miyamoto and company laughed all the way to the bank, taking our moneys, and glorifying a goddamn plumber through heroism, while his brother clearly does all the work.