To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros last month, Famitsu recently interviewed Shigeru Miyamoto.
Now, about the mushrooms: It’s been something of a staple of video game culture (and video game studies) to make a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that the mushrooms were a veiled drug reference. After all, you eat (or jump on) the mushrooms, and all kinds of strange things happen. You get “high” from collecting one (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).
Q: Why mushrooms, Shigeru?
A: Since the game’s set in a magical kingdom, I made the required power-up item a mushroom because you see people in folk tales wandering into forests and eating mushrooms all the time.
There we have it. It’s not that we can make amazing subversive counter-readings of video game symbolism to suggest that the mushrooms are related to drugs. It’s just what they officially mean.