Picture if you will, a world without heroes. A world where the greatest heroes you have come to love in the land of Nintendo got lost along the way. This is that world. A world where that one key moment that defines what makes a hero and what makes an ordinary person went horribly wrong. I will take you through this world, and shine a light on how easy it is to make a mistake, and how that mistake can change you irreparably.
Mario: War Criminal
In Donkey Kong, we’re all familiar with how things went down. Mario (or Jumpman, as he was known back then) had to save his girlfriend Pauline from the clutches of Donkey Kong. What if he failed? What would change?
Mario reaches the top of the building site (or whatever that level layout is meant to represent), and tries to save Pauline. But she slips, falling to her death. Distraught, and overcome with grief and anger, he kills Donkey Kong. He turns to alcoholism, and is wracked with regret that he could not save her. He hears of Princess Peach, who has been kidnapped by Bowser, King of the Koopas. Swearing never to let another innocent die as a result of kidnapping, he sets out on his journey, brutally murdering anyone who gets in his way.
And you thought this whole thing was a joke…
Luigi, who goes along for the ride, is horrified by what he sees his brother doing, and abandons him, not wishing to be party to this Goomba Genocide. Mario reaches the first castle and finds Peach isn’t there, only Toad. Not waiting to hear an explanation, he kills Toad, believing him to be part of Bowser’s army. When he reaches the final castle, he murders Bowser, thus preventing all future abductions of Princess Peach. She is horrified, and does not fall in love with him. Scared, she does not admonish him for his crimes, instead telling herself that this was just what happens in war.
Mario then hears of Princess Daisy of Sarasaland, who has been kidnapped by Tatanga. Much the same happens here, he kills Tatanga. As a result, Wario (who organised Daisy’s kidnapping as a distraction while he seized Mario’s Castle), does not hear back from Tatanga, and is unprepared for Mario’s return. Mario begins an attack on the castle, systematically murdering all of Wario’s henchmen on his way to the room where Wario has set up shop, à la Hitman. Wario is thrown from the top of the castle, dying the instant he hits the floor.
Because Mario murdered Bowser, his children, the Koopalings, forming a joint imperial council, are attempting to hold together his dwindling colonies in Dinosaur Land. Revolts are happening everywhere, and the empire faces dissolution. In an attempt to calm the masses, and sate the citizens’ cries for food, the Koopalings enslave the Yoshis, using them as food, transport, and as a source of income, by exporting them as exotic pets. Peach acquires several, not knowing of their intelligence. Mario, hearing of the suffering of both Bowser’s crumbling empire, and of the plight of the Yoshis, travels to Dinosaur Land, ‘liberating’ each of the islands and their inhabitants one by one by slaying each of the Koopalings in cold blood. He stays in Dinosaur Land, taking up residence as the new ruler of Bowser’s kingdoms.
Some rather dodgy deals were going on behind closed doors too…
Peach hears of this atrocity and sees it as an act of war due to her trade relations with the Koopalings. She gathers allies and forms an army composed of Toads, Daisy’s Sarasaland inhabitants, Wario’s surviving troops, and the remnants of Bowser’s army who still reside in the Mushroom Kingdom, as well as Donkey Kong’s family. They set sail, preparing for war with Mario, self-proclaimed Emperor of Dinosaur Land. Mario’s armies suffer terribly at the hands of Peach’s coalition forces, and to the very last, Mario stays in his castle. With the enemy advancing, he finally leaves the castle, battling the soldiers. Seeing in the enemy lines, characters from his past, he is driven beyond the point of no return. Everywhere he looks, he sees the family of Donkey Kong, or the soldiers of Bowser, or Toads, or Wario’s forces. He goes insane, believing in his delusion, that all those he slew have returned from the dead to claim revenge. He sets fire to the castle, killing most of the forces, and flees.
As he does so, he is brought down by a Yoshi’s tongue tripping him up. He begins shooting fireballs in all directions, and one catches the battle dress of Princess Peach. She burns to death. Daisy takes Peach’s sword and prepares to behead Mario, but too late, he is dead. His skull impacted from the blow of the weapon of a Hammer Brother. Daisy looks up, and sees Luigi wielding another hammer. He is in tears, both for the fact he has just ended his brother’s life, and for the fact that he did not stop Mario before all this horror began.
Daisy and Luigi leave Dinosaur Land, united in their grieving, and bury Peach in the grounds of her castle. Daisy, haunted by the prospect of a revolution, or any sort of war, declares the Mushroom Kingdom, Sarasaland, Dinosaur Land, and Bowser’s Empire as republics, relinquishing her throne. She and Luigi retire to Isle Delfino, unaware that Bowser had one more child, who escaped Mario’s tyranny: Bowser Jr.
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