Welcome to The Weekly Wizard, the weekly segment of Miketendo64 brought to you by the dark magics of Wizard Dojo, where I look at the current goings-on with Nintendo, or take a retrospective look at their past.
Super Mario is weird. It always has been. But somewhere along the line, it seems we all took its weirdness for granted. Perhaps it’s because of Mario’s status as the “face of gaming” or because it’s a multimillion dollar franchise, but somehow, we all kind of forgot just how baffling weird Mario is.
This is a series in which two cartoonish, Italian plumbers save a fairy tale princess from a Mushroom Kingdom from villainous turtles, in which said plumbers can gain super powers from flowers, stars, mushrooms and hats, all while they ride on top of a cute dinosaur and travel across worlds that are often named after food. And there are usually some ghosts and brick monsters thrown in for good measure.
Again, Mario is weird.
As stated, somewhere along the line, we all stopped noticing how weird Mario is. Super Mario Galaxy was perhaps the weirdest Mario game to date, yet few really seemed to mention all its oddities like traveling across space apples via giant worms. We had become so accustomed to Mario’s weirdness that most didn’t pay it much mind, we just paid attention to how good the games were.
And then Super Mario Odyssey happened. With one trailer, Super Mario Odyssey brought the weirdness of Mario back to the forefront of our minds. Most notably of all, its realistic-looking humans caused quite a stir, as they make for a severe contrast with Mario’s cartoonish appearance. But then we also have evil bunnies, Sugar Skull people, a psychedelic food-themed world, Bowser wearing a fancy tux, and a perpetual hat motif (Mario’s hat has eyes, flies in a top hat-shaped spaceship, etc.).
Suddenly, we all remembered the weirdness that makes up the foundations of the Super Mario series. And truthfully, that weirdness – combined with the consistency in quality of the games themselves, as well as the music – is what made us all love the series to begin with.
Zelda is straight-up fantasy. Metroid is straight-up sci-fi. But Super Mario can be whatever it wants to be, and can drastically change from one game to the next. Why? Because it’s weird. It’s a surrealistic, Japanese fairytale that feels liberated from any one, specific genre. In fact, it’s probably the most prolific work of surrealism of modern times, and it took Super Mario Odyssey to remind us all of that.
People often use the word “weird” as a derogetory term (something which, I personally, have never understood). But it’s because of weirdness that things like Super Mario can be so imaginative. It has no set rules for its universe to adhere to but its own, which it can rewrite as it pleases.
Mario has gone from cleaning tropical islands of multicolored goop to braving the far reaches of outer space. He’s gone from being a baby on the back of a dinosaur to jumping into paintings. He’s gone from flying with racoon tails to unlocking the secrets of a “Star World.” He’s saved the Mushroom Kingdom from a villainous, robot anvil trying to steal people’s wishes to fighting a bean-witch and her grammatically-impaired henchmen.
Yet, for the longest time, we put all that in the back of our minds. But with Super Mario Odyssey, our acknowledgement of Mario’s weirdness has been unlocked once again. Let’s hope it’s here to stay, and here’s hoping Super Mario Odyssey is the weirdest Mario of them all.
That’s all for this week’s edition of The Weekly Wizard. What do you think? Do like how insane the Mario series is? Or are those realistic-looking people just too creepy? Be sure to let me know in the comments, and feel free to check out my site for more gaming (and movie) related goodies, WizardDojo.com. And look out for the next edition of The Weekly Wizard next week.