Nintendo Weighs in On Whether Mario Feels Pain

Nintendo gives its opinion on whether the titular mascot of Super Mario Bros. feels any pain during his many dangerous adventures.

Nintendo Weighs in On Whether Mario Feels Pain

Nintendo weighed in on whether the titular hero of Super Mario Bros. feels any pain, saying there isn't a really "clear answer." The world of Super Mario Bros. is filled with danger almost everywhere the player goes. There are several enemies who attempt to stop Mario from reaching Bowser, with the plumber also running into various obstacles like spikes and fireballs.

Despite the danger that Mario encounters in every game, the Super Mario Bros. series never treats it with too much seriousness. The comical and slapstick nature of the Super Mario Bros. games ensures that nothing too violent is ever shown, preserving Nintendo's traditionally family-friendly image. Mario can be inflicted with some of the worst pain imaginable, such as being squashed by Thwomps, falling into boiling lava, or even drowning, and the series will play it off with the same cartoony sound effects and death animations. Mario then jumps back into the level, ready to try again without looking any worse for wear. Takashi Tezuka, a senior designer at Nintendo who works on the Super Mario Bros. franchise, has weighed in on the hero's resilience and pain tolerance.

In an interview with The Verge, the producer was asked whether Mario feels any pain. Tezuka says there really isn't a "clear answer," and that "it may be that Mario does feel pain." While the answer is ambiguous, the important part, according to Tezuka, is the emotions that players feel when they see Mario falling into a bottomless pit or about to be burned by Bowser's fiery breath. Tezuka states that as long as the player feels that Mario is in pain, then it's part of creating a good experience between the character and the player. "If the player feels that Mario is feeling pain, that’s a better experience, rather than talking about whether Mario actually does feel pain," Tezuka said.

How Mario Expresses Pain in Recent Super Mario Bros. Titles

The link between the game eliciting emotions from the player based on what is happening on-screen can be felt with some of the Super Mario Bros. games that were released on the Switch. Super Mario Odyssey, for example, had Mario emote in various ways when he was hit in certain ways, like Cacti spines being stuck on his nose.

If the player feels that Mario is feeling pain, that’s a better experience, rather than talking about whether Mario actually does feel pain.

Another game that Tezuka produced, 2023's Super Mario Bros. Wonder, carried on this idea by giving Mario and the other playable characters a lot more emotion through its animations. The way Mario and his friends' faces contort in uncomfortable ways or whenever they're hit by something painful, it will likely end up making the player wince in sympathy, which is the intended reaction. "For us, if Mario hits an enemy and the person playing goes ‘ow!’ that’s ideal," says Tezuka. As such, whether the hero or other playable characters feel pain during their adventures is entirely up to the player.

Creation Year 1985 Developer(s) Nintendo Publisher(s) Nintendo

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