Five Pieces of Lore from the Super Mario Bros. 3 Cartoon That Must Be Canonized

Before Mario did triple-flips and shouted “Wahoo!” like he just sucked every last drop of helium from our planet, he was a surprisingly gruff, perpetually hungry, and somewhat idiotic cartoon plumber who lived with his brother Luigi in the Mushroom Kingdom by choice. Surrounded by what, according to my current count, adds up to roughly one million pipes that lead straight back to Brooklyn, the Mario Bros. held their hands up, pursed their lips, and shook their heads “NO!” like a kid shoving away a plate full of brussels sprouts.

Are you listening, Nintendo? Because you’re gonna have to work the following into your games as soon as this list goes live.

The Wizard King of the West

Super Mario Bros. 3 was full of kings, all of whom Bowser ruthlessly mutated before taking over their respective kingdoms. From what I can recall, though, there was never a giant-snail-riding Wizard King of the West. The lore implications are especially deep with this one. In “A Toadally Magical Adventure,” the Wizard King grows impatient after waiting 50 years for his magic wand to be crafted. He sets off from his castle atop his steed—a massive snail that looks like he just took the most righteous of bong rips—with the hurried and desperate exclamation of “Faster, Lightning Bolt, faster!” Unfortunately for the Wizard King, Toad ends up getting his pudgy little hands on the wand first, and he’s not exactly known for his impulse control.

From what we can gather in his limited appearance on Super Mario Bros. 3, this king can pretty much see all with his crystal ball and do all with his wand. Why, then, does he resort to such meandering means of transportation? Why does he continue to use the services of the Ace Magic Wand Factory if it takes them 50 years to make the type of wand literally every other ruler in the land seems to have within arm’s reach? Why isn’t he in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate?

Toad Wrestling

Professional wrestling is an oft-neglected aspect of the Super Mario Bros. universe, but it’s definitely there. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door proved it 14 years ago with the introduction of Rawk Hawk, AKA the Feral Nuclear Reactor. But where are all the totally ripped inhabitants of the Mushroom Kingdom? The version of wrasslin’ in Super Mario Bros. 3 is even more enticing, serving up a pair of contenders that look like Toad had his genes spliced with the Bushwackers. Enter the Mushroom Wrestling Federation’s Mushroom Marauder and Jake “The Crusher” Thunder, a duo destined to be the stars of “Tag Team Trouble”—one of many episodes penned by my personal favorite SMB3 writer, Martha Moran—were it not for the infernal meddling of the Koopa Kids.

In another nefarious plan, Cheatsy Koopa—which is the cartoon’s switched-up name for Larry—wakes the duo up in the middle of the night, clips their eyelids open, and uses the power of hypnosis to put them right back to sleep for two whole days. Who could possibly take their place and hope to win the million coin prize up for grabs at tomorrow’s big match? Will Toad ever be able to face those poor orphan mushrooms when he thinks he lost their latest batch of donations? Why aren’t these guys in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate?

Mafioso Prison Breaks

In Super Mario Bros. 3, pipes to the real world don’t just lead straight back to hot spots like Brooklyn or a Milli Vanilli concert. Toilets, doors, and even highway tunnels have infinite possibilities within them, even if your final destination happens to be a maximum security prison. That’s where Koopa and his constantly caterwauling kids go when everyone’s favorite baddie decides to break a convicted felon out of prison just to teach his whole fam a lesson. With the help of Crimewave Clyde, Koopa’s kids will become meaner, nastier, and just plain badder than ever before.

Best of all, the plan works so well the Koopa Kids get carried away. Before Crimewave Clyde knows it, they’re robbing each other and planning a billion-coin heist from the local treasury. Between this and the fact that they’re really annoying, it doesn’t take long for Clyde to happily turn to the Mario brothers for assistance. There’s no way he’s the first criminal Koopa has recruited, thought, right? How many historically significant badniks have come over to the Koop side in the past 30-plus years? Why isn’t Crimewave Clyde in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate?

The Doom Dancer Music Box

A deep and twisted Mushroom Kingdom legend tells of a treasure said to possess great magical power: The Doom Dancer Music Box. As the Princess explains, cranking it fast makes everyone in the vicinity dance faster and faster. Crank it slow and it makes them slow down and stop. Mario chimes in right away, suggesting they use the music box to “keep King Koopa and his brat pack under control,” as if that wasn’t exactly what the Princess was about to say.

The act of obtaining the box is definitely a late-game Mario stage. The adventure takes them to the Temple of Gloom in Dark Land, home to what is without a doubt the most terrifying depiction of Dry Bones imaginable.

