Tag Archives: Mario

It Should Be Called Super WARIO Adventures

Origin stories for Nintendo characters tend to be rather ambiguous.  Mario and Luigi could be plumbers born and raised in Brooklyn, or two lost children from the Mushroom Kingdom.  Donkey Kong has been the son of Cranky Kong, the grandson of Cranky Kong, or just some angry ape that kidnaps Pauline.  And don’t even get me started on Link and his mixed up timeline.  Amidst all of this confusion, it seems that a certain Nintendo mainstay has yet to get a proper point of origin in the wide world of video games: Wario.

Making his first appearance in 1992 as the antagonist of Super Mario Land 2, Wario was already a full-grown villain with no major backstory.  He wasn’t the lizard tyrant of a deposed kingdom.  He wasn’t an invader from outer space.  Wario was just a greedy guy who wanted a castle so he took Mario’s.  That’s it.

After Mario knocked the baddie off his usurped throne and everything was returned to the status quo, Wario became a sort of selfish antihero.  For the 17 games that followed, Wario concocted plenty of get-rich-quick schemes to add more treasure to his hoard (normally involving quirky platformers or hyper-odd minigames).  Second only to his love for money is Wario’s contempt for his goody two-shoes counterpart.

In Wario’s mind, Mario has had it easy his entire life; getting the glory and riches for nothing and gloating about it all the way.  You wouldn’t necessarily hear Wario voice this opinion in video games, save for the occasional snide comment (and constant sneer).  The backstory of these two once-best friends was detailed in January 1993, through a comic in Nintendo Power. Continue reading It Should Be Called Super WARIO Adventures

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It’s Plungin’ Time!!

Most superheroes have a sort of trigger that activated their powers; a unique item or bizarre event that bestowed amazing abilities to the character.  Often in comics, the powers that are granted become a natural extension of the hero, like with Spider-Man or the Invisible Woman.  But there are characters whose strength is tied to an object he/she wields, like Iron Man or Madame Mirage.  Many video games also present characters who rely on magical items to achieve their goals.  By just coming into contact with some floating power-up, these rather ordinary people turn into something larger-than-life.  Using this logic, Mario might be one of the most popular superheroes the world has ever known.

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Before you cry foul, saying that there is no way the chubby Nintendo mascot is an actual superhero, take a moment to think about the story of Mario.  A mild-mannered plumber trying to make a living with his brother in New York, comes into contact with a seemingly normal leaf.  Little did he know that this was a Super Leaf, which granted him powers beyond any mere mortal!  Able to shatter stones with his mighty tail and take to the skies with a running leap, Raccoon Mario uses his newfound powers to fight against the evil forces of King Koopa and protect the Mushroom Kingdom.  In that context, the origin of the Super Mario Brothers sounds like the byline of a dozen popular Marvel and DC comic books, or at the very least the start of a book from the Nintendo Comics System. Continue reading It’s Plungin’ Time!!

Welcome to the Mushroom Kingdom

What defines the canon of a series?  Is it only the material produced by the original creators, or can it extend beyond such a narrow scope?  Video games and comics are both extremely murky waters to travel when it comes to canon.  Batman has seen so many alternate dimensions and series reboots over the course of his career that it has become difficult to tell just who is under the cowl anymore.  The Mario Brothers have a particularly bulky catalog of material as well; spanning video games, television series, comics, and a particularly awful movie.  Across these various appearances, Mario and Luigi have transformed numerous times to suit the context of the medium.  The overall tale of these plucky plumbers has grown into a massive media empire that has some difficulty in tying each entry together.

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When Super Mario World debuted back in 1990, the main story of the video game has the brothers going on vacation with Princess Toadstool to a place called Dinosaur Land.  Sure enough, Bowser and his brood follow the trio to this new land and proceed to cause all sorts of the usual trouble (kidnap the princess, try to stop the brothers, etc).  Shortly after the game’s release, the Super Mario World television show premiered.  A Saturday morning cartoon, this program featured a similar scenario to the video game, but built a more prehistoric world out of the Dinosaur Land setting.  While the cartoon took some creative liberties with the game world and premise (why are there so many cavemen?), it featured plenty of material straight from the original source.  Around the same time, a monthly comic was  being published in Nintendo Power that didn’t even set foot in the Dinosaur Land of the video game.

