December 15, 1989
The movie The Wizard, being about a young boy named Jimmy, who's very skilled at video games, features some references to Mario games, specifically some scenes featuring Super Mario Bros. 2 (USA), and, most notably, in the movie climax, were Jimmy competes in the final of the "Video Armageddon" tournament in a play of Super Mario Bros. 3. Additionally Mario is also featured on the movie poster, in the same pose from the Super Mario Bros. 3 cover, only lacking his "Racoon Mario" features. The poster also shows many generic video game enemies, including a crab looking like the Sidesteppers from Mario Bros.
Mario references in the movie itself are:
- When Jimmy's brother Nick finds and repairs the NES, he's then seen playing Super Mario Bros. 2 and specifically World 1-3 as Mario.
- When the Nintendo gameplay tip call center is shown, some Nintendo games can be seen in the consultants' personal TVs, and one of these is Super Mario Bros. 2. While the scene is not easly recogniseable, the main theme can clearly be heard playing. An oddity is that the game goes on even if the consultant is not playing, possibly meaning that he's just watching a walkthrough, but since there's a NES plugged, it's more likely that he's supposed to play, but since the game footages are actually pre-recorded for the movie, they go on on their own.
- When Jimmy is seen training at various NES games at a PlayChoice-10 arcade cabinet, one of the games shown is Super Mario Bros. 2, specifically World 1-1 while playing as Mario.
- While Jimmy's friend Haley is talking at the phone to the Nintendo hotline, she asks for tips about Super Mario Brothers.
- The game played in the final round of "Video Armageddon" is Super Mario Bros. 3, a game that wouldn't be available for another three months after the film's release. See below for details on this scene.
- Sounds from Super Mario Bros. are occasionally heard as generic video game sounds coming from the arcade, the NES and also from the score screen at Video Armageddon.
Video Armageddon finale
After having selected the three finalists as Jimmy, his rival Lucas, and a girl named Mora, the announcer says they'll compete in the final in "a game they have never played before." This turns out to be Super Mario Bros. 3. The tournament features an exclusive scoring system apparently based on how far the players are going, rather than being based on the in-game points, since it gives a penalty if the player's character dies, forcing them to repeat the level, and it gives bonus points when skipping part of the game through a Warp Zone. It also seem to give points based on the power-ups the player is able to get.
Possibly because the creators of the movie wanted to show some specific features of the game, many oddities can be noticed in the scene. First, the players are seen playing in a very average way despite being the three finalists, and are sometimes seen "stuck" at a certain point between two different cuts, most notably Lucas being stuck at the falling spiked ceiling in World 1-Fortress, and some other times they're seen beating entire levels in only few seconds. This is obviously due to movie's cuts, but even ignoring this, there are many other notable inconstancies.
Right at the beginning, supposedly because of the game footages actually being pre-recorded, the game automatically starts after a few seconds, without the players pressing start, however it does "wait" for them before starting to move Mario on the map, so it can be intended as the game being edited for the tournament to automatically start.
The movie shows all three contestants playing through World 1-1, and then skips World 1-2 to directly show Jimmy entering World 1-3. This either means that they played it off-screen or that the game is edited for the tournament to skip some levels, however this seems unlikely since he's shown having collected two cards at the bottom of the screen, meaning he've beaten two levels.
Also, playing World 1-3 is odd for a race to the finish, considering that it's an optional level: in the game, after completing World 1-2, the player can freely chose to go to World 1-3, which only leads to a bonus Toad House, to World 1-4, which leads to the same Toad House, or to the Spade Panel, which leads to the fortress and technically ahead, and this can easly be seen on the map even without having played the game before. This might mean that the tournament gives points for beating a level, so they just want to beat the more they can, but then it doesn't make sense for Jimmy to skip level 1-4 later.
Jimmy's brother Corey then says to him to "find the warp", despite having never seen this game before, but it's likely that he just assumed there are warp zones or shorcuts like in the previous Super Mario Bros. games.
In World 1-3 Jimmy's seen stomping on the first Koopa Troopa of the level, and oddly the same game footage is a few moments later used for Lucas too.
Later Jimmy dies to a Boomerang Bro. and the announcer says he "starts over in World 2", while it's actually the third level, however this was understandably done not to confuse the viewers. He's also heard calling it "World 2" again, later.
Also, while the screen shows Jimmy losing points, Lucas and Mora are shown having almost equal points, which is odd considering that Moria is shown being still in World 1-1, while Lucas is at World 1-3, however she's then shown winning World 1-3 only a few seconds after Lucas.
Also, when Lucas is shown winning the level he has a Star card and a Mushroom card, which contradicts the previous scene (the footages reused from Jimmy) where he had a Star card and a Flower card.
Jimmy then dies to a Paragoomba and he's once again shown in loosing points in the scoring screen, but the same footages from the previous scene are actually reused, as they're shown having exactly the same amount of points. The movie then shows Lucas and Mora playing the "Spade Panel" minigame, and the three blank card spaces at the bottom of the screen indicate the players actually played the minigame at this point, since they only won three stages.
Jimmy's friend Haley then suggests him to "get the star", and the movie then shows him winning the level and getting the card, to which they're all happy, but since the bottom of the screen shows Jimmy to have already taken a star card and a flower card in the previous levels, he can't match three cards anymore, so he doesn't need any specific card, plus looking closely it's possible to note that he actually took a flower. A possible explanation is that she was simply saying Jimmy to get a Power Star and get invincible, and in the end she was just happy for him beating the level, but the scene at the end of the tournament suggests she actually intended the Star card. It's also possible that she was just taking a guess, like she later does with the Warp Whistle, only this time she's wrong.
Later Jimmy is shown playing the Spade Panel minigame too and then Lucas is shown playing the first part of the fortress level. The bottom of Lucas' screen shows him having a flower card, indicating he've also beaten the optional World 1-4 meanwhile, while Jimmy's then seen entering the fortress and the map screen is shown for a split-second, showing that he not only skipped Level 1-4, but also the bonus Toad House for no reason.
Jimmy's then shown accessing the secret room in the fortress, something hard but still possible at the first playthrough, and finding the Warp Whistle to which Haley says "That's the magic flute! Use it, it opens a warp!" while shouldn't be possible for her to know its use at the first playtrough, unless she assumed it from it being hidden, or she recognized it as the flute from The Legend of Zelda.
Once in the map screen, Jimmy uses the Whistle to get to the Warp Zone, but looking at the screen it's possible to see he've actually also beaten World 1-5 meanwhile, which granted him a Mushroom card, and according to the in-movie clock, he did so in less than 7 seconds.
He's then seen accessing World 4-1, while Lucas is still at the World 1-fortress and Mona is playing the optional World 1-4. At the end of the final, Haley once agin says Jimmy to "get the star" and this time he does so, getting many extra points right as the timer stops, but oddly he only had a Mushroom Card at this point, so obtaining only a second card would't do anything, and instead he should be looking for another Mushroom to try and match three of them. However, since Jimmy got so many points in the end, it's possible that the Star Card was actually more valuable for the tournament's scoring system, but still that's something Haley's shouldn't know.
The Wizard's company Universal did an agreement with Nintendo to use its games in the movie, and actually Nintendo convinced Universal to use almost exclusively NES games in the movie and not feature any Sega game, that were apparently originally planned. Nintendo also authorized the use of Super Mario Bros. 3, yet unreleased outside Japan, as a mean to promote the game itself to western audiences.