The ever-changing sizes of Mario and Bowser

It’s no surprise Nintendo would alter Mario and Bowser as time wears on, especially when their first appearances are crude sprites that barely convey what they’re supposed to be. If you study the duo’s evolution over the course of 23 years, it’s just plain funny how much Bowser has shifted sizes, from roughly comparable to Mario to Godzilla-sized beast of fury.

It all began in a homely 1985 fire pit, lightly adorned with bubbling magma and a drawbridge that collapsed with one swift axe chop. In these hallowed days Mario was about half the size of ol’ Bowser, easily outwitting him with superior speed and uncanny jumping abilities.

Super Mario, on the other hand, doubles in size to overtake his reptilian nemesis by one measly pixel line. Hardly an imposing figure now, is he?


Bowser reappeared a few years later as a spiky-haired leapster capable of out-jumping Mario any day of the week. No more plodding around, blindly blasting fire at will. As you can see, he’s buffed up a bit, with Mario baaaaarely approaching his chubby hands.

Even Super Mario has to look up to Bowser now. This sets a precedent that most, if not all subsequent Mario/Bowser pairings show some kind of slight adjustment. No one wrote a hard and fast rule that says “Mario is 5’6’’, Bowser is 8’7’’.”


Hard to tell exactly how large Bowser was in 1991, what with his baffling, surely drug induced contraption that defies categorization. However, we can see his spiky hair has blossomed into a mousse-caked Royal Mane of the Mushroom Kingdom.

Super Mario looks like he’s about half the size of Bowser now, losing ground with each sequel. At this rate he’ll barely come up to his knees in the next game. Too bad the exact opposite happens...


Bowser somehow shrunk himself down to roughly the same size as Mario for a friendly putting about on the go-kart course. Oh we get why they’re the same size, but c’mon, two minutes ago he was twice Mario’s height.


Five, maybe six people played the NES version of Mario’s Time Machine, and as far as Bowser’s concerned, it’s a damn good thing. This embarrassing, compromising ending image shows the big meanie crying his eyes out while Mario throws up Mushroom Kingdom gang signs to all his fallen soldiers.

At least they’re on the same page as Mario Kart though, with Bowser just a bit taller and wider. More or less how they were in Super Mario Bros. 3.


Nintendo apparently had some yacht bills piling up in the early ‘90s and decided to release enhanced versions of the previous three NES games for easy money. The Mario sprite found in the remake of the first SMB game stayed about the same, but Super Mario actually drops a few pixels from his original size. As seen at the very top of the page, he used to be slightly taller. Hello, retcon.


Super Mario World 2 took place when the two were just babies, forcibly tying their twin destinies together for all gaming eternity. Even with diapers clinging to their poopy butts Bowser still had a slight edge over Mario.

Then came the most extreme size difference of all, though it’s artificially instigated – the magical villain Kamek sprays baby Bowser with fairy dust, causing him to burst into Godzilla territory.

For the complete visual breakdown of the final battle, head to vgmuseum.


Ick, here come the mid ‘90s, a time of rendered 3D sprites and barely recognizable polygons. Who needs crisp, defined sprites when we can have such instantly dated visuals as those in Mario RPG?

We kid, we kid. It’s an excellent game by all rights and we can’t wait to check out the latest. Here they seem to be in the same Mario 3/Mario Kart range, but that’s all about to change with the next game...


Mamma mia! Now this is a drastic departure from every previous game. Bowser has grown tremendously and it’s plainly clear why that is – Nintendo needed Mario 64 to blow everyone away, and a same-sized villain just wouldn’t resonate as much as a towering, fire-breathing menace. They had the technology, they rebuilt him etc insert tired Six Million Dollar Man reference here.

As you can see, Mario, who once saw eye to eye with King Bowser, now neatly fits in the latter’s mouth. Amazingly enough, he becomes even larger in the sequel – more on that in a sec.

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  • gUtSLyOiR - July 26, 2010 12:59 a.m.

    giga bowser looks... kinda like ganon with the colours and scale of it... looks like it came right out of Twilight Princess
  • Lokolord - July 24, 2010 9:43 p.m.

    Well the bowser from sunshine may be huge but it's still quite a bit smaller then the new bowser from Galaxy 2
  • dirty1996 - July 6, 2010 6:57 p.m.

    Man... Too bad Super Mario Galaxy 2 wasnt out when this was done. Bowser is sooo huge that he bends time XD! But seriously, he is huge!
  • oufour - November 5, 2009 12:50 p.m.

    i've got a good explanation for the size difference. in every mario game, mario kills bowser, and the next one in line comes to take the other's place. even ni stuff like mario kart. it's an honor thing.
  • Kytl - November 2, 2009 2:22 a.m.

    i love this site,great article! and the death of Bowser in NSMB makes you reall bad for what you did. i wonder how he'll die in NSMBWii
  • AuthorityFigure - October 15, 2009 12:02 p.m.

