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The Untold Truth Of Super Mario 128

Super Mario 64 is widely regarded as one of the most important video games of all time. In 2020, it received an HD rerelease on the Nintendo Switch as a part of Super Mario 3D All-Stars. However, what you may not know is that there was another game that nearly followed in its footsteps. 


Codenamed Super Mario 128, this title was a bit of a mystery that confused Nintendo fans for years. In fact, it seems that the first mention of Super Mario 128 was part of a joke made by Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto. The genesis of Super Mario 128 sprang from a 1997 Nintendo Power interview (archived by Miyamoto Shrine). In this interview, Miyamoto discussed the production of Star Fox 64 and hinted towards his next projects, saying, "What comes next? Super Mario 128? Actually, that's what I want to do." 

Though he was clearly kidding around at the time, the seed of an idea had been planted. And so began the long, baffling journey of Super Mario 128. 

Super Mario 128 eluded fans for years

At the Nintendo Space World trade show in 2000, a tech demo was shown off for Super Mario 128 that featured Mario splitting into — you guessed it — 128 copies of himself. Footage of this demo appears to only exist in grainy VHS format at this point, but it's a lot of fun to check out. However, while the demo was chaotic and entertaining, it didn't explain much of what the game would actually be.


It didn't help matters that the game seemed to be stuck in development for years. By 2005, Super Mario 128 still had not surfaced. In an interview with Wired, Miyamoto said that Nintendo was still doing "lots of tests" with Mario 128. At the time, Miyamoto hoped that the game would eventually be released for the Revolution, which was Nintendo's codename for the Wii. However, the launch of the Wii came and went, and there was no sign of Super Mario 128. So what happened to this game?

Super Mario 128 became something very different

The mystery was finally cleared up once and for all during 2007's Game Developers Conference. During Shigeru Miyamoto's keynote speech, he addressed the questions surrounding what happened to Super Mario 128. He told the audience that the game that had been teased so many times over the years wasn't really a game at all, but a tech demo for a new type of advanced AI in gaming. Miyamoto revealed, "The purpose of that demo was to show how the new technology in the GameCube could dynamically change the nature of Mario games."


Miyamoto then said that Super Mario 128 would never be released as its own game, because gamers had already played the title that had been made using 128's innovations. He explained that the AI developed for Super Mario 128 actually led to the creation of the popular Pikmin franchise. Miyamoto said that he had never told fans this before, because he was worried they'd be angry.

While it is kind of a bummer that fans never got to control a zillion Marios at once, the Pikmin games are considered modern classics. All in all, the trade-off seems to have been worth it.