A Close Look at Mario Models Throughout the Years


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Hey, I thought I should just make a thread as a response to a good video analysis of Mario's models throughout history, though I think the video misses out on some key points including textures and also misses out on some models. Also, the models in the video aren't consistently triangulated, so we see quads and even n-gons (faces with more than four vertices) on those models. I'm going to show my own thoughts and opinions and they'll probably mirror the video at points but I'd rather this be standalone. I probably won't include every single model, but mainly the ones I like and/or think are important. I'll also provide pictures of models myself. Most of the models will probably come from models resource and the modeling program used is Maya 2014 or 3DS Max 2010.

You can comment if you want, but I hope this thread is interesting and I hope I don't bore anyone too much with modeling jargon. If you have the urge to upload the renders to the wiki, feel free to do so. Just make sure you provide the source correctly.

It would be nice if I were to look at other characters too, but right now, I'm focused on Mario, and this is really a spur-of-the-moment thing. I may or may not run out of steam half-way through so please bear with me.

Super Mario 64
Rendered with 3DS Max 2010. The image of Mario with both textures and mesh makeup (the one facing diagonally) is rendered with flat lighting since, for some reason, removing the tiling, which is necessary for the eyes and hat insignia to display correctly, changes the lighting of the polygons that have disabled tiling. The first two images, renders of Mario, removes that problem, but I like to show the wireframe for illustrative purposes.




Tris: 752
This is the most familiar old Mario model. According to 3DS Max, there are 838 faces, hair included. Without the hair, there are around 752 triangles. This is exceptionally low-poly for today's standards (in ZBrush for instance, a program for sculpting and creating intricate details on models like cloth and wrinkles in the skin, it's normal for models to exceed one million polys, how far we've come), but how does it measure up to contemporary N64 models? I guess we'll find out later. What's shown here is not a clean mesh, likely the result of triangulation so games can render the models properly. The ripped mesh doesn't appear to be perfectly symmetrical. Even if you adjust the imported model to be more in the center line, the feet, particularly the left foot, appears to be still a little out of line and not even aligned with the ground plane. I don't know if it's an error with ripping the model or if the model is always like this.

The model is imposed of very simplistic shapes, almost resembling primitives (the first models you make in a modeling program; simple spheres and cubes/rectangular prisms and other shapes). Joints simply don't exist probably due to rigging limitations at the time. To emulate joint bending, the model is broken into segments, like pieces of armor or insects with their stiff exoskeletons. Mario's hat slants sharply downward, leaving little room for the skull and hair and probably magically compressing them. Compare this to later models, where the hat is more horizontal and the space between the hat and the hair is more consistent (but not perfect). The hair looks like mush, and compared to the artwork, there are only two nubs compared to four nubs in the back of the hair.


The textures are 32 by 32 px (pixels) and have no shading whatsoever, making these extremely simplistic and tiny. Also, I believe some models don't have a texture applied to them per se. When I imported this in 3DS Max, there are color values assigned to some meshes rather than png textures. Notice that there are no plain white glove textures; this is because, from the model rip, the gloves have a color value, no mesh. Other simply colored, such as the hat, overalls, hair, and skin color also appear to have color values rather than use color information from a texture.

Mario also does not have sophisticated eye movement. Eye movement is replicated through additional textures of eyes looking up, down, left, and right. Additionally, both eyes are drawn here. Most models in the future generally draw one eye. Finally, the eyebrows are relatively tiny and pencil thin compared to the artwork of the day and later Mario models.

Unfortunately, the model downloaded from the Models Resource is in .obj format. This means there are no bones and so I can't say how this model is animated nor do I know where the bones are placed or how many bones are there. I'm pretty sure the bone structure is very simplistic though, like everything about this model.

Super Mario 64 - Mario's Head
Rendered with 3DS Max 2010. Everything seemed to turn out okay, so no need to adjust the texture settings or anything. Don't worry about the flatness of the hat at the top; it's supposed to be like that. The mesh seems to be composed of combined polygons compared to the previous model (note the wireframe color).



Tris: 1,213
The infamous Mario head at the title screen of Super Mario 64 that would greet unsuspecting players to the horrors of this head (all while hackers commit unspeakable horrors of themselves to this poor head). This model is high-poly at its time and the face animation is complex. The face, unsurprisingly, resembles the artwork of this game, where Mario's eyebrows and hair details are more accurate to the artwork. This face, however, still have aspects of the familiar low-poly Mario: the outer nubs of Mario's hair are much bigger than the inner ones and thus they resemble the two nubs on the low-poly Mario. The hat is also compressing the back of Mario's head again, with its downward slant; if you were to outline Mario's skull, it would fall outside of the hat.

The iris are their own polygons so they can replicate the movement of the eyes (not very realistically, but I digress). The teeth are not their own polygon; they seem to be just a colored area that would've been Mario's upperlip. The eye sockets appear to be pretty deep, but I think it's to help with the blinking to properly cover the eyes, but makes the model look strange from a side view. Otherwise, I like the detail in this model for its time. Mario's face here has a defined chin, lip, and ears, features that are otherwise virtually nonexistent in the simple N64 models. Despite its age, I think it looks pretty fine and I consider it an achievement in 3D video game modeling.


