Mario franchise strategy guide/Items/1-up Mushroom
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1-up Mushrooms are common items that appear in the Super Mario games. These mushrooms have green caps with white spots (originally orange caps with green spots). When Mario picks up one of these mushrooms, he will be given an extra try to beat the level (also known in video game terms as a 1-up).
These mushrooms appear in frequent Mario games, and are used for the same purpose in each game. They have also become used to represent advancement or gain in computer pop culture. The sound the game makes when Mario grabs the 1-up Mushroom has also become entrenched in pop culture, referenced by video-game players, alongside the sound made when Link picks up an item in a The Legend of Zelda game.
The 1-up Mushroom has also accumulated another connotation since the dominance of next-gen consoles like the PlayStation and the Xbox. It has come to represent identification with old school video gamers, a category of gamers who disavow the mainstreaming characteristics of next-generation game designers, licensors, and distributors, who have been accused of ignoring the fan base for the masses. Thus, the 1-up Mushroom is now part of an 8/16-bit lexicon that illustrates disapproval and resistance towards a perceived betrayal by the gaming industry and the standards by which 8 and 16-bit games should be judged. Shigeru Miyamoto wore a shirt at E3 2005 featuring the 1-up mushroom and text below it reading "1-up". These mushrooms are also known to appear in a wide variety of clothing and items. Some of these items include: shirts (and other forms of clothing), video-game console skins, and lanyards.
On April Fool's Day, 2006, online computer-geek store ThinkGeek offered a living version of this mushroom, supposedly imported from Kyoto, Japan. The spores packet claimed that eating this mushroom will grant immortality, although, of course, as an April Fool's joke, it was impossible to actually order one online.
Here is another take on the theme, discussing some of the philosophical issues regarding 1-up mushrooms.