Why Mario is the greatest video game character of all time.

I tire, frankly, of doing serious posts all the time. Yeah, J-RPGs are dead, mobile games are like digital dementors except that they’re better at sucking your soul out, and as I grumpily tell these young gamers to get off my lawn while I’m enjoying the nostalgia, I reflect on my younger days… I came home every day and enjoyed the hell out of some video games. I come home every day now and enjoy the hell out of completely different video games, and usually there’s beer involved now (another big plus!). So I’m going to stop bitching for a while, if it’s all the same to you!

Okay, maybe not about Zynga. Screw you, Zynga.

Okay, maybe not about Zynga. Screw you, Zynga.

Now, everybody loves Mario. If you don’t play games, you still know who Mario is, and if you hear the phrase, “It’s-a me…” you know what word comes next. He’s the title character for more games than any other video game hero in history, and he kicks serious ass in every game that he stars in (pun intended).

Let’s get the actual reasons why I love Mario out of the way first so I can descend later into nonsensical frothing-at-the-mouth devotion. Mario is THE standard game character. If there is a game with multiple playable characters, Mario’s stats are the closest to standard out of anyone. Mario Kart, Mario Golf, Mario Tennis, Mario Does The Weekly Shopping…? He’s the standard character, not too heavy, not too light. Even in games like Smash Bros., he’s designed to be a middle-of-the-road character, playable by anyone.

And then you’ve got the fact that his first games INTRODUCED an addictive, fun platforming experience that was nonexistent before him. It’s crazy to think about not having ANY good platforming games out there, considering that I could literally google “platformer” and run into about a thousand good free flash platformer games (including a flash Mario port, I may add). It’s one of the hugest “small-game” genres. Mario 64 was also an excellent, addictive, crazy-fun venture into the 3D world. I won’t say it’s perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but Mario 64 remains one of my nostalgia-est of nostalgia-y games, and not just because I played it when I was little.

I know I'm not the only person who would do this for 5 minutes before starting the game, either.

I know I’m not the only person who would do this for 5 minutes before starting the game, either.

You also have Super Mario Galaxy, which was a great game for the Wii that actually used the controls in a meaningful way (what an idea!!). So all around, Mario’s a good guy who has been fostering innovation in games since, like, forever.

Now that I’ve given you several valid reasons to love our little Italian (Japanese) friend, we’ll be moving on to the next section:

Why I Have a Bro-Crush on Mario

Oh, Mario. You poor little dude, thrown into a world of things you can stomp on and things you can’t, all to save a beautiful princess. What a touching story that is.

Mario’s not a hero, folks. Mario’s a plumber. You wanna know why you never see him plumbing? BECAUSE HE’S TOO BUSY SAVING THE FLIPPIN’ PRINCESS YOU NOOB. You look at Link: chosen one, prophesied hero with a magic sword. Starfox: military-trained pilot with some wicked technology and a team that helps him out, doing exactly what he was taught how to do. Kirby: hungry enough to save the world even on a bad day. Master Chief: the last of a SUPERHUMAN RACE of SUPERHUMANS. He just tears shit up!

But our dear Mario is a plumber. Everybody knows it. I’m sure he’d be perfectly happy doing that for a living, but somehow he’s always putting on his best hat and going on an adventure. I see him like a video game hobbit: grudgingly accepting the fact that he’s needed elsewhere, even though he’d rather sit at home. Mario is a man who knows what duty is, even though he wasn’t born to be a hero. Bravo, Mario.

Mario is also in control. Link may think he’s mastered the “silent hero” type, but Mario had him beat way before that. In other games, you might have an existential crisis, you might have internal struggles about the right thing to do. You might have a heartfelt talk before a mission the main character probably won’t come back from. With Mario? Nope! He takes each level one at a time, walking through the finish line with a quiet grace, not grieving for the Goombas he’s killed, nor celebrating his victory. He goes through the darkest caverns, the most terrifying volcanoes and ghost houses, and through other dimensions to save his beloved princess, and not a single word of complaint ever comes out from beneath that moustache, except for an occasional “Mama-mia!” And you think he’s not aware of his fate? Jumping down into the lava or spikes, you think he’s afraid? No, Mario knows he lives in a cruel, uncaring universe and chooses to face his doom. Mario has more guts than all of the other video game heroes combined.

Mario is persistent! After so many adventures in so many lands, you’d think he’d retire and leave the princess to be devoured by Bowser. But even as his glorious moustache begins to be streaked with gray, he presses on. That’s dedication.

Mario is always well-dressed.

Wow, most girls would KILL for a closet that big.

Mario has interesting hobbies, from the abovementioned sports to an amateur medical practice, furry cosplaying, and painting. He also likes to party it up! He’s even starred in his own dystopian video game future miniseries. There’s got to be a reason the princess doesn’t stay with him, even after all that…

And, because all of these things, I have realized one thing: Mario is… the Neil Patrick Harris of video games.

See you on Monday!
~AG

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About Isaac Smith

I write about music, technology, video games, and probably many other subjects that don't bear mentioning here. Either way, most of it's worth reading, and you may even enjoy yourself!

Posted on August 23, 2013, in Miscellaneous and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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