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Off-Model Mario Madness

Mario Whenever Nintendo's iconic Mario appears on box art or promotional material, he looks consistently correct, but that has not always been the case.  For the first ten years or so of Mario's existence, artists with little knowledge of the world's most famous plumber found new, horrifying ways to depict him in official capacities.  GamesRadar takes a look back at the many faces of Mario.

It’s a frequently cited fact that Mario is more recognized worldwide than Mickey Mouse (whoever that is), meaning everyone everywhere should know what he looks like, even if his official look has matured over the years.

But in his near three decades of existing, not every official or officially licensed representation of the mild-mannered jumping guy has stuck with the program. History is rife with Mario drawings that are off, laughably bad or just plain wrong. Take our trip down memory lane to see the Mario you’re supposed to forget.

The article manages to hit just about every off-model Mario that I remember from my childhood including the creepy image of an evil Mario abducting a very young Princess Toadstool.  Things did get better for our hero by the early 1990s, thankfully, but it's still fun to look back on Mario's balding circus ringmaster days.  One source of cringe-worthy Mario artwork that the article missed is Nintendo Power's own Super Mario Bros. 2 coverage.  Allow me to share some of the more bizarre images from that material.

Mario, Toad, and Luigi
Well, it's certainly... different, isn't it?  Check out the stitching on the denim.

Mario's many troubles 
The land of Subcon is a very dangerous place, apparently, what with being bombarded by bombs, eggs, and masks all of the time.

Mario's many items 
But there are opportunities for power-ups and items if one knows where to look.  Take note of Mario's partially blue hat.  We'll see it worse in a moment.

Shy Guys feel the pain 
The message of Super Mario Bros. 2 seems to be that it's fun to pick on Shy Guys because you are bigger and stronger than they are.  This is Mario at his bullying best (worst?).  After treatment like this it's no wonder they want to wear Princess Daisy's skin.

Blue Mario 
Yeah, that's... that's not quite right.  So close and yet so not.

Princess Toadstool 

When anatomy goes wrong!  Nice feet there, Princess.  Thank goodness Mario's games were such a joy to play.  He and his friends certainly weren't going to get by on their looks.

(Article via Poison Mushroom, images via Gamehiker)