There is not much to say. The textures are mono-colored 32 x 32 squares. It makes me wonder if they're actually textures or colored meshes like in the previous model (with the 32 x 32 textures being created with the same color values as the mesh color so the model is easier to use in other programs), OR the colored meshes in the previous model are a modification the ripper has done to make the model easier to use in certain programs such as 3DS Max. Maya 2014 didn't display the textures in the low poly SM64 model correctly for me.

I don't have the bones for this model either, but if there were bones, they may have been used as tug points, as players could tug several parts of Mario's face. There may have been bones for eye movement as well, given that the irises are separate polygons, which won't be the case in later models.
Mario Party 2
Rendered with 3DS Max 2010.

I decided to use Mario Party 2's model because Mario Party 1's model is ripped with a model frozen in a specific pose. This isn't useful or convenient. Mario Party 2's model uses a more neutral pose, though it is still not an ideal pose, given the bent arms. The main differences between the ripped Mario Party 1 and the ripped Mario Party 2 models seem to be just the ear textures; Mario Party 1 has a less detailed ear texture, being a simple color. There seems to be weird geometry going on at the back of the hat, though I haven't really done anything to change it. I guess it's just an error of converting from quads to tris.




Tris: 406
I personally like this one more than the Super Mario 64 model despite having less polys. Additionally less polys do not necessarily mean less detail as the segmented nature of the Super Mario 64 models lead to unnecessary faces. Anyhow, the body is joined as one, which I find more aesthetically palatable. Mario doesn't really need to twist his body around to the same degree as his arms and legs. Mario's body, however, looks blocky, especially at the back view. Mario's hat is also more believably placed on his head. There is no downward slant as in the Super Mario 64 models that leave no room for Mario's skull and the back of Mario's hair. Thus, the back of Mario's hair actually has more room and is proportionally bigger, and I think this is the best-looking hat of the N64 era. Mario still has segmented arms and legs as the Super Mario 64 Mario. Unfortunately, while Mario's face is somewhat defined, the eyes get distorted from the shape of his head, most noticeable at the side view.


The texture resolution, the square textures being 64 x 64 (the skin texture is 64 x 128) is essentially double that of the Super Mario 64 Mario, which is the reason the textures look so much cleaner on this model. Additionally, these textures more resemble today's textures. The skin color also looks more like skin compared to the yellowish Super Mario 64 Mario. The ears have textures, though they look like they're sketched in. Perhaps the model can do without ear textures for now. The overalls have actual textures too compared to the Super Mario 64 model where separation between overalls and shirt were from merely separately-colored faces of the mesh.


There are 30 facial expressions (some repeats and many blinking expressions), and they're delightfully cartoony, making this Mario probably the most expressive N64 Mario. Some of these, the x eyes (x-eyes were also used in Super Mario 64) and shocked expressions in particular, I don't see them being used again to this day.

Being the common .obj format, there are no bones in this ripped model.

Mario Party 2 - Mario's head
Rendered with 3DS Max 2010.

This is model isn't a complete model. The back of it just doesn't exist.



Tris: 396
This appears to be a high-quality model. Why the low poly count? That's because it has no back. This model wasn't intended to be viewed at any other angle. You can say this is like a mask. There isn't even much attention to making the side look correct: Mario has jutting lips like he's about the smooch and the pointy bit is just a piece of his chin, the cut not being neat. This is probably what the Happy Mask Salesman carries around after Mario dies. Otherwise, the model actually looks fine. Maybe a little meaner and chunkier than the Super Mario 64 head and not as exquisite. The M insignia is a separate plane for some reason, and it looks a lot different from the M insignia we see today (the angle of the "legs" on the M is smaller today and I think it tapers a little bit at the top. The Ms also differ markedly in the early models I discussed, especially the Super Mario 64 head.

The model looks best when viewed slightly from the top-down, which I think is the intended way the model is viewed. That being said, Peach's face looks much worse.

The back of this head is a nightmare, expected from looking inside hollow models of heads, and I struggle to understand why there is a polygon bridge across this gap.

For some reason, the face reminds me of the scene from Yoshi's Tropical Island. Oh, also, did you know how different Mario, Peach, and Donkey Kong in the Mario Party scenes look compared to their official artwork counterparts? For the scenes, it seems like they created the "official" models, created N64 models to represent these official renders, and they created another set of models based on those N64 models or N64 models that look like this Mario head, smoothed away the jagged edges, and then they made a scene from it. I don't know, it took me longer than it should to realize this, but this model helped me.


A simple 32 x 64 grid of colors, similar to Super Mario 64 Mario head except a lot easier to upload.

Model provided is in .obj.
Mario Tennis (Nintendo 64)
Edit normals and UV mapping in Maya 2014. Rendered with 3DS Max 2010. The black parts around the overall buttons are just textures without the transparency applied to them.

This one seemed like an actual rip ("actual" defined loosely) and not essentially a 3D screencap compared to the Mario Party 2 Mario. This model, however, required cleanup. Its normals (how light affects every individual face) were bad, though, to be fair, it's generally to be expected when converting models without modifying the normals to make them fit for use. Additionally, the textures for the sideburns weren't applied correctly, so Mario appeared to lack sideburns. The model's eyes also seemed a little off compared to the in-game version, so I changed the UV Map (essentially a 2D map where the textures are applied to certain faces on a model) a little to make it closer to this screenshot. I didn't expect so many errors from a model here, so someone needs to resubmit a more accurate and cleaned normals model. Link of the model I had problems with here.




