The Super Mario Bros. Movie Is Loaded With Non-Mario Video Game Easter Eggs

The conceit of "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" is that Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) are humans from Earth who, thanks to a rogue pipe, are sucked into the alternate dimension of the Mushroom Kingdom. Said realm is populated by curious mushroom-shaped people, talking apes, sentient penguins, and an evil fire-breathing Koopa who seeks a wife. There also appears to be another human living there in the form of Princess Peach, the ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom, although it's implied that she may be from a tertiary dimension altogether. 

The Mario Bros. don't just come from Earth, but from Brooklyn specifically, and are of Italian descent. That means their local neighborhood is replete with recognizable Earth items. Although, seeing as "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" is based on a Nintendo game from the 1980s, all the Mario Bros.' Earth ephemera are based directly on 1980s Nintendo games. Curiously, Mario and Luigi live in a world where they themselves can play Nintendo. It stands to reason, however, that their version of Nintendo doesn't have "Super Mario Bros." in its library. Unless, of course, the "real-world" characters happen to share their names with a hit video game by mere chance. 

Early in the film, Mario, feeling a little bit down, blows off steam by playing video games in his room. The game he plays is none other than "Kid Icarus," a real-life game released on the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America in 1987. In it, the player controls a miniature cherub who defeats a whole Theogony's worth of wicked Greek deities. It is not a stylized version of "Kid Icarus," but the actual game. 

"The Super Mario Bros. Movie" contains multiple other early NES and arcade references besides. A sharp-eyed '80s kid will likely spot many.

Jump Man

At the pizzeria that Mario frequents, there is an old-fashioned, coin-op arcade cabinet in use. A quick glimpse over the player's shoulder reveals it to be "Donkey Kong," which first infiltrated arcades in 1981. However, because Donkey Kong will appear as a character later in the film, the filmmakers wisely chose to alter the game and retitle it "Jump Man." Old school arcade denizens will recognize "Jump Man" as the given name to the very Mario-like character that players control in "Donkey Kong." In that game, the damsel to be rescued is named Pauline, a character that would be resurrected for "Super Mario Odyssey" many years later. 

The pizzeria is also called the Punch-Out!! Pizzeria, named after a Nintendo arcade cabinet released in 1984. The gimmick of the game was that the player controlled a wire-frame model of a boxer and controlled each of its fists with a separate joystick. The game was massively popular, and was adapted to the NES in 1987 as "Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!" The final boss of the NES game was Mike Tyson himself and ranks as one of the most difficult video game bosses of its era. The game, however, had to be retitled in 1990 to simply "Punch-Out!!," when the limited license to use Tyson's name expired. Tyson was replaced by a character called Mr. Dream. In 1991, Tyson was arrested for sexual assault, but his crime had nothing to do with the re-branding. 

Like at Sal's Pizzeria in "Do the Right Thing," the Punch-Out!! Pizzeria is festooned with numerous portraits of the cartoonish international boxers featured in "Punch-Out!!" One might immediately see Macho Man or Glass Joe on the walls.

Charles Martinet

While Chris Pratt plays the voice of Mario, a voice actor named Charles Martinet began providing the miniature voice inflections for Mario in his many video games beginning in 1991 — phrases like "Let's-a go!" and "It's-a me! Mario!" and "Woo hoo!" Many Nintendo fans were incensed that Martinet was not cast as Mario in the movie, but he does, at least, appear. In the pizzeria, Martinet plays a very Mario-like character named Giuseppe and also plays the voice of Mario's disapproving father.  

A very sharp-eyed viewer might see — and this was only glimpsed, so I'm not 100% sure — a portrait of a teenager with a flip hairdo on Mario's wall in his room. Could that have been Mike Jones, the protagonist for the hugely underrated 1990 NES classic "StarTropics"? For those not in the know, "StarTropics" was an adventure game set on a series of surreal tropical islands, and the player had to trek into the tunnels under said islands armed only with a yo-yo to defeat monsters and locate their missing uncle. The gameplay was fun and the music was great. In a novel twist, the game came with a letter from your uncle, packed in the box with the cartridge. Late in the game, the player was asked to reference that letter, specifically to dip it in water. If you thought to submerge the paper, a special code would appear, and you could continue in the game. 

Perhaps it was not Mike Jones on Mario's wall, but if it was, the filmmakers were paying extra-close attention to Nintendo history.