Mario is known the world over for a good many things: His mustachioed mug, his crimson cap, and even on occasion, his penchant for plumbing.
But if there is one thing he is quite possibly known for above all else, it’s his jumping ability. It’s practically his middle name: Mario “Jumpman” Mario (or something).
As such, it stands to reason that this attribute of his would evolve over time. His standard jump was introduced with him in 1981’s arcade release of Donkey Kong, and it would carry over to Mario Bros. just a couple of years later (where it would be adopted by his baby brother Luigi, who would go on to even surpass his older sibling… but that’s for another time). With Super Mario Bros., the move evolved somewhat with the introduction of the running jump, thanks to the inclusion of a button which allowed the brothers to sprint instead of stroll.
That brings us to Super Mario Bros. 2, which despite its original release as a non-Mario game, introduced a new technique not only to the plumbing protagonists, but their allies as well: The Power Squat Jump.
Via Super Mario Wiki
The Power Squat Jump is a jump which allows Mario and friends to gain more height than they would with a normal jump. However, there’s a catch: You must remain stationary when performing it, and it takes a moment to charge up. To perform it, one simply ducks until their character on screen begins to flash, then press the jump button (after which you can move left or right as needed). You can even stand after the initial charging phase if necessary.
It even works in real life! Or, at least it felt like I was jumping higher when I tried it as a kid.
Unfortunately, pulling the move off can be just a little tricky at times, particularly in the original Nintendo Entertainment System version of Super Mario Bros. 2. This is typical of attempting to perform the move while under the effects of the Starman‘s invincibility — which also causes Mario to flash. Therefore, knowing the precise timing of the Power Squat Jump’s charge isn’t necessarily crucial, but allows a savvy player to perform the maneuver while not squandering the Starman’s all-too brief gift.
Fortunately, this would be changed in future remakes of the game, beginning with Super Mario All-Stars for the Super NES. There, a sound plays when Mario and friends are charged up and ready to go.
Despite being one of the most potent tools in Mario and friends’ standard arsenal, it rarely — if ever — appeared in any of the media surrounding the height of “Mario Mania” in the 80’s, save for perhaps some merchandise which opted to utilize the illustration seen here. The move didn’t resurface in Super Mario Bros. 3 (which was in development at about the same time as Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic was being converted into the western Super Mario Bros. 2), and while the two games may have shared some assets in their creation, the move would not be carried forward.
It seemed that the Power Squat Jump would be a one-and-done move, and that was true enough — at least, for the 2D Mario games.
With Super Mario 64, Mario was introduced to a fully 3D world, and to help him navigate it, he was given a move set the likes of which hasn’t been seen since. Punches, kicks, dives, leg-sweeps, you name it. And jumps? Boy howdy, were there ever jumps! This game marked the debut of a series staple for 3D and 2D games going forward, the Wall Jump. Then there’s the Triple Jump, the Sideways Somersault, the Long Jump, and more.
And among them, an all-too familiar move returned, though one might not know it from a casual glance.
Called the “Backward Somersault” here, it nonetheless possesses all of the key eponymous hallmarks of the Power Squat Jump. First, Mario needs to stop moving before he can use it, ducking into a squatting position. After a moment, Mario won’t begin to flash, but a press of the Jump button will see him leap into the air higher than he could from a standing position, veering backwards from where he began and performing a backflip in the process.
The move would be carried forward in future 3D Mario games following Super Mario Sunshine (which omitted much of Mario’s arsenal in favor of the F.L.U.D.D. backpack), and can be seen in Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Super Mario 3D Land, Super Mario 3D World, and the latest in the series, Super Mario Odyssey. Of course, as Mario is joined by Luigi, Toad, Princess Peach, and Rosalina across these games, they’re all able to perform it as well. Yoshi and Wario are able to perform it in Super Mario 64 DS as well, and Luigi can even start slowing to slow his descent at the apex of his jump.
The folks at Nintendo — or what was at the time Nintendo R&D2, at least — recognized this as well. When remaking Super Mario Bros. 2 for the Game Boy Advance as Super Mario Advance, they added an animation where the player’s character performs a backflip at the height of their jump, which was rechristened there as the “Super Jump.”
In that way, things have come full circle as the Power Squat Jump has gone from a one-off maneuver to a staple of the Mario franchise.
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.