Tris: 456
Despite looking like a bit of a step back compared to the Mario Party 2 Mario, Mario Tennis (Nintendo 64)'s Mario has slightly more triangles. I believe most of the "excess" triangles stem from a better-looking abdomen. Unlike the Mario Party 2 Mario, this one has a more "circular", organic body. Also, note that this model has knees and elbows; the arms and legs aren't segmented! This means there may have been actual deformation going on. This screenshot, however, suggests segmented arms though others show actual bent arms (and possibly legs). Judging from this model, I'm leaning toward actual deformation.

The ears are only 2D planes, which is a step back from the previous two we mentioned. Mario's hair are also very simplistic spikes, sharp enough to poke Mr. I to make him cry. Mario's hair also resembles the compressed specimens at Super Mario 64, with the spikes taking up most of the room for this hair. Mario's face is defined; his face cheeks are pretty prominent at the three-quarters view, and they're more prominent compared to the previous low poly SM64 Mario and the Mario Party 2 Mario. The mustache are only colored in faces of the head model instead of drawn like the previous two, making this mustache the simplest one in the N64 times. It looks more like Luigi's mustache if anything. To be fair, I think Mario overall looks better than the Super Mario 64 Mario. His back view, especially, I like more.


The model provided has only one texture: an unusual 162 x 96 rectangle. The blue square where the overalls would go and the red square with the emblem are 32 x 32, making them on par with the Super Mario 64 models. The eye texture is 64 x 64, making it more detailed than the Super Mario 64 Mario. Coupled with the bigger size, only one eye is shown while Super Mario 64 Mario eyes had to be fit in a 32 x 32 square, thus making the eye even bigger by comparison. The brown square is 7 x 7, which I find weird as it can be easily enlarged to be the same size as the blue texture. For some reason, the white, the gloves is 98 x 32, probably to force the texture resolution to have a factor of 2 or another number (textures at the time had to be divisible by a certain number, 32 x 32 for instance, can be divided by 2, 8, and 16). The skin is yellowish, even moreso than the Super Mario 64 model. The racket and tennis ball are 2D sprites put on a 2D plane. The rackets in Mario Tennis 64 are 2D and look strange today, much like the trees back in the N64 days resembling cardboard cutouts rather than actual trees.

The textures are incomplete. Mario clearly has different eye expressions (see the ending of the opening in that game), can close his eyes, and can open his mouth (see his losing animation).

Given the apparent tinkering with the model, I'm not sure if this texture is actually composed of several textures and the UV maps adjusted to fit everything (an easy task since the textures are so simple) or if the model indeed uses one texture.

The model provided is in .obj format.
Super Smash Bros.
UV Mapped in Maya 2014 (missing UV maps in the model?? I had trouble rendering this in Max). Rendered in 3DS Max 2010. Fixed normals.

I had some trouble getting this model to work given the confusing way its textures were set up. The normals were also bad and made this model look like a disco ball. Not that it would look much better if were smooth.



Tris: 320
This model holds a special place in me. Not because it's any good. It's easily the cheapest Mario on the N64. It's no surprise, given that Smash Bros. has very humble origins and began as a low-budget title, in stark contrast to its top-system-selling heavyweight hype train champion it is today. Despite his ugliness, this model belongs to a game that made me who I am. No doubt I would be a very different person if Mario wasn't the first character I picked back when I was, like, 4. I love Mario and I loved him in Smash Bros. so I have some soft spots for this model. However, Mario's nose is essentially a crystal jammed into his face (complete with a spike inside his face) and his hair are just two spikes. From the front, he has an overly chubby face, even for Mario, giving the illusion that his mustache is smaller than it really is. From the back, Mario doesn't look that good: his ears (which are polygons unlike the Mario Tennis Mario) seem to be too small, probably because the hair takes up so much volume back there. The overall straps hang really low down there and makes me want to shift the UV mapping higher to make it not seem like it's sagging. The UV mapping is not great, even for N64 standards. If you pause and can find the point where Mario's head joins his body, there is a mess of red and blue, and it seems like it converges on a single spot. Yeah, that point IS visible if you look hard enough. The side view though gives me that warm fuzzy early childhood memory that'll never go away from me though, similar to how people see the Super Mario 64 Mario. This is my Super Mario 64 Mario.

The feet don't lie perfectly flat on the ground plane nor are they symmetrical to each other, and the model is not perfectly aligned to the center axis, but I'm not sure if this is how the model is designed or just a ripping artifact.

The arms seem connected, but I had to apply textures to them separately (check arms in the above pic and you can see a seam that probably shouldn't be there). According to this screenshot, however, it does seem like Mario's arms are deformed rather than being fragmented unlike the Mario Party and Super Mario 64 Marios. The hat is incredibly low-poly. From the side view, Mario's hat doesn't even line up with his forehead, which makes the hat look oversized and ready to cover Mario's eyes. If you look at this hat from the top, it looks like a highly angular wedge. This is especially notable if you use Mario's backthrow on another Mario. To its credit, Smash Bros. Mario's body looks better than than the Mario Party body by being more circular and, in my opinion, looks better than the Super Mario 64 body by not being segmented.