Did they stop to think what would happen if Koopa got his own hands on the Doom Dancer Music Box? No, of course not. Thanks to this unfortunate turn of events, the audience is introduced to the episode’s title track, “Do the Koopa,” to which the entire Mushroom Kingdom is soon in thrall. This is one of about twenty original songs sung by the voice actors behind the Koopa kids, all of which are certified bangers. Odd, then, that “Do the Koopa” isn’t included as one of over 850 music tracks in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Reverse Mermaids

Guillermo del Toro showed us what the shape of water was in 2017’s Academy Award-winning film Sex Fish, but Super Mario Bros. 3 had this covered nearly 30 years ago. In the rudely titled “The Ugly Mermaid,” Mario ends up getting trapped in a cement block while swimming around in his frog suit. It wasn’t even the handiwork of Crimewave Clyde, it was that dastardly King Koopa! Before he dies the type of grim death Nintendo loves showcasing whenever Mario drowns in one of his games, a mermaid comes to his rescue. But this isn’t just any mermaid, it’s a reverse mermaid named Holly Mackerel, which means—cue the chorus—she’s got leeeeeegs.

Because she can’t see so well in her air-filtering fishbowl helmet, she believes Mario to be a helluva hunky frog. Mario rebukes her advances, even when she brings up the possibility of a royal wedding, but Holly leaves an indelible impression on the audience nonetheless. Why is this the first time we’ve heard about reverse mermaids in the Mario universe? Is Holly technically a sub-species of Cheep Cheep, or does she fall into the Big Bertha family of Mushroom Kingdom sealife? Why isn’t she in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate?

In My Frog Suit!

There are so many bonkers concepts in The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 it’s exhausting, but most of them just highlight how much ground the games themselves have already covered. There is one final item from the cartoon that will never, ever be topped on a Nintendo console today, tomorrow, or in a thousand years, so it’s not fair to sincerely suggest it. Try as Nintendo might to make a musical out of games like Super Mario Odyssey with Pauline’s excellent “Jump Up, Super Star!” song, nothing gets close to the chops of the Koopa Kids. And nothing in this cartoon could possibly soar higher than “In My Frog Suit,” a chart-topper from the “Mush Rumors” episode.

It begs the question: Why did this beautiful, stupid, absolutely canonical cartoon only last for 26 episodes? It’s not too late to right this wrong and make everything in the Mario 3 cartoon an integral part of the greater Mario universe, and it’s definitely not too late to dump it all in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. You put in a Piranha Plant, Sakurai. You can put in a sex fish.

This article originally appeared on the VRV blog


monster boy and the cursed kingdom and me

monster boy and the cursed kingdom

I’ve been on a real kick lately, and hoo boy, watch out when I go on a kick! The latest kick is, as usual, something familiar that’s come back to the forefront, and it has to do with my enduring love for Metroidvania—or, if you’re nasty like my dude metalheadmike, Rygarmania—games. After playing through the excellent Momodora recently, I finally got a chance to dig into Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom on Switch, and buddy, it slaps.

Clocking in at around 15 hours or so, Monster Boy serves up exactly what I want out of the genre. It has a pretty large map but there isn’t any wasted space. There’s just the right amount of fanfare whenever you pick up an important item. The sense of progression comes through clearly without the need for experience points or leveling up of any kind. The bosses tend to be pushovers for the most part, but their gimmicks are clever and the journey in between is fraught with legit platforming and enemy combat-related perils.

In other words, it’s the perfect side-scrolling stew. If the visuals are a full dessert platter, the fact that the soundtrack is excellent—featuring contributions from industry masters like Yuzo Koshiro, Motoi Sakuraba, Michiru Yamane, and many more—is very much the icing on the cake.

Just listen to this!

And this banger, which you’ll hear on loop a lot in The Lost Temples:

Throughout the adventure, you gradually acquire five forms on top of being a regular ol’ human—Pig, Snake, Frog, Lion, and Dragon—which is a mechanic the developers never forget to incorporate. This could have easily been a one-and-done device limited to the stages in which you acquire each form, but they all play a major role from beginning to end. I actually got a little overwhelmed thinking about how tough it is to pull off legitimately thoughtful level design while playing this. They all work together so perfectly that it’s clear the team spent a ton of time plotting out the progression of each individual stage.

Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is a must-play game I’d recommend to pretty much anyone who likes colorful visuals, top-notch level design, and the level of personal TV game accomplishment that can only be accessed when someone actually does the genre justice.

quick pitch: super mario bros.

I know Nintendo acts like they don’t want me to write the perfect Super Mario Bros. game, but I have, and they’ll no doubt swoop on this post soon and Shigeru Miyamoto himself will call me on the telephone to congratulate me and give me money.

Here’s a quick breakdown. It’s a 3D platformer just like most of the recent flagship, non-New Super Mario Bros. games, only more in line with Super Mario Galaxy than Super Mario 3D World. In this one Mario and Luigi arrive in the Mushroom Kingdom just in time to find the entire WORLD being abducted. Peach, Toad, and the rest of the citizens are doing all they can to stave off the attack, but they just can’t seem to best TATANGA, the alien antagonist from Super Mario Land.


