The ever-changing sizes of Mario and Bowser

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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  • 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.