Nintendo's villain / anti-hero Wario has gone on to fame and fortune of his own, stepping out of Mario's shadow to star in the Wario Land and WarioWare franchises, and while we all know how he started out in 1992's Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins when he stole control of Mario Land, debate has continued to rage regarding his true origins. I'm not talking about the fiction here; I'm directly asking: why was Wario created? A developer interview with SML2's creators originally featured in the game's official strategy guide has been translated and posted at Shmuplations, and it sheds some light on the issue.
—What was the idea behind Wario?
Kiyotake: We imagined Wario as the Bluto to Mario’s Popeye. The truth is, we kind of came up with the idea of the name first, and everything else came after. Since he was a “warui” (bad) guy, he should be Wario. And we had the idea to flip the M upside down. To our surprise, the idea was a big hit with everyone on the team.
—What was your process for creating the character of Wario?
Kiyotake: Whenever I had the idea for a character—not only Wario—the first thing I would do is talk it over with Hosokawa. If he thought it was cool, I’d present it to the rest of the staff. Then, once I thought the idea could work, I’d discuss the details of the sprite animation and movement with Harada. That’s the process I went through for Wario and all the other characters in SML2. Granted, there were a lot of direct rejects, or characters that no one took a liking to.
—Can you tell us about Wario’s past/origins?
Kiyotake: There’s been a rumor going around the Wario was childhood friends with Mario, but it’s just a rumor: I don’t know if it’s true or not. His favorite food is crepes. That much seems true…
There we have it, straight from the source! Heroes need villains, and while Mario already had Bowser to contend with at this point in history, creating a Bizarro-version of our favorite plumber allows the Super Mario games to play with conventions more directly than Bowser allows. Consider the end of SML2 when Mario and Wario finally meet face to face and the latter uses the same power-ups that the former has been using all game long against him. The game's internal logic not only suggests that Wario can use the Fire Flower and Carrot, it demands that we see it happen. The interview suggests that Mario is fighting for himself for the first time in SML2, but the plot goes deeper than that. He's not only fighting for himself, he's also fighting a reflection of himself. Now we jump through a mirror, darkly.