The Super Mario Bros. games are all about death. Think about it. What do you spend most of your time doing in those things? Dying over and over, in all manner of ways, from falling into lava to getting struck in the face by a flying buzz saw to being lightly touched by a turtle, for some reason. The Mario franchise is essentially a series of whimsical death simulators -- and I believe it's time we use this technology to kill the shit out of death.
To show you what I mean, I've used Mario Maker to create all-new, Cracked-exclusive Mario levels based on the world's most common causes* of death. What essential lessons can we learn by forcing Mario to die repeatedly in the same ways humans do? How will this help us achieve the dream of immortality? And, more importantly, can this turn me, personally, into a powerful Highlander? Turn on your console and let's find out together!
*Not counting diseases and stuff, because eww. Someone else deal with that, OK?
#8. Medical Error: Dr. Mario's Self-Medicating Journey
According to a widely cited 1999 study, medical error (the fancy term for "doctors and nurses fucking up") kills as many as 98,000 people in the United States every year. A 2010 follow-up raised that figure to 180,000, and a 2013 one re-upped it to somewhere between 210,000 and 440,000, at which point they probably stopped doing follow-ups because it's too depressing. Since Mario is canonically a doctor (Dr. Mario, 1990, Gunpei Yokoi et al.), it's safe to assume that he has plenty of blood on his hands too.
This is aside from the blood on his feet, from all the Goombas he's trampled.
The World Health Organization says that medical errors "often involve drugs," so I've designed my Dr. Mario's Self-Medicating Journey level around the concept that Mario sneaks into a hospital and gets high as fuck on stolen medicinal mushrooms. The victim of Dr. Mario's medical malfeasance in this case is himself, since it's kinda difficult to jump over bottomless pits while tripping balls. (By the way, those of you who have Mario Maker can play this level yourselves with the code above. The rest of you will have to settle for GIFs.)
Each red X represents a place where a real player died, probably cursing
the state of modern medicine.
Mario must get through the level while avoiding his own deranged hallucinations, like this flying fish-throwing fucker over here:
There's only one flying fish-throwing fucker; Mario is seeing double.
Mario Death Rate: 94.71 Percent
According to my current stats, only 5.29 percent of all attempts to complete this level (eight out of 151 playthroughs) didn't result in death. That makes this the least deadly level in this article, which logically means we must stop worrying so much about the problem of medical error in the real world. Phew, that's a relief. Next!
#7. Interpersonal Violence: Mario Gets A Gun Permit
The Mushroom Kingdom has a big problem. OK, it has several big problems (its ruler keeps getting kidnapped, there are only two people who know how to fix a toilet, etc.), but one of the more pressing ones is the fact that there are cannons everywhere, shooting big-ass bullets at people. The solution is simple: Add more guns! Just put guns everywhere!
"I'm-a feeling safer already!"
In the level I've titled Mario Gets A Gun Permit, our portly hero stands his ground by open carrying a .45 fire flower and 187ing a bunch of people. As he flees the consequences of his actions, Mario finds himself in some sort of underworld, being haunted by the ghosts of his victims ... who are also carrying guns and shooting giant bullets, naturally.
Except for the ghost who shoots moles who, in turn, shoot wrenches
(a metaphor for George Zimmerman).
For those who missed all the subtle clues: This level is based on interpersonal violence, the world's third-leading cause of death among adult men. The most popular type of interpersonal violence, by far, is assault by firearm -- these being the cause of 33,636 yearly deaths in the U.S. alone. Also in the U.S., guns are now the second-most-common cause of death in children, which, you know, no offense to my American friends (and, uh, bosses), but get your fucking shit together you unbelievable morons.
Mario Death Rate: 95.15 Percent
Well, this is awkward. My data show that, for the most part, it's not guns that kill people: It's the Thwomps (rocks with angry faces that fall from the sky) I put in the middle of the stage.
Thwomps, aka "the reason castle levels made you pee yourself as a kid."
No need to leave that angry comment now, dear gun nut! I take it back! Guns are safe and awesome! The lives of children are absolutely worth your dick-measuring contests! Wa-hoo!
#6. Drowning: Mario Goes For A Little Swim!!!
Drowning is one of the oldest, most reliable, and least effort-requiring ways to leave this mortal plane. There's nothing that human ingenuity can't improve, though, and so we've invented a way to make drowning even easier: adding alcohol. Up to 70 percent of watery deaths in adolescents and adults involve booze. Another major (and possibly related) risk factor is being male, since nearly four of five drowning victims happen to have dongs.
To represent this problem, I've created a level called Mario Goes For A Little Swim!!! that combines some of the most annoying features in platform games: water levels, mazes, time attacks, "drowsy" visuals, and superfluous exclamation marks. If Mario doesn't find the exit to my underwater labyrinth within 70 seconds, this happens:
Hey, at least this isn't Mario 64.
This is a horrible level, and I've made the world a quantifiably worse place by putting it here.
Mario Death Rate: 96.70 Percent
As of this writing, 117 drownings have occurred in this stage, but perhaps the most alarming statistic is the fact that 100 percent of the Marios were male. Remember, kids: If you're gonna swim, leave your penis with a friend. Better safe than sorry.
#5. Forces Of Nature: Mario Takes A Hike
The number of people who die due to exposure to forces of nature went up 336 percent in 2010 compared with 1990, though the bulk of those deaths happened on the same day in Haiti in 2010 (so, just before the deadline). Still, that's a lot of people Mother Nature has filicided. Forces of nature can include everything from excessive heat to excessive cold to earthquakes to volcanic eruptions to avalanches, so I'm combining all of those things into a fun little level called Mario Takes A Hike. It starts with our jolly plumber happily skipping up a mountain, when ... oh no! A cave-in!
Hope you haven't been eating too much broccoli, Mario, because you're
about to taste your own pee.
But then ... double oh no! The mountain is full of lava, because it's actually an active motherfucking volcano! If Mario manages to avoid getting teabagged by a thousand leaping fireballs, he'll have to make his way back to the surface by navigating through a series of treacherous, slippery ice blocks (that's the "extreme cold" part) before being finally and rudely spit out of the volcano.
I consulted a real geologist to make this as accurate as possible.
Mario Death Rate: 97.04 Percent
Only 2.96 percent of Marios have made it through this level unscathed, and the biggest cause of death is (perhaps predictably) falling into lava like a dumbass:
There's something comforting about the red Xs; they're saying, "No, you're not the only dumbass."
On the other hand, my icy traps had very little impact on the Mariortality rate. So there you have it, a Cracked scoop: Heat is deadlier than cold. Someone go update Wikipedia.