About a month before Super Mario Odyssey’s launch, Nintendo released two teaser images of the game: one of Mario bundled up for frigid weather, and one of him shirtless and zipping around a beach. Seeing the nipples of the bare-chested icon for the first time launched a meme frenzy in the gaming community, and it has now inspired an actual competition in the speedrunning community called %Nipple.
Speedrunners make a sport of completing games as quickly as possible, often while completing a specific challenge. Within Super Mario Odyssey alone, there are a handful of specific categories. Low% tasks players with beating the game with as few moons or captures — via Mario’s hat-possession skill — as possible; True Any% is about completing a game as fast as possible with no restrictions. Now, players have set their sights on a new goal: stripping Mario down to his skivvies. The Nipple% run requires players to get to a shop and buy the “Boxer Shorts” outfit as quickly as possible to reveal Mario’s topless body to the world.
On SpeedRun.com, dozens of speedrunners across the world are doing exactly that. While the world record for getting Mario half-naked was once DaddyWalrus’ 24 minutes, 21 seconds record, players have managed to shave their times to under 10 minutes. Less than a week ago, Stravos96 achieved “The 9 Minute Nipple” with a run clocking in at 9 minutes, 57 seconds.
Link’s shirtless appearance in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild encouraged goofs of its own, but like the character himself, Mario’s bare torso has emerged as the most iconic. As for why it plays so well as a joke — well, it’s sort of like seeing your dad shirtless. At the very least, it settles a question many fans never knew they needed answered: does Mario have nipples?