Mario was almost decapitated by bees but Nintendo tragically cut that level from Super Mario Bros Wonder

(Image credit: Nintendo)

A cut prototype level from Super Mario Bros. Wonder saw Mario's head turn into a giant block and get slowly eaten away by bees.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder assistant director Shiro Mouri just gave a talk at the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco, where he outlined cut features from the 2023 game. One cut feature, as you can see from the tweet just below, was a prototype level where the player turned into a "giant block Mario" that "advances while avoiding getting eaten" by bees.

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"Although we did prototype it, this was ultimately not adopted as a Wonder effect," assistant director Mouri can be heard saying at the end of the clip just above, via an interpreter. The game already has a variety of whacky Wonder effects, including Mario and company turning into a gigantic elephant, which was understandably one of Super Mario Bros. Wonder's headline features.

Mouri further delved into the conceptualization of the Wonder effects elsewhere in the presentation. "We asked everyone to write down any and all ideas on a sticky note, without any conditions," Mouri said, adding "As we looked at the various ideas that came up, we were able to gradually narrow down what criteria made up good Wonder effects."

A good Wonder idea would not only need to have a good effect before the ability kicked into gear, but also a good impact while the effect was going on. Mouri pointed out that if the player was to turn into a "blue Mario," it would feel "unnatural," but by having bigger enemies positioned in the game beforehand, it would better prepare the player to increase in size.

Then came the prototyping phase. This was conducted by multiple teams, each consisting of one artist, one programmer, one game designer, and one sound engineer. Once the testing phase would over, all team members would play the prototypes and share their opinions and responses to said prototypes. This eventually led to the prototype taking shape based on feedback. 

"More than half the prototypes did not make it to the final product," Mouri revealed. "But these testing sessions had many effects, such as everyone gaining development experience, everyone's motivation increased, and just the team solidarity improved," the Super Mario Bros. Wonder assistant director continued. 

Mouri then revealed that one prototype Wonder effect actually came from a programmer who was in his very first year with Nintendo. "Even first year employees and programmers pitch ideas, and if those ideas are good, of course they're adopted," Mouri added.

It's fair to say Nintendo's approach to game design with the Wonder effects paid off big time. We lavished praise on the game in our own Super Mario Bros Wonder review, writing that it was "like your first magical visit to Disneyland." Wonder is also the fastest-selling Mario game to date, if you're wondering how it faired with players around the world. 

Look over our guide to all the upcoming Switch games for a full overview of all the games Nintendo has in the pipeline.

Hirun Cryer

Hirun Cryer is a freelance reporter and writer with Gamesradar+ based out of U.K. After earning a degree in American History specializing in journalism, cinema, literature, and history, he stepped into the games writing world, with a focus on shooters, indie games, and RPGs, and has since been the recipient of the MCV 30 Under 30 award for 2021. In his spare time he freelances with other outlets around the industry, practices Japanese, and enjoys contemporary manga and anime.