Nintendo Power 196 is not one of the magazine’s more memorable issues. There are no hidden gems in its letters section, no nostalgia-tinged game awards, no eye-opening reviews of classic titles. Even the cover is just a picture of Daniel Radcliffe with a bad haircut. If you had a chance to thumb through some old issues, you’d probably toss this one aside.
And that’s a shame, because it’s probably the only issue in the magazine’s history to to feature a tattooed Mario holding a bong. Or maybe a pimp chalice that sort of resembles a bong (with the stem hidden behind his fat plumber hand).
Described as evidence scrounged from Nintendo of America’s trash bins, the picture is part of a (fictional) plan to give Mario a Poochie-esque new look. The new Mario will get his own crew (hanging with his bro is totally weak), a snappy catchphrase (“Mario in the house!), and a mesh trucker’s hat, allowing him to “appeal to all ages within the countercultural zeitgeist.” Rounding out his hip new image is a pair of sunglasses, some plumber-themed bling, and some baggy, pudge-hiding pants.
Nintendo is frequently criticized for being overly cautious and childish, which makes this image all the more hilarious. It skewers character redesigns perfectly — especially when you consider that this issue was published in 2005 — but it’s ballsy in a way you wouldn’t expect Nintendo Power to be.
You can check out Mario in his full, fresh glory below: