9 Hidden Mario Cameos and References in Video Games


Mario is perhaps the most iconic video game character in history. The undersized plumber has starred in dozens upon dozens of Nintendo games since his introduction in the original Donkey Kong in 1981, but Mario has also appeared in brief and hidden cameos throughout games for various platforms over the years. Here are 9 of them.

1. Pinball

Although Mario is featured on the cover for Pinball on the NES, you can't find him anywhere until you reach the secret Breakout-style bonus stage. In it, Mario tries to rescue Paulina instead of Princess Peach. You can find this hidden level if you manage to hit the pinball into one of the holes located in the upper right corner of the game.

2. Tetris

The original Tetris for Nintendo featured multiple endings with space ships rocketing into outer space at the end of the A-Type mode. However, if you beat the puzzle game in B-Type mode on the highest difficult setting, various Nintendo characters—such as Princess Peach, Link, Samus, Bowser, Donkey Kong, and, of course, Mario & Luigi—dance around the Kremlin.

3. Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes

In Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes for GameCube, small figures of Mario and Yoshi can be spotted on top of a computer in a laboratory. If you shoot Mario with a pistol, he'll make a 1UP sound chime that will restore your health. If you do the same thing to Yoshi, the dinosaur will say his name.

4. Kirby Super Star

During the "Megaton Punch" mini-game in Kirby Super Star for the Nintendo DS, Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Birdo make brief cameo appearances as spectators in the arena.

5. Donkey Kong Country 2

(1:02 mark)

If you beat Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong's Quest for the Super Nintendo, you can play the "Cranky's Video Game Heroes" mini-game, which features iconic Nintendo characters such as Link, Yoshi, and Mario. A sign that reads "No Hoppers" at the bottom left corner of the screen is a playful jab at Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog and Earthworm Jim.

6. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Bowser appear in several portraits in Princess Zelda's Courtyard in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the N64.

7. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

In a house in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, you'll find a fictional GameStation console with a book titled "Italian Plumber Princess Rescue" next to it inside. This is a clear allusion to Super Mario Bros.

8. Pilotwings 64

(1:40 mark)

In Pilotwings 64, Mario's face is carved in the side of a Mount Rushmore-like mountain, which also features Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. If you launch missiles into Mario's face, it will crumble to reveal Wario.

9. Assassin's Creed II

When Ezio's uncle, Mario Auditore, greets him in Assassin's Creed II , he exclaims, "It's-a-me! Mario!" This is an obvious reference to the first words that Mario ever uttered in Mario 64 for the N64.

Cahoots Malone
Revisit Your Favorite '90s Screensaver With This Free Game
Cahoots Malone
Cahoots Malone

In the '90s, a significant amount of computing power was devoted to generating endless brick mazes on Windows 95. The screensaver has since become iconic, and now nostalgic Microsoft fans can relive it in a whole new way. As Motherboard reports, the animation has been re-imagined into a video game called Screensaver Subterfuge.

Instead of watching passively as your computer weaves through the maze, you’re leading the journey this time around. You play as a kid hacker who’s been charged with retrieving sensitive data hidden in the screensaver of Windows 95 before devious infomancers can get to it first. The gameplay is pretty simple: Use the arrow keys to navigate the halls and press Q and click the mouse to change their design. Finding a giant smiley face takes you to level two, and finding the briefcase icon ends the game. There are also lots of giant rats in this version of the screensaver.

Screensaver Subterfuge was designed by Cahoots Malone as part of the PROCJAM 2017 generative software showcase. You can download it for free for Windows, macOS, and Linux from his website, or if playing a game sounds like too much work, you can always watch videos of the old screensaver on a loop.

[h/t Motherboard]

Brain Training Could Help Combat Hearing Loss, Study Suggests

Contrary to what you might think, the hearing loss that accompanies getting older isn't entirely about your ears. Studies have found that as people get older, the parts of their brain that process speech slow down, and it becomes especially difficult to isolate one voice in a noisy environment. New research suggests there may be a way to help older people hear better: brain training.

The Verge reports that a new double-blind study published in Current Biology suggests that a video game could help older people improve their hearing ability. Though the study was too small to be conclusive, the results are notable in the wake of several large studies in the past few years that found that the brain-training games on apps like Luminosity don't improve cognitive skills in the real world. Most research on brain training games has found that while you might get better at the game, you probably won't be able to translate that skill to your real life.

In the current study, the researchers recruited 24 older adults, all of whom were long-term hearing-aid users, for eight weeks of video game training. The average age was 70. Musical training has been associated with stronger audio perception, so half of the participants were asked to play a game that asked them to identify subtle changes in tones—like you would hear in a piece of music—in order to piece together a puzzle, and the other half played a placebo game designed to test their memory. In the former, as the levels got more difficult, the background noise got louder. The researchers compare the task to a violinist tuning out the rest of the orchestra in order to listen to just their own instrument.

After eight weeks of playing their respective games around three-and-a-half hours a week, the group that played the placebo memory game didn't perform any better on a speech perception test that asked participants to identify sentences or words amid competing voices. But those who played the tone-changing puzzle game saw significant improvement in their ability to process speech in noise conditions close to what you'd hear in an average restaurant. The tone puzzle group were able to accurately identify 25 percent more words against loud background noise than before their training.

The training was more successful for some participants than others, and since this is only one small study, it's possible that as this kind of research progresses, researchers might find a more effective game design for this purpose. But the study shows that in specific instances, brain training games can benefit users. This kind of game can't eliminate the need for hearing aids, but it can help improve speech recognition in situations where hearing aids often fail (e.g., when there is more than one voice speaking). However, once the participants stopped playing the game for a few months, their gains disappeared, indicating that it would have to be a regular practice.

[h/t The Verge]


More from mental floss studios