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Like many members of my generation, I practically grew up with the Mario Bros. games. I stomped my first turtle in grade school, spent my junior high years hopping from platform to platform on Yoshi's back, and passed a great deal of time my first couple years of college trying to master flying with the wing hat powerup in Super Mario 64. Along the way, I've often thought about how useful some of Mario's various power ups would be in real life.
Have you ever considered how useful an indestructible hammer suit might be? Or the ability to transform yourself into living metal? Sadly, I have. Check out my personal picks for the most useful Mario power ups in real life.
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Fire Flower: Many Mario Games
Let's start with a classic, the perennial fire flower. Since the early days of Mario Bros, gamers have come to appreciate the simple pleasure of tossing fireballs at unsuspecting foes and watching them bounce along the ground until they find their intended target.
While this ability is quite useful in the Mushroom Kingdom, imagine just how much fun it would be in the real world. Smokers would never have to ask for a light again, getting a campfire going would be a snap, and irritating coworkers would find themselves instantly immolated. Quite the all-around useful power.
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Frog Suit: Super Mario Bros 3
Most people remember the recent hubbub surrounding the multiple gold medals won by swimmer Michael Phelps. He quickly became a national icon, world renowned as the fastest swimmer alive. Compared to a guy in a frog suit, though, Phelps is nothing but a tadpole. Imagine how you'd smoke the Olympic competition equipped with one of those babies.
People get famous for swimming the English Channel, but with a frog suit, you could swim the Atlantic Ocean without breaking a sweat.
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Mega Mushroom: New Super Mario Bros
Everyone gets a little angry sometimes. Some of us vent our frustration by playing violent video games or driving aggressively, while other people enjoy breaking things. Imagine the havoc you could wreak using a Mega Mushroom.
Those pencil pushers at city hall might think twice about not giving you a break on your parking ticket when you show up, 50 feet tall, and proceed to tear the roof off of the building.
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Cape: Super Mario World
Sure, there are easier ways to fly than by rhythmically rocking back and forth, and the whole experience is more likely to induce nausea than euphoria, but who can argue with a simple means of achieving flight and looking awesome while doing so?
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Starman: Many Mario Games
There's a reason this power up has appeared in practically every Mario Bros game. It doesn't take a genius to see the obvious advantage of limited invulnerability coupled with increased running speed. Sure, you could use your power to fight crime or help your country achieve battlefield prowess, but have you thought about the potential everyday applications of the Starman?
Crowded hallways or mall corridors would no longer be a problem. You could simply fire up your Starman power and plow through, sending those slow-moving mall walkers flying in every direction.
The Starman also has great escape potential. Next time your girlfriend utters the phrase, "we need to talk," just use a Starman and quickly find yourself in the next county.
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Tanooki Suit: Super Mario Bros 3
Oh, Tanooki Suit, what is it about you that makes so many gamers remember you so fondly? Is it the flight ability? Raccoon Mario could do that, too, but you, you had something extra. Tanooki Suit Mario could turn into a statue, pretty much for no reason whatsoever. Sure, enemies would walk by, but it was far less effort to simply jump over them or give them a whack with your Tanooki tail.
Imagine the real-life potential of this popular power up, though. You're trapped deep behind enemy lines, tasked with infiltrating an enemy stronghold. You silently sail over the walls then drift to the ground inside the complex by rhythmically wagging your tail. Once inside, you sneak past guards, turning at critical moments into a statue of a weird bear-thing and watching them walk past completely oblivious to your presence.
If you're detected, you just find a little running room and then take off into the night, leaving only the tell-tale high-pitched whistle of flight behind.
Man, I'd kill for a Tanooki Suit.