When fans usually talk of characters making a comeback, they usully mean they get a minor role for a single level or episode to be forgotten about immediately afterwards. Or killed off permanently within minutes of reappearing like oh so many a character in the likes of Harry Potter or Doctor Who.
But not with Mario series characters and enemies it seems. No, a significant amount seem to be one off nobodies who appeared for one level back in the 80s or 90s and then ended up being made regulars for nearly every game released afterwards! None of the creatures on this list were seen as very important in their first appearances, yet all have ended up becoming regular threats to Mario ever since at least the DS era. Why? Who knows, maybe Nintendo just likes nostalgia a lot.
So here are the top ten enemies more common in recent Mario games than in the games they originally appeared in!
10. Spike Pillars
Does anyone remember these back in the old 2D platformers? They were in Super Mario World as uncommon obstacles in three castles (Wendy’s Castle, Valley Fortress and Bowser’s Castle respectively)… and that’s about it.
Above: One of the only appearances of a spike pillar in Super Mario World.
You never saw them again for at least ten years worth of Mario games.
But come New Super Mario Bros it seems like EVERY Mario game has them now! First they made a comeback in that DS title with horizontal counterparts in tower levels, next thing you know they’re in New Super Mario Bros Wii and New Super Mario Bros 2 and have even made an appearance in a 3D game with Super Mario 3D Land!
Above: A ton more spike pillars in New Super Mario Bros Wii.
It’s kind of funny how a minor trap found in just THREE ROOMS back in Super Mario World has suddenly appeared in more than half of all mainstream Mario platformer games ever made in the 21st century!
Also known as ‘that annoying fish that won’t go away’ from Vanilla Secret 3. Like about half the other enemies from Super Mario world, they too never originally appeared in another game after that.
Above: They were the only actual enemy in Vanilla Secret 3…
Right until Super Mario Galaxy that is, where they made a small cameo type appearance in the Drip Drop Galaxy! Since then they’ve become major enemies appearing in multiple levels and even jumping out of waterfalls at Mario to try and knock him off the rope to his doom.
Above: Yet they’re a whole lot more common now, like in New Super Mario Bros Wii!
8. Fire Snakes
Also known as Hopping Flames (Super Mario World), these things were also fairly uncommon enemies until recently.
Above: Why did they get official art anyway?
And yet like so many others, once they appeared in New Super Mario Bros on DS, they started appearing all over the place again. Remember how they were enemies in Desert Hills, that race track in Mario Kart DS and Wii?
Above: Now they’re back in New Super Mario Bros games!
7. Fire Chomps
Above: God SMB 3 enemies looked kind of disturbing…
Quick quiz question for any Mario fans out there! When did Fire Chomps start showing up in Mario games again?
*Someone probably answers New Super Mario Bros*
Wrong! Apparently it was Super Mario 64 DS according to Mario Wiki, where they replaced the generic fire spitters that were enemies in places like Wet Dry World. Funny how an enemy who’s not been seen in years first shows up in a remake of all places, isn’t it?
Above: A modern looking Fire Chomp. Acts just like the old ones.
And yes, that’s a massive 16 year gap between appearances as a Mario enemy! Nintendo really do like to bring stuff back for their latest games, don’t they?
No, not the Yoshi’s Island ones that cause the cool drug like effect where the screen starts going all funny and the ground waves about, the Super Mario World ones that moved along ropes and tried to knock Mario off moving platforms.
Above: Remember these things?
They actually seemed to become a Paper Mario enemy more than anything for a while, appearing in both the original and Thousand Year Door. But like many others on the list, they were extremely uncommon in actual Mario platformers for a long time.
Above: Not rare any more.
Yet just within the last few years they started showing up in Mario platformers again, with their first reappearance being in New Super Mario Bros Wii. That’s a 19 year gap between appearances in Mario platformers, and ever since they’ve appeared in at least one Mario platformer a year.
