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Words: Francis Kenna
While the 1993 live-action adaptation of Super Mario Bros. now lives in infamy as one of the most bizarre video game adaptations ever conceived, there's a lesser-acknowledged animated movie that predates it by seven years to stand as the first-ever game-to-film project released in cinemas.
Known as Super Mario Bros.: Peach-Hime Kyushutsu Dai Sakusen! (translated as The Great Mission to Save Princess Peach!), this flick of 1986 - which was only released into Japanese theatres - has slipped under the radar of many fans. But that might change with a 4K restoration project that's currently underway, as reported on by Kotaku.
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Small YouTuber Carnivol has managed to get their hands on an original 16mm theatrical release of the film after spending years cleaning up Japanese VHS copies - the only official way to watch the movie currently. They're now working diligently to restore and upscale the reels to 4K resolution. This is no easy task, with Carnivol believing this undertaking could cost upwards of $20,000 (that's over £14,600 to us Brits.)
Carnivol has already made some impressive strides in improving the visual quality of the film, but to finish the job they've started handing over the raw files elsewhere. The entire movie is currently available to watch on Carnivol's YouTube channel, and although it lacks colour correction it's still easily watchable, and is only 65 minutes long to boot. (It's embedded at the end of this article.)
Having a slightly unorthodox set-up, The Great Mission to Save Princess Peach! has Mario meeting Peach for the first time as she attempts to escape King Koopa (or Bowser, as we now know him as) by jumping through a TV. King Koopa manages to bonk Mario and recapture Peach, but not before she drops a necklace which is revealed by Luigi to be an important jewel. The two are then led on an adventure into the Mushroom Kingdom to defeat King Koopa and save the princess: a standard Mario affair, when ignoring some of the minor details. Oh, and the film beat Super Mario Odyssey to the wedding-crash concept by three decades. Who knew?
As for other retro Nintendo related products, both an original 1987 copy of the NES game The Legend of Zelda, and an extremely high-grade edition of Super Mario 64, have been breaking banks at auctions, despite being much more readily available than this old Super Mario Bros. flick.
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