Super Mario Odyssey isn’t just Mario’s biggest adventure ever, or one of the best games of 2017. It’s also a giant, sprawling love letter to every facet of Mario history. Super Mario Odyssey might take Mario further than he’s ever been from the Mushroom Kingdom, but the entire journey is absolutely drenched in callbacks to his long and storied past, with Easter eggs that recall his first appearance in Donkey Kong, his player-created Super Mario Maker stages, and anything and everything in between.
But unless you’re a dedicated Mario fan—and we know there are some of you out there—you may not appreciate just how far into the past some of Super Mario Odyssey’s Easter eggs go. That’s what we’re here for. Just watch out for spoilers: this list goes into some of the big surprises waiting for you. Don’t worry about it too much, though. Super Mario Odyssey is absolutely huge, and we’ve only scratched the surface of the many secrets it has to offer.
If you haven’t heard yet, Super Mario Odyssey lets you buy a variety of different outfits with your hard-earned coins. That’s right: if you’ve gotten tired of Mario’s red and blue getup—or, if after 36 years, you figure he’s simply due for a change of clothes—you’re welcome to give Mario a long-overdue makeover.
Some of the costumes are brand new to the Mario series (we don’t think that Mario’s ever gone goomba-hopping in a wedding dress or a fedora before), while others have pretty obvious origins. While Luigi, Wario, and Waluigi aren’t in Super Mario Odyssey (or, if they are, nobody’s found them yet), their green, yellow, and purple outfits are all available for purchase. Similarly, Mario’s “Classic Suit” makes his overalls red and his shirt blue, just like the clothes he wore in the very first Super Mario Bros. (blue overalls didn’t become the official standard until Super Mario Bros. 3).
Many of Mario’s other alternate outfits, however, are fairly deep cuts from Super Mario history, and you won’t recognize them unless you’re a diehard fan. The “Chef Suit” recalls Mario’s days baking in Yoshi’s Cookie. The safari-ready “Explorer Suit” is a nod to the Game Boy puzzler Mario’s Picross, while the “Poncho Costume” resembles Mario’s duds in the Game Boy edition of Qix (as well as one of his getups in the Japanese-only anime, Super Mario Bros.: Pīchi-hime Kyushutsu Dai Sakusen!). The “Painter Outfit” is references box art for the Super Nintendo title Mario Paint, the patriotic “Golf Outfit” is from Open Tournament Golf, while the “Aviator Outfit” and accompanying cap look like the clothes Mario wears in his first portable outing, Super Mario Land, during that game’s shoot ’em up plane levels.
The costumes listed above aren’t the only outfits in Super Mario Odyssey that recall classic Mario looks, although you may not catch some of the references unless you happen to be very familiar with Mario’s Japanese heritage.
For example, the “Mechanic Outfit” is borrowed from Famicom Grand Prix II: 3D Hot Rally, a Japan-only racing game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Mario and Luigi wear the outfit on the game’s box art. While it’s allegedly a solid racing game, it never made its way west. Not only was Famicom Grand Prix II exclusive to the Family Computer Disk System, which was never released in America, but Nintendo of America executives didn’t think that the game was cool enough to sell in the USA (director Kazunobu Shimizu took those criticisms personally, too, and funneled his rage into his next racing game, the Super Nintendo launch title F-Zero).
Mario’s “Fashionable Outfit”—which, to our untrained eyes, is more gaudy than it is truly fashionable—isn’t as old of a reference, but that doesn’t make it any less obscure. In 2014, when Nintendo released its souped-up version of the 3DS portable, the New 3DS, it launched a Japanese advertising campaign starring singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and a full roster of Nintendo characters. During the ad, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s music gives Nintendo’s classic characters brand new clothes. Link gets a dapper green tuxedo, Pikachu dresses like a king, and Mario wears the spotted shorts, striped shirt, and plaid undershirt that make the “Fashionable Outfit” so, ahem, unique.