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Nintendo comfortably rests at the top of the food chain when it comes to sheer inventiveness in game design. For decades now, there have been so many different concepts and gameplay modifiers in Mario titles that you would be forgiven for believing that 2023’s Super Mario Bros. Wonder was maybe the end of the line for everyone’s favorite plumber. As it turns out, Nintendo had even more ideas than what made the cut.

As part of Game Developers Conference 2024, Nintendo held a session about Super Mario Bros. Wonder and divulged some behind-the-scenes secrets about its development. These secrets included concept art, prototype levels, storyboard-like sketches, and some footage of unused Wonder Effects. It’s a veritable treasure trove of ideas that shows Nintendo will never stop pushing Mario into wonderful new directions.


Mario Bros. Wonder unused block concept


As captured by Digital Eclipse’s Chris Kohler, the most talked about of these unused concepts is a level where Mario’s head becomes a giant wooden block in the form of his pixelated self from the original Super Mario Bros. The idea was to avoid having your head eaten as you progressed through the level. It’s fun looking, though was likely cut since the enemies seem to have too much of an edge on Mario.



Mario Wonder prototypes


As for ideas that never made it into gameplay prototypes, there was a slide titled “Brainstorming Session” that revealed 10 different concepts. I’m honestly scared of the long-legged Mario idea, but you can kind of relate some of the badges in Wonder to these concepts. Mario on a pogo stick, for instance, is pretty similar to the “Spring Feet” badge. There’s also a slide with Mario in silhouette, which does happen on a couple of levels. I’m really partial to surfboarding Mario, which gives me some uncomfortable memories of Mario’s Time Machine on PC.



Are any of these Mario Wonder concepts going to become DLC?


I’m sure some people are likely wondering whether or not any of these concepts will wind up as DLC for Super Mario Bros. Wonder. While I can’t rule out the possibility, Nintendo doesn’t seem eager to milk its flagship franchises for all they’re worth. It would be really easy to announce a season pass for both this game and Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and practically guarantee a couple of million sales, but Nintendo is hard to gauge.

The last major Mario release on the Nintendo Switch, Super Mario Odyssey, never received any paid DLC. While Splatoon 2 and 3 have a season pass and even Zelda: Breath of the Wild got in on the craze, Nintendo has been pretty adamant that Tears of the Kingdom will not be getting any expansions. It’s really a toss-up as to whether or not Wonder will receive some expansion in the future.


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Written by Peter Glagowski

Peter has been a freelance gaming and film critic for over seven years. His passion for Nintendo is only matched by the size of his collection.