When you think of Mario’s bright and cheery adventures, gambling is unlikely to come into your mind. Well, perhaps you’ve visited Princess Peach’s Rec room in Super Mario 64 DS and placed a few sneaky bets on a game of ‘Luigi’s Thrilling Cards’, and whilst I doubt it’ll be the first thing you think of when Mario is on your mind, the sight of Luigi in a tuxedo dealing at the table is a difficult one to forget.
Regardless, Mario playing cards are hardly a rarity (it’s not difficult to slap the plumber’s mug on a King and call it a day), but it’s easy to see that this series of playing cards up for pre-order in Japan take a more refined and high quality approach to the idea. They’re not quite cards of Hanafuda quality, but the three sets available each take a different visual approach that will likely offer something to your tastes. Set ‘NAP-06‘ (pictured above) offers a more ‘mature’ style, using clean cut, classic character artwork in a combination of subtle red and grey tones that surprisingly suits the normally brightly coloured Mario characters very well. The case artwork’s smart design that utilises an attractive mixture of colours in combination with subdued underlying stripes that are vaguely reminiscent of the in-game character artwork for Super Mario 3D World; certainly a treat for the eyes.
Perhaps you’re on a Super Mario Maker kick following the recent Nintendo World Championships? (If you haven’t seen it, check out the final round, if it doesn’t sell you on Super Mario Maker, I don’t know what will!) If so, maybe set ‘NAP-04‘, which offers a fun variety of styles ranging from the original Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World and New Super Mario Bros. U (as seen above), cleverly using a different game for each suit. These are my personal favourite, in part thanks to the collage-like case art that takes a chaotic, brightly coloured leaf out of Mario Maker’s book.
The final set, ‘NAP-05‘, takes a more commonplace approach, using well-known character artwork of your favourite Mushroom Kingdom residents (albeit with the Japanese versions of their names dramatically sprawled across each card). This is likely more suited to the kids, although take my advice, ‘Luigi’s Thrilling Cards’ is not a game for the faint-hearted.
If these cards take your fancy, you can find a link to their Amazon.jp pre-order pages by clicking on the name of each set!