Mario is perhaps the most iconic video game character in history. The undersized plumber has starred in dozens upon dozens of Nintendo games since his introduction in the original Donkey Kong in 1981, but Mario has also appeared in brief and hidden cameos throughout games for various platforms over the years. Here are 9 of them.
Although Mario is featured on the cover for Pinball on the NES, you can't find him anywhere until you reach the secret Breakout-style bonus stage. In it, Mario tries to rescue Paulina instead of Princess Peach. You can find this hidden level if you manage to hit the pinball into one of the holes located in the upper right corner of the game.
The original Tetris for Nintendo featured multiple endings with space ships rocketing into outer space at the end of the A-Type mode. However, if you beat the puzzle game in B-Type mode on the highest difficult setting, various Nintendo characters—such as Princess Peach, Link, Samus, Bowser, Donkey Kong, and, of course, Mario & Luigi—dance around the Kremlin.
3. Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
In Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes for GameCube, small figures of Mario and Yoshi can be spotted on top of a computer in a laboratory. If you shoot Mario with a pistol, he'll make a 1UP sound chime that will restore your health. If you do the same thing to Yoshi, the dinosaur will say his name.
4. Kirby Super Star
During the "Megaton Punch" mini-game in Kirby Super Star for the Nintendo DS, Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Birdo make brief cameo appearances as spectators in the arena.
5. Donkey Kong Country 2
If you beat Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong's Quest for the Super Nintendo, you can play the "Cranky's Video Game Heroes" mini-game, which features iconic Nintendo characters such as Link, Yoshi, and Mario. A sign that reads "No Hoppers" at the bottom left corner of the screen is a playful jab at Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog and Earthworm Jim.
6. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Bowser appear in several portraits in Princess Zelda's Courtyard in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the N64.
7. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
In a house in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, you'll find a fictional GameStation console with a book titled "Italian Plumber Princess Rescue" next to it inside. This is a clear allusion to Super Mario Bros.
8. Pilotwings 64
In Pilotwings 64, Mario's face is carved in the side of a Mount Rushmore-like mountain, which also features Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. If you launch missiles into Mario's face, it will crumble to reveal Wario.
9. Assassin's Creed II
When Ezio's uncle, Mario Auditore, greets him in Assassin's Creed II , he exclaims, "It's-a-me! Mario!" This is an obvious reference to the first words that Mario ever uttered in Mario 64 for the N64.