The textures are not okay, but not great. The hat is 64 x 32, though there is a bit empty space to help keep the insignia in shape and not stretch on the face of the model. The face is 128 X 64, making it technically bigger than Super Mario 64's 32 X 32 textures, but most of this space is solid color. You can actually crop Mario's eyes to make it around 32 x 32. The sideburns are even tinier than Super Mario 64's Mario if you compare them side by side. The overall texture, 64 x 48, is tiny, but it does resemble a bit of the later textures: a weird, flat-looking thing. The rest of the textures are solid colors that are 8 x 8, but it's not like a 32 x 32 solid color is any different.

I included Mario's hurt textures because I remember the red blush freaking me out when I was a kid. I think it looked a little bloody back then.

Model is in .obj format.

So that's most of the N64 models so far. I'll likely continue to the GCN era where things may get a little more interesting (though I love the variety in the N64 models). I don't think we'll see bones (thus, a proper rig) embedded in the models until the Wii era, the time where SDK tools were leaked and it was a lot easier to rip models with their bones and rigs intact.
Hey, you saw that video, too! :)

I always like seeing just how far models improve (or "deprove" in some cases). The N64 had a lot of different models, likely due to the polygon count. With the release of the GameCube, models became more consistent from one game to the next. By that I mean, while there are different models created from game to game of the same character, they all look relatively the same from then onward. N64 was kind of a trial and error stage. I mean, four different Mario's!

LeftyGreenMario said:

This is my favorite part of the Mario Party models. I don't think they have this much fun with them anymore.
Sometimes, I wish we had access to the models used for artwork so we can see how 3D art for games evolved over time
Alex95 said:
This is my favorite part of the Mario Party models. I don't think they have this much fun with them anymore.
They even have Wario not showing his teeth for a face texture. I don't have the textures right now, but if you play Look Away, you can see that.
Luigi's Mansion
Rendered with 3DS Max 2010. Textures were transparent for some reason, so I removed the transparency in Maya, exported as .FBX, imported into 3DS Max. For some reason, the model is shiny. I don't think it's actually like that in the games. The white spots are part of the shininess.




Tris: 5,256
This model is likely familiar with most people who ever looked at Mario models as it's the framework model used very frequently today. I think Luigi's Mansion is a hallmark game that standardized Mario's general design, though credit is sometimes given to Sunshine (as in the video). Take that, people who think the spinoffs don't matter! No longer will he have wildly varying models. I also find it strange people harp on New Super Mario Bros. for "standardizing" things but completely overlook the variation of N64 models and there aren't frequent arguments that "N64 models have more charm to them and New Super Mario Bros. made all the models look the same". If there are arguments like this in the future..... Well, you can argue that the Mario Party 2 model has "more charm" but that's attributed to the facial expressions, not because it physically looks different from the other models.

The triangles around this mesh also looks more consistent thanks to a center line that neatly dives this model into half (during the modeling process, it's common to model simply half the character and copy and mirror the other half and then join them. There is also instance modeling that achieves symmetry (instance model is a copy of the original object that updates whenever you edit the original object). At the back of the hat, however, there is a little craziness going on and thus the center line isn't perfect and so the symmetry isn't perfect at the hat. This doesn't matter too much since Mario's hat almost never deforms in any game. While the Mario Party 2 Mario DOES have a center line, the symmetry of the triangles don't seem to be perfect.

The first thing immediately noticeable is the incredible jump of tris. It went from Super Mario 64's (the highest polycount) 752, and that's not even optimized thanks to the segmented nature of the model, to 5,256 triangles, approximately 7-fold difference (5256/752 ~ 6.989). Mario's face alone has 1,176 tris (1,896 if you include the mustache, eyebrows, and cap) which exceeds even the super-detailed 1,213 tris of Super Mario 64 Mario. As there is an advancement in deformation of the models, the model now should be able to have more realistic deformations. Even with the triangulation, you can notice the healthy amount of edge-loops around the joints of the model; the hips, the knees, the elbows, and even the fingers. The mouth also has some edge loops going on (there are rings around the mouth to make animation good; example here; note that the model is quads here, which Mario definitely started as a 99% quads mesh but was triangulated for game reasons), but they're not as apparent.

Speaking of the mouth, this is also one of the first times Mario has a mouth actually modeled rather than being a sticker on Mario's face (though stickers are in later games like Mario Kart: Double Dash and Mario Kart 8 ). Sure, the Super Mario 64 Mario head also has a mouth inside, but his face had to be detailed given how huge and, well, in-your-face, he was. Though even then, Mario's teeth are modeled for the first time. Mario's mustache is a separate mesh, and you can cleanly take it off to give Mario that weird "shaven" look. I also think this is the first time Mario has an actual neck modeled here, and there is even a cute little neck ring on his shirt. The bumps on Mario's gloves are also modeled for the first time.





Mario has 42 different textures. A portion (8 textures) are his eyes rolling around (remember, the last scene in Luigi's Mansion has Mario dazed). Unfortunately, I myself didn't find the textures too impressive, squares being 32 x 32, but they have something the other textures lack: shading. The cloth actually replicates the cloth and the skin has highlights and shadow, lending model unprecedented detail such as the dark spots that mimic Mario's lips, the creases in Mario's mouth, and there is even a texture for inside Mario's mouth and tongue (it's the dark-red one with an oval). You even have shadows in parts that are often covered in shadow, including where Mario's overall straps are connected, the top of the shoe where the pants cover, and the shirt being darkened from the overalls placed on top of it. The highest resolution texture is Mario's overalls, being 512 x 128, which is decently big (512 x 512 is a standard size even in the Wii U era, though very small compared to textures in contemporary games). It has wrapping paper-on-cylinder appearance; one can imagine it wrapping around Mario's body. And that's texture mapping!


