The NES boasted two Mario-themed edutainment games: Mario is Missing! and Mario’s Time Machine. In 1st grade I bought the former at a garage sale thinking I had stumbled upon some unknown but awesome Mario game where you play as Luigi. I was expecting some fun platforming goodness wherein I commit turtle genocide but instead Missing! is about controlling Luigi as he travels the world as a concerned global citizen trying to locate Mario.
Along the way, the expectation is that the player will learn about geography and various cultures of the world. Instead, the game taught me the following:
- The woman running the garage sale is a terrible person who savors the disappointment of children like a fine wine.
- Fun and education are mutually exclusive.
- Seriously, fuck that lady.
By definition, I suppose, it still counts as a game. Somewhere in the world, Missing! was some kid’s first Mario game and he was very confused when he found out Super Mario Bros. is about saving a princess instead of talking to Italian people about their daily lives.
In case you were wondering, Mario’s Time Machine is the same damn thing except you, y’know, go back in time. Because Bowser is stealing historical monuments. Whatever.
Both Mario is Missing! and Mario’s Time Machine had ports to the SNES and the PC. For whatever reason, the characters for the PC version of Missing! were hand drawn and look beyond creepy. Check out the intro below. Take notice how Mario’s neck turns almost 180 degrees to speak to Luigi.