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Super Mario Brothers 1986 movie debut is now available online

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There have been a lot of video game movies over the last few years, and some have definitely been better than others. But the very first movie based on a video game came out (exclusively in Japan) all the way back in 1986.

The movie’s name is Super Mario Brothers: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach. It’s an animated movie, and it was released just a year after the Super Mario Bros. game was released in Japan and the US on the original Nintendo Entertainment System.

The movie ran in Japanese theaters, and then got a small-scale VHS release there before being effectively forgotten. Recently, though, some people have found both the VHS release, and a well-worn 16mm print of the movie, and a group of fans have actually done a full, 4K scan and restoration of the movie, which is now available to watch in full on YouTube.

The movie was written before even Nintendo had cemented the character designs and details for Mario, so the details are a little different from what we’re used to. Instead of being plumbers, the Mario Brothers are shopkeepers running a small grocery store. They don’t live in the Mushroom Kingdom, but instead are transported there through a video game. And the Princess’s mushroom retainers are all quite a bit taller and more feminine than Toad ended up becoming even just a few years later in Super Mario Brothers 2.

The movie’s story is a very loose interpretation of the first game’s plot, with Mario and Luigi traveling across the Mushroom Kingdom to collect a Mushroom, a Flower, and a Star so that they may rescue Princess Peach from King Koopa.

The movie isn’t particularly good, but it’s a quick, fun watch, and it’s a fascinating artifact of Mario before he became the turtle-stomping plumber known all around the world.

Samuel McConnell is a games enthusiast who has been playing games in one form or another since 1991. He was born in northern Maine but quickly transplanted to Wichita.