Mario’s Death Sprite: A Review


Mario's Death Sprite


When Mario is hit by an enemy or obstacle without a power-up, he loses a life and leaps off the screen in this pose, accompanied by a short jingle.

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  • The reddening of the top half of Mario's face is a visual trope familiar to Japanese players, signifying embarrassment or anger. But as a child, I couldn't visually parse what was supposed to be happening to Mario. As a result, I came to believe that Mario's face had begun to slough off his skull. I demanded my father play the more difficult levels for me and when I did play, I turned the volume all the way down so as not to hear those dreadful chimes when I inevitably failed Mario. Due to my irrational, overwhelming fear, I didn't finish Super Mario World until I was in my early teens.

merritt k

merritt k is Features & Trending Editor at She has never played a video game in her life.

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