Last week, Kotaku featured a post regarding a 25-year-old error finally corrected by The New York Times concerning the origins of Mario and Luigi. In 1988, the duo was mistakenly identified as janitors; in fact, we all know they’re plumbers.
Except, perhaps, they aren’t.
In the comments, PseudoHermes makes this interesting claim:
….technically, Mario and Luigi aren't plumbers anymore either, and they aren't from Brooklyn. Ninty has retconned this away (I know this because I used to help with their marketing copy, and references to either were very strictly forbidden). They are just Mario & Luigi, two brothers…. They were at one point, but it officially "doesn't count." It's not true anymore.
We tried to refer to Mario as a mustachioed plumber, and Nintendo said no. Can't do it. They officially aren't plumbers.
Those things still exist, of course, but have been stricken from the canon (and the movie was never part of it anyway, they hate that shit).
It’s difficult to verify PseudoHermes’ assertion, as Nintendo would probably not acknowledge this (care to try them, Mr. Totillo?). But it reminded me of the confusing attempts by other media to force some sort of back-story on to video games’ most-famous duo, who will never have an equivalent to "Hyrule Historia" of their own.
I’m not talking about the movie, either.
Specifically, I recalled a fuzzy memory I have as a kid at my grandparents’ house in Arlington, Texas, watching the Ice Capades on TV with my family, and going absolutely bananas when a Super Mario Bros. performance arrived. I could vaguely remember Mario using a plunger to battle Koopas, and something about maybe Mr. Belvedere playing the role of Bowser?
Thankfully, the internet remembers everything, and I was delighted to find this absurd and little-known chapter in Mario lore on YouTube:
So yes, it’s well established elsewhere that Mario is a plumber. Except when he was a circus trainer. Remember the Saturday Supercade cartoons and that odd rendition of Donkey Kong?
Yep, Hipster Mario was more or less the villain here, though he was apparently absent from the Donkey Kong Junior adaptation.
Or, we could take the anime imagining of the story, which makes the Mario brothers a couple of plumber / grocers who get zapped into a Famicom game.
And while we’re talking about origins for the Mario universe, what about Yoshi? Super Mario World established he was a literate, vocal denzien of Dinosaur World (later retconned to Yoshi’s Island) which was populated by the Yoshis. And their pseudo-reggae cavemen masters. Wait, what?
Obviously, a game series with as marginal a plot as Mario’s has no need for a Grand Unified Timeline Theory. Not that several creative writers haven’t tried. But I figure if Shigeru Miyamoto could create Mario as a carpenter named Jumpman, then morph him to plumber from Brooklyn, and finally just a human who was brought to to a sapient saurian species’ island by a clumsy stork or giant bubble or whatever so he could fight turtles who are constantly attempting to annex a kingdom of fungus beings… you know what, I lost track of whatever point I was going to make there.