Just get all the coins
Remember that kid from elementary school who swore there was a hidden world in Super Mario? You know, the one where you could collect a million stars and unlock Super Mario World 1.5--and he'd totally already beat it? Yeah, we hated that kid too. We're older and wiser now, and after experiencing some of the most intense frustration of our young lives trying to work out these so-called secrets, we figured he was lying.
Of course, he wasn't the first: Since Mario's earliest, 8-bit-iest days, some really ridiculous rumors have followed in the portly plumber's wake. Honestly, they wouldn't even be worth mentioning... if we hadn't all believed them. Here we have nine totally false rumors about Mario games that everyone believed, and some went to absurd lengths to try and prove. This blast from the past that will surely get a giggle out of you--or a bitter, resentful sneer of wasted youthful days. Either or.
"If you jump the flagpole in Super Mario Bros., something amazing will happen!"
The fact that there is at least one YouTube video of a determined Mario struggling to vault a flagpole with Eye of the Tiger playing in the background says all you really need to know about this myth. Players believed it could be done, and they wanted it very badly, because there was something amazing waiting for them on the other side.
The reason this idea--that hopping the otherwise impassible flagpole that marked the end of a world in Super Mario Bros--took off in the first place is unknown. Maybe it was the challenge of thwarting an insurmountable obstacle for the promise of the mysterious horizon that lay beyond. Maybe some kid got bored and brought up the aforementioned SMB 1.5. Regardless, the legend ignited the imaginations of gamers everywhere as they tried fiercely to bypass that pole--a feat that is possible by hacking or glitching the game. But those who managed to bypass it discovered an endless, inescapable expanse of background textures, and nothing else. Congratulations.
"In Super Mario Sunshine, you can battle Waluigi after getting 120 star sprites!"
The rumor goes that collecting all 120 star sprites in Super Mario Sunshine results in the appearance of Waluigi totting Luigi around in a cage. If you successfully defeated the purple menace, you would unlock Luigi as a playable character. This was a tempting idea for those who love those little rewards of Nintendo's, but it turned out not to be true at all: Waluigi and Luigi weren't even in the game's code, let alone slated to get their own bonus stage. But come on, you were going to collect all those sprites anyway. Don't lie.
"There's a hidden chocolate factory level in Super Mario Bros.!"
Jeff Rovin might be one of the best trolls to ever practice the art. His How to Win at Nintendo Games books were the gaming message boards of their day (minus the capslock), and plenty of young gamers went to them for advice. So when Rovin suggested the existence of a secret "chocolate factory" level in Super Mario Bros., there's no way he didn't realize the hysteria it would cause.
While thanking a fan for explaining the existence of the game's glitched Minus World, Rovin claimed that he'd also heard there's a chocolate factory level hidden somewhere in the game--though he had no idea where. Cue the frenzy as kids everywhere scrambled to find it, hitting every block, navigating every pipe, searching every nook and cranny for this level with no success. Even the most devoted gamers have given up sometime in the last 30 years. Too bad--victory would have been so sweet.
"There's a 97th level in Super Mario World!"
Sure, maybe that lack of a chocolate factory level was disappointing, but you can't keep a good gamer down. When Super Mario World rolled around a few years later, players were ready to believe again, especially in claims with no evidence to back them up. And so you have the rumor of the 97th level.
While one of the simplest in concept (I'll give you the detailed version: there's a 97th level exit in Super Mario World), this urban legend is intricate in execution. The basic premise is that the player must go to the Sunken Ship area, collect all 5 Yoshi coins while in freefall, then fall through the floor. Easy, no? No one could agree on what was to be found there--some said there was a collection of coins spelling out TEST, or a gathering of the game's key characters. No true answer seems to be forthcoming, however, and according to official channels no such level exists. Could these verifiers have been lying for attention? Say it isn't so, Internet!
"Mario can shoot/knock out Mike in Mike Tyson's Punchout!"
Some of you may be asking what Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! has to do with Mario, and I say you are lacking in imagination. At least, in comparison to the kids who nurtured this myth with nothing but the power of absurd belief: Mario can appear in Punch-Out!! to either put the smack-down on Mike, or put a bullet in him. Yeesh!