    It's the genius of Miyamoto that these characters can be put in so many situations. Can you imagine Master Chief or Gordon Freeman as the subject of an interesting feature like this?
  • masonlacey - December 7, 2008 8:46 p.m.

    lol. that is awsome. that is all i have to say.
  • - November 1, 2008 4:45 p.m.

    In Mario Party 5,Bows starts in his sports size,but drinks a potion that puts him at Galaxy size.
  • sage62 - October 16, 2008 5:45 p.m.

    Dude, tomkinite, what the hell man? This website clearly isn't for you if you get like that over an article because things like this are pretty typical here, if you can't handle that, then I don't know what to tell you, go join a website that talks about the art in gaming or somewhere else where people sound like douches on a regular basis
  • Wizrai - October 12, 2008 9:29 p.m.

    Yet, beating Bowser's #$% has always given a great pleasure.
  • clever123 - October 12, 2008 9:46 a.m.

    Wow i never really noticed the size differences between mario and bowser
  • Ravenbom - October 11, 2008 11:37 p.m.

    @ultra.starr:I was just going to type that! I was listening to Talk Radar 22, and started thinking, why is Mario the size standard? He normally grows and shrinks with every mis-timed jump.(or dies) Then again, maybe the whole princess thing is a drug induced hallucination in the 2-D games and a dreams of regrets in the 3-D series ala Braid. Like Braid takes on the nuclear bomb, while Mario Sunshine takes on pollution ala Captain Planet. As for Mario and Sonic at the Olympics, I'd say it's solidly in the rental category. My friend who likes more casual games to drink to liked it a lot, I thought it was just OK, but we had a lot of fun one night drinking and playing it while smack talking each other. While I'm a bit of a Nintendo fan-boy, I'll admit it's another mini game collection, and Warioware Smooth Moves and the first Rayman Raving Rabbids and even Carnival Games did it better... IMHO, of course. If you're looking for a good semi-casual Wii game, I'd suggest: Order Up!. It's basically a cooking game, but really, it's like playing 5 minigames at once. It has some depth too, at least more than the typical shallow gameplay on Wii. It's short, so I suggest renting that one too, but it's really good, for what it is. 50 times better than Cooking Mama on Wii.
  • al455 - October 11, 2008 5:20 p.m.

    Bowser designed by Cliffy.b , ha,ha!
  • Thequestion 121 - October 10, 2008 10:42 p.m.

    That was a great article, guys!
  • DELTA8558 - October 9, 2008 6:25 p.m.

    Ignore tomkinite people, eventually he might get off the computer and get a life instead of moaning about a brilliant article. Great job, GR!
  • GamesRadarCharlieBarratt - October 9, 2008 4:49 p.m.

    @tomkinite I don't know about hot dog sizes, but videogame hot dog sizes? Genius!
  • Ravenbom - October 9, 2008 4:03 p.m.

    chill out tomkinite Besides, I'm sure brett knows that there's already been articles about nintendo controllers and damn, maybe you should try and chill out, and realize the site is all in good fun, (exactly the point of video games, good fun, so why shouldn't a site about video games be about good fun?) or go listen to zeropunctuation reviews and flame out over there about how yahtzee blurts out his 4 minutes reviews as one long sentence.
  • tomkinite - October 9, 2008 3:40 p.m.

    Wow. That took quite a while to get an account here. Please pass along to your dev team that having a layer popup on screen "loading" a login form versus just anchoring to the bottom of the damn page where it already exists is stupid design!!! In addition, to the writer of this article, I want to say that this article has no substance. Hey, Captain Obvious, why don't you tell me about the different sizes of hotdogs that a specific manufacturer has created? Why is this even noteworthy? I'll admit, I don't know anything about this site -- but if these douche bags are being paid to write about the various height of Mario and friends than I am very much in the wrong business. I need to know the R&D value used in this article. I want to know how much time it took to put together this compelling look at video game culture? 5, 10 minutes? Don't punch out just yet, you might have a few minutes to delete this post. Nice job. I want MORE articles like this. I would like it if you told us all about all the controllers that Nintendo has made and how they are all different sizes.
  • Rasy2kG - October 9, 2008 6:18 a.m.

    "Mario throws up Mushroom Kingdom gang signs to all his fallen soldiers." LMFAO
  • bioshocker - October 9, 2008 2:51 a.m.

    Wow GR once again you open my eyes to comthing that I've never considered. Throughout this article though I've noticed that Bowser dyed his hair red.