Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Nintendo Needs To Reboot Mario and Luigi

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 30 Apr 2013 12:00
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So, apparently Nintendo won't be putting on a major presentation at E3 this year. I suppose there's even more of an idea shortage over there than I thought. Maybe they need more time to think of something to do with Mario.

You know that Mario Brothers movie from the 90's, the one with Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo? Every time I hear someone bring that up, it's usually by saying "In a strange way, I liked that film," or "I'm probably the only person who thought that film was quite good". Every single time. I think we, as a culture, should probably all collectively agree that everyone kind of liked the Mario Brothers movie. And therefore the Mario Brothers movie might actually have been good.

Well, personally I think it was the best movie one could possibly have gotten out of the inherently stupid idea that is making a live-action movie out of Super Mario Brothers. At least everyone seemed to be having fun with it. Beforehand, if someone had said "Dennis Hopper playing Bowser", you probably wouldn't have pictured anything better than the performance he put in. Reimagining a cheerful, colorful, cartoonish universe as a dark, dystopian - if campy - science fiction story might have been a bit of a lurch, but why not? Honestly. That's the kind of outside-the-box thinking the property could use right about now.

Every possible angle for Mario as he is officially portrayed by Nintendo has kinda been explored, and for once I think this is a situation that calls for a reboot. Not the lazy kind that's just the same idea again with current generation graphics and the dust brushed off, but a test of the core concepts explained in an entirely different tone and visual style.

The setting of the Mario videogames is one that certainly does call for explanation, just to the extent of explaining why two Italian plumbers are the only human beings in a kingdom of cartoon monsters and physically inept toadstool people, with the rather glaring exception of the kingdom's female monarch. Which isn't even encroaching upon the further mystery of why said plumbers are the go-to troubleshooters for every single crisis that strikes the nation. It's only in the film and TV adaptations that any attempts have been made to explain how this situation came about. By all of those accounts it's because Mario and Luigi, Italian-Americans originally from Brooklyn, were serendipitously transported to a strange alien world while on a plumbing job, a world in which they now reside permanently either by choice or inability to return home. We are officially disregarding Yoshi's Island, by the way.

I think it was Moviebob who I once heard draw a parallel between this backstory and that of Superman. You have a character who is mundane in their home environment, but is transported to an alien environment where something ubiquitous that the locals consider normal - the yellow sun in one case and mushrooms in the other - has extraordinary empowering effects upon their biology. Acquiring a sense of importance and belonging that they never had in their home worlds, the heroes accept the responsibility to defend these kindly weaker beings.

The presence of the human Princess Peach, I think, could be a situation similar to Lord British's role in the Ultima series, which is also about someone mundane from one world being a hero in another. Lord British originated from the same world as the hero, but came along much earlier and has already gone through all the heroic business you're tasked with. Peach must be another migrant from Earth who long ago kicked some arse John Carter of Mars style until they made her the leader.

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