Keyboard Geniuses is our weekly glance at a few intriguing, witty, or otherwise notable posts from the Gameological discussion threads. Comments have been excerpted and edited here for grammar, length, and/or clarity. You can follow the links to see the full threads.
The Iran-Koopa Affair
Earlier this week, John Teti took it upon himself to review all 30 Mario Kart 8 racers. When it came time to talk about Princess Peach, John didn’t have much to say because, well, it’s not like Nintendo has provided much material really. In his discussion of an allegedly superior female kart entrant, Rosalina, he mentions that Peach’s exclamation upon winning is a surprised “Well, I’ll be,” as opposed to the more aggressive and confident “That’s right” of Rosalina. CrabNaga points out there might be a more devious side to Peach’s projected ditziness than John gave her credit for:
Super Smash Bros. Melee seems to imply that Peach is smarter than she appears. When she wins, she says “Oh, did I win?” in a mock-surprised tone, which led me to believe that she’s putting on the “airhead princess” act specifically so others underestimate her. She’s playing the part the world expects her to, but I’m just worried what her true goals are…
Never content to leave the void for wild speculation unfilled, the commentariat—specifically, KillReginald—presented a theory in which the CIA interfered in the Mushroom Kingdom’s sovereign affairs, pulling off a coup that left Princess Peach as its leader. After all, as KillReginald pointed out, isn’t it just the slightest bit odd that a human princess is the leader of a bunch of mushroom people? After some quick escalation, KillReginald put all the pieces together and stumbled upon the real backstory of Super Mario Bros., the one that Nintendo and the U.S. government just don’t want you to know about:
Unfortunately, flooding the region with cheap weaponry for inexperienced soldiers backfired when Koopa’s Troopas seized depot after depot of the heavy artillery. The same Bob-ombs and Bullet Bills that were supposed to liberate the people were now being turned against American troops. A hasty withdrawal of coalition forces from the newly formed Kingdom left it vulnerable to invasion. That’s when they had to turn to mercenaries to set things right, burly mononymous guys who would do any job as long as they got paid, and luckily, the Mushroom Kingdom had ample gold coin reserves.
Topical! Eolith offered up another odd instance where we got to see a different side of Princess Peach:
Princess Peach has not always been so bland. She was downright badass in the “Super Mario Adventures” comic book series published in Nintendo Power. What’s probably her best scene ever is in the comic when, dressed up as Luigi, she sneaks into the Koopalings’ tower, pulls out a bomb and threatens to blow them all up. When Wendy O. Koopa points out that it’s a suicide plan, Peach just starts laughing maniacally. Unfortunately, with the possible exception of Super Mario RPG, this badass/rebel characterization for Peach was not really embraced by game series canon.
Elsewhere, Will Riker’s soggy finger let us know why Wario is-a gonna win:
Wario all the way for me. He’s been my go-to since Mario Kart 64, even when he was borderline useless in Double Dash!! He’s a big, fat money-grabbing evil plumber with a penchant for nuclear farts and incomprehensible catchphrases. In other words, a gloriously unhinged expression of id and anarchism in Nintendo’s sanitized, super-friendly Mario universe, and I love him for it.
Incidentally, has anyone worked out what he says on the character select screen? Best I can make out is “Sieg honk!,” perhaps a Germanic expression of respect for the sound of his kart horn. Actually, don’t tell me. There’s little chance I’ll like the real answer more than the exquisite “sieg honk.” Sieg honk!
Oliver Phonglehorn gave some love to Toadette:
In one of the previous Mario Kart games, Toadette’s response to being picked on the character selection screen was a very half-hearted-sounding, “Okay.” Her lack of enthusiasm compared to the other characters shouting “Let’s go!” or “Oh yeah!” always made me laugh. “TOADETTE, ARE YOU READY TO RACE?!” “Okay.”
Oh, and what Mario Party was it where you could press the L button to “taunt” your opponents on the board? Toadette’s taunt was the best: “Mushrooms!”
It was Mario Party 6, by the way. That took way too much research to figure out. And finally, Girard shared a couple of hypothetical, next-level Mario concepts:
Two nonexistent Mario things I wish existed:
- Σario (pronounced “Sario” or “Sigmario”): the third image of Mario in the Bakhtinian precession following the “good” image (Mario) and the “evil” derivative image (Wario). Σario, with his ‘M’ neither up nor down, is beyond good and evil, and is mostly incomprehensible. (Over a decade ago in art school, I took a stab at depicting this character, which I’m not entirely happy with. I did get to use holofoil paper and fluorescent paint, though, which is a win in my book.)
- A lengthy essay teasing out the significance to the Mario games of the seeming emigration of Shy Guys from the dream world of Subcon into the Mushroom Kingdom. Their first appearance in a “proper” Mario game, outside of Subcon, is in Yoshi’s Island, when Mario is an infant, seemingly indicating that the boundaries between dream and reality are more fuzzy at that developmental stage. Still bound by the egocentrism of the pre-operational Piagetian stages, baby Mario muddles his subjective dreamed/imagined reality with the “objective” reality he occupies, populating the “real” Mushroom Kingdom (or Yoshi’s Island or whatever) with figures pulled from his own dreams.
The Fame Game
First off, thanks to everyone who treaded into the comments of Sonia Saraiya’s For Our Consideration essay about Kim Kardashian: Hollywood to engage in thoughtful conversation about the topic at hand and repel a few spittle-flinging shouty types. Fluka, who was intrigued by the social maneuvering and exploitation element of the game that Sonia wrote about, was asked to give an opinion about playing such a game where your character is little more than a materialistic socialite. Here’s what Fluka
had to say:
I generally don’t pay much (read: any) attention to celebrity culture, while also finding tabloids/gossip magazines to be profoundly mean-spirited and often quite misogynistic, with their focus on women as disposable commodities. However, I find the machinery of celebrity itself to be quite interesting—see the fantastic articles that Anne Helen Petersen writes about celebrities in modern and classic Hollywood, for instance. As others have stated when talking about the iPhone app, modern fame is very much a game with its own complicated rules of engagement. It’s the modern equivalent of the politics of the court of Versailles and reflects a lot about our cultural values and behavior. It’s not a culture that I would ever participate in for my own life, but it would be a fun role to slip into and play for a time—“Can you beat the modern celebrity machine?” and all that. At the very least, it gives the same thrill as choosing the “bad” options in an role-playing game and seeing what happens afterwards.
Fluka wasn’t the only person who’d like to see more games about manipulating complex dynamics of the social elite. Mr. Martini pitched another such experiment:
I would love a game about social manipulation set on Mt. Olympus. Polytheism in Greek antiquity was basically a big popularity contest between the gods. New gods were constantly entering the pantheon, so devotees of the old gods had to create more elaborate temples and rituals to keep up. I can image a pretty sweet fame-based resource simulation where you get to design your god (which could be as ludicrous and fabulous as you want) and then manage your devotees to build temples and artifacts while you scheme and sleep your way up the Mt. Olympus social ladder. The more outlandish your behavior, the more devotees you earn.
After all, it isn’t a stretch to interpret most Greek myths as super-powerful (rich) people messing with each other because they are bored and horny. People loved Zeus in no small measure because he had a predilection to have sex in the form of bulls and geese. Zeus would have loads of Twitter followers.
Thanks for reading and commenting. We’ll see you all again next week!