Without hesitation, Mario and the rest rush to their trusty one-man planes (like the one from Super Mario Land), kicking off an introductory dogfight stage straight out of Star Fox. It’s a purely for-fun level that the player has no hope of winning, and every plane involved in the fight ends up in a scrap heap below.

After a display of bravado, Tatanga prepares to suck the entire Kingdom away, taking it to another universe Mario and his pals have no way of reaching. And just like that, he and his legion of spaceships and aliens disappear, pulling the Mushroom Kingdom into a vortex and leaving our heroes adrift in a black void atop a pile of smoking plane wreckage.

With nowhere to go, all hope seems lost, until the unlikely, squat dork Toad suggests they all just go to sleep. TOAD ARE YOU INSANE? No, Toad is a genius, because if they go to sleep they can enter SUB-CON from Super Mario Bros. 2, the land of dreams where anything is possible.

The only problem: So many years have passed that Wart is firmly back in power. Thus we have the first half of the game, which takes place entirely in Sub-Con and has players fighting familiar foes like Mouser, Tryclyde, and Birdo throughout an anything-goes dreamscape that takes the scenery of SMB2 and goes nuts with it. It all builds up to an intense showdown with Wart… who is eventually spared. Wart’s ace: Only he knows the way out of his dreamworld that leads to Tatanga’s realm.


With that, your party of 4 becomes 5*, and you can now choose to play as Wart for the second half of the game: TATANGA’S UNIVERSE. This world has all the bonkers design of the Super Mario Galaxy games with a mix of enslaved and enraged enemies from the Mushroom Kingdom and beyond. Tatanga has been using his time wisely, collecting worlds and harnessing the power of their unique wildlife to run rampant as ruler of his own. He’s taken in the best beasts from Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and even Yoshi’s Island. He outfitted the Super Mario World dinos with riders. He crossed Wigglers with Pokeys. You get the idea.

But there are some creatures he hasn’t figured out how to handle yet. Locked deep within the Towering Prison are the worst, most vile enemies, and Mario and company are going to help break them out, if they haven’t already lost their minds. It’s in the deepest, darkest corner of the prison that Mario eventually finds Bowser, driven mad and ready for a real fight.

Your showdown with Bowser leads into the game’s final act, and by this time there’s a full-on riot in the background of the stages. The enemies of the various Mario worlds you were able to rescue are colliding with Tatanga’s powerful minions, tipping the scales, and you now have a sixth player to choose from before each level: Bowser. He joins the rest of the crew in the final world, culminating in an appropriately explosive final battle with Tatanga that will decide the fate of every world in the Mario universe.


When all is said and done each world is fully restored, and Tatanga is locked in a high-security space prison. This will, without a shadow of a doubt, be a perfect starter setting for the inevitable sequel.

Make that 6. I’ve gotten multiple reminders since posting that I forgot about Daisy of SML, and yes, she should definitely be playable, as well!

The Circle of TV Game Life

E3 is once again in full swing, and for some reason I feel compelled to write about it outside of my normal day job routine. I love making fun of everything that goes on throughout the week—so many blowhards making ridiculous promises or showing off half-cooked ideas—but it’s also one of my favorite weeks of the year. There’s something so routinely refreshing about all the hope that swells up just before a big slew of announcements, followed by the exhalation of disappointment and communal commiserating over whatever was or wasn’t expected from said showing.


Last night’s Sony presser was wholly emblematic of this. Everyone waited with bated breath, expecting, maybe a little foolishly, for Team ICO to come out and show more of the long-gestating, probably dead The Last Guardian. Instead Sony showed off some familiar faces and new games like Suda51’s Let It Die, which might be their answer to the whole The Last Guardian thing were it not for their stubborn insistence that it’s still in the works.

Aside from that, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Twitter react so harshly to something than when Sony threw up a quick shot of PSOne rhythm game Vib Ribbon without following up on it. Just a naztee tease to annoy all the late-90s import nerds.

The thing about following this stuff so closely is I almost immediately forget what happened earlier in the day. Staying glued to the screen to watch the Sony conference at 9pm makes it easy to lose track of what happened when I was glued to the screen during Microsoft’s around noon. I remember Hideki Kamiya (Devil May Cry, Okami, Bayonetta) coming out and announcing a new game called—actually trying to think of it off the top of my head as I type, so I’ll just take a quick guess—Scaleskin. Now I’ll look it up… Scalebound. Close enough.

From Software delivered what I was really waiting for during Sony’s two hour block of madness. Bloodborne comes from Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki, which isn’t even a name I knew off the top of my head until about a year and a half ago. Now he’s the president of his company and everyone wants to know what the hell he’s working on at any given moment. Like much of what we see over the course of the week, Bloodborne was just shown via cinematic footage, but From Software is one of those rare developers I fully trust to deliver on whatever they have cooking, so I’ll be getting a PlayStation 4 at some point.

Now I’m going to eat a banana and wait to watch Nintendo because this is what I do.