Super Mario Bros. Wonder director unpacks Elephant Mario, the internet’s new obsession

Shiro Mouri explains how the pachyderm plumber is more than just a fun visual gag

Mario Elephant interview scaled

When Super Mario Bros. Wonder was announced in June, Nintendo fans around the world quickly became enamored with the game’s new Elephant Mario character.

By taking a special new fruit power-up, Mario is able to turn into a big elephant, sacrificing speed and mobility for power and a projectile water attack. Besides being such a striking and amusing image, Elephant Mario is certainly notable for how he shakes up the series’ traditional 2D platforming. (That said, all playable characters can become elephants, not just Mario.)Naturally, then, we had to ask Super Mario Bros. Wonder director Shiro Mouri about the origins of the pachyderm plumber.

“When we’re talking about power-up items in general, there’s always a gameplay mechanic that we want to accomplish with those,” Mouri explains.

With the Elephant, specifically, he says there are “three things” the team wanted to accomplish.

“One of those was to make Mario’s body bigger. The reason we wanted to make the body bigger is that it makes hitting blocks easier, obtaining coins easier, stomping on enemies easier… We thought that changing the fundamental mechanics of how Mario works might be an interesting way to feel refreshing for the player.”
Super Mario Bros. Wonder elephant teamNext, he says, was the ability to smash blocks while moving to the side. “And by adding an ability to hit blocks from the side, you provide an opportunity for the player to have access to areas that they couldn’t [reach] thanks to that ability.”

Finally, he says being able to spray a projectile — in this case, water — opens up the possibility for players to discover new things. “For example, maybe there’s a withered flower, [and] when you water it, something mysterious or secret happens.”

Ultimately, he says, this led the team towards Elephant Mario. “When we thought of those three things, the only clear, optimal response to what that would be was clearly an elephant!”

For more on Super Mario Bros. Wonder, check out our full interview with Mouri and Super Mario Bros. Wonder producer Takashi Tezuka, as well as our hands-on preview.

Super Mario Bros. Wonder will launch exclusively on the Nintendo Switch on October 20th.

Image credit: Nintendo