Games

Discovering 15 Lesser-Known Super Mario Characters Hidden Within the Franchise

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herman smirch mario characters

Mario is an iconic character who has ventured through more than 200 video games throughout the years, teaming up with the Rabbids, confronting Cloud Strife, competing against Dr. Robotnik in the Olympics, and even refereeing for Mike Tyson and his non-union counterpart. He’s been portrayed by a professional wrestler, a Shakespearian actor, and now Chris Pratt as Star-Lord in the upcoming movie.

The new movie showcases several recognizable characters and locations from the Mario franchise, including an unexpected cameo from Foreman Spike, Mario and Luigi’s former boss and rival from the NES game Wrecking Crew. Despite his few appearances in the franchise, Foreman Spike is a relatively obscure character.

However, Mario’s expansive adventures have led to many of his supporting cast being forgotten by history, including both friends and foes. In this article, we’ll explore some of these lesser-known Mario characters who have faded into obscurity.

King Wart (Super Mario Bros. 2)

King Wart (Super Mario Bros. 2)

Ranked at number 15 is King Wart from Super Mario Bros. 2, who despite not being particularly obscure by the franchise’s standards, is largely forgotten. Super Mario Bros. 2 tends to be overshadowed by other games in the series, much like Nightmare on Elm Street 2, albeit without the subtext on accepting one’s homosexuality. Interestingly, both games feature a “Nightmare King,” and King Wart’s only other significant appearance is in Link’s Awakening, another Nintendo hero’s game set in the dream world.

What’s particularly disappointing about King Wart and Mario 2 is how they were handled in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. Even though Bowser/Koopa was the show’s primary villain, he still had Wart’s subjects as his henchmen. However, King Wart never made an appearance on the show in any way. It would have been better if the King had his own character in Mario Kart or some other game, perhaps even with a projectile bubble weapon added to the racing game.

Friendly Floyd (Super Mario Adventures)

Friendly Floyd (Super Mario Adventures)

Coming in at number 14 is Friendly Floyd, a character from the Super Mario Adventures comic series by Kentaro Takekuma and Charlie Nozawa. If you were a Nintendo Power subscriber, you knew you were in for a treat whenever a new multipart comic was featured in an issue. Super Mario Adventures was one such series, based on the Super Mario World game, and was a thrilling ride every month.

When the comic introduced the Yoshi race to Mario and Luigi, they needed someone to provide exposition since the Yoshis could only say, “Yoshi!” Enter Friendly Floyd, a strangely ordinary-looking middle-aged man who worked as a traveling salesman. Floyd explained the basics of the Yoshi species before selling the brothers a bogus Yoshi translation book and making a quick getaway. However, Floyd redeemed himself later by helping Luigi disguise himself as Peach to infiltrate Bowser’s castle and rescue Mario. This adventure also led to an iconic image of a fierce-looking Peach dressed in Luigi’s overalls, wielding a plethora of Bob-Ombs.

As Super Mario lore was about to introduce Wario, there may have been no further need for this greedy and unremarkable character.

Tatanga (Super Mario Land)

Tatanga (Super Mario Land)

Tatanga, the alien villain introduced in the first Super Mario Land game, had a brief moment in the spotlight before being overshadowed by the more popular Wario. Unlike other Mario villains, Tatanga’s impact was limited, with only a few notable appearances outside of the games, such as in the Valiant Game Boy comic and the Super Mario manga. Interestingly, the manga suggested that Tatanga was Bowser’s partner in a doubles tennis tournament. Tatanga’s only recent appearance was as a Spirit opponent in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Despite his lack of mainstream success, Tatanga remains a unique addition to the Super Mario franchise as the first alien antagonist.

Wanda (Mario & Wario)

Wanda (Mario & Wario)

In the Super Famicom game Mario & Wario, players controlled Wanda, a forest fairy, using the Mario Paint mouse. The goal was to use Wanda’s magic to guide Mario safely through levels until he could find Luigi, who could remove the bucket from his head. Wanda later found love with another fairy named Cosmo and they had their own Nickelodeon show for a few years (although this is non-canon).

Despite being largely forgotten, Wanda did appear in the Super Mario-Kun manga series and also as a Spirit in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Stanley the Bugman (Donkey Kong 3)

Stanley the Bugman (Donkey Kong 3)

The protagonists and dynamics in the original Donkey Kong games were peculiar. Initially, the storyline featured a plumber rescuing a damsel in distress from a gorilla. In the subsequent game, the gorilla’s son rescued his father from the plumber. In the third game, however, Mario was absent, and the plot focused on Donkey Kong confronting the hero from an obscure Game-and-Watch entry.

