Super Mario 3D All-Stars landed on Switch today, but with that occasion comes some bad news: Mario no longer says, “So long, gay Bowser!” during the Super Mario 64 boss fights. A travesty, for sure, but there’s a good reason the iconic voice line is missing.
The mystery of Mario’s dialogue that has eluded fans since Super Mario 64 originally appeared on the Nintendo 64 in 1996. While he’s obviously not calling Bowser gay — either as a pejorative or a simple descriptor of the Koopa king’s sexuality — no one can come up with a good alternative read on what he’s actually saying. Charles Martinet, who has voiced Mario for decades, tried to clarify last year, but “So long king-a Bowser!” doesn’t make any sense, especially when held up to an impressive audio restoration of the original line.
THE UNCOMPRESSED “SO LONG GAY BOWSER!” pic.twitter.com/NoQeBEBkKX
— Matthew Lovenzka (@AShadowLink) July 25, 2020
My excitement for playing Super Mario 64 for the first time in Super Mario 3D All-Stars was partly in anticipation of hearing this line for myself rather than through YouTube uploads. But when I got to my very first Bowser fight, I was surprised to find Mario shout a simple “Buh-bye!” upon tossing his mortal enemy for the first time. That’s not what I’m here for, Nintendo! Let Mario call Bowser gay!
This all makes sense after a little digging into the various versions of Super Mario 64. A little over a year after the game’s initial launch, Nintendo released Super Mario 64 Shindou Pak Taiou Version in Japan. This updated cartridge included, among other things, voices from the English release. Since Bowser is known as King Koopa in Japan, this meant removing the line that used his Western name and replacing it with the more region-friendly “Buh-bye!”
Two more details make it clear that Super Mario 3D All-Stars is using the Shindou version of Super Mario 64. First, the backward long-jump glitch, which allows players to build up infinite speed and skip significant portions of the game, has also been removed — sorry speedrunners. And second, the title screen includes a hidden Easter egg that fills the background behind Mario’s head with a collage of his face. If you already have the Switch re-release, try pressing ZL to make it appear.
(Check out this TCRF article for a full list of the Shindou-version differences.)
Super Mario 3D All-Stars is an excellent collection of Mario games that has been criticised over the last few days due to a few strange decisions on Nintendo’s part. I’m not one to get up in arms due to the fact these classics are emulated or that Super Mario Sunshine doesn’t let you invert the controls, even if those are completely valid reasons to avoid this game for some folks. But not being able to experience “So long, gay Bowser!” first-hand really bums me out. I fully expect the developers to correct this gross oversight with a future patch.
Nintendo did not respond to Kotaku’s request for comment before publication.