A couple of weeks ago, I talked about a number of items which appeared in Super Mario Bros. 2, and today, I’d like to single one out: The Stop Watch.
You wouldn’t think there’s much to talk about here. After pulling up four large vegetables, the fifth one instead yields a Stop Watch — an item which freezes time for a handful of seconds, allowing you an advantage against motionless enemies (though obstacles like logs rolling down a waterfall were unaffected).
It’s a neat little item, and one that would go on to reappear in future titles — particularly the Paper Mario.
But did you know it was also a character?
Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, “Mario Mania” was running wild — enough that Nintendo thought it might even be a good idea to license the rights for a major motion picture. As such, Mario merchandise was everywhere, and the bulk of it before 1990 featured either Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, or a combination of the two.
While a seemingly non-sentient item in the games, someone in licensing apparently came up with the idea to make the Stop Watch a character unto itself, aptly named “Stopwatch”. However, its appearances were sadly very few and far between.
One such appearance was as the main character on one of a series of greeting cards from a company called Nexoft. As you can see, the design was embellished a bit, placing the item in question atop a teardrop-shaped base as a body, plus a face and limbs. He appears a bit off-model here in terms of color versus the game counterpart, though.
Now if that was all, we could easily chalk this up to being a one-off instance… except it isn’t.
Stopwatch would also make one other appearance in the “Nintendo Comics System” line of Super Mario Bros. comics, in a story titled “Cloud Nine” (which you can read at TRsRockin in the link above). I’ve truncated his appearances, minus a non-speaking one near the end of the story, in the page above. The character model is the same, but the colors seem a bit more on-target with the yellow-faced item first seen in the game back then.
And that’s pretty much it. According to Super Mario Wiki, that was the character’s only appearance in the book, and he never showed up as such in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! And Nintendo has never really seen fit to bring him back in any form, either. It’s too bad, too — just think of all the cool little merchandise he could have had, like plushies and keychains.
Nonetheless, it’s worth knowing that there is more to this occasionally-seen item than there appears to be on the face of it. Maybe the next time you play Super Mario Bros. 2, you might even think of it less as an item and more as a little friend helping you on your way.
David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.