Set in a greenhouse, Donkey Kong 3 revolved around Donkey Kong’s pestering of bugs, endangering Stanley’s plants. Stanley utilized an atomizer full of bug spray to eliminate the bugs and attempted to spray Donkey Kong enough to make him climb off-screen. Although a straightforward game, it only gained attention through a few WarioWare references.

In one of the episodes of the Saturday Supercade animated series, Stanley teamed up with Mario and Pauline, where he made an appearance. It’s noteworthy that Stanley, who looked like a child (half the size of Mario), had a voice like a senior citizen, causing confusion among viewers.

Prince Haru (Super Mario Bros: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach!)

Prince Haru (Super Mario Bros: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach!)

It’s quite peculiar how different Mario stories across various mediums have used identical plot devices when it comes to missing royal characters. A prime example of this is the Super Mario Bros. anime from 1986, which largely retells the game’s story. However, the anime introduces an unusual character named Kibidango, a blue dog who assists Mario and Luigi in their mission to rescue the princess.

The climax of the story occurs when Kibidango reveals his true identity as Prince Haru after Bowser’s defeat. As an added twist, Haru is portrayed as Princess Peach’s true love, leaving Mario heartbroken. Although Haru never appeared again, his storyline was later reused.

In the live-action Mario movie, the King of the Mushroom Kingdom appears as a sentient fungus, aiding Mario and Luigi in their battle against Koopa. Similarly, in Wario Land 4, Wario is guided by a mysterious black cat, who ultimately turns out to be Princess Shokora, the missing royal character whom Wario unknowingly frees from a curse.

Mad Piano (Super Mario 64)

Mad Piano (Super Mario 64)

Yes, that’s the one. You’re searching for a red coin, and you spot a sleek-looking piano nearby, only to discover that it’s a possessed instrument from the bowels of Mushroom Hell. The next ten minutes are spent taking deep breaths, clutching your chest, and praying that you’re too young to suffer a heart attack.

The Mad Piano isn’t a character that I would describe as “forgotten” in the traditional sense. Rather, I’ll always remember this horrendous creature whenever I’m tossing and turning in bed, on the verge of waking up drenched in sweat. Frankly, I wish I could repress this abomination’s existence, but alas, it seems impossible.

Curse you, Nintendo. Curse you for unleashing such a monstrosity upon the world.

Oogtar (Super Mario World Cartoon)

Oogtar (Super Mario World Cartoon)

During the late 80s and early 90s, a trilogy of animated shows based on the Super Mario games were produced. The Super Mario Bros. Super Show combined elements from the first two games, while The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World were based on the respective games. Since the latter show was based on the game that introduced Yoshi, the setting was altered to a land populated with dinosaurs and cavemen, replacing the Mushroom Kingdom and its inhabitants. Consequently, Toad, who was a key member of the cast, was written out of the show.

Although Yoshi was included in the series as an irritating infant, John Stocker, the voice actor for Toad, was assigned a new supporting character role as Oogtar, a self-proclaimed cool cave kid who frequently found himself in trouble. Oogtar seemed like a prehistoric version of Bart Simpson, created by someone who grasped the essence of the character. However, his catchphrase “Dinobunga!” appeared to be a product of a committee.

Regardless, Oogtar was an original character, unlike Alucard from Castlevania, who was tainted by his skater dude redesign from Captain N in the early 90s.

Anthony Scapelli (Super Mario Bros. Movie)

Anthony Scapelli (Super Mario Bros. Movie)

Similar to Foreman Spike in the latest film and Sergeant Kooperman in the animated series, Anthony Scapelli is a rare example of a Super Mario villain from Mario and Luigi’s pre-Mushroom Kingdom lives. Gianni Russo played Scapelli, who ran Scapelli Construction and was a foe of both Mario’s plumbing company and Daisy’s archaeology team. Scapelli’s destruction of Daisy’s work weakened the barrier between worlds, allowing Koopa’s invasion to take place.

Since the Super Mario movie was a complete mess with so many strange things happening in it, Scapelli was quickly forgotten after the first 15 minutes. However, he reappeared later in the movie and was hit with a laser that transformed him into a suit-wearing chimp, resulting in the unforgettable moment of Dennis Hopper gleefully exclaiming, “Monkey!”

Scapelli was so forgettable that even the manga adaptation of the movie omitted him entirely. Yes, you read that right. There was a manga adaptation of the live-action Super Mario Bros. movie. What a world we live in.

