John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
This is not the Super Mario Bros. game you want the kids playing.
Great Goombas, what has gotten into our little plumber friend? One minute he's defacing train cars with spray paint, the next he's splattering Mushroom Kingdom with the fresh blood of policemen. Under the black balaclava he's wearing, is that really Wario?
Needless to say, this is not Nintendo's newest effort to appeal to the Vice demographic. Although I'm not sure of the authorship of this hacked Mario Bros. video, which was posted to Facebook by Germany's I Love Graffiti, it's likely that the Berlin street-art crew 1UP had something to do with it. (Just a guess from all the prominent "1UPs" appearing throughout the level.) The shadowy group has established a prominent foothold in its city's public-transit system, according to Urban Art Core:
I’m pretty sure, everyone who ever visited Berlin, knows at least a handful of 1UP graffiti. Whether up on the roofs, down in the subway tunnels or on trains, cars or walls, 1UP is everywhere and for that reason an inherent part of Berlin’s street culture and graffiti scene.
This footage shows a Berlin train marked with a huge 1UP tag, much like the one Mario makes:
The graffiti Mario concept is particularly suiting, given that the thickly mustached hero already appears in a lot of street art throughout the world. And his mayhem-sowing rampage shouldn't be a shocker: For a character who traditionally loves stomping on heads and lighting people on fire throughout his gaming adventures, the pugnacious plumber has been about a good role model as A Clockwork Orange's Alex DeLarge. This is just Mario embracing a bit more of his inner darkness:
(H/t to I Love Graffiti.)