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Back in the 1990s it seemed like games had all sorts of crazy mysteries and secrets tucked away in their code. Well, one gamer decided to ask Nintendo directly about one of the longest running myths about Super Mario 64, and he, surprisingly, got a response.
Over on the Retro Gaming sub-Reddit, a user named b0nd18t posted up a photocopy of a message he received from Nintendo of America's consumer service department, specifically from a game play counselor named Michael D. Chandler. In the letter they address two things that user b0nd18t asked about: the 'L is Real' message on the statue in Super Mario 64, and the sound that Big Boo makes when you kick the Bowser picture in the castle.
In the first instance, Chandler explains that it was just a joke by the developers, writing...
[...] you asked why the "L is Real" message is on the statue in Super Mario 64. Many people think it's a hint that Luigi is in the game and it has something to do with a special code. The real answer is that the programmers put it in there as a joke. They thought people would try and try to figure out what it means. It doesn't have any meaning at all.
The meaning has circulated around the net for a while, with plenty of people thinking that it would unlock access to Luigi in some way. It turns out that there is no Luigi in the game and there was no secret way to unlock him.
Nevertheless, that didn't stop people from trying. Many assumed that maybe there was some hidden method tucked deep within Super Mario 64 in order to unlock Luigi, especially since Yoshi was featured in the game briefly with a cameo. Surely most people thought that Luigi would be present? Well, Chandler doesn't actually confirm nor deny the presence of Luigi. He keeps it completely on topic regarding the message on the statue.
Does this mean Luigi is actually in the game? No. This has long been a rumor for the ages and there are a tons of fake YouTube videos out there trying to tell people how to unlock Luigi. The reality is that the only way Luigi is accessible in Super Mario 64 is through ROM hacks. Some modders and programmers have managed to implement Luigi into the game and even enable two-player cooperative play. However, in the vanilla game he's not present in any capacity.
Chandler also addresses the noise that erupts from the Bowser portrait in the upper room of the castle when you kick it. The Big Boo noise is literally just a sound and it doesn't actually mean anything.
It's nice that Nintendo was able to finally put to rest this long running myth, and now it can be ultimately said that one of those longstanding questions have been answered. It may not be what gamers actually wanted to hear, but it is what it is. The Reddit thread also sports some people commenting how similar questions and myths from other games like Goldeneye 64 also had them searching for answers and clues for years on end.
In the end, though, sometimes there's nothing really to it other than the programmers adding in some content to have a few laughs at the expense of the audience, which is what happened with Super Mario 64.