There have been a lot of minions over a lot of different games. So many in fact that it’s kind of difficult to pinpoint one that stands head and shoulders above all the rest. However, there is one minion who epitomizes the role for me, but I’m not going to spoil it for you just yet.
This minion is probably not the first one you’d think of when confronted with the vast plethora of characters in the Super Mario universe. In fact, he only inhabits one of the Mario games, in the oft-overlooked Mario RPG series. He sets himself apart from many of the enemies Mario faces by being a mini-boss, which would probably take him out of the “minion” category except for three reasons. First, he follows the orders of a particularly nasty kingdom usurper instead of having any aspirations himself. Second, he can be fought multiple times, including once when he can be run into like any other minion. Third, when attacking him, and like with any other minion, Mario has access to a Power Star and can run straight through him, taking him out without even having to raise a fist to fight.
The minion I am referring to is, of course, Dodo from Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. Dodo is one of those rare characters that epitomizes the idea of a minion for me. That’s not to say there was not considerable contention for this choice. In the Mario RPG series alone, we run into Knife Guy & Crate Guy, Kammy Koopa, Fawful, Nastacia, and O’Chunks, to name a few glorified minions. This doesn’t even include the nameless minions such as Shy Away and Amazy Dayzee. But Dodo flutters prettily above the rest of the crowd for one major reason: he’s so passive aggressive.
If you’ve never played Super Mario RPG then shame on you, but be warned, there are spoilers ahead. When you first come across Dodo he is impersonating the missing Prince Mallow of Nimbus Land. Incidentally, a character that you meet and party up with early on is named Mallow… what a coincidence. It’s not really Dodo’s idea, it’s the idea of Valentina, the woman that Dodo works as an assistant for. She locks up Mallow’s parents, the king and queen of Nimbus Land, and thanks to her position as an aid to the king and queen she is able to convince many of the residents of Nimbus Lad that Dodo is in fact the missing prince. Of course, Dodo isn’t, and he is the constant target of Valentina’s abuse when not in public. That doesn’t mean he likes it, though. In Mario’s second encounter with the giant bird, our mustachioed hero is pretending to be a statue, and Dodo is getting back at Valentina by pecking the various statues she keeps of herself. Now if Dodo were a competent boss, the second he saw Mario move, he would probably attack. But thankfully he’s not and unless Mario jumps right in front of him (or is pecked) Dodo eventually gets freaked out and runs away.
That’s not the last time Mario will encounter the bird, though. Once Valentina’s plan is revealed, she will run away, leaving Dodo behind as a meat shield while she tries to escape. Even at this, though, Dodo fails. If Mario gets access to a starman (conveniently placed in the hallway he’s chasing Valentina through) he can barrel through Dodo as if he weren’t even there.
There is one final encounter with Dodo, where he gets to exact revenge for such a quick dispatch. Once Valentina is caught up with, she calls upon Dodo and makes him fight one of the party members one-on-one– a battle which can be very difficult if he picks a healer instead of a tank. After the battle is over, Valentina and Dodo make a last-second escape via Dodo flying and clutching Valentina. In a surprise coda to the game, things do work out in the end as the two manage to alight on Booster’s Tower, meaning Valentina has (relative) control of something and Dodo gets to do whatever he wants.
So there you have the life story of a character that happens to be my favorite minion. While he may not be the best remembered character from Super Mario RPG, he definitely has a special place in my heart. Maybe now he has one in yours as well.