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Miyamoto: Mario originally had a gun

Plus, magic mushroom inspiration revealed.

In early builds of Nintendo's classic platformer Super Mario Bros, the iconic plumber wielded a gun, creator Shigeru Miyamoto has revealed.

Speaking in an interview with Japan's Famitsu magazine, kindly translated by 1Up's cryptography department, Miyamoto explained, "During much of development, the controls were A for shoot bullets, B to dash, and up on the control pad to jump.

"The bullets wound up becoming fireballs later - we originally thought about having a shoot 'em up stage where Mario jumps on a cloud and shoots at enemies, but we dropped it because we wanted to focus on jumping action. The sky-based bonus stages are the remnants of that idea, you could say.

"In the end, we realised that being able to shoot all the fireballs you want while running gave Mario too much of an advantage, so instead we had it so you shoot only one fireball when you start running."

Nintendo's resident genius went on to discuss the inspiration for the game's mushroom power-ups.

"The first game prototype we had going wasn't very good because you couldn't see very far ahead of you. People wanted to have more of the world visible onscreen, but I didn't want to make Mario any smaller than he was.

"So we decided to build the world on the scale of a smaller Mario, then make him larger in the final version. That's the moment we struck upon the idea of starting Mario out small and letting him get bigger later.

"Since the game's set in a magical kingdom," he added, "I made the required power-up item a mushroom because you see people in folk tales wandering into forests and eating mushrooms all the time. That, in turn, led to us calling the in-game world the 'Mushroom Kingdom,' and the rest of the basic plot setup sprung from there."

So there you have it: one of the cornerstones of the modern videogame industry was laid on a foundation of guns and hallucinogens.

You can revisit Miyamoto's original masterpiece when Super Mario All-Stars: 25th Anniversary Edition arrives for Wii on 3rd December.

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Fred Dutton

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Fred Dutton was Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.

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