Hold the Mushrooms: Mario Hops Into UK Happy Meals

If you love video games about Italian plumbers rescuing princes in alternative dimensions filled with mushrooms and you've got friends or relatives in the United Kingdom, email them right now and demand they hook you up next week with a McDonald's Happy Meal.

Image: Mario, one of eight "Mario"-themed Happy Meal available from McDonalds, but only in the UK.
Mario, one of eight "Mario"-themed Happy Meal available from McDonalds, but only in the UK. Nintendo

"Mario"-maker Nintendo has new deal with the fast food restaurant chain to include toy versions of many of its classic video game characters in Happy Meals sold across the pond.

Beginning March 19th, UK McDonald's customers will be able to purchase Happy Meals that come with a licensed Nintendo toy. The action figures include Mario and Luigi (of course), along with Toad, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, and a Super Mushroom power-up. That's the red 'schroom that makes Mario and co. increase in size in the games. Don't try eating this one, though, as it probably won't increase your real world hit points the same way.

Despite the unhealthy reputation of both fast food and video games, Nintendo said that the "Run, Jump and Power-Up with Super Mario" promotional event is designed to promote healthy behavior among its youth audience.

"It aims to inspire children to get active using some of Super Mario’s moves," Nintendo said in a press release. "They will be encouraged to run, jump and complete active tasks set out by Mario and friends."

The campaign is running until April 29th in the UK. There's no official word yet on whether or not it will come to the U.S. or other McDonald's-friendly regions. But given Nintendo's continued struggle with weak sales for its new Wii U console, the company needs campaigns like this to recapture the youth audience many analysts fear the company has lost to smartphone and tablets, after all. Earlier this year, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said that the company was planning to "expand its character licensing business" to help get Mario's name out there again.

Let's just hope that he can still fit through all those green pipes after a few orders hamburgers and fries.