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Is Mario dying on March 31?

Mamma MIA!

Mario, with his hand raised and smiling Image: Nintendo
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Nintendo fans will never forget today’s date: It’s the day that Mario dies. Nintendo’s beloved mascot will head to that great castle in the sky on March 31, 2021, ending a four-decade-long career that began with the original Donkey Kong in 1981. He will be survived by his brother Luigi and, thanks to a time paradox, Baby Mario.

Look, Mario isn’t really going to die. But some Mario games will no longer be sold or playable after March 31, and Nintendo hasn’t explicitly said that Mario’s not going to die, so people are a little weirded out.

But as Nintendo ends its 35th anniversary celebration of Super Mario Bros., released in September 1985 on the NES (and Famicom), Mario fans are saying goodbye to the character, mostly in jest.

Here’s what’s happening.

Is Mario dying?

No, Mario is not dying. But fans are (jokingly) lamenting the loss of the plumber-turned-adventurer because of a series of strange decisions by Nintendo. The company is ending sales of Super Mario 3D All-Stars for Switch and the Super Mario Bros.-themed Game & Watch handheld that was just released in November. Nintendo is also ending service for Super Mario Bros. 35, a battle royale game based on the original Super Mario Bros. Because these Mario games are going away on March 31, people have memed Mario’s death into existence.

Why is Nintendo killing Mario?

Nintendo isn’t killing Mario! It’s simply going to stop selling some games and is shutting down an online game that was only available to subscribers of Nintendo Switch Online. But it is, as previously mentioned, a strange decision. Nintendo could continue to sell Super Mario 3D All-Stars for Switch digitally through its online store in perpetuity, but it’s not going to do that.

Why would Nintendo do this?

Making an intentional choice to stop selling a game — Mario games, no less! — is somewhat bewildering. Nintendo is even going to pull Super Mario 3D All-Stars from the Nintendo eShop, where stock is not an issue. It’s called artificial scarcity, and Nintendo is no stranger to it. The company has sold limited-availability items in the past, like the NES Classic Edition and Super NES Classic, and collector’s edition-style releases of certain games.

In fact, another Nintendo release is also going away on March 31: Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light, the first official English-language release of the NES strategy RPG, is only available for a limited time too. It was released on the Switch eShop in December, and will be pulled from the shop at the end of March.

What will happen to Mario on April 1?

We think Mario is going to be OK, actually. He just got his own theme park in Japan, and stateside versions of Super Nintendo World, which is heavily Mario-themed, are coming to Universal Studios theme parks in Orlando and Los Angeles in the coming years. So Mario’s not going anywhere — Nintendo even has a new Mario game coming out this summer: Mario Golf: Super Rush. Mario is still alive, and will continue to be one of Nintendo’s mascots for years to come, eternally mid-20s-years-old.

Is this an April Fool’s prank?

No. Nintendo’s serious about this.

Should I buy all these Mario games before they’re gone?

Depends on your level of FOMO. Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a fine, if bare-bones, collection of three classic Mario games. The Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. handheld is a cute collector’s item, but probably not the best way to play Super Mario Bros. (and its hard-as-nails sequel). Who knows? Maybe these will be collector’s items someday!

There are plenty of Mario games you can continue to buy and enjoy on Nintendo Switch, and we have a strong suspicion that Nintendo will continue to make more Super Mario games, more Mario Kart games, more Paper Mario games, and more Mario-doing-sports games for a long, long time.

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