EPSON MFP imageSuper Mario Adventures made its first appearance back in January 1992 in Volume 32 of Nintendo Power.  The story was written by Kentaro Takekuma (co-author of “Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga”) and the art was handled by Charlie Nozawa (pen name Tamakichi Sakura), who has worked in comics and video games (“Shiawase No Katachi” and “Tower Dream” respectively).  The main story arc ran for twelve issues, followed by a bonus comic which was based on Super Mario Land 2 for the Game Boy.  Neither of the plots for these comics follow the storyline of any particular game, but both of them feature key elements from the popular Mario titles at that time.

EPSON MFP imageThe main story of the comics begins with the Mario Brothers, plumbers extraordinaire who have been called to the Mushroom Kingdom to repair the palace pipes.  After getting most of the plumbing complete, Mario notices an outlying green pipe that seems to have no match.  One familiar green pipe sprouts several others, as Bowser and his forces wage an attack on the palace.  The King of Koopas issues an ultimatum: Princess Toadstool must marry him or he will turn the entire kingdom to stone.  Unlike the fair damsel of the video games, Toadstool is a woman of action who takes a troop of soldiers to meet Bowser head-on.  After a week spent turning Mario back from stone, the brothers set out to find the Princess and help her deal with Bowser.

From this point on, the story features plenty of interesting twists on familiar elements.  Princess Toadstool outwits the Koopalings and makes a daring escape, Mario has to be saved by the Princess and Luigi, and a horde of Yoshis end up being the saviors of the entire gang.  There is even a scene where Mario plays therapist to a Big Boo and finds out exactly why the ghosts are so shy when faced by people (childhood bullying that led to anthrophobia).  The comic is full of fun moments like these that help ground these fantastic characters and show them in a new light.

EPSON MFP imageThe artwork suits the lighthearted nature of the story quite nicely.  Plenty of cartoon flourishes show up throughout the work, such as quick gags and goofy violence.  The character proportions are kept similar to that of Super Mario Brothers 2, with Mario being shorter than the Princess and his younger brother.  The facial expressions of every character are full of emotion, using various eye and mouth shapes to convey their mood.  Backgrounds are handled with varying levels of detail; sometimes little more than a splash of color, other times there are plenty of flora and fauna that flesh out a scene perfectly.  Bright colors are used for the entire comic, resulting in a wonderful world inhabited by interesting characters.

Super Mario Adventures takes the familiar story of “Mario saves the Princess” and turns it into a work that is wholly unique from other entries of that time.  Instead of Mario solely making his way through Dinosaur Land to save the pitiful Princess once again, every character has a moment in the spotlight and the chance to be a hero.  I personally prefer this tale to the schlocky Super Mario World television show, and maybe even to the story in the video game.  With all of this material to consider, just which story is canon to the Mario Universe?  Instead of getting so hung up on just which plot is the “correct” version, Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of Mario and other beloved video game characters) has this to say:

“If you’re familiar with things like Popeye and some of the old comic characters, you would oftentimes see this cast of characters that takes on different roles depending on the comic or cartoon. They might be businessman in one [cartoon] or a pirate in another. Depending on the story that was being told, they would change roles. So, to a certain degree, I look at our characters in a similar way and feel that they can take on different roles in different games. It’s more like they’re one big family, or maybe a troupe of actors.”

Just like the Link to the Past series, all of these comics can be read over at Old Game Magazines.  Please be sure to check it out and follow them for other great pieces from video game magazines of yesteryear!

Game On: Mario Galaxy 2 (Part 9)

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Are we going to be able to find all 242 stars? I don’t know…the future is cloudy! *rimshot*

It’s time for Part 9 of Super Mario Galaxy 2. Chris and Shaun are taking on the entire game in this playthrough. That’s right — all the way through every green star. Have a game you want to see us suffer through play next? Let us know in the comments or by sending us an email, or find out more about us on our bio page.

It’s time to make space in Mario’s heart for a new lover. Game on.