What in the (Super Mario) world?
Video games often require players to suspend disbelief, and we're usually more than willing to do so. It doesn't matter why the bad guys are bad, so long as that means we get to take them down with some awesome moves and have fun doing it. But after said bad guys have been put down and justice has been done, we sometimes start to think about all the weird, unexplained things that happened along the way.
Take Mario and the Mushroom Kingdom, for instance. We've explored that world dozens of times through dozens of games--yet each time we do, new questions arise. Who is Mario, really? Where'd he come from? All of these things slip from the mind once you start trouncing Koopas. But we still have so many questions, and so few answers.
How did humans end up in the Mushroom Kingdom...?
The Mushroom Kingdom is a magical place filled with smiling hills and living mushroom people. At what point--and, more importantly, how--did humans show up? Mario, Luigi, and the rest of the homo sapiens that inhabit that wondrous universe are way out of place. Did they warp there from another dimension? Are they all synched to a futuristic VR machine, dreaming up an imaginary world? Or, perhaps, they're the ghosts of the dead, wandering a Mushroomafied purgatory? Maybe we'll one day know.
...and why is a human in charge?
We find it odd that the people of the Mushroom Kingdom would follow a princess of an entirely different species to run the economy and draft new social policies. That'd be like electing a dolphin as Supreme Leader of the World. On a very basic level, it's unlikely that Princess Peach fully understands the necessities of those she governs. Sure, Mushroom Retainers can communicate those needs to her, but there's no guarantee those requests would translate into action. The whole setup just doesn't make any sense.
What is Mario's natural height?
Size certainly isn't everything, but we can't help but wonder: How tall is Mario, really? Does a Super Mushroom make him grow from his native size? Or does he shrink when he takes damage, relying on the mobile fungus to regain lost inches? His stature is pretty similar in comparison to Goombas, Koopas, power-ups, and coins, so there's really no way to infer the exact degree of his height.
Are Super Mushrooms actually alive?
Well, are they? The fact that Super Mushrooms have eyes and can move suggests that they are, indeed, living organisms. But by what method do they perform locomotion? Maybe they have tiny little feet on the underside of their stems, or some sort of internal magnetism that has an opposite polarity of that of the Mushroom Kingdom's surface, allowing them to effortlessly glide across the ground. Regardless, they're not terribly intelligent. How many times have we seen one move right into the gaping jaws of a bottomless pit--or worse, right into the gaping jowls of Mario's mustached mouth?
What's the deal with Yoshi?
Yoshi is pretty odd when you think about it. Hes referred to as a male, but can lay eggs. Hes treated like a friend and equal on the golf course, but Mario and his close friends ride around on him from time to time. He can eat Koopa shells and spit out fire. And he(?) is sometimes born as a baby, other times he hatches out of eggs fully formed with shoes on. How could evolution lead to such an odd creature?
How much is a coin worth in terms of United States dollars?
This is a complex question for which there are many theories, and this video goes to great lengths detailing the science behind a few of them. One such theory suggests that, because coins infinitely respawn, they have very little economic value, as the continual minting of new currency ultimately leads to hyperinflation. But coins are also used as legal tender in the Mushroom Kingdom, and garnering 100 of the things always buys a new life. If that is the basis by which we judge their value in USD then 100 gold coins from Mario's universe are worth a combined total of $7.9 million based on the Environmental Protection Agency's 2009 assessment of the "value of a statistical life." That means each coin is worth $79,000 (circa 2009).
Why do coins keep showing up everywhere?
If coins do have any value, then why the heck do the denizens of the Mushroom Kingdom leave the things all over the place? Sometimes they're just floating in the air (how, by magic?), and other times they're embedded within brick cubes. Is there an occupation in the Mushroom Kingdom that involves the strategic placement of gold coins? Or maybe it's a popular belief that those who are well off should share with folks who are less fortunate, thus explaining the abundance of recklessly abandoned coins ? In Mario's world, money doesn't grow on trees--it just sits there for reasons unknown.
Is the use of Fire Flowers and the like considered taboo, or is that a common thing people do?
Fire Flowers, Super Mushrooms, P-Wings--Mario consumes these power-ups and many more without remorse. But we rarely see anyone else in the Mushroom Kingdom (Luigi aside) take up arms. Why is that? Are power-ups that world's version of guns? If so, do residents fear Mario due to his tendency to wield them so nonchalantly, or do they excuse his vast arsenal as as a necessary consequence of his heroic deeds?
Do power-ups cause chemical alterations within the body, or are they magical?
Speaking of power-ups, how do they work? When Mario touches a Fire Flower, does he gain the ability to launch fireballs from his fingertips via some kind of magic? Or does he have to consume it entirely and undergo a chemical reaction that grants him special powers? We'd love to know the science behind how these items actually work.
Do power-ups hurt Mario?
