Mario is Missing! was an educational game released for the NES, Super NES, DOS, and Macintosh computers back in the 1990s. The game’s combination of Super Mario World characters and bland geography edutainment made it a bizarre addition to the Mario series. Even so, there was a big marketing push behind it, and it grabbed a lot of attention when it was released.
But the strangest thing was that Nintendo had nothing to do with Mario is Missing!. Instead, it was handled entirely by an unrelated American company that managed to get the Mario license. The game got surprisingly decent reviews when it was released, but fans today consider it one of the disappointing Mario games of all time.
Mario is Missing! was released in North America and Europe, but it never saw a translated release in Japan, where the Mario series was born. 25 years have passed since the game’s release, so I decided to see what Japanese fans have to say about this mysterious Mario game.
Below are random comments from Japanese social media, websites, videos, and message boards that I’ve translated into English. The results aren’t really surprising, but it’s nice to see how the game is seen outside its original audience.
How is this a Mario game
This kind of edutainment rots brains.
I tried playing it one time but all I could do was walk around places.
Everything about it clashes with the Mario series
It’s nice that Luigi gets to be the main character at least.
This almost feels like some sort of ROM hack
How did Nintendo give the OK for this to be made??
This is the crappiest game I’ve ever played – and will ever play – in my entire life. I’m not even sure how my dad got me the game.
It must’ve been popular in America if it got so many versions released
why did they make this???
Seriously, are these official games?
I only figured out how to play the game thanks to the AVGN’s review.
It’s nice that Luigi is the main character, but there was absolutely no need for him to be the main character at all.
Fans of crappy games will love this for sure, but probably not in the way the developers intended.
No one ever believed me that Luigi was the main character in a foreign Mario game!!
The only thing that seems good about it is that it’s the first time Luigi is the main character
Luigi looks unspeakably weird in the computer version
Actually this game isn’t so bad lol
This game is some serious shit
How is this even educational?
For some reason there’s a Tokyo stage but with a Buddha statue and stuff that isn’t even actually in Tokyo
It’s technically an educational game but it’s hardly a game and barely seems educational
Why did they even make it a Mario game in the first place?
It’s unclear why they needed to use Mario characters for this game in the first place.
The Tokyo stage has so many problems, the staff should’ve done actual research for it
Is this really an official game? It totally looks like a bootleg.
The towns you go to seem nothing like what they should look like.
I bet this pissed Nintendo off
Why did they make this at all?
It’s so incredibly boring
Does this count as Luigi’s first starring role if Nintendo didn’t produce or sell the game?
The bland backgrounds and non-Mario-ness make it horrible to play.
this is terrible rofl
This is is some screwed up edutainment!
The music in the Tokyo stage goes heavy with the “Westerners’ view of Chinese and Japanese stuff”
The basic idea sounds interesting enough, but man…
WHY did they remake it in 16-bit?
Even if you can’t read English you can just keep guessing the answers over and over ’cause they don’t penalize you
it reminds me of those chinese bootleg ports
Good thing we never got this in Japan
The art and music don’t fit with Super Mario at all
It seems so much like Takeshi’s Challenge
Newcomer: “Which Mario game would you recommend I play first?”
- Fan who wants to ease people into the series: “Maybe New Super Mario Bros. or Mario World”
- Fan who’s overly excited he can make a new friend: “You should try Mario Galaxy, or the 1000 Year Door, or maybe, uhh, uhh…”
- Fan who pushes newcomers off a cliff and gives his recommendation to anyone who survives: “Mario is Missing”
I’ve never heard of Mario is Missing until today
Isn’t that the game where you see Bowser naked at the end?
I like Mario is Missing
I had no idea what to do in the NES version
I tried to search for it one time but I only found info about the porn game
Today I played that foreign Mario is Missing game for the first time in a long time, but wow @ that hit detection…
I first learned about Mario is Missing from the AVGN. Apparently there were tons of edutainment games with Mario in it.
The Japan stage is filled with “Toyota” signs written in green (sweatdrop)
Mario is Missing is boring as hell
I at least liked the calm music in the New York area or whatever it was.
While looking for comments about Mario is Missing! I kept running into two other things.
First, Japanese fans made lots of references to an adult game also known as “Mario is Missing”. I’m assuming it’s a Japanese fan game but didn’t feel like looking into it.
Second, when Super Mario Odyssey was first revealed, the whole “Mario runs around a city talking to people” aspect of the game reminded some Japanese fans that Mario is Missing! existed.
Walking around cities in a Mario game? That sounds just like Mario is Missing
What is this, a remake of Mario is Missing?
Looks like they did a remake of Mario is Missing!
Mario Odyssey seriously reminds me of Mario is Missing
The moment I saw the Mario Odyssey preview I thought of Mario is Missing. I can only pray it doesn’t wind up as crappy.
It’s actually kind of surprising that Mario is Missing! is that well known in Japan, but I did come across some comments about how the game was featured in Japanese magazines back in the 1990s. It sounds like the Angry Video Game Nerd’s review also helped spread word about the game to Japanese fans.
In all, the Japanese comments about Mario is Missing! aren’t anything surprising by themselves, but the fact there are comments at all is the real surprise.
I’m also surprised that some diehard Mario fan hasn’t tried to translate the game into Japanese the way that we often translate obscure, not-very-good Japanese games into English. Or maybe I should be that crazy fan.