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Hidden Mario image discovered in Astal for SEGA Saturn

Did you know that the SEGA Saturn platformer Astal contains an unused sprite featuring Mario?

Back during the height of the Nintendo-SEGA rivalry, it wasn’t uncommon for the two companies to throw jabs at each other into their products. It was most common in advertising, but every once and a while, a game would feature a subtle poke at their respective adversary. Case in point: Astal for the SEGA Saturn, which contains an image of Nintendo’s mascot Mario.

This image is never actually seen in the game, and its inclusion is baffling to say the least. Unused data is left behind all the time, but very rarely does it contain stuff as specifically bizarre as this. The fact that Mario is rendered in a distinctly SEGA style just makes it all the more confusing.

Earlier this month, Yoshino on Twitter made a post highlighting this strange sprite. According to them, the image is located at 0xFE90 of APT.BIN in the game’s files.

What’s up with this picture of Mario in Astal?

Yoshio isn’t the first to discover this Mario sprite. It’s been known among many in the Astal community, especially data miners for years. It’s not known who on the development team drew this art or for what purpose.

Many speculate that this was one of SEGA’s many intentional nods to its rivalry with Nintendo and that you’d be able to interact with the sprite in the game. Considering the sprite’s less “Nintendo-esque” appearance, this might initially make sense. However, it would be very unlikely that SEGA would allow such an explicit image of Mario to appear in the game for fear of repercussions from Nintendo.

Another theory is that Mario’s sprite was meant to be used as a test graphic. Test graphics allow programmers to try out mechanics currently being worked on without waiting for the final artwork. Drawing a full character like this is pretty out of the ordinary for this application, but it’s possible an artist wanted to have a little fun while working on the game.

What do you think of this little Mario graphic in Astal? Let us know!

Via The Gamer.

Daniel Hein

Daniel Hein is either A) a lifelong video game fanatic, writer, and storyteller just sharing his thoughts on things, or B) some kind of werewolf creature. We're not quite sure which yet. He also makes mediocre video game retrospectives (and other content!) on YouTube where you can watch him babble on for hours about nothing.
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