The ever-changing sizes of Mario and Bowser

From NES to Wii, we chronicle the fluctuating stature of Nintendo's biggest icons

You know what we really miss about the N64? Blurry textures. Blocky constructs. Muddy output. Those were the days, right?

On topic, Mario and Bowser are back to their regular heights again, less than a year after Super Mario 64’s king-sized baddie. Maybe Kamek is regularly spraying Bowser with that pixie dust from Yoshi’s Island?

The shame. Even Mario can barely look at himself these days. And Bowser... dear lord what is that supposed to be? He looks like seven orange rectangles trying to get it on with a beehive.

Ugh. Not their proudest moments. At least they’re in keeping with the typical Mario sports sizes set into motion with the first Kart. This basic setup stays true through the N64, GC and Wii eras anytime the two don sports equipment.

First introduced in Japan in 2000, the razor-thin versions of Mario and Bowser don’t stray from the same old sizes we’ve already discussed. Even the most recent in the series, the excellent Super Paper Mario, uses the same “sprites” pioneered eight years ago.

Cripes man, you’re huge! As strange as it is to have the final battle take place in a giant septic bathtub, it’s even stranger to see how little regard Nintendo placed on the duo’s relative size. Realize how far away the camera is – if you pull in, and had Mario lay at Bowser’s feet, this would be the biggest he’s ever been by a long shot.

Another look. Now you can see Bowser’s feet and get a better sense of scale. It’s totally out of control. On the other hand though, Sunshine’s ultimate battle holds up better visually than we expected. Good show, 2002 Nintendo!

Well, except for the HUD. Christ that’s a lot of big-crayon-scribbled information.

Another sports game, another roughly equivalent pair of competitors. Funny how Bowser’s only scaled down when other people are looking; when it’s just him and Mario squaring off, poof, he’s huge.

Four years later Bowser returns to his far smaller self, akin to his Mario 3 stature mentioned on the previous page. He’s made of polys again, but the dreaded N64 days have passed, leaving this handheld dinosaur boss a bit easier on the eyes.

New SMB is also home to the saddest, grisliest death in all of Mario-dom. After destroying the bridge (as you did in the very first game) Bowser slips into the lava, thrashes around and sinks below the surface. Then he erupts back up for one more Vader-like “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” – only now he’s just bones. Bones that can feel.

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