Each one of us is embarrassed about our "awkward teenage years," but only Nintendo superstar Mario can talk about his awkward twilight years. A recently unearthed Donkey Kong coloring book shows us a surprisingly bald, rather elderly-looking Mario, even while it shows us a glimpse of who Pauline would become decades in Super Mario Odyssey.
Supper Mario Broth, a blog dedicated to sharing everything rare and bizarre about Nintendo's history, posted the curious page from the coloring book on Twitter yesterday. It depicts Mario swooning in an audience, cap in hand (and sizable bald spot shining brightly), while his then-girlfriend Pauline sings on stage. "When Pauline sings, Mario sighs," the picture's caption states. Admittedly, it took me a minute to realize Mario "sighs" because he's in love with Pauline. I initially thought Mario was sighing in exasperation, like a parent being forced to listen to their kid's off-tune recital.
The 1982 officially licensed Donkey Kong Coloring and Activity Book depicts Pauline as being a popular singer and performing on a stage, 35 years before this characterization is used in Super Mario Odyssey. pic.twitter.com/DmLB2J9UjG— Supper Mario Broth (@MarioBrothBlog) July 18, 2019
The coloring book is an antique as far as video game merchandise goes. It dates to 1982, when Mario's proportions were a little rubberier and Popeye-like. Early '80s Mario is already strange to look back on in this age, since Mario rarely deviates a single centimeter from Nintendo's Laws of Modern Mario Measurements. But seeing Mario as a bald Popeye is something else.
What makes the page feel even stranger is the contrast between a faded version of Mario alongside an interpretation of Pauline that's still recognizable. (Outside of how her cheekbones jut outwards like butchers' knives.) "Our" Pauline also sings, wears her hair long, and sports a gown. Color it blood-red, kids!
True, '82 Pauline wasn't yet the mayor of a city where children aren't allowed to exist, but she was well on her way by then.
Banner art from The Cover Project