If you grew up with a NES, if some of your fondest gaming memories revolve around the frustrating-but-satisfying 8-bit classics, if you think “Nintendo hard” is a compliment:
Skip this post. You won’t like it, and you’ll add a snarky comment detailing why you didn’t like it. It’s even odds whether your comment will be from the OMG SAMUS ARAN IS TOTALLY A GURL DIDN’T YOU KNOW? camp or the LEARN 2 PLAY NOOB camp, but you’re unlikely to change my thoughts on the topic.
Original post follows:
I am relatively new to the Mario franchise.
I played Donkey Kong, of course, and Mario Bros and Super Mario Bros in the arcade, but, as I didn’t own a NES during its heyday, I never really joined the Cult of Mario. I did own a SNES, but I bought the core system that didn’t have a bundled cartridge.
Later, when I bought a N64, I did pick up Super Mario 64, mostly on the hype – which actually explains most of the games I bought for that system – and didn’t really get it. I ran around a bit and collected a few stars, got rather tired of it, and went back to Doom64 and F-Zero X.
Super Mario Sunshine likewise failed to hook me.
I don’t honestly know why I kept buying Mario games, except, well, I kept buying the hype.
Then I bought a DS, and once again bought into the hype, this time for New Super Mario Brothers, and suddenly I got where all the hype was coming from. It was actually a really good game, albeit with a bit of an annoying save system, and I played through it and even went back to it to unlock a couple of worlds I hadn’t gotten to the first time around.
Following that, I played through the original Super Mario World on the GBA, and even branched out into the Mario RPG lineup with Partners in Time.
I was starting to become a Mario convert.
Then they released Super Princess Peach, which had a neat twist on the whole Mario-saves-Peach thing and got lots of good reviews that pretty much all said “It’s Mario, but, you know, for girls.”
Having played it, I can confirm that it is, in fact, Mario, but, you know, for girls, and also that Nintendo hates girls.
Let me explain how I’ve come to this conclusion.
Every Mario game has more or less the same premise. Bowser needs to be stopped, Peach rescued, kingdom saved, that sort of thing. This is accomplished by running from left to right across the screen, stomping turtles and mushrooms as you go. Eventually you reach Bowser, defeat him, life is good again.
Pretty much every Mario game also includes a side quest where you collect Stuff. Yoshi coins, stars, shines, blah blah blah, there’s some Big Shiny Things that you will naturally get a few of in the course of playing the game but REAL completists will get them all.
I’m not a real completist. I want to beat Bowser and enjoy the good life until the next time. So far, me and Mario have had a pretty good understanding about this. I don’t collect all the stars and he doesn’t give me any grief as long as Bowser gets what’s coming.
Super Princess Peach, being Mario, but, you know, for girls, also has a collection side quest. It involves freeing Toads. There are three hidden in each level, but freeing them isn’t a condition of completing the level. You can progress just fine without finding them, until you get to the last level. That’s where your sentient umbrella pops up and says:
“Oh my goodness! I can feel a powerful force from within! Before the final battle, you need to rescue all the Toads from past stages.”
To expand upon my annoyance with this: By this time, you’ve jumped, swum, and umbrella-bashed your way through every level of the game. Your name is spoken in hushed and fearful tones wherever sentient mushrooms gather to speak legends of the Destroyer, She Who Walks In Fire, The Pinkish Abomination, El Diablo Melocotón. You are knocking on Bowser’s door, ready to show him that you’re standing by your man, damnit, and that you would like him back.
However, you’re not going to take that final step through the last threshold until you go back to Every Goddamn Level You’ve Already Beaten, and collect Every Goddamn Toad you may have missed.
In my Own Private Version of the Marioverse, this is the point where Peach points to Luigi, who she rescued in the previous world, and says to him “He’s your brother. Let me know how it goes.” and goes home to catch up on her sleep.
This level of being an absolute jerk to the player isn’t present in any Mario games, you know, for boys, and so I come to my original conclusion.