After 39 years, Nintendo's legendary composer put his voice in Super Mario Bros Wonder when his idea for a "live-action" Mario with "human proportions" was rejected

Super Mario Bros. Wonder
(Image credit: Nintendo)

Koji Kondo joined Nintendo in 1984 and ended up composing basically every memorable theme from the Mario or Zelda series. The legendary composer had a particularly wild idea for a stage effect in last year's Super Mario Bros Wonder, and while that idea was rejected, it did end up giving Kondo the opportunity to bring his voice to the game.

Wonder director Shiro Mouri detailed a few unused level concepts for Super Mario Bros Wonder in a recent Game Developers Conference Talk, including "an idea from our sound director, Mr. Kondo. His idea was 'when a Wonder effect activates, a live-action version of Mario with human proportions appears, progressing through the stage while humming the background music and mimicking the various sound effects himself.'"

Obviously, this idea didn't make the final cut - though now I can't get the idea of Bob Hoskins reprising his 1993 role as a live-action Mario in a modern Nintendo game. Mouri continued, "As an idea, it's very funny, but it's hard to see the connection between pre-Wonder effect and during Wonder effect. And it's hard to imagine the gameplay changing much by having Mario turn into a live-action, human proportion version of himself. There were a lot of ideas like this that didn't meet the criteria of what constitutes a viable Wonder effect, and they were all closely examined as we figured out our approach."

But if you've played Wonder, the idea of a human voice making all the game's sound effects might sound familiar - after all, that's exactly what the Sound Off badge does in-game. "While we couldn't use Mr. Kondo's idea," Mouri said, "we thought it could instead be used as a badge, a system where players can select their own special powers. It was such an interesting idea, it would have been 'mottainai' to not use it."

Mottainai is a Japanese word that translates roughly to 'what a waste,' and the concept was a big theme of this GDC talk, highlighting how unused ideas can still generate something valuable. I don't know if the bit where Mario was going to get decapitated by bees ended up with anything useful, though.

At a minimum, it gave Kondo a chance to provide not just music and sound, but a little bit of voice acting for Wonder. "Incidentally," Mouri noted, "the man behind the voice of the Sound Off badge is Mr. Kondo himself, the one who pitched this idea."

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Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.