Mario is one of the most iconic characters the gaming world has ever seen, and his games are just as popular now as they’ve ever been. We have some news for you hardcore fans, though—you can probably guess that there’s a lot of history behind Mario’s story, and we’d bet that you know almost none of it.

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Whether you play the games or not, you’d have to be living under a rock to not know who Mario is by now. Everyone’s favorite mustache-wearing plumber in red overalls is essentially Nintendo’s mascot, but he’s also the single most recognizable character in the entire industry of gaming.

Games in the Super Mario franchise have definitely stood the test of time, and are still just as popular now as they ever were. As big a fan as some people might be, though, there’s still lots about that games that many of us don’t know.

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He’s Not A Plumber

Well, he wasn’t originally, at least. Mario was first featured in the Donkey Kong arcade game as a carpenter whose mission was to rush to the top of a building to save his girlfriend being held hostage by Donkey Kong. Because the game was set at a construction site, it made more sense to make Mario a carpenter, but he was eventually made into a plumber when pipes became an integral part of his games.

He Was Actually A Villain

We all think of Mario as a hero, but did you know that he has a pretty dark spot in his past? In the original Donkey Kong game, Donkey Kong was actually Mario’s pet. Sadly, the reason why he decided to imprison Mario’s girlfriend at the top of the building is because Mario was mean to him.

Mario apparently didn’t learn, though, because he returned to his troublesome ways in Donkey Kong Jr. In the game, Donkey Kong Jr.’s mission is to rescue his dad from Mario’s clutches, as he has him locked in a cage.

Remember Optimus Prime?

You probably do, but you might be wondering what a Transformer has to do with a Mario game.

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Though Mario has been voiced by a few different actors throughout the years, he was voiced by a man named Peter Cullen in 1983, who was also the voice of Optimus Prime in the original “Transformers” series that came out in the ‘80s and the live-action movie version that was released in 2007.

One Game Contains A Hidden World

In the Super Mario Bros. game, there’s an unexpected glitch that you might be surprised to hear about.

The game refers to it as “World 36,” but it’s also been referred to as “Minus World” and “World -1.” The secret world can be found at the end of the game’s World 1-2, right next to the pipe that would allow you to exit the level.

To get there, all you have to do is stand on top of the pipe, break the two bricks that are directly above you, then turn around and somehow try to jump into the pipe backwards, preferably ducking while you jump.

You probably won’t get it on the first try but, most likely after many frustrating attempts, you’ll hopefully be able to make it in. Once you’re there, there are also a series of pipes that can take you back to some of the other worlds in the game.

Those Brick Blocks?

There’s nothing like smashing a few blocks in the Mushroom Kingdom to find a spare coin or two—well, maybe not after you hear this. In the Super Mario Bros. game, those blocks are actually innocent citizens of the kingdom who were transformed into bricks via a curse.

This isn’t even some weird fan conspiracy theory, either—it’s actually written in the game’s manual! It’s probably best not to think about how many of those blocks you make Mario smash during your quests to rescue the princess…

Mario Almost Wasn’t In Donkey Kong

That’s right—originally, Mario’s role in the game was supposed to go to Popeye. Not only that, but the game itself was actually supposed to be a Popeye game. That means Princess Peach would’ve been Olive Oyl, and Donkey Kong would’ve been Bluto.

Because Nintendo wasn’t able to get the rights to make the game as it originally intended, Miyamoto decided to take inspiration from the story of King Kong, creating what would eventually become one of the company’s most memorable games.

Yoshi Has An Evil Twin

Just like there’s Wario to Mario and Waluigi to Luigi, Yoshi also has his own villainous counterpart: Boshi. He only appears in one game, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, which is probably why most of us have never heard of him—we’ve never even heard of the game at all.

Whereas the Yoshi we all know and love is helpful and friendly, Boshi is kind of a loner who’d rather fly solo. He has a spiky collar and wears sunglasses but is somehow too tough to wear shoes—in fact, he’s the only Yoshi that doesn’t.

Tom Hanks Almost Played Mario

In 1993, Super Mario Bros. the movie was released and, while we personally have fond memories of watching it on Disney Channel, others thought it was pretty awful. Luigi was played by John Leguizamo and Mario was played by Bob Hoskins, but that almost wasn’t the case.

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Apparently, the role was offered to Tom Hanks, but he had to turn it down to star in Philadelphia, which was undoubtedly the right choice for his career. We can’t help but imagine what could have been, though.

Super Mario 64 Can Improve Your Memory

There will always be people who say that video games are for the lazy, and you now have concrete proof that they can actually be pretty beneficial.

A study done by the Max Plank Institute for Human Development and the Charité University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus tracked 23 adults as they played Super Mario 64 for two months straight, 30 minutes each day.

Another group in the study served as a control group and didn’t play any video games for the two-month period. Surprisingly, researchers saw that the group that did play the game had an increase of gray matter in their brains, specifically in the right prefrontal cortex, the cerebellum, and the right hippocampus.

This then increased their memory function, their spatial orientation, and the motor skills of their hands. We’ll wait here while you run to show this to your parents or partner and continue to play all of the video games your heart desires.

Another Game Almost Featured Yoshi

Ever play Croc: Legend of the Cobbos? You might be wondering what it has to do with Mario, but there actually is some connection—everyone’s favorite green dinosaur was almost the game’s main character.

For those who aren’t familiar with the game, it features a Croc—unsurprisingly, Croc is a crocodile—who travels around rescuing tons of innocent, furry creatures from an evil ruler trying to take over the land. However, before Croc was ever in the picture, the game’s creator, a British company called Argonaut Games, actually imagined Yoshi as the main focus of the game.

Unfortunately, Nintendo turned them down, saying that it would not give permission for its characters to be used by another company, and the game as they originally imagined it fell through.

Fortunately for Argonaut Games, though, their finished product ended up being the company’s best-selling game—it definitely makes you wonder how big it could’ve been in the hands of Nintendo.

One Game Was A Play

At one point in time, there was a rumor created by fans of Super Mario Bros. 3 that claimed the entire game was actually a play that you as the player were the audience for.

While it might sound weird, the creator of the entire Mario series, Shigeru Miyamoto, actually did confirm that it’s true. The big giveaway? It’s pretty obvious when you think about it—the game actually starts off with a big curtain opening across the screen.

You can also see that blocks seem to be attached to the background, and certain objects create shadows that indicate it’s not a real sky you’re looking at.

During a few levels, you can even take a trip backstage where you’ll find platforms that hang from the roof, allowing you to explore an entirely different “set” in the game. Not only that, but each level also ends with what looks like Mario walking off a stage.

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