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Super Mario Bros, all things considered, is kind of a big deal. You know, in the same way that Everest is kind of a big rock, or that Star Wars is kind of not as good as it used to be.
But strangely, given that it's the most important game from one of the most important companies in video game history, we know remarkably little about how it came to be. Admittedly, most of us assume it was just gifted to the world, fully-formed and perfect, by the very gods themselves, but that's not true. And now, in a chat with Famitsu, Shigeru Miyamoto has finally spilled some very interesting and very surprising beans pertaining to how Mario became what he is. And what he very easily could have been.
Most surprising of all, the original Super Mario Bros. nearly had a much bigger shooting emphasis. Mario's fireballs were originally bullets, and Miyamoto planned to allow him to fly around on a cloud blasting enemies (an idea that very possibly inspired Super Mario Land's scrolling shooter levels). The original control set-up also allowed Mario to sprint around shooting as many fireballs as he wanted, until Shigs realised that made him too much of an apocalyptic Rambo-style arse-kicker. And jumping was going to be controlled by pressing up on the d-pad, which, given SMB's later influence, could have made games crap forevermore.
There are plenty of other juicy details in the interview, such as Miyamoto's justification for the Mushroom Kingdom's totally-bonkers-and-a-bit-suspect-when-you-actually-think-about-it obsession with magic 'shrooms and turtles. He also explains that the notorious infinite 1-up trick was intentional (and that the even more notorious Minus World glitch wasn't, but he's cool with it regardless because it doesn't actually break the game). Want a few more tasty morsels? You can get 'em here.