MDMA pills come in all shapes, sizes and doses, many of which are often pressed into the logos of various brands or (usually bad) celebs. For years, people have been popping pills that look like Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin or Marvel’s The Punisher (the latter is reportedly the “world’s strongest” ecstasy pill, containing 477 milligrams of MDMA) or tabs designed to mimic the logos of Tesla, Sprite or Facebook. (In 2019, harm reduction organization The Loop warned that many of these pills contained a dangerously high dosage of MDMA — some have even been linked to deaths).
But it appears that one brand in particular is especially popular with drug users: Nintendo. As well as cylindrical pills pressed with the Nintendo logo, there are also offerings in the shape of Donkey Kong, Pikachu, Yoshi Kid and, most notably, Wario.
Wario is a Super Mario character, who’s the evil archnemesis of the series’ protagonist, Mario. It’s unclear exactly when and where the pills first emerged, but posts online about them seem to date back to 2019, while the DrugsData report appeared to source them from Switzerland. The Wario pills are usually light or dark pink, and per a 2019 KnowDrugs report, can contain over 300 milligrams of MDMA — which is double what’s considered to be a high dose. Therefore, they can be potentially lethal if taken all at once.
The rumored high dosage could be, in part, because of their size. Wario pills are especially boxy at approximately 10 millimeters by 11 millimeters by 10 millimeters, while the aforementioned Nintendo pills are about half as tall and deep. Meanwhile, Tesla pills are roughly 10 millimeters by 11 millimeters by three millimeters, also a smaller volume than their Wario brethren. However, it could be that the Warios are more highly concentrated — as someone on Reddit suggested, dealers might do this to avoid carrying more pills on them, and therefore protecting themselves if they get stopped (meaning that in some cases, they may be charged with possession rather than dealing). Either way, for anyone considering taking them, it’s worth testing them for purity first, then starting out with a quarter of a pill.
But despite the pill’s strength, the (limited) reviews on Reddit appear to be mostly positive. “Really good roll,” wrote redditor Bvr. “These are really good!! Had a blast!” It’s unclear how much of the pill Bvr took, though. For reference, one user, commenting under a post about the Wario pills, recalled a time when they took a tablet that contained 350 milligrams of MDMA. “I ended up overdosing in a Target parking lot at 3 a.m.,” they said. “It felt like my heart was gonna give out.”
High and potential overdose aside, Super Mario superfans are going crazy over the fact that they even exist — mostly by meme-ing them into The Matrix. “You take the blue pill… the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe,” wrote Twitter user @sd_eclipse, quoting the film. “You take the Wario pill… you stay in Mario land, and I show you how deep the warp pipe goes.” Someone else Photoshopped the pill into Wario’s stomach, and tweeted it alongside the caption: “I can never fail when I’ve taken the Wario pill.”
Although these kinds of memes emerge all the time, the Wario pill hit the headlines in June 2019, when a 27-year-old man was caught with over 100 of them in Japan. This news also sparked its own memes. “WAHAHA! It is I, WARIO!!! I’ve been arrested for distributing MDMA in Japan! Help me!!!” one Twitter user joked.
Despite warnings that ecstasy is being “increasingly being marketed with child-friendly logos,” character or logo-shaped pills are, as Forbes previously pointed out, likely created simply because it’s a good marketing technique. Mitchell Gomez, the executive director of harm reduction organization DanceSafe, told the publication that the phenomenon is “about recognition,” adding that “people remember corporate logos, and it’s a way to piggyback on their popularity as well as an easy way to describe a particular press.”
But, for whatever reason, these pills do often seem to be more potent than other MDMA pills — meaning it’s essential for users to test them beforehand and go easy on dosage. Then, once you’re sure you’re taking it safely, you can let it turn you into a-me, Wario!