5. Banzai Bills
Honestly, am I the only one who never realised that Banzai Bills weren’t in many past Mario games before I checked Mario Wiki? By the way everyone seems to know of them and how often they show up in New Super Mario Bros you’d assume they’d be all over the place back in the Super Mario World era.
Above: Everyone remembers these from Yoshi’s Island 1
Well you’d be wrong. Seriously, they never appeared once in a Mario game between Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. Unless you count the one that attacked Peach’s Castle in Super Smash Bros Melee.
But now the side scrolling Mario games are back and the 3D ones are using more and more elements from the titles of years gone by, they’re showing up all over the place! Made a pretty quick transition to 3D too, given how they show up in the first Super Mario Galaxy just a year or two after reappearing in New Super Mario Bros!
Above: A modern Banzai Bill. Identical to the old ones.
Another one off Super Mario World bad guy that seemed to get revived by recent Mario games. Appearing in Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2, New Super Mario Bros Wii and New Super Mario Bros 2, these aquatic foes have become more of a regular enemy grunt now than they ever were in the old games!
Above: Again, why did Urchins get official art back when they appeared in only one level?
Oh yes, and they’ve now even got smaller versions you can see in New Super Mario Bros 2!
Above: New Super Mario Bros 2 has Mini Urchins!
Wait, say what? Didn’t Magikoopas appear in Mario spinoffs for a while?
Well yes. They appeared in every Mario RPG released in history and a good fair few spinoffs. But they didn’t appear in a single platformer between Yoshi’s Island and Super Mario Galaxy, and generic ones weren’t enemies in the Mario series since Super Mario World.
Yet in recent times they appear everywhere. Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 has them, as does Super Mario 3D Land. Heck, even New Super Mario Bros Wii if you count a Kamek appearance as a generic Magikoopa one!
Above: Magikoopas are now common in 3D Mario platformers.
Like Hammer Bros (see next item on the list), these were rather rare in platformers for a long time yet seem to have become common again in recent times.
2. Hammer Bros (and Bros in general)
Yeah, just like Magikoopas these creatures ended up becoming fairly common enemies in Paper Mario but basically non existant in mainstream Mario games for years. Super Mario World already kind of screwed them over by sticking them on winged blocks and having them appear only ever so often, but they’ve technically been absent from the platformers for two whole console generations!
Above: A Hammer Bro back then.
Only with New Super Mario Bros did they start to appear as common enemies again, and only in Galaxy 2 did they start to appear as enemies in the 3D games. They can probably thank Nintendo’s newfound love of nostalgia there, otherwise we’d have probably never saw them again outside of the occasional spinoff due to Nintendo being too obsessed with boring enemies made of paint and generic grunts from outer space.
Above: Hammer Bros are now common in most Mario games.
1. The Koopalings
For all the cries of how awesome it is the Koopalings returned, they never did get around that much in the older Mario games, did they?
So they appeared in Super Mario Bros 3 and World. And Yoshi’s Safari.
Above: What they looked like in Super Mario World.
But they didn’t appear that much more often in the games. Oh sure they showed up in Hotel Mario and Mario is Missing. That’s a great role isn’t it?
In fact, you could even go as far as to say 99% of their appearances were in the adaptations rather than the actual games. They appeared in two cartoon series. Multiple anime series. Comic books and Adventure books.
And with their current appearances in New Super Mario Bros Wii and New Super Mario Bros 2, and their revival back in Mario and Luigi, they’ve arguably appeared nearly as much in the current era as they ever did back in the NES or SNES days. If they appear in New Super Mario Bros U they’ve literally appeared more in recent history than they ever did ten or twenty years ago!
Above: The Koopalings today!
Of course, the list above is just the tip of the iceberg, since it seems Nintendo is damn well determined to bring back everyone and everything ever seen previously in the Mario franchise! Then make them recurrers.
Will Boom Boom and Reznor make the list soon and be showing up in every other Mario game ever made? Who’s next to be revived by New Super Mario Bros 2, Chargin’ Chucks and Fishin’ Boo? Guess we’ll have to wait and see!