The rest of the textures are solid 8 x 8 colors (6 images, one repeat) or variations of Mario eyes (9 images). The ways Mario's eyes move seem different in this game compared to most games. The white highlight that is usually at, let's say, the upper focus of Mario's iris, is fixed while the iris rotates around the eyewhite. This is generally not the case (see the Mario Party 2 faces and simply the various artworks that show a variety of positions of the irises). There is an eye image that appears to be a repeat, though it is actually slightly shifted; the neutral eye texture seem to have that white highlight at a slightly different spot compared to the rest of the eye textures. As far as I know, this is also the first time there is a dark blue tint at, let's say, the lower focus of Mario's iris, which we'll see in the later games as well.

Model provided is in .obj. I can imagine, however, the bone set being a little bit more complex than in the previous games. Mario definitely has bones in his mouth for mouth movement. I can't say if he has more complex bones like helper bones or bones inside his mustache.

I'll get around to looking at the unused Mario model from Luigi's Mansion.
It's pretty amazing that there are different versions of Mario for the Nintendo 64. Part of me feels that Mario 64 is the definitive model because it felt like Mario's look isn't as compromised as others, especially Mario Party's (which still looks good, mind you). From this, I gather that Mario Party 3's models are the same as Mario Party 2? It seems like both Mario Party games have similar models because some of the "Look Away" expressions are reused there (best seen in Story Mode).

Although the Gamecube has a more consistent look, I feel that Mario's model differs from game-to-game. The differences aren't as clear-cut, but it can be discernible. Besides Super Smash Bros. Melee (which is by far the most different of them all), I imagine Mario Kart Double Dash is the least detailed, while Super Mario Sunshine has the most polished model.

Thank you for reading.
you should critique the Mario Teaches Typing head
Glowsquid said:
you should critique the Mario Teaches Typing head

Unfortunately, I don't think there's a model for this. The ones we have are in video form. I would love to see how the model is like, because it looks like a very fine model, at least at an attempt as the first 3D Mario head.

Thank you for reading.
Wait... Mario's model in MK8 has a sticker mouth? Honestly I shouldn't be surprised (this isn't related to Mario's models) because I remember that Brawl Ness had a modeled mouth but in Smash 4, it's a textured mouth.
winstein said:
It's pretty amazing that there are different versions of Mario for the Nintendo 64. Part of me feels that Mario 64 is the definitive model because it felt like Mario's look isn't as compromised as others, especially Mario Party's (which still looks good, mind you). From this, I gather that Mario Party 3's models are the same as Mario Party 2? It seems like both Mario Party games have similar models because some of the "Look Away" expressions are reused there (best seen in Story Mode).

Although the Gamecube has a more consistent look, I feel that Mario's model differs from game-to-game. The differences aren't as clear-cut, but it can be discernible. Besides Super Smash Bros. Melee (which is by far the most different of them all), I imagine Mario Kart Double Dash is the least detailed, while Super Mario Sunshine has the most polished model.

Thank you for reading.
I suspect Mario Party 3's models are the same, but they're not already ripped in Models Resource. I know I can always rip it myself but...

I do think the GCN stuff differ from game to game so I'll look at all available models. This will include Sunshine's model so stay tuned.

YoshiGo99 said:
Wait... Mario's model in MK8 has a sticker mouth? Honestly I shouldn't be surprised (this isn't related to Mario's models) because I remember that Brawl Ness had a modeled mouth but in Smash 4, it's a textured mouth.
I'm pretty sure Ness has a modeled mouth. He may have some sticker mouths like his smiling one, but the ones where his mouth is opened has actual geometry. I used to think Mario Kart 8 had an actual modeled mouth too, so I don't blame you. You can thank bumpmaps, which are 2D textures that give the illusion of depth. We won't be seeing bumpmaps until later, like during the Wii U times.
Luigi's Mansion - Unused Mario
Textures reapplied in Maya. Some edits made. Rendered in 3DS Max 2010.

This is the unused Mario from Luigi's Mansion. I spent the most time on this one since 3DS Max destroyed the .obj provided in the Models Resource. I had to import the .obj in Maya and reassigned all 32 textures, a time-consuming task. I realized there was a hole in Mario's left part of the mustache, so I had to edit the model to fill it in. I'm not sure if the hole is supposed to be there or just an artifact of ripping. Finally, I fixed the normals by merging overlapping vertices and then smoothing.




