Mario Bowl
Image: kikai

Over the years, there have been a lot of obscure Mario spin-offs, but did you know that back in 1995 Nintendo partnered with a bowling equipment manufacturer named Brunswick to produce a Mario-themed scorekeeping game for Japanese bowling alleys? Well, we certainly didn't.

The game titled Mario Bowl only recently came to our attention in the last few weeks thanks to stumbling down a rabbit hole of Japanese social media posts, blogs, and YouTube videos, where people have been posting some incredible new photos and videos of bowling alleys that still have the software in operation nearly 30 years later (locations such as The Sun Park Lanes in Matsusaka City in Mie Prefecture & Kakitagawa Park Lanes in Shimizu Town, Shizuoka Prefecture).

From what we've been able to gather, it features graphics similar to Super Mario World and sees players selecting their characters based on the order in which they register their details into the scorekeeping machine. Player one, for instance, will always be Mario, whereas player two will be Luigi, and so on.

As you can imagine, there are no controllers to play the game, with the interactive elements instead relating to your bowling performance. Players will start on a scene resembling the stage Yoshi's Island 4 from Super Mario World, with the player being punished or rewarded for strikes or gutter balls by being transported to either a lava stage or a castle stage. There are also unique Mario-themed screens that play whenever a person gets a strike or a spare, as well as a podium screen that appears at the end to show which player is the winner.

You can take a closer look at the game in this video from the Japanese YouTuber kikai or find some more images over on miki800's blog.