I’m a firm believer in the idea that everybody acts selfishly. Even the best of things are done for the recognition, fame, fortune, or just that tingly, warming sensation that makes you feel all nice inside. But all things considered, Mario is getting played.
When Luke Skywalker saved the princess and her pitiful little rebellion, he got a medal, a cool party, and a shot at a totally hot chick that would ultimately turn out to be a little more incestuous than sexy. All the Links have saved Hyrule more times than most care to count, and they have gone down in legend and become respected protectors of the realm, though if the cartoon is canon then maybe the realm is best left to the whims of evil. But what does Mario get for his millionth time rescuing Princess Peach…? Cake.
Cake, of course, can be a great prize, such as a reward for successfully going another year without experiencing an early demise or perhaps the rightful gains of a bakery robbery. It can even be fine in video games as the reward for participating in a series of portal related challenges. Granted, said cake could be a lie but sometimes that is a risk worth taking.
Doing battle with hordes of rabid mushrooms and various forms of homicidal turtles all the while making death defying leaps between precarious platforms hovering over endless chasms isn’t worth the risk. But I don’t think Mario got that memo.
This better be the best cake ever…
When I was but a young lad in the fourth grade, I had the pleasure of experiencing Super Mario 64 and for my still developing gaming skills it was quite a challenge. Now it might seem easy but remember, for people my age it was our first go at a 3D platformer and it truly was an amazingly epic and difficult challenge. Eventually I finally managed to toss Bowser into that final bomb and I was ecstatic, only to have the wave of joy come crashing down when I saw that my just reward was nothing but a cake. Of course I was, and still am, more than a little miffed but now I can’t help but wonder what this whole situation says about Mario and the Princess.
Let’s think about the bigger picture here. The Mushroom Kingdom is most likely a rather prosperous country, though it could just be one of those horribly corrupt states where the upper echelon of society who live in the capital live in ridiculous opulence while the rest live in horrible squalor. Regardless, there is no doubt that Peach could put together a little more than cake. Given the fact that this is a monarchy we are talking about, one can imagine that there is some system of nobility; so why doesn’t Peach make Mario some kind of duke or lord of this or that. Mario has effectively become the Kingdom’s primary knight and savior, so it would only make sense for him to receive such a position. But no, Mario lives in a small, humble home that he has to share with his brother. And then of course there are other rewards that a woman could give a man, the nature of which would probably make for a titillating read in a fine gentleman’s magazine. As far as I can tell though, there has yet to be cause to write such a letter.
So why does Mario continue to do this? I hate to say it, but he is a victim in a psychologically abusive relationship. Time and time again, Mario puts one of his many lives on the line to rescue the Princess and rarely does he come out of it with anything more than a halfhearted “thank you” or a slice of cake, and judging by his robust gut I’m guessing he gets a lot more cake. Mario obviously has a strong, dare I say obsessive, attraction to the Princess but is perhaps too afraid or simply unwilling to admit his feelings to her. Maybe Mario is driven more by a patriotic fervor for the Mushroom Kingdom, but it really doesn’t seem like Peach contributes all that much to the well being of her nation and the live action movie firmly establishes that Mario is an inter-dimensional immigrant. No, Mario just wants to be near the Princess and is afraid that admitting his feelings might ultimately drive her away.
Regardless of Mario’s emotional shortcomings when it comes to pursuing relationships, the major problem here is really Princess Peach. Perhaps she is oblivious. Maybe she doesn’t realize the severity of the psychological trauma she is causing. Then again, she could also be incredibly manipulative. The fact that Peach rarely shows any level of mental acuity past that of an adolescent is a strong argument for the first possibility, but that raises a slew of questions of how and why Peach has attained and maintained her position, especially when you take into account her rather inept leadership. For the second situation to be true, Peach would have to be aware of Mario’s emotions but chooses to play with them out of a naive sense of fun– she considers it a game of sorts but is either too ignorant or too uncaring to consider Mario’s well being.
The third option, Peach as a manipulative mastermind, is the most interesting. Beneath her bubbly exterior and innocent demeanor there is a keen mind with tendencies that bring her into the realm of the sociopath. Perhaps Peach’s absentmindedness as a ruler and constant kidnappings are simply part of her wicked little game. Bowser and Mario are both obviously driven by a strong fondness for Peach, who no doubt has ready access to the proper resources to guarantee her safety and maybe even crush Bowser’s armies. Maybe she is too dumb to make action, or maybe she goes along with the kidnappings, confident that Bowser is too infatuated to do her harm and knowing full well that Mario will come running to her rescue. Then, from safety and comfort of her confines, Peach watches as the two enemies do battle for her. Maybe she enjoys the chaotic display of death and destruction and takes pleasure in the gladiatorial combat that ultimately takes place between the plumber and the giant, spiky turtle. But I think Peach does it to please her ego; controlling her kingdom isn’t enough, she needs to see the carnage carried out all for her love to feed her own sense of self satisfaction.
… for being such a fool!
When it comes to Mario and Peach, the cake isn’t a lie. No, the cake is there but its true meaning is twisted by an emotionally crippled plumber’s clouded perceptions and an egotistical princess’ voracious ego. Or maybe I’m reading too much into this, having been personally traumatized by Super Mario 64‘s weak-sauce ending. I mean, lets be serious here people… cake.
Either Peach has been playing Mario for a fool for years or us, the gamers, got seriously boned. The later really does seem more realistic, but cognitive dissonance is totally telling me to go with the former. So in conclusion, Princess Peach is evil and cake is totally overrated. Pie for the win!