Welcome to Italy!Yep this week we’re in the (sort of) home country of (obese) plumber Mario Mario and his (anorexic) brother Luigi Mario, who are better known to the world as the Super Mario Brothers!Ok they were American-Italian and so didn’t actually live in Italy, but you get the idea.This time we’re looking at how power-ups help the brothers to become super and as Ryan has taken a day off from his hectic dating schedule to grace me with his presence, we’ll make the most of this brief interlude and crack on once more.
WHAT ARE POWER-UPS?
Well Ryan, as you’ve clearly never been to a videogame arcade or even switched on a games console, power-ups are special items hidden in games that when activated give characters a variety of special abilities to help them during their adventures.
WHO DO THEY BELONG TO?
Power-ups have helped out many a pint-sized playable pixel in the gaming world, but for the 15th chapter of our epic journey into The Science Of Superheroes, they belong to the Mario Brothers, Mario and Luigi! Mario first appeared in the 1981 Nintendo game, Donkey Kong, created by Shigeru Miyamoto, where he was originally known as Jumpman; however it's 1985s hugely successful platform game Super Mario Bros that concerns us today. In that particular adventure plumbers Mario and Luigi travelled through countless tunnels, over numerous lava pits and braved many harsh environments of the Mushroom Kingdom to rescue Princess Toadstool from the evil clutches of Bowser!
HANG ON. TWO PLUMBERS? A PRINCESS? A KINGDOM OF MUSHROOMS? ARE YOU MAKING THIS UP? OH AND WHAT THE HECK IS A BOWSER?!?
Yes.Yes.Yes.No I’m not making this up and Bowser was a sort of big-ass turtle who was known as King Koopa in Japan!
OH.RIGHT.OK, SO GETTING BACK TO THE POWER-UPS THEN, WHAT DID THEY DO EXACTLY?
The power-ups transformed Mario and Luigi from ordinary hardworking handymen into a super powered force to be reckoned with!The moustached duo have been putting power-ups to good use for decades, from a leaf that turned Mario and Luigi into flying raccoons, to a hammer suit that granted the duo with a supply of hammers to chuck at unsuspecting bad guys.However for the Super Mario Bros game there were four all important power-ups that helped them along their way and they were the Super Mushroom, the 1-Up Mushroom, the Starman and the Fire Flower.The power-ups were often hidden behind bricks branded with golden question marks (as well as invisible bricks) and upon acquiring them the Mario Brothers were granted a number of different abilities.
The Super Mushroom increased the Mario Brother’s size whilst also it extended their ‘game playing’ life further.Generally speaking Mario and Luigi only had one life, but if they were attacked by an enemy whilst they were super sized, they returned to their original size and didn’t die.As for the 1-Up Mushroom it gave Mario and Luigi an extra life to keep them in the game longer as they battled their way across the Mushroom Kingdom.
WAIT A MINUTE. AN EXTRA LIFE? I'M NOT SURE I'M GETTING THIS COMPUTER GAME STUFF. WHAT DO YOU MEAN, DYING?
It’s a computer game thing, but as this is a study of super heroics and not an in-depth guide to gaming, let’s just try and focus on one thing at a time and get back to the power-ups.
The Starman made Mario and Luigi temporarily invincible, whilst the Fire Flower increased their size if they were small and allowed them to shoot flaming balls of fire if they were already larger than life.
OH. WELL I ADMIT I MIGHT NOT KNOW A LOT ABOUT GAMES... BUT EVEN I KNOW POWER-UPS DON'T EXIST, SO MAYBE YOU SHOULD JUST DO YOUR USUAL THING AND TELL ME SCIENCE STUFF.
Right you are.Let’s start with mushrooms then.
Mushrooms are the general term for a wide variety of funguses, or to be a bit more exact, a wide variety of the fleshy parts of funguses.Yeah I know it sounds a bit disgusting, but they’re really not disgusting at all as people eat them on pizzas, in soups and often sandwiched between a couple of rashers of bacon and a slice of fried bread as part of a heart attack inducing ‘fry up’.As mentioned above there are many different varieties of mushroom (about 14,000 types), but let’s talk about the benefits of the edible ones and not the deadly poisonous ones or the ones with psychedelic properties.Edible mushrooms are great to eat for those trying to lose weight as they’re low in calories and are between 80 – 90 percent water!Mushrooms are also packed with vitamins such as riboflavin and niacin and minerals like potassium and phosphorus.Ancient Greeks considered mushrooms to be a source of strength and it’s believed that white button mushrooms can help fight cancer.So if you eat the correct type of mushroom, there are certainly many health benefits, which will sort of make you big and strong (kind of).
Now as for stars, well look up in the sky and you’ll see a whole bunch of them, but if you didn’t know the Sun is a star and in actual fact it’s the nearest star to the Earth.All of the other stars that you see in the sky at night are outshone by the Sun’s light, which is why you don’t see them during the day.The Sun is made up of hydrogen, helium and small amounts of oxygen, carbon, neon and iron and it’s 109 times bigger than the Earth in diameter.It was formed roughly 4.57 billion years ago and it has a surface temperature of 5578K...which is freakin’ hot!Due to the extreme heat of the Sun I wouldn’t recommend trying to touch it (should you ever get the chance) as unlike the star used by Mario and Luigi it’s not likely to make you invincible, however in an indirect way it does help you out a lot!The Sun is the primary source of power to our planet, bringing light and heat and it’s also vital for photosynthesis, which is a carbon dioxide converting process that practically all life on Earth relies on.So although a star isn’t going to make you an invincible super powered adventurer, it does basically keep you alive, so that’s surely just as good.
Finally flowers are the reproductive bits of flowering plants and they’re all about male and female flower-parts contained within the flowers working together to produce seeds... which continues the reproductive process all over again.Flowers have all sorts of uses, from making wine, spices and pretty pictures (using pressed flowers) to brightening up hospital wards and petrol station forecourts.Holding flowers won’t allow you to shoot fire and eating the edible kind won’t either, but come on, flowers look lovely and smell great, so that should be enough for anyone.Right?Overall with mushrooms, stars and flowers you’re unlikely to go ‘super’ like the Mario Brothers, however they are all useful so you could certainly benefit from all of them!
And now you know.
SUPER SCIENCE EQUATION: Edible mushrooms + The Sun + Flowers = A healthy and alive Ryan with something pretty to give to a guy or gal
That’s all we have for this week.Ryan’s been rather quiet as of late, but that won’t stop us from bringing you another exciting chapter next week!