Tris: 4,211
The entire mesh sits at a respectable amount of tris. Curiously, however, a hidden eyebrow inside Mario's head contributes 48 tris to the mesh, so otherwise negligible. The straps used likely for the Poltergust is 184 tris; it's a simple (mostly) rectangular prism wrapped around Mario's body. There can be several reasons this is slightly less poly than the non-playable Mario (I generally expect player models to be more detailed than the characters around them). Perhaps this Mario is simpler because he was meant to play side-to-side with Luigi, and for optimization, both had to be reduced (speaking of reducing, most games have "simpler" versions of models, called LOD, level of detail, models. This includes the previous games I've shown and I would've shown them but they weren't available and I'm not sure myself how to rip those). The hands and legs don't look as detailed. While the legs have around the same amount of horizontal edge loops (the same amount around the knees), it has less vertical edges. It's similar to difference between an octogonal prism and a triangular prism; the octogonal prism, with more sides, looks more cylindrical. The hips, where the legs connect to the body also much have less edge loops going on. Inside Mario's mouth, you can see two sets of teeth: the upper and lower. The lower set of teeth is frequently absent in many Mario models

The legs are unusually long for Mario, but the abdomen proportions are retained (this is not the case for the Super Mario Galaxy mesh, which I may discuss much later). The feet look hopelessly elongated. Since this appears to be a player model, given the poltergust straps and its unused nature, this Mario may have been stretched to fit in Luigi's bones. This also explains Mario's proportionally small hands (of course, we're talking Mario proportions here), since they are identical to Luigi's hands. Maybe the result didn't look very nice, as if Mario was subjected to Procrustes's bed and survived, so they ditched it. Though for animation reasons, Nintendo could've given Mario a slightly altered bone set and then adjust the animations accordingly; again, they had time constraints: Luigi's Mansion is a launch game. Nintendo has also distorted some of their models in the future anyhow, such as Mario Kart 7 and 8 driver models, Super Mario Galaxy, and the Koopalings from Smash 4.





These textures are higher quality than the non-playable Mario, which lends more credence to the idea that this model is intended to be a playermodel. I find it curious that this has a lower polycount but better texture resolution. If it weren't for the distortion, I would even say this is the superior model over the non-player version. Aside from being much larger, the second row of textures being 64 pixels wide and/or tall (and thus displays more cleanly on Mario's mesh), these textures are virtually identical. Even the smaller textures from the previous one (like the stache being a measly 16 x 16) get a boost to 32 width and or height. Mario's mouth, however, is more compressed so it's lower quality. I didn't mention earlier, but I also notice Mario's ear texture looks a little strange at its time. I like the hand-painted look of Mario's gloves and how the shading replicates the palm of his hands. The 512 x 128 texture is unchanged from the non-player Mario, but the pant legs get huge a boost from 128 x 64 to 256 x 256. The hat insignia, despite being a similar size to NPC Mario (64 x 64), appears cleaner, as the previous one has indexing artifacts (indexing is reducing how many colors an image can have to a particular amount, generally a factor of 8 or 16 like 256 I believe).

The other textures not shown here are filler 8 x 8 monocolored squares. One is used to color the overall buttons (which is why you don't see overall button textures yet).

Model provided is in .obj format. According to the Cutting Room Floor, this Mario has the same animations as Luigi, which means it has the same bone structure as Luigi, leading further credence that there has been a real possibility of another Italian suspender-clad Ghostbuster, but he spent that time instead as a beautiful painting.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Rendered with 3DS Max 2010. Model provided was gleaming like an angel in the sky, so I switched material from Blinn to Strauss. I would've chosen Lambert (Lambert isn't here), but they seem identical. The teeth has glove textures incorrectly applied to it and the teeth textures appear to be overall missing? Changed UV Map in the nose. It seemed off, where you can see a dark area on the top of his nose. I had to move the UV shell down and shrink it a bit.




Tris: 4,718
This surprisingly isn't as high-poly as the Luigi's Mansion model, falling short of 538 tris, so an entire Mario Tennis 64 Mario and some more. Super Smash Bros. really took off and even back during Melee, it was very hyped. It suffered through an unusually short development cycle, though, so it's inevitable there are some roughness. If this model had bones, a rig, and animations, I'd show you, but for now, I can describe only the mesh and textures. But if you ever take your time and look how some of Melee's models deform in animation, my, it looks very rough. The triangulation on this model also seems well and all, and we actually have a mostly center line running through most of the model rather than screwing up at the hat. Instead, it's a little messed up at the top of the nose.

Anyhow, this "taking off" is reflected in the polycount. It jumped approximately 15-fold (4,718/320 ~ 14.744). I particularly like the detail paid to the creases in the clothing. At the hips, knees, and elbows, you can see the crinkles emulated by clothing. You can even see crinkles outside of joints such as the chest. I also like the widening of the bottom of the pant legs, which is much more prominent here than in the other models shown previously. For some reason, the feet don't align perfectly with the ground, so Mario appears frozen on tiptoe. Mario's mouth is unusually closer to his mustache compared to the Luigi's Mansion Mario, so his mouth is more hidden. I like more it when his mouth is more visible. Also, Mario's cheeks aren't pronounced compared to the Luigi's Mansion model. You can see it in the side view; the tips of the mustache reaches Mario's temple in the Melee model, but only half-way of Mario's eyes on Luigi's Mansion Mario. In the front view, the mustache appears to take more space compared to the Luigi's Mansion model. Overall, this model is on par with Luigi's Mansion model, being organic and still holds up to today (meaning it won't look terrible if it were a model import in a later game like Smash 4).





There are 30 textures, not counting the blink ones, the hurt one (which is missing), and of course the recolors. The teeth textures are also apparently missing.

