Why is Mario's shirt brown?

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psycopathicteen
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Why is Mario's shirt brown?

Post by psycopathicteen » Fri Oct 30, 2020 6:30 am

This has always bugged me about SMB1. There's even a picture of SMB in while in development, and even in that picture, Mario had the proper red and blue color scheme. Did the programmer type in the wrong color palette codes? On older TV sets was the color from the sky supposed to bleed?

The weird thing is that I remember playing VS SMB with my older sister at a Chuck E. Cheeses and I remember mario having a blue shirt. I also remember playing SMB at a friend's house and I remember it also being blue there too. I was only about 2 or 3 years old back then so either my memory was bad, I didn't perceive color as well back then, or I misremembered which Mario game we were playing, or the colors on the CEC arcade machine and my friends TV were badly adjusted or a combination of all of them.

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Re: Why is Mario's shirt brown?

Post by dougeff » Fri Oct 30, 2020 10:10 am

Like this?

https://gaming.ebaumsworld.com/articles ... /85640835/

His shirt is blue in the hand draw version of Mario also. Perhaps that was the original color scheme. (the 3rd photo here, just above "This is Mr. Mario himself")
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Re: Why is Mario's shirt brown?

Post by Pokun » Fri Oct 30, 2020 12:28 pm

I think they changed it just because they thought it looked better at the time. Giving him a brown shirt means his mustache, hair, eyes and shoes also becomes brown. Previously these were usually all blue, but those games also used smaller metasprites.

Besides, Mario's colors wasn't as set in stone as they are today I think. Mario Bros for example swaps the blue shirt and red overall and also makes the cap blue, while in Family BASIC and Pinball he also has swapped colors but a red cap (in other words just like his modern SMW look). Wrecking Crew gives him a yellow shirt etc.
Luigi's look in SMB was, in hindsight, even weirder with a white overall. He had a green cap, green overall and a red/brown shirt in his debut appearance (or identical clothes to Mario if he really is the second Mario twin in the DK Jr intro).
And in SMB3 they have both black overalls, and this gives them a black mustache and eyes.

Mario definitely has a brown shirt in VS Super Mario Bros.

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DRW
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Re: Why is Mario's shirt brown?

Post by DRW » Fri Oct 30, 2020 3:53 pm

Pokun wrote:
Fri Oct 30, 2020 12:28 pm
Besides, Mario's colors wasn't as set in stone as they are today I think.
While this is true in general, I don't think the current case is an example of that phenomenon. Judging from the artworks, it was never intended that Mario actually has a brown shirt in-universe, it's always shown as blue, so it's exclusively an NES sprite palette issue, not a character art design decision.

I guess the brown shirt was so that he doesn't blend in with the water background. In "Donkey Kong", they decided to give him the correct clothes palette, but with blue hair and blue shoes. This time, they decided to color the shoes and hair correctly and then have the shirt and mustache be that same color too.

Likewise, in SMB3, they priorized the black outline for every character, so his pants naturally became black, but the bonus game artwork, the box art and the "Mario Bros." bonus game show that it's still supposed to be blue and not literally black.

Luigi's green/white color scheme in SMB1 is actually supposed to be green/lightblue in-universe. This can be seen on the "All Night Nippon Super Mario Bros." box which has the only post-MB, pre-SMB2US Luigi artwork. Not using actual light blue in the game is probably the same reason why they gave Mario a brown shirt: Light blue blends in with the background, this time the regular sky.
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Re: Why is Mario's shirt brown?

Post by Pokun » Fri Oct 30, 2020 5:43 pm

You are probably right that the choice of colours is mainly due to the developers trying to get them to work well with the backgrounds. Previous games almost always used a black background while SMB had two shades of blue as well. SMB2USA does use both big sprites and goes back to using blue outlines, mustache, shoes and overall (since the overall and shirt swapped colours like in SMW, despite all the artwork using the classic blue shirt look). Now of course, this game was made with the Fuji-TV characters in mind, and Mario's gang wasn't added until after the whole game was complete. Their sprites were designed to fit the game rather than the other way around.

