Mario Kart 64 once had parodied tobacco ads

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by: Hairball

During development, Mario Kart 64 was originally known as Super Mario Kart R, R supposedly stood for racing. In some early screenshots, you can clearly see "Marioro" and "Yoshi 1" advertisements in game on Mario Raceway of the Flower Cup.

Marioro Logo in Mario Kart beta Yoshi 1 logo in Mario Kart beta
Early screenshots from Mario Kart 64 showing parodied advertisements (Source: N64.com, now IGN)

When I was a kid, I was a big Formula One fan, and back in the day, F1 used to have tobacco ads prominently on vehicles and tracks. I remember well that in certain races during the 1990s, the British Grand Prix and French Grand Prix, tobacco advertising was banned. However, it seems like the tobacco companies tried to get around this by doing subliminal advertising with logos and wording that look like the tobacco brands.

Early iterations of the Mario Circuit in Mario Kart 64 have an "Marioro" ad with an upside down Marlboro rooftop logo. Similarly there is a "Yoshi 1" ad that looks like the logo for the Mobil 1 motor oil. It's not clear whether had planned to do real sponsorships, but most likely these references were simply parodying real life companies.

Marioro Logo in Japanese Mario Kart 64 Yoshi 1 logo in Japanese Mario Kart 64
Parodied advertisements still made it into the Japanese version of Mario Kart 64

Interestingly, these ads managed to remain in the Japanese release. Japan still has one of the highest rates of smoking in the world, so perhaps they'd find it funny. In other countries, tobacco promotion is no laughing matter.

Both ads were removed from the North American and European releases. Good on Nintendo to have removed this in the North American and European releases this as tobacco references have no place in a video game. Don't smoke kids.


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