Geek Trivia

Which Of These Video Games Delivers The Story Line As A Stage Play?

Guilty Party
Super Mario Bros. 3
Which Videogame's In-Game Universe Corresponds Directly To The Real World?

Answer: Super Mario Bros. 3

Several years ago, a rather compelling (if seemingly a-bit-of-a-reach) theory emerged among Nintendo fans. The theory went that Super Mario Bros. 3, the best selling Nintendo Entertainment System-era Mario game, was not actually a live action game but a game set up as a stage play.

The player, fans of the theory argued, wasn’t actually guiding Mario through a real threat to the Mushroom Kingdom, but was instead guiding Mario-the-actor through a recreation of a story about the Mushroom Kingdom–that all the characters in the game from the Princess right down to the Koopalings were all actors.

The support for this theory? The game opens with a curtain rising over what could be construed as a stage (and shortly after the curtain rises, multiple objects seems to drop into place as if lowered by an unseen stage crew). The majority of objects in the game cast shadows on a background that appears just behind those objects (like stage sets and props casting shadows onto the back wall of the stage). Many of the blocks and objects in the game appear bolted onto the back “wall” of the level or are suspended via wires (again, like stage props). Further, when you end a level, you literally “exit stage right” and the scenery ends abruptly as if you’re entering the unadorned and dark wings of the stage.

It would be easy to write all of that off as just a really elaborate interpretation of some of the design choices the game designers made and nothing more. There are, after all, hundreds of fan theories covering nearly every popular game, movie, and book franchise. In 2015, however, Nintendo gaming great and Super Mario designer, Shigeru Miyamoto acknowledged that the fan theory was true: Super Mario Bros. 3 was in fact an elaborate stage performance and the player was controlling Mario as an actor in that performance.