Game Theory: Why Mario is Mental, Part 1
Move over, Walter White, there’s a new anti-hero in town, and his name is Mario Jumpman Mario [Game Theory Theme Plays] Hello, Internet Welcome to Game Theory! Where we put the “O!” in Super Mario. Huh, sorry, “Super” Mario? More like Super Villain! Because behind those plump cheeks, that bulbous nose and that 80’s pornstar mustache is a truly evil man. And let me make it clear: no, that’s not a joke. This isn’t a “syke, fooled you guys!” moment like we did when we were disproving Mario’s communist connections, nor is this mere speculation like when we looked at the franchise’s link to staged kidnappings. No, after doing the research I am convinced that this so-called hero of the Mushroom Kingdom is in fact a murderous, womanizing, animal abuser; a cruel, misanthropic sociopath. Do I have your attention now? Get ready to have your worlds rocked, theorists, ’cause this one is going to be a doozy that will forever change how you feel about gaming’s biggest mascot! The warning signs were present from the very beginning: Donkey Kong for the arcade featured Mario’s first appearance, but even in those early days, something was off. The story, as we know it, goes like this: A giant ape steals Mario’s girlfriend, and the heroic Italian must get her back. That’s it. And it sounds good in theory, but have you ever stopped to consider why Donkey Kong steals the girl in the first place? Of course not. Raised on movies like “King Kong” and years of damsel-in-distress fairytales we just assume we’re the good guys, fighting the evil primate to save the girl. But you know what they say about assuming, don’t you? It makes an ass out of you and me. Here’s the truth, or rather, the rest of the story. Did you know that Mario was Donkey Kong’s master? That he abused the ape, which is why D.K. broke free and stole away with Mario’s GF. To get even. Yeah, that’s a factoid you don’t hear Nintendo trumpeting about their red-clad cash cow! Now you would be one hundred percent correct in asking me: “Well, where does it say that Mario was D.K.’s master?” The arcade game didn’t come with a story and ports to Atari and Coleco Vision give a vague “Mario must save the girl” plot. Other sources like Cracked.com or Wikipedia cite the book “Geektionary”, which I checked out, but here at GT we try not to to rest until we have primary sources. So I dug a little deeper, and found this. I give you: Donkey Kong Circus, from the Game & Watch Gallery, the prequel to the original Donkey Kong where we see Jumpman’s side business where he just so happens to be running a circus show and the star attraction: Donkey Kong. D.K. juggling pineapples and avoiding fireballs all while balancing atop a barrel. Made to look like a fool, forced to burn his hands, scolded and laughed at when missing a pineapple clearly not the proper way for a great ape to be treated. A master willfully putting his pet into uncomfortable situations, physically injuring them with fire, laughing at and humiliating them, Mario’s lucky that the Tanooki suit is the only thing that got PETA’s attention! Ohoho, but dear theorists, we’ve only just begun. If we’re talking Mario’s predilection for animal abuse, we don’t even need to troll the obscure reaches of the Game & Watch Gallery- Mario doesn’t do much to hide his violent tendencies. In the wake of Donkey Kong, upset at being forced to climb girders for his girl, Mario punishes his freshly captured ape in their next game together: Donkey Kong Jr. where he tears Donkey Kong away from his son, cages him up, and then uses a whip to defend his prize. In the final screen, Mario even whips birds to do his bidding! But what’s worse than his treatment of the adult Kong is his abuse of the younger ape. Think about what we’re seeing here: Mario is forcing a baby monkey to cheat death in order to rescue his father! Just look at the utter distress and the fear on that poor ape’s young face! In the third screen, he uses a lever to actively try to electrocute D.K. Jr. Let me reiterate that point: Mario, this icon of gaming, paragon of heroism, tries to electrocute a baby monkey for rescuing his father, a father who was put in danger and humiliated in a circus show run by a red-wearing carpenter who wields a whip. This is the behavior that we have ignored and overlooked, dear gamers. And this is the information that Nintendo has been happy to silently sweep under the rug. But wait, that’s not all. We’re pulling all the skeletons out of the closet this time. Mario is an equal opportunity animal abuser; he also hates insects. Take, for instance, Wigglers. Innocent, happy caterpillars that, across the Mario franchise, show absolutely zero intentions of ever hurting Mario. The have fu*ing daisies on their heads for crying out loud! And what does our “hero” do? He ruins their home not once, but twice, in both Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine. Then, after trashing their homes, he proceeds to jump on them, crushing them to death. An innocent creature who did nothing wrong but get upset when his home was violated. From this perspective, Mario is no better than a child burning ants with a magnifying glass. torturing small insects just for fun. And Wigglers are only one of multiple examples. That’s not even mentioning creatures like Cheep Cheeps, fish who are just swimming around peacefully not even attacking Mario, who get targeted, burned alive by Mario’s fiery vengeance. But let’s cut the guy some slack. Wigglers and the rest are “enemies” in the game because, you know, Mario’s supposedly the hero and stuff. What’s inexcusable though, is his mistreatment of his family and his