I think these are more worth nothing than the mesh. That's because they're much more realistic and detailed than your average Mario textures, even to this day. In fact, I personally found these off-putting when I was younger and didn't like them too much. I appreciate them more today. Compared to Smash 64, this one is also a big leap from simplistic mono-colored squares to fully shaded 128 x 128 squares. There is still a single monocolored 8 x 8 texture. There are also 8 x 64 and 32 x 256 strips, but I consider those still steps above the Smash 64 Mario. Mario's eyes are a weird shade of blue and you can even see the individual muscle fibers of the iris, which is unusual for Mario. Also unusual for Mario is that he lacks that dark blue highlight on his eyes. For the first time, we can see detail paid attention to the overall buttons. It replicates metal, with warped lighting and all, compared to plastic that most Mario models have, even the later ones. There is also a cloth seam running along the circumference Mario's hat, which I myself don't like and find it to be a distracting detail. It's not present in any other Mario model I know of except for the Brawl Mario, the other "realistic" Mario. The overalls have unprecedented detail that replicates real denim. There are even butt pockets on this one, plus some dark gray-brown thing at the top that reminds me of brand tags, except it's undecipherable. The shoes are darker than normal, and there are also shoe seams running on it. The shoe soles are also detailed and unevenly shaded, suggesting some wear, and realistic wear isn't shown very often in Mario games. The M-insignia reminds me of the older ones, particularly the Mario Party 2 head. In fact, the entire model gives me "old Mario but in GCN" vibes rather than "current Mario but realistic textures", a lack of better phrases for it. The eyes don't help.

I've seen remarks that about the "tanned" look Mario has and they miss that. His skin is certainly more "orange" here than in other games.

This is a lot of textures, but I promise it won't slowly become a gallery of skinned Marios in the future.

Model is in .obj format. I think this game is the first game to give Mario nose bones. Mario's nose does move in some animations, like when he flinches and recoils.

Super Smash Bros. Melee - Level of Detail
Rendered with 3DS Max 2010. Fixed Normals.




Tris: 332
This is the first level of detail (abbrev LOD) model I cover. People like to harp on these models and while the LOD models do look blocky and not aesthetically pleasing, their primary purpose is to retain the silhouette and basic shape of the model. It is meant to be viewed at a distance, not up close like this. As shown in this image, there are little differences between the high-poly and low-poly models (the high-poly is at the top and the lower ones descend in simplicity). You can see this LOD model when Mario is under the magnifying glass, when he's offstage. While the polycount is extremely low (in this case, the lower the better), it still exceeds the Super Smash Bros. Mario's polycount! Mario seems to be slanted, though I don't know if it's supposed to be like that. Mario's model also appears to be squooshed, hot-dog style, like he's face down and a Thwomp fell on him though again, I don't know if that's actually how the model is. The arms and legs are separate from the body, which hearkens back to the segmented N64 days. The ears are surprisingly polygonal, though they aren't attached to the head, and you can see a hole in the top part of the ear, where the ear doesn't connect to the head.

You can thank models like this for help keeping the game at a beautiful frame-rate, so pay some respect to them after you're done laughing at them.



There are 12 textures. Many textures are repeats, which are not shown, but I like the two body textures (64 x 64) are simply a snapshot of the high-poly Mario. You can even see where the neck (chin?) There is one texture for the face, sideburns, and mustache. There is also a separate mustache texture that is split in half, compared to the whole mustache in the high-poly Mario. The M insignia is also split in half and shrunk, with also filler red color to prevent the texture from stretching. There is no concern for detail here; most effort should be focused on the hi-poly model anyway, right?

Model provided is in .obj. This model likely shares bones with the original hi-poly model since it's intended to replace the hi-poly model when the hi-poly model is in the magnifying glass.
The Melee models are the only ones that come to mind in terms of being different from the rest. All the other character models in Mario Kart, Mario Party, etc. look relatively the same. Oh, well, Mario Strikers is a thing, too, but even then, characters don't look as detailed as they do in Melee. Just put into battle sports gear.
Super Smash Bros. Melee - Classic Trophy
Yes, another Melee model! Rendered with 3DS Max 2010. Fixed normals. The model is supposed to be shiny in-game, but I didn't feel like tinkering with shiny values, so I just left it the way it is. The inside of the mouth is incorrectly mapped to the cap insignia, and the teeth is all red, probably incorrectly textured with hat textures. I guess it doesn't matter horribly much, though the game does allow you to zoom inside trophies for some reason. And yes, I had a fascination of zooming inside every single trophy. I didn't discover Daisy's hidden eye because I was too busy zooming into her dress, underneath her.




Tris: 9,596
I used to think this trophy looks like modern Mario, but I think I was too busy looking at the simplistic textures. Nowadays, I see it as Melee Mario's head plastered on top of a pretty chunky body, chunky even for chubby Mario. The head has the traits of Melee Mario: the hair shape, the ears (well, that's a texture thing), the overall head shape, and even the shy mouth hiding in the bush. What about the body? Well, the overalls aren't not defined that well. They seem to be melted into the main body. At the pant legs, though, it seems to have that "widening" trait the Melee Mario has. Still, the overall straps compared to the Melee Mario's overall straps seem long and reminds me of the Super Smash Bros. Mario.

Either way, this mesh has an astounding amount of polys. The body alone, the heaviest part of the model, has 2,128 polys. I think most of the polys from from the hips and there are a lot of vertices at the points on Mario's overalls between the overall buttons. However, for such a high poly model, with textures applied, I do feel it leaves some to be desired. Models like these should be an example how important proper textures are. If you're lazy with the textures, your model just won't look good. I'm not saying this model is lazy per se, but if you think this model looks "dated" and "ugly", it's the textures' fault collectively.




