Super Mario World's Gravity Doesn't Add Up

Science examines whether a planet like the one in Super Mario World could really exist.


A new segment from PBS show Space Time has taken a look at the gravity seen in SNES classic Super Mario World and found it...problematic.

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On the show, which you can watch above, astrophysicist (technical term for really smart person) Gabe Perez-Giz comes up with some crude estimates to determine the surface gravity of the planet Super Mario World takes place on. Using a height of 5'1" for Mario, a measurement of how high he jumps, and the time it takes to reach the apex of his jump, Perez-Giz finds that the planet has roughly eight times the surface gravity of Earth.

That rules out not only Earth as the possible setting for Super Mario World, but any planet in our solar system -- not even Jupiter's surface gravity is that high. Even going outside of our solar system is problematic, both because we can't accurately calculate the surface gravity of many exoplanets, and because a planet with surface gravity so high is likely to be a gas giant.

In the end, what's most likely to have surface gravity as high as the planet in Super Mario World is a star, which is problematic for reasons that center around things like "heat" and "death."

Clearly, Nintendo didn't do its research when designing the jumping in Super Mario World. Having sold millions of copies, though, it'll likely live with its mistake.

For more looks at gaming science, check out GameSpot's Reality Check series.

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