The Fitzgerald Scale – Mike’s Favourite Super Mario Power-Ups

Every lover of the Super Mario games will know that Mario can often be aided in his battle with the villainous Princess-pinching King Bowser by picking up any in a long list of precious power-ups. These power-ups can make Mario bigger, smaller, temporarily invincible, able to fling projectiles or even straight-up fly, which makes traversing some of the more difficult levels and boss battles in each game a tad more tolerable.

Today, I’ll be listing my own personal 5 favourite power-ups that Mario has used over his many years of battles with the forces of villainy. Of course, this isn’t any kind of objective list and is purely subjective, and thus, it is at the mercy of my own personal tastes. If I exclude some power-ups that you feel deserve inclusion, then please share them in the comments. There was a big selection to choose from, but I’m ultimately happy with what I’ve gone for.


5 – Starman (Super Mario Land)

This is, of course, a power-up that has long been part of Mario’s arsenal as the touch of a magical star makes him invincible for a set period of time, during which he can destroy all in his path with a single touch. What I like about this power-up in the Game Boy game Super Mario Land, however, is the choice of music. Instead of the regular Starman theme that most players will be used to, the cancan hilariously blares out instead as you trounce all the futuristic alien-like baddies that stand in your way. Yes, for those not acquainted with the Game Boy Mario games, they were made by different people and didn’t quite follow the same formula as the console releases, meaning that sometimes you got wacky stuff like this.

I actually count myself as a fan of Super Mario Land, so I like the fact it goes in slightly weirder and kookier directions in comparison to its console brethren, so the bizarre music choice for this power-up serves merely to amuse me, and that’s why this version of Starman would be my personal favourite.


4 – Penguin Suit (New Super Mario Brothers Wii)

I was originally going to go with the Frog power-up from Super Mario Bros. 3 here as the ability it gave you to swim with genuine accuracy and pace was an absolute delight. However, I eventually plumped for the Penguin power-up instead as not only does it make it easier for you to swim, but you can also slide along the floor to take out baddies with it and fling snowballs to freeze them in their tracks.

Both power-ups are great examples of the wacky sort of things you can find in a Mario game, but ultimately, I plumped for the Penguin one as it’s just more useful overall than the Frog one, which is all but useless when used out of the water due to how cumbersome and slow Mario moves when he wears it. With the Penguin power-up, he can still move around at a good clip and also has additional abilities to deploy, which makes using it all that more fun.


3 – Cat Suit (Super Mario 3D World)

Super Mario 3D World is probably the most fun I had playing a 3D Mario game ever. I’ve just always tended to prefer the pugnacious plumber’s 2D efforts, but 3D World was so enjoyable that it won me over to the notion. One reason I loved it so much was the Cat power-up, which would see Mario/Luigi/Princess/Toad don a fetching cat outfit, complete with claws and tail.

This power-up not only allowed you to move more quickly and slash away at enemies with your claws, but it could also be used to scamper up walls to reach previously unreachable areas of the level. It was a power-up I was always thrilled to get my hands on, and I had oodles of fun seeing the Mario posse sprinting around the colourful and well-designed 3D World on all fours.


2 – Tanooki Suit (Super Mario Bros. 3)

The Tanooki Suit is perhaps one of the more recognisable power-ups in the Mario canon, mostly because of its connection with real world Japanese mythology. Ultimately, the power-up works a lot like the leaf power-up from the same game as touching it will see Mario sprout a raccoon tail that will allow him to fly. How the Tanooki suit differs though is that it gives Mario the ability to briefly turn himself into a statue, which makes him invulnerable from enemy attacks until he transforms back.

In practice you probably won’t be using the latter ability that much and instead will be bonking baddies with the tail before taking flight, but it’s nice that the option is there and the suit itself just looks really cool. The scarcity of the suit in the game itself meant that you would tread carefully when the opportunity to wield it presented itself, and it remains one of my favourite Mario power-ups.


1 – Fire Flower (Super Mario World)

It might surprise some that I’ve gone with the Fire Flower as my favourite Mario power-up, especially as there have been so many more interesting and weird power-ups to choose from. However, I believe the simplicity of the Fire Flower plays an important role in why it has lasted so long whilst other power-ups haven’t stuck around.

The Fire Flower is pretty much what its name suggests, it’s a flower that when collected will give Mario the power to fling fireballs at all the mischievous nasties who are trying to take him down. Simple but effective, but in a nice twist collecting the flower will also cause the colour of Mario’s clothes to change, with most versions seeing Mario’s dungarees turn white to highlight the white hot nature of his new abilities.

I’ve plumped for the Super Mario World version of the Fire Flower as it has a special ability of turning the enemies you attack with it into coins, which means that not only can you clear the way of enemies, but you can also collect the coins they leave as a way of increasing your chances of earning another life. Plus, few things look cooler than Luigi rocking an awesome white and green outfit.

The Urban Dictionary defines “The Fitzgerald Scale” as “A scale used to measure the awkwardness of a situation. The Fitzgerald Scale is divided into ten subunits, called ‘Geralds’. Each Gerald is in turn divided into ten Subgeralds, which gives 100 possible levels of awkwardness. One Gerald is a commonly awkward level, where a ten Gerald situation would be a scarring event.”

Man, the atmosphere of that party was off the Fitzgerald Scale when we decided to leave


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