Mario Sunshine Book
Image: Nintendo Life

There’s nothing that the gaming community loves more than someone finding a ‘cursed copy’ of a beloved childhood game or a way to visit a secret world inside a game universe.

The Mario franchise has been the source of a lot of myths and secrets, including the Paper Mario serial code mystery and the elusive Minus World.

There’s a handful of other stories, with varying levels of truth to them. Some are cases of the Mandela effect, some have been confirmed by Nintendo, and others are outright false.

So, here are eight of our favourite Mario urban legends — from the sublime to the ridiculous via the outright untrue...

Mario Myth #1 - Mario Characters Are Actors (Entire Franchise)

To start, one popular theory is that all the Mario characters are actually actors in a play.

This does make sense. There are some visual nods to the idea in some games. Super Mario Bros. 3 looks like a play, with props bolted to the background and a theatre curtain opening during the introduction.

Also, why else would Bowser be trying to stop Mario in his tracks during a Super Mario Bros. stage but then be perfectly happy to play tennis with him?

Mario Game Urban Legends
A painted backdrop from NSMBU's Painted Swampland — Image: Nintendo

Is it true? Yes, this theory has been confirmed by Nintendo. In a 2012 interview with Game Informer, Shigeru Miyamoto noted that he views the Mario characters as more of a big family or "a troupe of actors". He later confirmed that all the (Super Mario) world's a stage on Twitter.

Mario Myth #2 - Wario Apparition (Super Mario 64)

Mario Game Urban Legends
Image: Grooveraider

An interesting Super Mario 64 myth is that there’s AI inside the game that personalises each copy for every player. While this would be an incredible feature, you can probably see where this is going.

Something that originated from this myth is the Wario Apparition. Legend has it that if you see a white-eyed Chomp and manage to get through the door that leads to Dire Dire Docks, the Wario Apparition will appear and start chasing you. Some folk even believe that seeing the Wario Apparition can cause physical harm.

Is it true? It’s a great story, but it’s nothing more than that.

The image above is one of the commonly used images seen alongside the story, and it comes from a video used in an E3 presentation in 1996. There are other images and videos associated with the story (and even a soundtrack) but they all have dubious origins.

Mario Myth #3 - Anti-Piracy Screens (Older Mario games)

"I don't serve criminals."

This one is a little more broad, but if you’ve explored any creepypasta forums online, you may have stumbled across some of the odd anti-piracy screens that can allegedly appear in old video games.

Are these real? While games can certainly contain interesting anti-piracy measures, the vast majority of popular creepy anti-piracy screens are fake. Here's one from Mario Party DS:

In fact, there’s a whole subculture online dedicated to creating these screens. You can find a lot of them on Reddit. The creators of these anti-piracy screens are incredibly talented editors, but for the most part, these screens are not visible in any Mario games.

Mario Game Urban Legends
Image: KrazyKen_Fan_2012 / Reddit

Mario Myth #4 - Dorrie Eating Mario (Super Mario 64)

It would’ve been impossible to get through this list without an example of the Mandela effect.

Dorrie is a plesiosaur that can be found in Hazy Maze Cave in Super Mario 64, and many fans insist that Dorrie could eat Mario in the original game.

Is it true? This isn’t true but the idea likely comes from a nearby signpost that warns players not to get too close in case they become Dorrie’s lunch. There’s also the small possibility of Mario glitching into the character model and taking damage or drowning.

There is a creature that eats Mario, but it’s a type of giant fish called a Bubba.

Mario Myth #5 - Hell Valley Sky Tree Creatures (Super Mario Galaxy 2)

Some Mario theories are lighthearted and fun, and others are just plain spooky.

This one is more of an unsolved mystery than a legend; the question being what are the Hell Valley Sky Tree Creatures in Super Mario Galaxy 2? In the Shiverburn and Grandmaster Galaxies, eerie creatures can be seen looming over the stage, right at the top of the zone:

And!? After digging around in the game files, Girrtacos managed to find some images. There are technically four creatures, although one is hidden by the cliffs. The name 'Hell Valley Sky Tree' Creatures comes from the filename.

There’s no explicit explanation for these creatures. Fans are still theorising about them to this day, with some players thinking that they’re just part of a scrapped zone and others insisting that they’re demons, based on the file name.

Mario Myth #6 - Luigi and the Hunter Ghost (Luigi’s Mansion)

Mario Game Urban Legends
Image: Nintendo

One popular myth about the original Luigi’s Mansion is that the Safari Room was meant to originally be the zone for a Portrait Ghost called the Hunter. This creepy ghost allegedly wanted to add Luigi to his taxidermy collection. Some fans even insist that they remember seeing the Hunter ghost, describing him as being blue with a mustache, carrying a rifle, and wearing a safari cap and vest.

Is it true? The Hunter ghost doesn’t actually exist in any version of the game.

The origin of this myth? Nintendo Power magazine, which originally wrote about the Portrait Ghost. The issue came out a month after the game launched in Japan and the mention of the Hunter was later said to be a joke.

Mario Myth #7 - Toad Kingdom Citizens Got Turned Into Items (Super Mario Bros.)

One of the oldest theories about Super Mario Bros. is that item bricks and other inanimate objects are actually Toad Kingdom citizens that have been transformed.

Super Mario Bros. Game Manual Page 2
Image: Nintendo

The origin of this theory is the original game manual. It states that the “Mushroom People were turned into mere stones, bricks and even field horse-hair plants.” This left many fans wondering whether Mario was killing Mushroom People when breaking blocks.

Is it true? Thankfully, page 8 of the same manual references that they've only been turned into item bricks which, while useable, are unbreakable. Existential crisis averted!

Super Mario Bros. Game Manual Page 8
Image: Nintendo

Mario Myth #8 - Mario Sunshine’s Mystery Book (Mario Sunshine)

A lot of video game myths have their origins in scrapped content.

While playing through the ‘Red Coins in a Bottle’ mission in Super Mario Sunshine, several hackers found a strange book behind a door that cannot be opened during regular gameplay. The book cannot be interacted with and was found to be part of the game level’s geometry.

It’s incredibly out of place, though. You can see the book for yourself via noclip, or watch the video below for its precise location in-game:

What does it do? Nothing. Many believe that the book was part of a quest that got deleted.

The Noki Bay book is also the subject of a hoax — later disproven by players using the noclip method — that may have originated on a now-unavailable IGN message board suggesting that the book could be reached and read. It was said to contain a message from Shigeru Miyamoto himself telling players that they had no life. Owch.

That's all for today. Let us know below which of the Mario myths above you've encountered before, and any others you've heard in the deepest, darkest corners of the playground/internet over the years...