allies. Take, for instance, the Yoshi. We learn in the beginning of Yoshi’s Island that these cute dinos are responsible for saving Mario’s life! To recap: A stork drops baby Mario, who, as luck would have it, lands safely on the back of a Yoshi. The rest of the game has a team of Yoshis Yoshii? Yoshis. Yoshis risking their lives to reunite the baby with his kidnapped brother, then delivering the two back to their parents. A cute story, right? Heartwarming. Get’s ye’ right there. Well, fast forward to adult Mario, hopping once more atop his trusted and loyal friend to save the day and- wait, he just punched him. Look again: Mario punches the Yoshis to get them to extend their tongue. You can even see the Yoshi flinch before it happens! He is physically beating this animal to get it to do what he wants it to do. And let’s not forget that Mario will drop a Yoshi into a pit without hestitation just to get a couple extra inches out of his jump. A pit that, time and time again has clearly been shown to result in death. Once again, we don’t just see animal abuse- we see family abuse. Lest we forget, this is Yoshi, the same creature who had to deal with this [baby Mario’s obnoxious crying] and this [final boss Bowser music] to keep baby Mario safe. These tender-hearted dinosaurs are practically family and what do they get? A punch and a pit! Disposable like tissues. If only they had fed that obnoxious baby to a Piranha Plant, the Mushroom Kingdom would be a happier, and safer, place. Speaking of abusing family though, this next one, in my opinion, is Mario’s worst sin: his treatment of Luigi. Now, stop for a minute and look at this guy. He’s an adorable coward, an awkward wannabe hero who thinks the world of his brother. Look at the way he reacts at the ending of Luigi’s Mansion when he sees his brother is safe. Even though it’s told mostly through gestures and goofy sounds, his joy is moving. Without doubt, Luigi is one of the sweetest, most genuine characters in gaming. In Paper Mario, you can read his secret diary which goes on and on for pages about how much he admires Mario, how much he wishes he could go on these adventures, how he’s asked over and over to be included on the next big quest. And what we read is that Mario has crushed those dreams, crushed them like the thousands of Goombas he’s crushed under his fat Italian weight. denying his brother any chance of fulfilling his dreams of living a happy life. But it gets worse than sheer neglect. Look at the ending of New Super Mario Brothers Wii. Luigi flies in, offers Mario and Peach room in his balloon, and then they just fly off without him. They don’t acknowledge his existence, they don’t thank him, they don’t invite him to fly with them, they just flat out ignore him. He is less than the Koopa remnant on the bottom of Mario’s shoes. Luigi doesn’t get any thanks at the end of Mario is Missing, either. After Luigi has completed this quest, Mario just strolls out and stands there, fu*ing stands there, no thank you, no nothing, just staring at his brother like: “I hope you liked the lamest adventure in our franchise, bro, ’cause the most you’re ever going to get.” But what’s disgusting, and I mean DISGUSTING, is Mario’s behavior at the end of Mario Power Tennis. Yeah, we’re pulling out the real obscure games to get to the heart of this [email protected]#$. Does it sound like I’m fired up? Yeah, ’cause I’m fired up. I am angry that I have been deceived by this sleazeball plumber for decades; that I have called him a hero, that I have been his fanboy. Here’s why: In Mario Power Tennis, if Luigi wins, this is what happens: he celebrates. For once, this perpetual Player 2, this second fiddle gets his chance in the spotlight. People are cheering for him, a stadium full of people are celebrating Luigi, he’s holding a trophy, and what does Mario do? The brother who Luigi would love the approval of more than anything else, what does he do? Walks up to him, applauding, laughing, slaps him on the back and then grinds his shoe into his brother’s foot! Stands there and grinds it in. [Mario Power Tennis music and Mario’s sporadic laughter] Still smiling, still laughing. He is so unfeeling, so bereft of love or affection for anything or anyone, even his own brother, he’s unwilling to let Luigi have even the smallest of victory in a game that no one cares about. And look at Luigi: his moment of glory is ruined! The brother he thought would be proud of him in this moment of victory instead trashes upon it! It flies completely against everything Luigi has ever associated with his brother and the look on his face proves it! He’s confused, he’s bewildered, and we should be too. We’ve been lied to, and if nothing else I’ve talked about today shows Mario’s disturbing, cruel nature this moment, this willingness to smile in your face while doing something completely awful and selfish shows how evil he is! And you know what? There’s more, lots more. Besides torturing monkeys, besides destroying the homes of animals, beyond beating and killing dinosaurs and beyond being a cruel, heartless brother. Mario’s sins continue, so join me next week- yes, next week, as we conclude our trial of gaming’s biggest icon, exposing his fondness for women and murder. Have I convinced you yet? If not, there’s still plenty more to go. In the meantime, it’s just a theory. A game theory! Thanks for watching! [record scratching] Seriously though, have I convinced you? Well, click on one to vote, and before you do, make sure you subscribe so that you don’t miss next week’s thrilling conclusion. And last time, Charmander won by 3% over Squirtle; Bulbasaur, sadly, didn’t have a chance.