UWBW’s Note: So, a couple of weeks ago, my buddy Trogdorbad (@Trogdorbad) asked to write a guest article for this blog. I said it sounded like a fine idea. What follows is… well, it’s wonderful. Without further ado, let me present: The Trogdorbad interpretation of The Mario Canon.
As anyone who keeps up with discussion of Mario games knows, one of the biggest questions is this: If Mario and Bowser are mortal enemies, why do they go go-karting and play sports together so often? The answer, however, is quite simple – the side games are the true canon of the Mario world.
As was revealed in the last couple years by Miyamoto himself, Super Mario Bros. 3 is, in fact, a stage play – a long-held fan theory proven true. Taking that to its logical extreme, shouldn’t all of the main series Mario games be either plays or movies? Obviously, the first 4 games would be plays, as nothing really prevents them from being performed that way, but as Mario’s adventures have gotten bigger and grander, they would have to change format. They couldn’t have put on Super Mario Galaxy as a stage play – that was a multi-million coin movie.
This all being said, there are absolutely a few exceptions and questions. Where does Paper Mario fit in? What about Super Mario RPG, or that time they played basketball with actual NBA stars? What about the babies from Yoshi’s Island and Partners in Time? They go go-karting too!
Paper Mario could very well be a Saturday Morning cartoon in the Mushroom Kingdom, and Super Mario RPG would likely be another movie, maybe somehow it’s also a crossover in-universe. NBA Street is either non-canon, or it can be explained with New Donk City once we learn more about that world. The babies is another simple explanation: child actors. No weird time paradoxes here, just kids playing the role of baby Mario and baby Luigi. However, Mario Kart 8 can’t be canon, at least not to me – DX features four Marios (Regular, Metal, Gold, and Tanooki) and three Peaches (Regular, Pink Gold, and Cat). We know that power-ups aren’t just special effects or stage magic, but actually function that way and are used to give some spice to the shows. Unless E. Gadd invented a cloning device, there’s no explanation.
Speaking of E. Gadd, that brings up a point I almost forgot – the spinoff games for Luigi, Wario, etc. While the WarioWare games are absolutely just showing Wario’s business ventures, the Wario Land games are a bit trickier. While they could be movies, I think there’s a good chance those, too, are canon. When Wario isn’t trying to run a semi-successful microgame business, he’s out treasure hunting to fill his greedy appetite. Clearly, Wario is the bravest man in the Mushroom Kingdom, considering he’s fought all manner of supernatural entities not seen anywhere else in the franchise – which is more evidence that these are real events.
As for Luigi’s Mansion, the presence of King Boo in both it and the Mario Kart and Baseball games makes me lean more towards film – potentially a venture into the horror genre? Of course, it had to be kept family-friendly for all the young Toads out there watching Mario’s exploits, but the atmosphere is spot-on for a horror flick.
Now, where does Waluigi fit in? The sad part is, he might well be the Nicolas Cage of the Mario universe, just with less starring roles – loved by some, both ironically and genuinely, but hated by many. Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix was an attempt to see how people would respond to him, but poor ticket sales denied him any further roles. However, he apparently made enough money from it to buy his own island, featured in Mario Party 3. Though there’s evidence the island used to belong to Luigi (Standees and some signs, which can be seen being torn down by Piranha Plants in some areas), there’s the possibility that Luigi figured he could just buy another island with his Luigi’s Mansion money and let Waluigi have it.
Which brings me to Mario Party. Honestly, I have no idea what the hell is going on here, but more than likely this is just some strange way the Mushroom Kingdom passes its time.
I know I didn’t discuss some other important elements, such as the Donkey Kong factor and where his whole deal fits in. Donkey Kong was just the first stage play ever created for the Kingdom, launching Mario and DK into stardom. Pauline just wasn’t a good enough actress to make it and was replaced with Peach. DK’s son got to star in his own show where Mario was the villain, but the choice to switch Mario’s role went poorly and DK Jr. went on to star in the Donkey Kong Country series. Mario vs. Donkey Kong could be an attempt to reboot the original DK stage play as a way to bolster Mini Mario toy sales, but I don’t know enough about that series to make any educated guesses.
I’m sure I’ve missed some other elements, but with how long the Mario franchise and its spinoffs have been around, there’s just way too much to keep track of at this point. I think, overall, I’ve done a decent job covering the important pieces, but if I missed anything, feel free to bring it up in the comments and I’ll try to get back to you with an answer when I can.