Typically, transformations are painful experiences. When Bruce Banner transforms into the Incredible Hulk he screams in agony, when Wolverine's claws slide out between his knuckles it feels like knives slicing open his flesh, and werewolves sure do seem to be in a lot of pain when their bone structure changes to allow lycanthropy to take over. We have to imagine that Mario's constant biological changes have to be uncomfortable, or downright painful. Having your hands light on fire? Growing? Shrinking? Literally turning into a freaking ghost?! Do these power-ups hurt Mario? If not, why not?
What does Bowser really want with the princess?
By now, we've saved the Princess from King Koopa about, oh, a million times or so. And every time we do, we can't help but wonder: What the hell was he going to do with her, anyway? Bowser's motives are rarely clear. Does he want her to bake him a delicious cake? Does he intend to make her his bride in a forced marriage? Or is the cranky Koopa just bored out of his shell? The bigger point to take home, however, is that kidnapping is apparently not a huge deal in the Mushroom Kingdom.
Can Toads remove the mushrooms from their heads without dying?
All Toads are adorned with a white, red-dotted mushroom atop their heads. But are those mushrooms part of their domes, or are they just cute little fungus hats? The evidence points to the former, as we haven't really seen any Toads remove the mushrooms from their heads within a canon Mario game (it's been done on the TV series, but we all know that doesn't count). If that is the case, we wonder what would happen if Mario mistakenly bit into a Toad's cranium thinking it to be a Super Mushroom.
What is Wario's relationship to Mario, exactly?
Ever since his debut in 1992's Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, Wario has remained a perplexing antagonist. It's obvious he's evil, but what we don't really know much about his relationship to Mario. Is he Mario's malevolent, opposite twin? A long-lost cousin, perhaps? A scientific experiment gone horribly wrong? The only other alternative is that Wario is a creepy stalker who watched Mario from the shadows in order to emulate the righteous plumber's fashion sense and facial hair preferences. That's pretty messed up, even for the Mushroom Kingdom.
Do raccoons in the Mushroom Kingdom fly?
Since Super Mario Bros. 3 introduced flight to the series, Marios had numerous power-ups that allow him to take to the skies. But while theres some basic logic to explain flying with a magical cape or a winged hat, why does a raccoon tail grant Mario flight fly? Is it a kind of propeller mechanic, like Sonics pal Tails? Is it some obscure part of Japanese myth that were unaware of? Did Nintendo always mean to use flying squirrels instead, but not get around to it until New Super Mario Bros. U? Or is it just that all raccoons in the Mushroom Kingdom have the innate ability to fly?
Why haven't Mushroom Kingdom citizens filled in all those dangerous pits?
Planning on taking a nice stroll through the Mushroom Kingdom? You better put your jumpin' shoes on, then, because there are dangerous pits all over the place. Some seem bottomless; others are so deep that you'll likely break most bones in your body on impact. But despite these dangers, residents don't seem to mind their existence, which is odd considering A) how any pit could kill pretty much anyone, and B) there are so many gold coins just hanging out all over the place that could be used to pay for filling in said pits.
How is it that Mario can play tennis with a baby version of himself?
Now here's a mind boggling conundrum: During the Mushroom Kingdom's many fierce tennis tournaments, Mario can be matched up against Baby Mario, resulting in a bizarre paradoxical competition. But how? Does Baby Mario time travel to the future in order to take on his future self in a gentleman's game of tennis? Or does Mario summon the ghost of his childhood past in hopes of snagging an easy win?
What is Marios last name?
Mario's first name is Mario, and Luigi's first name is Luigi, but because of Mario's absurd popularity the duo goes by the team name "Super Mario Bros." This, alone, is sort of weird, but we'll let it slide--for now. What's more confusing is the duo's lack of a last name. Are there so few people in the Mushroom Kingdom that last names aren't even necessary? If so, why does Princess Peach Toadstool have a surname?
Are there good Goombas and Koopas, or are they all inherently evil?
Mario has stomped on the skulls of Goombas and Koopas time and time again, even when they don't do anything to deserve it. Seriously, they're just walking more often than not, which means one of two things: Either all Goombas and Koopas are born (genetically manufactured?) evil, or Mario's kind of a self-centered dick. Surely there must be some of them that don't agree with Bowser's bullying?
How do people drive on a rainbow in outer space?
This multi-tiered mystery is impossible on more than one front. Rainbows, as we know them, are formed by the reflection of light in water droplets in the Earth's atmosphere. They're basically illusions that just look really sweet. They can neither appear in outer space, nor do they ever have the physical properties of a solid. But Mario Kart's Rainbow Road defies all logic, as it's a rainbow in outer space that people can drive on. We can only assume rainbows are entirely different in the Mushroom Kingdom.
Did Mario and Peach ever... you know...
Just... like... we just want to know. For personal reasons.
Where is this mysterious other castle?
These are but a few of the things we've always wondered about the Mario universe--but what about you? Do you have other questions we didn't ask? Perhaps you have answers for the ones we did? Let us know in the comments below!
For more Mario oddities, check out our speculation on what would happen if Mario died and the top 7 most disturbing things about the Mushroom Kingdom.