Is Mario Really Dead?

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Is Mario Really Dead?

Short answer: No. No, he’s not.

Long answer: If you’re way too online you’ve probably seen a lot of social media posts this week about the death of Mario, Nintendo’s beloved mascot, and the star of the Super Mario series. You can rest easy (insert that Denzel Washington GIF here): Mario isn’t dead. Obviously fictional characters don’t die, at least in the real sense, but Mario isn’t even dead within the world of videogames—well, except for all those times you killed him yourself.

The “Mario is dead” meme has no relation to anything that’s happened in any videogame, but instead is a reference to a curious business decision on Nintendo’s part that comes to term today. March 31 is the last day you’ll be able to buy a variety of Mario games released last year to celebrate the character’s 35th anniversary, as well as the last day to play a free online Mario game that launched on the Switch last year. Nintendo is pulling these games from its digital storefront today, and has ended production of one physical item, to mark the end of Mario’s birthday celebration.

That’s it. That’s what’s happening. It’s such an unusual, unnecessary strategy, though, creating this forced scarcity that absolutely never needs to happen with digital products, that fans have started to refer to today as the day Mario dies. The truest way to “kill” a videogame character is to simply make it impossible to play their games, and although the vast majority of Mario games will still be sold after today, Nintendo’s weird insistence on disappearing these select few games has struck a nerve with the gaming world.

In case you’re wondering, here are the specific Mario games and products that won’t be available after today, March 31. You’ve got a few hours to go grab ‘em still, if you haven’t already.

Super Mario 3D All-Stars

This collection brought Mario’s first three 3D adventures to the Switch on Sept. 18, 2020. It features Super Mario 64 from the Nintendo 64, Super Mario Sunshine from the GameCube, and Super Mario Galaxy from the Wii—but no Super Mario Galaxy 2, for some reason. It’s a fairly barebones set, but at least it closely emulates the games in their original states, unlike the original Super Mario All-Stars on the SNES. This got a physical release too, so you’ll still be able to track down second-hand copies. It’ll be pulled from the eShop at the end of today, though.

Super Mario Bros. 35

Unlike 3D All-Stars, which will continue to exist for anybody who buys it before today, Super Mario Bros. 35 is just entirely vanishing when April comes around. The free battle royale game, based on the original Super Mario Bros., pits 35 online players against each other in increasingly difficult old school Mario levels. Only one can win. After tonight, nobody can win. I wasn’t a fan of Super Mario Bros. 35, but it’s still a shame to see it disappear—not only because many players do enjoy it, but because it underscores how terrible the game industry is at preserving its history.

Super Mario Bros. Game & Watch

Playing the original Super Mario Bros. on a recreation of Nintendo’s old Game & Watch handheld gets a lot harder after tonight, as this small little curiosity will no longer be stocked by retailers as of April 1. As I wrote in our holiday gift guide last year, the Super Mario Bros. Game & Watch isn’t a very practical way to play the game, or even all that enjoyable. There’s something unquestionably cool about it though, akin to those viral memes whenever somebody plays Doom on a piece of tech that isn’t supposed to play Doom. This limited edition Game & Watch marries the game that launched Nintendo to the stratosphere with a very distinctive Nintendo product that wasn’t all that successful or well-known in the U.S., making it a weird little conversation piece for Nintendo fans and collectors. If you want to get it without paying exorbitant sums on eBay, you’ve got only a few hours to track one down.

Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.