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Princess-centric Super Mario spinoff ideas

‘Maybe Mario never even saved her.’

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Last week marked the 30th anniversary of Super Mario Bros, the videogame that made Nintendo a household name and led to the entire epoch of console videogames, back before everyone paid Apple hundreds of dollars to carry a miniature videogame console in their pocket. In my column, I modestly proposed that it was time for Nintendo to create a new game focused on damsel-in-distress Princess Peach — and not a throwaway mobile-game spin-off like Super Princess Peach, but a legitimate AAA spin-off with at least half the marketing budget of Luigi’s Mansion. Readers responded with their own thoughts, because half of the people currently alive on this world are Super Mario experts. Let’s mailbag!

First up, here’s a guy who liked the idea of doing the Peach game as a Wicked-esque re-examination of the earlier Mario games:

The Wicked idea is great.  Maybe Mario never even saved her.  Maybe Mario failed every time and got captured himself and she broke out of the castle and had to save him. I also like the Mario 64 idea where it’s a similar setup, except she cleans out the different worlds. I don’t own the wiiU but I would buy it for that game.

—Raymond

To elaborate further on this idea: Nintendo has suddenly and somewhat unexpectedly embraced the idea of a multiverse, as demonstrated by the upcoming game Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam.

The idea that Mario and “Paper Mario” are two completely different characters opens up the possibilities of more, further-flung versions of the Mario characters. What if the Princess game — let’s call it Super Princess Sisters and assume that Peach will roll hard with Daisy and Pauline — starts right where Super Mario Bros starts, but then diverts? Like, you could show Peach, kidnapped by Bowser in the castle, and you see Mario start running through World 1-Level 1 — and then Mario runs right into a turtle, and dies. Super Princess Sisters would treat that death as canon: Peach sees her potential savior killed, and has to save her kingdom all by herself.

This would also open up the possibility that every time Mario “dies” in a game, the Princess Peach of that universe had to save herself. So, like, in the new Mario multiverse, there is one single Mario who has successfully rescued the Princess without ever dying — and in every other reality, Mario died. Multiverses are fun!

As I read your article I had one thought: All these years, we assumed the oft-kidnapped Princess just sat there. The game could be centered around how she was escaping – just for Mario to come in and upstage her by rescuing her (and ruining her plan).

Imagine how pissed she must be to really be saving herself for 30 years just to watch our favorite rotund plumber get all of the credit! She clawed her way through Bowers castles, traps, lands, etc. Just to finally reach the door when Mario opens it & is deemed the hero!

I am all for a Princess Toadstool/Peach game!

Kristie

This is an even better idea! Mario “rescuing” Peach would be Peach’s own version of the old “Your Princess Is In Another Castle” refrain. At the end of every episode, the Princess is about to free herself — and then good ol’ Mario shows up to take all the credit for rescuing her.

I realized, reading some of these emails, that there’s already a brilliant template a Princess-centric reboot: Princess Bubblegum from Adventure TimeAdventure Time in general constitutes a brilliant Alan Moore-ification of Nintendo mythology, but the show’s treatment of Bubblegum is especially smart. It’s not just that she’s an adventurer in her own right: The show also takes her seriously as an authority figure, making difficult decisions for the good of her people. 

This makes me think that a Princess game could actually be a cool opportunity for Nintendo to explore a new kind of gameplay — shifting the focus from action-platforming to something more ambitious. What if Super Princess Sisters set the timeline back a few years, before Mario’s arrival in the Mushroom Kingdom? Peach, we discover, was actually the middle child of three children — an older brother and a younger sister. Their elderly father, the Mushroom King, announced that he was going to abdicate and demanded that his children compete to receive the throne. (Just like in King Lear, and King Lear‘s far superior reboot Empire.)

This led to a minor Civil War, with Peach’s brother and sister splitting the country in half, and various other exterior forces (like the Koopalings and Tatanga and Captain Syrup) have brought the whole Mushroom Kingdom to the brink of failed-state chaos. The game would begin with Peach, all alone and being hunted by various factions, struggling to build up her army of Toads and then bring peace back to the Kingdom.

(The game would naturally include a final twist, where it turns out her older brother went crazy, grew a mustache, and changed his name to Wario.)

Hey Darren,

I really enjoyed the Princess piece. Thanks!

My question is, If you could make a crossover /mashup of two individual character spin-off games, which ones would they be? Have a good one! 

Matt

Slippy Toad vs. Waluigi, obviously.

Being serious here: I think the God of War trilogy is one of the best and most purely effective storytelling sequences in videogame history. The narrative isn’t complicated — “Kratos kills everything” is the macro-narrative and a handy description of every scene. But I love how the second and third games push the over-the-top melodrama to ever more cosmic heights, with Kratos ultimately meeting and brutally demolishing every god in the Greek pantheon.

I wouldn’t necessarily demand another God of War game…but if Sony is looking to bring back Kratos, I have a modest idea. Why not hand the series back to its initial director, Dave Jaffe — and let Jaffe crossbreed God of War with his other incredible franchise, Twisted Metal? The car-crash franchise has been in a bit of a rut for the last several zeitgeists. But Twisted Metal II is one of the top five PS1 games — and between the ascendant Fast & Furious franchise and the excitement over Mad Max: Fury Road, it feels like the right moment for a kookbat automotive action game.

I’m imagining that this new Twisted Metal goes for a Turtles in Time plot, with the demolition derby taking place across time and space. That would allow challengers from multiple timeline to compete — including Kratos, whose “car” is the flying chariot of Helios. Kratos vs. Sweet Tooth! Come on, Sony, you gotta make back that Last Guardian money somehow!

Darren,

Word up, man. Just read the article you wrote on Princess Toadstool having her own game and realized you’re the guy Joe and I played tennis with Tuesday. Very spot on with the article. Been reading EW.com for years now, and am I Big Brother fan, so keep up the good work with the recaps and opinions.

-Willie

Willie is very good at tennis, but Joe is freaking Federer.