The story went that if you hit the start button exactly 1:30 into the second round with Mike Tyson, everyone's favorite plumber would pop up and take Mike down with heavy fire, flying fists, or by declaring victory for the player because he's Mario and he can do that. One has to suspect this idea evolved from the minds of embittered players unable to best the impossible Mike, wishing Mario would make things easy and win the day for them. However, Mario's got his own problems over at the Mushroom Kingdom, so he's not, and never will be, around for a tap-in.
"You can play as a purple Yoshi in Yoshi's Story!"
Reading tip forums for known urban legends, chock full of suggestions to find an object or character that doesn't exist, feels surreal. If you're like me, scanning pages of explanations on how to get the purple Yoshi in Yoshi's Story--which wouldn't be on this list if it existed--may have you staring blankly at your hands and pondering reality.
One of several different-colored Yoshis to appear in the opening of Yoshi's Story, the purple Yoshi was conspicuously absent from the game's actual line-up. Naturally, people started to wonder where it had gone, and when no answer was forthcoming someone just made one up. Believers largely agreed that unlocking the purple Yoshi involved collecting coins, though whether it's all the coins in one level or all the coins period is up for discussion. This will somehow grant the player access to this shy dino, despite the fact that no hint of it appears in the game's code, and developers have denied its existence. But hey, you know, don't give up on your crazy dreams.
"In Luigi's Mansion you can unlock Mario as a playable character!"
Poor Luigi. Even when hes proved himself enough to get a game of his own, people inevitably try to figure out a way to play as Mario instead. Thats gotta be rough on a guys self-esteem.
The rumor that Mario is an unlockable character in Luigis Mansion is heavy on the what and light on the how. While many players have heard it can be done (it cant) and some have even suggested a story lead-up of Luigi having to save his brother from rampaging boos, the rumor mill dried up when it comes to implementation. No mention of star collecting, specific areas, even what Mario is capable of and why should even bother in the first place--hes just in here somewhere and you have to find him because do it. Plenty of curious players have taken to message boards asking how to find the hapless Mario, only to express disappointment when theyre told Luigis all they have to work with. Man, after a reception like that, that guy deserved a year of his own.
"You can totally ride Yoshi in Super Mario 64!"
Sometimes (read: often) fans make the mistake of overhyping video game secrets. Take the Yoshi in Super Mario 64 mentioned a few slides back: bringing Peachs Castle up to full star power reveals a once inaccessible cannon, and shooting Mario onto the roof puts him face-to-face with Yoshi. Its meant to be a bonus for completing 100% of the game--he even delivers congratulations from the Nintendo staff and gives Mario 100 lives. If only Nintendo knew how many players would regard this prize with crushing disappointment and try desperately to find a way to ride him.
Coming from games where journeying with Yoshi was a major highlight, fans were eager to find to earn back their mount. Rumors circulated that there was a trick to how you interacted with him, or how you could use those 100 lives to hunt him down. But gamer hopes were not enough to make it so, and barring Gameshark cheats reeking of desperation, there is no way to ride Yoshi through the lands of Super Mario 64. Cue the howls of misfortune.
"A statue in Super Mario 64 proves that you can unlock Luigi!"
What the--make up your minds, people! It seems like anytime a game comes along starring one of Mario brothers, rumors abound about how to unlock the other as a playable character. While there are plenty of examples, none reach conspiracy theory levels quite as effectively as Super Mario 64: Luigi is REAL because the statue says so!
Specifically, believers point to the Eternal Star statue in the courtyard of Peach's Castle and the inscription found there. On first glance it's basically illegible, but if you look again... it's still illegible. Still, someone out there gleaned the words L IS REAL 2401 from it, and since L clearly stands for Luigi, IS REAL is undeniable proof that he is unlockable within the game. If you're stuck on the 2401 part, don't worry about it, because it was all patently false and Luigi isn't anywhere to be found in Super Mario 64. Regardless, the rumor got so much traction that Nintendo made a spot for Luigi in the game's DS remake. The crazy wheel gets the grease, apparently.
Is there ANOTHER castle?
Oh, how gullible we all were back then. Surely we'd never fall for something silly like that in our enlightened internet age--then you hear a rumor that Waluigi can be unlocked in the Super Mario 64 DS remake by doing this, that, and the other, and maybe nothing's changed after all. What's your favorite Mario myth? What were you tricked into believing once upon a time? How many times did you try to jump over that flag pole? Tell us in the comments below, and in the words of Nintendo employees responding to the L IS REAL debacle, "The truth is out there." (No, really.)