The inaugural issue of Nintendo Power magazine features an iconic cover of a clay Mario pursued by a clay Wart, but modern Mario fans can spot the error right away: Mario's colors are all wrong for 1988, particularly his blue hat. Even in a time when Mario's color scheme was in flux (red and brown in Super Mario Bros., red and blue in Super Mario Bros. 2, etc.), how on earth did the cover's artist mix up Mario's hat color and swap famous red for unusual blue? As part of a year-long series focused on the thirtieth anniversary of Super Mario Bros. 2, David Oxford at Poison Mushroom has seemingly figured it out.
Moving on, something people take notice of right away (aside from the use of cool clay models) is that Mario’s colors are very mixed up. At this point in time, he was typically presented with red overalls, a blue shirt, a red hat, white emblem with a red “M” on said hat, yellow buttons, and brown shoes. Meanwhile, his hair seemed to vary from picture to picture, being either black like his mustache, or brown. These days, they seem to be going with a dark brown for both, at least in 3D modeled assets.
Mario’s overalls and shirt would settle on blue and red respectively over time, but the rest was still off. One might guess that with Mario seemingly adopting a new color scheme with each new appearance that Nintendo hadn’t settled on anything firmly yet, but I don’t think anything has been firmly said on the matter to this day — merely speculated upon.
That said, it turns out that the colors aren’t exactly wrong for Mario, they just more closely reflect an earlier game: The arcade version of Mario Bros., as seen at right. Though not a perfect match, it seems a more likely link that makes it easier to get an idea of where the cover artist might have been coming from.
Or someone just screwed up royally. We may never know, but some of the images used inside the issue itself would at least seem to imply it wasn’t solely the cover artist’s doing.
Mario has worn many costumes over the years and Super Mario Odyssey celebrates his most memorable. Maybe a special "Blue Mario" Nintendo Power cover costume would be appropriate in a future update.