Mushbert (Mario Party Advance)

Mushbert (Mario Party Advance)

Toad is a decent character, but what if he had a new twist to his personality that made him stand out? Introducing Mushbert, the anime-obsessed character from Mario Party Advance. Whenever you need a break from the typical Mario-related discussions, Mushbert is the perfect source to chat about the thrilling series Toad Force V. With his stylish sunglasses and hip bachelor pad, Mushbert is too cool to bother with plumber-related topics unless it involves his favorite anime. He even expands his interests later on to include Koopa Quest. Perhaps Mushbert eventually realized that the Toad Force V theme song is just a ripoff of Fatboy Slim’s remix of “Apache.”

King Fret and Prince Pine (Yoshi’s Safari)

King Fret and Prince Pine (Yoshi’s Safari)

Not every fantasy kingdom in the Super Mario universe needs a young princess as its ruler. Sometimes, a royal dude needs rescuing too. Do you remember all those kings from Mario 3? What happened to them?

Moving on, back when Nintendo was promoting the Super Scope accessory, they released Yoshi’s Safari for SNES. In the game, Peach asked Mario to save the king and prince of Jewelry Land from Bowser’s rampage. Mario was given a Super Scope to make things more interesting, allowing him to go all Ted Nugent on Bowser’s armies.

While Prince Pine was grateful for Mario’s help, King Fret was more demanding and insistent, pressuring Mario to hurry up and save the day. Perhaps this is why he was never invited to participate in go-kart racing, tennis, or the giant board game. When Mario is more willing to play party games with a turtle skeleton than with you, you know you messed up.

Culex (Super Mario RPG)

Culex (Super Mario RPG)

The characters from Super Mario RPG are criminally neglected. So many amazing designs like Croco, Jonathan Jones, Booster, Smithy, and more are just left in limbo. This is why fans were holding out hope for Geno, the energy spirit from beyond the cosmos, to appear in Super Smash Bros., only to receive a mere Mii costume. It’s such a shame because Space Pinocchio was a really cool character.

But perhaps the most obscure character in the game was the secret boss, Culex. Hidden in Monstro Town, your party could fight this purple demigod who seemed to have come straight out of Final Fantasy IV. Culex is easily the strongest opponent in the game, surpassing even the power of Smithy himself. After being defeated, Culex shows respect to Mario and even breaks the fourth wall to acknowledge that he belongs in a different game.

Kurokyura (Super Mario Land 2: The Six Golden Coins)

Kurokyura (Super Mario Land 2: The Six Golden Coins)

There’s a lot of hidden backstory in Super Mario Land 2. Why does Mario have his own castle and kingdom? What’s up with the giant robot Mario? And wait, does Mario own the moon? But perhaps the most obscure character in the game is the mysterious vampire, Kurokyura.

Despite being a Dracula knockoff, Kurokyura is not a very memorable character in the game. He only appears once in the Pumpkin Zone, and isn’t even a boss. He simply throws bats at Mario before disappearing.

However, Kurokyura played a more significant role in Kazuki Motoyama’s Super Mario manga, where he served as Wario’s right-hand man. In the manga, Kurokyura also became Luigi’s rival and even disguised himself as Luigi to tarnish his reputation. One could argue that this Japanese Dracula parody served as a prototype for Waluigi.

Herman Smirch (Valiant’s Game Boy Comic)

Herman Smirch (Valiant’s Game Boy Comic)

There’s a lot of hidden backstory in Super Mario Land 2. Why does Mario have his own castle and kingdom? What’s up with the giant robot Mario? And wait, does Mario own the moon? But perhaps the most obscure character in the game is the mysterious vampire, Kurokyura.

Despite being a Dracula knockoff, Kurokyura is not a very memorable character in the game. He only appears once in the Pumpkin Zone, and isn’t even a boss. He simply throws bats at Mario before disappearing.

However, Kurokyura played a more significant role in Kazuki Motoyama’s Super Mario manga, where he served as Wario’s right-hand man. In the manga, Kurokyura also became Luigi’s rival and even disguised himself as Luigi to tarnish his reputation. One could argue that this Japanese Dracula parody served as a prototype for Waluigi.

Redneck Kong (Diddy Kong Pilot)

Redneck Kong (Diddy Kong Pilot)

Introducing the most obscure member of the DK Crew, who almost made it into the Donkey Kong racing games.

In 1997, Diddy Kong Racing was released for the Nintendo 64. Later, a direct Game Boy Advance sequel was planned, which eventually transformed into the 2005 game Banjo-Pilot due to Rare being acquired by Microsoft. Before this change, the project was called Diddy Kong Pilot and was going to feature pilots from both the Mario and Donkey Kong universes, including a version that only featured the Donkey Kong Country cast, with a new character called “Redneck Kong.”

This bucktoothed, overalls-wearing gorilla was in the process of being removed when the game was shown at E3 2001. Rare programmers eventually decided to replace him with Candy Kong, but he remained on the select screen since they didn’t get far enough into that build to erase him.

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