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9 Hidden Mario Cameos and References in Video Games

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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.

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"American Mall," Bloomberg
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Unwinnable Video Game Challenges You to Keep a Shopping Mall in Business
"American Mall," Bloomberg
"American Mall," Bloomberg

Shopping malls, once the cultural hub of every suburb in America, have become a punchline in the e-commerce era. There are plenty of malls around today, but they tend to be money pits, considering the hundreds of "dead malls" haunting the landscape. Just how hard is it to keep a mall afloat in the current economy? American Mall, a new video game from Bloomberg, attempts to give an answer.

After choosing which tycoon character you want as your stand-in, you're thrown into a mall—rendered in 1980s-style graphics—already struggling to stay in business. The building is filled with rats and garbage you have to clean up if you want to keep shoppers happy. Every few seconds you're contacted by another store owner begging you to lower their rent, and you must either take the loss or risk them packing up for good. When stores are vacated, it's your job to fill them, but it turns out there aren't too many businesses interested in setting up shop in a dying mall.

You can try gimmicks like food trucks and indoor playgrounds to keep customers interested, but in the end your mall will bleed too much money to support itself. You can try playing the bleak game for yourself here—maybe it will put some of the retail casualties of the last decade into perspective.

[h/t Co.Design]

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Mario Kart Is Coming to Your Smartphone
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Nintendo had a lot to boast about during its quarterly financial reports this week. The company’s latest console/handheld hybrid, the Nintendo Switch, has already sold more units (14.86 million) in its first 10 months than its previous console, the Wii U, did (13.56 million) during its entire five-year lifespan. That news was bolstered by the company revealing its two heavy-hitters, Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, were massive commercial successes, with 6.70 and 9.07 million copies sold, respectively.

That’s great if you’re a shareholder, but if you’re just a gamer, the real news came when Nintendo revealed that Mario Kart will soon make its way to smartphones. Titled Mario Kart Tour, this will be the company’s fifth mobile endeavor, following games like Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes, and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, as well as the soon-to-be-defunct Miitomo app.

Since debuting on the Super Nintendo in 1992, Mario Kart has been one of the company's most reliable franchises. Even on a system that flopped like the Wii U, Mario Kart 8 managed to sell 8 million units on its way to becoming the console's top-selling game. And when that same title was ported to the Nintendo Switch, it moved another 7 million units. For both Nintendo and its fans, the mobile version is a no-brainer.

So what’s actually known about Mario Kart Tour? Well, it’ll be out in the fiscal year, which ends in March 2019. Other than that, you’ll just have to wait for Nintendo to release its patented slow trickle of news over the next few months (though you can expect it on both iOS and Android, like the company's other mobile titles). Until then, you’ll have to dust off that old copy of Mario Kart: Double Dash or splurge on Mario Kart 8 Deluxe to get your fill of blue shells and errant banana peels.

[h/t The Verge]

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