There are 12 textures. They are overall simpler than the Melee Mario, mostly solid colors. The textures are pretty big, probably because trophies are easier on the processor and are meant to be examined. Some textures are reused from the Melee Mario. For some reason, the blue overalls are a whopping 1024 x 256 ocean of solid blue, but it's the first time a Mario texture exceeds 1K. It's too bad it's only a solid character, so I personally don't see the point in making such a huge monocolored texture. The overall button is directly ripped from the Melee Mario except it's more yellow than gold, so the overall button looks like plastic. I think that red texture with a dark circle is supposed to be his mouth, and the circle is the tongue. If it's so, then I think it looks hilarious. Mario's eye is the biggest eye so far, being 190 x 190, but it looks so simple, it kinda looks like it belongs in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. It's different from the typical Melee eye not only in shading, but the eye shape is different. The M icon also resembles the Melee Mario's M like it were stripped to its basic colors. The shoes are the best part of this model, but it looks a little jarring compared to the rest of the simplistic texture. It has a good amount of detail and there seems to be actual shoe texture (as in, you can see the bumpiness and roughness of the shoe). It appears, however, to be a lighter version of the Melee Mario shoes, but without those shoe seams. Finally, I find it strange that the neck and head colors are different, which makes it more like the head doesn't belong to the body.

They don't apply to this model.
Alex95 said:
The Melee models are the only ones that come to mind in terms of being different from the rest. All the other character models in Mario Kart, Mario Party, etc. look relatively the same. Oh, well, Mario Strikers is a thing, too, but even then, characters don't look as detailed as they do in Melee. Just put into battle sports gear.
It's all thanks to Luigi's Mansion for setting a standard. Still, there are probably subtle differences in the models and I'll have fun with the Strikers Mario for sure. There aren't any Mario Party Marios in the GCN that are ripped, so that's a disappointment. In the DS era, there will be also several different Mario models to look at: the Super Mario 64 Mario, the Mario Kart DS Mario (ew), New Super Mario Bros. Mario, and the Mario Party DS Mario. The Mario Party DS Mario doesn't appear to be available.... And that's a lot of "Mario" in one post, heh.

Oh my, I should look at this one.
Indeed. It's unused and definitely worth a look, especially since it looks so different.
Pikmin (Unused model)
Rendered with 3DS Max 2010. Seems like there are no rendering-related issues! The neck polygon is all red, but I don't know if it's incorrectly mapped or not.




Tris: 5,120
For some reason, Pikmin has an unused Mario in its files. I can possibly be a leftover from the time when Super Mario 128 was a thing and was a prototype for Pikmin. Despite being unused, this is a decently high-poly model. There are quite a few edgeloops going on at the hips and the knees, comparable to the other hi-poly model we have, the Luigi's Mansion one, and it's only slightly less poly than the Luigi's Mansion one. The separation between shoe and shoe sole, unfortunately, look a little bit like mush. For some reason, the soles aren't separated by a hard line, as if the model was smoothed. Surely, they could add an edge-loop there to make the separation more blocky like a real shoe sole. There appears to be a bit waviness on the hair at the back of Mario's head (above the nubs), but it's an illusion caused by a normal, not actual geometry (i.e. if you were to run your finger there, it would feel smooth). Mario's sideburn has a weird geometry going on; there is a crease running well beyond the cleft area of the sideburn and continuing until the sideburn ends at Mario's hat. Mario's mustache looks weird for today; the tips seem very pronounced and curve, like hair gel is applied there. The ears look pretty simple and even blocky with so little vertical edges going on. Like in the Luigi's Mansion model, you can see some edge loops around Mario's mouth so it suggests that this Mario's mouth can animate. Indeed, there is geometry inside Mario's mouth, though it is all tan. Compared to the Luigi's Mansion model, the back of Mario's hat seems a smidge bulkier.

Oh, and since this is unused, perhaps this would be the first Mario model on the GCN! In fact, this Mario, in terms of model structure, resembles the Luigi's Mansion Mario much more than the Melee Mario. This may be the predecessor to the familiar Luigi's Mansion model.


The textures are simple. Two big textures are a good 256 x 256, bigger than the other eyes and insignias, actually. The eye looks pretty weird and very unlike the other eyes we've seen. It's dark blue rather than sky blue / aqua and the white highlight overlaps the black and iris regions. Also, the black region seems offset from the center of the iris, making the iris appear as a crescent rather than a ring. The M insignia looks decent though I think the symmetrical axis seems a little tilted to the right? The other textures are small monocolored squares and lends to the "cheap" look of the model. Again, as I reiterate and believe, a model can only go so far without nice textures. A high-poly model with mono-colored textures looks flat and not super interesting.

Model is provided in .obj format.
Probably a leftover from the Mario 128 demo that pikmin is based on.
The most likely answer is that it's a leftover from Super Mario 128, but my first thought was that it was some kind of giant doll that the Pikmin could find as a treasure.
I suppose so but it doesn't resemble the Marios here. See, these have a sticker mouth, the eyes are different, the hat insignia seems different, and the polygon quality looks very blocky; the hands look painted. At the back, the hair doesn't seem to match. This unused model, however, can be unused even in the demo, unless you can point to a Mario model that more resembles that one I've shown.

It could be a later version of it had they kept going with it being a Mario game.