Good point about ANNSMB. While Mario already got his final look in SMB (save for the overall-shirt colour swap in SMW), Luigi is still a palette-swap twin to Mario even in the artwork here.

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Re: Why is Mario's shirt brown?

Post by psycopathicteen » Fri Oct 30, 2020 7:12 pm

I found a video of somebody recording off of a SMB arcade machine, and although he does have a brown shirt, it's a much darker shade of brown than what I typically see in emulators.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKk2TkKRAC0

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Re: Why is Mario's shirt brown?

Post by Oziphantom » Fri Oct 30, 2020 9:42 pm

In Mario Bros Arcade he has blue overalls, red shirt, blue hat, orange feet and brown hair.
In Mario Bros Nes Blue overalls, red shirt, red hat, red feet and blue hair.
On the box for Mario Bros Nes he has dark blue overalls and hat with light blue shirt, orange shoes.

You have to understand how crap RF was, and also how bad NTSC is. Colour bleed is a massive issue, the nes has very tight colour limits. So each time the artist chose the colours that looked best given the situation presented and the limits of the machine. To ensure the character was always visible or as clearly defined as could be. Such considerations trumped any ideas of "this is the colours it should be or was in that other version"

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Re: Why is Mario's shirt brown?

Post by psycopathicteen » Sat Oct 31, 2020 7:28 am

What about navy blue?

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Re: Why is Mario's shirt brown?

Post by Pokun » Sat Oct 31, 2020 9:21 am

Would possibly not go well with the sea levels.

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Re: Why is Mario's shirt brown?

Post by Memblers » Sat Oct 31, 2020 2:54 pm

psycopathicteen wrote:
Fri Oct 30, 2020 7:12 pm
I found a video of somebody recording off of a SMB arcade machine, and although he does have a brown shirt, it's a much darker shade of brown than what I typically see in emulators.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKk2TkKRAC0
Other than the different PPU, I think Nintendo's VS and PC10 cabinets normally include a smoked glass bezel. It's pretty dark, you can barely see the CRT inside when it's switched off (and the CRT in there is much lighter shade of grey than any of TVs I still have). I'm not an optics expert but I would suspect that might affect the color range in some non-linear way, rather than outright darkening everything.

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Yave Yu
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Re: Why is Mario's shirt brown?

Post by Yave Yu » Sun Dec 20, 2020 5:57 pm

3-color limit, black, red, brown, that's all.

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Re: Why is Mario's shirt brown?

Post by frantik » Mon Dec 21, 2020 2:18 am

psycopathicteen wrote:
Fri Oct 30, 2020 7:12 pm
I found a video of somebody recording off of a SMB arcade machine, and although he does have a brown shirt, it's a much darker shade of brown than what I typically see in emulators.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKk2TkKRAC0
man that RGB output looks amazing compared to composite.. now I feel the need to upgrade my console :roll:

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DRW
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Re: Why is Mario's shirt brown?

Post by DRW » Mon Dec 21, 2020 3:51 am

Oziphantom wrote:
Fri Oct 30, 2020 9:42 pm
Such considerations trumped any ideas of "this is the colours it should be or was in that other version"
What I don't understand though: Why didn't they adjust the artworks based on the sprites?

So, Mario doesn't look good with a blue shirt on a blue background, hence he gets a brown one:
Then why didn't they simply decide: "Yeah, alright, he's canonically wearing a brown shirt now" and drew the artworks that way?
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Re: Why is Mario's shirt brown?

Post by Pokun » Mon Dec 21, 2020 10:48 am

I'd bet it's related to a lack of time. I remember reading that Miyamoto was going to get another artist to do the boxart for him, but running out of time he ended up doing it himself in the end. This at least suggest that the boxart had to be rushed a bit. The final shirt color change might have been done after the boxart was finalized for example, leaving no time to adjust the boxart accordingly.

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Re: Why is Mario's shirt brown?

Post by Oziphantom » Mon Dec 21, 2020 11:01 pm

also you want to keep the brand image of mario the same. Which they failed, because it was probably done by different people in different departments with basically zero communication between them.

However you wouldn't let the game graphics dictate the "design" you stick to the design and modify as required by technical constraints.

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