Jelly Mario is a short, free browser game in which you guide triple jumper and professional princess misplacer Mario Mario through a jellified version of his earliest levels. Hitting blocks no longer rewards you with powerful drugs, but often causes the blocks to slide away from you like confused ice cubes. And jumping on an enemy will no longer knock him cleanly off the screen, but cause both turtle and plumber to explode into microbial shards, leaving a small crater in the brickwork below. The whole thing is a terrible, beautiful distortion of childhood memories.
You can play an early version here. It’s made by Stefan Hedman, who points out how troubling the piranha plants become when you make them floppy (this encounter with Toad, from another player, is also very enjoyable). Basically, imagine Super Mario Bros, but all the levels are water levels, and all the water has been spiked with hot jelly.
The music is likewise a troubling rendition of the original. It changes tempo according to how fast your wobbly plumber is tumbling past the goombas and pitfalls of the level. Just when you think you’ve figured out the trick, pressing jump over and over in the air and “swimming” your way through the sky – BLAP. You hit a pipe, it bends and contorts, and all the music comes slumping out of your speakers again like a sluggish, sticky jam. It’s very unsettling.
It really starts messing with you in the second level, when some brickwork blocks become exploding messes, sending wobbly shards of the level flying everywhere. But my favourite moment is probably trying to jump onto the flag pole at the end of 1-1, and watching as it bends like a strawberry lace under the jelly weight of the plump protagonist.