Since last week's Nintendo Direct presentation, one of the biggest trends on social media included reactions to a shirtless Mario on a beach in the upcoming Switch game, Super Mario Odyssey. Bloggers wrote headlines about the new meme that included:
Nintendo's reveal of Mario's nipples even caught the attention of NPR, as producers of WBEZ Chicago's long-running news quiz show Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! wrote a question about it for the show's panel of comedians. In its latest episode that aired on Saturday, September 16, host Peter Sagal asked comic Hari Kondabolu the question, "[Nintendo] fans reacted with shock after seeing Mario's what for the first time?" Kondabolu later replied, "Are we allowed to say that here?...his breasts?"
Listen to the full segment of the Wait Wait episode, or read its transcript below.
PETER SAGAL, HOST: Right now, guys, it is time for you to answer some questions about this week's news. Hari, the gaming world has been anxiously awaiting the debut of a new Super Mario game next month. And this week, Nintendo released preview footage of the game. Fans reacted with shock after seeing Mario's what for the first time?
PAULA POUNDSTONE: Whoa.
SAGAL: It's a me, Mario. And it's a that.
HARI KONDABOLU: Is it...
SAGAL: Actually, it's a those, really.
KONDABOLU: Oh. It...
KONDABOLU: His children?
POUNDSTONE: No, but the ingredients...
AMY DICKINSON: Hari's so sweet.
SAGAL: I'll give you a hint. He's going off to rescue Princess Areola.
KONDABOLU: Oh. Are we allowed to say that here?
SAGAL: I - we're about to find out.
DICKINSON: You can try.
KONDABOLU: His breasts?
SAGAL: Yes, his nipples.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: You can - his...
POUNDSTONE: Wait a minute, I'm...
DICKINSON: But wait...
POUNDSTONE: ...I'm not following now.
SAGAL: But Mario's technically a man. So it's OK.
DICKINSON: But why do we care about his nipples? Like...
SAGAL: Well, we've never seen Mario without a shirt on in all the many, many generations of Mario games.
POUNDSTONE: Why does Mario have his shirt off? What's he doing?
SAGAL: I don't know. Apparently, he's going swimming or something where he might want to be in his - without his shirt. I'm not quite sure. But I can tell you that when the footage of a topless Mario came out, the internet went nuts - shirtless Mario leads to widespread pandemonium and Mario's nipples exposed. It's the biggest scandal in the gaming world since we caught some Qbert side boob.
SAGAL: So you were not a gamer growing up? You're not part of that generation?
KONDABOLU: Not really. I mean, I played Tetris for years.
SAGAL: Are there any nipples in Tetris? I'm not sure.
POUNDSTONE: No, you have to be really high level to see Tetris nipples.
(SOUNDBITE OF LMFAO SONG, "I'M SEXY AND I KNOW IT")
This isn't even the first time Nintendo has had shirtless Mario in official promotional art. Podcaster and former gaming journalist Henry Gilbert tweeted proof, as seen in this drawing of Mario characters relaxing on the beach.
Full disclosure: I worked as a part-time anchor and reporter for an NPR-affiliated radio station during the late 2000s. I can tell you that, after listening to NPR for about a decade, an extremely small amount of gaming news makes it onto that network, let alone Wait Wait as one of NPR's most popular syndicated shows.
I'm glad that Mario's nipples made it onto public radio in 2017. What a time to be alive!